Posted by : Wendy B Sunday, 3 May 2015

This was the pressing question from my daughters as we waited for Avengers: Age of Ultron to start last night. By the end of the film, we had determined that Ultron was about a week or so old, but more importantly, we all enjoyed the movie for its entertainment value. That doesn't mean the movie was without its problems though. Just relax and watch the movie you say? That would be all well and good if so much time wasn't spend in building up all these great big important themes and characters for me to think about. Spoiler filled thoughts ahoy.

There was a LOT going on in this film, but I think it was all handled reasonably well and very cohesively--at least visually and obvious plot-wise. I've heard some people say that it felt a bit disjointed and, while I'm definitely looking forward to a complete director's cut, I think everything progressed well from point A to Z. I also disagree with the complaint about the movie dragging through the middle. If that complaint is in reference to the scenes at Hawkeye's safe house, I will just huff and move on. This is an action movie, but it doesn't need to be all action all the time. I really would not have appreciated Clint's family being attacked, instead of having this insight into Clint's private life outside the Avengers.

Speaking of action
All of the fight sequences were so very chaotic. Of course a fight is meant to be chaotic, but it shouldn't cause seizures. This wasn't nearly as bad as Batman Begins or as incomprehensible as any robot battle in a Transformers movie, and I certainly don't expect anything as graceful and artistic as the Daredevil fights. Perhaps something in between, like Banshee meets super heroes.

Gods and Monsters
I like the theme of heroes being no better than the monsters they fight (or in this case create, or actually are). Lots of nice juxtaposition of this theme in parts (save for the concept that Natasha's sterilization is the key to her monsterhood--what does that say about boy assassins, or women who can't or don't want to have children? Are they all monsters too? That's all Natasha took out of her assassin training? I'm a monster because they sterilized me? And how does that remotely compare to Bruce hulking out and killing people in an uncontrolled rage?), but a whole lot of heavy handed saying it over and over and over again, rather than actually showing it. Or showing it gratuitously through the extra long Hulk vs Hulk Buster fight--but then showing no real follow up on this except Bruce whining about wanting to run away again. He honestly did not seem all that broken up about his Hulk Smash session in Wakanda, and his flip flopping over helping Tony the second time was weak. The Avengers proved themselves the heroes in the end, willing to sacrifice themselves to save the world, but where was the follow through when the dust settled this time? The previous movie ended with demands of who will take responsibility for the destruction. This time, everyone seems to be running off on different directions to make way for the new team, and everyone is BFFs again, and apparently, no longer monsters.

Civil War
The way has obviously been paved now for civil war between Tony and Steve. Mutant registration will unlikely be the subject matter that tears them apart. Hopefully this will mean more for Maria Hill to do as well, since she didn't get to play much in this film. A lot of comic fans have had concerns about the Civil War storyline making it into the films since the comic was crap, but the direction things seem to be going in the MCU makes sense within this context. The Civil War  books painted Tony as an asshole and Steve as a hero. This has made Tony a bit more wooby, but overall, not a lot of remorse from him in the end so...

No Strings
Disney has been remaking its princess movies with live action versions. Now they are remaking the other movies as well. The "There Are No Strings On Me" was catchy in the trailer, but how many times did we need that re-iterated. We get it. Evil Pinocchio. Good thing I love you, James Spader. Also a good thing that Jarvis was there to stop you from being a Skynet rip off.

Scarlet Witch
I'm not too familiar with her comic portrayal, but I know that she, like Jean Grey, is extremely powerful and has often suffered from the scary, magical women trope:
These women often fear their power; they’re often consumed by it. They’re seen as unstable and dangerous. They often do terrible things “under the influence.” Frequently, they then have to die to atone for these crimes. They’re often seen as terrible dangers due to their possibility of running amok. (They’re not invariably female; a male example would be The Sentry from Marvel comics. But they’re usually female.)
We already know what Joss Whedon did with Willow Rosenberg in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so there were valid concerns of this happening to Wanda, especially based on the initially images from the trailers. There were a few traumatic moments in the film that could well have served as triggers for Wanda to snap and become River 2.0, but I'm pleased with where things went instead. Movie Wanda was allowed to have her powerful powers and no one questioned her fighting at their side once she made that decision to do so. Hawkeye's pep talk wasn't about "don't go nuts." It was about "decide if you will stand and fight, and if you do fight, then bring it." Her brother's death could well have flipped her still, but she remained strong and stable, even with her moment of distraction to have a little revenge against Ultron (and who could blame her?) There is still potential for future movies to abuse her as the comics have done for the sake of stifling her powers, but I'm hoping that potential has sailed. I feel like this Wanda is an apology for the way she was treated in the comics, and stands as a tribute to the Wanda (and Jean) that should have been.

Black Widow + Bruce Banner
Yuck. I appreciate the need to humanize Natasha, but why did she need a romance for that? Was this a spite 'ship? Everyone wants to see Nat with Clint or Steve, so let's do something completely off the wall, ignoring the fact that there is exactly zero chemistry between Natasha and Bruce. This romance was so awkwardly shoehorned in, as evidenced by Natasha asking Nick Fury if he'd been match making when he sent her to find Bruce in the first place. Yes of course. Nick Fury was playing Cupid. Black Widow + Hulk? Now that's a different story--no, I'm not talking about hide the giant zucchini here. The Beauty and the Beast aspect was very well done and it is something well established from the start, but sex is a tool for Black Widow and romance is out of the question in her line of work. Not that she should be denied romance all together,  and while I appreciate that the latter was sort of brushed on in their conversations, the films have established that Natasha needs trust first to build a strong relationship with someone, as she has with Clint and Steve. The lullaby business just wasn't enough of a build up to make Natasha has fallen for the other guy viable, and the awkward flirting was right up there with Padme and Anakin.

Waiting for Wakanda
I was hoping T'Challa might make an appearance as Hulk thrashed his city, but I can be satisfied with the Wakanda reference.

Sacrifice
As I said, I was pleased with Wanda, and my 7yo's favourite Avenger is now Quicksilver. She's a very empathetic little girl and makes me so proud. She recently wanted to shave her head in support of Cops for Cancer, but circumstances prevented that. She recognized Pietro's sacrifice for what it was, and Clint's resolve moment's before. Frankly, I think the twins were the best part of the entire movie. I hope Wanda can carry on on her own in the future films because, unfortunately, Pietro's death, while valiant, really only serves one important purpose: to fulfill Joss Whedon's standard motivational shock death. Oh noez! Clint's gonna die because he was looking at the picture of his family and his wife keeps talking about him coming home! SURPRISE! Pietro dies instead (having suddenly forgotten how to catch/dodge bullets that he does see coming) and thereby serves to move Wanda from her purpose of watching the button. Other tried and true Whedon trademarks include, quirky dialogue that likes to point out how quirky it is, tricking the man you "love" into a kiss before shoving him to his apparent death because you need "the other guy," oh and all that feminism.

Protect the Innocent
The Avengers themselves caused a lot more damage than they did before--particularly, and obviously, the Hulk. I couldn't help but make the Superman comparison, but again, Clark never seemed concerned with innocent lives when he was busy pounding on Zod and his minions until he came face to face with those innocent lives and chose to kill Zod to save them, despite the movie spending all that time showing how he was always saving people before.

Visions
Thor's vision involved lots of lightning, sexy ladies, and Black Heimdal. I was distracted by the latter, but mostly confused overall. I think I've finally come to the conclusion that Thor had Tony's dream, with the addition of Black Heimdal, and agreed that they had to save the world by creating a bigger monster than Ultron and hoping for the best. Gods + Science FTW! Good thing that worked out and now we have Vision and I will include this for Tiara who demands that this exist in the sequel:

So yeah... the more I think about this film, the less I like it. I should be able to shut my brain off and watch it, but this isn't a Michael Bay movie. It's Joss Whedon. And I'm getting tired of the hype. I enjoyed the previous Avengers movie, and there were definitely things I liked about this one, but I'm glad he's not doing anymore because with Joss, there's far too much you can see coming nowadays.

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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