Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

Avengers 2 Age of Ultron

Generally, my reviews are full of spoilers because I enjoy tearing things apart to their base components. And, really, by the time this post hits my blog, many Marvel fans will have seen the movie by now and there will be many non-spoiler-free posts and articles on the ‘net. However, there are so many surprises in this movie that I really don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t seen it yet. So, I am going to make an effort to not spoil my readers. Later this month, I may write a more in-depth post.

The Themes of Avengers 2

We come upon the Avengers while they are assaulting a Hydra base. We’re introduced to Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, the attraction between Banner and Romanoff, the fears that still plague Tony Stark, and the group dynamic. These are four major themes that carry us through the movie. I’m going to touch on those briefly, as well as one thing that almost made me grab the nearest bucket of popcorn and hurl it at the movie screen.

The Group Dynamic of the Avengers

After the events of the first Avengers movie, we find the team to be very solid in the opening. We have this beautiful sequence that was reminiscent of the Manhattan fight scene in the first movie, where Whedon takes the camera from Avenger to Avenger and showing them fighting in sync. It was great, got the blood pumping, and showed how they kept up their good relations (despite very little of the team making an appearance when everything went merrily to hell in Captain America: Winter Soldier).

However, the cracks appeared quickly. It becomes apparent very quickly that more than one team member has secrets. As those secrets come to light, Rogers bitterly remarks that he thought his team told him everything. It’s a moment of bitterness on his part that shows how far he’s come since his first appearance in Captain America. It was also a rather naive remark to make, especially after what happened with Fury and SHIELD in the second Cap movie, because you would think Rogers would expect the other Avengers to keep secrets. Everyone else does. But I suppose it was that one last vestige of expectations that he carried over from the ’40s finally giving up the ghost. It was a sad moment.

Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch

Whedon’s biggest problem with this pair, I think, was making them sympathetic and three-dimensional. There was the trap of just making them crazy test subjects who bent to the will of their keepers. But Whedon neatly avoided that trap by showing how close the twins were and revealing their past. What screen time they got was smartly used, taking full advantage of dialogue to build up the characters. By the end, I deeply cared for them and what happened to them.

Minor note: In the comics, the Scarlet Witch and the Vision get married. I wonder if we’ll see something like that happen in the next phase?

Banner and Romanoff

Again, Whedon had a problem. He could have shown a full-fledged romance and gave the movie nice moments of cuddling or secretive making out. Instead, he went the route containing the greatest tension. I say this because there has been a lot of buzz already about a potential romance between these two Avengers. I think most people were expecting to see this. I will say, though, that things go very…Whedon.

Tony Stark’s Fears

The fears of Tony Stark are, in the center, the impetus for the story. While Rogers is the military leader of the Avengers, Stark is the inventor and financial backer. So, when they return to Avengers Tower, he disappears into his lab with Banner and no one questions what he plans to do with what they looted from the Hydra installation. Rogers doesn’t look over his shoulder or give instructions. He trusts him completely, not knowing the fears that Stark still carries in him.

Tony is afraid of another Chitauri invasion. That’s kind of obvious when you take into account his PTSD in Iron Man 3. So, when he is given the chance of building something that will protect Earth and not be dependent on flesh and blood heroes, he grabs for it. Tony, I think, is the most aware of the Avengers of how soft and vulnerable people are, how unpredictable they can be, and believes that steel is safer. It’s better. It’s programmable and controllable. Banner is there being cautious but he trusts his friend knows what he’s doing, just like Rogers trusts Tony to be sane and sensible.

Obviously, that doesn’t happen or we wouldn’t have a second Avengers movie.

The story, then, is the age-old trope of man reaching too far with his good intentions. It plays on the fear of artificial intelligence and thinking machines that gave birth to the Terminator franchise. We’re seeing a lot of movies lately that betray a fear of the consequence of our current actions, whether it concerns the environment (like Interstellar) or genetics (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) or technology. It’s a solid trope with lots of interpretations and I think Whedon handled it very well.

My Popcorn Moment

We all have them at some point. Something happens on the screen and it provokes an urge to throw popcorn or yell, “Are you kidding me??” It happened to me in this movie.

Remember how in the trailers, we see the Avengers sitting around talking about Thor’s hammer and who can lift it? Well, that’s the tail end of this big party Stark throws in the Avengers Tower. Early into the party, Agent Hill, Stark, Thor, and Barton (or was it Banner?) are standing by the bar. Agent Hill asks, “Guys, where are the ladies?” The camera turns to Stark and Thor. Tony explains that Pepper is off running the business. Thor says that now that Jane is such an expert on the convergence, she’s in high demand. In fact, he doesn’t even know what country she’s in.

I’m sorry…what??

As I discussed in a previous post (entitled “Thor is a Selfish Idiot and Why“), I talked about how Thor gave up the throne so he could be with Jane, thereby leaving Asgard without an heir. We’re led to believe in Thor 2 that the only reason why Thor has come to care so much about Earth is because of Jane. Jane opened his eyes to the beauty of humanity, yadda yadda. Therefore, as far as he knows, he’s left an old man on the throne without an heir and…he’s not even keeping up with where his lady love is? Yeah, all he needs to do is pop in to Heimdell and ask him to locate her but…you would think he would be keeping tabs on her.

I mean, how is that even love? My husband wouldn’t be able to stand not knowing what country I’m in. Hell, any boyfriend I’ve had over the past years would want to at least have an idea of where I was if I left campus or went somewhere with friends. In fact, the last boyfriend I had would start asking mutual friends about my whereabouts if he hadn’t heard from me at a time when I was normally with him. And those were relationships that didn’t even succeed.

To me, that just made me detest the Thor/Jane dynamic even more and how utterly ludicrous it is in terms of story. Because Thor didn’t need a character development, Jane didn’t need to show and what mention is made of her is this dismissive, throwaway, “I don’t know which country she’s in” line. Yeah, he gets a little competitive with Stark about Jane being better than Pepper but that somehow just makes his attitude even worse.

Just…ugh. Can we end this relationship and start a Thor/Sif romance because at least that makes sense?

Barton

I want to really quickly say that I’m happy with how Whedon fleshed out Barton in this movie. The farm/safe house thing did contain a surprise that was a little out of left field and showed how different the MCU is from the comic universes. You can’t always look to the comics to guess what Marvel is going to do in the movie. But it was still a nice surprise and I really loved that Barton, the unsung member of the Avengers, got more screen time.

Final Words

It’s a little sad that Avengers 2: Age of Ultron is the last movie Whedon is doing for Marvel but I think it was a nice wrap-up. It showed how much Whedon has grown as a director and how he is such a master of his craft. There was another moment in the movie where the appearance of a certain other character wouldn’t have gone amiss but it wasn’t surprising he didn’t how as that particular actor was busy filming other projects. I think this movie did a lot in moving the MCU forward into its next phase. I really look forward to seeing what next is in store for the Avengers.

But I still can’t take Ant-Man seriously.

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