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Published on March 18th, 2018 | by Lauren Bycroft

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The Road to Infinity War – Avengers: Age of Ultron

Whereas 2012’s The Avengers burst forth like the Hulk himself, Avengers: Age of Ultron feels stunted and more generic than Joss Whedon’s previous superhero endeavor.  There are a lot of interesting and worthwhile bits to Age of Ultron making it rather unfortunate that it does not manage to coalesce into a successful whole.  For every brilliant scene of our heroes trying to lift Thor’s hammer, there’s a sun’s getting real low clunker.  It’s clear that Whedon had lofty plans for his sequel; there are a lot of dynamics at play between Ultron and Stark, Stark and Rogers, Hawkeye’s family, and Romanoff and Banner just to name a few of the main bullet points.  With that said, despite its flaws, the film is ultimately one that is rich with the potential for discussion to be sure.

The film’s first scene is an exciting idea, showing our heroes together, a well-oiled machine, on their last of a string of missions to locate Loki’s scepter.  Their banter and the almost pedestrian way they handle their attack is fun to see even if the action itself does come across a little more video game-like and not quite as dynamic and exciting as the battle of New York.  They’re a worn and tested team that trust and respect each other, and it’s a wonderful payoff to see that dynamic at work.  And while that team aspect is in fine form – even laying some of the ground level tensions and love between Steve and Tony that will boil over later in Civil WarUltron really fails some of its individual characters.

Black Widow, so incredibly introduced in the previous Avengers film and such a vital and important part of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is really done a disservice in Ultron.  It’s not the romance I’m opposed to.  I actually like the pairing of the quiet, reserved Banner and the assertive, confident Romanoff.  But the execution of their will they won’t they flirtation is clumsy and outdated.  When Bruce starts to catch on to the fact that Natasha is actually serious about them he completely shuts it down – his first assumption being she’ll want a domestic life like the one Clint has.  Because all women want a farmhouse and babies, right?  Her response is not to necessarily clarify her intentions or desires but to call herself a monster because the final act of her assassin training was sterilization – rendering her incapable of ever having children.  Whedon has since clarified this monster comment, stating that it refers more to her actions as an assassin but still, the whole exchange and its lack of deftness reduces a strong, brilliant character to her ability to give birth.

Age of Ultron also fails to fully explore its most interesting aspect – its villain.  One of the biggest and most fascinating through lines of the MCU has been Tony Stark’s evolution and ability to continually screw up on a monumental level while trying to be a better, literally heroic person.  Enter Ultron – what we can now see as the inciting incident for the aforementioned Civil War.

“Ultron can’t see the difference between saving the world and destroying it.  Where do you think he gets that from?” Scarlett Witch warns Cap.

Seeing this seemingly ‘perfect’ AI experience petulant rage at the thought of being compared to Tony Stark – his creator – is sublimely disturbing.

“Everyone creates the thing they dread,” Ultron warns, describing Stark perfectly.

But there’s no real follow through.  It would have been nice to see these mirror images go toe to toe a bit more.  Ultron had the potential to be a great villain with his ability to exist without a physical form and his distorted humanity, but is instead fairly run of the mill, wanting to destroy The Avengers and human kind because… reasons.

About a year after Avengers: Age of Ultron’s release, Joss Whedon confessed that he had been “so beaten down by the process” of making the film.  He himself admitted to the film’s flaws and shortcomings.   In a way, his confirmation makes Ultron even more disappointing because it reinforces the idea that there was something better there waiting to be dug out of the rubble.  And yet, while not a home run, Age of Ultron at least tried for something.  It took Hawkeye in a different direction giving him an instant boost in depth and interest. It opened the fissures between Tony and Steve – fascinating to analyze now. It tried to keep audiences and fans guessing and that’s always admirable.  I’d rather have a movie trying and failing to be unique in some way than bland and predictable.

 


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