Age of Ultron: The Movie that Broke My Love for Superhero Movies

Age Of Ultron:
The Movie that Broke My Love for Superhero Movies

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Age of Ultron is the worst movie to happen to the Superhero franchise genre. Despite its publicity and praises on the script, Age of Ultron was the Transformers release of 2015. It made its bank, but critically it was a bomb.
The AoU announcement came quickly after Marvel Comics finished up their reboot of Age of Ultron story arc, which is arguably the worst Avengers story arc in recent memory. However, Marvel has adopted cross media promotion. Remember the whole, “it’s all connected” thing? So, it wasn’t a surprise when the announcement finally came.
When news was first breaking about the script, it was called dark and cerebral. Early readers praised AoU in its complexity and thought it would be strong enough to stand up next to Winter Soldier’s success. After all, they had a lot of material and foundation to work up from. Also, us Geeks had wondered when the time gem would come into play. Because Ultron story arcs ultimately like to play with time, it made sense that AoU would play into the Infinity Gauntlet mythology. Because the gem grants the user the time traveling power, which Avenger would be worthy or responsible enough to hold on to an Infinity Gem? Often, the comics choose Captain America to hold onto the gems because he is the most altruistic. But, what if they had to go back to 1950’s America to stop Ultron from being developed, as they often do in the comics but Steve Rogers wanted to stay? We even hinted at his longing for his past in previous installment as well as Age of Ultron. Simply put, a moral dilemma would have been a welcomed addition to the franchise. Now, that is just one of many areas they could have gone. However, bestowing the gem to a completely new character creation undermines the Avengers role or purpose regarding the Infinity Gauntlet.
In case those of you who forgot, the Infinity War is something the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building up to for over a decade now and it has now become the slowest moving McGuffin to crawl into the cinematic world. Now, most McGuffins are just there to fuel the plot, yet it should have some sort of impending consequence to the characters involved. However, each time we hit play, all tension surrounding the gauntlet has been subdued and white washed. The gems are somewhere but who cares? Do they matter? None of this became more confusing until Marvel decided to blow their own horn and show all of their Marvel releases back to back to those die-hard fans who inevitably became overburdened by the undeniably loose plot threads. For me, the Ultron/Infinity slap in the face didn’t truly hurt until Thanos decided to break the fourth wall and yell at the audience for the incompetence and mishandling of the Infinity Gauntlet story arc.
Then we must address the overall purpose of this franchise. Within the first five minutes of AoU, I am quickly reminded of Super Bowl America. Scenes of American white male fantasy include the gridiron offense overpowering linebackers, tough Ford trucks overcoming boulders on mountains, and now Avengers beating down some Nazi-esque terrorists. As my fist is pumping and these scenes of masculinities are playing in slow motion through my head, Pauline Kale and Alejandro Inarritu’s words are echoing in the back of my mind. Are these superhero franchises nothing more than immature white boyhood fantasies? Are any of these relatable characters? By the time we leave Hawkeye’s farm, the answer is no. First of all, the family and farm undermined the sexual tension that was not only building between Natasha and Hawkeye since the first Avengers but also building from an earlier exchange of dialogue while Hawkeye was in recovery. Who uses a wife and kids plot twist outside of the romance genre? In fact, I can’t quite think of a sequel undermining its characters relationship since Princess Leia kissed Luke Skywalker. Then there’s Mark Ruffalo’s character and romance. By the way, in the same year Mark Ruffalo is the guy who just came off of doing the three-hour Foxcatcher, which relied on body language to fully explain the complicated relationship between Ruffalo and his drug-addicted brother, and also the guy who may win awards for his supporting performance in Spotlight. So, it wasn’t the acting. It was that the scene had no clear direction or purpose. This is the part of the story which serves as the character development phase, yet it was all too awkward.

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There are some people who scream about social injustice in regards to Ruffalo and Johanson’s character romance. However, I say the social injustice is directed at the homoerotic tension that’s been building up between Chris Evans and RDJ’s respective characters since the first Avengers movie. Don’t the quips between Evans and Downey sound like that of a recently married couple? Wouldn’t it make more sense why Tony Stark is mad at Steve Rogers when he finds out about his secret lover Bucky; therefore, their breakup is kicking off the Civil War? If we don’t want to admit to Avengers being a conservative male fantasy, then isn’t it time Marvel pony up and show their progression by changing the status quo, at least a little?
That is the reason why the Marvel franchise became pointless. Outside of their respective origin movies, nobody and nothing change. The Age of Ultron is about the Avengers overcoming a robot with daddy issues. At the end of the day everyone high fives each other and white washes anything that might kinda affect future plot lines, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to name drop like a sponsored prize fighter. It isn’t cerebral. It isn’t dark and full of character depth. It’s a timid blockbuster and it’s full of product placement for a bloated franchise. Perhaps, if Joss Whedon stuck to the original script or somehow stopped outside influences, we could have experienced what was promised. However, what we received was a 280 million-dollar commercial for a franchise that has overstayed its welcome.

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Overall, what is the relevance of the super hero genre? One issue that sparked debate later in the year was when Spielberg mentioned that the super hero movie will go the way of the western. The western genre back in the day was its era’s blockbuster. That’s where Hollywood threw all the big names in the pot, and they made sure that it was fun for the whole family. However, these days westerns come out much less frequently and aren’t the big dollar maker that they use to be. After Spielberg let these words slip during an interview for Bridge of Spies, which isn’t related to blockbusters or super heros, many reporters asked everybody for a few insightful words. During a press conference for his directorial debut, Before We Go, another movie that has nothing to do with blockbusters or superheroes, the most insightful response came from Mr Captain America, Chris Evans. he mentioned that, “I certainly think that given the fact that technology has finally advanced, they’re always going to be looking for other films to match their technological accomplishments… whether it’s superhero film or fantasy in general”. That argument makes a lot of sense. SuperHero, Fantasy, as well as Sci Fi should be great places to showcase our newest Hollywood technology. However, I can’t think of a single instance in Age of Ultron where the technology particularly stood out, at least Ant Man had the Quantum Realm.
Personally, I now regret ever wanting to see my favorite comic book characters turned into celluloid and keep slapping my eight-year-old self for being slightly interested in the Infinity War and Civil War. Jesus, none of the entries really can come up with an original title or identity.

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Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014) Review

Captain_America618-618x400Directors:

Anthony RussoJoe Russo

Writers:

Christopher Markus (screenplay), Stephen McFeely(screenplay)

During the early years of Marvel, the global threat focused on weaponizing radiation testing and atomic bombs. Marvel summed up this fear with their rampaging Hulk. However, that fear has been diminished while a new fear focusing on surveillance and terrorism has grown. The writers of Winter Soldier understood this shift thus they modernized Marvel’s threats to match the current global state. Because over arching surveillance diminishes people’s privacy and freedom, it made sense why this was Captain America’s story. After all, the First Avenger only fights for his beliefs in freedom and justice.

Previously, Marvel bumped against this ideology during the Iron Man series. Stark Industries earned its fortune by manufacturing state of the art military grade weapons. After the invention of the Mach IV, Iron Patriot, and War Machines suits. The moral dilemma develops which question whether or not any government body should have access to this technology. Captain America: Winter Soldier answers the question through a domino effect. Through backdoors, governments are providing known terrorist organizations with military technology. The terrorist use this technology to create terror and chaos. This prompts other governments to use and develop more surveillance technology as a form of counter terrorism. The transparency this surveillance creates not only provides a suspect list but also diminishes privacy and freedom for everyone else. This becomes even more apparent when the suspect list is turned into a kill list for military drones. This is the antagonism of Winter Soldier.

Although most comic book movies have a clearly defined villain, it actually makes more sense for Winter Soldier to take this approach. Yes, there is the Winter Soldier, but as one can see he is merely one cog in the machine. Writers often make a mistake of throwing a more powerful doppelganger at their protagonist. This direct approach will often create forgettable antagonist. Instead, it’s better to have an antagonist who directly challenges the ideology the hero represents. This more dynamic threat is no longer a simple can the hero survive. Not only was every action scene beautifully choreographed, but also each fight usually ended with a hero limping or crawling away. They weren’t just trying to defeat their opponent but also trying to escape with their lives. Furthermore, because this is a story that revolves around deception, the protagonists never knew who the enemy was until it was too late. This dynamic will create tension because it now makes one wonder how much will be affected when the day is over and the dust settles. By the time the credits roll, it’s clear everything in the Captain’s world changes.

In addition, the production was highly detailed and orchestrated. For example, the sniper shots were brilliant pieces of cinema. First the tension would be primed with the gunshot followed by the cold industrial Winter Soldier theme. This would be followed by confusing POV camera angles which never clearly focus on where the sniper was shooting from. This combined with each shot always hitting the highest priority person created a well executed scene which accurately represents the Winter Soldier and his level of threat.

The actors all delivered top performances both physically and emotionally. There are quite a few instances where their actions and physical endurance was indeed super soldier like. It’s surprising they weren’t huffing and puffing after every twenty seconds just on the one take which made it to film. It’s hard to imagine them keeping this pace up all day. Then, these actors were also able to project the full emotional spectrum. For instance, Scarlett Johansson could make the audience laugh to breaking their hearts within one short scene.

Finally, not only was Marvel able to follow up Dark Knight but also they were able to push beyond and set the new standard for comic book movies. Although they both touched upon similar themes, the amount of depth and quality in Winter Soldier made Dark Knight seem much more shallow and less daring. From top to bottom, Marvel was able to create a super hero world which carried resonance with its beautiful set production, top notch acting, and mature storytelling. Thank you Marvel for finally making a movie for us comic book lovers.