The Avengers: Age of Ultron opened this weekend, as I’m sure all kids, adults and breathing vertebrates are aware of. Being one of the biggest movie franchises out these days, buzz about the second Avengers movie is already saturating the internet. There has been some praise, some criticism, some thought-provoking examination, and even a very detailed (somewhat nit-picky) “Hater’s Guide”. But I want to leave all of that be for a minute and just take a second to say: OMG, WASN’T IT AWESOME?! The fights! Super-beings palling around and trading banter! A really compelling villain! New heroes to root for! SPOILERS AHEAD as I fawn over my personal highlights.
As with most movies (especially the nerdy ones that I most look forward to), I vowed not to read anything about this movie or see any trailers until I could see it for myself first. And boy howdy, was that ever the right thing to do. Most people won’t even consider this a spoiler, but OH MY GOD, THE VISION. Because I put myself in a media blackout, I had no idea this was coming! You know those moments when a movie truly takes you outside of yourself and you are filled with wonder? That’s how I felt when that chamber opened and the being inside it hurtled toward the window to look at the world of humanity for the first time. I saw his reflection in the glass and I started tapping my boyfriend’s leg, whispering excitedly, “Is that who I think it is?!” Watching him float down toward the Avengers, watching him morph his appearance into the iconic hero we all know, I experienced genuine awe. I found the acting to be spot on too. He seems like he is constantly observing and absorbing things, mulling them over in his mind, adapting his thoughts and his perceptions as he takes in new information. He’s both the child that asks daunting questions about our existence and the wise grandfather who’s had years to contemplate the answer. He’s truly beautiful, and I can’t wait to see more of him.
I was also quite happy to finally see Hawkeye get a bigger role in the MCU’s ongoing saga. At least in part because of how much I love Jeremy Renner, I have wanted to get some quality Hawkeye screen time since his very first appearance in Thor. I also like the idea of them veering away from the obvious “will they/won’t they” plot pit that Hawkeye and Black Widow could have veered into and instead making him into a family man. It’s nice to know at least one of the Avengers has a real life. One might be able to argue that Tony has a personal life, but he’s not exactly your average Joe, is he? He’s more like what would happen if someone dropped a child prodigy into the laps of Caligula and Lex Luthor and asked them to try and raise it together to the best of their abilities. (You like my crossover idea? Yes, you love it.) But I think it was definitely important to establish someone on the team as representative of what they are all trying to protect, especially in the context of this particular storyline about whether humanity is worth saving.
The answer to question as far as Ultron is concerned, is of course, no. Ultron was suprisingly human for a manical robot. He’s also a pretty convincing example of what kind of shit can go wrong when we try to force science too far forward too fast. Being what is essentially the next evolutionary step of robots (i.e. true artificial intelligence), Ultron decides that he is the perfect being and that humanity needs to up its game too. And how does he want to do that? Force us to evolve (or, if we can’t survive, be purged) with a catastrophic event. That’s some next level shit. Rule the Earth? Nah, fuck that. LET’S ACTUALLY PLAY GOD. Having said that, there were times I actually felt sympathetic toward Ultron. When he first wakes up and he’s so confused and upset, I was pretty angry at Stark. Come on...dude didn’t ask to be born, and he certainly didn’t agree to be Earth’s 24/7 bouncer so you could run off and bang the hot CEO of your billion-dollar company. Creating a sophisticated artificial intelligence for the express purpose of doing whatever you tell it to do...isn’t that like child labor? Any way you choose to look at it, pretty ethically sketchy.
It’s also pretty telling when Bruce fucking Banner has reservations about what you’re doing in the lab. This is the dude that nuked himself so hard, he became an uncontrollable weapon that is incapable of being killed. Hilariously, considering how unstoppable Hulk is, I feel like Bruce himself is kind of a pushover. He lets Stark steamroll him about the android thing (that ultimately led to Vision, but still) and he repeatedly puts himself in compromising situations with Natasha, even though it’s clear that he’s trying to resist her. Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like Natasha and Bruce together, but it’s clear that he is pessimistic about it, as is evidenced at the end of the movie. Having to be constantly around her must be painful, but he just can’t bring himself to be assertive enough in any way to go, “seriously, we need to stop this flirting. it’s going to end badly.” Poor Bruce. And him silently riding off alone in the jet is even sadder than the old Hulk show where dude is hitchhiking. Come back soon, Bruce.
We lost some other people in this movie too, most notably, Pietro. Did they seriously need to kill him right when we got to first see him in action? I really liked how they incorporated the twins in the movie, but I was really hurt that we lost Pietro before we truly got to know him. I get what they were trying to do: Avengers can die, there are real consequences to this work and it very well could have been Hawkeye. I just hate that it had to be so soon. On the other hand, his symbolically heavy death will probably result in some character development for Wanda, so I guess we’ll at least get to watch her grow. At least they didn’t stuff him in a refrigerator. And can I just say that I have wanted to see Wanda on the big screen for over a decade now? Dream realized. I would have been a little happier if she were a mutant rather than an experiment and if her powers had been a little closer to form (“Hex magic” = super cool), but you can’t have everything I guess. Watching her lose control and blast all those robots after Pietro died seemed something like foreshadowing to me. We all know how powerful and dangerous she is. Then when Vision carried her out of the rubble to safety, I swear I squee’d a little. <3
Speaking of foreshadowing, the new avengers! Woo! Although, does it really count as foreshadowing if it’s totally spelled out for you? Cap and BW training the new team! Woo! (How many “woo”s am I up to now?”) I wonder if we will get to see any of those training sessions in Civil War. Beyond watching them all strut their stuff without standing in anyone’s shadows, I am really excited to watch all of their interpersonal dynamics play out. How does War Machine feel about Vision? Is Falcon freaked out by a psychic chick with magic laser hands? I just want to see how they become a real team like the Avengers did. Very much looking forward to that. Let’s dive in. Favorite moments? Most promising developments? (Secret shipping?) Commenters assemble!
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