The larger mythology of the Marvel Universe makes “Avengers: Age of Ultron” difficult for the casual viewer

I’m not much of a comic books fan, but I’ve seen plenty of film (and now one televisions) adaptations of comic books. I love Batman, I think Superman is kind of boring, but I love anything that has a group of superheroes working together. I loved Joss Whedon’s 2012 Avengers film, and Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the best films I saw last year. However I haven’t seen any of the Marvel’s Avengers films that focus on individual Avengers. I’m actively trying to see more films this year, because it’s an area in which I know I’m behind. I haven’t seen the Godfather trilogy or Casablanca (I’m fully aware of my film related shortcomings), so I’m trying to see as many films as I can, both old and new. It wasn’t until I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron today however (it’s my birthday!), that I realised how behind I was on the mythology of the Marvel Universe and/or multiverse.

In 2012, Avengers was a hit, and it was a fairly accessible film for the casual moviegoer. I liked the way that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner nerded out together: “Finally! Someone else who has done the reading!” and I loved the deep platonic friendship between Black Widow and Hawkeye as well as Mark Ruffalo’s brilliant portrayal of the Hulk. Aside from the bad guy being Thor’s brother Loki who was from another planet and seemed to be able to summon demons through portals, the story was fairly linear, which is often the case for films that involve a band of superheroes working together for the first time. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy with my dad last year, and it was a similar kind of story, except with a different kind of hero.

What I didn’t realise when I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron today is that there was a larger plan. I know someone made a graphic of all the superhero movies from both Marvel and DC Comics that have planned releases for at least the next few years, but I never paid that much attention to it. Then when Thor went to get an Infinity Stone two-thirds of the way through the film, I realised that the Avengers and the Guardians were going to cross over at some point, especially given the post-credit sequence at the end of the film. When the film ended, my friend and I just looked at each other. It was a lot to take in.

I liked Age of Ultron, but I think it suffered from trying to fit so much in. The best science fiction is about human nature, and how there are unintended consequences when we try to make improvements to the world. The Industrial Revolution has had serious environmental consequences, and the side effects of an atomic bomb are still affecting the current populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is what happens when Tony Stark tries to create artificial intelligence. He’s a smart guy, but not smart enough. His creation becomes his enemy, and Ultron is constantly evolving. There is so much science fiction about the dangers of artificial intelligence, and that’s because we have no idea what the consequences will be. Because of our history, our imaginations immediately create a worst case scenario, which is what our Avengers have to try and prevent here.

Other thoughts:

  • I loved the casting of Linda Cardellini as Hawkeye’s wife. I like that Clint’s deep personal connection to Natasha is as deep as it is without being a threat to his wife. I also liked that none of the others even knew he was married.
  • I’m really into the Banner/Natasha romance, I think Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson have great chemistry and that they both have their demons that make them unwilling to move forward with their relationship. I did not like that whole thing where Banner said that he couldn’t have children and then Natasha said “they made me sterile.” It was a very awkward piece of dialogue.
  • As far as dialogue goes, I wasn’t as impressed with it as I was with the first Avengers film. Or maybe it’s just that there was hardly anyone in the middle of the day on a Friday screening of a movie so there wasn’t any sort of atmosphere I could pick up on.
  • Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch: It’s sad that Quicksilver is dead, but Elizabeth Olsen is a powerhouse, and that moment when she knew that her brother had just died was heartbreaking (I also only just found out through reading Wikipedia that she’s the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley).
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