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Age of Ultron Thoughts & Discussion

My wife and I caught Avengers: Age of Ultron over the weekend. It wasn’t as strong as its predecessor, but it was a generally fun film. I feel strange saying this about a 2.5 hour movie, but I think it needed to be significantly longer, given the amount of story they were trying to tell.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Hulk

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED

Scarlet Witch

Okay, one of the biggest problems I saw was the emphasis on big flashy action scenes over development and story. I think the movie does a pretty good job, considering the number of characters it has to deal with, not to mention threads connecting to various other films both past and present, as well as Agents of Shield. But too many things were rushed or glossed over. Thor and the Glorious Pool of Glistening Pecs is a good example. What was that about? How much of his vision was supposed to be real?

Ultron had much more personality than I expected, and I loved his snark. But he wasn’t scary. In the first Avengers movie, we had a villain we’d met before, someone whose backstory and motivations we understood. Ultron comes out of nowhere, because apparently the mindstone is a computer matrix for AI that wants to wipe out humanity. Also, city-meteor! He should have been much more terrifying, and he just wasn’t. He never felt like a genuine threat.

Hawkeye was wonderful. Love the snark. Love the Scarlet Witch-stopping arrow he smacks onto her forehead, and his comment about not doing the mind-control thing again. Love that he has a family. (Though the family didn’t seem to have any existence outside of him; what do they do when he’s not around? Just hang out and hide from the world?) I loved watching him bring the more down-to-earth human being vibe to the team. My favorite bit was his conversation with Scarlet Witch. “…and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense.”

Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver: I liked them both more than I expected. Quicksilver and Hawkeye played off of each other so well, and I’m bummed we won’t get to see more of that. Once again, I would have liked to see a little more backstory and character development, but I thought what we got worked. (Though erasing the characters’ Roma heritage from the comics is a problem.) I particularly liked the choreography for Scarlet Witch when she’s using her powers. I definitely want to see more of her character.

Hulk and Black Widow: Honestly, I just wasn’t feeling it. Bruce Banner and Tony Stark have much better chemistry. There’s been a lot of discussion about Black Widow’s post-shower talk about being sterilized and being a monster. I think at best that was clumsily written, and at worse it’s an asinine suggestion that to be a sterile woman is to be monstrous. I’m leaning more toward bad writing, but either way…meh.

The opening battle was one of my favorite parts of the movie. We got to see the chemistry and development of the Avengers as a team, along with plenty of banter. “Language…” It was just plain fun.

Tony Stark’s prima nocta joke. Was it in character for Tony? Maybe…I’d like to think he’d grown up a bit. But it was also gross and completely unnecessary.

Vision looked a little goofy, but I liked him. His handing Mewmew over to Thor was perfect. Like Ultron, I think we need a little more understanding of just what the hell he is, but I like him. I particularly appreciated his teamwork with Thor. (“I am mighty…I am running out of things to say!”) I also liked his conversation with the last Ultron bot at the end.

The ending was interesting. I don’t know what they’re doing with the Hulk, but I liked his choice to leave. I wasn’t sure about the Hulk calmly riding along in a cloaked quinjet, but leaving the team made sense. He’d been exposed as a monster, and then Natasha basically betrayed him by pushing him into that pit to bring out the Hulk. Totally in character for her, but also not okay. I thought that was a very powerfully written scene. I also liked seeing the beginning of a new team.

#

So, what did the rest of you think?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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( 48 comments — Leave a comment )
livejournal
May. 13th, 2015 06:39 pm (UTC)
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faecat
May. 13th, 2015 07:05 pm (UTC)
The movie reinforced for me that I would be so amazingly happy if people that I respect would quit telling me that Joss Whedon is the most amazing feminist who ever feministed an analogy because Buffy and Firefly.

As I commented elsewhere:
"Natasha gets reduced to a whimpering love bunny who talks about how she's a monster because she can't have kids. Tony is making rape jokes WHILE trying to prove that he's worthy of lifting Mjolnir. Maria gets no background, Clint's wife is LITERALLY barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen for the whole damn movie, there's no character development for Wanda except a little bit when her brother dies. The one WOC in the movie is Dr Cho, who pretty much only is there to -a- gush about Thor and then -b- get mind-janked and -c- beaten up by the bad guy. And the Maximoffs are supposed to be Romani Jews, who are -a- completely whitewashed and -b- WILLFULLY SIGN UP FOR NAZI TWINS EXPERIMENTATION CAMP, ARE YOU FRIGGIN SERIOUS?! "
dungeonwriter
May. 13th, 2015 07:35 pm (UTC)
(Are links not allowed?)

My fellow theatre goers and I had a long discussion at the bus stop after the movie over the white-washing issue. Aaron Taylor Johnson identifies ethnically as Jewish and therefore, is it white washing of Pietro? We all agreed Wanda was, but we had a long debate over Pietro, since it's offensive to say "Well, he doesn't look Jewish enough..."
(no subject) - jimhines - May. 13th, 2015 07:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
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dungeonwriter
May. 13th, 2015 07:31 pm (UTC)
I'm the great niece of someone who was sterilized against her will during the Holocaust, and while Great Aunt L would have likely never had kids (she would have been a terrible parent, she hated noise, dirt or children), she still felt a lot of those feelings of being dehumanized. I don't think monstrous means barren, monstrous means that someone remade their bodies against their will. Natasha not having kids is one thing. Natasha being violated to make sure she was only a weapon is another.

faecat
May. 13th, 2015 07:36 pm (UTC)
As our host pointed out, and has been discussed to great lengths else-net, there are a variety of ways that one can interpret that specific scene.
(no subject) - scarlettina - May. 14th, 2015 01:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - akiko - May. 14th, 2015 02:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seadream - May. 18th, 2015 05:05 am (UTC) - Expand
blairmacg
May. 13th, 2015 07:36 pm (UTC)
Though the family didn’t seem to have any existence outside of him; what do they do when he’s not around? Just hang out and hide from the world?

Me, I saw an entire existence. But then, I'm a single homeschooling mother who chose to live out in the boonies for three years, so I knew quite well everything that would fully occupy their time. :)
jimhines
May. 13th, 2015 07:41 pm (UTC)
I wish we'd gotten a little more of that on the screen. Did we ever hear anything to indicate what they did?
(no subject) - blairmacg - May. 13th, 2015 08:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
dr_phil_physics
May. 13th, 2015 07:40 pm (UTC)
I'm weird in that I am usually in favor of longer movies -- for the purposes of filling in the gaps. Not just longer battle scenes...

In my case, I am not steeped in the canon, so I would want to know about the twins being Romani Jews. The first X-Men movie gave us a look at how young Eric was used by the Nazis, so I could see a story arc. But to skip it and leave holes?

They still need to deal with the amunition/power/reload issue. Seems to me that about 11% into the battle, they should be out of everything. That's always a problem.

Tony talking about prima nocta just felt like someone bragging about having seen Braveheart once -- totally stupid and someone should have called him out on it. Better yet, leave it to die on the cutting room floor.

Of course, it may be we'll get a Scarlett Johansson action movie, but it might be Ghost In The Shell before Black Widow. Enthused about the former, disappointed in the lack of the latter.

Dr. Phil
jimhines
May. 13th, 2015 07:44 pm (UTC)
Someone did a fanfic-lite thing on Twitter, and I can't remember who it was, because I suck. But it was basically Tony making that joke, and then Thor and Cap and the rest shooting him down with various versions of, "Not cool, man."
(no subject) - margaret_y - May. 13th, 2015 08:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
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markbernstein
May. 13th, 2015 07:41 pm (UTC)
I can't say I disagree with anything you wrote here. I'd give much of the credit for Ultron's personality to James Spader's voice work. (Although, as a regular watcher of "The Blacklist", I had to get used to it.)

I had a great time watching "Age of Ultron", but recognize the limitations. It's the third-best SF film I've seen so far in 2015, after "Predestination" and "Ex Machina". With "Mad Max: Fury Road", running at 99% positive on Rotten Tomatoes, opening Friday, and "Tomorrowland" opening in another week, we could be heading into a very good year for genre movies.
jimhines
May. 13th, 2015 07:42 pm (UTC)
Spader did a great job with Ultron.

Is it weird that I kind of want a spinoff Ultron show ... and that I want it to be a comedy?
(no subject) - missingkitsune - May. 13th, 2015 09:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roseembolism - May. 14th, 2015 12:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - siege - May. 14th, 2015 03:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - missingkitsune - May. 14th, 2015 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
ale_irenear
May. 13th, 2015 08:11 pm (UTC)
Great review!!
I share some of your questions and you raised some more! =)

I noticed you write books, and some of the titles are very interesting!! Are they available here? or I have to purchase them somewhere??

Regards,
Ale
jimhines
May. 13th, 2015 08:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

If you go to http://www.jimchines.com/bookstore/ it will have links for all of my books. Most of them can also be ordered or bought at the brick and mortar stores, though I can never guess what they will or won't have on the shelves.
(no subject) - ale_irenear - May. 13th, 2015 08:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
l_o_lostshadows
May. 14th, 2015 01:21 am (UTC)
I enjoyed it.

I think we really didn't get enough of the twins' backstory to say for certain its been completely changed. All we know is their parents were dead. We don't know what their religion or cultural background was. (I'm also willing to make an argument for "still mutants, even if they never use the word." (What was different about those two, that they not only survived, but ended up with powers?))

I would love to see an extended version of Thor's pool scene, purely for cinematic reasons. ;)

I didn't feel Nat and Bruce either. It just seemed to come out of left field. No setup, just "Hey, Nat likes Bruce now."
lylassandra
May. 14th, 2015 06:55 am (UTC)
wow, this deer got teal
While I don't approve of the whitewashing at all, and I admit I don't know the comics well enough to know whether there's another set of characters that would have made more sense, I thought making Wanda and Pietro volunteers made a lot of sense. It seemed to me that Joss was trying (but didn't quite do a good enough job) to talk about the impact the US has around the world, and how we're decidedly *not* the heroes in the eyes of most of those people. I liked how their story about the bomb recalled Tony's revelation moment in IM1, and I thought they stood for a very important viewpoint.

Unfortunately, it was pretty severely undermined. Both by a lack of clarity from Ultron (he mentions, like, once, that the Avengers are killers and a little more development along those lines would have sold the premise better)... and also by the about-face the twins are forced to do to make them "good guys". They go from "Omg, Ultron is even worse than the Avengers!" to "Avengers Yay!" in a way that turned their story away from Cap's take on it early on ("We're not at war"/ "They are") and towards "Oh you silly non-Americans just don't understand, we're working for the greater good!"

It's late and I'm not even sure that was coherent, but I've been wanting to talk about this idea with someone, so... thoughts?
jimhines
May. 19th, 2015 12:19 pm (UTC)
Re: wow, this deer got teal
I could see that take on it, particularly with things like that very brief scene of the Iron Legion and the angry response people had to them. But like much of the movie, I think it could have used one more rewrite for clarity.
Re: wow, this deer got teal - lylassandra - May. 21st, 2015 05:25 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: wow, this deer got teal - misslynx - May. 20th, 2015 04:26 am (UTC) - Expand
themis1
May. 14th, 2015 07:12 am (UTC)
Since Jos filmed an hour more than we saw, and had to fight with Disney for what went in, I suspect we would have got a much more balanced movie if they'd kept their oar out. Some of the awkwardness appears to be down to what ended up on the cutting room floor (the Thor sequence would have made much more sense had it been left intact, for example).

I find it frustrating that so many people want to read more into this than was there. Was it a good interpretation of the Marvel universe? Did it leave you feeling great?

Do you seriously think the Roma people would have been happy about being represented as fast and weird?!!
jimhines
May. 14th, 2015 11:33 am (UTC)
I'm not about to try to speak for "the Roma people," but a number of people--including some of Romani heritage--have been expressing their frustration and anger over their erasure. And I think there's a lot more to those two characters than simply being fast and weird.
scarlettina
May. 14th, 2015 01:11 pm (UTC)
OK. So Black Widow never said she was a monster because she couldn't have children. She said she was a monster because she's a trained assassin and that her being sterile was a result of the training. (It was her "graduation ceremony.") She said she was a monster as a way to draw commonality between herself and Bruce Banner who, by the way, brought up infertility before Black Widow did. I can't figure out how people keep missing this key thing. It's been written about elsewhere. Whedon may not be perfect (and I promise you, I don't think he is--I HATED Dollhouse), but I don't think he'd make the primary mistake of reducing Black Widow to a horrible I-can't-have-babies-so-I'm-a-sad-barren-monster cliche. The scene may have been clumsily written, with the emphases in the wrong places, but he's not stupid enough to make this particular mistake he's ebing accused of. (He did just fine making the "prima nocte" mistake, which had me doing a doubletake.)
misslynx
May. 20th, 2015 04:44 am (UTC)
She said she was a monster as a way to draw commonality between herself and Bruce Banner who, by the way, brought up infertility before Black Widow did.

Yes! And that's one of the things that drives me crazy about a lot of the criticism of Black Widow's depiction in this film. Apparently it's totally OK for a male character to express regret about not being able to have kids - but if a female character does, then everyone seems to think that totally negates her as a character, and makes snarky comments about her being "baby crazy". Hell, Hawkeye actually has kids, but apparently that doesn't negate him as a character or as a hero. But let Black Widow show the slightest regret about having been forcibly sterilized, and apparently that makes her a complete nonentity or something.

It seems to be a popular opinion is that motherhood, or even the merest hint of potential interest in it, is like kryptonite to female characters and totally negates or invalidates everything else about them. As a mother, I find this absolutely maddening - and really insulting.

Likewise with people getting all up in arms about her being romantically interested in Banner. Someone further up in the comments here described her as a "whimpering love bunny" for that. Funny, I don't recall that phrase ever having been used to describe Cap's interest in Peggy Carter, or Hawkeye being married, or pretty much any other male character who was romantically interested in anyone ever.

It seems like there's a major double standard going on here, and given that it's women making most of those judgments, I suspect a certain level of internalized misogyny...
xnbach
May. 16th, 2015 01:20 pm (UTC)
For all the big action sequences, my favorite part of the movie was the party at Avengers Tower ending with everyone hanging out and trying to pick up Mjolnir
jimhines
May. 16th, 2015 03:05 pm (UTC)
I loved that part.

I really think it needed a little less over-the-top action, and a bit more of the quieter character-interaction stuff.
tommy50702
Jul. 22nd, 2015 06:47 am (UTC)
I was really embarrassed by the stabs at humor. The audience laughed,but I cringed.
( 48 comments — Leave a comment )

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