Tuesday, May 5, 2015

[Spoiler Review] 5 Things I Loved and 5 Things I Would Change About Avengers: Age of Ultron

[Spoiler Warning: I'm going to discuss details of the movie, many of which are spoilers. If you want to read my non-spoilery review click here.]

This is a follow up post to my review of Avengers: Age of Ultron. I wanted to dig into some spoilers and share a few more thoughts on the film This is going to be a list of things I liked, and things I would have changed. 

5 Things I Loved

Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff
FINALLY we get another woman on the Avengers team. While this Wanda isn’t the same character from the comic books, I adore this new MCU version of one of my favorite characters, who is arguably the most powerful individuals in the entire Marvel Universe. They also did a masterful job with Wanda’s powers. A much better job than the X-men movies ever did with Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix. 

Tony Stark
Tony's story arc is such a great example of how the MCU has mastered character continuity, for the most part. In Age of Ultron we see the same Tony we left in Iron Man, he's most secure and self assured, but still very much  struggling with the trauma he suffered during the first Avengers film. I really like that there wasn't a "quick fix" for his PTSD. He's managing it, but it's still ever present, as we see in his vision. 

That vision tells us so much more about what's really behind Tony's his fear and anxiety. Tony isn't so much afraid of death as he is afraid of losing the people he loves, especially when he alone is responsible for their safety. Tony's need to control EVERYTHING only exacerbates his anxiety.  Not to mention this particular fear hits Tony where he lives. Much like JARVIS is much more than a computerized personal assistance, the Avengers aren’t simply coworkers, they’re Tony's family. Underneath the armor and bravado there is a lonely, insecure emotionally orphaned boy with all the money and the most advance technology in the world who wants to "build a suit of armor around the world" to protect it. In the act of trying to save the world who almost destroys it. Perfectly punctuating the central theme of the movie. 

Vision vs. Ultron
I’m planning to write an entire post about these two, and the metaphors behind them. This is one of the best aspects of the movie that helped elevate it beyond a simple action comedy. It gives me a lot of hope for what Marvel Phase Three has in store for us. 

The Party
It was completely unnecessary, but oh so appreciate. I LOVE seeing all these characters just hanging and existing together. What a wonderful way to add dimension to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while allowing fans to feel like we’re getting a peak behind the scenes of the comic book pages. While I hate a few of the gross jokes made at the expends of women, overall it was wonderful to watch the Avengers relaxing and having fun.

Steve’s Flashback
This is a completely self indulgent fangirl thing. It’s really difficult to coherently communicate what it meant to see Steve and Peggy together again, even if it was in a vision. It was also such a very simple but affective way to show what it really means to be a “Man out of time.” Steve doesn’t just feel out of place the present, he feels out of touch with the person he was in the past. As he said that man who came out of the ice isn’t the same as the one who went in, and that has me all kind of excited to see how they is expanded upon this in Civil War.

5 Things I Would Change:

Introduce Captain Marvel and/or Black Panther. 
I don't think it needs to be justified. It should have already happened. 

Fix Bruce/Natasha
A complete overhaul of the Bruce/Natasha romantic subplot. It is a brilliant idea that was poorly executed. I’ll go into details of this in a future post.

Scrap Hawkeye’s secret family
Not only was the insta-family forced, also way to make a woman exist solely as a feature of a man’s story, but the “down home farmer" cliche doesn't fit Clint at all. It seems like a pretty blatant play on the popularity of the  “American Sniper” esthetic, and feels completely out of place in a superhero movie. Also the MCU already has an All American Soldier, and his name is Steve Rogers.

Deaf Hawkeye 
Imagine Clint adjusting to his hearing loss on top of the emotional and psychological trauma he suffered the first Avengers movie. It would also explain his notable absence in The Winter soldier. Deaf Clint could add some much needed representation for people with actual disabilities, rather than fictional superpowers that are sloppy metaphor for disability. As Matt Frantion’s brilliant run of Hawkeye showed, that Clint’s strength is in just being himself, and I think that’s a far better counter point to all the superpower angst going on with all the other Avengers.

Natasha should give the inspirational speech, instead of Clint. 
This is change so glaringly obvious, I suspect the speech was written for Natasha and later changed to Clint to give him more screen time. The problem is having Hawkeye, a content family man who’s most complex conflict is deciding how to remodel is house, a man who’s career is directly connected to the type violence Wanda and her brother are victims of, having this man deliver this speech comes off as condescending. I’m sure it worked great for every guy in the audience that was tired of Wanda experience “emotions” in the middle of a battle, and just wanted to her to work her magic while the wind blew up her mini-skirt. But for me, it felt forced and out of place. 

The twins felt like Clint and Natasha’s younger counterparts, and when you look at how they behave and their internal conflicts it’s really easy to see. This is only reenforced by Clint and Pietro interactions. Where they both shit-talk and show up each other. Natasha is far better suited to handle and relate to Wanda.

This young, angry, powerful girl is not unlike the girl Natasha once was. Who better to inspire Wanda to be an hero than a woman who has walked a similarly dark path and come out the other side, who is now an Avenger. There are many layers to Natasha saying “It doesn’t matter what you did or what you were.” 

Natasha is not just speaking to Wanda, she’s speaking to the girl she was in her vision of the past. It would be so meaningful for Natasha to step into the role of mentor, it would do some much to help move her beyond the violence and dehumanization of her past. Inhabiting a parental role for a young woman, so much like her former self, and inspire her to believe in herself and become a hero. This is how to make Natasha’s story arc about her, this is a distinctly feminine hero’s journey. Not to mention this is how you handle a cis-woman’s struggle with reconciling her infertility, without implying a woman’s inability to give birth is anything remotely like being a monster.


And that's the list. What were your favorite parts of Avengers: Age of Ultron. What would you have changed if you could? Leave your comments down below and thanks for stopping by.

Stay tuned for my future posts about Vision vs. Ultron, and Bruce/Natasha. 


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