‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’: The Fan Aftermath
Seen this superhero movie that people won’t shut up about? Only mild spoilers ahead:
Avengers: Age of Ultron is the eleventh Marvel Cinematic Universe film, so I tried to lower my expectations just in case. Aim for a fun movie and you may get The Most Amazing Film Experience Ever thrown in; aim for an absurdly high experience and you will get neither. But my caution vanished when the film began, and bam, as I expected, we dash into the story on the backs of galloping superheroes. (Some said this was too fast, but not if you had seen the last Marvel stories such as the recent Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. story. Remember,#ItsAllConnected.)
I loved these action moments that are pure joy even for newcomers to the Marvel world like me. The gang’s all here: Hawkeye with his Legolas-ing, Black Widow zapping and/or tripping, Iron Man quipping and zipping, Thor thundering, Captain America super-soldiering, and the incredible Hulk smashing! In the castle one henchman cries: “It’s the Avengers!” The boss demands: “Try to hold them off!” And the henchman falters: “But… it’s the Avengers…” Oh yeah, this is basically a live-action cartoon. And that is awesome.
That’s how I started my spoiler-lite AoU review at Christ and Pop Culture. The following are a few remnant and updated observations about the superhero flick and fan responses.
1. Breaking Whedon
It’s clear that making AoU nearly broke fan-favorite director Joss Whedon, who perhaps felt he himself was battling an artificially intelligent lifeform bent on box-office domination.
“The dreams were not an executive favorite — the dreams, the farmhouse, these were things I fought to keep,” Whedon said (my thought: thank God they did). “With the cave [in which one hero has other visions], it really turned into: they pointed a gun at the farm’s head and said, ‘Give us the cave, or we’ll take out the farm,’ — in a civilized way.”
But Whedon remains a class act even while being honest about “evil” corporate producers: “I respect these guys, they’re artists, but that’s when it got really, really unpleasant.”
It’s hilarious that even folks who do claim to despise corporations love superhero films and popular culture in general. But even that seeming “compromise” seems to be coming to an end as people seem unable to contain even these moderate amounts of story-enjoyment.
2. More superheroes
In that same interview Whedon reveals what he really wanted to do at the film’s end — reveal a few more fan-favorite heroes as (slightly bigger spoiler here) new Avengers.
“I said, ‘It would be great if we could add a few more [characters], if we could have a Captain Marvel there, now that you’ve made a deal,’ and they talked about it,” Whedon said. “And I was like, ‘And Spider-Man, we could do that too, ’cause Sony had approached us during the first movie about a little integration. … But neither of the deals were made.”
At least, not made in time.
My own prediction, based on Marvel showrunner Kevin Feige’s tease of the new Spider-Man, is that Captain America: Civil War will feature the fledgling hero showing up at that location at the end of AoU, determined to join his fellow heroes. Moments ago Marvel made its official Civil War cast announcement including basically the entire AoU cast except for Hulk, Thor and Ultron. Also conspicuously absent is Spider-Man, who may not yet be cast …
3. A ‘normcore’ hero
This especially spoilery article by Dr. Russell Moore explores what Whedon called a “normcore” twist for this film and for one fan-favorite hero’s journey in particular.
“For the past two or three generations, the heroes in popular culture were often trying to escape the stifling ‘conformity’ of the nuclear family,” Moore says. “In this movie, though, conformity seems to be girlfriends and boyfriends and, implicitly, sex and romance, but not marriage and family. A family of husband and wife with children, that is more surprising than artificially intelligent robots, suspended animation, or Gamma-radiated monsters.
4. Black Widow bashing
See more here about the “Black Widow isn’t enough of a feminist hero”-related critiques.
What did you think of Avengers: Age of Ultron and the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far?
Uh-oh, Whedon stepped on some ‘shipper toes. Though I would’ve been on board with Clintasha.
But Hawkeye having a family opens whole new vistas and also cans of worms, because with as often as he’s on tap for SHIELD, that makes him a pretty absent father/husband. Especially for farm-living people. I mean, seriously, Clint, leave ’em in some town where nothing happens, not on 160 acres that need upkeep.
Problem is they just killed any chance to bring Mockingbird, Hawkeye’s actual wife in the Marvel Universe, into the films. What’s annoying in the films is that Hawkeye’s role in the Avengers is much less than in the comics: Hawkeye has been the leader of the Avengers part-time, as well as the founder and leader of the West Coast Avengers. He’s comparable to Nightwing/Dick Grayson in the DC universe, and I think he’s one of the better male role models in comics because he shows that you do’t have to be an alpha male to be a good man.
Actually, Mockingbird has already shown up in Agents of Shield and linked with a different character. So even without Clint’s wife, she wouldn’t have appeared in that capacity.
That sounds more like “random character that has nothing to do with Mockingbird using the name.” I wish they’d not do that-it sucks for those of us who actually liked the character before to see them become nothing like the concept.
Fan reaction seems mixed. I think the problem is that they had no real incentive to make a good film. They pretty much had guaranteed sales and no real desire to challenge any boundaries. They also had no source material to adapt from-the original age of Ultron had nothing to do with the movie, and wasn’t particularly liked either. So you had a lot of aspects that would make it hard to make a film for fans.
The thing too is that the original Avengers was a good, but not great film. I think for a while, geeks were so used to geek films being so bad that a lot of the success of the Avengers was in that film that put out a serious effort. I mean, compare it to the campy Superman movies, or Ang Lee’s the Hulk. But now we’re used to quality, and the Avengers wasn’t that good.
edit: ugh, this one was meant to be a stand alone comment. The nested thread thing is killing me today.
“Normcore.” Normal and hardcore. Which really means normal.
I wish to be normcore. Popular culture, thank you for this new term.
(I’m also grateful for “bromance,” as overused as that term can be.)
I remember when people started adding “core” to everything about ten years ago. The most ridiculous one I came across was “mumblecore,” a film genre where people mostly just talk in very realistic and often improvised conversations. Groundbreaking!
(voice of annoying CGI character from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace): “The plan-et-cooooore.“