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A Review of Avengers, Age of Ultron
Anyone who’s paying attention know the basic idea behind the Avengers movies. They are based on a comic book put out by marvel and largely written by Stan Lee. Avengers is a conglomerate of super hero’s from other marvel comics that all come together to save the world when necessary. Avengers, Age of Ultron is the much awaited sequel to Avengers. It is loosely connected to the comic books in that it is missing a lot of characters because those characters are owned by another filming company. For instance, Wolverine is one of the Avengers and his character is owned by Fox and the Avengers movies are owned by Paramount. That said, the Avengers are, at this point, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, the Black Widow, and Hawkeye. For the sequel they added War Machine, the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, Falcon, and Quicksilver. As an interesting tidbit of information, Quicksilver’s character has been in both a Paramount movie (Age of Ultron) AND a Fox movie (X-men Days of Future Past). That said, the Avengers loosely follow Nick Fury (in the first movie) and Captain America (in the second) – I say loosely because to say that Iron Man really follows anyone would be false.
One or Two?
For those who have seen both, which did you prefer the first or second Avengers movie?
Age of Ultron’s plot line mainly begins during a party thrown by Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Tony and Bruce Banner (aka the Incredible Hulk) are both genius scientists and have been working on peace keeping program called Ultron. Interestingly enough, this basic story line isn’t new. There are many other movies (Terminator comes to mind, along with iRobot) where a peace keeping program runs away with itself and tries to take over. That said, Tony leaves the program to run during his party and something clicks. For a moment you get to listen to a conversation between Jarvis and Ultron when Ultron begins to understand. However, Ultron – like his creator – is strong willed and seemingly overpowers Jarvis; he takes control of Iron Man’s robots and makes his presence known to the partygoers.
The initial confrontation goes in the Avengers favor, but they understand that that’s just the battle – the war isn’t won because Ultron is a computer program who found his way online. For the technically challenged – once something is online you might never get rid of it and there’s no way to know where it could be. It turns out that Ultron is in Russia in an old Hydra building. (In a previous Captain America you learn that Hydra had taken over SHIELD – the US government is still trying to find all the places that Hydra is hiding because, like the mythical hydra, Hydra has many heads.) This head is lead by the Baron and you learn he has the scepter that Loki used to create such chaos in the original film; it has been being used to experiment on humans. This is where you meet ‘the twins’ – Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, otherwise known as Quicksilver and the Scarlett Witch. The Baron has used the scepter to give them super powers. It’s important to note that Pietro and Wanda hate Tony Stark because it was one of Stark’s missiles that killed their parents. This of course makes them perfect pawns for Ultron.
To fast-forward through a bunch of drama, the Avengers figure out what Ultron wants and head that way to get it first, running headfirst into an improved Ultron and the twins. You learn that Ultron is very similar to Tony Stark, but – unlike Tony Stark – he’s insane. This is most likely because he escaped before Tony could alter his programming. That said, pointing it out is a good way to get killed as he hates Tony. Ultron is a robot, but he’s a very human like robot complete with the ability to have unique expression and to think freely (never a good idea when it comes to stories). You learn at this point that Pietro’s gift is that he’s really fast and Wanda can alter reality – look into a person’s brain and discover their worst fear and then make them think they’re living in it. Through her gift, she manages to mainline the Avengers for awhile – long enough for Ultron to begin to make himself a permanent body. This permanent body is being made through a new type of technology that only exists in Marvel-universe which will give him a human-like body. This human-like body is a good idea, but he miscalculates.
As a robot, Wanda couldn’t read his mind but as a human she can and she learns he plans to kill everyone. She and Pietro run to the Avengers and agree to help them (it’s a bit more complicated than that, but I don’t have time for picky details). They, the Avengers, stage a battle in an effort to (a) keep Ultron from making himself a human body and (b) prevent him from escaping online again. There is an epic battle of only cinematic possibilities in which sometimes it looks like Ultron is going to win and sometimes it appears that the Avengers are going to win. That said, there are several pertinent parts to the plot line. First, there has been a romance brewing between Natasha Romanoff (the Black Widow) and Bruce Banner that ends up dying at this point as Bruce turns off his phone and walks away. Second, Pietro dies saving a child’s life; throughout the film you notice that Wanda is very emotionally reliant on Pietro and she feels his death – this puts her out of the fight for awhile while she tries to figure out what to do without his direction and support. However, unsurprisingly, she rises to the occasion. They manage to steal the human body that Ultron was making.
At this point Captain America and Iron Man again go their separate ways. Captain America wants to destroy the body, but Iron Man still wants his peacekeeper so he downloads Jarvis (who it turns out just let Ultron think he was killed) into this new body thus making Vision. Vision’s power is run on the power source for the scepter which it turns out is a Asgardian Infinity Stone– the solar jewel. Vision pairs up with the Avengers to help kill Ultron and save the world (of course!)
I enjoyed Age of Ultron, but not as much as I enjoyed Avengers. Largely this was because it was not as funny as Avengers. However, it had its moments and you could definitely see Joss Whedon’s hand in the movie – the willingness to kill off main characters is a Joss Whedon trait and makes his movies a bit less predictable. That said, as I mentioned before, the basic story line wasn’t that original – the idea of a machine that’s supposed to protect humans has that turns and tries to kill humans or enslave them is not AT ALL original. However, overall, the movie was excellent in that the writers managed to take several plot lines and weave them together into one large cohesive plot line giving the movie a satisfying amount of depth but not making it confusing.
Super-hero movies are very popular right now. As pointed out in “ they have taken the place of mythological stories told by the fire in the evenings (think Hollywood World Views”, by Brian GodawaBeowolf). Often what’s popular in the movies reflects what’s going on in society. Before 9/11 Armageddon movies were very popular, but after 9/11 they became very unpopular. Why? Because Americans needed something else to help them deal with the trauma. In the last fifteen years or so superhero movies have been very popular (X-men, itself, has put out 7 movies and has several more planned.) Why? I believe that it’s because, while our country is a war, we want to believe in superhero’s who will swoop in and fix everything so that we can all live happily ever after. I think this can be reflected to the time that mythology was popular – it was a warlike time for humans and stories of ‘superhero’s’ were what people wanted to hear.
It’s important to note, from a Christian stand point, that there was a major concern and that was Vision. Vision has this Asgardian rock that gives him almost god like powers and when he’s created he says, “I am …” and leaves it at that. I sincerely hope that the creators leave it at that, as I’m a big fan of super-hero movies.