Film: Why I’m worried about Avengers: Age of Ultron
Now, I understand that to express any inclination of anxiety or hesitation pertaining to Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron will seemingly invite a torrent of finger pointing and audible guffaws.
Nevertheless, I find it pertinent that I do just that, regardless of response.
There is little doubt in my mind that Avengers: Age of Ultron will break every Marvel record in sight whilst also giving Avatar a healthy run for its all-time gross money. My qualms are not with its potential gross or its opening weekend numbers but rather with its narrative.
For all the hatred that DC and Warner Bros are getting for piling in characters to Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice it comes as a surprise to me that Marvel has not encountered similar hesitation for its ensemble feature. Granted, they have produced an ensemble feature before and succeeded monumentally, with The Avengers, but this is a different matter entirely.
Whilst the first Avengers feature focused on Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow and Hulk with Hawkeye sidelined as a mindless zombie, the second will delve into every hero from the first whilst also introducing the likes of Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Vision and perhaps a few more.
Joss Whedon, the film’s writer and director, has explained on many occasions that the inclusion of Scarlet Witch allows him to unlock the deepest darkest fears of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Whedon said: “[Scarlet] can weave spells and a little telekinesis, get inside your head. There’s good stuff that they can do that will help sort of keep it fresh.”
His comments strengthen the idea that Scarlet Witch’s powers will allow us to delve into the minds of Black Widow and Hawkeye thus showing their past, their inhibitions and their origins.
Indeed, the casting of Julie Delpy as ‘Madame B’ and Linda Cardellini as ‘Laura Barton’ point to Age of Ultron at the very least touching on the origins of Black Widow, Hawkeye and even the twins, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
Even now, this seems like a lot of additional content to pack into a 2 hour 40 minute movie (this is a rumoured runtime). Think about it; you need an opening sequence, some calm, introduction of the villain, introduction of the new characters, a middling sequence, then presumably the originals of Hawkeye and Black Widow, then a second calm sequence, then build up to the final confrontation and then the final battle, which is also followed by a nice little not. And of course some sort of post credits scene.
There will of course be multiple other sequences and scenes in between that general layout that will incorporate Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Cobie Smulder’s Agent Maria Hill, Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter and Paul Bettany’s intriguing rendition of The Vision.
It may not be being talked about at this very moment in time but Whedon has sat down in front of a 20-course meal. I harbour some hesitation that he has too much on his plate to finish cohesively and entertainingly but that hesitation is minute in comparison to the enthusiasm and positivity I share for this feature.
All that being said, I would be remiss not mentioning a few more worries I have held for quite some time. The usage of Ultron and an army of obeying bots for the Avengers to battle and showcase their powers is extremely reminiscent of Loki’s Chitauri army in the first Avengers. We all remember the scene. Tony sends a nuke to the Chitauri’s ship and by sheer coinci-dinks, they all collapse because if you blow up my car, I immediately keel over and die.
Since then Whedon has apologised for such a stark trope stating that he killed the Chitauri so easily to allow The Avengers a triumphant moment of hunting every alien in New York down for the next 5 hours. Would have been an anti-climax, no?
But, with Ultron acting as a root folder for all the bot.html’s, it does come as a worry that killing Ultron will collapse all the bots thus once again leading to a convenient ending. I hope Whedon has found another avenue to finish the bots rather than having them all collapse.
Finally we come to my biggest peeve with Marvel movies. There exists a film trope that has been used in Marvel movies more than any other – the supposed killing of a character, only to have them return and save the day.
We saw it with Phil Coulsen, we saw it with Odin, we saw it with Loki, we saw it with Nick Fury, we saw it with Bucky as the Winter Soldier and if rumours are to be believed then Captain America will die somewhere down the line only to return in a later Avengers film. This trope sucks all the tension and dramatic effect out of the films rendering them just a fun time when they can be so much more.
By killing someone, Whedon and Marvel will show us that no one is safe, that our heroes can bite the dust at any moment, so become invested in them if you dare. This is one of the reasons that HBO’s Game of Thrones is so popular; no one is safe.
Now admittedly, after about 800 words of anxiety and hesitation, you will find me watching Avengers: Age of Ultron opening weekend. And more than that, you’ll probabaly find me loving it even if they do kill all the bots and have someone return from the dead. It just pays to sometimes step back, check your expectations and wonder what could go wrong. But keep in mind all that could go right.