You’ve all had enough time to see and digest Marvel’s latest offering Avengers: Age Of Ultron. What did you think? Did you love it? Hate it? Find it mediocre at best?
I thought it was literally the worst. Here’s five reasons why.
1. Joss Whedon Boils Down Characters To One Trait
Joss Whedon, the all-powerful Nerd King, has a terrible habit of boiling each Avenger down to a single trait. Tony Stark is exclusively the joker, Steve Rogers is a dumb old man, Bruce Banner is a giant baby, Thor is… intensely boring, and Natasha and Clint rarely get anything at all. This is present in both Avengers and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. He’s particularly keen on treating Steve Rogers as a total fool, frequently making him the butt of jokes, and all round, making out like he’s the dumbest member of the team. The ‘language’ joke in Age Of Ultron, while funny to begin with, makes little sense — Rogers is not only the oldest, but is a man who survived the second World War… A situation no doubt rife with swearing. We’re also treated to a particularly out of character moment in Tony’s Scarlet Witch-induced vision, (undoubtedly one of the most powerful visuals in the entire movie,) when Steve croaks, “You could’ve saved us… Why didn’t you do more?”
Come on. Even non-fans of Cap know thats something he’d never ever ask, or dare to put on someone else. In fact, given the ridiculous build up, it would have made more sense for Hawkeye to spout that kind of thing. Which leads me on to…
2. Fuckin’ Hawkeye
I wanted more Hawkeye. Clint Barton has huge potential to be awesome, something we’re deprived of in Avengers (thanks mind control!) and then sloppily deprived of in Age Of Ultron. I mean, its great that we got more Hawkeye… That just wasn’t the ‘more Hawkeye’ any of us wanted.
The glorious Matt Fraction, writer of Marvel’s 2012 Hawkeye series, crafted a Clint Barton we all wanted to see on-screen. A sarcastic, amusing, rogue of a man, accompanied by his beloved pizza dog and the fantastic Kate Bishop. It would have made so much sense to have movie Clint Barton’s hideout be a shabby apartment, (perhaps in Hells Kitchen?,) with pizza dog and Kate Bishop keeping it warm for him. Kate would have been a fantastic nod to the fans, and placing it in Hell’s Kitchen ties it perfectly in with the recent, and hugely successful Daredevil series. They wouldn’t even needed to have mentioned Hell’s Kitchen, just have it aesthetically similar, and we all would have got the Easter Egg. But no. Instead, a secret family is lazily shoved in. A family who there’s been absolutely no previous allusion to, and who, generally, we don’t give a toss about. It’s total rubbish. Also, didn’t all of us kind of want Black Widow to be with Hawkeye?
3. Black Widow… Oh Black Widow
I’ve written an entire article about Black Widow’s mistreatment, but it begs repeating. What. The. Fuck?
Where did that creepy Hulk-Widow romance come from? Why is she suddenly Hulk’s calming mechanism? What happened to the ‘red in her ledger’? What about all her secrets being revealed to the public at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier? What about her enormous progression in that movie? What about her bff-style friendship with Steve Rogers? What about all those clips in the trailer for Age Of Ultron that alluded to her dark past? Did I really just watch Bruce Banner fall face-first into her tits? Did she honestly just say ‘I adore you’? Dear God, this movie was a clusterfuck for Natasha Romanov. Captain America: Winter Soldier gave us such hope for the character, finally progressing her beyond ‘ginger, deadly and butt,’ and into a fully fleshed out human being. It took the entirety of that movie for Steve Rogers to even scratch the surface of becoming her friend, yet we’re now supposed to believe she’s head over heels for Banner in a matter of… when? When did this happen? Between SHIELD dissolving and her secrets being blasted out to the world in Captain America: Winter Soldier, and the start of Age Of Ultron, when did she have time to date Banner? Wasn’t he busy working? And trying not to hulk out? Didn’t she have enough on her plate without a temperamental baby of a boyfriend? I have so many questions, and none of them are answered.
Despite the questionable romance, we’re then treated to her huge secret being that she can’t have children… It’s a moment I suspect was put in for shock value, but for all the wrong reasons. I totally agree that its the sort of thing they’d do in the Black Widow program, without a doubt. However, it’s the sort of revelation that should transpire after a long and detailed build up of the character, not hastily thrown in halfway through an ensemble movie to make us all gasp. Again, I don’t believe she’d reveal that to Bruce, either, given the time and effort it took Steve Rogers to even befriend her. If she were confiding in anyone, shouldn’t it be him? It’s also treated as if its the be all and end all to her character, it’s the thing she’s been carrying with her for a lifetime, never mind the various prior comments about her dark past. Again, the ‘red on her ledger’ should have been the reveal, if anything. Instead, we’re given a rushed and sloppy attempt at character development, and it falls completely flat.
4. Issues With Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch
At the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier, we’re treated to a post-credits scene featuring the super-powered twins. Given the way its shot, and the fact they’re in literal cages, it was always implied that the twins had been captured and given these powers against their will. This is reinforced by the fact they seemingly have little control over them, and Quicksilver appears to be actively attempting to escape the confines… Yet come Age Of Ultron, we’re told they volunteered!?! (“File says they volunteered for Strucker’s experiments.”) Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have always been largely written and viewed as Jewish… So you’re telling me… two Jewish youths… volunteered for… Nazi experiments……….. WHEDON!!! *shakes fist in the air*
I had so much hope for these two. Powerful twins with an angst-ridden past, new, interesting, a breath of fresh air to the Avengers. Don’t get me wrong, they had their moments! Wanda’s slow motion blasts of bad assery were fantastic, and “You didn’t see that coming?”. Quicksilver was wonderfully amusing, endearing and protective of his sister. Scarlet Witch was everything you’d want from a character wielding so much potential power, strong, brave and distrusting of newcomers. They were fantastic, and both Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen’s performances were on point. Then they killed Quicksilver.
I can’t get my head around it. I know Marvel are keen to have some characters die and remain dead, as they’re becoming renowned for fake-outs (Groot in Guardians Of The Galaxy, Iron Man in Avengers, etc.) [Loki, Pepper Potts, Nick Fury, Bucky Barnes – Duke] but did it honestly have to be him!? The actual death has little to no impact on us as viewers, (other than crippling disappointment,) because we’ve not had long enough to build up a relationship with him. It also has impact on only one character on-screen… Scarlet Witch. It strikes me as a lazy way to give her some motivation, both to defeat Ultron, and to ultimately join the Avengers. It’s a quick way to push the story along, at the unfortunate detriment of one of the movie’s best characters.
5. Lazy Writing
The majority of the problems with Age Of Ultron come down to one, irrefutable fact; Joss Whedon is a lazy writer. He ignores the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, seemingly so he has complete control over his movie… Which would be fine, if it weren’t part of a huge, supposed-to-be-cohesive universe. We’ve had an abundance of movies in between Avengers and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and it’s as though he’s ignored every single one of them. Any character progression from the movies prior is completely ignored, as are the events of said movies. Where has Tony’s crippling PTSD gone? Where’s Bucky? What happened to the relationships forged in these movies, and the events and situations that sculpted these characters into deeper, more interesting beings? Instead of a progression from these, we’re given a movie that barely stands on its own two feet. It’s scrappy, overly long with some serious pacing issues (what was the Thor cave scene about?) and you can practically see the areas it’s been chopped up in. The characters are utterly two dimensional, including Ultron himself, who is supposed to be terrifying and powerful… Yet he barely seems a threat. He makes almost non-stop jokes, which only serve to take away from his already diminished threat levels, and he has perhaps the worst plan of any super-villain ever… He wants to pick up a city and then drop it? Really? You have access to all the worlds technology and thats what you come up with!? We could have had an interesting situation, where our tech-obsessed nature becomes our downfall, with Ultron invading our phones, computers, homes… Instead we’re given yet another whack-a-mole bad guy. Just like the Chitauri, it’s a bad guy for the sake of a bad guy, someone to knock around for the sake of special effects and flashy fight scenes, only to dispose of them entirely by the end of the movie. There’s no depth to any character, good or bad, and we’re essentially presented with two hours of mind-numbing exposition resulting in an impressive fight scene. From Whedon, it’s not good enough. From Marvel, it’s even worse. They’ve already proved they can craft incredible bad guys, (eg. Wilson Fisk from Daredevil,) and they’re capable of constructing unbelievable movies full of depth, character progression, impressive fight sequences, amazing stunt work AND a cohesive story, (eg. Captain America: The Winter Soldier.) They’ve even shown us fun ensemble pieces, with as much wit and humour as bad-assery, (eg. Guardians Of The Galaxy,) so really, Age Of Ultron simply isn’t good enough. It’s a weak movie. Take it out of the Marvel line up and nothing is changed — none of the events, bar the introduction of Vision, have any lasting effect.
We could have had Tony’s PTSD manifest into his desire to build Ultron. We could have had Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson at least mention Bucky for more than one minute. (Seriously? You didn’t even put him in Steve’s war flashback!?! C’mon!) We could have had Clint Barton being a sarcastic hero fighting street-level crime. We could have had flashbacks to Wanda and Pietro in their crumbled house, terrified beneath a bed and beside dead parents, a Stark-branded weapon lodged into the cement across the room. We could have had party cameos by Phil Coulson and Carol Danvers. We could have had so much more. Instead, we got a sub-par superhero action flick, with all the depth of a pancake.
Thankfully, Whedon’s no longer part of the Marvel-verse. Next year’s Captain America: Civil War (arguably an Avengers 2.5 of sorts,) is being directed by the glorious Russo Brothers, who were previously responsible for the excellent Captain America: Winter Soldier. They’re also taking on the Avengers: Infinity War movies due out in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
I trust in the Russo’s. C’mon boys, don’t let me down.
Originally posted on Need To Consume in June 2015