spock: logic is sexy

Age of Ultron reaction post


The strength of the first Avengers film is that all the real conflicts are psychological. Yes, there's a thing about Loki running around with a sceptre, and he brings some scary alien fish to conquer the Earth, but the conflict that drives the movie is whether the Avengers can function as a team. Can Thor fight his brother with the help of strangers? Can Tony Stark and Steve Rogers get along? Will Clint get his mind back, and will Natasha get her partner back? Can Bruce Banner keep his personal demons under control, or will Loki use them to turn the Avengers against one another? These conflicts mean that the movie is really about people, and our attachment to the characters propels us through the film. We aren't just rooting for Loki to be defeated; we're rooting for these complicated, flawed characters to learn how to get along. Because these type of conflicts are not well-developd in the second Avengers film, the movie is not as compelling.

This film starts with an action scene that shows all the characters working together as a team, which immediately felt unsatisfying. The previous film ended with all the characters going their separate ways, so what brought them all back together and made them BFFs? Then Tony goes home and makes the Ultron, which seems to take away from the character growth we've seen in previous movies. Then the Scarlet Witch comes and makes everyone hallucinate all their worst fears -- except Clint, who's done letting people mess with his head. This is where I thought the movie was going to get awesome. Everyone cares about each other, everyone is a team, and suddenly they fall apart because they're all lost in their worst memories of their past and their worst fears for the future. Thor was going back to Asgard to make sure it wasn't taken over by hellspawn. Bruce was leaving and he was going to convince Natasha to leave with him because she didn't believe she was a good person. Steve and Tony were going to get into a fight, because that's what Steve and Tony do. Then Clint, the only one whose mind is fully intact, would have to figure out how to reel everyone back in. But that's not what happened. The psychological conflict disappeared, and the rest of the movie was about vibranium and robots and Tony somehow turning Jarvis into...I don't even know what that was. Technology Jesus with a Thor cape?

I know relationships are on everyone's mind, so I suppose I might as well talk about those too. Over the past three years, I think my Clint/Natasha obsession has run its course, so I'm okay with letting go of that one. That said, I think the other films hinted at it a bit too heavily, so Clint's secret wife felt more like an awkward attempt to surprise the audience than an organic development for his character. There was too much going on in this film, so his wife ends up being a stock character even though I think the woman who would marry Clint Barton is probably a pretty interesting person.

I wanted to like Bruce/Natasha more than I did. I loved the lullaby and their flirtation at the party, but shit got real weird real fast. Suggesting that she get in the shower with Bruce seemed a little extreme. Nat's pretty perceptive about people, and I don't think LET'S DO IT IN THE SHOWER is a appropriate seduction tactic for someone as skittish as Bruce. And Bruce's answer to that is by the way, I'm not having kids with you? WHOA THERE BUDDY. I don't recall Nat saying she wanted to have your baby. When I think about it, I maybe understand what's happening in that scene. Natasha saw her worst memories from her past and feels like a monster, so she seeks out someone who can understand. Bruce just destroyed a city and now he's surrounded by the Barton Family White Picket Fence (TM), and he's thinking HOLY SHITBALLS I CANNOT EVER DO THIS. Both of them are feeling terrible about themselves, and they react to it in completely opposite ways. Unfortunately, I don't think that's what came through in the scene.



So tht was a lot of bitching, but here's some things I really liked about the movie.

1. Clint as a dad, which is also my new headcanon for why he spared Natasha's life. In the scene where he saves the boy at the end of the film, you can see how personal his mission is. He's preparing to sacrifice his life for this stranger's kid because he's thinking what if that were my son? Suppose his oldest kid were about ten years old, and that's also about how long Nat's been with SHIELD. Clint is sent to kill her, and instead of this fearsome assassin, he finds a teenage girl. He automatically thinks what if that were my daughter? What if his daughter were taken away from him somehow and raised by someone who didn't guide her a didn't love her? And he thinks about his own life, how he's done terrible things but got a second chance to have a home and a family. He would want to give that to Nat, and it seems like he did. His home is a place of normalcy and stability for her, and her redemption comes partly from his faith in her. This is also part of why I can let go of Clint/Natasha -- I feel like I got someting else interesting and satisfying in its place.

2. Nat is infertile. Although I thought the scene was poorly executed, Natasha's infertility resonated with me (infertile ladies of the world unite!) Even if you don't think you want to have kids, having that ability taken from you by an outside force hurts, and it makes you feel like an outsider in surprising ways. It makes you feel flawed. There's such a huge feeling of relief when you meet someone else who cannot have children. It's all the more heartbreaking because Natasha didn't want to give up the chance to have kids. She tried to fail her training in order to keep her fertility, and it's obviously weighed on her for the rest of her life.

3. Bruce leaving. This may be an unpopular fannish opinion, but I like the way Bruce's story played out. I read him as a very depressed person, and although other people love him, he's not yet able to love himself. He's not really processing how much other people care about him, and he sees himself as very isolated even though Tony and Natasha both understand what it's like to be a monster. These things feel like a very realistic portrayal of depression to me.

4. Steve staying, and Natasha staying with him. Steve felt like the only character who developed in the film, even though it was mostly peripheral and happened at the end of the movie. Since he woke up, he's been trying to get his old life back. Today he finally accepted that life is gone, and that person has changed. He's not trying to get the Barton family picket fence. He's a soldier, and he's a good one. He's sticking around to fight the good fight -- and so is Natasha. She thought she had a relationship, and now she doesn't, so she's going back to her true family: the Avengers.

5. All scenes involving worthiness and the hammer. There is nothing else I need to say about this.
Yeah, I liked a lot of this movie in the moment, but as I'm thinking about it I like it less and less.

I agree 100% about Bruce/Natasha. Anytime they were trying for romantic/flirty/sexy it failed miserably for me, but anytime they were just friends it was fine. And I liked Natasha and the Hulk.

My favorite parts will remain the party scenes, in particular the stuff with the hammer. I could watch a lot more of that - except for the Bruce/Natasha part of it, anyway.
The funny thing is, I'm having the opposite reaction. I really didn't enjoy the movie as I was watching it, but I like it a little better now that I've thought about it. I think I'm appreciating what it tried to do more than what it actually did.

But yes, the hammer was excellent! I could have watched an entire movie of that kind of team bonding.
The things you listed as working for you also worked for me.

I think both Clint/Laura and Natasha/Bruce were awkwardly and unexpectedly done, but I don't actually mind them. They present new aspects of the characters that I rather like.

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the way they're taking it - will ever be comfortable with it. We'll have to see. But there were certainly things I liked about the new canon, even if it isn't the way I would have done it.
Looking back on it, I think the Clint family story is my favorite thing about the whole movie. I think I could have even bought it if anyone besides Nat had known about the wife and kids. Since Clint was being mind controlled for the whole Avengers film, we knew nothing about him, so his back story could really be anything. I just don't buy that he's been fighting battles with the whole team and never, ever said anything to any of them about a wife and kids. But then, figuring out how and why he hid them is what fanfic is for.
Bruce/Nat really failed as a romance for me, but in the press leading up to this Scarlett Johansson said something about Natasha wanting something more normal and settled, only to realise she has a higher calling (being a hero/leading the Avengers). So with that in mind, it kind of worked as an arc for Natasha, even if it was poorly executed (that dialogue...). But I'll meta around most things to suit Natasha. If fandom can turn Steve's jaw clenches into grand statements about the human condition and the American Dream, I can interpret a shoehorned romance to be about Natasha's choices and hero journey.

I'm fine with no romantic Clint/Natasha in the MCU, because I really loved their friendship here. I can still ship them in the glorious freedom that is fanfic. :D
/in the press leading up to this Scarlett Johansson said something about Natasha wanting something more normal and settled, only to realise she has a higher calling (being a hero/leading the Avengers). So with that in mind, it kind of worked as an arc for Natasha, even if it was poorly executed (that dialogue...)/ - oh, I didn't know that. This kind of helps, thank you ;)
I can still ship them in the glorious freedom that is fanfic. :D

Yes, exactly! I just don't see the point in getting upset about canon when we alter, warp, and discard so much of it anyway. We could even say that Clint was involved with Nat before he met Laura if a canon-compliant relationship scenario is so important.
The Vision is definitely a character who needs some help from comics knowledge to make sense, try as they might.

I am about to write my own post about seeing the movie. I always really like your reviews and how... self-contained your views of the movies are, how you see possibilities that I don't because I'm probably trammeled with comics knowledge.
Haha yeah...Joss is probably telling this whole comic story that everyone is excited to see on screen, and I have absolutely no idea how it's supposed to go.
Clint's secret wife felt more like an awkward attempt to surprise the audience than an organic development for his character. There was too much going on in this film, so his wife ends up being a stock character even though I think the woman who would marry Clint Barton is probably a pretty interesting person.

Pretty much this. Also agree with you on the whole Bruce-Natasha thing, which to me was played entirely on fast-forward and actually pretty much one-sided -- not that there is anything wrong with that, if it's Natasha going after what she wants in a Natasha way, but there was just zero reciprocal chemistry...

I'll be writing my own thoughts in the course of the day, once I've collected them all. ETA: I have now done so, here: http://alphaflyer.livejournal.com/84934.html

Edited at 2015-05-02 04:22 am (UTC)
I actually liked the Natasha/Bruce flirtation at the beginning of the film, but yeah, "fast forward" is a good way to describe their relationship. I wonder if there's a deleted scene somewhere showing how they got from flirting to talking about having kids...
This movie definitely had too much fighting and not enough character interactions. What helped it was that we already loved the characters, but someone new to the fandom would probably be even more underwhelmed.

My post was here.
I agree about the fighting! I enjoyed the fight scenes in the last film because most of them were Avengers fighting other Avengers. Because of that, they had a lot more emotional weight, plus you got the fun of answering "if ____ fought ____, who would win?" These were just endless epics of destruction with no real suspense.
The whole team together made more sense once I'd watched Agents of Shield... though that does not help those who don't watch the show.

And yeah, Bruce's leaving made sense to me too... though I must admit him and Nat are becoming my OTP for the universe. And maybe the shower scene came out of her desperation to hold on to him... she would be perceptive enough to see him pull away - give him a reason to stay

and Totally agree on 5 - though I was kinda upset that none of the ladies tried

I could see her wanting to hold onto Bruce at that moment, yes. Plus she was feeling alone. Maybe she just wanted to be with someone physically since she felt like her emotional experience was so different from everyone else's.
Everything worked for me, with the one bit that I could have used more Steve-Natasha banter (but I have high hopes that all Captain America movies from hereon in will be Steve-Natasha movies). Overall, the conflict isn't psychological at all. It's Thanos working to destroy the universe. If he has the gauntlet, he also has the Space Stone (Tesseract) and that's already one too many stones for Thanos to have.

I adored that it was Natasha doing the chasing and at times successfully and other times not so much, but that's her. She takes risks and isn't always perfect and calculated. Super-spy aside, she's straight forward and honest. Hulk leaving in the end, without changing back, was amazing. If he calms down, normally Bruce can take control and come back, but he didn't. He's hiding and letting Hulk take over. The implications are endless but I am praying for the possibility of a Planet Hulk film. In Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Banner rarely comes back, so it could also be that. We now get to a point where it's mostly Hulk and not so much Bruce.

Vision definitely- as someone else mentioned- requires a bit of comics knowledge, but with GotG, he signifies an otherwordly experience that the Marvel universe hasn`t departed from until now. Now shit`s gonna get weird, and I am so ready :D



I like your analysis of Bruce's ending! I hadn't thought about it that way before, but it would make sense if he were just accepting that the Hulk is his true nature now.
I'm very interested where they're going from here (apparently, the studio cut a bunch of Hulk stuff which I hope is on the dvd)
/Bruce just destroyed a city and now he's surrounded by the Barton Family White Picket Fence (TM), and he's thinking HOLY SHITBALLS I CANNOT EVER DO THIS./ - Oh, wow, I never considered that scene form that angle. It makes a bit more sense now, thanks. *nods*

/He automatically thinks what if that were my daughter? What if his daughter were taken away from him somehow and raised by someone who didn't guide her a didn't love her?/ - Oh, this is a lovely headcanon!

/This is also part of why I can let go of Clint/Natasha -- I feel like I got someting else interesting and satisfying in its place./ - Yes, this really helps! *nods*
I agree completely with what you're saying. After seeing it, I took the train in the city and it gave me a lot of time to think and talk about it with my sister. In the words of my sister, Joss Whedon phoned it in. He had all these things that he wanted to see on the big screen and when it came down to it, none of it really meshed and if it meshed than it was awkward at best.

so Clint's secret wife felt more like an awkward attempt to surprise the audience than an organic development for his character. Absolutely. In some ways, I think it was Whedon's way of being a jerk and saying to the audience, "you wanted 616 Barton, but guess what suckers, I'm gonna give you Ultimate's Barton. Retcon that!" Although it could have been his way of apologizing to Renner, who had his feelings hurt when Hawkeye turned out to be basically a flying monkey for 90% of the Avengers.</i>
He had all these things he wnated to see on the big screen...and none of it really meshed.

Yes, this is the perfect way of describing it! I think there was enough material for a 5-hour miniseries, but if you try to squish all of that into one movie, it's not going to work.
It's when a production studio interferes with a director in order to push their own agenda rather than giving creative freedom. For example, Feige threatened that they'd cut the whole safehouse scene if the scene with Thor in the well/fountain/bath thing wasn't included
I think you & I agree a million percent on Steve being the only one who really got any character growth in the film - I pretty much said the same thing you did in my reaction post. I feel like that shot of him in the empty room at the Stork Club was his way of letting go of the past and wanting to go back and his resentment and anger over surviving. (I do wish Bucky had been in his vision, but that's a very small complaint, and I think Sebastian was off filming other things anyway.)

And this: When I think about it, I maybe understand what's happening in that scene. Natasha saw her worst memories from her past and feels like a monster, so she seeks out someone who can understand. Bruce just destroyed a city and now he's surrounded by the Barton Family White Picket Fence (TM), and he's thinking HOLY SHITBALLS I CANNOT EVER DO THIS. Both of them are feeling terrible about themselves, and they react to it in completely opposite ways. Unfortunately, I don't think that's what came through in the scene.

Yes, exactly, that's what I think Joss was going for as well, but my God, his execution was terrible.
That shot of him in the empty room...was his way of letting go of the past...and his anger and resentment over surviving.

Yes! I'd been puzzled by that shot before, but it makes total sense now. Thank you for pointing that out!
Everyone's mileage may vary, but that's how I interpreted the scene. And that's also why I think he wasn't traumatized by his vision the way that Tony & Thor & Natasha were - he's made peace with his regrets and his past and the person he used to be.
I love your thoughts on Clint and his kids, and how that influenced him to try and save Nat. Also agree with Nat wanting something more normal and Bruce being terrified that he could never have it.

"Technology Jesus" is my new favourite moniker! LOL.
I guess Vision makes more sense if you've read the comics? I haven't, so it seemed totally weird and out of the blue...
Interesting review, with lots of new aspects to consider. I'd also add Clint's relationship with Wanda, particularly, to the things that are enriched by him being a father and his past with Natasha.