Blast of the Week - Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Blast of the Week -  What did you think of Avengers: Age of Ultron?

S.J. Mitchell: I won’t bury the lead here, it deserves all the money it makes. Although it looks like it’ll fall short of projections, it’s a really good movie. It falls in line with the Marvel ‘action-comedy’ formula and is a lot of fun. Ultron isn’t nearly as ‘creepy’ as the previews made him out to be (mind you I limited myself to watching 2 trailers for this movie). I understand why they made him sarcastic (given that he was kind of a ‘stream-of-consciousness’ for Stark), but it minimized his actual threat. Sure he was doing evil things...but I had a hard time taking him seriously. Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy was straight up evil. Ultron should’ve been cut from the same cloth.

Mike Maillaro: On the fact that Avengers: Age of Ultron “fell short of projections,” I have seen a few places report that the reason Age of Ultron made less than Avengers was because of the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight.  I have no idea if there is any truth to that, but I did think it was interesting.  And even falling short of projections, the movie still made $187 Million and was the second highest opening in history, so it’s still a ton of money.  

Also, Marvel now has the top three openings in history (Avengers, Age of Ultron, and Iron Man 3, which made $174 million).  

Amended: As of May 11, Age of Ultron has made $312 million domestically, and $874 million internationally.  These are still huge numbers, but about half of the totals Avengers brought in.

Chris Delloiacono: I don't know if it fell short because of the fight or maybe it's because there are so many superhero films.  That's still a hell of a number.  The other thing, sequels throughout history don't generally outdraw the original.  That is definitely a recent trend.  Still, it made a butt-load of money.

S.J. Mitchell: We’ll know why it fell short when we see the tally for week 2. Let’s face it, it was a big sports weekend between the NBA & NHL playoffs, Kentucky Derby, NFL draft and ‘May-Pac’. With less big events this weekend, perhaps Age of Ultron sees a box office take that makes it the highest second weekend in history.

Jeff Ritter: I don’t buy that theory at all. If you have the discretionary income to blow a Benjamin on a boxing PPV--and feel free to let me know the last time a boxing PPV was worth any money--then you had the money to go to the movies. And you had the time--the fight didn’t start until very late on a school night and movie theaters aren’t open until the wee hours on Sundays in most places. The winter sports leagues’ playoffs go on forever so only the most die hard hoops fans and puckheads are paying any attention to that stuff, The Kentucky Derby takes what, 5 minutes to run? The big draft picks were done by the time the Friday night shows were getting underway. No, if you didn’t see the Avengers: Age of Ultron on opening weekend it was because you don’t like sitting in theaters with talkative fanboys and assholes who can’t leave their phones alone for two hours. Or perhaps you’re like me and just don’t find killer robots to be a serious threat. The early Terminator movies took that class of villain as far as it can go by the early 90s.

S.J. Mitchell: My favorite part about the movie wasn’t a scene or a character, it was the set-up for Quicksilver to break the ‘4th wall’. Joss Whedon hand-fed us all the cliches to let us believe Hawkeye was going to die. He had a family, a child on the way, one last project to finish on the house and he looked at a picture of his family before the final fight. All the beats were there. When Quicksilver sacrificed himself to save Hawkeye, his final words echoed Whedon’s own, “Bet you didn’t see that coming.” Bravo Joss, very well done. It was wonderfully set-up. And while it is my favorite thing about the movie, it’s the final thing that will prevent me from going a second time to bring my 10 year old daughter. Bullet holes, blood and body...the 3 ‘Killer B’s’ that prevent me from taking her to see a movie.

Chris Delloiacono: The build to Hawkeye dying was really well done.  I'm not thrilled with Quicksilver taking a dirt nap, though.  I know it's a trope of comics that nobody stays dead, but this was way too fast.

S.J. Mitchell: A vacation to Tahiti should help Quicksilver out!

Jeff Ritter: It’s a magical place! Considering the actors playing the twins were both signed to multipicture deals, I think it’s a safe bet that some combination of the Scarlet Witch and Tahiti will resurrect Pietro. Or maybe the Hand? They did it for Elektra. Also, Mjolnir stole the show. ‘Nuff said.

Chris Delloiacono: I don't know if it was my favorite part, but how awesome was the spot near the end when the Avengers surrounded Ultron's bomb and held off the swarming robots.  I still mark out when I see the Avengers working together with that long tracking shot in the first film.  This was even cooler.  Seeing the Avengers assembled and kicking ass is something I never thought I'd see on the big screen!

S.J. Mitchell: Visually, that scene was truly a masterpiece. Art in motion!

If I had to pick something about the movie I didn’t like, it’s Black Widow fawning over Bruce Banner. She’s a cold-blooded assassin. Not a love-struck princess who ‘adores’ a man with tremendous power, who turns to her for comfort. It’s Beauty and the Beast syndrome and I didn’t like it one bit. It echoed King Kong’s love for Ann Darrow (played by Fay Wray in the 1933 classic), and while I have no problem with that story being told...it was wrong to use Natasha Romanov. That’s not her character.

Also, I was highly disturbed that when she tried to convince Bruce that she too, was a monster, she used her sterilization and inability to have children as a prime example. Not being able to have children does NOT make you a monster. I know that wasn’t the only reason, but I would’ve been more comfortable if that was left out.

Jeff Ritter: I didn’t mind the romantic interlude between Banner and Natasha, though I do think it would have worked better if The Wasp played that role. Beauty and the Beast, and the biggest vs the smallest. I do, however, agree that being sterilized by the KGB doesn’t make her a monster, nor does doing vile things while under the influence of Cold War era brainwashing and conditioning. I get Whedon’s intent, but the execution there could have been better.

Josh Pollard: Welcome to the Adventures of Tony Stark: World’s Biggest Douchecanoe. I suppose it lines up pretty well with his comic version. Civil War will probably feature him kicking puppies into the Negative Zone for the good of humanity.

Mike Maillaro: Try reading Superior Iron Man.  Basically after Axis turns all the heroes to villains and villains to heroes, Stark decided “hey, I like being evil” and intentionally dodged the fix.  Since then, he’s been even worse than usual.  At one point, he was holding San Francisco hostage with an app that promised perfection...but only if you are willing to get doing micro transactions at $100 a pop.  He also temporarily gave Daredevil his sight back, only to take it away.  I usually roll my eyes at how much of an ass Stark is, but this series has been surprisingly good.

Nicole Crites: First of all, I have to admit the movie fell flat compared to expectations.  I probably watched the trailer too many times, and I was really pumped for James Spader as Ultron.

As expected, I believe this film fell victim to trying to give some of the side characters additional depth and development.  For example, they seem to be setting Hawkeye up for something more, but it felt forced. I dislike the juxtaposition of too much “every day” in a movie of this proportion.  I felt the same way about the first Thor film.  I just didn’t need the daily life nuances of the characters on earth.  Perhaps this is to help draw in the audience to make the super heroes more relatable, but it just was not for me personally.

I’d like to address one other recently trending topic which is the Bechdel test.  Though some believe AoU passes the Bechdel test, it barely passes.  The Bechdel test has 3 simple rules: (1) at least 2 named women in the movie (2) talk to each other (3) about something besides a man.  AoU has several female characters mainly Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Agent Maria Hill, geneticist Helen Cho, and Laura Barton (Clint’s wife).  Most of them interact with men, and most of Black Widow’s dialogue is about her romantic interest with Bruce Banner.  The only part of the movie where people believe the Bechdel test is passed is when Black Widow has a flashback of dialogue with her instructor with the ballet sequences, however, I don’t recall the instructor's name, though others have said she may be named in the credits.  There is also a moment that Black Widow speaks briefly with Laura Barton about a baby, and the baby turns out to be a boy so that really does not pass.  Though, I don’t think the Bechdel test is a the stamp of approval for feminists, I will say that I am glad so many female characters are included in the cast including non-white females.  I don’t think AoU missed the mark completely, but the Bechdel test is an concept I found to be interesting and eye-opening.  

Jeff Ritter: I’m not particularly a feminist but that is an interesting thing to consider. I bet I’ll be watching for Bechdel criteria in the next several movies I review. It was nice to see a more diversity, but it was also noticeable that the black super-friends didn’t do a whole lot in the film beyond comic relief or deus ex machina. Idris Elba, Don Cheadle and Howard Mackie as Heimdall, War Machine and Falcon didn’t really see much action. Mores the pity for that. Maybe DC will finally get their act together someday and green light a Milestone Comics movie featuring Icon, Static, Hardware and the Shadow Cabinet. No, you’re right, the real world Earth will be devoured by a real world Galactus before that happens!

Mike Maillaro: I am constantly banging the drum for more diversity in movies, comics, TV shows, etc.   I would be very much in favor of some Milestone movies.  It seems like the only Milestone character DC has ever felt comfortable using in any other media was Static (to be fair  Icon and Rocket did appear in Young Justice cartoon a few times), and even that version of Static is so far from the original, he’s barely recognizable.

I think the biggest problem is that we need more diversity in creators.  That is pretty much the only way we can get more diversity among characters.   I am almost positive that every MCU movie up to now has been directed by a white male.  As far as I can tell, there isn’t any woman or minority director slated to direct any Marvel movie in the foreseeable future.  That is a real problem, in my opinion.   


Maillaro: By the time I actually saw the movie, this column had already basically been put to bed.  But, I did want to add a few last minute comments.  I thought Vision was really well done.   I've always been a fan of the character, and Paul Bettany pulled him off perfectly.   I also loved the implication that the Avengers team would be undergoing some massive changes now, with Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor stepping aside and Falcon, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, and Vision stepping in.  This was a nice nod to comic continuity when Captain American formed the first "new" team of Avengers in the comics.  I am definitely hyped up for next year's Captain America: Civil War, which should build on a lot of what happened at the end of this issue.