And On and On and On

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Joss Whedon, 2015)

I am so not the audience for this. I didn’t see Avengers: Assemble and I wasn’t a great fan of the original movie (The Avengers (1998)). It’s been Americanised of course, and whilst Robert Downey, Jr is better in the role than Ralph Fiennes, he’s no Patrick Macnee. The female agent, Scarlett Johansson, is no Honor Blackman or Diana Rigg or Linda Thorson.

So a group of superheroes wisecrack and kickass their way into a secret lair to destroy an irrelevant Big Bad and find an A.I. that allows evil kindly and benevolent arms dealer Tony Stark to restart his programme to create a Colossus style computer which will bring Peace In Our Time. Presumably unfamiliar with how well this worked out for Neville Chamberlain, Stark is confused when the A.I. managed to give itself bodily form and decide that the way to save the village is to destroy it. Only The Avengers can save the world. With help from Royal Holloway. Impact.

So, let’s see, Whedon has a track record in handling ensemble casts — check, we have all kinds of superheroes, various Big Bads, Mr Ultron himself, a couple of Eastern European types who know the name Stark from the wrong end of a missile and most of the time we can keep them all tidy in our minds as to who is where. There’s a confused bit with is the result of the second recurring trait — the Scooby Gang need to fall out with each other — and when the Eastern European Scarlet Witch tries to mess with their heads this appears to be happening. And gets a bit confusing and deleted scene for the DVD territory. They never quite lose it. Oh, yes, and then there’s the feminism thing. We get told — or did Whedon tell us? — he’s a feminist. Which explains why Black Widow seems to spend much of the movie holding someone’s hand. But it’s never her story, whoever the she is. There are a couple more female characters — but then superhero movies don’t like too many women with agency.

You can see there’s some grappling for complexity — Stark is clearly a monster, arms dealers are clearly scum, but it’s never quite delivered. It’s not even in the same league as “Do I have the right?” moral dilemmas.

The audience liked it though — I’m guessing there are in-jokes for the in-crowd. There were appreciative laughs at what felt mundane pieces of dialogue. I’m just wondering where that convenient lake came from in the denouement and what the impact of dropping large rocks into it would be.

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