Avengers: Age of Ultron (Caution – Spoilers)
I just walked out of the theater after seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron for the first time and there is a part of me that’s mildly disappointed it took me nearly two months to see it. I’ve just seen it so my opinions of the movie will probably change the more I see it and the more I read about the movie. But I did want to write some of my initial thoughts about the movie so if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to be spoiled, consider this your spoiler warning to find something else to read.
First – there is so much that I really love about this movie. The relationships between the Avengers seem real, genuine, honest (mostly). And it’s so apparent that Joss Whedon wrote this movie – his quick wit and banter is all over the screen, with the characters being sarcastic and hilarious with each other. The entire team, at times, had this sense of unbelievable teamwork that seemed completely natural when they worked together.
Also the scene at the beginning where they all bond over attempting to pick up Thor’s hammer? Definitely one of my favorite parts – there we get to see the friendships, the humanity shared between all of the characters.
And hot damn those fight scenes. I mean the opening scene itself had me on the edge of my seat with how artistic and well done it was. Every fight scene, to me, had so much going on that it was a bit overwhelming but at the same time, I was completely memorized with what was happening.
Plus, I did find it really great that there was so much of a focus on getting civilians to safety at the end of the movie (rather than the whole “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”). But it was interesting to see how concern for civillians seemed less evident in Wakanda and Seoul than in the final scene set in Sokovia. (More than anything, that’s just an observation…)
Learning more context and humanity of a few of the characters also made the movie really enjoyable. Being able to meet Barton’s family was a HUGE surprise (omg) and I really love the relationship that Black Widow has with Barton and his family. For me, it was so amazing to have that platonic relationship between the two and see how close Romanoff is with Barton and his family. That was so refreshing to see if anything else.
Okay so those are some of the big things I love about the movie so let’s dig into the things I didn’t particularly like. The Hulk/Black Widow love story for example. I just couldn’t really get behind that subplot for some reason – more than anything there just didn’t seem to be any chemistry between the characters. Like no chemistry whatsoever, making the feelings and subplot mildly difficult to really get behind. Keith Chow brought up the same thing about this relationship subplot over at The Nerds of Color, saying that:
Never mind that there was no real build up to this ‘ship in the previous movie — or any subsequent MCU film — but all of it just seemed awkward and oddly placed. Not to mention that Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johannsen lacked a lot of chemistry together. I felt more between Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell in that brief dream sequence than any point in the Hulk/Widow romance. Hell, Banner had more chemistry with Tony, but we’ll leave that to the internet.
And of course the issue that yet again, we have been given a movie that is sorely lacking diversity. So many white men have again and again been on the forefront of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (c’mon: two Thor movies, three Iron Man movies, and two Captain America movies – all of which have a white man as the leading character and all of them are just the beginning of Marvel’s lineup).
And this movie was no different really. There’s some diversity in the secondary characters that barely have any screen time to the main characters and I do have some hope based on the very last scene regarding the new team of Avengers (where they are all not white men) (please let that be a good story).
Marama Whyte wrote about the lack of women in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron” over on hypable and there are plenty of things from her analysis that I agree with. There is a severe lack of women in the movie – with many existing to add humanity and context to the men of the movie (Barton’s wife and family for example). Whyte brings up many good points about the lack of screen time that many of the female characters get in the movie and also addresses the problematic portrayal of Black Widow.
When the movie first came out, there was a feminist backlash against Whedon over the portrayal of Romanoff. For so many (myself included), Romanoff is a wonderful and beloved character so seeing her story within this movie seemed weird? Throughout so much of the movie, her involvement seems to be centered around Bruce Banner rather than Romanoff standing independently. (Also let’s stop pretending Whedon is a feminist but that’s something else for a completely different day.)
There have been a lot of critiques about one particular line that Romanoff says about half way through the movie – she refers to herself as a monster, which many have taken to be because she cannot bare children after her completion of the assassin training she went through in Russia. I knew of this critique before going into the movie so I kept an eye out for that moment to understand it better.
But with the context of that scene and more about her past, I didn’t necessarily see Romanoff’s comment about being a monster in reference to her infertility. I saw it more as a reference to her training to be an assassin, trained and molded to kill at will. I understood that line to mean that she was trained, experimented on, so much of herself was built and controlled by others in the beginning. One tweet (of many related ones) from Willow Maclay sums up some of my thoughts on the issue:
and I believe a grand deal of people have misread this scene. The “monster” comment stems from murdering people. Not because of sterility
— Willow Maclay (@willow_catelyn) May 6, 2015
For me, I understood that comment to mean that Romanoff sees herself as a monster because of what she had been trained to be and her past filled with murder and violence than her inability to not have children. I can see how the comment can be construed to be in reference to Romanoff not having children but watching it for myself made me really side with the fact that the comment was to her past and training than anything else.
Libby Hill wrote an article for Salon about what this Avengers movie did get right about Black Widow and wrote about how devastating and heartbreaking sterility can be. And my own interpretation of this scene and this comment is really coming right after seeing the film for the first time and based on the fact that as far as I know, I do have the ability to choice whether or not I want to biologically have a family. My opinions of it might change the more I watch the movie and the more I read from others.
Looking over all of my thoughts, I realize now I have more opinions about the movie than I originally anticipated… There is so much that I really love about this movie but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There are flaws within it and I think that’s so important to keep in mind when consuming media. My thoughts and opinions might change about the movie the more I watch it (lord knows that has happened with other movies and television shows in the past). But for right now, I’d say Avengers: Age of Ultron was pretty decent.