Age of Ultron

avengers_age_of_ultron_2015_movie-wide

It took three viewings of Age of Ultron for me to get up the gumption to write about it. I do have a five-year-old boy who’s gone with me each time and he’s my justification when folks get that half-smile, look down on me from their lofty perch, and judge me a nerd. Guilty as charged.

Are there plot holes in this movie? Yep. Let’s start with the biggest one: There are godlike people doing things that people can’t really do. This is unforgivable. How did Joss Whedon overlook such a gaping story issue?

Seriously though, example one: there are people whining over the fact that Ultron, a. entity that lives on the internet, at no point messes with the Avenger’s communication equipment.

We’re talking about playboy genius Tony Stark, folks. I’m sure he set up some basic firewall protection. Thank you Norton for seeing the Avengers through their latest adventure without Ultron inundating Tony’s helmet display with triple X spam.

Example two: They grab Loki’s staff and leave the rest of Hydra’s dangerous stuff lying about for Ultron to use later?

Pick your own reason friends, Joss has trusted you to think on your own. Or he didn’t think it was that big a deal. I’m good with that.

It’d be great if some people would spend as much time picking apart the plot holes and inconsistencies glossed over by Washington politicians as they do over-thinking Marvel movies.

Hawkeye says it better than I could: “The city is flying and we’re fighting an army of robots. And I have a bow and arrow. Nothing makes sense.”

I’ve also heard complaints that they only redid the first Avengers movie in repeating the whole, “We gotta learn to work together” theme.

This is a surface observation that holds little weight. That was the struggle in the first movie, yes, but their ability to work well together is showcased in the very first scene in this movie. At no point in Age of Ultron, in any hairy situation, do they fail to work cohesively as a team.

One ploy of the antagonist is to use the scarlet witch’s mind control powers to tear them apart. She finds only partial success. She gets them all so self-involved that they are unable to stop Ultron from stealing the super metal. But she doesn’t really set them against each other, or tear them apart. She only stalls them and isn’t even completely successful at that until she wigs the Hulk out as a distraction. Our heroes regroup and their unity suffers little for her efforts.

Unity was the name of the game in Avengers #1. In #2 it is about their place in the world. As they are flying into battle for the film’s climax Cap sums it up perfectly: “This isn’t about beating Ultron, it’s about proving we’re not monsters.”

This was the theme from the get go. The problem arises from Tony’s attempt to create an Artificial Intelligence that would replace the Avengers and protect Earth in the event of another Alien attack.

This brings me to another complaint, and a brief hold up I had as I contemplated the story after my first viewing: The Avengers spend the entire movie trying to correct an issue that they caused in the first place.

I think when the movies theme is recognized: that the world needs superheroes, this complaint becomes moot. They try to replace themselves with machines and find the folly in that line of action.

Should they have proclaimed with a shoulder shrug, “Well, this was our fault, guess we should quit trying,” and then shot the U.N. an email, making them aware of Ultron’s threat? No, they needed to take care of their own demons.

Should America slink away from fighting terrorism just because we have supplied weapons to those monsters in the past? No, we go in and take care of the problems we helped create and the ones we didn’t.

There is another layer of theme present in the movie. At one point our gang of super heroes stand awkwardly in Hawkeye’s living room as his wife and kids run to hug their dad. Thor accidentally steps on a toy house, looks sheepish, and then scoots the crushed building under the table.

Aside from providing a laugh, this moment represents the overall theme of whether they are monsters or not (heaven knows they destroy plenty of real building throughout the movie), and it represents the sub-theme: the role of God on earth.

Ultron has godlike abilities. He inhabits the internet (he is everywhere and nowhere all at once), he is obsessed with creation and destruction, and likes to quote scripture. When he obtains the metal needed to carry out his nefarious plan he proclaims in mockery of holy script: “upon this rock shall I build my church.” Later he alludes that he is like God, and that he will wipe out the wicked as was done in Noah day.

Remember, Ultron is a result of Tony’s attempt to take humanity’s safety out of the hands of living, reasoning, loving people and place it into the care of an entity that has no concept of life, or agency, or morality. No wonder a machine decided to force peace the way it did. Ultron knew that world peace is a pipe dream. Either man has to go or man’s ability to choose for himself does. Kind of sounds like Satan’s preferred method, eh?

So is this an argument against God? No. The Avengers also represent God, with their super-human abilities, and love of mankind. The newest addition to their team, Vision, calls attention to this when he utters his first words: “I am. I am.” A close approximation to what God tells Moses from the burning bush.

Their goal is the well being of mankind. This is their goal even if the ones they strive to protect revile them or people like the Maximoff siblings wonder why the Avengers allow bad things to happen to good people (their home is destroyed by a Stark missile). The Avengers use their godlike abilities to protect life and freedom.

Next paragraph contains a big spoiler! Skip if you like.

Hawkeye asks his wife, while looking at the other Avengers from their bedroom window, “You don’t think they need me?” To which she responds, “Actually, I think they do. They’re gods, and they need someone to keep them down to Earth.” This sums up the difference between the Avengers and Ultron as godlike figures. Ultron is not the type to notice a sparrow fall, or a human for that matter. Hawkeye risks his life to save the last straggling little boy after everyone has been evacuated from a doomed city. One Maximoff sibling, at last convinced in the world’s need for superheroes, gives his own life to protect Hawkeye and the little boy, the sparrow that could not be left behind.

Watch for a lot of this line of thinking to be summed up in Vision’s conversation with Ultron at the end of the movie.

Of course everybody is drawn to the movies by different things. For me it is all about theme, emotion, and character. This movie covered all of those bases.

The fact of the matter here is that I have watched this movie three times in the last two weeks and was just as entertained tonight as I was opening night.