When I first started drafting this piece, it was going to be a spoiler-filled geeking out over all of my favourite bits from “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” with a bit of speculation on what certain events mean for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I was even going to digress a little bit into the stuff that’s happening over at DC/ Warners as well, but the vicious backlash led by a disproportionately vocal group of ‘fans’ just soured the whole topic for me, so I wrote this instead.
I’m here mostly to review movies. Not for profit, not for reward, but for fun. As a hobby. Sometimes I’ll love ‘em, sometimes not. Occasionally I’ll see a real stinker and go to town on the snark and but the kind of vitriolic excoriation that Joss Whedon has endured in the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Twitter and beyond is just too much.
Yeah, I loved Age Of Ultron, flaws and all, and was sorely tempted to give it a score of 10/10 . Paradoxically, that doesn’t mean I think it’s faultless or a perfect work of motion picture art, just that it delivered exactly what I wanted and hoped for from the movie and that I left the cinema fully satisfied. It didn’t bother me at all that I needed to fill in a couple of blanks to allow the story to follow or extrapolate a bit of exposition from a throwaway line of dialogue. I get that it disappointed some people, or that it was good but not great and that’s fine. I felt the same way about “Iron Man 3″ and probably enjoy “Iron Man 2″ more than its sequel even though objectively I can see the third one is a better film.
It’s the viciousness of the accusations surrounding the Black Widow character and the accusations of misogyny and ‘ruining the MCU’ that have surprised me the most. I mean, this is Joss Whedon, creator of some of the strongest, most independent and fully realised female characters in the past twenty years. Sexism really seems an odd thing to accuse him of.
One of the triggers seems to be Tony Stark’s off-the-cuff reference to ‘prima nocte’ but Mjolnir quickly underlines the distastefulness of this by refusing to budge. Plus, Tony Stark’s kind of an insensitive and self-absorbed jerk, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he sometimes says things which only a jerk would say.
But the real venom seems to stem from Black Widow’s conversation with Banner in the bedroom where she reveals some of the things which happened to her during her training. It’s an unfortunate juxtaposition of statements, but I have to say, my reading of her ‘monsters’ line wasn’t directly relating to the fact she couldn’t have children, it was referring to the things she was trained to do and did back then (I thought it was heavily implied she had to kill her fellow classmates to become the sole graduate of the class). The reference to not being able to bear children was a direct response to Banner’s use of that as a reason not to be together. Her calling herself a monster was more to do with the reasons she was sterilised: so she would always be singularly focussed on her target and mission and the things she had done in service of the agency which brutalised her. Her being captured by Ultron and then rescued by Banner, to me at least, in no way lessened her as a badass tough as nails character, quickly evidenced by the ruthlessness with which she pushes him off a precipice without hesitation to summon The Hulk and complete the mission.
Ironically, I think the solution to a lot of the problems people seem to have with “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” could be solved with more “Avengers: Age Of Ultron”. Whedon’s original cut of the film reputedly ran for three hours which was then trimmed down by nearly forty minutes. A further forty minutes could easily account for and improve scenes which feel truncated, choppy or incomplete: Natasha and Bruce’s conversation in the bedroom, Ultron’s imprisonment of Black Widow and Thor’s (barely explained) visit to the (barely explained) Waters Of Sight and his (barely explained) epiphany.
I suppose it’s a good thing that all of this hullabaloo is largely invisible to the general movie going public and is contained to a relatively small hard core of so-called ‘fans’ who prefer a circle jerk of outrage to actual discussion and exchange of views. In the end, it won’t be genre fatigue that kills off quality superhero movies, it’ll be these types of reactions which will drive the talented, knowledgeable and interesting writers and directors away from them, leaving a vacuum to be filled by the Uwe Bolls, Paul W S Andersons and Brett Ratners of the world.
In the end, this is the internet and the bile will always rise to the top. Joss Whedon and Marvel made a movie that I (and millions of others) enjoyed enormously and that some people thought was good, okay, disappointing or rubbish. Nothing that’s tweeted in malice or righteous indignation can or will make much of a difference to how I or most of them feel but it’s a damn shame it’s apparently forced one of the most interesting creative voices off a platform where we could directly interact with him. I imagine after all the potshots being taken, him leaving Twitter went something like this:
I’ll save my geeking out about all the cool stuff for some other time, when I’m feeling less dismayed and disappointed in fandom. Cap throwing the motorbike was pretty cool, though, right? We can all agree on that?