The Age of Ultron: The Avengers, grounded…?

Avengers-Ultron
They’re back…but is it for the best?

That I love the first Avengers movie the most out of all the Marvel Comic Universe films so far is hardly a secret. My brother has thus far been unable to convince me to watch either Ironman 2 or 3, and I’ve only ever looked up one scene in the Thor films, one that you might be able to guess after reading through this post. There are a few other films I haven’t seen and remain unlikely to see…well, unless someone tells me that they’ll be important for the third and climatic phase of the MCU, where the seeds of all those mid- and end-credits scenes finally sprout. And the reason for this remains as it was last year: I prefer watching them play off each other, rather than having just one personality at the centre of a 2-hour movie.

This does not work quite as well in Avengers: The Age of Ultron. With Ultron as well as the twins coming into the mix, at times, it felt like there were far too many characters. However, I found myself enjoying the film a little more the second time around; it could have been the audience, which found the funny parts as hilarious as they were meant to be. And people more engaged than I am—such as Drew McWeeny over at hitfix—will provide a far more nuanced analysis of the show than I will ever be able to. However, I will touch on the one thing I really appreciated and why I wish Whedon had been able to pull it off a little better.

If I had to pick a favourite out of the characters that appear in this film, I would have to say that Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, is probably it. What can I say? For some reason, I’ve always had a thing for bows and arrows, and the bag of ‘trick’ arrowheads that Hawkeye works with is something I really really like. I also loved the camaraderie he shared with ‘Nat’ in the first film…so the Banner-Romanov developments and the big Hawkeye reveal in this one actually caught me by surprise. I’ll have to admit that I was one of the many fans who thought that they might go with the Hawkeye-Widow relationship that does show up in some of the comic storylines, even though I personally have not read any of them.

Hawkeye
Finally! Backstory time!

However, having seen Ultron twice now, I must say that I love the backstory and ‘dark secret’ that Whedon decided to give Barton. His dark secret is that…he has no dark secret. Barton is literally the average Joe on the team, the one who represents us mere mortals, the people who do their job because that’s how they protect those they love. But whilst Widow joked in the film that ‘pretending that we need this guy really keeps the team together’, that’s actually what he had to do in this film. When Ultron tore through them with the help of the mind-bending powers of the Scarlett Witch, the Avengers fell to pieces. Except for Hawkeye, who, of course, isn’t a fan of “the mind-control thing.” So as the world starts to question the Avengers, it’s Barton who opens his home—complete with a supportive wife and two young children—to them as a place to regroup.

But much as I love this development, the way Whedon has written it has both hits and misses. At the farm itself, Barton’s work is done very subtly. The characters are given space and time to work through the fears that Wanda has drawn out from the depths of their minds, and in one case, the ‘helping hand’ of another old friend. But this then gives the impression that actually, what he did perhaps did not matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. Cap and Tony Stark continue to play off each other instead, with the latter using the ‘we’ll do this together’ idea that the former pushed on him earlier in the film. Hawkeye is left to ‘babysit’ the twins instead, and this is done in such a blatantly obvious way that I’m still rather ambivalent about it, especially since they were new additions to the team. Still, even though everything seems to be wrapped up little too neatly, the seeds have been sown for the tensions of Captain America: Civil War. Perhaps Barton’s role as that grounding rod will continue through the next few films as well.

In sum, this minor disappointment aside, I really enjoyed Ultron, and will gladly watch it again to see what else I can glean from it. I don’t think it’ll ever be an epitome of anything, unlike how the first film can arguably be termed ‘the ideal popcorn flick’. But there are still things to enjoy, and the connections with phase three give a small hint at what’s to come…may it all be worthwhile!

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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