As to my detailed critique of the movie itself to its comic counterpart. I’d run if you haven’t seen the movie and hate spoilers. They are coming in 3, 2, 1, and go!
The Age of Ultron shouldn’t be listed as part of the Marvel Universe. It needs to be part of the Whedon Universe or the Transformed Character Universe or any universe that doesn’t even attempt to stick the original story.
Because executive producer Kevin Feige didn’t have the spine or the brains or maybe both to say to Edgar Wright, “Gimme back Ant-Man.” The reason that Ant-Man is only now being released on July 17 of this year is because Wright had been granted permission to make an Ant-Man movie before Phase 1 of the movies were even made. A series of complications led to a continuous postponement of the movie until now.
So, to accommodate Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man script that screwed Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne out of the Avengers story, Whedon had to change the Ultron story from the unique and original story that it was in the comics – a mad robot with an Oedipus complex who vows revenge on his creator – to a generic and clichéd story that just makes Ultron another version of the Sentinels in X-Men: Days of Future Past, or a re-hash of the Winter Soldier plotline.
I can’t understate how much Pym’s absence changes the entire plotline of the movie vs. the comics. Because Ultron was created by accident and Pym his creator had no idea that this robot was walking around as the Crimson Cowl organizing the Masters of Evil to take down the Avengers and take revenge on Hank and humanity.
Granted, I’m not saying make the Crimson Cowl and the Masters of Evil because that would take another origin movie, but Joss Whedon is an incredibly creative man. He could’ve made a spin on an accidental origin featuring Pym that could’ve been effective, but Marvel made it impossible for Whedon to do so.
Whedon circumvented this key plot problem by making the next most logical person in the Avengers to create Ultron. Tony Stark, genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist etc. was picked to be Ultron’s creator, but even then it isn’t a fit because Ultron took on the traits of Pym, not Stark, in the comics.
So, to make Ultron make sense, Whedon had to alter Ultron’s basic personality to mirror Stark’s and not Pym’s therefore creating a doppelganger versus a re-creation from what Ultron was in the comics.
However, what’s also not right about the movie is how Tony Stark’s creation of Ultron is inconsequential and in bad form because it is rushed in a total of 10 minutes of screen time, and Tony’s motivations are totally nonsensical. You’d think that a man as smart as him would think that using an artificial intelligence taken from HYDRA to create an army of robots to safeguard the world is a bad idea.
Instead, he calls it, “a suit of armor” around the world.
That sounds more like something that General Ross from the Hulk would be after versus Tony Stark who knows that machines in the hands of the wrong minds are creators of terror. It makes Tony look like an irresponsible moron, ignoring his previously established character who learned how his weapons were being used in Iron Man 1.
Instead Whedon and Marvel have Tony Stark doing this intentionally in total disregard of logic and common sense – not to mention that it is basically the same thing that HYDRA did with all of those SHIELD heli-carriers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier(a better film). Wouldn’t Tony have heard about that little peacekeeping program running amok? They are part of the same universe.
If you watched Winter Soldier when the computers are targeting the people they are planning to kill who are a threat to Hydra, one name that pops up on the screen in plain sight for the audience to see is “Tony Stark,” right in his mansion.
But oh, it’s a great idea for him to mess with artificial intelligence right?
This movie violates one of the basic rules of storytelling, which is you don’t dumb down a character and make them do stupid things that they ordinarily wouldn’t do just to push a plotline forward. That’s usually called “soap opera writing.”
The other problem is that Tony Stark creating Ultron is treated as an afterthought once the first act is over. Ultron gets put together during the dinner party, starts blasting up the place, everyone gets mad at Tony for doing something so unbelievably stupid (Thor’s hand around Tony’s throat says it all), but then all is forgotten and it’s “let’s team up to stop Ultron!”
Except it’s not the real Ultron that they are stopping. It’s more of a Tony-Tron. Because Ultron even quotes him verbatim to an arms dealer, there is a joke of how Ultron making a quip about broken eggs and an omelet where Tony says, “He beat me by one second,” so it looks more like a teen son rebelling against his daddy thinking he knows it all and simultaneously attacking anyone who compares him to papa.
Like the arms dealer…
There’s no real consequence or growth for Tony Stark afterwards. He’s still the same asshole later on in the story, to the point where he stupidly decides to repeat the same thing in creating the Vision (which really makes no sense, as Vision’s artificial consciousness was based on an actual person, Simon Williams/Wonder Man, and not a computer program like JARVIS fused with an infinity stone and lightning from Thor’s hammer. His birth looked like the scene from Frankenstein in some ways).
Whereas Hank Pym was tortured with guilt and repentant for creating Ultron for a long time afterwards in the comics. He felt tremendous pain and responsibility for all the death that Ultron caused. While Tony Stark just shakes it off, like “Oh well.” It just doesn’t make sense and really doesn’t add anything to the story; it in fact diminishes it. This is why – contrary to Kevin Feige and Joss Whedon’s earlier statements – yes, you DO need Hank Pym to have Ultron. The story doesn’t work any other way.
Also, eliminating Hank Pym from the story also eliminates Janet Van Dyne, The Wasp, from the story as well. And I’m sorry, but Black Widow is just not an adequate replacement in the Avengers.
No disrespect meant to Natasha or Scarlett Johansson, but there’s a reason Black Widow’s membership in the Avengers is on-again, off-again (mostly off) and why she works primarily with S.H.I.E.L.D. Her skill set as a spy, assassin, and an S.H.I.E.L.D. agent works for what she’s best suited for, such as her roles in Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
She’s just not designed to go up against aliens, robots, and super-villains, and I’ve noticed that Joss Whedon has been forced to work around her limitations in terms of what she can and cannot do – limitations that Janet Van Dyne doesn’t have, as she is an actual superhero.
Whedon and Marvel have recently taken criticism for their treatment of Widow in the movie, having accusations of sexism made against them.
While I don’t believe that these accusations are true, it is probably due to Joss not really having much to do with her character other than have her tend bar, pick up Captain America’s shield for him, putting the Hulk to sleep with a lullaby, or being Ultron’s captive.
Yes, Johansson’s pregnancy had something to do with it, but Whedon had the same problem with her in the first movie, having her do nothing but fire her guns and ride on the back of a Chitauri. But, the Wasp is an actual superhero with powers, and is far more capable in these situations which are far outside of Widow’s scope of practice.
And it does seem somewhat chauvinistic and insulting to make the only female member of the last two Avengers movies the weakest character. But Widow isn’t weak at all. She’s just out of her league among these other gods, monsters, super-soldiers, and armored warriors
What’s that you say? Hawkeye is also a normal human?
Well, what you have to remember that Hawkeye is also Marvel’s version of Green Arrow, and like his DC universe counterpart, Oliver Queen, Clint Barton has an arsenal of high-tech, weaponized arrows that give him a formidable amount of long-range firepower, which more than make up the difference.
There’s a reason Clint has been such a long-standing member of the Avengers for decades.
That’s not to say there weren’t good parts of the film. Elizabeth Olsen was great as the Scarlet Witch, although the decision to put her in a schoolgirl uniform seems a bit juvenile. But this is what to expect from a studio run by geeks in grown men’s bodies. Her outfit at the end of the movie was much improved and closer to her look in the comics.
The decision to kill off Quicksilver after having only appeared in one movie seems a total waste of the character. Quicksilver is Marvel’s only speedster and why didn’t he just run and pick Barton and the child up, and run away from the gunfire instead of shoving a car in front of them to use for armor while taking bullet fire?
If he can move a two-ton car, he can movie a 200+ lb. Barton and holding a kid who couldn’t have been older than nine. Dear Marvel, if you’re going to kill a guy, at least make it make sense!
The fight between the Hulk and Iron Man in the Hulkbuster armor was also quite impressive. It was very entertaining and something Whedon deserves credit for including.
So while the movie wasn’t totally horrible, it just wasn’t as satisfying as past MCU films like Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Solider, or Guardians of the Galaxy, and it doesn’t stay with you afterwards the way the first Avengers film did.
So, sure the movie will make a lot of money and James Spader will be a Comic Con legend now for being Ultron, but comic book fans like myself left the theater shaking our heads because we know the story. The real story.