I was finally able to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. Great movie, everything you would expect from one of the new line of Marvel movies. If that were all I had to talk about though, this would be a very short post. Instead I want to go in depth a bit about a few things I noticed and maybe share a bit of commentary.
As always in this series, expect spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and don’t want to know the contents, move along. If you want to explore the movie’s underbelly read on.
Here Walk Gods
Super Heroes are an American Mythology. I have stated this before but it bears repeating. The thing is, heroes have been larger than life for much of our time with them. They have been placed in a state of godhood that keeps them separate from mortals, at least in the past. With the current generation and even a little before that time there has been the concerted effort to show a human quality to the heroes that we once thought far above us.
In the latest Avengers movie Joss Whedon went to great lengths to bring that human quality to the forefront. We could spend pages and pages of talk discussing the various implications of the things that were shared within the narrative, but for now we are going to explore an interesting bit of story telling that worked well to show the human side of these larger than life beings.
Through the powers of the Scarlet Witch we were shown a specific moment in time for each of the characters. Through the narrative this was told to the viewer that she showed them their fears. But in reality it was something more than that.
First within the narrative only one of the characters experienced something real, the others experienced visions on a metaphysical level. We will look at each of them in turn.
Tony Stark/ Iron Man was the first vision we experienced. His vision wasn’t a fear, it wasn’t even a truth. It was actually the plot device that allowed the rest of the movie to happen. On the surface it appeared to be a vision of his fear for the future, his fear of the unknown. But really it was a play at his character flaw, hubris. He had the belief that with great science he could overcome human nature and save the world not only from unimaginably powerful forces but also from the folly of man. Like I said, plot device, this set the rest of the story in motion.
The next time we see this power manifest is in Wakanda. In this scene the major players are then taken on their own visions. For Thor we are shown inadequacy. Though he has the goodness of heart to wield Mjolner, he is still confronted with his own failings to protect his people. The oddity of his vision is the quest it sends him on. His role to play in the villain’s downfall is something a bit different than the rest of the team. His quest is then also separate from theirs, at least for a time.
For Captain America/ Steve Rogers we are taken on a path of regret. He is a man out of time, the friends and loved ones he once had belong to a different lifetime. This is a vision that cannot be fixed through physical action. Instead he has to come to terms with the life he has before him now.
The last vision we are shown belongs to Black Widow/ Natasha Romanov. This is the only one that is tied to real events. We are shown the graduation of her time in training as an assassin. The whole situation is brutal and through the cinematography we are shown it all as a memory instead of as a lived experience. The vision is jumpy and choppy. The whole situation was brutal and completely out of her control. Much like Steve Rogers’ vision, hers cannot be fixed through a physical action. She has to come to terms with the situations have shaped who she is. Because of her past, the time when she did not shape her own destiny, she now takes full control of her life and her actions.
Widow’s vision ties directly with the Hulk/ Bruce Banner’s. Though we don’t see his vision we are taken on a physical manifestation his worst fear. The Hulk is set loose, full rage and wanton destruction ensue. Banner has lost complete control of the beast. Much like the Black Widow he needs to maintain complete control of who he is, but for him the consequences of loss of control affects the world around him.
Each of these characters is a god like being in some way and now each one has fallen. We have found them broken and beaten in a way that is special to each of them. But what we haven’t seen is Hawkeye/ Clint Barton. He alone is the hero that is able to stop the power of the Scarlet Witch before she works her magic on him. Instead we are taken to a physical manifestation of what could be his downfall.
We are taken to his home, hidden from danger, where his family is kept safe from his high profile position. Through this we are shown that Hawkeye is the most human of all of them. When he is with them he is just a guy in a suit doing a job. The comparison to the other visions ingrains this moment in the viewer’s mind of just how human Hawkeye is. This is reinforced through the rest of the story. Aside from the mentions of the differences between him and his wife, we are also given reminders in several instances.
The most poignant is when he saves the boy during the evacuation. With the quinjet strafing his position he turns to shield this boy he doesn’t know and puts his own safety at risk. We the viewers are given a huge boon when it is Quicksilver who has sacrificed himself to save them both.
It is these moments, moments where we are shown the fallacy of our heroes that we see something different in the world. Our ideals of perfection are shattered a little bit and we see that even broken people have an opportunity to do great things.
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