Review of a Preview – The Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron

Okay, I’ll admit it. I was really skeptical about this one. I was never really that stoked on yet another “man creates machine to protect man but the machine realizes man is the biggest threat to man and therefore destroys man” kind of plot. I’m even kind of tired of the “AI goes crazy psycho and kills people” plot. According to Hollywood, whenever any human makes a technological achievement, it will always fail on them. Because that’s how science works, amirite?

No. It’s not. I always loved Tony Stark more than Iron Man because Tony Stark was just was brilliant geek that made stuff and did good things with it. Yeah, he’s an arrogant jerk and has a few socialization problems, but that kind of goes with the territory. But Iron Man just hides behind said technology and pushes buttons until it does something. Yes, I know they are one in the same character, but I’m trying to make a point. What I’m trying to say is that the idea that Tony’s creation suddenly goes wrong and destroys half the world kind of erks me. It’s exactly the kind of anti-progress conservative junk that Hollywood’s been puking out for decades.

But this new trailer has me singing a slightly different tune. That tune specifically is Pinocchio’s “I’ve got no strings.”

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/109758105]

Bam! Wasn’t that awesome? Whew, yeah! Let it out a few times. Breathe. Breathe. Alright, relax.

Now, let’s digest this video a bit. So what just happened here? Well first of all: Ultron.

If you’re familiar with the comic books, you are probably aware that Ultron is a super smart AI created by the eponymous Hank Pym who then proceeds to turn on his creator, get eventually destroyed, and then “resurrect” itself through numerous incarnations with new powers and snappy names like Ultron-14. If you’re not aware of the comic book canon of this character, well you are now. And this is honestly all you need to know. You might notice that the name of Hank Pym doesn’t even have the same amount of syllables as Tony Stark. That’s right, Marvel is re-writing the fake history they’ve created over decades. But they created it, so stop complaining when they retcon.

Instead of the “Ant Man,” now it’s Tony Stark creating this AI as some sort of weird “peacekeeping” program that’s probably intended to put them out of a job. And then the program revolts against it’s master and blah blah blah.

But despite being bored by the fairly re-hashed AI-based storyline, the character of Ultron fascinates me. He’s not just some good-intentioned-but-doesn’t-understand-humans kind of AI. Nor is he a humans-are-evil-and-they-should-all-die kind of AI. Nope, he’s actually just an asshole. Nothing provided more promise for this movie than the extended trailer that aired earlier this week with Agents of SHIELD.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGwuoYKhqx8#t=20]

The heroes are having some sort of stupid superhero get together where they measure their penises per usual, and then Ultron struts out from his bedroom and goes “F*** you dad!! You’re all pieces of ****.” What we don’t see is the inevitable “No, F*** you, son!” and the fist fight that occurs.

Emilio knows what I’m talking about

That combined with the Pinocchio music kinda tells me that this guy’s going to have some serious daddy issues. That’s a pretty interesting decision for Joss Whedon to make. The Oedipus complex falls in line with how Ultron treated Hank Pym, but the comics always explained it in that “uhhh…because screw you that’s why” kinda way that Marvel comics normally do. But Joss is a very realism kind of guy, in that he loves to make sure the audience understands why something weird and obscure just happened. So knowing Joss’ typical style, I am really interested to find out Joss explains how a robot happens to pick up an Oedipus complex. I can only wonder about the things that Tony did to poor Ultron…

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But other than horrifying abuses of power by Tony, I’m also interested in the very Empire Strikes Back-esque feel of this movie. We know there will be at least 3 Avengers movies. We’ve heard rumblings that Chris Evans (Captain America) and Robert Downey Jr. (as himself) want to get out of the superhero franchise. We’ve already seen SHIELD get dismanteled with Captain America 2. With RDJ’s cryptic doom warning that “this will be the end of what I started,” could we be seeing a sudden, albeit momentary end of the Avengers Initiative? Between the Hulk fighting the new Hulkbuster Iron Man Suit, Thor’s physical variation of the Vader choke, Hawkeye seemingly hunting down the aforementioned Hulk, and the broken Captain America shield at the end, we can be reasonably assured that there will be a split within the ranks of the Avengers. Captain America 2 signaled the beginning of a dark era for the Marvel comics, and it seems that The Age of Ultron is pulling that darkness into a penultimate arpeggio. Although it’s possible, I doubt we’ll see the ultimate end of an Avenger in this movie, mainly because both Chris and Robert are signed on to Captain America 3. But I do think that this will be the Empire Strikes Back of the Avenger’s trilogy. And as anyone who appreciates Star Wars movies knows, Empire Strikes Back is arguably the best of the trilogy.

Do I think this movie will be as good as ESB? Hell no. So don’t try to call me out on that. I’m still highly skeptical of the fairly trite-sounding rogue AI storyline and how bitching the Avenger’s infighting can be, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching comic book movies, I know I should trust Joss Whedon with Marvel at his back. He knows how to make trite memes into intriguing premises. He knows how to make us care about bitchy character infighting. I’m still skeptical, but this trailer has gotten me intrigued in this movie again.

Mike Lohnash

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