Tag Archives: Age of Ultron

13 Fandom Deaths That Will Always Be Too Soon

Here’s a short tribute to the saddest deaths in some of our fandoms, to the ones who die without being likely to come back.  None of these are necessarily in order, and I don’t have time to discuss the hows and whys of all their deaths today. But see if you can make it through this post without crying. Also, spoilers for just about everything.

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A ‘Pepperony’ Apperciation

“Where are the ladies?” Maria Hill teasingly asks at the Avengers Tower Gala in Age of Ultron.  Thor explains that Jane Foster is off lecturing the world about the science behind the Convergence.  Tony Stark, less convincingly, says that Pepper is off running a company.  Why is it I buy Thor’s excuse more than Tony’s?  Because at the end of Iron Man 3 Tony and Pepper were very happily together.  I can see Jane putting her relationship with Thor on hold for her career. But having been with the MCU since Phase 1, Tony without Pepper is like eating pancakes without syrup: it’s still edible and delicious but it’s not complete. No discussion of Tony’s character is complete without including her (but let’s face it, my last Iron Man post was already pretty crammed).  If anything, Pepper’s absence was one of the many reasons Age of Ultron felt “off” to me as a fan.

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Why Captain America Isn’t Perfect

This is part 3 of the 3-part Road to Civil War series.

WARNING!  SPOILERS FOR ANT-MAN BELOW.  READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

The question everyone seems to be asking is why the Civil War installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a Captain America movie?  The truth is, we won’t have all the answers until it comes out.  However, here are some of my thoughts from what we’ve heard about the plot and based on my observations of Steve Rogers.

Captain America as a Leader

At the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we see Captain America squarely in charge of a new Avengers team. The actions of this team under his leadership will lead to the debate over the regulation of superheroes. 

If you want to fight with Captain America, you better do it his way Marvel via Film School Rejects

If you want to fight with Captain America, you better do it his way
Marvel via Film School Rejects

Steve Rogers thinks of himself first and foremost as a soldier, but he has always been a leader. I f people expect Captain America to lead them, then he expects them to work like an army does. In Captain America: The First Avenger, he is the unquestioned leader of the Howling Commandos, and even the directors of the Strategic Scientific Reserve look to him to lead the fight against Hydra.  We don’t see much of the men who followed him aside from Bucky, but I think he had a good working relationship with these guys that probably set his expectations for similar experiences a little high.  

When Captain America goes to work for S.H.I.E.L.D., the situation is far from ideal.  What Steve Rogers expects from those who work with him is trust.  He prefers to know what other people are doing and what’s going on, whereas Nick Fury thinks it’s safer to “compartmentalize” assignments and secrets.  Finding out that S.H.I.E.L.D. was controlled by Hydra is the last straw. From then on, Captain America doesn’t want to be in a position where he isn’t calling the shots. Being in control is Steve’s way of coping with the fact that he can’t trust other people’s motives.

Cap in the Age of Ultron

Steve decides to take out the remnants of Hydra, but it is unclear whether he asked the other Avengers for help or if they volunteered.  But destroying Hydra is Steve’s project, so they let him decide what they do.  To an extent they consider him the leader, and he may even think of himself as one.

Tony Stark referred to Captain America as “the boss” at one point during Age of Ultron, but Tony doesn’t treat him the way Steve expects he would if he really thought that. In The Avengers Tony is condescending and even resentful toward him.  After the two work together for some time, there’s a little more respect and even some liking.  Yet Steve expects that the other Avengers follow his directions and not do anything to jeopardize them or their mission.  Tony Stark does his own thing. And Steve mistrusts Tony for this.

Tony wanted to see Cap's dark side: well, he got what he asked for over the cradle. Marvel via Transparent Things

Tony wanted to see Cap’s dark side: well, he got what he asked for.
Marvel via Transparent Things

Steve is more concerned at first about preventing Ultron from causing more problems.  But then Wanda Maximoff warns Steve the being Ultron was creating with the Mind Stone could be put to use by Tony Stark—and Steve takes it very poorly. His only thought is to prevent Tony from creating another Ultron, and he’s offended that Tony’s attitude and behavior are hurting the team as well as the world.  Civil War as good as almost started over Vision’s cradle.

It would be wrong to say that Steve isn’t sad to see the breakup of the original Avengers.  But at the same time I think he’s looking forward to working with the new team that has come together, probably more or less at his invitation. He has an advantage with this new team because he can set new terms for their working relationship. He can teach them how to work together, trust each other, and rely on each other in ways that the original Avengers never could: the way he wants them to.

So one of the hard parts of Civil War will be watching all of Steve’s hopes and expectations for the new Avengers go down the drain.

A Product of War

Captain America was created to fight a war that, for the rest of the world, ended seventy years ago.  But the war never ended for Steve, and the best thing he can think of doing is continuing to fight.

The things we think are temporary may end up being permanent. Marvel via DarlingStewie.com

The things we think are temporary may end up being permanent.
Marvel via DarlingStewie.com

During World War II, all civilian resources—food, clothing, and even entertainment—were redirected to the military and to mustering support for the war effort. It was a time period when people ate, slept, and breathed war.  Cap went on the ice.  The rest of the world had time to transition, but Steve didn’t. So a part of him still eats, sleeps, and breathes war because he didn’t get to see it end.  And whatever closure he thinks he has—Hydra being vanquished, for instance—is an illusion.

When he got up, furthermore, he was asked almost right away to help save the world from Loki. Steve never intended to be Captain America for the rest of his life, but that’s what nearly everyone else wants him to be.  So he has chosen to be a superhero: that is “home” for Steve now.  And if it is his job to keep the world safe, then he will do whatever he thinks is right to get the job done.  His job from the war, stopping Hydra, was left undone, so he is going to finish it. And his mind, it is an army—in this case, the Avengers—that is the best chance of stopping Hydra.

Doing the Right Thing as a Weakness

A lot of people don’t see why Steve had to crash the Valkyrie at the end of The First Avenger.  My explanation is that Steve didn’t want the world to have access to the Hydra weapons or technology that was on that plane: Hydra was so evil that he wanted to destroy it and every evil thing it created.  And, of course, he held Hydra responsible for Bucky’s “death.” 

A good captain goes down with the ship, right? Marvel via cinemablend

A good captain goes down with the ship, right?
Marvel via Cinemablend

Steve does whatever he thinks is right at all costs, and if you disagree with him about what it takes to keep the world safe, then he is not giving you the benefit of a doubt. 

In Captain America: Civil War, Steve will encounter a serious barrier to his goal of fighting Hydra just as Hydra is regaining strength, and his attitudes and choices in that time will put him in conflict with Iron Man and other superheroes.  And then we have the Ant-man post-credit scene. From the dialogue and other inferences about the situation, we know that Bucky Barnes turning up again in this manner only complicates an already difficult situation.  But why did Marvel choose to show this scene in particular?  Steve wants to help his best friend, at whatever cost to himself, and if he has to break the rules—if he has to fight Tony Stark—to do so, needless to say it’s going to get ugly.

How far will Steve go to make sure he doesn't lose his friend again? Marvel via Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

How far will Steve go to make sure he doesn’t lose his friend again?
Marvel via Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

Bucky is the only thing Steve has from the life he used to know: before he was a soldier, before ANYTHING.  If Steve can save Bucky, then he will be able, in some small way, to “come home.” It isn’t right this time: it’s personal. 

But Steve, however, will put his personal happiness on the line to do what he thinks is right.  I am prepared at this point to accept the possibility that Steve might even die in Civil War.  What I am really worried about is, can Steve put up with all of this and still be a good person?  

That’s the best speculation I can give you for now.  But of course, it could all change the moment the trailer comes out.

 

In Fairness to Tony Stark

This is Part 2 of the three-part Road to Civil War series

Let me get to the point: Tony Stark is not a villain.  Take away his being a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, and take away the suit, and he is a person just like every one of us who is trying to do his best.  

Iron Man is far from my favorite Avenger, but I can't help but admire his wit (Marvel via Comicbook resources)

Iron Man is far from my favorite Avenger, but I can’t help but admire his wit
(Marvel via Comicbook resources)

Granted, he started out as a billionaire genius whatever. What makes Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, a hero is when he realizes he has caused problems he resolves to fix them, usually with technology. In Iron Man, Stark is captured by terrorists while on a business trip–terrorists that have taken the weapons he designed.  His solution is to create an armored suit with which to escape captivity and fight the terrorists, and he resolves to put his technology to better use in the future.  In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark is confronted with the dilemma that everyone in the world wants armored suits patterned after his own. But he thwarts the plots of those trying to steal his design and asserts that the suit is rightfully his.  Rhodey gets to be War Machine because Tony trusts him, and because Rhodey understands and supports him.

By the end of Iron Man 2, Tony is not approved for the Avengers initiative, but when Loki arrives on the scene in The Avengers, Tony is asked to help–and ends up doing a lot more than he bargained for.

Did Tony not grasp the meaning of "one-way trip" before it was too late? (Marvel via NCWTV)

Did Tony not grasp the meaning of “one-way trip” before it was too late?
(Marvel via NCWTV)

Tony doesn’t tell the other Avengers that his near-death experience affected him, but it did.  By Christmas, Tony has full-swing PTSD.  And among other things Tony struggles with in Iron Man 3, Tony wonders how much he can give to keep the world safe.   I am writing this post partly because I recently rewatched Iron Man 3 and I got a new insight on Tony.  One thing I noticed was the scene in the restaurant where he’s talking to Rhodey.  He’s practically begging Rhodey to let him help against the Mandarin.  In the end, Tony realizes that he can’t stay away when the rest of the world has problems–not when he has the power to do something.

Tony blows up all of his Iron Man suits, but I don’t think he’s completely hands-off helping with global security.  We do hear in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that he gave some suggestions for the helicarrier turbines.  What if that wasn’t the only thing he had input on?  What if Tony Stark made some behind-the-scenes contributions to the Insight program?  If he wasn’t going to keep the world safe as Iron Man, then S.H.I.E.L.D. could do it for him through Insight, right?  

Well, if that’s the case, he was wrong. Insight turned out to be a conspiracy, and Tony was one of the people on Hydra’s blacklist.  He probably wasn’t waiting for Captain America to come to him for help in the fight against Hydra.  He was probably already building new Iron Man armor in order to, first and foremost, protect himself.

 

Marvel via toylab.blogspot.com

Marvel via toylab.blogspot.com

By the time Age of Ultron rolls around, Tony has figured out that keeping the world safe isn’t a hobby the way he’s done it in the past: it’s a real chore.  But according to Tony, this isn’t how the world works. Tony doesn’t just leave problems lying around, he fixes them and moves on.  If you remember what he says to Steve Rogers/Cap right before the battle of New York: “We are not soldiers.”  And then when they are at Clint’s house, he says, “Isn’t that the ‘why we fight’? so we get to go home?” Tony does not want to commit to a lifetime of saving the world.  And a part of him doesn’t quite understand people who would do that–people like Steve Rogers.

What Tony wants is a way to keep the world safe in a hands-off way, something to protect people from the threats on this planet and, most importantly, from outer space. Ultron is the superhero equivalent of a dishwasher or a washing machine: a technology solution to save labor.  When Tony gets the scepter in Sokovia and realizes what it can do, he asks himself, why not put it to use?  Why not use it to build Ultron? The Iron Legion he created could only do so much: why not make something better?  Coming from Tony’s perspective, it was a pretty good idea.  It was probably not very well thought-out, but it was worth a try. 

But of course, then the AI decided to kill everyone (Marvel via Collider)

But of course, then the AI decided to kill everyone
(Marvel via Collider)

The Avengers keep Ultron from destroying the world, but they created an enormous mess in order to do so.   And in the process, Tony also strained the relationships he had with his teammates.  I don’t think Tony blames himself completely for what happened, but just enough that he feels like he needs to step out of saving the world, at least for a time. He solved the last problem he caused, so now he can go home. But honestly, I have no idea what he could be up to now.  It’s not like Tony to just sit back.  It is a fair guess, though, that Tony is taking a lot of time to think about what happened.

(Marvel via residententertainment.com)

How far will Tony go to solve the problems he creates? (Marvel via residententertainment.com)

So why would Tony get himself involved in whatever mess happens in Captain America: Civil War? What would make him side with the likes of Thunderbird Ross and take arms against Captain America? I think what might happen is that Steve Rogers, as leader of the Avengers, does something that Tony Stark, observing from the sidelines, doesn’t like. There might be evidence, in his mind, that the world doesn’t need a full-time superhero force, or if it does then such a force should at least have his input.  None of that is really bad, it’s just Tony doing what he thinks needs to be done.  It is Tony seeing the issue of superheroes as a problem he needs to fix.  And when he realizes he can’t control other superheroes, Tony will believe that Captain America and the people who are close to him need to be stopped, even if it means killing them.

I do not plan on going to the movie theaters next May and seeing Tony Stark as the villain. Hydra will be the real evil at work there, and Iron Man’s opposition will just it harder for Captain America to stop Hydra.  Captain America: Civil War is about good versus evil, but Iron Man versus Captain America is about regular people caught in a disagreement–because of misunderstanding and, to an extent, deception–and that is what makes a civil war a tragedy.  

Strong Female Heroines and Why They’re Awesome

I’m the new blogger for the Geeky Mormon.  My name is Elizabeth but you may call me Lizy. I will answer to Liz.  Some people are picky about being classified as either a geek or a nerd, but I will answer to either.

Female characters, especially strong ones, are definitely a reason that I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy.  I don’t mind identifying myself with the girl who needs to get rescued, but I have always been interested in heroines who take care of themselves, fight their own battles alongside the boys, and sometimes even get to do a bit of the rescuing.  The heroines who really catch my attention are a little of both. Below are just some of my observations and thoughts on what makes a strong female heroine, based on about a year’s worth of writing, research, and observation.

The point of fantasy is that you can identify with the character in some way and because of that experience what the character is going through.The first Marvel movie I ever saw and enjoyed was Captain America: The First Avenger.  While I primarily liked the film because I could relate to the underdog Steve Rogers, I was in awe of Agent Peggy Carter.  She was smart, beautiful and absolutely fearless. She took absolutely no nonsense from any of the other guys, but she not only liked Steve but she believed in him.  (As a side note, I have not been able to watch the Agent Carter TV show yet but I want to very badly). That is the kind of person I felt like I could emulate.

Is it too much to say that I think Agent Carter is the reason I'm a Marvel fan?  Via boingboing.net

Is it too much to say that I think Agent Carter is the reason I’m a Marvel fan?
Via boingboing.net

Sometimes I am less interested in the female leads and more in the fantasy elements or the story.  But that being said I am still excited for Captain Marvel, because we will get all of that and a female lead too.

One of the first Star Wars characters I loved was Queen Amidala.  As a little girl I loved her wardrobe in The Phantom Menace and I spent many happy hours pouring over the pictures of her dresses in the visual dictionary.  And in addition to that, she fought for the freedom of her people. When I got older, I discovered the original trilogy.  I liked Princess Leia a lot, and I still like her a lot.  She didn’t have the visual glitter of the Queen, but she spoke her mind and carried a blaster. I wanted to be tough like that when I was a kid.  It was when I was older that I came to appreciate her tender side as well.

This is one of my first real heroines Via digitalspy.co.uk

This is one of my first real heroines
Via digitalspy.co.uk

Years later, I found out that a lot of people didn’t like Padme Amidala because it was clearly a bad idea for her to pursue a relationship with Anakin Skywalker, and then it didn’t make sense for her to die in Revenge of the Sith. I liked Padme too much as a character to let these things get in the way of liking her.  But I have thought about these issues a lot.  People don’t like having to identify with female characters who make decisions differently from the way they would, especially when it comes to love.  But Padme’s failure, to me, makes her all the more human and relatable.  As far as Anakin is concerned, she had a fatal blind spot, but his decisions were not her fault.  And when a heroine fails, sometimes something good comes out of it.  Usually this means she is able to get up again and confront the problem, but in Padme’s case it meant that her love for Anakin lived on through Luke.

And then there are the people who think falling in love is absolutely demeaning for a female character to experience.  I could not disagree with this more. If the love story is relevant to the plot and it strengthens both characters, then it can be a good thing. It is natural and human to fall in love. In all honesty, I was not thrilled that Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow tried to pursue a romance with Bruce Banner/the Hulk in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. But the online backlash against the love plot was ridiculous. I do not think that having Natasha fall in love was completely demeaning. I make missteps in my love life too sometimes. And it made sense in context of the larger theme that Joss Whedon was trying to get across.

The fact that Natasha was sterilized in the Red Room is a symptom of her much bigger problem: she was created to be an assassin in both mind and body, to the exclusion of all else. She has her worst fears, and she has a dark side I can scarcely begin to imagine. What makes her more interesting is the way she copes with her darkness, by being the auntie to Clint Barton’s kids, by being compassionate to people in need, by protecting those who are weaker than herself, and by relying on her quiet, inner strength.  I like Natasha a lot more now than I did three years ago. And while I’m upset about her pursuing Bruce I can at least forgive her for that.  What matters is that he is a well-rounded character.

Via theworkprint.com

I like Natasha because she has a very human side. Via theworkprint.com

The matter of the strong female heroine is only an issue of gender to a point: it is about the development of character and how that influences how gender is represented.  This is important because the media has a huge influence on individuals as well as cultures.  But all heroines are not alike and should not be expected to conform to some invisible standard. We can allow our heroines to be human just as much as the men.  Isn’t that what makes these stories great, by seeing the characters we sympathize with have human experiences?

Read More:

A Fandom of Her Own: Women of Today’s Sci-fi/Fantasy Franchises (Capstone paper)

Women of Science Fiction and Fantasy : Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 Panel

The Strong Feminism behind Black Widow, and why the critiques don’t stand up by Alyssa Rosenburg for the Washington Post

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron Spoiler Free Review

avengers-age-of-ultron-collage

 

Last night I had the opportunity to go see Avengers: Age of Ultron, an event that I have been leading up to on the blog over the last two months by reviewing each of the previous 10 Marvel films. Age of Ultron has been incredibly hyped and promoted, to the point that one would think there is now way it could live up to all of it. Well, after being it, I can say it did live up to the hype, at least in my opinion, for the most part. Today, I am going to attempt to review the movie without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it. To do this I am going to break this review into my 5 categories and talk about how it fared in each category without going into detail. Hopefully this works out okay for everyone.

Plot

If I had anything to nitpick about this movie, it would be the plot. Not because the story wasn’t entertaining, but because it seems like it followed a lot of the same plot lines as the first Avengers. In the film we see the same stages of team formation that we saw in the first film. We see some forming, then storming, norming and performing. Without going into detail, it seems like at one point in the film, the team is right back where they started in the first Avengers film, despite the fact that they have been working together for a couple of years now. That being said, I don’t know how else you could make a great super hero team movie without finding a way to tell this kind of story. That’s what makes sequels like this so hard. Like I said at the beginning of this section, that’s nitpicking. My brother and i noticed the similarities, but we were also thoroughly entertained. Obviously, while the overall plot may be similar deep down, on the surface it also feels very different because we have a different villain, so in the end it works just fine. Overall, for the plot, I would give this a 4 out 5 stars.

Dialogue

This is one area where the Avengers’ time together shines through. This cast obviously has some great chemistry, and you can tell on screen. There are some great one liners, and while tempting to share a few of them here, I am going to refrain. This has become a trademark of the MCU films, the witty back and forth and snappy dialogue. Age of Ultron is no exception. The main cast is great in their delivery and it is everything you would expect. Throwing in a master of wit, like James Spader, as the main antagonist, and it only helps your cause. He was incredible as Ulton. The way he delivered his lines was classic James Spader. His performance is a highlight of this film. Only die-hard fangirls will be sad that Loki is not involved in this film at all. No one else will miss the god of mischief because of James Spader’s performance. Overall, for the whole film, for dialogue, I would rank this 4.5 stars.

Character Development

I was assuming we would see a little bit of the conflict between Cap and Iron Man begin to emerge in this film, leading into Civil War.  There is a little bit of it there, and you begin to see how the two of them view the world differently and how they view their roles differently. The most interesting thing is that as you begin to see those differences that could lead to that conflict, you also see their friendship develop more as well. I think Civil War  is going to be a great film, and I can’t wait to see how they get to that point. As far as the other characters in this film, there is some great development throughout the team, but none of the characters grow as much as Hawkeye does. We see his character in a whole new light after this film. And that is all I am going to say about that. Overall character development gets 4.5 stars.

Acting

There was nothing that blew me away about the acting in this film. It was exactly what you expect from an MCU movie. It didn’t disappoint at all, but no one is going to win any awards for their performance. That’s fine. No one expects that from an action film. At the very least, like all MCU films, the acting is not so horrible that it ruins what could have been a decent film. Instead, it is a strong performance from everyone involved. RDJ and Chris Evans turn in some great work, and continue to establish themselves as the leading men of the MCU. Mark Ruffalo is a highlight as always, and I think James Spader was wonderful. Overall, the acting is a 4 out of 5 stars.

Entertainment Value

This one is easily a 5 out of 5 stars. When I went to the film, was I entertained? Absolutely! Whedon packs this film with almost nonstop action from start to finish. There is hardly a moment to catch your breath, and that’s what i want from a big, blockbuster picture like this one. The action does not disappoint, but the story never gets lost in the action either. The battles in this movie are some of the best ever put in a superhero movie. They take what we saw in Avengers  to the next level, and set a new standard. A lot of times these movies will have one or two smaller battles and then the really big one at the end. This one has way more, and each one makes sense and looks incredible. That mixed with the dialogue and humor and everything makes this category a 5 out of 5.

Overall

This is a great addition to the MCU family. It will make a ton of money, and it earns every penny. Go see this film, although I’ll bet most of you already have. It is incredible and fun. I can’t wait to find a babysitter and take my wife, and then maybe take my oldest some time, because he’ll want to watch it, and then maybe I’ll have to find an excuse to see it a couple more times before it leaves theaters. Great film.

As a side note, we saw it in IMX- do that if you can- and one of the previews at the beginning was Dawn of Justice. It looked much better on the big screen, so it restored my hope that the movie is going to be ok.

Loved this movie. Those of you who have seen it, what did you think? Please try to avoid posting any spoilers on this review, to keep it spoiler free.