aNewDomain — There is no doubt about it, when it comes to blockbuster summertime movies, the “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” produced by Marvel Entertainment, delivers on all counts. Superheroes, check. Evil creepy villain, check. Action galore, check. Fun, you’d better believe it. But there is something more, something movie goers may not expect from a blockbuster film — doubt and uncertainty of purpose.
Depth of Character
First, a small confession — I didn’t read comic books as a teen. I was into other things, and I don’t read them as an adult. The deep canon of each superhero is only known to me in the most-superficial of terms, so I am no expert on the subject. But that small fact does not diminish my appreciation of the comic book universe and the way that universe explores humanity and all its flaws.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is an example of how comic book heroes can be used as surrogates for examining the very human characteristics of doubt, uncertainty, and fear. It is the super-sized flaws of our superheroes that make comic books, and their movie offshoots, so compelling.
As our avenging heroes battle to foil the evil plans of Hydra and recover the Chitauri Scepter, which contains an infinity stone, and return it to Asgard, they discover a brother and sister twin combo with some interesting, and dangerous, superpowers of their own. With the ability to read and manipulate minds, the sister, known as Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), sets in motion a series of events that eventually lead to the creation of Ultron, an artificial intelligence (James Spader) hell-bent on establishing peace on earth by accelerating human evolution which means first destroying it. Yes, Ultron has some serious issues.
Scarlet Witch creates an environment in which Ultron can come to exist by exploiting a particular character trait of Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). In fact, she uses her mind-manipulating powers to expose flaws and fears in almost all of the Avengers. For a superhero there is probably nothing more terrifying than facing your demons and closely examining the reasons and circumstances of your existence. Realizing you are not as invulnerable as you like to believe you are can be a bit off-putting, can’t it?
To avoid the need for spoiler alerts, I will not get into specifics, but let’s just say there is sometimes great power in not being a superhero. Sometimes, a mundane realistic approach to life, where responsibility and purpose drive your actions, can be more powerful against doubt and uncertainty than the ability to wield a magic hammer.
It is in this exploration of humanity where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” really shines. Every member of the Avenger team has made mistakes, has made bad choices, has succumbed to their demons on at least one occasion. There are scars, both physical and mental, that have to be dealt with on a daily basis even when fighting the forces of chaos and destruction.
But that is what makes comic books and superhero movies so fun to watch. I mean, think about it, when it comes to making bad decisions and dealing with scars, isn’t that what we all have to do each day? Whether it is something as mundane as mowing the lawn or something spectacular like battling a murderous earth-destroying robot, we all are fighting the good fight, trying to make sense out of chaos.
So, give your mental scars a breather, accept the chaos of an unkempt lawn, and take a few hours to enjoy the quintessential summer blockbuster movie “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
For aNewDomain, I’m Mark Kaelin.
Image credits: Marvel Entertainment