Comic Book Mondays: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron

It may come as no surprise to you that each time a new movie arc is announced, I get really excited. I’m early enough in my comic reading that I tend to use the movies as inspiration for what to buy next, so when The Avengers: Age of Ultron was announced, I pretty much hopped on over to my local comic book store and bought the whole arc. Plus the Skottie Young edition of #1. Because it’s adorable.

So I read the comic version of Age of Ultron before seeing the movie, and while I knew it couldn’t possibly be the same – Wolverine being the copyright property of 20th Century Fox and Hank Pym not having been introduced yet – I had very high hopes for this movie. Very. High. Hopes.

Ultron is my favourite comic villain so far. He’s clever, he’s driven, and he’s in the internet. All of these things make him absolutely terrifying, and I spent most of the comics biting my lip, hoping to God that the good guys would succeed. They did, of course, but the road to success was littered with time travel and heart-wrenching battles.

The movie Ultron, however, is not very scary at all. Spoiler alert, but it took the Vision seconds to eradicate him from the internet and keep him out of there, and as visually arresting as it is, the army of Ultron-clones just wasn’t as scary as I think Joss Whedon intended it to be. Sure, the battle scenes were epic, and I loved the Maximoff twins, but Ultron was declawed with absolutely no trouble. And that made me really sad.

I get that time-travel is not something that the cinematic universe has yet (Benedict Cumberbatch, I’m looking at you for this one). I get that watching a guy mashing at a computer keyboard doesn’t exactly make for riveting cinema. But the parts where a disembodied Ultron took out a disembodied JARVIS were great, and when they introduced their unknown ally protecting the nuclear codes, my heart leapt in excitement. Surely it wouldn’t have been that much trouble to introduce just a little tension regarding Ultron’s biggest strength?

Having said all that, Age of Ultron is a solid movie, and I enjoyed it enough to see it twice at the cinema and another time since then. I love the character-building that we got from Wanda’s nightmare-thingy, I love Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (I s2g if Pietro doesn’t get miraculously revived the way Coulson did I will be seriously upset). I even enjoyed the “Language!” gag, though I do wonder about Cap being cast as an old man in a young man’s body. I’m sorry, but he’s not. He’s in the army. He would have used plenty of foul language in the war – probably still does, amongst his team.

I don’t love Age of Ultron the way I love The Avengers, but I think that’s okay. I had a high expectations of Age of Ultron, both as a fan of the preceeding films and as a budding comic book fan, and Ultron didn’t quite manage to meet them all. But that doesn’t dampen my excitement over the direction the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going in at all.

Comic Book Mondays: Ant-Man

Marvel-Ant-Man-Banner-Poster

So I wanted to write about the Ant-Man movie because that’s what I do. I watch comic book movies, and then I squee about them, and then I blog about them. But the thing is, I don’t really have any strong feelings about Ant-Man. Maybe that’s just because I don’t have any strong feelings about Ant-Man himself.

The premise of the film is pretty standard comic book stuff – a scientist creates a technology which has the potential to change the world; he refuses to patent it because he’s sure it will be used for evil; then someone manages to recreate it and intends to sell it to the highest bidder.

I like Ant-Man because it stays true to the comic book origins of the Avengers as a team, adding depth to SHIELD’s background while not altering the fabric of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it stands. By this, of course, I mean that Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne are in this universe crucial to the development of SHIELD, but by the present day, Hank Pym is an old man whose days of death-defying acts of heroism are beyond him.

Enter Scott Lang, the hero of this story and the man who takes up the Ant-Man mantle after Hank Pym. his story arc is very much of the redemption variety – he’s just gotten out of prison for theft, and is desperately trying to reintegrate into society so that he can pick up his relationship with his daughter, who is still young enough that she totally hero-worships her daddy.

I feel like Ant-Man can pretty much be summed up in this exchange:

Hank: I believe that everyone deserves a shot at redemption. Do you?

Scott: Absolutely. My days of breaking into places and stealing stuff are over. What do you want me to do?

Hank: I want you to break into a place and steal some stuff.

I particularly like the part where, after Hank Pym outlines the terrible consequences if their plan to steal the Pym Particles back, Scott’s immediate reaction is, “I think we should call the Avengers.” Good plan, Scotty. Too bad they’re too high-profile (or whatever).

I feel like every time Marvel debuts a new superhero, they ask us to have faith in them all over again. Here’s this actor, they say, you may have seen him before. He’s not super famous, but we think he’ll be the perfect Scott Lang. Trust us, they say. Okay, we say – I mean, we know by now that the teams working on these movies have as much love for the comics as we do. I wasn’t sure about Paul Rudd, hadn’t really seen him in anything, I don’t think, but I was totally sold by the end.

When I first walked out of the theatre, I wasn’t sure what I thought – Ant-Man wasn’t slapstick like Iron Man; it wasn’t earnest like Captain America: the First Avenger. Sure, the stakes were global-devastation huge, but that wasn’t why Scott Lang accepted the Ant-Man mantle. He didn’t feel a responsibility for the world, he felt a responsibility to pick his life up and be a good influence for his daughter. The fact that Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne (van Dyne? Van Dyne? help!) don’t have a great relationship, giving Hank Pym an element of genuine empathy with Scott Lang, was a great emotional thread that ran throughout the whole film, shrinking the scale to something more relatable than “Oh no, the world might end!”

I’m not sure how to wrap up this post. I enjoyed watching Ant-Man, but I didn’t walk out of the theatre gushing about it. Now every time I think about it, I like it even more. The feel of it is, immediately, quite different from other Marvel movies, but now that I’ve had time to adjust to it, I feel like that’s a strength rather than a weakness. I mean, we’re in Phase 3 now. We’ve been through enough in the MCU that we don’t need everything to be as grand as Phase 1 was.