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Here’s a new thread for talking about the new Avengers movie with spoilers and without ROT13 so people can read it on their tablets.
So, we all know about that teal and orange color-grading thing, right? Well, anyone else notice that the graphics for the two AIs — Jarvis and Ultron — were those two colors? Meaning that the whole film can be read as a fight between the two ends of the narrow color spectrum Hollywood has imposed upon recent films? And that the new character who wins the fight for the good guys has a color palette that doesn’t lend itself to that kind of grading, possibly symbolizing an expansion into the full range of colors in future movies?
Also, is anyone else concerned for Hawkeye’s family? How are they receiving medical benefits if they’re not in SHIELD’s records? Hawkeye’s wife is probably a freelancer (there’s some discussion of turning the dining room into a dedicated home office for her), and the Avengers aren’t even paid well enough for Steve Rogers to live in Brooklyn (which is on the pricey side nowadays). How will they receive his pension payments if he dies?
And what do supervillains use for hideouts now that so many abandoned warehouses have been converted into luxury condos?
Also, how long do I have to wait before fans start releasing clips from the movie with Robert California dialog (from the US version of The Office) dubbed in over Ultron?
Foreclosed homes with underwater mortgages are the new abandoned warehouses.
Avram, re: medical benefits, that's what the Affordable Care Act is for.
I'm curious, how does the insurance industry survive the advent of superheroes and new environmental threats? (It's not like anyone thought to write an exemption for "interdimensional raid by aliens"). Is Lloyds a casualty of the Chitauri invasion?
Re benefits: apparently Fury delivers them in cash, by hand.
I don't know about villain lairs, but in one of my fics, one of the Avengers' safe houses is on a "PVC farm" (abandoned unconstructed subdivision with only one model house completed).
Re insurance, if Thor is involved they can always invoke "act of God".
I dunno, Lila, I can just see the insurance companies responding "There's only one God, and he doesn't dress like that." In bureaucratese, of course.
Ooof this movie. I liked it, but it had problems. I feel like they had a list labeled "plot things we have to accomplish" and were more concerned with checking off everything on the list than making a good movie.
They also did a bad job splitting the difference between appealing to viewers who just pre-marathonned every single marvel movie and viewers who barely paid attention. Character motivations were either taken as read or re-established with quick and dirty reminders. The "Wanda's superpower is reminding you of character motivations" thing could have been done well in a movie with a shorter to-do list, as it stood it felt a little cheap.
The other Marvel things I've seen most recently are Winter Soldier, Agent Carter, and Daredevil. Action in Winter Soldier had heft and menace and consequence. Agent Carter had style, psychology, and resourcefulness. Fights in Daredevil are meaty, painful, solid, and occasionally beautiful or clever. Compared to any of those, the action in this was muddy and chaotic, or busy to the point of near-meaningless. It seemed like they were playing a game of "how many characters doing a signature badass thing can we put in one heavily-CGI'd-yet-vaguely-blurry take?" Things got a lot better when the new characters were involved, but then they killed off the one involved in all the most interesting visual action gags (Seeing the bullet come up from below in slowmo before the floor crashes beneath him, getting shot from the side by the cops and tossing them a sarcastic look, and most importantly TRYING TO GRAB THOR'S HAMMER WHILE IT IS IN MOTION OH MY GOD THAT WAS THE BEST).
Positives include the "everybody tries to lift the hammer" sequence, Wanda and Pietro's personalities whenever they weren't around Ultron, Vision lifting the hammer without thinking about it, Hawkeye acknowledging that a normal human with a bow being involved in this fight does not seem to make sense, and having Warmachine actually show up and kick butt.
I have more thoughts, especially about motivations and pacing. This is just the initial brain dump to hopefully help me sleep.
Yeah, Pietro trying to grab Mjölnir mid-flight had the audience laughing like loons.
I really like the way the initial action scene was done, with multiple things happening in every shot, and no slow-mo or zoom in to take a viewer's hand and tell them "careful now, someone's about to use a superpower". The casual way in which the camera treats the powers made them all the more impressive.
Ok, still can't sleep. More thoughts.
Hawkeye's financial arrangements
The comics sometimes differentiate between Avengers pay and SHIELD pay. IIRC the Avengers pay is treated as something Tony does out of the goodness of his own heart, whereas SHIELD at its height had its own resources and obligations, and payed a bit better for a stronger commitment. (At one point Tony was not-broke-but-close and there were several conversations about how the days of generous Avengers salaries were over, implying that he was directly involved.) Hawkeye's deal could have been set up years ago, when SHIELD was flush with evil money.
If I were setting up the kind of thing Hawkeye has going on, I'd have asked for a guaranteed income annuity for my family in addition to my salary, or something similar. Annuities of that variety run themselves once they're set up, and they're not terribly mysterious or unusual financial instruments so they'd be unlikely to attract attention.
There are also plenty of ways that you could quietly edit the wife's work history to guarantee her insurance through some union or non-military organization, in the absence of the ACA. If she's certain kinds of media writer she could be in the Writers Guild of America, frex.
I think the joke about Cap not being able to afford Brooklyn was inspired by a gag in Walt Simonson's Thor: when Thor is moving to NYC and asks Nick Fury to find him an apartment in Manhattan, Nick quips that there are some things even SHIELD can't accomplish.
That said, assuming that Avengers pay is lower and has fewer strings than SHIELD pay, there's every possibility that individual Avengers negotiated their own rates. If that's the case, Steve wouldn't have asked for much, whether his motivation was not being overly beholden to whoever holds the purse strings or just plain old selflessness.
Hmm... what if, before his salary request, Steve's research consisted of looking up base pay for an Army Captain? That seems like something he'd do. Base pay for a captain is around $44,000 (based on some cursory googling), not really enough to allow you to find a decent apartment in Brooklyn. Even at 62k for a Captain with 6 years of service (my rough estimate of Steve's years of being conscious and in the military), it would be tough, especially if he paid income tax at the full rate... which of course he would (every bond that you buy is a bullet in the barrel of your best guy's gun!)
Hawkeye's surprise family
Money aside, I'm not sure how I feel about Hawkeye's family life, since I absolutely adore the recent Matt Fraction Hawkeye series. In the comics, Hawkeye notoriously slept with half the female avengers and several other heroes and villains, but over the past few years they've slowly transitioned him from "wish fulfillment playboy" to "guy who is charming but TERRIBLE AT RELATIONSHIPS." I love that archetype when it's done well, but to accomplish that Hawkeye a stronger personality and a bunch of developed female characters to interact with. The movies haven't really established any of this, and Tony kind of takes the "Charming but constantly screws up and alienates people when serious feeling are involved" spot, even if he has a stable relationship and the theme is different.
Hawkeye's role in the movies has always been odd. In Ultron they kinda tried to establish him as the team's well-adjusted human heart which... actually kind of works. A friend of mine suggested that he's been portrayed that way before (though often with the underlying message of 'Hawkeye is a great friend, everyone loves him, NEVER DATE HIM'). This might end up working out for his character, so while I found it very jarring I'm not gonna be mad about it.
This movie did cause me to take a long look at my shipping wall in general. Odd stuff, some good some bad.
I was very pleased that Clint got to be Snarky a bit. He's kinda mouthy in the comics and they didn't really have time to do anything much with that in Avengers I.
Possibly my favorite moment in the whole movie was him getting ready to go out, standing at the door and muttering, "The city is flying," then sort of shaking himself and kicking the door open.
I felt like I got a great new book in my favorite long-running series. Loved it.
Cap's got a LOT of back pay coming to him.
On the other hand, he also comes from an era where $44,000/year is twice the salary of the best paid ballplayers, the average salary is under $3000, and you can buy a new home for ten grand. He's going to have some very skewed price points.
For me, the reappearance of Laura Barton and offspring was the best surprise of the movie. They were characters in the Ultimates universe, but were killed in an especially brutal and upsetting storyline. Having them live in comfortable obscurity in the MCU doesn't strike me as a bad idea.
Also, how do we know they're not in Canada?
I'll bet Steve Rogers can afford Brooklyn, but can't get over the sticker shock because he's still readjusting his sense of how much a dollar is worth.
One recent insight from the comics into Hawkeye's character is that he's the biggest grind in the Avengers. He doesn't have a super-soldier formula or a suit of armor, he's playing at an incredibly high level with his only ability being phenomenal accuracy.
So he practices. A lot. Everybody else misses an occasional shot. He can't afford to. Ever.
This paradoxically makes him arrogant and self-doubting at the same time.
This was fun in a lot of respects, if not quite as gosh-wow as the first Avengers movie.
Big plus: the movie tackles the collateral-damage issues raised by Man of Steel (and Transformers: Age of Extinction and -- in a slightly different way -- Kingsman) head-on, and generally does it well.
OTOH -- and I say this as someone not deeply invested in the world of MCU fanfic, which I'm sure is going bonkers right now -- I have to say that the attempt at making Natasha/Bruce into a romantic pairing just didn't work for me, despite generating what may have been Steve Rogers' best line in the movie. There just wasn't any there there in terms of romantic chemistry, especially not in comparison to that between Natasha and Clint (even if the latter wasn't being played as romantic).
Leah Miller @8:
It seemed like they were playing a game of "how many characters doing a signature badass thing can we put in one heavily-CGI'd-yet-vaguely-blurry take?"
I'm impressed by it. It's a lot harder to set up one of those in a movie than it is in a static panel.
The overhead shot of the all-in melee in the church is the big interior splash.
In 1981, Avengers membership included room, board, and $1K a month. (For some reason, I found the issue on Tigra's shopping spree after getting her first stipend particularly memorable.)
The owner of my FLCS and I have agreed that Laura Barton and brood explains the creation of Not-Clint (Lance Hunter) in Agents of SHIELD.
Did anyone else hear advance rumors that a good-guy character would die? I did, and took the Hawkeye’s-homelife scenes as the setup for him being the one to go, especially that bit about how he was just going to finish that one bit of renovation. I’m pretty sure that had to be a deliberate misdirect by Whedon, which implies that the death rumor was a deliberate leak.
The Barton family being a happier version of something depressing from the Ultimates universe makes that decision much more solid and delightful. I've always felt like the Ultimates universe was a combination of "let's try really cool ideas" and "stuff that's more depressing than I feel like reading right now."
I think that I was definitely judging the action too harshly, and I also think that I can no longer break my rule of always sitting no fewer than eight rows back, further back if I can't get seats near the center: I went with a friend who is a close-sitter and we split the difference, ending up in the 6th or 7th row on the side, so times when I thought things looked rough or blurry could have been a result of a less-than-optimal viewing angle (I'm far-sighted with astigmatism).
Both of the specific shots mentioned in this thread (Obvious comic cover and top-down fight scene) were actually great, I had that litany of good Pietro moments earlier, and I could add a litany of great Clint moments as well. I think my real problem was that I thought the "cool, coherent single character action beat" to "long shot of things happening one after another" ratio was off. I could be wrong about that, too - I have to think about it a little more.
There was a US flag on the Barton farmhouse, which suggests but does not necessarily imply that it was in the US.
Do we know yet whether Coulson's black-budget stuff (which made RealShield very suspicious and May slightly worried in AoS) was meant to set up this new Avengers facility? I wonder if they tell the local residents it's a prison...
Last week’s episode of Agents of SHIELD was a lead-in to Age of Ultron; I assume this week’s will feature some fallout.
Leah Miller @10 - Steve Rogers had at most about 3 years service in the film-verse. He's shown in the early part of CA1 going to the Exhibition of Tomorrow for 1943 (which means the absolute earliest the story starts is 1942) and it's implied his plane goes down not long before VE-day in 1945. So he's only got about three years to his credit. On the other hand, at least one fanfic writer has implied he's eligible for the US equivalent of the age pension. He was born in 1918, so even though his physical body isn't much older than about 30 (if that, with the serum) he qualifies on date-of-birth grounds.
I enjoyed the movie (my wife started getting bored with all the CGI battles) but not as much as I liked the first one.
Does anyone else thing the Hulk going on his mid-film rampage was just a setpiece? I think if it had been cut, it would have been a better movie. It really didn't advance the plot.
Steve Rogers had at most about 3 years service in the film-verse. He's shown in the early part of CA1 going to the Exhibition of Tomorrow for 1943 (which means the absolute earliest the story starts is 1942) and it's implied his plane goes down not long before VE-day in 1945. So he's only got about three years to his credit.
Soldiers who are missing in action or taken prisoner who later return are credited with service time for the period they were missing or imprisoned. http://myarmybenefits.us.army.mil/Home/Benefit_Library/Federal_Benefits_Page/POW__MIA_Entitlements.html?serv=147
Rogers was missing in action from 1945 until he was thawed out, and would be entitled to back pay (plus, I think, interest) for the entire period.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden@17: The overhead shot of the all-in melee in the church is the big interior splash.
Exactly! It looked extremely artificial and I loved it. It was so clearly a comic page in live action slow motion 3-D.
Leah Miller@20: I can no longer break my rule of always sitting no fewer than eight rows back, further back if I can't get seats near the center
Our favorite spot for big-visual movies has become the center of the back row of an IMAX 3-D showing. Both spouse and I find that our eyes have an easier time with the 3-D with the combination of bigger screen and bigger distance.
I thought it was more than rumors, it was actual official statements that someone on the good guys side was going to die.
(Although the possibility that my memory is playing tricks on me can't be ruled out here.)
Of course in the past few days one could actually confirm which character died if one wanted to, since it was released overseas a week before the U.S. release.
Further notes on Steve Rogers' Finances:
There's been a lot of fanon work on this. Some people have him being paid a massive amount of back-pay, plus interest, by the Army as part of the pay-off involved in getting him assigned to SHIELD initially (I presume the wrangling over this started at about the same time it was discovered he was alive and thawing), and having SHIELD set this up as an annuity. Others have Howard Stark insisting he not be declared dead, and setting up an investment account with his pay from the Army (invested and re-invested in Stark Industries and various safe financial products), with this maturing not long after he's revived. Others point out if he's living essentially rent-free in the Stark Tower (as per the plans at the end of the first Avengers movie) and sharing a communal kitchen/living space with the rest of the Avengers, his expenses may not be particularly high after all (even with the caloric load he's theorised to need in order to keep up with a metabolism which burns four times faster than ordinary). Plus, of course, for Steve Rogers, the Great Depression ended only five years ago elapsed - he, like Clint and Bruce, is probably still adjusted to a highly frugal way of living, where every penny is accounted for.
Living rent-free in Stark Tower, the only utilities Steve's likely to have to pay for are water, gas and telecommunications - if those. Power is handled by the Stark Tower arc reactor, after all. I suspect Tony Stark would probably be dumping the bill for the Avengers bandwidth into his own allowance, which is probably part of the bulk bandwidth purchase that Stark Industries makes from the US Government (my suspicion is Stark, if anyone bothered to look, would have more computational resources at their disposal than anyone else out there except possibly Google or their equivalents).
(Some of this is expanded from my rot13 comments in the open thread.)
Other things I liked:
"Did the film pass the Bechdel test? I think so, just barely."
Depends on if you consider the conversation between Black Widow and Laura Barton about the baby was about a man or not, since the baby's sex wasn't revealed until the end of the conversation, or if you think a character named in the credits counts as a named character (for the conversation with Madame B and Black Widow.)
This is the first time I have seen the 'crumbling Eastern European city' trope played quite so literally.
The film felt not-quite-satisfying, in the way of a film which demonstrates that you can't just punch a robot to solve your problems, and then, seeing as it's the readily available method, punches the robot anyway.
Which makes an unsatisfying film, but a decent allegory to modern life and its methods and the way in which they are failing us.
But on that postmodern note, it could have said more, and better. Still, some of the character dynamics weren't bad,and I enjoyed a lot of the snappy dialogue. Especially watching the Avengers dork out about Thor's hammer, because you just know that any given group of us would totally do that if we were the Avengers; and I was pleased, too, by the way the scene was used to set up later scenes.
(Also, I'm pretty sure Tony Stark saved up that 'hide the zucchini' line for years.)
@ No. 23, 25, 28: Fans have also done the math for Sergeant Barnes. IIRC the person who seemed to have done the most homework came up with rounded figures of $7 million for Captain Rogers and $4 million for Sergeant Barnes from back pay alone. Of course, that kind of money is a lot easier to run through than it used to be, but we're talking about two guys who probably learned how to darn their own socks as kids, so.
Rail @18: I agree with you and the owner of your FLCS. When it came out that Lance Hunter used to be married to Bobbi Morse, I figured he must be Hawkeye without the continuity tangles.
Avram @19: I had the opposite reaction. The happy Barton family and the "one last project" thing were laying it on so thick that I was convinced Hawkeye couldn't die. Besides, when has Joss Whedon ever warned us before killing someone?
I'm trying to remember when I first saw an advance rumor that Hawkeye might not survive the movie. It was quite a while ago.
I dunno. Maybe Jeremy Renner asked for more screen time being Hawkeye, to make up for having spent so much of The Avengers being a flat-affected mind-controlled minion.
I think my real problem was that I thought the "cool, coherent single character action beat" to "long shot of things happening one after another" ratio was off. I could be wrong about that, too - I have to think about it a little more.
I liked the fleeting look of consternation on Thor's face when Cap made the hammer move just a little.
I also liked Ultron inheriting some of Tony Stark's verbal tics, but wish it had been better developed. In general, Spader's drawling voice of Ultron left me cold. I could understand that character sounding relaxed, but Spader's doing an in-your-face primate-provoking-primates drawl, and I couldn't see any path that led there.
Any votes on the significance of the toaster popping up right after the line about Steve and Tony still being outside, gazing into each others' eyes?
I wish Tony would learn the Mr. Incredible lesson:
Saving the world isn't something you can do and then be done with. It's not an engineering problem. No matter how complex and subtle your once-and-for-all solution is, it's not actually the solution.
I’m still processing this film, but I enjoyed it very much (prima nocta joke aside.) There were plenty of snarky lines that had me grinning like a fool. Joss Whedon also knows how to construct an emotional moment and let us hang there for a beat to soak it up.
I did have a few issues. Some action scenes were so fast that I couldn’t follow them. And I didn’t always get a sense of the stakes. During the Winter Soldier carrier fight where Cap battles a bad guy while Tony fixes a giant turbine, I’m on edge for the entire fight. I don’t feel peril when Nat is hanging out of an airplane and her kidnapping is glossed over so quickly that I thought she’d fallen to her death.
Some spots seem to be overthought. When Tony is going through possible ways to save the city with Friday, he entertains and discards ideas so quickly that I couldn’t keep up. It took me a while to figure out which plan had finally been picked. As they execute the plan, I honestly wasn’t sure what they were supposed to be doing. I still enjoyed the visuals, but it took me a minute to get it.
I figured Hawkeye was a goner when he lay down next to Quicksilver. I thought that showing his family was Joss’ way to set us up to care about him before yanking him away. (I think most people would shrug him off otherwise, but we don’t want his family to suffer.) When he appears at the farmhouse, I felt like another Avenger could have easily been swapped into the scene, coming to report his death. Right down to his wife’s stricken reaction as she turns around at the sink.
Paul Bettany was even more enjoyable in person than his offscreen Jarvis. I would have liked to see more affectionate banter between him and Tony. Even if Vision is only part Jarvis, I’d imagine that part is rather fond of Tony.
Terribly awkward infodump at the cocktail party about Jane and Pepper. We know where they are — off having lives. Plus, the language Thor uses to describe Jane’s career doesn’t sound like his usual Asgardian speech.
dotless ı @29: I cringed at that sterile=monster line as well. Nat seems like a character who wouldn’t blame herself, but instead would direct her anger at her tormenters.
According to this Reddit poster, Cap awoke in 2011 with $8.6 million in accumulated back pay, entitlements, and interest. I assume income taxes would claw some of that back, but still, he ought to have at least 5 or 6 million left. That’s more than enough for a Park Slope brownstone or a luxury condo in Brooklyn Heights.
The real obstacles are getting the approval of a condo/coop board when you live a lifestyle likely to attract assassins and deathbots. Likewise, good luck getting that brownstone insured.
It seems to me that, in a movie like this, low-power characters like Hawkeye, Fury, and the Black Widow are handy from the writer’s point of view, because it’s easy to drop them into situations where they feel like they’re in trouble. It’s harder to threaten Thor or the Hulk.
Super-speedsters, on other other hand, are a nightmare for an ensemble cast. Their mere presence keeps inviting the question “Why hasn’t the speedster solved this problem already?” In this movie, they solved it by having Quicksilver be a bad guy until all hell had already started breaking loose, but keeping him around would have made the first half of every later Avengers film really dull.
First, lemme say that seeing this with SF in SF was the absolute best way to see it. Nothing like a geek movie preview outing to a geek movie. Any of you in the Bay Area who aren't members of SF in SF are missing out: http://www.sfinsf.org/
Avram@19: after Avengers #1, Whedon said something to the effect that it was in his contract to kill off one good guy per movie. In #1, that was Coulson to intense dramatic effect, and in that one he did telegraph it, with the whole cellist from Portland thing. Which is why, I think, he did the bait-and-switch with Hawkeye/Quicksilver in this movie; he deliberately foreshadowed Hawkeye's death just so he could switcheroo at the last minute.
prima nocta: Tony is exactly the kind of guy who would make that joke. Remember the stripping stewardesses on his private jet in the first Iron Man? He's pretty fucking gross about women.
Stanjoe @39: Tony Stark is gross all the way down. Not sure how he works in this latest movie -- it hasn't opened in the UK yet, IIRC -- but he's basically a Mary Sue for Donald Rumsfeld. (Which is why I turned down an offer of a writing slot on the comic in 2005. Just couldn't stomach writing him as a sympathetic protagonist. Also: work for hire, but hey, that's the comics business.)
NB: The moderators will moderate this if they think it oversteps the line, but is this the place where I can mention that I have a superhero novel of my own coming out this July?
Nah, he's much more Howard Hughes than Donald Rumsfeld. I've never read any indication that Rumsfeld was on the mind of Stark's creators. Was he even famous for anything besides being a politician back then?
Also, please don't misspell my name like that, it makes it sound like I live in a shack.
Stark was created in 1963 -- well before Don Rumsfeld was more than a first-term congressman from Illinois (elected 1962). Nevertheless, I maintain that Tony Stark is an industrialist after Don Rumsfeld's heart.
(Sorry about the brain-fart typo, Stanoje: it's how I read your name.)
Charlie @ 40: Actually, it opened in the UK the week before it did in the US. I saw it a week ago.
I liked it but want to see the three hour version. It needs more room to breathe.
And, yes, Stark was created in 1963 and Stan Lee has mentioned several times that he was based on Howard Hughes.
They are probably playing up Tony Stark's piggish qualities because he's going to be the bad guy in Captain America: Civil War, at least if they follow the comic plotline at all. Stark is a character that can turn on a dime from hero to villain. They're doing a good job keeping him balanced in that way.
The internet-sourced quote for how Stan Lee invented Iron Man: "I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him."
I think they've actually turned up the unlikeable a little since then. He is still an alcoholic, suit-wearing, war-profiting woman-pawing slimeball, but now he's ALSO stated that clean energy [arc reactors] is too expensive and he's a second generation 1% er. His daddy made the money.
Having had a couple of days to cool down, I can say that I liked it a good deal, though not as much as the first one. The action in particular LOOKED LIKE A COMIC BOOK. It looked like a comic book of a particular era, in fact, the era in which I was reading the hell out of Avengers and X-Men, and it made me really happy. The bit where Steve throws the motorcycle made me bounce in my seat with glee.
I think, in fact, that the ability to do in a live-action movie what you can do in the comics is one of the main factors in MCU's success. Of course, you can theoretically do anything with cartoon-style animation, but the animated versions of the Marvel comics that I've seen have been mainly cheap and uninspired.
Now, if they'll renew Agent Carter, I'll be REALLY happy.
I found the movie pretty predictable. I also like Whedon's work, so I was okay with the predictability of it. I got what I was expecting.
I, too, loved the Quicksilver v. Hammer bit.
I also really liked the running gag about swearing. It was particularly funny for me because I once proofread letters from WWII for a work friend who was putting together a family book. I knew there had to be a punchline coming in the final battle, so my anticipation grew with each "don't swear in front of Steve" line.
Hawkeye makes a great Team Dad. I liked his use of Dad Mind Judo on the Scarlett Witch to get her into the fight. I suspect he used it on her to get her to stay with the Avengers post battle. I also liked how he avoided getting whammied by the Scarlett Witch.
Whedon on Deaths... it's his signature to kill off a key member in his ensemble casts. In addition to raising the stakes for the viewer, it also serves as a plot point in all of his movies. I fell for his "I'm killing off Hawkeye" fake, but killing Quicksilver is much more powerful - Laura Barton probably has a very healthy support group and survivor's benefits. Wanda Maximoff, not so much. Killing Quicksilver does the most damage in-story and allows for more plot bunnies in future Marvel movies.
Which is not to say Quicksilver may not come back. This is the comics. "Killing" does not necessarily mean "killing off." (i.e. Agent Coulson)
dotless i @ 29. I think it passed the Bechdel test on extra credit alone. It didn't get the "two main, named female characters talking to each other about something other than men" but it did have 1)Important men bragging about their female Significant Others. 2) Kick ass heroine being friends with a stay at home mom. 3) the female child providing the Big Clue needed to figure out what the bad guy is doing. (Female child Barton -- the character is unnamed in the IMDB cast list.)
Forgot to add about the Bechdel Test Extra Credit. 4) Black Widow is good with children, likes them and kids really like her in return.
A woman is either a mother/victim or a hero/loner/childless/whore in most movies. The awkward monster exchange between her and Bruce Banner plus the training flashbacks made it clear to me that Natasha probably wanted to have kids once upon a time, but her trainers took that option away from her by force. Hence the "begetting no children = monster" scene.
Victoria@47,48: I think it passed the Bechdel test on extra credit alone.
All true, and I love the gradual reveal we've been getting on Natasha over the course of the films (and, indirectly, the TV shows), though not so much that I wouldn't eagerly go see her as a lead character. But those are the cases that distract me most: when a film that could easily pass the test fails to do so. At the very least, it makes me think about the conversations that could have happened. What would Black Widow have said to Scarlet Witch? Or Maria Hill? Why weren't they put in a position to have that conversation?
But I think that Nat Lovin@30 is right about the technical pass (going by named rather than main characters), so I'm just putting this in the "things we talked about on the way out of the theater" category.
They got to the "Oh noes, Jarvis has been erased" part, and I was thinking, "What, you didn't keep a backup?"
It's bothered me since Iron Man 1 that there's only one Jarvis, but this movie pushed that to a new level.
I was entertained for pretty much the entire run time, warts and all.
Having said that, has anyone run the numbers on Ultron's Evil Plan? I'm kind of thinking that dropping a good-sized city from 8 or 10 miles up would cause localized devastation, sure, but not the kind of global apocalypse he was shooting for.
The "begetting no children = monster" bit was just bad. It's like one of those Joss Whedon bits where people just open their mouths and hope something good comes out, except it's with Natasha and part of her superpower is to NOT DO THAT.
It's a Buffy moment, I think. "Yeah, umm, I guess I'm a monster too?"
Thor had a few Xander moments, which just didn't fit for me. I want the guy who smashed the coffee cup on the floor and bellowed "Another!" Not the guy who says "And I'm running out of things to say!"
A friend of mine said she had reached Peak Joss, and I kind of have to agree.
However, I described it as "Five minutes of bad and 145 minutes of good" and I'm pretty sure I can support that statement. There was a LOT of good in the party, both clever plotting and character development.
The New Avengers lineup is short a heavy hitter- if they have no Iron Man [sorry, War Machine, I'm not convinced by the shoulder gat yet], no Hulk and no Thor, who's going to hit things till the planet cracks? I've heard rumors of Captain Marvel, and fanboy calls for She-Hulk, but neither of those have been introduced, or if they did it was way too subtle for me.
I agree with Doug in #50 -- why didn't they load Jarvis from backup? Especially when Tony later loads Friday from something that looked suspiciously like a backup.
The other moment that dragged me out of the movie was in the flying city (aside: I never knew spindizzies needed vibranium). There's a line from the team on the carrier that "the city has passed 18000 feet". I know that when flying an unpressurized airplane, the pilot has to be on oxygen above 12000 feet; I'm surprised our heroes were not suffering more from altitude sickness.
I suppose it is a measure of my nerdery that I can happily watch a movie starring a god, a big green stompy monster, a man in a flying suit of armor... but these little things brought me out of the movie.
Maybe the engine that lifted the city had a reverse to smash it back into the ground at ludicrous speed?
Natasha's bit about being a monster to me clearly seemed to be about all the people she killed while she was a spy. Remember, she was a political assassin before joining SHIELD (hell, maybe even during?). The circumstances of her sterilization only serve to reinforce her self-loathing, and I don't see anything in the movie to indicate the audience is supposed to consider her obviously unhealthy self-image as an objective truth. Don't mistake a character's values for those of the author.
Sandy@52, I think they may be covering their bases a bit in case any of their primary Avengers aren't available for the Infinity Wars movies. Spider-Man and Doctor Strange have movies out before the first one, and Captain Marvel and Black Panther before the second, so I guess any of them are potential additions.
The thing about Cap's back pay has been done in the comics -- there, he used it to fund a public hotline to send requests and info to him.
The city drop made me think of the anime Mobile Suit Gundam, in which space colony drops are an occasional weapon of war (and a sort of proxy for nuclear weapons in the setting).
Sandy B @52: I want the guy who smashed the coffee cup on the floor and bellowed "Another!"
Yeah, but that guy couldn’t lift the hammer.
I've heard rumors of Captain Marvel
Those aren’t just rumors; there have been official announcements, with schedules and everything. See Wikipedia’s entry on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Captain Marvel movie (about Carol Danvers) is scheduled to be released between the two halves of Avengers: Infinity War, which might mean she shows up in the second half.
There's definitely a scene missing of Thor at that pool/oracle place he gets Selvig to take him to. We see him go there, and then he just shows up to give Vision his approval (and his lightning) It's missing that beat.
Joe H @51 & Stanoje @54:
There were thrusters on the top of the city to slam it back down into the ground at planet-killer speeds. It was very rushed and unclear, but they come on right before the city chunk disintegrates.
Nigel C @53: “why didn't they load Jarvis from backup?”
Because audiences would be too confused with both Jarvis and Vision during the next film. Personally, I’d love to see the writing nuance involved in creating two characters that overlap and literally have the same voice. What a neat writing challenge. But the audience would never follow it.
Kind of the same manufactured solution that Avram mentioned @37. You can’t have a super-speeder, because he makes the battles too easy. (Days of Future Past dismissed Quicksilver, too.) You also can’t have two Jarvis’, so you conveniently don’t have a backup file.
I honestly thought the reason that Wanda let Stark take the staff was because, seeing what he feared most, she got all teary-eyed and emotional (and the actress WAS) and knew he could be trusted with its power.
Apparently not, from things that happened an hour later in the movie, but up to that point my interpretation is completely consistent with everything seen on screen.
Leah Miller @10, in re your Hawkeye comments: I realize I'm doing some extra-canonical things and patching in Jeremy Renner's character from The Unusuals (a pre-cancelled for your convenience one-season cop show), who before joining the NYPD was a minor league baseball catcher, and did all the usual 'keeping an eye on the team and making everyone more productive' thing.
Jane Berry @58 -- Yeah, I saw the thrusters; I just have trouble believing they could get it going that fast in that distance. But I'm probably overthinking it.
@#50/#53: This is to some extent a fanwank-ish explanation, but I think the reason JARVIS didn't/doesn't get reloaded from backup is threefold.
(1) Logistics. If you're keeping a backup of something as complex, versatile, and advanced as the JARVIS personality, you're probably not keeping it on a static disk or data storage device (by contrast to FRIDAY, who seemed to come straight off an oversized Stark-generation flash drive).
No, you probably have to keep Backup!JARVIS on a functioning computer with active processing capability...and you have to keep that computer both physically secure and completely off the 'Net (because that's just good offline backup strategy). Which means that accessing Backup!JARVIS is going to be complicated and time-consuming, in terms of both in-universe time and movie screen time.
(2) Safety. The moment you hook Backup!JARVIS up to a 'Net connection again, you have to assume that one of Ultron's 'Net-spying routines will see him and start another round of AI Whack-A-Mole™ -- for which Backup!JARVIS will not be any better prepared than Original!JARVIS, because Backup!JARVIS was probably imaged at least some hours before Ultron's initial attack.
(3) Identity. As a practical matter, it seems likely both technologically and heuristically that Original!JARVIS is a sufficiently complex AI -- especially this late in MCU time -- that he can't be committed to backup without losing a significant degree of what makes him JARVIS, for two reasons. First, as indicated above, any backup won't have (and probably can't easily integrate) memory or data postdating the backup's timestamp moment. Second, JARVIS is an active mind -- making a static backup would be the equivalent of putting the backed-up mind into a coma state, and even attempting to make an active backup (with something to do inside its sealed dataspace) would have that backup spinning its mental wheels for an awfully long time in software terms. (See ST:TNG's "Professor Moriarty" arc, with which Jeffrey Lang has done some very sharp things in the novels.)
In short, Original!JARVIS is almost certainly already "awake", and as such loading a backup wouldn't get you Original!JARVIS back, it would get you (at best) Son!Of!JARVIS.
Josh @38: Wait, there was an SF in SF movie event for this? Their website didn't mention it, and that's the only way I've ever found out about what they're doing. If there's some kind of members-only thing, I'm unaware of it and the website doesn't seem to say anything about it.
Joe H. @51: "has anyone run the numbers on Ultron's Evil Plan?"
I usually don't do these mathing-outs, but you got me thinking, so I gave one a try. Beware, as I'm no expert.
Firstly, if I looked up an XKCD what-if, and presumed (wrongly, most likely) that the city is the same size as the mountain used (Denali): "After falling from summit height to base height—about 5 kilometers—the mountain would be moving at roughly the speed of sound.[...] The jolt to the ground would be as violent as in a magnitude 7 earthquake."
However, the city was past 18000 feet (5.5 km), and it also had thrusters pushing it down, and mighty big ones at that. Assuming they double the acceleration, instead of 9.8 it would be 19.6.
Some of the internet indicates that 2*acceleration*distance = velocity squared, so the final velocity would be 464 m/s, whereas it was 328 m/s when only falling at regular speed. Even if the thrusters were pushing it at the completely arbitrary peak acceleration that wikipedia lists for a Saturn V rocket (40 m/s^2), the final velocity from 18000 ft would be 739 m/s.
If we allow the city to be a fair bit higher (I'll use 10 miles) those numbers become 560 (regular falling), 792 (2x gravity), 1262 m/s (Saturn V).
So, the base force of an entire mountain falling would be a magnitude 7 earthquake. If it were falling from a much higher height with the thrust of a Saturn V, it would strike with about 4 times that much force, which I posit is still not going to end life on earth.
Going back to that XKCD What If?, a fall from the limits of earth's gravity well, with a final speed of 10 km/s, would be slightly worse than the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, but still not an end to life on earth.
That's all based on the random decision that XKCD had it right and that a portion of one city is the same mass as Mount Denali.
At this point, the details could change a whole lot and I'd still have to say that this is only life-ending in a comics universe.
Micah @51: Thanks! That's similar to what I was coming up with recently when I was messing about with an online meteor impact simulator -- locally devastating, but not an extinction-level event.
The important thing, though: The movie was still more scientifically rigorous than Armageddon.
I thought they were saying 'easily killing people=monster' with Natasha, but at the same time 'most traumatic thing=being sterile'.
micah @63: There's also the question of terminal velocity for a city. I suspect it's smaller than that for Denali, since cities are quite a bit thinner*.
And even Denali isn't big enough to have terminal velocity equal to escape velocity. When I did that calculation, I came up with something roughly the size of Eros, which is several orders of magnitude bigger than Denali‡.
Now given a body whose size is a significant proportion of the atmosphere's scale height, it won't necessarily slow down all the way to terminal velocity before it hits the ground. But it will still slow down.
The thrusters complicate things, of course, but unless we're talking about an Orion-style fusion pulse drive, I don't see how it would be possible to carry enough fuel to accelerate something the size of a city at 40 m/s^2. And if you are using an Orion drive, you might as well just nuke your target in the first place.
* Note that I haven't seen AAoU, so if the city is riding on a 25km-thick plate, I withdraw this objection†.
† If the city is riding on a plate that thick, though, lifting it up also punched a hole most of the way down to the moho. So it'd be pretty bad for the surrounding area even without the hard landing at the end.
‡ But as we said in my astrophysics seminar when we'd really goofed the math, what's 3 orders of magnitude between friends?
Stephen Sample @66: Oh, the 40 m/s^2 was meant to be unreasonable, because even with something unreasonable it didn't reach world-ending results.
However, as to the city-vs-mountain difference, in the movie the segment of the city (not the whole thing) is taken along with a cone of earth from beneath that's about as deep as half the segment's width.
To clarify, I think it's nowhere near the size of Denali, but I have no clear scale. Once this is not just on the big screen, a shot of the city alongside the helicarrier will make that calculable
The crashing city = "Lucifer's Hammer?" See "Hot Fudge Tuesdae."
Lori Coulson @68: that was basically Ultron's goal, yes. He keeps going on about the dinosaur-killing meteor and suchlike.
Hob @62: they have a regular email blast they send out -- I got a copy, even though I'm in Seattle now.
Hoping to see the movie later this week. I don't mind spoilers.
Hob @62: there's a mailing list. Rina uses it for short-notice stuff and reminders. The Avengers thing was 24-hours notice; I was just lucky to be free that night. I don't remember how I signed up; hunt around the website.
Re: dropping Segovia on the planet. Yeah, I was wondering too why Ultron didn't just commandeer one of Tony's satellites and use it to push an asteroid or a spacelab or something into Earth. Much more effective, and harder to figure out in time to do anything about it.
That would be a fun (but dark) alternate ending: where the whole Segovia thing was just a red herring, and a week later a 200-ton asteroid hits the Early at .01 c.
Teresa @14: Also, how do we know they're not in Canada?
It wasn't snowing. Every single time anything happens in Canada in Marvel comics (with the exception of Alpha Flight), it's snowing. The X-men can be relaxing by the pool in Westchester and meanwhile, in Alberta, Wolverine is slogging through a blizzard.
For what it's worth, if it was Canada (I don't think it was? Wrong trees.) my money would be somewhere in southern Ontario. Maybe New Brunswick. But there weren't enough conifers. Or blizzards.
Tom & Josh, I feel dumb now, and yet now I know more than I did. Thanks!
Em @72: So mean and yet so true. :-> (hi5)
Josh @71: The Overthinking It podcast posited that a large part of the DNA of this movie was people coming up with a list of Neat Action Scenes, Joss knowing what emotional character beats he wanted hit, and then stitching the two together with a semblance of a plot.
I bet we can even come up with the list.
They include "Fight on a floating city," "Hulk fights Hulkbuster", "Fight in a ship where Quicksliver grabs Mjollnir" ...
Etc. They knew some cool images and splash pages they wanted to illustrate, and then they put them in the movie and figured the rest out later.
For a before-the-first-scene amazing hilarious fix-it fic, I highly recommend "Language" by Dira Sudis. There is SO MUCH SWEARING in this fic, so don't go if you aren't ok with reading that. Canon-compliant.
An interesting (and angsty) deep character piece between Wanda Maximoff and Tony Stark that takes place between "get to new Avengers HQ" and "first training session": "A Finely Honed Talent for Self-Deception" by Sholio. I really like how this is written, though YMMV. Canon-compliant.
The Overthinking It podcast posited that a large part of the DNA of this movie was people coming up with a list of Neat Action Scenes, Joss knowing what emotional character beats he wanted hit, and then stitching the two together with a semblance of a plot.
That seems to be the way that many comic books have traditionally been written. If I recall correctly, at one point Stan Lee would have the artists draw the panels first, and then he would come up with a story to fit them.
Aaron@77, the way it worked was that Stan Lee and the artist worked out the plot, the artist drew a fully-panelled story (with pencilled cues as to what was happening), and Lee wrote the dialogue over that. Sometimes Lee's contribution at the first stage could be pretty small.
Done right, it's a viable alternative to full script first that gets the artist more involved in working out the storytelling, and other writer/artist teams have done it. One common failure mode is an obvious gap between the stories the artist and the writer were trying to tell.
I vote that it's one fun ride. I'm trying to decide if Quicksilver is really most sincerely dead, or if the doctor's magic machine can put him back together again.
Think I want to go back and see it again, there are some things that I need to contemplate.
And will someone please reassure me that somewhere down the road Steve and Tony don't kill one another? Their final conversation makes my trouble sensors twitch...
Elliott @ 76 - Fic recommendation, it's more Iron Man than Avengers, but I very much loved the story In Person posted here: http://ironychan.tumblr.com/post/35550863851/in-person-aka-the-iron-man-thing
A question for sharp-eyed people:
In the closing credits I spotted at line something like 'Laputa robot courtesy of Studio Ghibli'.
This would be referring to the robots in 'Castle In The Sky'.
Did anyone notice anything in the film like this?
Rob Rusick: I think it was in the background of some shots in South Korea, as a piece of public art or consumerism?
Sandy B @ 52: Not the guy who says "And I'm running out of things to say!" I thought that was a great setup -- Thor using brains (which he's starting to pick up) as well as brawn to occupy Ultron just long enough.
Nigel C @ 53: the pilot rule is a belt-and-suspenders; it's not clear it applies to the well-conditioned (IIRC, some people climb the 29K feet of Everest without oxy) -- although I expect the heroes would have had to carry more of the civilians. But I'm glad to see somebody else had my first reaction to the way that piece-of-city lifted off -- although a \real/ spindizzy includes a force field (that would have kept the atmosphere, contra above, but made rescue impossible).
Jane Berry @ 58 etc: going from the other side (what would it take to push the city to planet-buster speed from that height) I estimate 1000G(*) which would reduce it to gravel without any help from the heroes. OTOH, this assumes that classic physics actually applies in this case when it doesn't for almost anything else....
(*) very round numbers to make the math simple:
10,000m/s = at (guess at planet-killer speed)
5,000m = .5 at^2 (underestimate of altitude)
gives t = 1, a = 10,000m/s^2
The credits include a bunch of people doing stuff related to a "Russian Arm" -- I looked this up later and found out that it meant a special crane for filming fast-moving action scenes, but when I first saw the phrase, I thought, "but I don't think I saw Bucky at all!"
OK, time for my own bit of overthinking.
This ELE was 4x 10^23 J: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicxulub_crater
Largest known volcanic eruption, from the same page, was 1x 10^21 J. That doesn't make it onto the Wikipedia "extinction-level events" page, but those are mass extinctions and we only care about one, high-level (delicate) life form. So let's postulate that 10^21 J is enough to kill "enough" humans. A few thousand or a couple million might get back to a nasty, brutish and short lifestyle, but Ultron can pull those weeds by hand.
Kinetic energy is 1/2 mv^2 or f * d or m * a * d. Acceleration is 2 G's (20 m/s), distance is 5000 m, a*d is conveniently 100,000. Mass is tricky having seen the movie only once, but if I guess a 5 km diameter x 1 km depth plug of rock with specific gravity 3 , I get about 20 cubic km. 20 cubic km of water would be 20x10^9 cubic meters, 20x10^12 kg. So 20x10^17 J, 2 x 10^18 J.
So it's probably a factor of 1000 too small. Closer than I expected.
Re: Why Natasha says she's a monster and why she brings up her sterility. I think her wandaflash made it pretty clear that A: the graduation ceremony is a medical procedure that Red Roomers undergo after they B: graduate by shooting a bound and bagged person in the head for no reason other than being told to. She thinks she's a monster because of B and all the red that followed, but A is the ongoing mark on her body. I'll further note that given the comics Red Room, I'd wager that the graduation ceremony has sterility as a side effect and it's one more copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy of REBIRTH (which I seem to remember often have sterility as a canonical side effect). Taking that into account, she's a moral monster because of her acts, an other-than-human monster because of the procedure, the sterility being an indicia of the procedure (assuming again that the other effects are just "maximal human"), possibly one that she's latched onto and ascribed a totemic significance to.
Re: the city-dropping/planetary-extinction ploy. I thought the deal was that Ultron had loaded a bunch of the vibranium into the bomb dealie in the center of the city, and that was what was gonna wreck everything. Y'know how whenever somebody hits Cap's shield real hard, there's that shockwave that breaks everything nearby? So all the kinetic energy from dropping the city gets amplified by the vibranium and that's what kills everybody, everywhere.
Joe Crow@87: Works for me.
August J. Pollack has no mercy for this movie..
David Harmon @89:
Pollack can go do something anatomically impossible to himself. The movie was fun, and there was more going on there than Pollack seems to have been aware of...typical failing of most critics.
Joe Crow -- extrapolating from your theory, what would happen when the vibranium shockwave from the city impact interacts with pre-existing fault lines? (Answer: Earth rings like a bell -- but does every one of those faults start to dance?)
In the comics, Cap did receive his back pay (in a story that also led to him resigning and becoming the Captain and the creation of USAgent) and set up a national 800-hotline.
Lori Coulson @90: That [vibranium shockwaves hitting pre-existing fault lines] almost puts me in mind of the end of Greg Bear's Forge of God.
Lori Coulson #90: Pollack can go do something anatomically impossible to himself.
That would be nothing new for him: He's not a serious film critic, he's usually a cartoonist with a penchant for dick jokes.
Re: sterilization, IIRC, she is *talking* about the steriliztion but *thinking* (also) about her murdering the guy during graduation.
The gap between her words and thoughts indicates the difficulty she has coming clean to Banner. Classic (cinematic) Black Widow.
And as much as she WANTS to slip away with Banner and hide, the mission still comes first, i.e. "I need the other guy."
Broke my heart...I hope they work it out, I think they need each other.
95: yes, only way BW can live with herself is to subsume herself to a greater cause ... which was what her evil training molded her to do. She can't stop being who she is, just change her loyalty.
So lucky for us to have a blockbuster superhero movie that provokes thoughts like that.
I should note that I only bought the Nat/Bruce romance because I had read a particular fanfic that showed me what that pairing could be. Before I read it, I eyerolled, but read the fic because some other things that were in its tags are bulletproof kinks of mine. And the writer talked me around to it, not only to "yeah that could work" but "wow, they'd be really GOOD for each other."
Because I was primed, I didn't bounce off it as a total nonsequitur as apparently some folks did.
And some careful searching later, that fic is Jekyll and Charlotte, which is part of the oh-so-amazing world of the 1796 Broadway fic, which starts out as silly epistolary fluff about Steve Rogers and managing the variety of weirdos in the Avengers team and goes so, so many plot- and feels-filled places.
She was wearing a damn arrow necklace in Winter Soldier. That's not something a woman does for her best friend. I do not understand how we're supposed to be reconciling it.
But Bruce/Nat wouldn't work for me even without that, though I can't put my finger on why.
Clint and Nat are obviously close, possibly closer than family. But that doesn't mean they're sleeping together (now, or in fact ever).
My point is that she was wearing a piece of jewelry with one of his "symbols" on it. I have never seen a woman do that if she didn't at least wish that the person in question was a romantic partner, unless they were dead. I'd be perfectly happy with him being "just" her best friend if it weren't for that. If the MCU-runners were not trying to hint at Clint/Nat, they should have left that necklace out.
I saw the movie today, and I do think she was saying she was a monster because she was sterilized, but it's complicated.
I don't think she meant that sterile women in general are monsters, though I also think what she said could sting them.
I heard it as some deep dysfunctional stuff where she was somewhat identifying with the people who trained her. They thought the chance of pregnancy would make her a less effective assassin, and she both thought that being sterilized for that reason was an injury and she thought that being made into a more effective assassin made her not quite a human being. I think this would have been her line of thought even before she killed anyone.
I feel like I'm crazy because this stuff makes emotional sense to me, but it's something like someone getting raped and knowing that something has gone wrong without being able to detach from the system which teaches that the person who gets raped is the problem.
There was a theme in the movie about who's a monster and what that means, though I don't get the impression it was worked out very carefully.
A thought occurs to me after a few days of reflection:
Wanda's story arc seems incomplete to me. She starts out blaming Tony Stark for the death of her parents, and striking at the Avengers to strike at him. She ends up joining the team...but there's never any closure on her hostility towards Tony. There needed to be a moment somewhere in there in which her original motivation was dealt with; whether by Tony accepting blame, and apologizing, or by Tony explaining that his weapons were stolen and sold on the black market, or something. I don't think that just fighting alongside him against Ultron would be enough to do that.
I think Wanda may realize she did exactly what she blames Tony for: created a weapon which caused massive damage, without sufficient consideration of the consequences.
Re: Black widow and the necklace. I remember that necklace too and took it at a sign, then, that she was interested in Hawkeye. It felt like a character reveal that this movie retcons completely.
I'm pretty sure there are quite a few women wearing arrow necklaces who are not dating Hawkeye.
One does suspect there's a backstory to the necklace ... one that could be explored in a BLACK WIDOW PREQUEL ... curse you, Hollywood ...
The interpretation I've come around to about the monster line is that...well, Banner turns into a monster. When he does monstrous things, he does not have control over himself. Romanov is a monster. She kills a prisoner because she's told to, she undergoes surgery because it'll make her more murderous, she then has a years-long career of murdering all sorts of people in all sorts of places and she does all this voluntarily.* She's one-upping him; no, Bruce, that's not what a monster looks like. This is.
I do think it could have been clearer, though.
*Obviously there are questions about how voluntary your actions are when you've been indoctrinated/trained at a young age.
Pregnancy isn't the only complication the Red Room would be concerned about. Sterilization also means never having to plan around hormonal cycles, which can go out of kilter for all sorts of reasons. They wouldn't risk having a top agent incapacitated in the field by her first ever menstrual migraine.
@David, in #103: I think you're right. My suspicion is that that's one of the scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor; apparently the first cut was three hours long, and a lot had to be lost. Hopefully most of that will end up on the Blu-Ray/DVD release.
What if the arrow necklace was a gift from Laura, for saving Hawkeye in the first Avengers movie?
In the 'safe house' sequence, both treat Nat like she's a member of the family, and it's implied that she often stays with them.
Lori @110, indeed, and also note that the Bartons end up naming their new kid jointly after Nat and Pietro-- the latter being the most recent person to save Hawkeye's life.
I know quite a few people who have a similar bond to someone who could be described as a best friend, or chosen sibling, or non-sexual non-cohabiting co-life-partner. I have someone like that myself, and there's even a sentimental piece of jewelry involved. I don't think it's as uncommon as Carrie's comments suggest; people just don't know how to talk about it.
For that matter, I-- and, I'm certain, others here-- also know people whose relationship with a long-time family friend is sometimes sexual, and not a secret, and not a source of conflict. I'm not saying that that's the case with Natasha and the Bartons, just that people have lots of ways of organizing their emotional lives, which don't neatly correspond to categories we learned in high school.
These characters in the Avengers movies aren't fleshed out in much detail, but this aspect of them feels real to me. I think Cardellini's performance helps a lot: even if we can't tell exactly what their story is, she makes it clear that these people all know and trust each other deeply.
103/109 - having helped unleash Ultron on the world, perhaps Wanda finds she has more in common with Tony Stark than she'd realized?
110 - excellent surmise.
One thing that shows up in several fanfics and has entered my headcanon is that Nat and Clint USE the presumption by all their coworkers that they're an exclusive, tight-knit sexual item to fend off unwanted passes from anyone ELSE. And as a convenient excuse to get out of other stuff or have it not be weird that they're not around for something, because they're assumed to have snuck off together.
113: Hell of a convenient cover, and I can see why they'd do that. Makes me think of the way Nat shut down both Tony and his bodyguard in Iron Man.
I got the impression that the only ones who knew that Hawkeye was married were Fury and Nat. Am I misreading this?
(I've never read the comics so I know I'm probably missing LOTS of back-story, and my source of info is at work at the moment.)
Yes, that's what this movie conveyed to me. Natasha knew, Fury knows everything by definition, and the rest of the team was not in the loop.
Lori, I think you're right.
I don't know the Ultimates universe very well; I never really bought into it. In the main universe, Clint's married to Bobbi from Agents of Shield, so they've had to do some rearranging of furniture for the MCU, which has been mostly informed by the Ultimates line, I hear.
In the main universe Clint and Bobbi finally got divorced. He started to date Spiderwoman, screwed THAT up, and is now perpetually single because Hawkeye is Bad At Relationships.
Here's the thing: whenever he's not married to Mockingbird, Hawkeye has often featured as the sort of "wish fulfillment gets to sleep around a lot" single guy of the Avengers. This has even been true during periods when he was just separated from Bobbi... which is part of why they ended up getting divorced.
The current run of Hawkeye comics by Matt Fraction take a look at this cycle of irresponsible escapist behavior and say "hey, what if it had actual emotional consequences?"
An interesting wrinkle is that the current comics feature both Hawkeyes: Clint, and a teenage girl named Kate Bishop who took the name when everyone thought he was dead for a while. While Clint is frequently sexualized in these comics, Kate almost never is. This actually plays into their relationship - she has sort of acknowledged that she finds him physically appealing, though she has no interest in dating him - joking around when she has to rescue him and he ends up being shirtless ("Really? With the abs? Really?") Clint knows that dating a teenager would be super wrong, and also that he'd inevitably make it wronger, because as we established he is really bad at relationships. They both have a low-grade acknowledgement that the other is attractive, but it isn't a huge thing, they both know dating is a bad idea and wouldn't work, so they end up with a successful best-friendship and superhero partnership.
I want to write more, but I also don't want to spoil it. Seriously, if you haven't read the Matt Fraction Hawkeye series, pick it up. There are a few graphic novels out there, and the art style is really unique and gorgeous.
Leah, Hawkeye has never been one of my main draws, but you just sold me on that comic. Thanks!
I have a slightly different take on the Natasha and Bruce talk. Bruce was going on about how being with him meant you could never have a normal life where you settle down and have a family and some kind of stability, which, based on Nat's interactions with Clint's family, it's clear she would want on some level. He was dangerous and physically incapable of family stuff, which in his mind made him a monster.
To which her response was essentially "look, if your definition of 'monster' is 'someone who is dangerous and physically can't participate in stereotypical normal family life,' then I'm one too. I'm an even bigger one."
Which isn't a great way to think, but it's something I can completely buy Nat thinking. She clearly still sees herself as a bad thing... just look at her complete disinterest in even trying to lift the hammer.
It was also her way of telling him that she wasn't risking anything or losing anything by being with him, not really. She'd already done and given up lots of things, and she let him see her legitimate pain about them, when normally she acts like she doesn't care. Here was someone who wouldn't judge or pity her for her damage or her loss. If the things that are wrong with him make him a monster, well... they're the same. They understand each other.
As for Nat's arrow necklace in Winter Soldier, we can come up with "no prize" rationalizations for it all day long, but I honestly think it was just a lack of communication between the Russo Brothers and Whedon. The Russos saw all the same foreshadowing and chemistry we did, came to the same conclusion that most of fandom did, and thus gave Nat that necklace. I'm betting they were as surprised by this reveal as we were, whenever they learned about it.
So, Nat/Bruce vs. Nat/Clint? I experience feels when seeing stuff related to both relationships. Both make sense to me, but they offer me very different things as a fan.
Nat/Clint was the "two people who are work partners and have a complex relationship" thing, but without the overtone of "eventually they'll figure it all out and become NORMAL" that so often accompanies those stories. Also, it was a relationship that bore some surface resemblance to the Trinity/Everyman relationships we are constantly seeing in movies, only without the nonsensical and deeply problematic arc. That is to say, Black Widow is super competent and consistently THE BEST, while Hawkeye is a screwup who gets hurt all the time but tries real hard. In modern film, the omnipresent arc is that the woman gets to kick ass in the first act but the nobody everyman surpasses her in the third, when she doesn't get much to do (Trinity in the Matrix, Wyldstyle in the Lego movie, etc). Hawkeye/Black Widow would be a subversive version of that stereotypical relationship with the male power fantasy aspect totally stripped away: Widow keeps being the best at things, Hawkeye keeps being the normal guy, and they're both completely fine with these roles. Instead of Nat being the "prize" the everyman wins, she's his friend and partner and their relationship is based on chemistry and trust. It also could have conceivably been a boundary-based poly relationship where they were each other's primaries, though that'd be a bit much to hope for, alas.
Nat/Bruce is a combination of two other stories that are more common and less subversive. The obvious one is the Beauty and the Beast narrative, where a woman offers comfort and stability to a man possessed by self-doubt and self-hatred. The second is the indie movie favorite of two broken people who find understanding in their mutual brokenness, and get better self-esteem by seeing themselves through each other's eyes.
I am a HUGE sucker for the trope of the guy who sees himself as broken and undeserving of love, and I think Nat makes a much more interesting beauty/fellow traveler than most female characters in generic romances or indie movies. Still, there's nothing subversive about this, nothing new. Nat and Bruce is cute but pedestrian, Nat and Clint would have been something I don't get to see very often.
The one thing I do really like is how Nat and Steve's relationship is portrayed. I read all of Winter Soldier as a reinforcement of the fact that their relationship was playful/platonic. A friend pointed me to a review where a critic was deeply confused by the lack of romantic chemistry between Cap and Widow. He couldn't process the idea that it's possible for a man and woman to recognize each other's attractiveness, not be romantically interested in each other, and stay friends. I liked the way the ending reinforced that whole "Steve and Nat, best friends who are married to their work" relationship. Sort of "well, we'll always have each other (as friends) and the Avengers (as a surrogate family) even if we're not the kind of people who have normal love lives or families."
Eliot @98, tried to read, bounced off the idea of Stark?Avengers Tower being on Broadway.
BSD @120: Fair enough. :->
Leah Miller @117: Footnoting because I was interested and others may be too, is Matt Fraction's Hawkeye run the one with the graphic novels entitled:
1. My Life as a Weapon
2. Little Hits
3. L.A. Woman
Yes, those are the collection titles. The cover art's also very distinctive, I find. It's very clean.
The last couple of issues of Hawkeye have been ridiculously late - weeks and months of delays, IIRC. The final issue is coming out in a month, maybe?
It's a relatively short run - 22 issues including the yet to be released finale.
Hawkeye v4 is called Rio Bravo. Amazon has it listed as coming out in August.
This is why I pay my $10/mo for Marvel Unlimited--they have all 20 issues, and will have the final two probably by the time I get to reading all of this (I'm still catching up on old X-Men from my multi-year reading hiatus; I'm still in 2008).
Just picked up My Life as a Weapon from library. Thanks for the tip!
Ordered from my library, too.
Folks, if the arrow necklace had been from Clint, and had been meant to be a romantic gesture, it would have been a heart with an arrow through it, not just a plain arrow.
Instead, the creators went for ambiguity, which seems to be SOP in the Marvel Universe. It seems to me that whenever it looks like they're giving you something solid to stand on, they're setting you up for a sucker punch.
Lila @46: I've heard that Agent Carter has been renewed.
Em @ 72; Touche. I would've said it, but you said it first.
Elliott #97: what's the fic?
Dia: It's in my 98.
Leah Miller @119: There's another aspect I see, to Natasha simply refusing to try the hammer. I felt like she was acknowledging that a masculinity contest is always a fool's wager, and asserting her right to skip out of these things.
#130 Elliott: I'll look, thxs.
#119 Leah Miller,#131 A. J. Luxton:
I thought that Natasha's refusal was a reference to the fact that in the comics Black Widow actually lifts the hammer, and this was Whedon's way of staying faithful to the comics while keeping his own trope consistent throughout the film.
I see that my previous post was hasty and careless enough that I managed to write nearly the opposite of what I meant. To revise/clarify:
A: Natasha's view is that by training and by deed she was (and remains!) a monster
B: The program that trained her believed that parenthood threatened its agents' loyalty and effectiveness
C: And so Natasha semi-voluntarily underwent surgery to prevent biological parenthood, in the name of "efficiency". The surgery itself did nothing to make her a monster, or increase her, I dunno, monstrosity.
I'd note that while the agency may have believed that parenthood and secret agents don't go together, Hawkeye's family makes it pretty clear that the filmmakers don't agree.
Dia, in the comics Steve Rogers has also successfully lifted the hammer. I doubt Whedon cares that much about keeping the comics and cinematic versions of the Marvel universe consistent.
On the other hand, while Steve doesn't actually lift the hammer he does manage to move it slightly. Which is more than any of the others (aside from Thor) manage to do in that scene.
Tony Stark isn't Howard Hughes (let alone Donald Rumsfeld). Howard Stark is Howard Hughes. Tony Stark is *Howard Roark.*
Steve moves the hammer, then steps back and shakes his head. Which suggests to me that he can pick it up, but chooses not to, perhaps to spare Thor's feelings, or the rest of the team's, or just to avoid opening a big ol' hinkin' can of worms.
Lori Coulson @#110, re the necklace: headcanon accepted!
@Lila. Alternatively, the Hammer might have some agency, here. Odin imbued it with the ability to deem someone worthy. Cap IS worthy, but the hammer didn't need to open up a fight between Cap and Thor by jumping into his hand. So it moved...just enough that *Cap* knows, without starting a fight. (they were all intoxicated, you can see that happening, right?)
Then, when we see Vision carry the hammer--the hammer allowed that because it was *needed* to show that Vision is worthy of being an Avenger.
Remember your Ollivander: "The wand CHOOSES the wizard."
Same thing with magic weapons, they have a limited amount of intelligence and agency, and I'm willing to bet any weapon Loki makes probably has a perverse sense of humor as well.
Did anyone else think the "magic well" in Ultron was Mimir?
Maybe a Steve who would tell Tony rape jokes aren't cool could have picked up the hammer.
Paul Weimer @ # 139, yes, that makes sense.
After letting Age of Ultron percolate in my head for a while, I've decided (more or less) on this ranking of the MCU movies, from Best to Oh, Damn, Really Could Have Done Better.
1) The Avengers
2) Iron Man 1
3) Captain America, The First Avenger
4) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
5) Iron Man 3
6) The Avengers: Age of Ultron
7) Thor: The Dark World
8) Iron Man 2
I know The Incredible Hulk is supposed to be in there, but that one and Guardians of The Galaxy don't really feel to me to part of the same group.
abi @141, I'm right with you on that.
Normally I'm a little in love with Tony even when he's a dick. There, I just wanted to smack him.
Re: the Ultron's plan with dropping the city.
My take was that it was an attempt to create an extinction level event rather than destroying the planet. I think Ultron is self-aware enough not to want to destroy the planet else where would that leave 'him'?
MaxL #107: That's also my interpretation. I think that sentiment is clearer if you have more background of Natasha than from in-movie information in this movie only.
The future is sure looking great for Damage Control.
Regarding Thor's hammer; there is some implication in the comics that worthiness is not just about the person... it has to be a worthy person AND a worthy cause. Steve could budge it because he's a worthy person, but since he was just trying to show off in that particular moment, he couldn't actually lift it.
From what I've heard, the worthy cause thing is suggested by the new Thor comic... the idea being that Odinson hasn't really changed but his causes have sort of faded, while the Hammer's new wielder has drive and purpose.
Soon Lee @145: Well, there is an "Unspecified Marvel Spin-Off" show greenlit for fall, starring Arthur Darvill, so I can dream. :->
(Source: http://www.imdb.com/news/ni58219800/ )
Arthur Darvill is doing an Arrow/Flash spin-off. The untitled Marvel show is an Agents of SHIELD spin-off that is supposed to involve Bobbi Morse and Not-Clint.
The Marvel spin-off did not get picked up. Which is a shame, I love Bobbi.
While I would be just delighted if Bobbi took a short walk off a long pier. I don't like traitors.
Or is it a long walk off a short pier?
Bah -- I think it's time to go to bed.
I thought it was a long walk off a short dock.
Non-Avengers aside caused by thinking too much about comic books this weekend:
Spiderman seems to spend all his time among the skyscrapers of Manhattan. But do Aunt May and Peter Parker live in Manhattan?
I kind of thought they lived in some other borough. But that would make the commute to crime scenes inconvenient, since all crimes seem to take place in Manhattan.
Maybe Spiderman swings from bridges a lot.
152 P J Evans --
That works for me! Suffice it to say I don't respect Bobbi.
Please keep spoiler threads on-topic. Otherwise you exclude people who might be interested in the drifted topic but aren't here because spoilers.
Aunt May's house is in Queens, but after Peter Parker graduated from high school, he went to Empire State University in Greenwich Village, and eventually moved into an apartment there with Harry Osborn.
Finally saw it tonight. Liked the Roy Thomas reference a lot. I waited through all the credits, and was sorry they hadn't included a better teaser than "The Avengers will return" as an Easter egg. Ah well. Not a particularly great movie, but fun, and good to see on the big screen. Joss didn't get to play as much as usual, it felt like: I'd really like to see the longer version, before the cuts.
I saw "Age of Ultron" last night.
Damn, is it a crowded movie or is it a crowded movie. Then again, that's my problem with those 'group' stories where each character already has an existence elsewhere, but, when they all come together, they are diminished as individual characters and instead become parts of a plot. And it gets worse when the decision is made to add more parts to the mix. Also, while the Marvel Movie Continuity is an interesting project, I don't think it works for anybody who's not familiar with the other stories. Who is Nick Fury? What is SHIELD? What is Hydra? What is this alien invasion they refer to? It's one thing to have tales interconnected, but we're not told *how* they're connected. Mind you, there's little time for that when there's all that sound and fury taking up so much of that time.
At least there's Paul Bettany.
Soon Lee @ 145: ISTM that all of the argument has been about an extinction-level event rather than an outright planet-buster; the question is whether dropping the piece-of-a-city would have achieved extinction. The lowest figure I've seen is that Ultron was a couple of orders of magnitude short of this goal. I suspect that dropping the city from orbit might push Earth back to the *lithic Age, but that's a long way from extinction.
Abi, discussion above about Manhattan apartments and Park Slope brownstones for superheroes triggered my question about Spiderman's residence. While I realized it was tangential, it didn't occur to me that it might not be appropriate here.
I infer that, if it's not a spoiler, in your opinion it shouldn't go into the spoiler thread. True?
Over and over again, when hearing James Spader's voice, I kept anticipating a scene of Ultron enjoying cigars with William Shatner on a balcony.
(The cigar scene was an ingredient, often the best ingredient, of every episode of Boston Legal.)
Bill Higgins @ 161 -
That voice is indeed distinctive. I was picturing him in a three-piece suit and Fedora, a la The Blacklist.
There's a meme that you can tell a lot about someone by what movie they know Tim Curry from.
Taking the apparent Ultron equivalent, the first time I positively noticed James Spader as an actor and started looking for him in other things was Secretary.
Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey @161:
If it's not on the subject of the media in question (in this case, Age of Ultron), then it should not go in the spoiler thread. Spoilers and non-spoilers can mix freely.
Look at it from the point of view of someone who might very well enjoy the Spiderman discussion, but who has not yet watched the Avengers film. They won't know it's happening, because they're avoiding this thread. And then when they do watch the film and join the conversation, the fire has gone out of a topic they might have enjoyed.
Elliott Mason @163:
"That's it, Stef. She thinks you're shit. And deep down, you know she's right."
I'm showing my age here. And my subculture. He grew up well, mind.
@abi: I was in the age range to be just barely young enough to not give one whit for that movie when it came out, so I didn't see it at all until I was in college, at which point I think I was too old to care about it except as a fascinating piece of period vintage-ness.
I'd also say it may be because of my lack of "a girl"-ness, but there may well be guys who enjoy that movie and see its point (who are not me).
I'm going to take a snippet of idea out of this thread over to the open, because it might be of general interest. :->
Elliott @163: Ultron overcomes his shyness, to get things done.
John C. Bunnell @61: No, you probably have to keep Backup!JARVIS on a functioning computer with active processing capability...and you have to keep that computer both physically secure and completely off the 'Net (because that's just good offline backup strategy).
And if, as implied, JARVIS is nearly sentient, keeping him boxed up in the dark like that for any length of time would probably drive him insane, so what you get when you reinstall from backup would be...unpredictable.
Sara Stewart on feminism and Avengers: An Open Letter to Joss Whedon from a Disappointed Feminist Fan After Watching Age of Ultron.
A response by NPR's Linda Holmes: "We were never going to avoid gender politics with a character named "Black Widow."
After hearing about it from other places and having it on my wishlist for a while, this thread finally convinced me to put some money down on Hawkeye My Life As A Weapon. I enjoyed it a lot. I kind of sped through it as I also got Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman (vol 5) at the same time -- after years of mostly Batman. But I intend to go back and get more out of it.
And I sped through this thread and missed abi's post on thread drift. My apologies.
IJWTS You're all a bunch of dorky geeks and I love you all. Especially Leah Miller who is very thoughtful & brilliant about movies!
We finally saw it last night and while it was fun I had some problems. I never felt like the twins' shift from Avenger enemies to Avenger friends was adequately motivated. Of course, I know I missed stuff because I don't read comics, but.... If the city crashing down is an extinction level event, BREAKING IT UP IN PIECES WON'T HELP! The mass is still the same. I somehow missed the additional thrusters thing, but so did Jordin because he didn't mention that as ameliorative when I brought it up. (I too would really like to see the 3 hour version to see if it makes things clearer.) Being married to a physicist has unique advantages & disadvantages re movies.
CHip: any sf fan of a certain age is going to think "spindizzy" when that city lifts off. Jordin & I both did.
If anyone has links for some good Bruce/Tony fic I'd be grateful. I'm not having much luck trying to find it on AOOO. Apparently I don't know the proper search strategies for the stuff you youngsters come up with.
Mary Kay: The only Bruce/Tony I am aware of involves an ftm!Tony and an awful lot of gender issues being worked through on Bruce's part -- is that a problem?
Mary Kay, here are 4 from my bookmarks:
If you use the Search feature on the AO3 main page, pick "works" and enter "Avengers" in the fandom field and "Bruce Banner/Tony Stark" under "relationships" you'll get 2000+ hits. You can filter by rating, number of comments or kudos, date, or many other options.
Mary Kay @ 171: I suspect you're wrong about the breakup; a lot of small shockwaves interfering instead of one big one, less penetration, less concentration of energy to hurl dust into the upper atmosphere, etc. -- but I don't know enough geophysics etc. to prove it.
The mass/number-of-pieces issue came up in our little geek-lunch group back when Shoemaker Levy 9 was in the news, and my intuition/understanding is that mass is the determining factor in an impact scenario involving planetary speeds.
OTOH, at less than planetary speeds (i.e., if your impactor is still within the atmosphere and with no additonal acceleration), I imagine having your impactor break up into dust on its way down would make a huge difference in the kind/intensity of damage that would result.
As may or may not be obvious, IANAPhysicist.
I just saw this and thought it was entertaining enough, but kind of messy and oddly paced.
Steve C way back @ 24: at first I agreed that the Hulk/Hulkbuster setpiece didn't really seem to advance the plot much. I think the scene was useful in showing Hulk's disregard for Banner, and also in the character development once Banner is back and realizes what he's done. But the scene did still seem overlong to me.
Teresa @ 33:
Any votes on the significance of the toaster popping up right after the line about Steve and Tony still being outside, gazing into each others' eyes?
I immediately thought Pulp Fiction but couldn't see any reason whatsoever to make that reference. So ... I have no idea what was being done there.
Re: the Barton farm, I thought they were telegraphing Clint's imminent death, not just because of the unfinished renovation but also because I couldn't imagine Ultron not being able to see the Quinjet on satellite. But that was the same plane Bruce disappears in, right? Did anyone mention the cloaking before it's necessary later in the film?
johnofjack: The Quinjets have been shown to have cloaking abilities on Agents of Shield, and IIRC, they premiered in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Ah, thanks. I still haven't seen Agents of Shield though I've heard good things about it, and I saw The Winter Soldier about six months ago.
ELLIOT 98, 172
You are evil. I got stuck into 1796 BROADWAY and have even struggling to get out all weekend! Those 2 women are very talented because Cap is SO not my favorite Avenger. Sure, shoot me the URL for that fic. If I don't like it, I can always quit. Maybe.
LILA , 173, thanks! I'll check them out. I have such a thing for smart men.
CHip, 174. I think Jacque, 175 explains what's really wrong with my idea well. Which was adapted from earlier discussions of apocalyptic meteor shows a fee years back.
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