I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Disney’s Marvel’s Joss Whedon’s The Avengers in: The Age of Ultron: A Marvel Cinematic Universe Adventure 2D

tn_avengers2THE AVENGERS PART 2 is probly the most comic bookiest comic book movie achieved by mankind so far, which is to say that most of the action scenes have like 15 different supermen and secret agents and shit flipping around shooting magic beams and power waves and explosive arrows and laser things and doing super punches and alley ooping each other and what not as they fight against an army of flying wiseass robots. There are two main characters who wear capes, one that turns into a giant monster, one that’s from a viking fantasy dimension or whatever, at least two that fly of their own accord and two using the jets on their power suits, one that moves faster than sound and another that does mind control and shoots red, uh… magic I guess?… from her hands. It’s not played exactly “gritty” but it’s not a joke either. It means it.

After writer/director Joss Whedon (SPEED)’s masterful job of combining all the different Marvel characters into one supergroup in part 1, he has an even bigger miracle to pull off, and ends up with more mixed results. Because after you’ve managed the trick of combining all these worlds and characters into one coherent movie (which honestly I didn’t believe could be done), the challenge is how do you do it again and make it seem new again and bigger this time but not worse? And the answer is “it’s hard to say.”

I’ve heard it said that the original AVENGERS suffers from taking too long to set up the characters, that they should’ve just come in right away and started punching each other and going “I’m Captain America and you’re The Hulk and we’re standing here together aren’t we that’s so crazy though right!?!?” or whatever. I strongly disagree. I think one of the best parts of that movie is seeing where all the characters ended up after their last movies and how they come together to become a team. That’s the story. It made it seem monumental: shit has gotten so bad that we gotta send for help from all over the world, bring them all together. The recruiting is a classical, enjoyable formula for building up drama in an ensemble action adventure (think UNCOMMON VALOR). In this one it opens with them all mid-super-battle and you get the impression that maybe they all just live together now, like in the Real World house or something, and have magic punching laser fights in the woods every weekend.

It’s okay though because it’s a great opening scene. It kinda reminded me of a STAR WARS prequel, specifically the opening of REVENGE OF THE SITH, with its long take heavily-digitally-animated shot moving through a complex battle with our heroes flying around bantering with each other while shooting faceless armored bad guys to show how they get along and how good they are at what they do. (Please understanding that coming from me that comparison is a big compliment, though I don’t think this is as good as REVENGE OF THE SITH, which I still contend has an opening 30 minutes as thrilling as any blockbuster type movie of the 2000s.)

mp_avengers2It’s a messier, more convoluted movie than the first, with sometimes less natural execution of its many ideas. For example Tony Stark and Bruce Banner’s creation of an artificially intelligent being that goes rogue and tries to conquer the world is not something that happens over time, it’s something that happens in one night while they’re at a party. They basically just run the “turn Loki’s crystal into A.I.” program and go have cocktails while it installs. And there are two characters who go from being so bent on killing Tony Stark that they join up with the first insane robot that tells them he’s gonna destroy the Avengers, to actually just becoming impromptu Avengers when they realize their boss is evil, and I didn’t quite figure out that transition there. I guess they cut it down from a longer version and they must’ve had to take some of the connective tissue out.

Since we’ve already experienced the novelty of the all-star team-up movie they gotta throw a bunch of new shit at it. One area where I did feel it was an improvement over the first is with the bad guys. To my mind the Marvel movies never have the best villains, and although Loki is maybe the most memorable one I don’t think he’s that great. Ultron (animated robot character voiced by James Spader) is more interesting to me because he’s strange. He’s an animated robot character who’s sometimes damaged and wobbly, often a smart ass (like his creator), and who has a tendency to muse and philosophize and shit even though he’s not human. A weirdo. And his army of robots look a little cooler than the aliens in the first one, although they serve the exact same purpose: swarming digital cannon fodder.

Whedon does about as good a job as you can balancing that many main characters, and allowing for brief appearances by many of the supporting players from the different movies (Falcon, Professor Naked Guy, the guy that they accidentally cast Idris Elba as so they have to keep bringing him back even though what the fuck are you gonna actually do with that character, etc.) He wisely puts more emphasis on the characters who don’t have their own movies: Hawkeye, Black Widow, and a little of SHIELD Agent Maria Hill (not as much Nick Fury, who I forgot had faked his death, and I still forget if everybody already knew that or not).

But with this type of saga they also want to add new characters in. For example in the first AVENGERS they added Maria Hill, and we had only seen Hawkeye in a brief cameo before, and Agent Coulson and even Black Widow were expanded from smaller roles, and we’d never seen Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner or Hulk. This time the new characters are, uh, not that impressive. They’re the Russian-ish “enhanced” twin war orphans Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, who were first seen in the embarrassingly shitty credits tag of I believe it was CAPTAIN AMERICA 2. They’re okay, but they’re not as interesting or cool as previous Avengers (or X-Men, which they seem more like) and they break the previous Marvel rule of “You know what, we have Scarlett Johansson, let’s not make her do a Russian accent.” Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen, OLDBOY remake),who I guess is called Scarlet Witch in the comics (or ScarWit), has the power to make people have nightmare visions, a novelty that wears out real fast, so good luck not killing her off in the next movie, fellas.

Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, SAVAGES) is apparently the character Quicksilver in the comics. Due to some weird bureaucratic mix-up or typo there is a different version of the same character played by Evan Peters in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. There he was a scruffy nerd with a Walkman, rock t-shirts and silly goggles. Internetters were up in arms when they saw photos, but his big bullet time scene turned out to be the highlight of that movie, and I can’t imagine anybody prefers this Under-Armour-wearing, frosted-tips version here, even though it’s supposedly closer to the comics version of a guy with pointy white hair in a lightning bolt leotard.

As a continuation of the saga this is a little weird. SHIELD got destroyed at the end of CAPTAIN AMERICA 2, now in this one it’s already “hey guys, we have SHIELD again! But you can trust us now though! We repaired the flying aircraft thing too!” But Whedon, at least this time, seems more interested in characters and giving them arcs and what not. Most of my favorite parts were little moments, like the super heroes all hanging out at the party and taking turns trying to lift Thor’s hammer. I was more invested in whether Bruce Banner would wise up and seal the fuckin deal with Black Widow than with whatever Thor was doing in the, uh… he goes into a magic well? And it has something to do with that crystal from Loki’s staff, or some other crystal, and it helps to… do something with creating the, uh, where they were combining a robot with humans or whatever, and put JARVIS into it?

Seriously, I have no god damn clue what was up with that entire subplot, that is gonna need to be explained to me I guess. But it seemed like you could just ignore it and the plot made more sense that way. Actually Thor is the one main character that didn’t get enough to do, although his hammer gets some of the best scenes and I approve of his decision to start wearing earthling clothes sometimes.

Hats off also to a weird scene, a fight between two computer programs visualized as holographic abstractions. Hard to describe, and it was hard to figure out how to do it, I’m sure, but it’s an unusual cinematic moment.

The action scenes are also a unique case. I definitely couldn’t follow everything that was going on, but it seemed to have more to do with the complexity than the presentation. It’s just that there’s so much to keep track of in some parts it’s kinda overhwelming. There were at least a couple great shots that seemed designed more to be studied on blu-ray than understood on the big screen. It’s different from the infamous TRANSFORMERS version of too much visual information, because it is decipherable in chunks. You can’t take it all in, you just gotta decide to focus on Thor or The Vision or whoever and then you’ll be able to see what’s going on on their section of the screen.

Those people who were weirdly offended by their belief that millions of people secretly died off screen in MAN OF STEEL will be happy to see that the Avengers make the protection and rescue of civilians a major concern and activity during the battle scenes. Like the upcoming BATMAN AND SUPERMAN: DAWN OF A SUPERFRIENDSHIP they make the past activities of the super heroes a controversy, with the Avengers and Tony Stark’s ROBOCOP remake style drones treated as unwelcome American occupiers in some places. I wonder whether it’s a direct response to the MAN OF STEEL nerdtreversy or whether it was a coincidence? But talking about collateral damage so much comes off as novel in this, which sort of proves that it was never a thing with previous super hero movies, including the first AVENGERS. I will leave it to some enterprising nitpicker to examine why they put so much more effort into rescuing the Europeans in the climactic battle than the Africans in the middle one, but otherwise I like it. It’s a good source of drama.

Hey man, I noticed Danny Elfman did the score for this one, his first of the official Marvel Studios movies (though he did Ang Lee’s HULK and Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN). Or at least he did part of it, it also credits Brian Tyler as a composer, both working with different orchestras, and based on the themes Alan Silvestri wrote for the first movie. So it’s kind of a hodge podge. Maybe that explains why he didn’t Danny Elfman that shit up. Throw some dittity-dittity-dittity Danny Elfman type sounds in there so you know it’s Danny Elfman. Oh well. It works. The Avengers have the catchiest theme of the Marvel movies. They still gotta work on that.

If this comes across like a negative review that’s not what it’s supposed to be. I wouldn’t rank this in the top of the Marvel movies (current top three: THE AVENGERS, WINTER SOLDIER, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY I think), but it’s in the middle somewhere, which makes it better than most movies. AGE OF ULTRON is a movie with many flaws, but they’re interesting and unique ones. It does seem to me like if they keep going bigger and adding more characters and powers into the mix as they seem to be doing for the next AVENGERS (which will be a two-parter) that they’re gonna lose most of the civilians, because how the fuck are we supposed to know what all this is, man? Speak English. I think instead of going bigger bigger bigger it’s now crucial to do some with these characters where they strip it back down to the basics and be more intimate.

And at the same time the ending of this one, while it works well for the story, doesn’t do the greatest job of that comic book movie thing of making the audience say “oh shit, I can’t wait for the next one!” Because SPOILER at the end they have a new line-up for the team where several of the main characters have left and are replaced by the leftovers from the other movies like War Machine and Falcon. The B-vengers. And the movie treats it like “You guys isn’t this awesome!?” instead of “Oh shit, how is this ragtag group of underdogs gonna fill those mighty shoes?”

But it truly doesn’t matter how it seems to me, because Marvel have proven again and again that they know what they’re doing, and can pull off things that seem crazy to me (including but not limited to the space movie where one of the main characters is a talking raccoon). So I look forward to seeing if they can keep that up. I’m guessing they can.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 4th, 2015 at 7:38 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

130 Responses to “Disney’s Marvel’s Joss Whedon’s The Avengers in: The Age of Ultron: A Marvel Cinematic Universe Adventure 2D”

  1. I get your complaints, Vern, and I think maybe the first one is more cohesive, but I think this one manages to largely pull off the more ambitious scope of things it was doing and it has some great standouts and improvements, like making Hawkeye more important and a great villain, and also being able to carry the pace pretty well. Plus as a nerd I’m always going to freak out over a climax that sees a supervillain raise an entire city into the upper atmosphere with the intention of using it as a meteor.

    “For example Tony Stark and Bruce Banner’s creation of an artificially intelligent being that goes rogue and tries to conquer the world is not something that happens over time, it’s something that happens in one night while they’re at a party. They basically just run the “turn Loki’s crystal into A.I.” program and go have cocktails while it installs.”
    That actually makes sense though to me, as a computer thinks at a much faster rate than a human would and would make it’s decisions. Didn’t TERMINATOR say that Skynet almost immediately launched nukes as soon as it was turned on? Same thing.

    “And there are two characters who go from being so bent on killing Tony Stark that they join up with the first insane robot that tells them he’s gonna destroy the Avengers, to actually just becoming impromptu Avengers when they realize their boss is evil, and I didn’t quite figure out that transition there.”
    Yeah that was a weakness, and as fun as a find Quicksilver in this, his character doesn’t have a whole lot of agency. He just does whatever his sister is doing, and you never got to see his reaction and reasoning about that whole thing. Could have been more interesting if they’d maybe had a split opinion on it, at least at first.

    “As a continuation of the saga this is a little weird. SHIELD got destroyed at the end of CAPTAIN AMERICA 2, now in this one it’s already “hey guys, we have SHIELD again! But you can trust us now though! We repaired the flying aircraft thing too!””
    Well it’s not SHIELD per se, just Fury and whoever works with him now in the shadows, and they “borrowed” the Helicarrier to go help. SHIELD is back on the TV Show, but currently it’s an underground thing and a fractured organisation where Coulson’s group is at odds with another version of SHIELD headed by Edward James Olmos, which is something the movie completely ignores, though the TV show just revealed that it was Coulson who got Maria Hill the info that the Avengers use for the raid at the start of the movie.

    “Seriously, I have no god damn clue what was up with that entire subplot, that is gonna need to be explained to me I guess. But it seemed like you could just ignore it and the plot made more sense that way. Actually Thor is the one main character that didn’t get enough to do, although his hammer gets some of the best scenes and I approve of his decision to start wearing earthling clothes sometimes.”
    Yeah that was confusing, as I think they say later that the visions they all get come from the mind stone (somehow), and that supposedly jolts a thing in Thor’s head like “Hey, a lot of Infinity Stones are showing up lately. Isn’t that weird? Maybe you should look into it.” to set up his next solo film and stuff for the next Avengers. But I thought Vision was really cool and well used for someone who gets introduced right at the start of the third act, and I’m going to be really bummed when he basically gets his brain ripped out by Space Josh Brolin.

  2. It’s funny you mention how Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver seem like X-men because in the comics they are Magneto’s children. I guess because they have been part of both the Xmen comics and the Avengers comics, bot Fox and Marvel own the screen rights to the characters. I didn’t really like Xmen Days Of Future Past or the goofy portrayal of Quicksilver, so I guess I’ll be that one guy who likes the Avengers Quicksilver better(goofy accent and all). I also like the fact that the Avengers are taking special precautions to save civilians( even though they are the reason they have to be saved at all) because it makes them look more like heroes.

    I think I liked this one slightly better then the first one just because it felt less disjointed. It was strange seeing Loki riding in the back of a pickup truck at the beginning of the first one and that whole opening sequence had me worried the movie was going to be garbage. It wasn’t, but it took a little bit before the movie really got going. In this one they didn’t have to worry about introducing anyone or trying to make up a reason for them to come together. We get straight to the story and that suites me better. The shaky parts in this one are the pieces that are clearly designed to set up other movies. Thor’s side story was just as muddled as you described it. Unless you already know that they are setting up the next Thor movie, like I did, you will be lost. They did however set up Black Panther nicely( but again if you have no idea you’ll have no clue they set it up). Truthfully, I came to the conclusion that most of these movies are kind of mediocre so I’m happy when an Avengers, Avengers Age Of Ultron, Winter Soldier, and Guardians comes along to rise above the mediocrity a little.

  3. “They did however set up Black Panther nicely( but again if you have no idea you’ll have no clue they set it up). ”
    Yeah, let’s have some love for Andy Serkis and his cameo as the weirdo arms dealer with the cuttlefish obsession. Also it’s pretty funny that his character gets smacked around by a performance captured digital creation.

  4. I agree that this is the most comic-book looking film seen so far. The way the fight scenes are handled and the epic poses they strike, etc. Hulk Buster vs. Hulk is a great example. But when The Vision finally shows up, it really changed the tone for me. It was like a 1960’s classic comic book character come to life. The look, the feel, the way he just hung there in the air all alien-like and mysterious after he is birthed. Even the laser beam from his head power when fighting.

    I’ve only seen it once so correct me if I’m wrong, but at the end of IRON MAN 3, Tony Stark more or less give up being Iron Man right? Destroys all of his suits, has surgery to remove the shrapnel in his chest so he doesn’t need the arc reactor anymore. I mean I know the Stark Building was still around even though his Malibu place is demolished, but what happened between then and the beginning of this movie that gets him back in the game with even more robots and suits?

  5. I think I’m gonna go with my gut and wait for the Blu ray on this one.

  6. Richard, yep he definitely “gave up” being Iron Man but it was just business as usual in Age of Ultron without even a single mention of his “retirement”. That’s a big plot hole but I guess they knew most of the audience wouldn’t even bat an eye at it.

  7. I agree with Vern’s assessment. It was a fun movie with a number of great little moments throughout, but it was also overstuffed. And I totally forgot that Tony Stark gave up on being Iron Man in the third film. Nice catch, Richard.

  8. I agree with Vern that this was good, but not as good as the first one, or those others he listed (WINTER SOLDIER & GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY). I completely agree that the best parts were the character driven parts over the action: Hulk & Black Widow, Hawkeye and his secret life, and the villain.

    I thought the humor was better in this one than the first, and probably the best of all the Marvel movies outside of GUARDIANS. But that leads me to my biggest head scratcher of the movie. It seemed like maybe the humor was to showcase how tightly knit they were as a group, but that seemed to fall apart rather easily, but sloppily.

    *SPOILER* There was a lot about the group splintering – Cap not trusting Stark after his creation of the monster, Banner and Natasha wanting to run away together, Hawkeye’s wife explicitly stating that she was worried they didn’t have each other’s backs like they should. All of which culminated in Cap ordering Hawkeye to get the chamber to safety, rather than worry about what happened to Natasha and then fighting (literally) each other over the creation of another AI creature. Then…nothing. No big moment of trust and togetherness. Just carrying on like usual. Did I miss something? I guess that resolution could’ve been when Quicksilver saved Hawkeye at his own expense and when Stark repeated Cap in saying they were going to defeat Ultron by fighting together. Those things weren’t a big enough payoff for what felt like a big schism in the group, in my opinion.

  9. Crushinator Jones

    May 4th, 2015 at 10:04 am

    So has anyone pointed out how incredibly nihilistic the final conversation between the two robots is? You know the one I’m talking about. I was really bothered by it but nobody else cared. I guess tone is everything.

    Also guys, Tony Stark didn’t give up on being Iron Man. He ends the film with “I am Iron Man.” You’re supposed to read it like “I” “am Iron Man.” as in, a bunch of suits are not Iron Man and Stark doesn’t need to make a bunch of suits. Read it as “I, Tony Stark, am Iron Man, with or without my armor”.

    Of course this is immediately ignored in Age of Ultron and he retrogrades back to old Tony Stark. But to be fair it’s because a witch with vaguely defined Nightmare Powers put a terrible scenario in his head. And that’s the problem with the Marvel Model. Character growth is pretty much worthless. Thor goes from loving Jane, to helping fight his brother and not giving a real shit about her, to loving her and coming back for just her, to having her ignore him while he fights an apocalyptic thread (seriously? He goes and sees Skarsgaard and not his beau?) But it gets glossed over because, well, fun tone and all that.

  10. Crushinator Jones

    May 4th, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Also hey I did something I shouldn’t have – I told y’all what you were “supposed” to read a film scene as. Nope. Shouldn’t have done that. Read it anyway you like but that’s how I read it.

  11. “But it truly doesn’t matter how it seems to me, because Marvel have proven again and again that they know what they’re doing, and can pull off things that seem crazy to me.”

    Ain’t this the truth. I’m not a big fan of these Marvel movies but I will check them all out, and they have seriously earned the benefit of the doubt with some of these stories. As a result, I will be there opening weekend (like everyone else) for the adventures of Insect Dude, Magic Fingers, and of course for the big showdown against giant purple space brolin.

  12. It was OK, but the whole thing felt weightless and unimportant. The first Avengers film was a spectacle that they built to and it was treated like a special event, but this time the film feels like a place filler to set up the third phase of the Marvel cinematic universe. The film feels crowded and busy but the stakes never feel very high. We know these a characters are part of a much larger ongoing story and cinematic universe, so we know that they are never truly in jeopardy.

    Also, I don’t like the way Whedon handles action. He is a talented guy and he has a strong understanding of the Marvel characters he has helped bring to the screen, but he directs the most boring action sequences. As Vern mentioned it is not even that the action is unclear, poorly staged, or aggressively over edited but it is missing energy and impact. If anything it works better as a collection of stunning static images that would make great splash pages in a comic book, but in motion it feels as weightless as anything else in the film.

  13. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    May 4th, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    The Buffy The Vampire Slayer quipping and once again, a body count of unimaginable and merciless proportions, weightless, floating CGI final act fisticuffs that was predictably reduced to a Harry Potter wand fight and an unfathomable selection of sub plots left me really happy I got to see this last Friday without having to pay a penny to see it.

  14. I almost wish Marvel would just give up and admit that their strength is in creating (and casting) likable, endearing and colorful characters, not creating huge action setpieces. The first AVENGERS is a joy to experience while all our favorite characters are bouncing off each other, but the action parts tend to be weightless, frantic, and dry compared to the character moments (particularly since they always end up just fighting a generic army of loosely-defined monsters).

    I think Marvel might be wise to scale down the spectacle a little and focus on making the conflicts more personal. I think they’d have a lot more impact, and, hey, the wouldn’t have to cost all the money one Earth anymore, so they could afford to be a little more esoteric and interesting. IMHO, the whole concept of Comic books as analagous to action movies is fundamentally flawed; there’s some action, but the real heart of these books is an outrageous, meandering soap opera.

  15. I agree with Crushinator Jones take on the end scene of Iron Man. Because not only does he say that, but at that moment he actually stops his car and looks back in rear view mirror if I remember correctly, back at his house, implying maybe he’s thought of something else.
    You also have to take into consideration that A LOT happened between then and the beginning of AGE OF ULTRON. SHIELD got shut down, and he was probably relying on them to handle the business of saving the world from the aliens and shit, but now there was a need for someone (the Avengers) to handle the remnants of Hydra, plus he has a personal stake in it too because Hydra killed his parents, as we learned in WINTER SOLDIER, though there’s no mention of that here. Finally, from what he says, it seems like he was JUST there for the Hydra stuff and with his “finish the fight” comments his long term goal was to not be needed.

    SPOILERS:

    MaggieMayPie- Well the Vision argument is proved a little moot when he picks up the hammer. What’s to fight over? Then they have pragmatic matter of having to stop Ultron, and they work together to do that, and when they all gather to fend off Ultron’s forces from the church, he asks how they plan to stop him, and Tony does the “Like the old man says…together.” line. I agree there could have been more, but there’s only so much you could fit in the movie. I also found it funny that Banner is just as responsible for creating Ultron, but nobody gives him any shit for it, and Ultron doesn’t seem to even consider him as one of his creators.

  16. Yeah I agree Mr S, it was the small moments I liked and remembered the most in this, especially the humour, like when the guys took the piss out of Captain for being so straight.

    I was also pleasantly surprised that the story steered away from some potentially cliched scenarios – the middle section when the Avengers took time out at Hawkeye’s farm with his family, I was thinking great, we’re getting to know his family so the stakes can be raised when the dronebots attack the farm, but no, it didn’t happen. It was just some down-time with the fam.

  17. *SPOILERS* Stu – I almost said that same thing about Banner, but then I just figured that Stark’s personality overwhelms everyone so it made sense they’d focus on him, and while Banner helped, Stark did spearhead it.

    It was more about the specific implication that they weren’t watching out for each other that I felt needed a better resolution, rather than stop fighting amongst themselves and team up to fight better. There was an entire scene and conversation between Hawkeye and his wife about it and then Hawkeye was told specifically to carry on with the mission when he was voicing concern about Black Widow. If it had been one of the core members of the team, rather than Quicksilver, who sacrificed himself to save Hawkeye and the kid, I would count that as a resolution, but it doesn’t count when it’s the new guy.

  18. Joss Whedon (SPEED)

    duuude…

  19. The B-vengers.

    LOL

  20. Hehehehe, BR Baraka, that bit made me laugh out loud. :) Well done, Vern.

    I found the action to be a bit overwhelming at times too… but not in a way that was upsetting… I really thought hard about sneaking into the theater next door where the movie was about to start again, just to help me process it all. I’ll wait for Netflix or whatever, but man it was really good in all the right ways. Specifically, character. There were some real nice moments built in, and I absolutely loved the way they took the “Nobody can lift Thor’s hammer” joke to payoff. It was unexpected, in the best way.

  21. I liked the Twins more than Vern, but I agree with Vern that DOFP did the better Quicksilver. Still I must say the Not-Bryan-Singer-Quicksilver’s last scene was simple but effective characterization. Hell even the twins’ faceturn worked because you know its one thing to lash out against who you perceive to be the people who wronged you. Its another when you find out your new “killing-Avengers” buddy also wants to wipe out humanity. Again its simple and quick (and plot timing convenient as it was), its plausible enough. I liked the idea that yeah they don’t trust the Avengers and after most of the movie, the team don’t trust them either but the situation is so fucked that they put their shit aside and kicked ass together. (You know like the first film.)

    Different situations and characters, but I’m reminded of how QS and Scarlet Witch in the comics originally started out as Magneto’s associates but then they had their own change of heart when there came a point when they realized their boss* was just too fucking evil/nuts even for them and enough of that shit.

    *=And that was way way before they found out he was their sperm donor. Then recently comics ret-conned that out and made them into Inhumans, aka Marvel’s Mutants-but-not-called-Mutants for their media. Weirdly I think AOU set them up as Inhumans because notice they made a point that they were the only survivors of Baron Strucker’s experiments. Now why did they survive? Because Magic Staff fueled by Magic Rock activated long dormant genes and BOOM…

  22. *SPOILER* MaggieMayPie – I disagree. I mean its not as effective as the scene I’ll bring up, but…remember the ending of BLADE RUNNER? Ford been chasing Rutger Hauer, but Hauer is hunting him down (as he’s dying) and ready to kill him. Ford hanging off the rooftop, slips…and Hauer saves him with the last motion left in his body, not before delivering a beautiful monologue. I mean its about going from how this prick is annoying that tried to kill me and my teammates to wow he took the bullet (literally and more than one) for me.

    Notice Hawkeye’s newborn son at the end, his sweater spelling out his name. Someone pointed out the middle name was “Pietro”….so yeah, Hawkeye partially named his son after Quicksilver. I loved that little touch that most folks probably missed.

  23. This is the first Marvel movie I’ve seen since the first AVENGERS, the reason being that starting in 2010 my local theater started to become really shitty and dilapidated, so I became very choosy about what I saw because it meant I had to drive at least an hour to go to a non shitty theater.

    BUT just recently a brand new theater opened in my town and it’s fucking awesome, so I’ll start going to the movies more often and what better way to kick it off than seeing this? And I enjoyed it just fine, but what I really enjoy is all the camaraderie between the characters, most of the action just lacked a certain weight for me and I found myself getting a bit bored at times.

    So overall I would say it’s not as good as the first movie, but I do like how despite being a bit overstuffed Whedon manages to make the movie still feel pretty coherent, it’s not just a “series of things that happen” as too many movies these days feel, though I too was a bit confused as to what Thor was up to.

  24. The Original Paul

    May 4th, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Well, I’m waiting for TV for this one. I’ve learnt my lesson from last year. I’m pretty much convinced – especially since it sounds from Vern’s review like ULTRON has done to Quicksilver what DoFP did to every X-Man I’d previously liked who wasn’t Quicksilver – that I’m gonna get a helluva lot more enjoyment out of this thread, spoilers and all, than I would’ve got from actually seeing this movie.

    But hey, that’s no reason to not make the best of the situation, right? I’ll give two hundred virtual dollars to the first person to make a completely innocuous comment that starts an argument over a petty little point, that in turn somehow becomes a sixty-page flame war. Let the fighting commence?

  25. The Original Paul

    May 4th, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Oh, and Griff – I envy you. I’ve practically stopped going to the cinemas now because the experience I’m getting there is so consistently bad. (Hence my recent rampant DVD spending spree). Hope you have a better time of it.

  26. Thanks, I can’t wait to see MAD MAX and JURASSIC WORLD in it.

  27. “I’ll give two hundred virtual dollars to the first person to make a completely innocuous comment that starts an argument over a petty little point, that in turn somehow becomes a sixty-page flame war. Let the fighting commence?”

    Original Paul – Well how about people slamming Whedon for being sexist for how he wrote Black Widow in AOU? Hell apparently he quit Twitter today because of that.

    I thought that Hulk/BW subplot was a creative wash honestly. Like I get Whedon was trying to flesh those characters out so if it didn’t work, at least I get what he was trying to do. I blame Banner’s character because he’s one dimensional. Not really advanced much at all since INCREDIBLE HULK as a character, now has he? Meanwhile (mostly under Whedon) BW has fleshed out as a character from merely “ScarJo in tight leather” (to paraphrase what Vern said about IRON MAN 2) to a much more interesting, dense character.

    What gets me is *SPOILERS* idiots online misinterpreting that whole sterilization confession. Apparently they think the movie makes BW look bad for being neutered, like her burden to bear. Bullshit. If I remember that scene right, its Banner saying that they can’t be together because (1) he’s a monster and (2) he can’t have kids. She calls him out on his bullshit by saying that she is a monster (you know from all the people she murdered in her old evil assassin days before becoming a good guy…err, gal) and that oh yeah, she can’t have kids either.

    Liberals are cannibals who love to eat their own, aren’t they?

  28. Fantastic review Vern – really articulated a lot of my feelings regarding this one. It took me a while to warm up to it but I actually really enjoyed the big end action set piece and especially the quiet, contemplative coda in the woods. Now, I’m gonna need one of you guys to help me out with this next part which is MAD SPOILERISH!!!

    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS

    I hope that that is enough of a warning? I’m on my phone so its really hard to gauge how the formatting is gonna turn out. Anyway, so considering Quicksilver’s well established ability to slow time to a crawl and manipulate moving objects to his benefit, how the fuck did he get himself shot to death? Unless they were suggesting that he moved that car in front of Hawkeye in real time? And if not surely he could have moved a car and dodged a few bullets at the same time judging by the crazy shit he was capable of doing elsewhere in the film. Anyway that’s totally nitpicky but it took me out of the movie so I just thought I would mention it. Also neither myself nor anyone I’ve spoken to since seeing the film had any idea why Thor was bathing in that cave, or why Skarsgard even needed to be there at all, or what the fuck was going on with anything within or directly related to that scene in any respect whatsoever. So Vern, your confusion over that scene seems to be shared with many many others. But like you said, the movie was totally able to be followed without understanding it. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing though.

    END SPOILERS
    END SPOILERS
    END SPOILERS
    END SPOILERS
    END SPOILERS
    END SPOILERS

  29. “Well how about people slamming Whedon for being sexist for how he wrote Black Widow in AOU? Hell apparently he quit Twitter today because of that.”

    AHAHAHAHAHAHA serves him right, tell me, why do people go for the whole online SJW thing? no matter what you do you will screw up eventually and the virtual torches and pitchforks will be out and you’ll get no sympathy no matter how much you’ve trumpeted SJW ways of thinking in the past

    “Liberals are cannibals who love to eat their own, aren’t they?

    These days they sure are and it’s fucking shameful.

  30. I guess it says something about the position movies like this have these days when you have several actors with more than one superhero/cartoon character on their CV. I can’t remember in Vern said it first, but superhero movies are the westerns of our time. I wonder when some Italian director’s gonna come along and revolutionize the whole genre?

  31. While I agree that some of the humour was nice, the “banter”/these guys hang out just like us! stuff went on far too long, not least given how underdeveloped Ultron was (why did he decide he had to decimate the world seconds after he was born exactly?) and how much plot they had to fit in. Also there was one joke that I found so baffling terrible I keep thinking about it over a week later. When Tony says “those guys have no respect for crop preservation” after a crop circle is made by a [SPOILER BLOCK/I DON’T 100% REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS] that’s like saying “Look, they made a circle” and expecting us to laugh.

    And I though Johansson was pretty flat in this movie, after having though she was incredible in UNDER THE SKIN. Is dialogue just not her thing?

  32. The Original Paul

    May 5th, 2015 at 7:04 am

    Fuck me, Johansson’s not good either? After being the best thing by far (well, maybe apart from pre-wingsuit Falcon) in WINTER SOLDIER? So much so that I think the film should’ve been called BLACK WIDOW: THE WINTER SOLDIER instead of what it was? Man, Marvel really seems to be going out of its way to take characters I’d liked from their earlier movies and make ’em less good / interesting in recent ones.

    And regarding this:

    “Liberals are cannibals who love to eat their own, aren’t they?”

    Man, you guys overseas have no idea how true this is. (Although you probably will once the UK election results come out in three days’ time.)

  33. Griff — I don’t know, perhaps because social justice, as history has shown repeatedly, is actually really important. Excuse me for the rant, but the ironic use of “Social Justice Warrior” really bothers me. It’s a sarcastic phrase that reflectively dismisses a person and his or her argument without having the burden of actually intellectually engaging with that person’s stance on a subject. It’s the equivalent of saying, “I don’t like that” but without actually explaining why. It’s probably not surprising that anti-women, anti-minority discourse now has a quick and easy acronym, but it sure is depressing. (And I’m not saying you’re anti-women, anti-minority. I just think you should think about the term SJW before using it, and I understand some of this discourse sometimes naturally seeps into the way we speak. That’s how discourse works.) That being said, the left does have a long history of shooting itself in the foot, for whatever reason. I hadn’t heard about Whedon being attacked and quitting Twitter, but that sure is upsetting.

    Anyway, back to the film. As much as I liked the Vision character, I felt like the film should have saved him for the next movie. They had already created a new artificial life form at the beginning of the film, and as Vern points out, he is just sort of created in a matter of hours. And honestly, I thought Ultron was interesting enough for the film to take some more time to explore his point of view. The idea that he can’t tell the difference between saving and destroying humanity was interesting, but it could have been fleshed out.

  34. KaeptnKrautsalat

    May 5th, 2015 at 7:53 am

    @pegsman
    The Italians have already revolutionized the superhero genre:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moJjmoIos9w

  35. My bad, KaeptnKrautsalat. I have to do better research before I post…

  36. Griff, please don’t use that “SJW” term. “Social justice” and just regular “justice” are things that you are in favor of, as a non-asshole. Just because there are unpleasable weiners out there doesn’t mean you should be against their goals of equality and fairness. Also, although I have no idea what they’re talking about in this case, gender politics in movies are worth discussing sometimes. You have been hanging around a bad crowd and I’m worried about you.

  37. Oh, I see RBatty beat me to it. But I agree with him.

  38. The Original Paul

    May 5th, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    RBatty and Vern – I 100% agree with you on the general principle of the thing, and I hate the “SJW” term as well. But in this case I thought Griff’s post was meant to be criticising the people attacking Whedon, not attacking Whedon himself. I know irony doesn’t always come through over the Internet, but that was my impression at least?

  39. The Original Paul

    May 5th, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Or to rephrase that – boy, I put that badly myself! – I thought he was trying to ridicule the language used by the “anti SJWs” as he’d put it.

  40. “I thought Griff’s post was meant to be criticising the people attacking Whedon, not attacking Whedon himself.”

    This was my intent, I use the term social justice warrior simply so you all know exactly what I’m referring to and in my mind what I’m referring to to be exact is the kind of asshole that would harass Joss fucking Whedon, of all people.

    I don’t like to think of myself as someone against Social justice or anything, but I’m really bothered by the behavior of this group of people on the internet who will harass you if you say the slightest thing that offends them even if they’re just misunderstanding what you said (remember cancel Colbert?) it’s some thought crime bullshit and it needs to stop.

    Another element of this is that I, as a young, straight white American male, am the exactly the kind of person these people flat out hate, they don’t want to see a guy like me succeed in life, they would much rather see me fail in favor of anyone that is not like me succeed in my place, so how can I wholeheartedly support something that is so intrinsically against me? This isn’t what tolerance and inclusiveness should be about, it shouldn’t be “against” anyone.

    I mean you see this all the time, “where are the women/minorities in the tech industry/entertainment industry?”, if I were to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or whatever their reaction would be “psh, figures, another WHITE guy succeeds”, I can’t help but want to respond to this attitude with a “ok, well fuck you too” attitude.

    Honestly I find myself pretty disenfranchised by both the political left and the political right in America, it seems like something has just snapped in the American psyche and now politics has gotten especially ugly, it’s very unsettling to me.

  41. Amen, Griff. You just crystallized the downside of politically correct thinking in the U.S.

  42. Crushinator Jones

    May 5th, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    There’s no downside to political correctness or social justice (they are not the same thing). There are tribal assholes everywhere and it sounds like Griff ran into a few. Of course, he regularly espouses pretty awful opinions (he tries to be polite though, I’ll give him that) so I’m sure he’s been trolled a few times too.

    The average person who cares about social justice is not looking to tear down white people. Jesus. What the fuck is wrong with you guys? Do you know how goddamn insane you sound?

  43. “The average person who cares about social justice is not looking to tear down white people.”

    The average person maybe, but there are some people who take it too far and seem to want to do just that.

  44. I liked the movie a lot. It has it’s flaws but there are some great moments, especially the ones involving the Vision. I like the twins more than Vern. Maybe it’s because I like the Scarlet Witch character in the comics that I’m pleased to see her and I thought Elizabeth Olsen did a great job, even with the fake Russian accent. I am perplexed by the fans who say Whedon ruined her character in this movie. They have a right to feel what they want I suppose, but I thought Widow was a strong, kickass, brave female character in Age of Ultron. Yes, she gets captured but I heard it was because Scarlett Johannson was pregnant during the shoot and couldn’t film certain scenes, so they had to figure a way to get her character out of the way during the movie. It couldn’t be helped.

  45. Here’s a collection of SOME of the comments that got Whedon to quit twitter, btw:
    https://storify.com/Astojap/wehdon-twitter-hate
    The hopefully obvious idea that keeps getting lost here is that there’s a right way and a wrong way to fight for social justice, and the people who are doing it wrong should be called out on it, but we seem to be in this state where if you try to do that, then you can get painted as being against the MESSAGE, not just the method. You’ll get labelled a Neckbeard or a Fedora-wearer(despite the hat people are referring to not being a Fedora), which seems kind of hypocritical coming from the people who would be against utilising physical characteristics as the basis of hate or insults. And then there’s the hyper-reactive complaints against works itself that seem to see things that aren’t there or demand a certain standard that can be rather unrealistic or just plain insane. Another example in recent times was in the BATGIRL comic, which had seen a new creative team that brought a more youthful, modern spin to things, by creators who are pro-diversity and such, but upon doing an issue where a criminal imposter of Batgirl’s is unmasked to be a man and she acts surprised, this comic gets blasted as being transphobic, despite the fact transgenderism is clearly not a factor in why this guy dressed up as Batgirl, what with him being a pretentious performance artist who was trying to make a statement by hijacking a famous personality AND also doing it because he was being paid by some mysterious villain. Oh and an ACTUAL transgender woman that Batgirl’s been friends with for a number of years even appears in the story, being totally normal and not offending Batgirl’s sensibilities. But the complainers don’t seem to get this, and I suspect largely because most of them didn’t actually read the comic, just heard about the story second hand and let someone with an agenda convince them it was more sinister than it was. It’s hard not to see this as a counter-productive thing, making the creative team hesitant in tackling anything close to this sort of issue again going forward.

  46. Lawrence – I find it intriguing that potentially SW is the most powerful Avenger in the MCU if you think about it.

    Also its funny that SPOILER people wondered how Nick Fury conveniently got that Helicarrier at the end. Well Agents of SHIELD tonight showed us: Fury and Coulson had one secretly stowed away shortly after SHIELD collapsed. Not that we actually needed to know the exact details, but that’s a nice touch.

  47. I was possessed of the notion that the silver-screen superhero-renaissance would eventually hit a road bump. Marvel Studios was going to eventually release a movie reminiscent of 1997’s Batman & Robin and the audience would finally tire of these movies.

    After watching the immensely entertaining Avengers: Age of Ultron, I was taken with the sobering realization that the seeds of this genre’s eventual destruction have already sprouted and are on their way to completely choking out my (and I imagine many others’) enjoyment of these still enjoyable movies.

    It is entertaining watching Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon navigate a shadowy world with the titular Falcon as the central McGuffin. In comparison, having the narrative drive awkwardly grind to a halt in these Marvel movies in order to satisfy the corporation’s insistence that each installment fit in with the eventual company-wide crossover event – Avengers: Some Purple Alien Has Been Collecting Magic Rocks, elicits in me a neon-lit sense of ennui.

    The real hero of this movie is Joss Whedon. He is a John McClain everyman navigating the towering skyscraper of Marvel Studios. For every stupid demand from Hans Gruber, ‘Work this magic rock in here, have Thor foreshadow this, blah blah blah,’ Joss retaliates by reminding us of the personal stakes – Hawkeye’s family and the blossoming relationship between Natasha and Bruce. His most subversive move was making the beating heart of this movie the character that has no super powers. Well done Joss. We’ll miss you, but this here is Marvel Town now.

  48. Well, it’s official. I never want to discuss superheroes with anyone over the age of seven ever again.

  49. @Mr. Majestyk – Hah! I’m probably part of the problem dude. The appeal of Vern’s establishment for me is that people who frequent it act like they are over the age of seven.

  50. I actually think some of the articles I’ve read arguing that Wheadon has been fairly misogynistic in his art have made some interesting points. And I say this as an enormous BUFFY fan. The downside of the whole Twitter fracas is not that it caused some guy to leave Twitter or feel bad about himself (that’s a very weak downside), but that it personalizes problems that are determined by large systems and impersonal social, historical, political and especially economic forces.

  51. Great piece, Vern. Good movie, Joss. Interesting discussion, talkbackers. I didn’t know what was happening most of the time, either, but I enjoyed the punching and flying etc. Hard to explain why this particular film transcends the “what were you expecting, Shakespeare?” criticism of similar empty blockbusters, but it does. Bottom line is, I never felt outright insulted by the various screenplay shortcuts or narrative-emotional leaps.

    Martha Marcy May Marlene is simultaneously too good for this shit and a perfect fit among the embarrassedly overqualified cast.

    Twas a tad jarring to hear Robert California doing his Halloween monologue for a feature length gig.

    It saddens me to see Griff descend [again] to the point where he arrives at enthusiastic agreement with the poisonous philosophy/outlook of Larry, our resident racist / white supremacist / right-winger / imbecile / dipshit (but / I / repeat / myself). Hopefully open-mindedness will ultimately prevail and we will see that white males are not mass-slaughtered in the streets even as the Good White Males realize they somehow are not all the Next Mark Zuckerberg.

  52. “Just because there are unpleasable weiners out there doesn’t mean you should be against their goals of equality and fairness.”

    I completely agree, Vern. Unfortunately the “unpleasable weiners” seem to have become a more and more dominant part of the left, to the point where I find myself increasingly reluctant to side with them. I’m no longer certain whether they’re morally any better than the bigots they fight against.

    It’s often said that dissent is patriotic. Usually this is said to defend criticism of the right, but I think it applies equally well to criticism of the left. Obviously the right deserves criticism just as much or more, but criticism of the right is pretty common in our culture, whereas criticism of the left has become a huge taboo. The idea that one entire side of the political spectrum must never be criticized no matter what their tactics or rhetoric, and that you will be publicly shamed if you even attempt to do so, is not a liberal or civilized or democratic attitude at all. And people who take a stand against that attitude should not be the ones who end up having to prove their liberal credentials.

    Deep down I still believe in liberal standards of acceptance and tolerance and civility. But we’ve got to be less afraid to hold liberals to those very standards, instead of letting them espouse hate and divisiveness as a first resort when those things aren’t even supposed to be in their arsenal at all.

    The modern left may be “less bad” compared to police brutality, GamerGate, etc. but I’m tired of that excuse always being the sole response to any criticism of them. And besides, being “less bad” is not the same thing as being good. It’s like saying it’s OK to hit someone with a motorcycle because it’s not as bad as someone else being hit by a car or a train. As Majestyk said a while back, “A hornet is not as dangerous as a great white shark, but fuck a hornet in my opinion.”

    I actually haven’t seen AVENGERS 2: THE QUICKENING yet, but I’m planning to soon. And Tim, your Joss Whedon/John McClane comparison sounds pretty cool.

  53. Nah, it’s not you, Tim. It’s everybody. These movies come out, I think they’re cool, fun, well-crafted escapism, some of the best pow-bang-zoom we got going nowadays. Then it turns out, no, I was wrong, in fact they are terrible and here are all of the things they didn’t do right and all the things they should have done and here’s what they should do next time and we are all just so ANGRY about it. I try not to even talk about these movies in the first few weeks of their release, when tempers are running high and knee-jerk reactions are being codified into memes.

    I used to do that myself when the Nolan films were a going concern. Those movies are obviously good. I was just feeling entitled to my own personal platonic ideal of Batmanitude that can never exist. I look back at that period of my life with embarrassment. But I changed. I got over it. I’m not perfect, but I’m a little bit better than I used to be.

    But not everyone is willing to put in the time it takes to change of essence of a man so we got these motherfuckers calling one of my favorite obviously not sexist or racist creators a sexist racist and threatening his life over a scene they in no way understand he actual intent of, and that’s it. I’m fucking done. I’ll talk about police brutality, abortion, gay rights, foreign policy, anything, but this superhero shit is just too loaded a topic for civilized people to engage with these barbarians about.

    Let me ask these comic book experts a question. These heroes you claim to know and respect so well: Would they approve of your behavior?

  54. If you take all opinions at face value and seriously, you will have a short, rage-filled life. It can be hard sometimes, but you just have to selectively ignore some arguments, namely the ones that come across as overheated. Just sidestep them. Simply to preserve your own sanity.

    There’s too much pointless drama in the world. Sometimes you have to make a conscious effort to not let it infect your life. “Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, but most of them stink.”

    The downside of the whole Twitter fracas is not that it caused some guy to leave Twitter or feel bad about himself (that’s a very weak downside), but that it personalizes problems that are determined by large systems and impersonal social, historical, political and especially economic forces.

    Well said Phillip. The drama surrounding this topic is just too personal, way way unnecessarily so.

    Character assassination doesn’t seem like a search for justice.

  55. Mr. M – I can relate to your pain, the over-reaction in the hyperbole to not just the film but as well to anybody else who dares criticize or praise the film is insufferable.

    What gets me is that apparently on everyone of these films, if early reviews aren’t totally sunshine and puppies (as written by critics/bloggers who ACTUALLY saw the movie) then the fans (who haven’t seen it) say they’re wrong and biased, “hate” superhero movies, etc.

  56. I don’t take their opinions seriously. But there are so many of them that I’d rather hear no opinions on this topic whatsoever than sort through the hip-deep shitstack of bitter, entitled, reactionary temper tantrums that pass for critical discourse nowadays to find anyone with anything thoughtful to say. You guys are doing a good job of it as always but the crybabies have pissed in this particular pool too much for me to want to wade into it anymore. It’s better to disengage and just enjoy the movies in a vacuum than be part of this toxic relationship the public has with their own heroes.

  57. Crushinator Jones

    May 6th, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Joss Whedon didn’t leave twitter because of “SJW”s or whatever. Buzzfeed just did an interview with him. He left because Twitter is dumb and bad for him when he’s trying to write.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/joss-whedon-on-leaving-twitter

  58. Thanks for the clarification, Crushinator Jones. The militant feminists force Whedon off of Twitter was probably too easy of a narrative for people to not perpetuate. I’m sure there are some on the left who aggressively attack people who don’t meet their particular litmus test. I’m also sure that the internet sometimes encourages this and increases the range of some of these voices. But I find it hard to believe that this comprises anything but a tiny minority of internet trolls. These days I’m camped out in Boston, a hotbed of liberal feminists. And I’ve never in my many years out here have ever encountered the caricature feminist that people like Rush Limbaugh have created. Out in the real world, the cartoonish “feminazi” just doesn’t exist, in my experience. I also have a sneaking suspicion that people like Limbaugh have managed to color how people interpret what feminists say. So when a feminist might ask a white male to think about and consider his privilege, some people only hear the feminist supposedly attacking someone for being a white male.

  59. I don’t want to dig into it, so could someone who has give a brief summary of what it is people think is sexist about the movie? Is it that Black Widow doesn’t have an enlightened view of her victimization as a youth? I would say that was a ridiculous criticism (she’s a character, not a guidebook for how to live your life, so she’s allowed to have flaws) but it’s the only guess I have for what could’ve upset people.

  60. Apparently, “Joss Whedon thinks sterile women are monsters” is the new “Superman doesn’t care about innocent civilians.” Completely missing the fact that 1. She’s not a monster because she’s sterile; she’s a monster because she gave up something she wanted (the ability to have children) in order to become a better killer, and 2. NOBODY’S SAYING ACTUALLY SHE’S A FUCKING MONSTER YOU IDIOT THAT’S JUST HOW SHE ERRONEOUSLY FEELS ABOUT HERSELF BECAUSE HUMANS ARE COMPLICATED CONTRADICTORY CONTRAPTIONS NOT FUCKING VENDING MACHINES FOR IDEALIZED POINTS OF VIEW YOU CRETINS

    Fuck, I’m doing it again.

    I don’t know where the racist part comes in but people are saying that too. Also apparently there was a rape joke?

  61. Frankly, the whole idea of “SJW” is a bit of a red herring. Some people are always going to be offended by nothing and act like angry idiots (and this goes for all political opinions, all social opinions, and basically all opinions generally), but there are so incredibly few of these people that there’s no valid reason to give them the attention that they’ve been getting lately.

    Why? Well, let’s look at the numbers. There are, at an absolute MAXIMUM, around 200,000,000 active accounts on twitter (many of them in other countries/languages) and probably a lot less than that are unique (a large but unknown percentage are bots, or people with multiple accounts). The fact that of that couple hundred-and-some-million, you can turn out an angry mob of a few hundred should not be surprising in the least. You can probably do that for nearly any issue. Twitter users tend to be younger, wealthier, and more technologically linked, which probably results in a slight over-representation of users who tend to swing left. Combined with the well-documented psychological effects of deindividuation which occur online, it’s little surprise that you get a consistent percentage of people who have the means and motive to gang up and say horrible things when they’re properly mobilized (and mobilizing people to specific, context-free topics is exactly what twitter is set up to do).

    But the thing is, they’re such a tiny tiny percentage of a percentage that I have no idea why people care what they have to say at all. There are more juggalos in the world than there are people who think Joss Whedon is a misogynist. There are more HAM radio enthusiasts. More sex doll fetishists. But we don’t care at all what they have to say, nor do we panic that they have bad opinions. The world if full of crazy people, but who cares? They have no power to change anything because their opinions are dumb and almost no one shares them.

    Really, the problem here is that not very many people in the World use twitter, and only a tiny percentage of those people are angry trolls of one kind or another. Most people don’t use twitter at all. But one group that overwhelmingly does it media types. They spend a lot of their time on twitter looking for stories and trends, and so when anything even remotely noteworthy happens, it immediately hits the blogosphere and spreads quickly anywhere people might be inclined to click on a story that confirms whatever they already believe. Hence, a minute percentage of the population gets their anger exponentially magnified, and everyone starts panicking as if this was a real problem. People start getting scared because a thousand angry tweets all together looks pretty intimidating, but actually it represents only .00001% of the population. We’ll all be a lot happier once we start realizing that, and these manufactured “controversies” will vanish.

    Case in point: Trevor Noah. When he was tapped as the new “Daily Show” host, there were huge articles, in major publications (TIME, Washington Post, etc) about the “controversy” surrounding tweets he posted years ago. Each article had a handful of angry tweets as evidence that this was controversial. Guess what: Comedy Central shrugged it off, and a week later no one gave a single shit anymore. Because virtually no one cared to begin with, the entire thing was entirely manufactured based on a few hundred angry sentences, many probably posted by the same people with multiple accounts. There was never any meaningful controversy, and no one would have paid the slightest attention had the “controversy” not been so gleefully blown out of proportion by the news cycle. As people accustom themselves to the way the internet creates these little teapot tempests, I think most people will do what they already do: ignore most of the trolling.

  62. I had to look up the “rape joke.” I guess it’s when Tony Stark is trying to lift Thor’s hammer and says he’ll institute prima nocta if he’s ruler of Asgard.

    Can’t find anything about why it’s racist though. Maybe they just threw that in.

  63. I don’t know about Black Widow but we should really be pissed that Whedon brought Coulson back from the dead. That’s bullshit! It kinda ruined the movie for me. I know the stakes weren’t that high to begin with, but with that move he brought the stakes down to ZERO.
    SPOILERS Everytime someone “died”, even Jarvis,
    I just laughed, and thought, he’ll be back. Cmon man.
    I also think this movie doesn’t want you to pay too much attention to it. Its really childish in its approach. Its like “they make this cool robot but he’s bad, hulk and iron man fight, hulk and black widow kiss eww, here are some other guys who are bad, but duh, they’ll help the avengers, they all joke around, hugs, Thor does something mystical, where’s black widow, she’s boring, but wait, check out my new guy he can totally beat up the baddie”
    Also, at my screening there were some young people in costumes and three different obese guys with beards, fedoras, and these big walking sticks. Is there an Avengers character I’m missing?

  64. “As far as I’m concerned, in this movie, Coulson’s dead. If you come back in the sequel and say Coulson’s alive, it’s like putting f***ing John Gielgud in the sequel to ‘Arthur.’ It mattered that he’s gone. It’s a different world now. And you have to run with that.”

    -Joss Whedon

  65. Crushinator Jones

    May 6th, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Mr Subtlety is 100% right. Twitter is a horror show and a garbage platform in general. It’s probably best if it were ignored.

  66. Peabody:
    I think its important to put a year next to that quote. I’m guessing it’s 2012.
    Never Forget!

  67. It’s from two weeks ago.

    It’s hard for me to be too sympathetic for a rich guy living his dream, but from recent interviews it sounds like Whedon’s been butting heads with Marvel ever since the first Avengers, yet he’s getting the brunt of the geek criticism as well as being enemy number one of the unnecessary outrage mob. Poor guy.

  68. I wish I read that two weeks ago, and I lament the fact that John Gielgud was not in Arthur 2: On the Rocks. I guess Arthur didn’t need stakes after all.

  69. I think the racism might be in how they seemed more concerned with the innocent people in Europe and not so much about the ones in Africa and Korea. That’s all I can think they might take all out of proportion, not remembering Iron Man kept trying to move the Hulk out of the populated areas and finally found an abandoned building in Africa, and that Quicksilver ran around in front of the rampaging train car, moving people in Korea.

  70. Peabody – In this one instance, I don’t feel bad for Whedon’s whining about Coulson. Nobody put a gun to his head to do the AOS TV series (which brought that character back), nobody made him write/direct that pilot and serve as an executive producer or give his brother and in-law jobs as showrunners. Nevermind that of the 3 Marvel TV live-action shows so far, AOS is the weakest of the bunch. Honestly I don’t think most people care/worry about as much as Whedon or most people who complain about the false deaths in AOU.

    Besides, AOU did give us a legit death. For now anyway.

  71. MMP – I do find it unsettling how AOU makes a big point about the Avengers trying to save civilians or GTFO out of their way. But then when you think about it….it falls apart. Was nobody on the ground when that South African building collapse and got squashed? All that dust and debris, probably like after 9/11 where scores of people got respiration problems (some fatal) after those towers fell. What about all those wrecked cars in Korea?

  72. Oh, I’m sure there were a bunch of collateral deaths in Korea and Africa, but I also think there were some in Slokovia, or whatever that place was.

  73. [Spoilers ahead, if anybody cares.] At my AoU showing, there were a few six or seven year old viewers who wouldn’t shut up through most of the film. When Quicksilver dies, they kept on asking their parental guardian, “But they can bring him back, right?” They really expected the character to get some sort of last minute reprieve. I had the idea of quietly telling them, “There ain’t no comin’ back from death, and everybody dies, even your parents.” But I wimped out.

  74. There was not collateral damage. As in MAN OF STEEL, but moreso, they have indicators that they are watching for lives. They have to use machines to scan for people inside the buildings, which Superman doesn’t need, but they do it. It’s not realistic but it’s what the movie is telling you. They saved the day.

    As for the death of Coulson, I don’t think that’s a big deal. They also had fake deaths for Bucky, Fury and probly someone else I’m forgetting. That’s comics. And I know that I wouldn’t even remember what Coulson’s name was if I didn’t see the TV show so I think for most people (who haven’t watched the show) it’s not even an issue.

  75. RBatty, they must watch Shield.

    I have to say that if Joss Whedon is upset they decided they wanted to bring back Coulson from the dead, he really shouldn’t. He has killed off a lot of characters and brought them back on his own shows. It would be nice to show consequences but he already set precedent in the past.

  76. “I had to look up the “rape joke.” I guess it’s when Tony Stark is trying to lift Thor’s hammer(…)”

    I started laughing at this point. Is this bad? (Sorry that I have nothing serious to contribute.)

  77. Mr. Subtlety – that’s a very interesting observation and I think you’re right.

    I guess we can all agree, fuck Twitter, right? it’s the fucking Myspace of the modern day.

  78. Also, I apologize if I espouse some shitty opinions sometimes, I’m not perfect and I’ll be the first to admit it.

  79. *SPOILERS* Seriously, with all the talk of “Black Widow ruined!”, “Can you believe what they did to Black Widow!?” “Joss Whedon quits twitter over Black Widow backlash” I seriously thought Black Widow was going to die in this movie (I somehow missed that Johansson signed up to be in Captain America 3, even though I knew Renner and Olsen were going to be in it, which was too bad since a) the movie seemed to heavily hint that Hawkeye was going to die and b) it made me wonder why Taylor-Johnson wasn’t in Cap 3. Damn casting news.

    Side note: I think I said this about Avengers 1 – the movie makes you think Tony is going to sacrifice himself at the end. Sure, it’s unlikely he’s going to DIE DIE, but it is a comic book movie or he could have just been Han Solo’d or whatever happened to Johnny Depp at the end of Pirates 2. But we knew Iron Man 3 was on the horizon, so the tension was ruined. Same with Iron Man 3 – the ending of him blowing up all his suits and quitting Iron Man has nothing to do with anything since he’s back in action here with no explanation. Marvel announcing their entire slate through 2019 or whatever and their casts years in advance is kinda taking the fun out of everything.

    Back to Black Widow – I don’t like the term SJW either, but it’s kind of applicable here – Whedon just called sexism on that one Jurassic World scene (which somehow managed to turn about half of the internet against the movie – seriously, sites went from “this looks cool!” to “this looks terrible!” literally overnight) – even though Chris Pratt played it with a knowing hint of buffoonery, and wasn’t doing or saying anything that Tony Stark wouldn’t have. (I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest Pratt’s character probably wouldn’t have made that Prima Nocta joke either) Can you imagine if the scene with the strippers on the plane from Iron Man 1 got released before the movie in today’s world? #SLUTSHAMING #CANCELIRONMAN!!!!! So anyways, yeah there’s something ironic and surprising/unsurprising that a famously sensitive liberal gets out-sensitive liberalled to the point where he quits twitter. As Griff suggests, there’s always a bigger pitchfork.

    As for me, I have no problems with the Black Widow/Hulk thing except a) the scene where he rescues her from jail is so non-sensical I thought it was a dream sequence. Where were the guards? Why did they send the one non-powered guy into the fortress? Actually why did she have a ham radio in her jail cell? b) WHY DID NOBODY EXCEPT HER CARE ABOUT BRUCE AT THE END??? Literally none of the other Avengers even mention him. Isn’t that like your best friend Tony?? This is easily the sloppiest Marvel movie yet – it’s not Orci/Kurtzman bad, but it’s the first one to actually show its stitches and reeks of rewrites/alternate endings. But it’s still a blast – the action sequences are better, the pacing is excellent. Everything Hawkeye is awesome, I like the twins, I like Ultron. But I still maintain that comic book movies will reach peak saturation before Avengers III: Part II or whatever is over. We’ll see it because we have to see it, but nobody will be excited the way we used to be.

  80. Disney’s Marvel’s ABC’s Peggy Carter in: Agent Carter: A Marvel Cinematic Universe Small Screen Adventure 2D is praised as one of the most progressive, interesting, feminist-friendly tv products of all time, and one of its characters is Howard Stark, whose defining traits are his genius, his womanizing, and his legendary sluttiness. In one episode, iIrc, he instantly seduces at least two of Peggy’s neighbors, who are portrayed as nothing but empty-headed vag-vessels. Their sole existential purpose is to laugh at Stark’s flirtations and let him have his way with them.

    And yet I’m not hearing much outrage over this problematic depiction of these characters.

  81. Mr. Subtlety, that’s a good point about twitter and how the amount of crazies saying Joss Whedon needs to die for “what he did to Nat” is actually a pretty low, that they’re just overrepresented by sites running lazy stories about why Whedon might have quit Twitter. I, at least, need to be reminded of that sometimes.

    Anyways, I really enjoyed this movie after one viewing. I’m eager to watch it again *not* in 3D. Vern said Mjolnir gets some of the best scenes and I agree. Turning the running joke about who can lift it into a gasp-worthy moment showing why the team should trust The Vision was a great move.

  82. About the JURASSIC WORLD thing:

    This week you came out and criticized Jurassic World’s clip – which I thought was terrific of you – which is maybe not the politically expedient way to approach it.

    You know, I honestly think that was bad form. I literally forgot that I don’t do that. I literally just went… I was so shocked! Honestly, I was shocked! Like a dowager – “Oh, good lawd!”

    Do you think it’s generally important for you to speak out?

    Yes and no. I don’t think I should have tweeted about that movie; there are plenty of other things that bother and offend me in movies and I usually don’t tweet about them unless the movie is old, long over, I don’t want to be knocking ‘The Other Guy.’ I don’t want to set myself up as the arbiter of awesome. I was shocked, and I thought, ‘Come on, we can do better than this.’ I didn’t say the movie was a problem, just the clip. And having worked on a film of one of Crichton works, that’s sort of how that formula operates. But as a quasi-celebrity it’s uncouth of me to attack somebody else’s material.

    source: http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2015/04/12/joss-whedon-on-gamergate-jurassic-world-adam-baldwin-and-speaking-out

    I’m gonna guess that means he was a script doctor on TWISTER after working with Jan de Bont on SPEED.

  83. My only problem with that JURASSIC WORLD clip was that it was, you know, terrible. If all sexism was that obviously stupid and incompetent we’d probably have it licked within a decade.

    I love Chris Pratt, but I’m having trouble taking him seriously. The trailers make it look like a Funny Or Die parody starring Burt Macklin. I mean, rampaging dinosaurs will always get my money, but I’m starting to think that Hollywood (and possibly Pratt himself) doesn’t understand what we liked about the guy in the first place.

  84. neal: I assumed there were no guards because Ultron didn’t care if she escaped or not. He told her that the only reason he kidnapped her was to have someone to talk to. Now that his plan was in motion, it didn’t matter to him what happened to her.

    I’ve seen the movie twice now and have no idea where Widow’s transmitter came from. I’m guessing she MacGuyvered it together out of some robot parts she found on the floor, possibly even scraps from the Ultron body that got torn apart right in front of her. I’m sure there’s more than enough tech in there to make a simple telegraph.

    I actually liked that it wasn’t explained. She’s Black Widow. Of course she can make a radio out of whatever’s lying around.

  85. I just think it’s weird that he thought it’s sexist, because the woman didn’t crack a joke in that short clip. Basically I could take many out of context clips from any Whedon show and be: “See how sexist that is? The guy is a goofball and she is so serious!”

    But from all the interviews I read, Whedon gives out a pretty arrogant vibe anyway. It’s too often either: “It’s so clever what I did!” or “It’s so clever what I did, but the actors, directors, producers etc. ruined it, so the result is totally not my fault” or both.

  86. Yeah, wow, I just took a look at that clips and… yeah, “Oh, good lawd!” about sums it up. Mr. M’s right, the problem isn’t really the sexism, (which is so hilariously anachronistic that it’s hard to even get mad about it;* it’s about on par with having Chris Pratt go on a rant about how the Irish are subhuman) the problem is dear sweet god, that is a unabashedly terrible scene. Both actors just look supremely uncomfortable with the terrible dialogue, the rhythm is awkward and off, the camera is all over the place… what the fuck were they thinking releasing something like that!?

    *Seriously, that dialogue could have come out of a B-movie from the 30s, except that even then it would at least have been better written.

  87. CJ: It’s not because she isn’t cracking any jokes. It’s because she instantly embodies the old anti-feminist cliche of the “frigid career woman who needs a man to loosen her up” (a cliche Whedon never once utilized–his career women all had healthy libidos that no one punished them for) and he can’t stop sexually harassing her (something that will guarantee your immediate comeuppance in the Whedonverse) and we’re supposed to think it’s cute. It’s not offensive, really, it’s just stupid and tone deaf. It feels like Pratt thinks he’s making a Will Farrell movie about an overconfident buffoon.

  88. This talkback’s discussion about questionably-constructed, hard-to-believe radios reminds me of one of my favorite episodes of television ever:

    CBS Presents David Mamet’s “The Unit” 2.8 ‘Natural Selection’ (2006)

    I recommend the DVD or the purchased Amazon/Vudu/iTunes version of course, but if you’re hopelessly cash-strapped then YouTube has a visually compromised yet adequately presentable presentation of the episode.

    It’s an excellent 45 minutes of drama and U.S. military anti-fetishization. And radio-MacGuyvering.

  89. I have not seen that JURASSIC WORLD clip in question, but I admit I’m a bit worried about that movie, if it sucks all I can say is “well, maybe they shouldn’t have hired a novice director”

    It’s such a great PREMISE for a JURASSIC PARK sequel though that it would be such a shame if they dropped the ball.

  90. Wouldn’t it have been worse to show Bruce Banner charging to the rescue, shooting down Ultron drones guarding Natasha’s? Wouldn’t that make Natasha look like more of a damsel that needed a strong man to save her? I’m glad that he just showed up outside her cell.

  91. Griff: Me too.

    Jurassic World has a certain… whiff about it from the trailers. But I am running on weak preliminary feelings. I may be the first one out of the theater saying how awesome it was, my judgment here is highly leveraged and its not like I have some sort of track record on these sort of gut feelings.

    But right now, with extremely limited intuition, I think Jurassic World might be a dud.

  92. Crushinator Jones

    May 8th, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Gonna go with BR Baranka but even harder. Honestly Jurrasic World looks like absolute shit to me.

    I really want to be wrong. Desperately wrong. But my gut feeling is that it’s gonna be clownshoes.

  93. Again, it’s such a shame because premise wise at least it’s the JP sequel we always wanted, answering the question “why did they never try to build another park?”, the idea of a new park built on top of the old one that opens to the public before all hell breaks lose it is excellent.

    But again, the dude they hired is some no name who’s only previous movie (that I haven’t seen) was some indie comedy, why would they task him with a multimillion dollar blockbuster?

  94. Griff,

    I hope I am not piling on but as a former shitbird myself I have something that might help clarify your thinking a bit better. For instance, when you say:

    Another element of this is that I, as a young, straight white American male, am the exactly the kind of person these people flat out hate, they don’t want to see a guy like me succeed in life, they would much rather see me fail in favor of anyone that is not like me succeed in my place, so how can I wholeheartedly support something that is so intrinsically against me?

    …you need to ask yourself exactly WHO are “these people.” And by that I mean, name names. Who, by name, is someone who wants to “see you fail in favor of anyone who is not like you succeed in your place?”

    Because when you ask yourself this question you might find that you can’t actually think of an actual person, and you’re afraid of boogeymen, phantoms, nobodies, and people who groups want to exist because it makes it easier to influence you.

    Name names.

  95. I had the opportunity to see this for twosies recently (a lady friend wanted to take her ten year old son, so I tagged along). And I’m glad I did because I went from liking it the first time around to somewhat loving it a whole lot more. I think it epitomizes The Age Of Superheroes we currently live in more than any other recent DC or Marvel outing, even with it’s overstuffed lineup of current heroes vying for cape time, and the introduction of new ones.

    It could have something to do with the way Whedon has almost deified/fetishized the Avengers in this one. There are at least two great team action scenes where he uses slow-mo to take us in to the action – the Hydra attack in the opening scene, and the scene near the end where the Avengers are all grouped in that tower thingy protecting the key machine thingy that releases the chunk of land over the earth. That scene, to me, was the payoff for all the Avengers doubts about their relevancy and purpose. It was a “Fuck yeah” moment when Ultron and his dronebots had them cornered and the Avengers said “together we can defeat them”, or something to that effect. I swear, that battle, and Whedons use of slo-mo as it 360’d around the action took me out of my seat (not literally). I guess, if you want more proof these guys are diefied, just watch the end credits where they’re all made up like statues of Greek Gods.

  96. I’ve had a funny relationship with Marvel Studio movies that being that I apparently had too high expectations for them. I grew up loving these characters but all the in-house movies I’ve felt were only okay. I was disappointed at myself more than the movies for not loving them like everyone else did.

    So naturally the movie where I finally decided to pull the stick out of my ass for is the one where everyone decided to become super critical of them. I really liked this one and it was the first Marvel Studios movie where I did so. It also had the first Marvel Studios villain who I thought was good/great. I really liked Ultron, so naturally I went online and read all about how Ultron was a shitty villain and he had lips (?). I seriously don’t get the running-gag about how Ultron’s lips are no-good.

    So I feel really out of touch the modern fan. I shrug at the ones they love (though acknowledge that they are fine and I definitely see why everyone loves them) and they call the one I really like sexist and an an embarrassing failure. They even shit on the best part of the movie where Ultron and Vision discuss the inevitable end of humanity. Yeah the Vision was awkwardly introduced in the movie, but just for that final scene at the end I’ll take it.

    I just don’t understand fans and current tastes anymore I guess.

  97. PS – I did see this when it came out. It was Majestyk’s recent comment about the inexplicable backlash that this one is continuing to get that made me feel I had to vent.

    -I didn’t *need* to vent but you know how it is.

  98. I feel you. I think this is one of the best of the Marvel movies, and I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of them to one extent or another. I’ve watched the thing like five times already and it stays a fun, well-paced, action-packed romp with just a little poetry thrown in for the brain to chew on. Yet you’d swear it was an irredeemable piece of shit from beginning to end. That’s how I knew I was right to disengage from the conversation.

  99. Crushinator Jones

    March 23rd, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    It’s not a bad film and I can see the appeal but I felt decidedly mixed about it. The dialogue sparkles, as usual. I felt the villain was a fun quipster in the Whedon tradition – great presence, and James Spader delivers – but he (and especially his “drones”) had zero threat and so it made the climactic action seem perfunctory and showboat-ey. The moment that Black Widow drove a snowplow through a bunch of dumb drones who stood there and got conveniently run over was the moment that the film lost me – admittedly this is near the end of the movie but it happened and made Ultron and his army into a jobber. It also has a very choppy middle section with Thor and the pool but everyone knows that. I also was really bothered by Vision’s ultra-nihilistic statement on the death of humanity and the fact that it just slides right by with no comment. But that’s apparently on me and I’m a weirdo.

    I’m probably coming across as harsh or pissy but I’m not. It’s one of those movies where if I stumbled across it on television I would probably watch it to the end – warts and all – but I would never seek it out. A movie for a guy who likes movies, in other words.

  100. I always want something a little more from Marvel’s movies, but I’m not sure if this is a legitimate gripe or I’m just acting spoiled and entitled. You have to admit that they have put out an incredibly consistent slate of films ever since the first Iron Man. The only film that I didn’t particularly like was the Hulk reboot, but they’re never bad. At worst these movies are “could have been better.”

  101. It’s funny that my complaint about this one was that I didn’t think there was enough of a resolution to their group splintering. Guess I wasn’t prescient enough to know Marvel was fixing to set up a Civil War.

  102. I recently caught this on pay TV and the best comparison might be “The kind of season 2 finale that is still good, but can’t match the brillance of the season 1 finale”.

    Now all hopes are on the season 3 opener and the new show runners to bring the series back to its former greatness.

  103. Just got back from CIVIL WAR. Will get into it more after the much anticipated Vern review but, and I’ve mentioned this before, can we please as a film loving community start drawing a more considered distinction between “shaky cam” and “handheld” shit? This film certainly has both but just because a shot isn’t locked down on a tripod doesn’t mean it should be banished to shaky confinement. Also, cutting between close-up handheld shots and static wider shots isn’t the same thing as the BOURNE movies (for example) where everything seems to be pretty much vérité all of the time (which I actually don’t have a major problem with to be honest if it’s well orchestrated and designed).

    Also this whole “CIVIL WAR starts out shaky but gets more locked down the further it goes along” mantra I’ve been seeing thrown around is bullshit. Maybe some folks got more acclimatised to the filmatism the longer the movie went on but whenever there is some interpersonal throw down ass kicking shit happening onscreen it is mostly, for better or for worse, a combination of hand held and / or shaky cam with some wide shots for relief. Yet it rarely seems like they’re adopting that aesthetic to camouflage the impact of the hits so I don’t think it’s a case of post-action pandering or an attempt to stay within the confines of a PG-13 rating. In fact, a lot of the more brutal hand-to-hand shit is shot pretty squarely without obfuscation.

    Sorry for the rant, I’ve just been irritated over the past few years that any handheld action sequences seem to be dismissed as “shaky cam” when it isn’t always that cut and dry. And as a comparison, nothing in CIVIL WAR struck me as visually incomprehensible as the opening action scene in WINTER SOLDIER. This isn’t a CIVIL WAR (SPOILER) really (but I’ll tag it as such) but for those who have / are going to see it – compare the use of handheld shots in the opening fight sequence outside the medical facility to the shaky cam footage of the foot-chase later in that same scene. All I’m trying to suggest is that there are gradients to this shit and I don’t think we should disregard a valid filmmaking technique just because some motherfuckers put the stank on it years ago by using it the wrong fucking way and destroying the visual language of action movies as we know it to the point where now if anyone even introduces elements of it into their own action sequences they get burnt at the fucking stake.

  104. 1-900-M: So, without going into specifics… did you like it/dislike it/get the sense it was more The Avengers 2.5 than a straight-up Captain America movie? Your fresh & spicy rant about shaky cam, impassioned though it may have been, didn’t seem indicative of your overall opinion.

  105. CrustaceanLove

    May 3rd, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Larry: It’s AVENGERS 2.5 in the sense that it deals directly with the fallout from that movie, juggles a huge cast of characters and does a lot of franchise heavy lifting. In terms of tone, theme and style of action it’s definitely a sequel to WINTER SOLDIER. I thought it was great.

  106. 1-900-MIXALOT

    May 3rd, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Amazing Larry – I did like CIVIL WAR a lot, but not as much as WINTER SOLDIER and definitely not as much as AGE OF ULTRON. I have a lot of love for AGE OF ULTRON though, as divided as people are on that thing.

    CIVIL WAR is also 100% a Captain America movie. Saying CIVIL WAR is almost an Iron Man movie is like saying WINTER SOLDIER is almost a Nick Fury movie. Let’s not get it twisted.

  107. 1-900-MIXALOT

    May 3rd, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Not that anyone here said anything about CIVIL WAR being anything less than a real deal Captain America joint. My brain just went “Hey remember how you keep reading that CIVIL WAR is practically an Iron Man film just because he has an, understandably, prominent role in the movie?” and then I just started typing some shit without checking myself.

  108. KaeptnKrautsalat

    May 4th, 2016 at 12:42 am

    @MIXALOT:
    I disagree about people getting acclimatised to the sloppy filmatism over the course of CIVIL WAR. The brawl at the airport is clearly shot in a different style than the rest of the film. I got the impression that it was directed by someone else, probably by the second unit directors Leitch and Stahelski. After that it goes back to the semi-post-action stuff for the finale.

  109. 1-900-MIXALOT

    May 4th, 2016 at 2:12 am

    KaeptnKrautsalat – I’ll grant you that there are more static / wide shots in the airport sequence (mostly in the moments where characters are dodging and chasing each other or talking smack) but there is still plenty of handheld shit going on in the sections where motherfuckers are actually fighting and flinging each other around.

    The only reason I brought it up is because I have read quite a few reviews that say that the action becomes less chatioc and easier to follow the longer the film goes on. I had that sentiment in mind while I was watching the movie so I was paying particularly close attention to how the action sequences were shot and cut.

  110. 900, at the risk of creating an Outlaw Vern: Civil War here, I actually do consider ANY use of handheld to be shaky cam. It’s only degrees of awfulness. Maybe sometimes a handheld cinematographer can keep stuff in frame, but it always looks worse than well composed steady shots. So I’ve always used the term Shakeycam in a derogatory fashion. I want all use of handheld to go away. It won’t because it’s faster to run around with a handheld camera than to spend hours (and production dollars) setting up cranes or even tripods and lighting for it. If they can get more setups a day and shave days off production (and talent fees) then they will and hat’s how movies are going to look from now on.

    Directors can have all the justifications they want. “It creates more immediacy, more intimacy.” Maybe it does do that for some people but it still looks cheap. So I’ll be #TeamShakycam.

    As it happens, I have seen Civil War and sure enough, the steadily composed sequences are great, and the handheld sequences, while better than Winter Soldier, sill obscure some of the great work done by performers and their acrobatic doubles. I mean, I’m forced to forgive handheld in The Raid movies because what it’s capturing is awesome. Gareth Evans puts the handheld camera in places where more equipment wouldn’t fit, but it still takes me out a little bit to see that the camera is jerky.

  111. 1-900-MIXALOT

    May 4th, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    FRANCHISE FRED – Oh no, are we gonna have to throwdown in some industrial complex somewhere where, apart from a few establishing shots, we can’t really see who or what we’re punching at??

  112. 1-900-MIXALOT

    May 4th, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    FRANCHISE FRED – I fully respect your “take no prisoners” approach to the debate, and it’s certainly not an aesthetic choice that works for anyone but, cynicism aside, I can’t imagine something like CHILDREN OF MEN, or the footchases in 7777777 and POINT BREAK (which arguably helped to popularise the technique in mainstream action cinema) or even some of the crazy shit in ARMY OF DARKNESS working as well without that handheld style.

  113. I was thinking about it and in an effort to not cause our own Civil War, I implore Vern not to review Captain America: Civil War and instead review anything else. I mean,we all know how the arguments are going to go right? Why do we need to waste our time?

  114. I actually loved the movie, and I’ve been a big Marvel cynic.

  115. Vern also pointed out in his Saving Private Ryan review that when Spielberg uses handheld, he doesn’t use it for every scene. So there is something to be said for that, choosing it for one scene. I noticed it as well in Schindler’s List. It’s just whenever the Russos went handheld, I could tell it was for the same bullshit reasons Greengrass does it. They think it “adds intensity.” It does not. The performance of the actors and stuntmen add intensity. Shaking the camera reminds us that someone is shaking the camera.

    I concede that there are some classic sequences that were only possible handheld. I suppose those filmmakers used it sparingly enough that it wasn’t obnoxious.

    The most disheartening to me is how used to shaking cameras people have gotten. Someone once told me there was no shaky cam in Divergent. Imagine my surprise when I saw the movie, and they’re running around with cameras during battle scenes. I mean, it’s fine if they’d said it was well done or it didn’t bother them, but to say the camera wasn’t shaking at all? That’s not a matter of opinion. It is objectively shaking. Maybe that’s what I should strive for, where I don’t notice it anymore.

  116. The Original Paul

    May 5th, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Franchise Fred – well said.

    The thing about “handheld camerawork” is that you most often see it in smaller “indie” films. Specifically, films like BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. Which could be an excellent movie (although I don’t think so) but I tried watching this thing in the kind of cinema you usually see smaller “indie” films in – an arts cinema with about eight rows of seats, where the front row is no more six or seven feet away from the screen – and it was torture. I felt physically sick the entire time, and I was sitting at the back of the cinema. I can’t even imagine how bad it must’ve been for the people at the front.

    And then there’s THE RAID 2, which might be one of my favorite movies ever if there weren’t three or four big fight scenes where it was virtually impossible to tell what the fuck was going on. Even re-watching it on DVD didn’t solve that problem. There is nothing I don’t love about that movie, except the camerawork. I’m a bit lost on the difference between “handheld camera” and “shakycam” – I guess one is deliberately shaken, the other is just not stabilised by having somebody hold it in hand? – but the end result is the same in both cases, for me. I don’t want to get motion-sickness from movies. It says a lot about how well HARDCORE HENRY managed to pull off its central “gimmick” that it was a helluva lot more watchable than many, many other movies. But then HARDCORE HENRY is one of the few movies where 1) that kind of camerawork is not only justifiable but necessary, and 2) the filmmakers have obviously realised the potential pitfalls, and have taken steps to negate them.

    I think it has gotten to the point where not just us geeks, but the general moviegoing population, are getting seriously tired of this. Hopefully the filmmakers take notice.

  117. (Hey, I didn’t even read this when I tweeted an anti-shakycam tweet this morning.)

    Seriously, I hate shaky handheld camerawork maybe even more in dramas than I do in action films. It just makes cheap movies even cheaper and for any reason “serious” film makers seem to think that it’s deep or meaningful to randomly zoom in and out and adjust focus on the fly. But if I wanted to see such camerawork, I would watch some funny homevideo show!

  118. Paul, it’s interesting that a distinction came about after the technique became prolific. It’s like critics started saying “Shakeycam” about handheld camerawork to criticize it, then people came up with the difference between “intentional shaking” and “just unavoidable shaking.” The difference is irrelevant and besides the point of the criticism. If we have to specify two different brands of handheld work, then we’ll just have to criticize both of them.

    But it’s interesting how terminology gets coopted. I ran into this with “binge watching” too. Binge watching was the term television writers came up with to describe the new model of watching a bunch of episodes in a row rather than waiting week to week. But now that many shows are dropped 13 episodes at a time, I’ve said I was binge watching Jessica Jones for example, and been told, “You didn’t binge watch, it took you all week to watch that.” Yes, I binged the show in a week instead of taking 3 months. “No, a binge is only when you watch the entire season in one sitting.” Um, then what do you call it when you watch an entire season within a week when it normally takes all year to watch one episode a week? “That’s just watching more than one episode at once.”

    The point of creating the term “binge watching” was so that we don’t have to say “watching more than one episode at once.” If binge watching means 13 hours in one sitting, then NO ONE binge watches. There must be a fascinating scientific phenomenon for when new terminology is introduced and then society appropriates it as they wish. It can be frustrating for a person who makes their living writing though. I’m still trying to educate people on what “titular” actually means.

    Back to Paul’s point. Shakycam is a dead giveaway of cheap indie film. They can only make their days if they’re run and gun with the camera. They’d never finish if they spent hours on setups. So we sometimes get beautiful films like Short Term 12 because of that. That film would be even greater with steady camerawork but it would likely not be made at all with the budget that would require. Same with The Raid movies to some degree so I guess you take the good with the bad sometimes, but on the studio level there’s no excuse.

    Oddly enough, I LOVE Quantum of Solace, so feel free to discredit everything I’ve just said.

  119. I am positive that there is a Paul´s Village cut of THE RAID 2 as I completely disagree with anything he says about the camera work. I found it to be dynamic to the fight scenes. The moves are clear as daylight. The editing and the camera work made the experience more visceral and exciting to watch. But it could easily slipped the other way perhaps. A thin line. Maybe we had so vastly different experience.

  120. Also, I don´t like to believe in a dogmatic view of filmmaiing in which everything has to be steadily shot. I found the handheld stuff on THE SHIELD to be working for that shows benefit. The style of camerawork must fit the work. Hand held shaky camera work is almost always dismissed and for a bunch of right reasons as we all have experienced.

  121. The real question is: did they play any GnR during the end credits or nah?

  122. The Original Paul

    May 5th, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Shoot – Not by any means all of them, I’ll grant you. There’s some scenes that were really well done (the showdown with Batman and Hammergirl was spectacular, for example). But others… not so much. That fight in the club with Yayan “Mad Dog” Ruhian (hope I’ve spelt that right, I couldn’t be arsed to google it. Anyways…) I just find it impossible to tell what the heck’s going on. Same thing with the prison-yard mud-fight at the beginning. It’s already difficult to make out who’s who with the mud (I think this is probably intentional, to “blur the lines” physically as well as morally, so to speak. But it sure as heck makes for a frustrating viewing experience.) I could tell that Rama saved Uco, at the end, but everything before that… not so much. Actually it would’ve been great if, during that mud fight, there’d been a shot of some random combatant looking towards another mud-covered combatant as if to say: “Are you on my side, or not?” This is in fact a thing that might’ve actually happened and I wouldn’t be able to tell. Ya understand my frustration?

    I think Mouth summarised this one best ages ago. If I’m watching Mad Dog fight, I want to see every brilliant move he makes in spectacular detail. Shakycam denied me that pleasure and made his biggest fight scene a morass of frustration for me. And again, if I sound like I’m dumping on THE RAID 2 here, it’s for the same reason as I sometimes dump on THE THING or ENTER THE DRAGON. These are movies that I absolutely love. If it wasn’t for the few flaws that they did have, they’d probably be my perfect films.

    Fred – Your point about “low budget” films is an interesting one. Thinking back, I can see that applying to a couple of films, but in particular THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD, a film whose entire conceit was that none of the events that are most pertinent to the story actually happen onscreen. All we see throughout the film is how the fallout from those events affect the innocent kids in the middle of them (which is thematically relevant, as the film’s “point” could be summarised that the kids grow up with mobile phones and Internet and other modern technology, yet they’re still stuck in an archaic society where bad things happen to people through no fault of their own. By always showing the kids, and never the stuff that’s actually affecting them, the film makes it clear just how “remote” this stuff is.) It’s actually a fascinating concept, executed fairly well (I had some problems with a few of the characters not being “fleshed out” enough, but other than that it mostly worked for me). But the camerawork throughout was seriously distracting – enough that at points it “put me off” the movie itself. Morally speaking, should I give THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD a “pass” on this because it’s a micro-budget Armenian film, not some big Hollywood production?

  123. The Original Paul

    May 5th, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    I will add, before I go to bed ’cause I gotta be up at dawn tomorrow, that it’s hilarious that, after we’ve collectively derailed so many comments threads for obscure DTV fare with talk about big-budget Hollywood superhero movies, I’m now derailing the AVENGERS 2 thread with talk about an obscure Armenian indie movie that I watched on a whim at the arthouse cinema one day. I feel like we’ve just come full circle. Peace!

  124. This whole shaky cam debate have always felt arbitrary to me. Perception can be highly individual. I have a bit of a bone to pick with Verns ACR chart for quantifying the clarity of action as it is in my opinion quite limiting. Through it we never learn more than the formalistic qualities of the camerawork not any detailed analysis on the camerawork and how it works on a more thematic level. Maybe the whole ACR thing was just meant as showing a tendency more clearly in numbers to people, but I don´t know Verns thinking on this. I just felt it limiting somehow. I have a problem with numbers in film critique as it can seem way too simplifying.

  125. CJ – I am in total agreement with you. The random zoom in/out almost bugs me more than the shakiness.

    It’s also so much worse when it’s shaky on close up shots. The TV show Blindspot does this a lot. There was a scene recently that was so bad it made me yell out loud. It was more than just shaky. It was like when you’re watching a multi-camera live event, like sports, and the camera operator thinks they’ve cut to another camera and starts moving the camera around to set up a new shot. It was maddening.

  126. Shoot, I think the reason I have a dogmatic view of the entire technique of handheld is because there has never, ever been an example where I felt the style benefited the film. The best I can ever say, in my absolute favorite movies, is that handheld “didn’t ruin it.” All the reasons given for using handheld, when they’re used correctly, I can say, “the handheld didm’t ruin the movie for me!” I’ve never felt, “I’m glad that shot was jittery instead of being gracefully composed.”

    It is a matter of taste just like the benefits of 3D are. Some people find 3D immersive and enhancing. Wish I could have that experience but it’s just not in the cards for me. So like that, there will be filmmakers who mesh with my tastes, the Paul Greengrasses of the world who I simply cannot enjoy, and those times where I’m able to overlook an aesthetic disagreement so I can still enjoy the film.

    Suppose I should throw down the gauntlet to filmmakers: “Show me a handheld sequence that makes GLAD it was shot that way. I dare you. I double dog dare you!”

  127. Shoot, I’ve never intended the ACR as a value judgment, just a description of whether or not the action is comprehensible, for people who care about that. I think there were a few cases where I felt incomprehensibility was used as a deliberate artistic choice, so I specified that.

    Of course, the system was created in response to a feeling that most action movies were disappointing because the action scenes were no longer designed to communicate any action to the audience. It was a way to warn people like me when they will get nothing out of a movie, and to praise ones like HAYWIRE, etc. that go the other way.

    Now, however, I think things are evening out, most action is at least somewhat clear, and I haven’t been doing ACRs as consistently because they don’t seem as important.

    I don’t think it makes sense to dismiss the entire technique of handheld camera. It has many great uses going back decades and in many contexts other than action. But the specific (now passing) trend of shaking a camera around to imply excitement, thus making the action scenes incomprehensible (see A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD truck chase for example) was terrible enough to give handheld a bad name.

  128. Since THE SHIELD has been mentioned here: I get that they were going for a “dirty documentary” look, but it gave me several unintentional laughs. (Mostly coming from the random zoom department.) In terms of pseudo-documentary camera, I really prefer 24. The show also gained nothing from this approach, but it’s obvious that the shots were all planned out, rehearsed and designed to make the audience see everything.

  129. Vern- Weirdly, it feels like you used it as a value judgement for HAYWIRE to me because I really feel you overrated that movie’s worth as an ACTION movie solely based on the clarity of the action rather than the content. The hotel room fight and maybe the Tatum diner fight are the best parts of that film, action wise, while everything else is well shot, but not very elaborate or meaty. A minute of Carano running down a street while Lao Schifrin music plays, culminating in 3 seconds of her knocking a guy out in an alleyway isn’t exactly a thrilling action scene to me just because the camera doesn’t shake.

  130. Stu – I would’ve written the exact same review whether or not I put a number on the action clarity. Of course it was refreshing when that came out to see such clear fights, which had seemed extinct at the time, so that played into the excitement. But I’ve rewatched it several times and continue to love it.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>