Monday, May 4, 2015

Age of Ultron: Blemishes on an Otherwise Great Movie

We went to see Age of Ultron this weekend. I have to say, given my experience of Ultron in the recent Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon, I was not excited about the movie. It’s easy to get Ultron and another character (won’t spoil who) in the movie wrong in such a way that they both seem lame, but they didn't! They did a good job of giving both just the right look and feel.

All told, they did an exceptional job with the Ultron story. The effects were amazing; the story was extremely well thought-out. I loved the way they brought in a lot of characters from other films. I enjoyed almost everything about it, but there were a couple of things in the film that left a bad taste in my mouth for what would otherwise have been a great movie-going experience.
  1. The first word in the film is a swear word, spoken by a hero. The second word is to chastize the first, and hero who objects is mocked for it for the duration of the film.

    I could have done without this, because it derides those who want to keep their talk clean - which most parents want their children to do. My opinion wouldn’t have been the same if this movie weren’t so obviously marketed for school-aged children.

  2. I’ve seen mention on at least one other blog of a “Catholic joke”; it was not so much a joke “just for Catholics” as a joke about Catholics, and I didn’t find it funny. I was offended.

    Nick Fury makes a crack about the enemies multiplying “like Catholic rabbits.” This was really in poor taste on the part of the writers. No jokes have called out any particular religion so far, to start doing so under any circumstances is vastly inappropriate, especially in a movie they want me, as a Catholic, to allow my children to see.
I object to these things in Age of Ultron. No, really. I didn’t think they were funny at all. They are marketing this to school-aged children, and teaching them that it is funny to mock church and morality, and I was not okay with that.

Heroes do these things. While it isn't "okay" for villains to do things like this, heroes are held up as the gold standard for morality, and these kinds of things shouldn't make the list.

These knocked what I would otherwise have found to be a “great” movie down to just a “good” movie - and one that (if we decide to have it in our home at all) would probably be purchased second-hand instead of new.

On the whole, I agree that these things are relatively minor, but if we don’t speak up about this, now, we can count on future films (maybe Marvel movies, or maybe not) making jokes that are more offensive.

If you choose to see Age of Ultron, I think you'll enjoy it, but I wouldn't take the kids. Make sure that if you do see it, you write Disney a little note about the experience. Let them know that these kinds of jokes aren't funny - they undermine you as a parent, and they don't belong in a movie they're marketing to kids.

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You should also be aware, before you see the film, the villain makes a lot of biblical references in disdain. My husband, Daniel, who is a big comic book nerd, has informed me that this is faithful (in spirit) to canon.

Ultron despises the idea of God. He is filled with disdain for anything either mythological or divine; in fact, he wants to take God’s place.  It is not a divergence from his character to manifest this disdain in the way he speaks by making Biblical references in an ironic or derogatory way. This is not especially bad behavior on the part of the writers, but I think the movie could have done as well if they'd used a lighter touch. (Daniel also has some pretty insightful things to say about the nature of Ultron as it relates to the nature of man, but I’ll leave that for another post.)


  1. I felt similarly about the movie. What also really bugged me was the "zucchini" joke and some other sexual references. They've stayed so clean so far, why dirty it up now? I also felt like there were a lot of plot holes and that it felt rushed. I learned that the original director's cut was like an hour longer, which explains it. I just follow the movies, but the Hubs is a big comic book fan an was super disappointed.

    1. I forgot about the zucchini joke. I don't think the movies have been especially clean so far as far as that kind of joke - the first two Iron Man films had some pretty inappropriate things in it about Tony Stark's string of one night stands, but nothing egregious leaps to mind from the first Avengers film, at least.

      They might be thinking that they have to let Tony Stark be Tony Stark as much as they let Thor be Thor, but I think they went too far in this film with letting the character run wild - you know - for a film they know kids are going to see.

      BTW - my husband shares some of your husband's sentiments. It was fun, but not what he was hoping for.