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03 May 2015 @ 01:40 am
Age of Ultron: thinky thoughts  
Second viewing of Age of Ultron was on Tuesday for thinky thoughts and third viewing was this afternoon for trying to memorize quotes and checking a few things for fic purposes *grins*. So I bring you further, hopefully more coherent, thinking. Be warned: SPOILERS FOR ALL THE THINGS. Also it’s kind of long and detailed, sorry not sorry ;)

Also, I’m going to be making quote icons. Because reasons. So if you have favourite quotes comment with them – I’ve got a bunch, but I’m not convinced they’re entirely accurate and there’s that much in the film that I’m bound to have missed a ton anyway. QUOTE AT ME. You might get icons out of it. (And if my quotes aren’t right in this either, yell!)

Diversity: but Jane’s better

Our main team at the opening of the film still consists of five white guys and one woman. Natasha, as ever, is great. More on Natasha later, but love the hidden gun at the bar that came in handy for the after-party mess, the motorcycle skills, all the Team Delta parts, and getting the job done. In the rest of the character line up we get the return of Maria Hill, who takes on a kind of Pepper Potts roll in this film by being the organizational side of the Avengers and then once again (perhaps all this time) Fury’s right hand woman. She gets to be sassy, shoot an Ultron bot, and I love the moment after the after-party fight where she’s picking glass out of her feet; just the idea that she went from shoes off comfortable to going for her gun and the notice that hey, glass everywhere causes injuries kids.

In new characters we’re introduced to Dr Helen Cho from South Korea – non-Western, a woman, a geneticist, creating technology that’s the future and will supplant Stark’s, protects her people, enjoys the eye candy that is Thor, and is integral to the plot! With the twins we get Wanda and Pietro from Eastern Europe – another woman and more non-Western characters. I’m aware that in the comics they’re Romano and this isn’t reflected in the film, which is unnecessary whitewashing. Points given for them being developed, diverse characters, points removed for not fully committing to the diversity.

In missing/off-screen characters Tony and Thor argue about which of the ladies they love is better, these ladies being a CEO and a massively in demand scientist in the running for a Nobel prize, and then Maria breaks it up with a coughed, “Testosterone.” It’s a shame we couldn’t have Pepper and Jane in cameos, but as far as explaining where the missing ladies are goes ‘they’re too busy being awesome to hang around with the boys’ works pretty well.

We do get cameos from Rhodey, Sam, Heimdel, and Peggy – yay for racial diversity and another woman – as well as Stan Lee and a bunch of veterans, which is a nice ‘remember that these are Steve’s contempories’ moment as well having a bit of age range happening. (And by the way: those veterans, Colonel Rhodes, and the Avengers in one room…there’s a thought there on eras of war and the soldiers who fought them.)

Finally our New Avengers team at the end consists of two ladies, neither of whom come from America, two black guys, an AI/mind gem/Ultron whole new being, and Captain America. Bit of a change! Also, I see the end as a nod to Natasha now being Cap’s second in command or an alternative leader.

Up until now I would have said that Captain America: Winter Solider was the most diverse film so far from Marvel, and that was a film where the title contains the names of two white American dudes, but I think Marvel are stepping it up in time for Captain Marvel and Black Panther. Though I think the diversity in this film counts more when you consider the opening up of the Avengers’ world and passing the baton to a new team rather than in terms of people other than white dudes getting screen time. Thoughts?

Security: peace in our time

Speaking of opening up the Avengers’ world, we now have Wakanda on the map, we visited Sokovia and South Korea, and as well as getting to see new places we also get to see new attitudes – in Sokovia Wanda and Pietro lost their family due to Stark missiles and they volunteered to be experimented on by HYDRA to fight back, the city is caught in the crossfire of an Avengers-HYDRA battle at the beginning and shows no respect for the Iron Legion Tony sends to try to get them out of the way, and there’s anti-Avengers Banksy-style graffiti. Just in case anyone in audience feels that anyone who dislikes the Avengers is in the wrong Captain America lends us some empathy with a sassy, “What kind of monster would let a Germany scientist experiment on them to protect their country?” (Hill responds that ‘we’re not at war’ and Cap says ‘they are’.) Then in Wakanda a city gets trashed by the Hulk and Iron Man. We get to see the cost of what the Avengers do, following on from the destruction in New York in Avengers, in Washington after Winter Solider, after the collapse of SHIELD… And funnily enough people aren't fans. "Well, the news is loving you. Nobody else is."

Meanwhile Fury has acquired a Helicarier and in Agents of SHIELD… The UK is behind the USA so please don’t spoil me for what apparently is ‘all connected’, but I need Fury to steal that helicarier from Real SHIELD, I’m just saying – but SHIELD is tackling issues of accountability and transparency. Who is SHIELD accountable to? What laws do they answer to? What about the Avengers and the New Avengers? And what does that mean for security? (Leading to Civil War, anyone?) Is it enough that Natasha put everything online at the end of Winter Soldier when SHIELD went underground, removed themselves from the internet, and the hearing at the end consisted of Natasha walking out without consequence ‘because you need us’?

The Avengers set their own target, as to what counts as a win or a loss. At the beginning of Age of Ultron they win because they get the sceptre and defeat HYDRA, and whilst Clint is hurt and Bruce has to transform they all make it home in one piece. But is it a win when there was a city caught in that battle? When you have hate festering, as with Wanda and Pietro? At the end of the film the stakes are higher because the Avengers have decided that a win isn’t just defeating the Big Bad, but also protecting anyone else from being hurt, which is an interesting thing in the superhero genre where massive battles without dwelling on civilian casualties is the norm.

This plays into Tony's obsession with putting 'armour around the world' to protect people against the big threats. It’s an 'us against them' mentality where security is all about protection against the threat of the scary 'Other'. Interestingly even though Steve doesn't agree with Tony when Steve keeps saying 'we do it together' he's also promoting an us against them mentality. The dominant discourse on security used to be about externalized threats and securing against them by keeping the outside out - think literal barriers, like the Berlin Wall. This has shifted from security by 'stopping' to security through letting things happen, so instead we used the movement of people, goods, and information to get data and tracking information. Security techniques now need circulation for control. (This is from Foucault. I apologise for bringing non-fiction into this, it won't happen again.) But that means things get messy; us and them breaks down.

Ultron attacks the internet (which, in a fact check moment, doesn’t have a central hub just for the record for precisely this reason) and is able to be everywhere. Arguably this is an echo of HYRDA, who were everywhere and had their own dude in a computer going on. Ultron as the main threat in this film fits the current security thinking – threat from the inside, which they can track the internet usage of, the movement of people (Natasha) and of goods (the cradle). But then in a universe where there are aliens Tony has gone for the human us vs the alien them mentality, back to basics, because I guess how can you control space and people that we have no way of monitoring? Our current security techniques can't deal with it. What implications might that have when we consider Thor happily moving between places in Thor 2 or the possible introduction of the Guardians of the Galaxy? Think Tony might be antagonistic about help from the 'other'? Steve at least accepts Wanda and Pietro's help, but only because they chose Steve's side. Meanwhile when Vision is asked to pick a side he doesn't chose an us or them, but says he's on 'the side of life'.

The main plot of the film is of course that in trying to protect the world against something that hasn’t happened yet Tony creates the thing he fears. I had thinky thoughts about security in Winter Solider here where we also had Fury wanting to stop something before it happened, and didn’t that end well? We also had HYRDA who tried to take away people’s freedom in order to create a superior world and when this didn’t work they manipulated people with fear until they wanted their freedom taken away. I mentioned the idea of freedom from vs freedom to in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which is that you can have freedom from things, such as freedom from fear and harm, or you can have freedom to do things, to do what you want without being watched or told, but you can’t have both because there’s a conflict between the two.

In Age of Ultron Tony embodies this conflict in and of himself, because he wants the freedom to do what he thinks is right without ‘a City Hall debate’ to get freedom from the threat of destruction and the fear of people dying, but overall he’s freedom from, because he wants an ultimate end to threat. Meanwhile Steve in Winter Soldier says of Fury’s plans, “This isn’t freedom. This is fear.” Then in Age of Ultron we get, “Every time someone tries to stop a war before it starts innocent people die.” Ultron accuses Steve of being unable to live without war, but I see Steve’s mentality of always needing to be ready for something to go wrong, because it will, being that people need ‘freedom to’ and we deal with the mistakes afterwards. The opposite of futurist Tony who wants to prevent things before they happen and to give the whole world ‘freedom from’.

But then what's the end game of all this security? Tony seems to think that it's to prevent or destroy the threat, make the Avengers obsolete, and then they can all go home: "Peace in our time." But Bruce says then we’ll just have people fighting other people, Fury believes that, “No matter who wins or loses, trouble always comes around,” Ultron mentions not confusing 'peace' with 'quiet', and Vision talks about chaos and order not being separate things. There’s the idea that peace as in complete security, as in stopping anything bad from happening at all, is an impossibility. And on not confusing 'peace' with 'quiet' is anyone reading the Image comic Saga? (You should, it's excellent.) Saga is a comic about families and war and the cost of war, and in it a pacifist novelist pitches the idea that the opposite of war isn't peace but creation. (Or, you know, make love not war.)

Evolution: designed to supplant them

If the opposite of war is creation there’s a lot of talk of the two combined in this film; combined in themes of evolution and legacy, as the old is destroyed to make way for the new, culminating in the passing of the torch from the Avengers to the New Avengers. “A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts,” says Vision (and this is a very Whedon sentiment, most memorably for me in his run on Astonishing X-Men).

We have a theme of ‘puppets on strings’ and Pinocchio – the puppet who evolved to become a real boy. Tony creates Ultron, who wants to destroy his creator. Ultron creates Vision, who wants to (and does) destroy his creator. We have a Regeneration Cradle, a thing that repairs/evolves Clint then Ultron uses it to ‘give birth’ to Vision, technology that is to be the future and replace Tony’s tech. We pretty much have a direct line from Clint, emphasized as the human in this film but then mended/changed by this future technology, to Ultron, created as the next thing to replace the Avengers, to Vision, created as the next step by Ultron and using that cradle that starts the cycle.

Ultron says about children, designed to supplant people, and Clint has two of those and another on the way. Tony refers to Ultron as ‘Junior’. Both Bruce and Natasha can’t have children, about which it’s interesting that Natasha says this makes things ‘more efficient, even killing’. If we call war killing and peace creation… (Note, this is a comment on themes, not on views of being or not to have children.) Natasha does say in her vision ‘there’s no place for me in the world’ and she seems to have it in her head that not being able to have children, so a life like Clint’s, and because of being ‘the assassin they made me’ that she is destruction and not creation.

Monsters: you're all killers

On destructive capabilities: I found a thing I said back when the Avengers first came out where in the extra credit scene it was said of the Avengers that “to face them is to court death”. Not ‘hey the Earth has weaponry, might want to back off’ but ‘you do not want to mess with these people’, and I said that Joss Whedon often pulls in a theme that people can be weapons, but people are and can become more than weapons. There’s an interesting echo at the start of Age of Ultron where a HYDRA goon’s answer to can we hold against the people fighting us is a frightened, “They’re the Avengers.” If Avengers was the film where they all came together, Age of Ultron is the film where they all struggle with what being an Avenger means – people or weapons, heroes or monsters, creators or destroyers – and decide if this if the life for them. "How could you be worthy?" asks Ultron. "You're all killers."

The word ‘monster’? Crops up a lot. Remember you brought the monster and this is monsters and magic and nothing we ever trained for? Add:
What kind of monster would let a Germany scientist experiment on them to protect their country?
We're mad scientists, we're monsters
Did you think you were the only monster on the team?
Ultron says that we're monsters. That we’re everything that’s wrong with the world. It’s not about beating him. It’s about whether he’s right.

And let’s throw in:
There is no place on Earth I can go where I'm not a threat.
You lead us to Hell…You’re a destroyer, Odin’s son.
Not when I’ve created a murder bot!

Going into detail, let’s start with Natasha, because I always like to write lots about Natasha. If anyone thinks Natasha was ‘reduced to a love interest’ in this film or any such nonsense, allow me to direct you to igrockspock’s Thoughts on relationships, female agency, and Ultron. (Read that first. I’ll wait.)

In my initial thoughts on the film I said that I see the Bruce/Nat that doesn't actually take off as a continuation of the Steve/Nat that didn't really happen - further exploration of Natasha’s character through her interactions with others. If Winter Soldier was 'what do you want me to be?' then Age of Ultron seems to be that Natasha has now decided on reflection that she's one of the monsters and therefore what she can and can't have. Her vision from Wanda reinforces this opinion of herself – ‘ there’s no place for me in the world.’

In addition something scribble_myname pointed out is that during the bar scene Natasha acts like she's playing a role, which actually Bruce starts with, “How’d a girl like you wind up working in a place like this?” That makes sense to me, that Natasha is testing things out in a way she knows how, returning to that theme of Natasha remaking and reclaiming herself. Their conversations in Age of Ultron are reminiscent of when Natasha first meets Bruce in Avengers, where they play a kind of conversational game. (And of course Steve wouldn't recognize this, because with him Natasha was something different again.) At the farm when she’s tired the role playing is half-hearted, until Bruce says ‘we missed our window’ and then it’s like this, the removal of the possibility of something different in her life that she chose to go after, on top of Wanda messing with her head has made her vulnerable and cracked open and she tries to hold on.

Let’s talk about them all trying to lift the hammer, because yes it’s hilarious and I love it, but as well notice how much none of them want Thor to be correct about the hammer judging if they’re ‘worthy’. “Whatever man, it’s a trick.” And Natasha, maybe she just doesn’t want to join in the testosterone fest, but there’s an alternate universe in the comics where she does pick up the hammer and becomes a goddess (and saves the day). “That’s not a question I need answered.” What question? If she can pick it up then this person she’s decided to be now is who she is and maybe she isn’t comfortable with that – by the end of the film she has in fact changed her mind – and if she isn’t this person then she has to keep searching, and that’s got to be tiring.

By the end of the film we have a Natasha who’s realized that maybe all her friends are fighters because that’s what she is too. In fact, I think she realizes that it’s actually the Hulk that she’s been empathizing with. I think Natasha is most herself when she’s fighting and Hulk is the guy she fights alongside, who takes out the bunker at the beginning, not Bruce. Hulk is the one she’s touched, and who shows her a measure of trust – letting her help him turn back into Puny Banner, and watch Natasha’s little half smiles over that – and the guy who jokes with her in his own way, with ‘are we even now?’ I’m not saying that she wants to date the Hulk, but that he’s the one she connects with. She was drawn to Bruce because he was different, because he understood the fear of being someone dangerous and without a place in the world, and who wasn’t a fighter, but it’s the Hulk she needs. “I adore you, but I need the other guy.” No use of the ‘love’ word that’s for children here. “Go be a hero,” she says to the Hulk, because she decides at the end that that’s what she is and that’s what the Hulk, her fellow Avenger, is too.

I’m going to draw a few more connections here. First, remember the speech Clint gives Wanda? I'm walking out of that door because it's my job...it doesn't matter who you were or what you did before...you step out that door, you're an Avenger... Compare that to what Natasha says about the ‘job’s not finished’ and tell me that Clint hasn't given Natasha a variation of that speech. (Headcanon: when she was doing Morse code with Clint, when Bruce turns up and says she's done enough and she can walk away, when all the thinking she's been doing about who she really is comes to a head, Natasha remembers: it doesn't matter who you were or what you did before. And she makes a decision.)

Another connecting line is that when Natasha is discussing with Steve in Winter Soldier about being whatever people want her to be we have this:

Natasha: The truth is a matter of circumstances, it's not all things to all people all of the time. And neither am I.
Steve: That's a tough way to live.
Natasha: It's a good way not to die though.
Steve: You know, it's kind of hard to trust someone when you don't know who that someone really is.
Natasha: Yeah. Who do you want me to be?

"It's a good way not to die," she says, then in the last battle in Age of Ultron she stands next to Steve when he says they might not all make it and Natasha draws a line between the civilians and the Avengers and she says, "There are worse ways to go." And there's a look he gives her and I think it's because Steve gets it, that she's decided now who she is, she's not playing roles anymore, she's not doing the good ways not to die but instead is committed to this. Committed to being trusted with this. She's stepped outside the door.

At the end it's great to see Natasha taking a place beside Steve, as a senior Avenger, a second in command if not an alternate leader, and there’s the wistfulness of her letting go of not just being with Bruce but what she could have been with Bruce. But ultimately? Natasha's character arc for me has always been one of choice and she's chosen to be an Avenger.

Whilst Natasha is deciding if she's a monster or something more, this has always been Bruce's arc, if he's a monster or a man. I love Ruffalo's version of Bruce, but I see him as having reached a fixed point, a roadblock, and until he gets over it he's stuck at a certain worldview and life point. I think he managed to climb on top of said roadblock during MCU, joining the team and all, but he's still not over it. He still helped Tony to build Veronica, still needs a report on what damage the Hulk has caused, thinks a Hulk in the grip of Wanda’s power is ‘the real Hulk’. By the end of Age of Ultron Bruce has decided to buy into what Natasha is offering and takes a chance, but then Natasha has realized that, "I adore you, but I need the other guy.” Whilst Bruce has decided after the destruction in Wakanda that the Hulk is still a monster Natasha has decided that he’s a hero. Whilst Bruce still sees himself at odds with the Hulk, and vice versa, Natasha has reclaimed herself and decided she’s a hero alongside the Hulk.

Then let’s remember that the Hulk keeps Bruce from being hurt and not only did Natasha literally kick Bruce over the edge but this, that she’s siding with the other guy, the guy Bruce sees as a monster and she’s calling a hero, is going to hurt Bruce too. So I see the ending as the Hulk taking Bruce away from that hurt. “I need you,” Natasha starts to say before the Hulk cuts her off. “I need the other guy,” she’d said.

For Clint, when Laura tells Clint that his team is a mess he replies, "They're my mess." Clint's 'monster' reference is that in some ways he's still blaming himself for all the mess of Loki in Avengers and the impact on this team. Or perhaps not blaming, in light of his speech to Wanda, but feeling responsible. Also, Clint has an arc of continuing to be an Avenger despite his (repeatedly thrown in the audience's face) mortality and his family, of making that choice. Of choosing to let the Avengers into his life and his home.

Steve has a conversation with Sam at the Tower party about looking for a place in Brooklyn, because the Tower isn't home, has a vision of Peggy talking about going home at the end of the war, echoed by Tony and Steve reacts badly to that, has Ultron questioning if Steve can live without a war... And by the end Steve, like Natasha, has made his choice. He states that he is home, with the New Avengers. That he's changed - that's that evolution theme again - from the guy who went into the ice. And his resolution is that his war isn't going to be a destructive one, it's protecting people. That's how he believes himself not be a monster, how he counts the win.

Tony is the most obvious, from his past – and we get a moment with the Stark missiles in Wakanda where he tries to point out that ‘this was never my life’ because he had good intentions of peace with his missiles however badly it went – to the present day where he’s created Ultron. There’s also the fact that he causes the destruction in Wanda as much as the Hulk. I like at the beginning where he steps out of the armour, no longer dependent on it like he was in Iron Man 3, and it’s an interesting evolution that he’s the mechanic, that his skills make him Iron Man and not the suit, and it’s those same skills that can create things like Ultron that are arguably more dangerous than any suit.

I think Thor got perhaps the least development in Age of Ultron. He has a vision that he's going to destroy them all in Asgard and we get the two sides to Thor of destruction, such as of the flying Sokovia at the end, vs creation, such as bringing life to Vision. I noted that he goes to Selvig for help with answers, not straight to Asgard, and @TricksyLiesmith, who is my authority on the Asgardian parts of the MCU, says that she reads Thor's arc in Age of Ultron as that having left Asgard at the end of Thor 2 he's trying to make it on his own, but is homesick - note how happy he is talking with Vision about wielding the hammer and how happy he is at the end when he's made the decision to return home.

A lot of character arcs mirror each other, perhaps to emphasize them by reflection when no one has enough screen time to be explored in depth: Tony and Steve are opposites in the issues of freedom and security as discussed above, but also Steve searches for a home and finds one whilst Thor thinks he’s found one, having left Asgard for Earth, but ultimately realizes he needs to return. Natasha reconciles the parts of herself and decides she’s an Avenger whilst Bruce’s trouble with his other half grows and he decides that he isn’t. I would also pair Clint with Tony, with Clint being someone who emerged stable after having his brain playing with in Avengers and comfortable with his family whilst Tony has his brain playing with at the start of Age of Ultron by Wanda and chafes at the restrictions of being in a team.

Clint and Pietro: if you get killed, walk it off

Speaking of pairings, let’s talk about Clint and Pietro and how I didn’t see that coming and went looking for the set up in my later film watchings.

Clint is set up to be the one you think is going to die. (I didn’t think he would, not out of fan denial but because I’m actually too used to Whedon character deaths being more unexpected.) He’s targeted as ‘weak’ at the beginning, his arc is around choosing to be a hero despite his mortality and with his family as a personal stake, he promises Laura he’ll be back, discusses his ‘last project’ on the house and then another one with Natasha, looks at a family photo, steps out to rescue the kid at the end with resignation and determination…

But once I looked again, Pietro has his own set up. He’s all about protecting his sister but also others, references a family photo, is grazed by a bullet so we know moving fast doesn’t make him invincible (and I like how he has to pause for breath and recover at times), after Steve says ‘if you get killed, walk it over’ the camera looks to Pietro, he promises Wanda he’ll come back for her…

And then there’s the parts tying them together, like Pietro getting Clint shot at the start then saving Clint from gunfire by putting himself in harms way. Clint calling Pietro and Wanda punk kids to Laura who need to be taught some manners. Clint joking about killing Pietro – “Yeah, you’d better run” and “No one would know” – and shooting the floor out from underneath him in the scene where Vision is created.

Pietro’s death does what Whedon usually does – makes you afraid for who could be next, heightening the tension – and, as usual, I wish he wouldn’t as much as it works, because ouch. The imagery at the end, of Clint lying next to Pietro, is very much ‘look at the human cost’ and ‘it affects the enhanced too, no one is safe’ and, yeah, the visual culmination of the mirroring of this pair. Gah.

A Couple of Faults: well you amazingly failed

There are a lot of characters to balance, plus cameos, and lots going on, so it can feel like we get flashes of everyone rather that any in depth character development. Instead characters are tied together with themes, echoes etc. but that doesn’t make up for the fact that I wish everyone could have more screen time and more depth.

I don’t like Tony’s joke when he first attempts to lift the hammer – I preferred the version in the trailer where he says he’ll be fair, but firmly cruel.

The part where Natasha talks about having been sterilized in a graduation ceremony being linked to the concept of being a monster is not well done. I get the point, that she was altered against her will and turned into an assassin and, in the theme of evolution, she feels she’s lost the ability to contribute to the future, but if this is the only conversation we get about this? No, you can do better.

Fact checking: the internet does not have a central hub, I’m really not sure about your science of a city taking flight, and other such things, but I’m willing to handwave a lot of it. (I also watch Doctor Who. I require explanations and in-story logic, but it can be not-real-world-logic.)

I look forward to seeing the extended edition – fingers crossed that this does happen!

Other Thoughts: it really is the end times

Infinity gems: so we have the green one and the white one left – the time gem and the soul gem. In the comics Stephen Strange apparently has one, or has something to do with them, so perhaps one might crop up in his film. Any speculation on where else they might appear?

HYDRA is apparently gone now. Or at least the main HYDRA bases. That the Avengers know of. I suspect Agents of SHIELD might still deal with them (unless this has something to do with how ‘it’s all connected’. Come ON tv companies, let us catch up!)

I’m thinking there’s a lot in Age of Ultron that will play into Civil War and Ragnarok – Steve and Tony disagreeing, the stuff on security, Thor and his vision… Clint having a family could be interesting in terms of Civil War and the risks of being a superhero in the public eye. Tony says at the end of the film he might build Pepper and farm and ‘hope nobody blows it up’. I hope this is a commentary on how often Stark/Avengers’ Tower and the Malibu house have been destroyed and not foreshadowing for the Barton farm, because ouch. And Marvel could also now include Spider man.

On the farm: Clint says, “Fury set this up for me when I started,” so did Clint already have a family at that point, in which case has he only been with SHIELD for as many years as his eldest child is old, or was the farm originally set up for Laura or just for Clint or…? Also the kids are called Cooper Barton, Lila Barton, and Nathanial Pietro Barton. (I needed to know this.)

On Ultron: I see a lot of reflections of Tony, such as in his speech patterns, and I like that. In my head this is also why Ultron needs Wanda and later Natasha. See Tony recognizing in Avengers that Loki will use Stark Tower because Loki needs an audience because that’s what Tony’s like. And is it fanon or canon that Tony created bots for company? Well Ultron wants people, for company and an audience. He seems more fixated on Wanda than Pietro, perhaps because Ultron is a thing ‘of the mind gem’ (and explain to me how that works, is he from the blue surround or the gem itself or something else?) and Wanda is all about mind games. Later he takes Natasha and says to her, “I have no one else.” It’s a bit like him constantly making himself bodies that reflect humanity; he’s as much Tony’s as the mind gem’s, and he wants someone to talk to. Oh, and ‘proof that Tony Stark has a heart’ was the thing in Tony’s chest keeping him alive, that has been removed, and then Tony shuts down an Iron Legion with something in the neck or the head, so he didn’t make them with hearts? But Ultron fashions himself with one, that Wanda rips out. Humanity embedded enough in Ultron that it’s the death of him?

I love Natasha driving an armored truck, a motorcycle, a digger, all the things. And the combined fighting styles, with Clint throwing Cap his shield and Natasha using the shield, and Thor and Cap playing catch, and the hammer and the shield used in combo, and all of it; it makes the fight scenes more interesting :)

And I think I spotted a possible three Firefly references:
Sokovia’s going for a ride said by Friday in very much the tone of River saying ‘we’re going for a ride’ in Serenity
People would look to the sky and see hope… says Ultron – I don’t care, I’m still free, you can’t take the sky from me?
I’m gonna show you something beautiful is another quote from Ultron, in the trailer ending with people screaming for mercy, which reminds me of ‘I’m gonna grant your greatest wish. I’m gonna show you a world without sin.’

So, any thinky thoughts that I can use to change mine? It’s all evolution ;)

Thor: Nobody has to break anything.
Ultron: Clearly you’ve never made an omelette.
Tony: He beat me by one second.

- also as-complete-as-I-can-remember plot summary in the comments
- also interesting meta on Natasha from thedancingcow on tumblr - critical of how she was written in AOU without being critical of her character
happilydancinghappilydancing on May 3rd, 2015 01:15 am (UTC)
Holy moly, I love this! I have a lot to say to in your other post (the days slipped by and then I saw the movie and now I need to recover, haha), and have a lot to say about this AMAZING ANALYSIS. But gotta do the 2 hour drive home from work, but I know what I'll be re-reading tonight.
inkvoices: avengers:assassins huginkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 01:33 am (UTC)
Heehee, well I'll get some sleep ready for chatter tomorrow then *grins*. Glad it's of interest to someone; I just had to get it off my chest lol.
A clean house is the sign of a misspent lifealphaflyer on May 3rd, 2015 01:55 am (UTC)
Whoa, that's a lot to digest. Don't agree with everything (where would be the fun if we did?) but will need to re-read when I'm more awake to disagree (or agree) articulately.
inkvoices: avengers:assassins huginkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 01:59 am (UTC)
Words happened. It's a thing ;)

Good! I need someone to bounce off and iron my thoughts out :D And yeah, I need to sleep first anyway *grins*. I'm so excited people online are getting to see it now too so more chatter can happen.
spilt ink - alphaflyer on May 3rd, 2015 02:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
spilt ink - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 02:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
hufflepuffsneak: Johansson thinkinghufflepuffsneak on May 3rd, 2015 10:14 am (UTC)
You picked up on a lot that I missed - I just want to see the extended edition to see if all of these interesting ideas paid off!

On the Firefly references- I think you're being overly optimistic, that's more thematic similarity than deliberate reference. Also Foucault is not my cup of tea, but I always love seeing things I studied in uni referenced ;)

Two things I though were brilliant in this meta:

1. Tony as freedom from, Steve as freedom to. I don't conceptualize these as a binary as you do (in some cases these freedoms even enhance each other!), but they are contrasting positions that are sometimes contradictory. It's also worth noting that their personal behavior belies their views - Tony is very much for individualistic freedom-to behavior for himself, but doesn't extend that trust to others. Steve is team-oriented and empathetic (the crack about German experimentation was great) and never really uses his "freedom to" for individual ends despite having great power.

2. The change between Cap 2 "It's a good way not to die," Nat and Avengers 2 "There are worse ways to go," Nat. It could be just a coincidence, but I hope not, because it's great character development. It also ties back to the idea of positive and negative peace you mentioned earlier (i.e. the difference between quiet/ calm and active peace/ justice). Surviving/ not dying is negative peace, where as accepting death but also embracing life (as she does when she pursues Bruce, and then makes the hero's choice) is a positive act.

Lastly, I thought the most interesting philosophical difference in the movie was actually between Natasha and Steve when they discuss whether to kill thousands or people in the present or risk the entire world. Natasha is clearly a pragmatist who judges actions by their results. Steve is an idealistic who judges actions by his moral code (I'm not leaving this rock with one civilian on it). Certainly sets up an interesting conflict for Civil War and Avengers 3.
inkvoices: avengers:natasha thinkyinkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 05:57 pm (UTC)
Ooo, thinky thoughts chatter *gets comfy*

Yeah, my ears are too trained to the Firefly frequency and need to stop, but hey, they heard what they heard ;) Well, I had Saga and Margaret Atwood in there, Foucault wanted to join in *grins*.

1) Now that's a fascinating angle. I'd picked up on Tony being a contrast, wanting freedom from for everyone else but wanted freedom to himself to get there, to be able to do what he wants without 'a City Hall debate', but yes, Steve is also contradictions, wanting people to have freedom to but then cracking down on Tony when he tries to exercise that freedom. The individual vs team as well too... Wondering how this will feed into Civil War!

2) YES, from surviving to living. I may be making this up, but sod it, this is Natasha's arc for me :)

I think of this also in terms of Natasha is going for an escape plan here, she's saying all of them on flying Sokovia vs everyone else, kind of the same sacrifice play as Tony at the end of Avengers flying the nuke into space and Cap bringing down his plane... And kind of what you were saying about Steve in terms of the individual and team above, that this isn't a sacrifice play for Steve because there are civilians involved.
hufflepuffsneakhufflepuffsneak on May 3rd, 2015 11:41 pm (UTC)
Natasha's arc is also about that to me (and as you said, choice). Going from being forced to constantly adapt to be whomever she needs to be/ what others want her to be, to being "herself" even if she doesn't know who that is. One way to read her sort of inconsistent writing across movies is that she's trying out different version of herself, for herself. To me, her hair represents this. It might be long, short, curly, straight, different shades, but it always red. There is always an integrity to Natasha, but outside of that she's changeable.
spilt ink - inkvoices on May 4th, 2015 02:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
scribblemynamescribble_myname on May 3rd, 2015 04:51 pm (UTC)
This is big post that makes me very happy and want to see the movie and fic all the things. Seriously. I need to find a way to see this movie. Love the meta and still processing.
inkvoices: avengers:natasha dropping ininkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 05:59 pm (UTC)
Wait, hold the phone, you're reading all the spoilery stuff and you haven't seen the film yet?! Nooo, go see the film!

Glad you liked the meta :) I need all the fic as well, and icons, ooo, I need icons. AND FOR YOU TO WATCH THE FILM ;p
spilt ink - scribble_myname on May 3rd, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
spilt ink - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 06:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
spilt ink - scribble_myname on May 3rd, 2015 06:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
spilt ink - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 08:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
part 2 - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 08:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
part 3 - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 08:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
part 4 - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 09:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
part 5 - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 09:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
part 6 - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 09:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
part 7 - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 10:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part 7 - scribble_myname on May 3rd, 2015 10:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part 7 - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 11:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part 6 - scribble_myname on May 3rd, 2015 10:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part 5 - scribble_myname on May 3rd, 2015 10:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part 5 - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 11:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part 5 - scribble_myname on May 3rd, 2015 11:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part 3 - scribble_myname on May 3rd, 2015 10:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part 3 - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 11:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part 3 - scribble_myname on May 3rd, 2015 11:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part 3 - inkvoices on May 4th, 2015 02:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
spilt ink - scribble_myname on May 3rd, 2015 09:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
spilt ink - inkvoices on May 3rd, 2015 10:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
A clean house is the sign of a misspent lifealphaflyer on May 4th, 2015 04:54 pm (UTC)
So -- first of all -- WOW. Both for the thoughts, and the synopsis you did for scribble_myname.

Having written a fair bit on some of the character arcs, I'll focus on the "security" theme. The most fascinating thing for me was the interaction with foreign civilians, military and law enforcement to the Avengers' interventions. SO much parallel here to the general resentment of Western/US ideas of global security, even when it IS in the locals' interest. Having the "for your own protection, do X" delivered by robots is actually a spot of political sarcasm at its finest, but alas lost in the mayhem.

Global peace and security is not an end state but a continuum, which requires grassroots cooperation, not dictate. ("Mission accomplished" is, for many reasons, the paradigmatic cry of failure in this regard). Non-acknowledgement of that fact -- coupled with the belief that it is his job to achieve -- is Tony Stark's hubris; its understanding is Nick Fury's personal tragedy (that "trouble" quote). It's the ball you keep rolling up the hill, and when your arms buckle, it rolls right over you. Steve and Clint, I think, understand that their "job" is to help keep pushing it up; Natasha does too, especially in the end. The world will NOT stay saved.

Now in terms of architecture, the look on Pietro's face when the Helicarrier comes up to rescue his people ("Is that SHIELD? ... "That's pretty good!") says it all. There is a role for relief and protection, but attempts at "stopping wars before they start costs lives." I'm not sure I agree with that last bit (hey, I get paid to work in security threat reduction) but it's a question of the how. Nation state governments have their limitations (not to mention their own self-interests...) and with regard to threats coming from the skies, are ill equipped to deal with it in light of political divisions, So clearly there's a place for some over-arching supra-structure, like SHIELD -- but that has to come with accountability. The pre-Cap2 SHIELD had none, and failed as a result. The Avengers have little (except in the form of the Stark Relief Foundation) and people will resent that.

Civil War, in my view, will be set along that particular fault line -- attempts to impose accountability on the protection that is, in fact, needed. No doubt those efforts will go too far (remember wikileaks and the untold damage THAT did, despite people's hailing Assange as a hero), and that's where we'll find our conflict. Let's hope the Russo brothers do it justice (and give us some decently written character moments in the process).
inkvoices: avengers:natasha thinkyinkvoices on May 4th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC)
I got wordy *grins*. (If only I could get that wordy more often in fics!)

I know the main theme of resentment was meant to be upheld by Wanda and Pietro, I spotted and appreciated the anti-Avengers graffiti with the dollar signs and the complete ignoring of the Iron Legion. (I noted as well that Baron Struker is apparently handed over to NATO and the ship Klauss is on has painted on the side 'Churchill'. I'm liking the expansion of this world into a more global context.)

You word this much better than me, that Tony sees an end game whilst Steve and Fury doesn't, In this context as well Thor saw getting the sceptre to be an end (and gets mad with Tony when the sceptre is stolen again, and wants to go after it again, only for Natasha to point out the goal has now changed and they now need to stop Ultron). I like this idea, that the 'job' is accepting this continual fight. And that we have Steve, Natasha, and Clint accepting this, and Bruce, Thor, and Tony not as a divison.

The 'stopping wars before they start cost lives' is funnily enough also where I'd disagree with Steve. There's something to be said for risk mitigation. In terms of accontability and Steve's argument with Tony that Tony went ahead with something without the team...is Steve's view, do we think, that accountability is collective? I'm having trouble reconciling a Steve who thinks people should be free to act and that there's no end game to security, with a Steve who cracks down on Tony's individual action, uless the focal point is that it's individual as hufflepuffsneak points out. Or maybe it's also what Tony is doing, or his disregard for consequences...?

My bet is on it being about accountability as well, based on the set up in Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron. They can't do the comics Civil War where it's about revealing identity, because not only are there no masks but everything was put on the internet. Also accountability feels far more relevant to the present day.
A clean house is the sign of a misspent lifealphaflyer on May 4th, 2015 06:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, oh -- you reminded me of what I thought was the unintentionally funniest line: "Strucker has been handed over to NATO."

Where to begin? That NATO has a detention facility? (Emm ... like ... where, and on whose authority?) That NATO would somehow have/take/accept jurisdiction over what amounts to a civilian arrest in a non-NATO member state? And all that without endless fucking sessions of the Atlantic Council in which the US will piss everyone off by suggesting the decision has already been taken, Canada would have to wait for instructions from Ottawa, France would make epically long and incomprehensible statements about something entirely different, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania make a joint statement on membership expansion, and Turkey and Greece make it all about the potential impact on Cyprus?

Right up there with that wonderful statement in Godzilla, that NATO had taken jurisdiction over Tokyo. No wonder people on this planet are paranoid.
spilt ink - inkvoices on May 4th, 2015 06:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
spilt ink - inkvoices on May 4th, 2015 06:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
endeni on May 17th, 2015 06:40 am (UTC)
/If Avengers was the film where they all came together, Age of Ultron is the film where they all struggle with what being an Avenger means – people or weapons, heroes or monsters, creators or destroyers – and decide if this if the life for them./ - Very true. *nods*
/If we call war killing and peace creation/ - Wow, hadn't thought about this war/creation dichotomy but it makes so much sense! *nods* And “A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts” is the perfect catchphrase for a movie that starts with an Avengers team but ends with a different one. ;)
/Compare that to what Natasha says about the ‘job’s not finished’ and tell me that Clint hasn't given Natasha a variation of that speech./ - I *love* this head-canon!
/she's decided now who she is, she's not playing roles anymore, she's not doing the good ways not to die but instead is committed to this/ - Wow, hadn't thought about the connections with CATWS, so interesting!
/"They're my mess." Clint's 'monster' reference is that in some ways he's still blaming himself for all the mess of Loki in Avengers and the impact on this team. Or perhaps not blaming, in light of his speech to Wanda, but feeling responsible./ - Oooh, interesting! In the Italian translation he says "They're my confusion", completely missing the "mess you made" additional meaning.
/he promises Wanda he’ll come back for her…/ - Wow, yes, that's totally the "I'm going to have a tearful call with my family now because I'm inevitably going to die in the next minute" trick...
/Clint is set up to be the one you think is going to die. (I didn’t think he would, not out of fan denial but because I’m actually too used to Whedon character deaths being more unexpected.)/ - Actually, I was never worried about Clint, not even a teensy bit. And what's worse I didn't even get that I was supposed to be worried until I got home and read other people's reviews. Like, the actor had to appear in the next Avengers movie, right? I didn't even catch on the fact that him telling his wife that when he got back he had that project to finish was a clear sign that he might not get home, I was so sure of his protagonist invulnerability LOL
/And then there’s the parts tying them together, like Pietro getting Clint shot at the start then saving Clint from gunfire by putting himself in harms way./ - Oh, that's right, such a neat mirror! *nods*
/I don’t like Tony’s joke when he first attempts to lift the hammer – I preferred the version in the trailer where he says he’ll be fair, but firmly cruel./ - Yes, I'm so irritated by that joke. Especially because it wasn't there in early trailer, which means someone later on actively decided to put it back... *shakes head*
And, ooh, yes on Tony and Ultron both needing an audience... *nods*

Edited at 2015-05-17 06:44 am (UTC)
inkvoices: avengers:assassins huginkvoices on May 17th, 2015 08:39 pm (UTC)
And “A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts” is the perfect catchphrase for a movie that starts with an Avengers team but ends with a different one. ;) Yes, yes it is :)

I viewed AOU Natasha as carrying on from Winter Solider Natasha, and I like that viewing so i'm sticking with it. I need to rewatch the earlier films though to tie it all together. I've not had the time yet, and I need to get over AOU first!

Did you watch it in Italian? Sorry, I have no idea which part of the world you hail from. Translations are always interesting - I read an article once that described all translations as interpreations, which I like the idea of, but also frustrates me sometimes when I'm reading a book and I wonder what words the author actually used,

Clint wasn't actually confirmed as a character for any of the future movies, which I think was further trolling. I think he's now been confirmed for Civil War. But even with all that I just...didn't think it would happen. Not fan denial, more too obvious red herring?

After Peitro's death caught me by surprise, in my later viewings I deliberately went looking for the threads that led up to it, all 'what did I miss?!' *grins*

Yeah, that joke was my one real NO THANK YOU moment. I mean seriously, we don't need that shit.

Also, I'm friending you, hope that's okay, because HI you're interesting and you post interesting things :D
endeni on May 18th, 2015 07:43 am (UTC)
Yes, I'm Italian. *nods*
Here everything gets dubbed. Technically nowdays some theaters do screening in original language sometimes but I sadly didn't manage to catch one for AoU. I guess I'll have to wait for the DVDs... Italian dubbers are always *amazing* but, yes, translations are definitely interpretations. Plus there are things like puns and wordplay that are often untranslatable (and most of the time are funnier in the original language). Plus with complex things like MCU you have to take a lot of context into account too. Like, the first time Clint gets a phone-call his answer is "Yessir!" in Italian, while I gather that he says "Yes Mam" in the original English. The translation is not wrong per se, since I guess you could say "sissignore" AKA "yessir" to a woman, except they obviously didn't check the contest, since he was obviously speaking to his wife. *shakes head*
Actually, this kind of thing mostly happens with trailers and stuff (and makes me go kind of nuts). Like in one of the CATWS trailers, where Nat is saying something about setting up Cap with a woman from the statistics department and the translators went with something like, "based on the statistics" :D By the time the movie comes around things are usually less rushed though.

Yay, friending you back! ;)

Edited at 2015-05-18 07:52 am (UTC)