Avengers: Age of Ultron (Gods and Monsters)

As expected, the latest outing of the Avengers has made millions for its makers. Reviews, however, have been mixed. Frankly, I don’t know why some critics are so hard on the director, Joss Whedon, when I think he remained focused throughout the movie.

Yes, there was violence galore but what was more important for him was the question of the monsters in us and how we deal with them. Of course, the most obvious one is Banner’s Hulk. It is easy enough to call him a monster for obvious reasons but not all monsters are that obvious. How could one ever think of Natasha Romanov (a.k.a. Black Widow) as a monster? Yet, she sees herself as one. No, not because she’s a trained assassin who’s probably killed dozens but something much deeper.

And what of Ultron himself? You know what they say about the road to Hell, the result of the inspired work of Stark and Banner is, well, monstrous. Created to protect humans, his mind takes a darker path that they are best protected by annihilating the current crop. That’s us by the way.

Even the troika of the Soldier, the Knight and the God (Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, respectively) have their darker sides. In the end, the one Avenger that was least monstrous was the one that turned out to have a wife and kids. If he was monstrous, then it was only because it was his job, and it was something that he longed to leave…eventually.

And there I think Joss wanted us to focus. The world is a mess. It’s scary and the universe holds even scarier stuff we know nothing of. But, hey, if we have those we love with us, the world is less scarier…and we? We realize we are not the monsters we thought.

It is easy enough to mistake the Avengers as gods but they are not. Seeing them do what they do, they can just as equally scare us. Gods and monsters. They are one and the same. it is the challenge of being an Avenger to be one and not the other, and even if we don’t have their powers and abilities, we too share the same struggle. We can just as easily be monstrous but if we are anchored on our humanity, we can avoid it altogether. I thought Joss successfully showed that on screen.

The struggle is best seen in Ultron and Vision. Same creators, different outcomes largely through the intervention of something outside, one of the Infinity Stones. Vision is also partly made by Ultron himself in a search for the perfect body, to evolve into something else. Leave the monster as it was. Vision, when awakened, thinks for himself. He is, he says, neither good nor evil. He is for life and, as it turns out, well capable of swinging Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer that no mere mortal can wield. Only the most worthy as even Captain America couldn’t. Vision is the ultimate form. One might say a god as against Ultron, the devil.

Parenthetically, people differ in their interpretation of this development. Some see man’s struggle to better himself. Others, the shirking of God and the supremacy of man. That’s philosophy, and that too is an interesting theme to ponder on.

The Avengers was never meant to be an Oscar runner. Just enjoy it for what it is: a moving graphic novel. One question though: did anyone see Julie Delpy in the movie? She was supposed to be a Madam B but, for the life of me, I can’t recall seeing her or her character in the movie…

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