Showing posts with label Avengers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Avengers. Show all posts

Hawkeye: The Unexpected Star of Avengers: Age of Ultron

*Contains minor spoilers*

In a movie that's full of popular superheroes and teasers about the Marvel Cinematic Universe's exciting future, one of the biggest surprises in Avengers: Age of Ultron is just how much love Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, received. Director-writer Joss Whedon certainly made Hawkeye an impressive archer in the first movie, but this follow-up does an excellent job humanizing the marksman.
How could just one man with a bow and arrows hope to make a difference when his teammates can shatter mountains with their fists, run as fast as cars, fly above ordinary people, and effortlessly humiliate armed enemies with nothing but their bare hands? The character may get ripped on for being just "a dude with a bow," but this movie proved he's an essential part of the team. He may not have fancy powers or armor, but the movie's heartfelt and humorous approach to the hero turned him into one of the standout characters -- and that's saying a lot since this is a movie that's absolutely loaded with spectacle.

Who is Hawkeye and why should you care about him? That's a question the first movie failed to answer. The Avengers showed he has phenomenal aim and some cool trick arrows, but aside from that, he was just Black Widow's friend and the guy who was unlucky enough to get brainwashed by Loki. By the time Avengers: Age of Ultron opened in theaters, he was the only current Avenger to not receive a proper amount of insight. Thankfully, Whedon fixed that by subverting just about everyone's expectations of the movie. Sure, it still has a fast pace and almost always finds a way to throw action and comedy in there, but the look at Hawkeye's personality and his life takes us out of all of the seemingly surreal craziness and makes things far more relatable. Suddenly, we get to see what it's truly like to be a "normal" human on a team full of powerhouses and geniuses.
While Clint may not be the one making the big calls or providing tactical insight, he does prove to be the heart of the team. When everything hits the fan, it's Hawkeye who's able to inspire Scarlet Witch, an incredibly important character to the story and possibly the future of their universe. Someone like Captain America or Black Widow could have given her an inspirational speech, but Clint's words of wisdom were both hilarious and uplifting. He's able to point out just how absurd the situation is, but despite that, nothing will stop him from doing everything he can to save humanity from Ultron. If a man with such a simple weapon can stand against this insanity, why can't Scarlet Witch find the courage to fight using her stunning powers? It was just the kind of talk she needed to get her back out there and battle Ultron's forces.

Hawkeye's role technically isn't "important" compared to Captain America or Iron Man when it comes to the bigger picture, but his arc gave us all such a better emotional connection to the character and it made him infinitely more likable. It's cool he can shoot an arrow absurdly well and has a variety of pretty awesome trick arrows, but now when we see him in Captain America: Civil War, we'll know the guy firing those arrows isn't just some generic fellow who occasionally cracks a joke or two.

Man of Steel vs. Avengers: Age of Ultron - Let's talk about the destruction

Avengers: Age of Ultron is finally in U.S. theaters and comparisons to Man of Steel have already begun. In Joss Whedon's sequel to The Avengers, an especially big focus is placed on the Avengers doing everything they can to make sure innocent people aren't harmed during their explosive and crazy battles. Obviously, this is pretty different from Superman's struggle with Kryptonian forces who sought to terraform Earth -- a process that would kill every single human on the planet. Do I think Superman could have done more in his conflict and he made a few foolish decisions? Absolutely. However, I do think the handling of destruction was used to illustrate different points in both movies. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, it's there to remind us that being a hero is all about saving people. In Man of Steel, it's all about showing the seemingly unbelievable nightmare Kal-El had to overcome in his very first conflict as a superhero.
First and foremost, I feel obligated to point out differences that should be obvious. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the team is mostly full of experienced characters who have worked together and they follow Captain America, a guy who's just oozing hope and he makes you want to be a better person. When a train is speeding through a crowded area, would Quicksilver have saved civilians if Captain America hadn't given the order? If it wasn't for the super-soldier, would the speedster have focused on grabbing his sister, Scarlet Witch, and raced both of them to safety, only to then feel heartbreak as he realizes how many people were killed by that swift decision? With everything happening so quickly, I'd say it's a possibility and it's one worth thinking about. That just goes to show the influence Steve Rogers can have on even an inexperienced individual. In addition to being an experienced team led by a tactical genius with a heart of gold, it's worth noting the Marvel team had prep time and way more resources. As a battle with Baron von Stucker sent explosives into a city, Tony Stark had the means to order robots into the city and had them warn the people to evacuate. They don't listen to Stark's technology, but hey, A for effort, right? In the final conflict, the Avengers had time to warn the authorities about what's coming their way and did everything they can to help people evacuate. And then when everything did hit the fan, they still tried to save people while fighting plenty of Ultron robots. Each of them had their own task and they were often spread out. For many, the balancing act of saving people and defeating the immediate threats was fairly doable. They have experience in the field, many teammates, a whole lot of resources, and they even had time to prepare. DC's powerful hero didn't have any of those luxuries.

It's a pretty common misconception that Superman destroyed most of Metropolis. While Superman does make some errors in his fights -- don't worry, I'll address those in a bit -- it's the World Engine that's responsible for a vast majority of the destruction in the city. Some people called Zack Snyder's handling of those sequences "disaster porn." All of the violent madness didn't have me cheering or exclaiming "awesome!" It's not there to enthrall you; it's there to shock you. To me, it shows just how ridiculously formidable Superman's first challenge is. How can anyone hope to overcome something so disastrous? The movie didn't pull any punches; it showed us Zod's forces are heartless and they had no problem slaughtering humanity. They viewed us as ants and had no hesitation whatsoever crushing us under their absurdly strong and durable feet. This wasn't a threat that had me saying, "Yeah, Superman will obviously win and all will be well." It's a threat that had me thinking, "Superman needs to stop this right away because this is freaking insane and humanity has no chance stopping it on their own."
I would have loved to see a more inspiring big screen version of Superman, but instead what we did receive is one that I believe feels more appropriate for the DC Cinematic Universe's "realistic" tone. They're going for something different and, so far, I'm liking it. Clark spent his entire life holding back and avoiding conflicts. Now, his first day as a superhero is against characters who are just as powerful as he is and they're more experienced in combat. With civilians out of the way in the Smallville battle -- a luxury the Avengers didn't have -- this novice hero still attempted to move the fight twice (he failed both times as his enemies grabbed him). Even though the odds aren't in his favor, he's still able to save a few troops who are unlucky enough to be in the war zone. He obviously can't save everyone when two powerhouses are on top of him, but you can't really say he didn't try to, either.

"Why couldn't he fly Zod out of the city?" That's a question I often hear. It's just a one-on-one brawl, right? Well, I imagine it's for the very same reason that Iron Man couldn't take Hulk away from a populated region. Clark spends much of the skirmish getting handled; he's still new to using his powers against others and he's spent his entire life trying not to get into fights. He's the one who's knocked into orbit! During that encounter, much of the damage is caused by Zod's attacks. I'm not saying Superman didn't cause any damage, but it always baffles me how someone can watch the Battle of Metropolis with an open mind and say, "Yeah, Superman destroyed most of the city." When Zod throws Superman through multiple buildings, are we really blaming Big Blue for that destruction? Or what about when Zod takes down a building with heat vision? Or all of the damage the World Engine unleashed? When Superman does briefly have the edge, he's punching Zod between and around buildings. He's not smashing the villain through anything and everything he can -- a tactic that Zod used just moments later against the hero.

Look, I'm not saying Superman's actions are without blame. Stuff like his punch after the "you die or I do" line is obviously a big mistake. Part of me wonders whether that building was already empty. Seeing as that takes place quite some time after an alien ship started attacking the city, you would imagine most people have fled the buildings in that region. The first building the two go crashing into -- the one that Zod destroys with heat vision -- appears to be empty, after all. Honestly, it probably wasn't completely empty, though. Aside from that punch and Superman smashing Zod's face against glass (which is pretty minor damage compared to what we regularly see in comics), I think a huge portion of the damage done in that encounter is because of Zod's actions, and with the alien general being on top of him, Superman doesn't exactly have time to fly around and pull everyone out of the rubble.
When the LexCorp truck hits a parking garage and blows up, Superman is left gazing at the chaos. I'd say there's two possible reasons for this. The first: the dude is simply staring at the blast and would probably love Michael Bay's movies. The second: he's looking in the structure to see if anyone needs help. I'd like to believe it's the latter and it seems safe to assume so, but seeing as Zod comes rushing in, there's no way to tell for sure. That said, I absolutely think Clark's responsible for taking at least a few lives in the Smallville fight. I mean, I do get what Snyder was going for when Clark lashed out. The hero spent decades holding back, but now, someone who can withstand his punches has crossed a line by attacking his mother. After years of attempting to keep it cool, Clark finally unleashes. He tackles Zod all the way through what appears to be power plants and they eventually plow through a gas station and the location explodes. There was at least one car at a pump and you know there's at least one employee in there. So, Clark snapping (I swear that pun is unintentional) absolutely resulted in killing at least two innocent people in that scene.

While I do think Clark made a few mistakes, it's important to remember this is his journey to becoming Superman and the guy just learned how to fly -- that really goes to show just how new he is to all of this. To top it off, he's on his own against overwhelming odds. I view it as someone doing everything they can to stand up against the ultimate threat and they'll push themselves as hard as they can to make sure the villain doesn't succeed. It may not be a "cheerworthy" action sequence, but that's also kind of why I love it; it's offering something different. He may not feel like the comic book Superman many have come to know and expect, but he held his own against a threat that seemed impossible to overcome. He didn't destroy the city. Because of his actions, much of Metropolis is still standing. (There's several shots that reveal just how vast the city is.) You may not like how he saved the day, but in the end, he did indeed save the entire planet and there were certainly more than a few instances of him putting himself in danger to save others throughout the movie. So, I still view Man of Steel as Clark's path to becoming Superman. Now that he's made his debut and protected Earth from its first alien threat, here's hoping the dude shows more of the qualities you'd expect from him in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first trailer shows how the world is reacting to him, but we've yet to see how he's responding to all of the praise and hatred. This will be a critical movie for the character.
If there's one thing both movies are guilty of, it's glossing over the ramifications of the destruction. In Avengers, the Battle of New York receives a little bit of follow-up, but it's mostly there to quickly say how the world feels about the team and then goes to offering more humor. In Age of Ultron, we see a statue is built that honors the humans who did what they could to protect each other on that day, but aside from a body count and talk of construction in Daredevil, the Battle of New York is basically forgotten before another large city (and in turn, the world) is put in danger. Tony Stark says he sends aid to the city ravaged by his fight with the Hulk and, in the big finale, the Avengers are able to get a majority of a city's population to safety. However, once the day is saved, it rushes to teasing the Marvel Cinematic Universe's future. We can assume Stark will once again send aid, but I imagine many people are now left without homes. A huge portion of the country was removed, after all. It would be fitting to see something like Stark saying he'll dedicate some of his resources to creating housing complexes and what not. You'd think he would feel a little guilty after his weapons previously caused so much pain and suffering to those people and now so many of them have lost everything they own.

In Man of Steel, we go from one of the most powerful scenes to a more lighthearted sequence. A major U.S. city just suffered a devastating attack and there's no follow-up whatsoever. There's no talk of Superman helping to search for people in the rubble or him helping them rebuild. It just jumps to business as usual. People are back in the city like nothing has changed! It's an odd move seeing as the world just witnessed such a colossal tragedy. Thankfully, it looks like the Battle of Metropolis will play a key role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's story. Better late than never, yeah?

Watching Avengers: Age of Ultron and then saying that's how the destruction should have been handled in MoS just isn't an opinion I agree with. They're totally different situations with totally different tones. I do understand why someone would feel that way, though. Could Superman have made a few smarter decisions? Absolutely. Do I think the handling in AoU is more inspiring? For sure. But to me, the horrifying and shocking way the destruction is handled in Man of Steel fits the story's tone. It goes to show just how staggering the alien invasion is and illustrates just how far Superman must go to save humanity. It's a movie that shows us how just one man stands against a devastating, overwhelming, and terrifying alien invasion. If people that powerful are going to clash in a populated area and it's taking a more "grounded" approach, the battle's going to be devastating no matter how much the hero tries to contain the damage.

Avengers: Age of Ultron reminds me why Captain America and his allies are heroes that deserve our admiration. As the world around them crumbles, they want to make sure they use their abilities to protect the people who are trapped in the middle of all the craziness. Man of Steel reminds me that Kal-El went through a ridiculously daunting and frightening experience to save humanity from his very own people. Both movies involve a whole lot of destruction, and both involve heroes doing everything they can to prevent the death of more innocent people. They just go about presenting it in completely different ways.

Avengers: Age of Ultron review

Hey internet,

This week I was fortunate enough to see Avengers: Age of Ultron a few days before it opens here in the United States. (I'm sure international readers are saying, "Better late than never, Gregg.") Not only was I lucky enough to watch an early screening of Joss Whedon's ridiculously anticipated sequel to The Avengers, but I was also lucky enough to review it for Comic Vine! So, here's the spoiler-free review:
http://www.comicvine.com/reviews/avengers-age-of-ultron/1900-4072/


Marvel's The Avengers Review

Marvel's The Avengers Review

Marvel's The Avengers is a movie we've been anxiously waiting to see for years now.  If you're a comic book fan, the dream of watching this A-list team together on the big screen could be over a decade old.  What really hit home was when Nick Fury came out of nowhere and blew our minds with that post-credits scene in Iron Man back in 2008. It was the collective fanboy jaw-drop heard around the world.  The Avengers was a reality that was continually teased in the other Marvel Studios movies, and now, it's finally here.  Does it live up to the Galactus-sized hype or fail harder than the Red Skull's attempt at world domination?  I'm beyond thrilled to say it not only meets the expectations, but also completely smashes them.  Marvel Studios has managed to create a ridiculously fun superhero movie that'll make both fanboys and casual fans want to see it over and over again.

The story here is absolutely big enough to justify the gathering of the team and manages to keep you engaged the whole time as it takes elements from both the classic Avengers stories and the second volume of Mark Millar's The Ultimates.  The mischievous Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is looking to conquer Earth, and to do so, he's aligned himself with an alien army (I won't spoil who they are).  With the tesseract (cosmic cube), Thor's "brother" is a cosmic force that would require a miracle to stop. Luckily for us humans, Nick Fury (Sam Jackson) has this little thing called The Avengers Initiative on file.  And yes, this movie positively lays out the groundwork for a follow-up.
A film like this is insanely difficult to pull off.  The chore of juggling so many characters isn't easy and we've seen it play a role in obliterating comic book movies before (you know what you did, X-Men: The Last Stand and Spider-Man 3).  Thankfully, director Joss Whedon ( The Cabin in the Woods, Firefly) was the perfect man for the job. "In Whedon we trust" is a common phrase by Whedonites.  If you weren't  saying it before, I'm damn sure you will be after seeing this film.  The roster is packed and Whedon is able to give the varied characters the respect they deserve. Each hero (and villain) is given a good amount of screen time for depth and they definitely have their fair share of incredibly bad-ass moments.  I've always said that Whedon's greatest talent is his ability to craft top-notch banter, and Marvel's The Avengers is proof of this. These characters are all so drastically different when it comes to their personalities, so when they go at it verbally, the result is pure gold most of the time. There are countless laughs to enjoy in this one.

Regarding the rest of the talent, no one really falls short.  We've already seen most of these actors in their respective roles before and they do every bit as well, if not slightly better due to the sharp writing giving them more to work with.  Robert Downey Jr. continues to bring the laughs as the sarcastic Tony Stark, Chris Evans pulls off the confidence Captain America requires, Tom Hiddleston continues to make Loki the most interesting Marvel Studios villain to date, so on and so on.  If they're not exactly like their comic book counter-part, then they're certainly close enough to make you feel as though they've been stripped from the panels.
The action in this movie will make you feel like a kid again and leave you completely in awe.  We get just about every hero versus hero combination we've been dying to see and the final act is absolute perfection. War breaks out in New York and every Avenger is right in the middle of it.  This battle has a beautifully organic flow, moving from one character to the next as they continue to amaze us with what I can firmly call the best action sequence I've seen in a long time.  It has too many top-notch crowd-pleasing moments to count.

Hulk is without question the highlight of this movie.  He's the physical powerhouse he needs to be, and Mark Ruffalo does a fine job as Banner.  The CGI holds up the entire ride and it's amazing how this literally looks like a 'roided-out Ruffalo.  To go into detail would totally spoil his moments, but let's just say there's plenty of smashing and even more laughs to be had.  Hulk gets the amount of battles he deserves, and I can confidently say these will be the scenes you'll be talking about when you walk out of the theater.  It would be madness to not give this version of Hulk a solo movie, so they better make that happen in 2015.


Marvel's The Avengers will be heavily debated as the best comic book movie, but it's definitely not perfect (then again, what movie truly is?).  The first few acts are the low points as they go through the mandatory steps of establishing the overall plot and bringing the characters together.  It simply didn't feel as big or superb as the movie needs to be. The resolution also felt pretty standard and wrapped up a little too easily.  That said, these are minor criticisms and ultimately won't matter all that much because the rest will blow you away.

Marvel's The Avengers is sporting Hulk's strength and raised the bar for comic book movies.  So, unless you severely loathe the genre, there is no reason at all to not rush out and see it as soon as possible.  When the movie comes to end (sit through the credits for two extra scenes!), you'll want to go through the must-see experience all over again.  

A+