The Surprising Dangers Of “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” (Spoilers, Because Society Forces It….) [Double-Team Review A]

By popGeezer | May 13, 2015

This is not the review it was supposed to be. Originally, this was going to start with a 1950’s-1960 definition of epic film-making – i.e. The Sound Of Music, Lawrence Of Arabia, Cleopatra, et. al. – and how the frequency of these mid-century blockbusters made them the exception, not the rule, of studio movies. I’d then explain how our modern movie summers are laden with these colossal, mind-bending behemoths. I would postulate how this wasn’t a great thing, but I was going to give Avengers: Age Of Ultron props for trying to be more than a noise and light machine… especially when the movie was about a noise and light machine trying to destroy the world.

But then…. two things happened.

First, this:

And then, this:

Allow me to explain.

In Avengers: Age Of Ultron, more than a few citizens of the popular culture responded NEGATIVELY to Black Widow’s role in the film. They focused on what they saw as three key areas of offense:

  1. The Widow (Scarlett Johanssen) has one basic job in The Avengers, to use her femininity to act as the Hulk’s “mommy”, calming him back to his Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) state.
  2. Then, in expanding her role in this film, we just let her become Bruce Banner’s girlfriend.
  3. We discover, in flashback, that her wicked Russian handlers (Soviet-era, maybe?) sterilized her, as the last step of her becoming a killing machine.

Now when it comes to summer popcorn movies, this seems like some pretty serious expectations to have. But, adding most of the fuel to this fire, is the fact that Avengers is once again written and directed by known Feminist icon, Joss Whedon. On TV, Joss has worked within the system – often rallying against it – to create Buffy and Faith The Vampire Slayers, Willow Rosebnberg the sensitive Lesbian Witch, all the women of the Serenity, and Echo (the I’m not a plaything) imprint girl.

Though I try to be empathetic to many key causes in our modern American society – racism, sexism, LGBT rights, just being nice – I admit being really conflicted here. But, for a moment, let’s accept the charge of misogyny lobbed at A: AoU.

If that movie is guilty of such a thing, then what about Gone Girl?

I bring this up because I have never read the novel and have just watched the film. Why is the creation and depiction of a beautiful sociopath (“Amazing” Amy) –  who goes to insane lengths to punish her husband, only then to clutch him back to herself by trapping him in a loveless marriage – NOT a misogynistic view of married woman? Especially when this character was created by a woman – Gillian Flynn – both onscreen and in the original novel?

Now, having not seen Gone Girl at the time of its release, maybe I missed all that press. But I don’t think so. I don’t think the reaction to Amy was so brutal that Flynn or director David Fincher had to flee social media (if they were ever on it).

I understand that Whedon not only has a reputation, he has been as vocally pro-Feminist as any male creator in Hollywood. But to now hold him to a higher standard of fidelity to the cause than a successful female writer is – at the very least – reverse-sexist…. Right? Am I missing something? Are you saying that having strong a female character perform below her full potential is worse than portraying a grown woman as a full-scale nut-job? And don’t forget that the super-heroine can’t get pregnant, but the other “crazy” lady uses that biological ability as part of her plan of male torture.

I will not try and force you to believe that there is NOT misogyny strewn throughout the media of our popular culture.

I will not try and get you to believe that women are NOT underrepresented as both creators of content and as those who run the companies who distribute that content.

And I certainly will not try and get you to agree that giving a movie to Captain Marvel (in 2018) before giving Black Widow her own movie is IN ANY WAY fair and just.

And I won’t tell you that Social Media is NOT crazy.

I will tell you these things:

  1. Joss Whedon is a feminist.
  2. Scarlett does an admirable job with this role, regardless of how she felt about Natasha’s actions in this movie.
  3. Avengers: Age Of Ultron is as entertaining as a summer tent-pole has to be.
  4. The Vision? How could you not go see this movie?!?!?
  5. Our Cadillac Jack will actually review the movie.

Thank you – Excelsior – And Avengers Assemble 4EVER!!!

3 Responses to “The Surprising Dangers Of “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” (Spoilers, Because Society Forces It….) [Double-Team Review A]”

  1. Alan Stewart Says:
    May 13th, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    “Am I missing something? Are you saying that having strong a female character perform below her full potential is worse than portraying a grown woman as a full-scale nut-job?”

    I feel sure that “Gone Girl”’s portrayal of Amy *would* have been criticized as misogynistic if the book or film had implied that Amy’s behavior was somehow typical of all women. Which the book, at least, did not. (I still haven’t seen the film.) That said, I agree with you that the criticism of Joss over Natasha’s portrayal in “A:AoU” is largely overblown and misplaced.

  2. popGeezer Says:
    May 13th, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    In terms of Gone Girl the film, Amy’s voice-overs certainly make it plain she is stating her theory of what marriage is. If she is as narcissistic and imperious as I – as a viewer – thought she was, then I felt she was making a universal statement about marriage… With which I didn’t agree. And which I felt – as Amy was narcissistic enough to think it was – she was making a universal statement that I found demeaning to sane women.

  3. Alan Stewart Says:
    May 13th, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    That’s interesting. The book flips regularly between Amy and Nick as narrators, and while neither is completely reliable (to say the least — halfway through you learn Amy has been lying through her teeth in every chapter up to that point), Nick comes off as more sympathetic and certainly as the sane one in the relationship. I, at least, never felt that Flynn was inviting me to share Amy’s viewpoint. Sounds like the film version (which I realize she also wrote) may go for a different effect. I’ll probably see it sometime in the next few weeks, so I’ll see what I think after that.