REVIEW by Richard Rivera
Stan Lee, god bless him, has gotten old and rich doing what he enjoys, trumpeting
the work he did fifty years ago and outlasting his co-creators like Jack Kirby
(Daredevil, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers) and Steve Ditko (Spider-Man).
Every creator wants to see his work get its due but at this point I think we are almost MARVEL-ed out.
The latest film in the Avengers saga, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, sadly employs
the same formulaic endless battle scenes—attackers, too numerous to count; the impossible odds; and then the frozen moment tableaux that shows all our heroes in their action poses kicking the ever-loving you-know-what outta their enemies... Is that what is tiresome about these movies? Or maybe it’s the contrived plot points for characters, like Tony Stark stepping out of his Iron Man suit to investigate his enemy’s lair? Or trusting tech spawned in a Hydra computer?
Since we are already acquainted
with the story line of S.H.I.E.L.D
versus Hydra from Captain
America, and our heroes’ back-
story, there is little to make one
sit up and take notice. Granted,
there is a truly great performance
by James Spader, an awesome
encounter between a rampant
Hulk and a new creation, a
terrific appearance by Andy
Serkis (Lord of the Rings, Gollum), and there are a couple of solid notable moments of character building in the film that center around Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and another with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), which I will not give away—but otherwise, although the old formulas of chase scenes and mega villains are warm and familiar they are clearly hackneyed.
Part of the problem is inherent in sequels that carry so much baggage, and partly it is the legacy of stories that are fifty years old. Honestly, not all of the Marvel stories have been so tired. The first Spider-Man (2002) with Toby Maguire and the first Iron Man (2008) brought a degree of freshness to the genre while revealing the origins as well as the character’s flaws which made them more human. It is that element that also distinguished the original Marvel comic stories from the competition when they were first written in the 60s.
Compelling stories always come down to human drama based on real emotion, regardless of whether it is in a comic book or a novel. The Avengers: Age of Ultron made nearly $200 million its opening weekend, indicating that audiences are hungry for a good story regardless if it is action/sci-fi, and I can only imagine that they were more than a bit disappointed.
On the television front Marvel hits much closer to the mark with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D which follows the exploits of Agent Phil Colsen (and answering the question of how he returned from his death in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and the riveting Daredevil series.
MARVEL-ed out? Maybe.
May 21, 2015
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