Whether you are trapped in a swamp of assignments or swimming in the middle of a golden campus life, Avengers: Age of Ultron is worth devoting your time. It is a successful sequel with an unprecedented theme for the superhero genre. Several Marvel superheroes head its cast all at once.
This film holds a special position to Korean fans because 20 minutes of outstanding action sequences are set in Seoul, and Claudia Kim plays a significant role in the overall plot. Kim,s performance clearly differs from the “much ado about nothing” that Fan BingBing delivered in X-men: Days of Future Past.
The Seoul sequences and role of Kim are concrete proof of the popularity of the series in Korea. In an article at pro.boxoffice.com, reporter Jonathan Papish stated that Korea ranked as the top international market for this Marvel blockbuster, earning the franchise 72 million of the total 562.4 million dollars as of May 10. Meanwhile, according to the Korean Film Council, Age of Ultron has attracted 10,447,579 viewers in Korea by May 30, surpassing the symbolic record of 10 million, a highly triumphant box office hit.
Joss Whedon, the director of the Avengers series, faced a sophomore slump after creating The Avengers. Unlike the trilogy of The Lord of Rings which culminates into one big plot, Avengers: Age of Ultron needed to stand alone. More spectacular battle sequences with cutting-edge visual effects were needed. In addition to that, the progress of the characters and the plot had to blend well. In an interview with MTV, Whedon explained that he had to abandon 30 minutes of additional work, including scenes of the character Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, to complete this balancing act. He may not have accomplished all missions, but he produced a satisfying work where everything came together in the end.
More Superpower to Them!
As in the first Avengers, the characters in Age of Ultron successfully appeals to the audience once again - fully developed, emotionally accessible, and armed with clever wit. The state-of-the-art computer-generated imagery is also more attractive.
The major characters in the Avengers gained fame as distinguished heroes, already represented in their own franchises. In this new movie, Avengers receives new blood, retaining original values while offering the novelty of fresh heroes. Tony Stark, who is also called Iron Man in his suit played by Robert Downey, Jr., is the most popular character in Korea; this time, he returns with a magnificent new heavy weapon called the Hulkbuster and with his particular wit. A splendid battle sequence between the Hulk and Hulkbuster is indeed a maximum catharsis combining high-tech vision with the invincible power of the Hulk, the alter ego of Dr. Bruce Banner, portrayed by Mark Ruffalo. The thrill is similar to what audiences experience while watching Transformers. Tony Stark’s humor provides the finishing touch that makes the scene unique to The Avengers series.
Archetypes and Values
The film’s characters serve as archetypes for other values, as well. Captain America/Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, represents leadership and the spirit of sacrifice, with a touch of compassion as he calls the new Avengers base camp “home.” These values represent the archetypal soldier-warrior, who has space for nothing apart from patriotism and justice. Yet as a character, even the usually serious Steve Rogers displays clever banter that contributes to the film’s wit.
Other characters, such as Black Widow and Hawkeye, add a more earthly, human dimension to the arsenal of superheroes, with values that strengthen and develop through the plot. These characters’ personal stories - Hawkeye’s back stories of living as a regular man with family and Black Widow’s tragic past and unexpected romance with the Hulk - provide deeper emotional access. In one example of this emotional development, Hawkeye delivers a touching speech that convinces Scarlet Witch to join the Avengers. In another example, when Bruce Banner refuses Natasha’s romantic escape plan, Natasha mournfully describes herself as a “monster,” a reference to her sterility. This humanistic touch effectively draws the audience into the film more than Hawkeye’s all-purpose arrows and the sex-appeal of Black Widow, played by Scarlet Johansson.
Ultron - A Destroyer who Fails to Evolve
“I know you’re good people. I know you mean well. But you just did not think it through. There is only one path to peace... your extinction.” Breaking into the Avengers’ moments of peace and celebration, Ultron delivers this message to announce his arrival as the ultimate villain. Ultron is an interesting, creative, artificially intelligent adversary originally designed for peace-keeping by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. Unlike villains aiming solely on pure destruction, such as the Joker in Batman, the conflict in Age of Ultron reflects one of the great debates of the 21st century: clashing perspectives on how to achieve peace. Ultron has a plan: lift Sokovia, an imagined Eastern European country, from Earth, and crash it back down, thereby destroying all life on Earth. As an allegory, the character is brilliant as it reflects an error in many philosophies that turn evil: the end does not justify the means.
As a plot device and an opportunity for great special effects, Ultron’s plan is effective, as well. Terminating all human beings by nuclear weapons would have been too simple and dull to complete the business. On top of this, the final battle sequence between Ultron and the Avengers in Sokovia is indeed visually eye-popping, satisfying the audience.
In spite of his ingenuity, Ultron misses an opportunity to be a more attractive villain. If The Avengers series is supposed to follow a structure where heroes defeat evil through cooperation, which is not possible if they operate separately, the villain’s threat and the helplessness of the separated protagonists should have been depicted more intensely so that the purpose of gathering the heroes under the name of Avengers makes more sense. Even with all the advantages of his army of mini-Ultrons made of Vibranium, the strongest imaginary metal on Earth, and his allies, two genetically-enhanced twins, Ultron appears somewhat weak. He fails to protect his masterpiece, the android called Vision, and later allows the Maximoff twins to abandon him. Far from being formidable, he displays human emotion - loneliness as he keeps Black Widow alive to show off his evil plan and pitifully says with his battered body to Scarlet Witch, “If you stay here, you’ll die.” It simply fails to bring about the fear that might exceed that of the huge Chitauri army in the first film.
Age of Ultron adequately meets audience expectations around the world. If Ex Machina offered a more tailored and attractive A.I., and Guardians of the Galaxy showed a greater sense of humor and plot development, Age of Ultron would hold a unique position with its extraordinary ensemble of superheroes adorned with clever wit and advanced visual effects. The film, however, offers abundant moments of entertainment, and the conditions for a successful blockbuster are clearly satisfied.