Review season is just about upon us for TV shows, so I figured I’d kick it off with a review of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. If you haven’t seen it, then scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating… unless you want to be spoiled. Yes, there will be spoilers mentioned. You’ve been warned. 🙂
Let’s start with Robert Downey Jr as (Ironman) Tony Stark and Chris Evans as (Captain America) Steve Rogers. If you can’t see Civil War coming out of this, then you missed a lot. Tony and Steve don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but Stark’s actions in this movie put them on separate paths toward a common goal. RDJ was once again perfect as Stark. In the comics it was Antman who had created Ultron, but they changed it for the movie. Having Stark create Ultron made a lot of sense here. It was done well overall and it brought out the character flaws this team had. Tony had already created the Iron Legion robo police force and his reasons for wanting to go further were justified. Steve is still trying to adjust to modern times, so being left in the dark about such a bold move was not something he felt was wise. The dynamic here was less about Ultron and the threat than it was about setting up Cap 3.
Chris Hemsworth shined as Thor. More focus was put on the true power that he wields, specifically Mjolnir. Thor’s confidence is almost a cockiness in his abilities and if Captain America almost lifting the hammer wasn’t bothersome enough to THor’s ego, then certainly Vision’s actions were. Heimdall‘s brief cameo fit well and I like how they set up what looks to be Thor 3: Ragnarok. Thor’s role here was to inform about the power of the infinity stones and the role they play in the universe.
Hulk (Bruce Banner) took more of a back seat for me in this movie. Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal was spot on, and though the Hulk shined we got to see more of the struggle Banner has coping with his alter ego. He accepts it less and fears it more than in the last movie. So much so that he is solely responsible for helping Ironman develop the Hulkbuster (veronica) armor. The presence of both Banner and Hulk were equally important this time, but I feel as though he was bullied a bit by Tony. I was a little caught off guard by the sexual tension between him and Natasha, but I’m glad that they strayed from that. Who knows where he ended up in the end. Fury mentioned the craft MIGHT have crashed into the ocean, but you can’t help but wonder if it was all a setup for another Hulk movie (Planet Hulk). I hope not as I don’t particularly like that story.
Scarlett Johansson has proven my initial thoughts on her in the role to be completely false. I love her as Black Widow (Natasha Romanov), though I do have one issue. Whedon could have corrected the lack of RUssian accent in the flashback to her ballet days, but he chose to ignore it. I was pleased that we got a little more of her background though and everything that was hinted at in her prior appearances. Her crush on Banner was strange to me, but then again I was blown away that her relationship with Clint was less intimate than I’d rightfully assumed.
Jeremy Renner really took the lead in this movie. Hawkeye (Clint Barton) was finally called his codename and it was fun how it was done and the reasoning. I was blown away by the reveal of his family but it was a welcome change. There needed to be someone with some kind of personal life and he being the choice made sense. While Cap was the leader and Tony the funding of the team, Hawkeye was the glue that held them together.
War Machine (James Rhodes) and Falcon (Sam Wilson), played by Don Cheadle and Anthony Mackie cameoed in important minor roles that by the ending you realize will become much more in the next installment.
Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff) and Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) were perfect. Aaron Taylor Johnson was a much better Quicksilver than the already likeable one that was in X-Men DOFP. My only regrets are that he had to die because of the dual studios usage of the character. In a battle like this however there are bound to be casualties, so I’m fine with the choice. Elizabeth Olsen was both sexy and creepy in her role, and I’m happy with the portrayal of her powers. The slight modification worked well and the hint at the twins’ past can be touched upon more if Marvel ever ended up with rights to X-men. The twins beginning as antagonists and becoming heroes was everything I wanted to see with them.
Vision is both the evolution of JARVIS and the creation of Ultron. His origin was similar to the comics and his presence and sleek look were a very welcome addition. He was to this movie as Hulk was to the last, and earned his place quickly. Although his solar gem atop his head was changed to the mind gem, the origin and use of that which was once in Loki’s scepter placed well. It was a primary reason why he became so powerful and heroic. As part machine with organic matter in him, he is able to wield it without being corrupted by temptation or control. They even gave a nod to the romance that will be eventual between him and Scarlet Witch.
Samuel L Jackson is always great to see as Nick Fury, and with him and Maria Hill back on the scene with SHIELD it will be interesting to see where this takes the agents of shield series.
Finally, on to the villains…
Baron Von Strucker while having a minor role was a good starting point for the film. Why not have a minor subplot with HYDRA before kicking into another threat? I’ve welcomed this with the Spiderman movies and any characters that have a huge rogues gallery.
Ulyses S. Klau played by Andy Serkis had a story element that will directly lead in to Black Panther. They mentioned Wakanda, he had his arm torn off, and he’d stolen vibranium. It is an excellent lead in that didn’t feel forced.
Ultron was easily the highlight of this film. James Spader gave off the vibe that this robot was like a child with a god complex. Designed to eliminate threats, the cliched “robot thinks it knows better by eliminating the human race” felt fresh here because of Ultron’s personality. There were hints of logic, and Tony’s personality that made him unique in many ways. So much so that it almost felt like Tony Stark was the villain at times.
Thanos had only a brief scene. While it was not anywhere near one of the better credits scenes, it was something that laid ground for the next installment.
What else is there to say? From the plot to the set ups of the next few movies and where the characters go personally, there is a lot packed in to 2 hours and 20 minutes. Stan Lee‘s cameo was my favorite of them all, and that says something right there. People have complained that Age of Ultron is not as good as the first Avengers movie, but it’s an unfair assessment. These movies are entirely different from one another. I feel that this tied up a lot of loose ends and opened the movie universe up to so much more potential. In my opinion it exceeded Avengers 1 in many ways while not surpassing it in others. It isn’t a perfect comic book movie, but it is damn close. I give it 9.5 sCrypt Coffins out of 10.
If you have anything to add, please comment below.
Veteran sCrypt Comics artist, Joe Parisi, just sent over some posters he did in his spare time. Ironman, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor & Nick Fury inspired art from the Marvel cinematic universe phase 1 are all here. Make sure to click on his name for his info and other work. Now to complete the art, Joe, we want to see the whole phase 1 completed. (Black Widow, Hawkeye, Loki, Red Skull, Abomination, IronMonger, Whiplash, and of course the son of coul.) 🙂
Marvel Comics What If… Issue # 4 (Oct 1989)
When I was growing up, some of my favorite comics were the What If series by Marvel. The Watcher presented each story of “What If” by focusing on an event in the mainstream universe and presenting a hypothetical of what could have happened (or did in another universe). I recently picked up an issue at a garage sale, and it was perhaps one of the most interesting ones I have ever seen. “What If The Alien Costume Had Possessed Spiderman?” There will be SPOILERS in this review, so skip down to the last paragraph if you just want my rating.
The story begins with a brief list of events in the normal universe; about how Spiderman aqcuired the Black symbiote costume and eventually got rid of it, which attached itself to Eddie Brock as Venom. Well in this story, he never gets rid of it. When Peter Parker becomes more and more fatigued, he is forced to go to Curt Connors for help. The Doctor studies the symbiote and eventually puts him through a series of X-Rays and scans. This is where it all goes wrong.
Apparently the X-Rays cause the symbiote to become more like a parasite, and inseparable from the host. Night after night, Spiderman goes on a violent rampage as Venom until Venom decides it no longer needs its host. Across the country, The Avengers and Doctor Strange prepare to send the Hulk to another dimension. The rampaging beast has buried Banner’s mind deep within himself and can no longer be reasoned with. Venom/Spiderman shows up and stops it all from happening. Then the symbiote switches hosts to the HULK!?!?!
At this point I couldn’t believe it. I’d always imagined what would happen if the symbiote attached itself to someone with the Hulk’s power. Well now I know. Venom/Hulk takes off, leaving Peter Parker as an old withered man. Venom has drained his youth, and he soon dies from old age. The Avengers go on a massive search now for the Venom Hulk and it is Thor who finds him. One strike from his mighty Mjolnir hammer separates the symbiote from Banner. Bruce Banner hasn’t aged in the way that Peter Parker has, but instead is now cured of the Hulk. With the combined power of SPiderman and The Hulk, Venom begins an internal battle with the god of Thunder, as it has chosen its next host.
They go off into a cave to allow the symbiote enough time to completely bond to Thor. Meanwhile, two things are happening. Spiderman’s funeral passes, and Reed Richards is devising a plan to separate the alien without harming the host. The seemingly impossible task proves to be not so difficult with the mind of Mr. Fantastic at work. The inhuman known as Blackbolt displays the true power of his voice, and not only crumbles the entire historical site of Mount Rushmore, but knocks the symbiote off of Thor and renders it unconscious.
After all of that you would think they would just kill the alien, but instead they decide to imprison it in another dimension. That never happens. Blackcat shows up and does what should be done. She uses technology invented by Reed Richards to kill Venom once and for all. Keep in mind that this story takes place back when Peter Parker and Black Cat are dating, so she has close emotional ties to the villain. The downside to all of this is that in order to use the technology Reed invented, she had to steal the notes on it. A brief agreement with The Kingpin (for him to reconstruct the device) leaves her with the return promise of a life of crime for the Kingpin.
It is a tragic ending that works well for the story. I only wish that there would have been a little more hints as to what was going to happen after all of these events. It is not a mainstream universe story, so I can’t give it as high of a rating as I normally would, but for its creativity I rate it as a good 5 out of 10.
Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he is angry. It’s no secret that the Avengers debuts here in the United States this friday (rumor has it that we get an extra end credits scene as well as the mid credits, just for waiting). It is probably one of the most highly anticipated films of all time (it should be after building it up for nearly six years). So to celebrate, sCrypt Comics will be doing a few articles relating to the characters and the Avengers. First up, is our Green Goliath, the Incredible Hulk.
Doctor Bruce Banner has had his issues with being able to control his anger, but just how many sides of his personality are there? Let’s take a look at the many incarnations of Hulk over the years.
Gray Hulk: Under the alias of Joe Fixit, he worked as a Las Vegas enforcer. The Gray Hulk has average intelligence, although he occasionally displays knowledge and intellectual ability normally associated with Banner. He is cunning, crafty, hedonistic, arrogant, and distant, with a hidden conscience. This persona is strongest during a new moon and weakest during a full moon. As the smallest of all the Hulk incarnations, he dresses in mob style suits and still towers over the average human. Joe Fixit is able to lift about 70 tons in his calmest state.
Savage Hulk: This is the most common version of the Hulk. He thinks like a young child and refers to himself in the third person. Green-skinned and heavily-muscled with a hunched over, caveman like walk, this personality just wants to be left alone. While in a functionally calm emotional state, or at least as calm as the Hulk can be, the Savage Hulk is capable of lifting about 100 tons.
Mindless Hulk: Nightmare penetrated Bruce Banner’s mind and by doing so caused an unexpected side effect; a new personality began to develop out of Banner’s worst visions of the Hulk. This version was based on a nightmarish imagination made of all of Banner’s worst fears and ideas of his former alter ego. The dark incarnation to gradually rose to the surface and became its own personality after Banner made his “psychic suicide.”
Devil Hulk: The malevolent personality of Bruce Banner. He is all of Banner’s resentment at the way he is treated by the world. He is also one of the Hulk’s enemies, constantly threatening to escape confinement in Banner’s mind and destroy the world that has tormented and abused them. He first appeared when Banner was dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and Banner used a machine to travel into his own mind and make a deal with the three dominant Hulks that they would gain control of his body once the disease became too much for him to bear. Fortunately, he was contained long enough for a cure for Banner’s condition to be found.
Professor Hulk: This personality represents Banner’s ideal self. His physically distinguishing characteristic is his pony tail. He is the largest of the three primary Hulk incarnations and he also possesses a higher base strength level. While in a calm emotional state, the Professor is capable of lifting about 100 tons. However, unlike the other Hulk incarnations, Bruce Banner subconsciously installed a type of safeguard within the Professor. When the Professor’s anger reaches a certain level, he will transform back into Bruce Banner, though with the mind and personality of the Savage Hulk. Due to this safeguard, the Professor is ultimately the weakest of the three primary Hulk incarnations despite being the physically largest.
Maestro:The Hulk of a possible future where nuclear devastation has eliminated all heroes and villains. This highly ruthless and intelligent version rules an immense territory known as Dystopia. The Maestro is similar in height and build to the Merged Hulk, with a bald crown, long white hair over the sides and back, and beard. With a slight hump of the shoulders from age, the Maestro also has a more muted green skin tone and numerous warts and age spots. It is unclear if this incarnation’s strength increases with rage, or what his base-level strength is, though, presumably it is equal to that of the Savage Hulk.
Beast Hulk: Known as the Guilt Hulk, he is Bruce Banner’s culmination of regret. The Guilt Hulk originally manifested itself in Banner’s mind as his father and tormented him by forcing him to relive memories of his traumatic childhood. Due to its monstrous size, the Guilt Hulk was physically very powerful. It also possessed claws and spikes all over its body. The Guilt Hulk also showed the ability to breathe fire on one occasion. He is twenty meters tall.
Australian Hulk:A combination of Gray Hulk, Savage Hulk, Bruce Banner, and the Professor Hulk all in one.
The Green Scar: The current hulk has the intelligence of banner the cunning of the gray hulk and strength of the savage hulk. His base strength is way over 100 tons. The Hulk of World War Hulk is a cunning and more powerful version than the previous incarnations. His rage is at its most focused, due to meditation training. This incarnation has extremely high durability, has had training in combat arms, including broadswords, spears, and battle shields, and is a capable leader and strategist. Another source of the Green Scar’s strength is his lack of inner conflict, and alliance with Bruce Banner. Several instances have been shown where the Hulk and Banner have worked together strategically. Caiera, the Green Scar’s wife, understood Banner as well, and both personalities loved her equally. This is seen as the driving factor in the Banner/Hulk alliance. As a result of being caught in the explosion of the warp core of his ship which brought him to Sakaar, which destroyed the planet, Green Scar’s base level of strength was dramatically increased. He can lift well over 100 tons in a functionally calm emotional state. This Hulk has also proven to be resistant to the psionic effects of Professor Xavier.
Blue Hulk: This is a cosmically powerful version of the Hulk who has been given the Unipower. Captain Universe’s powers are added to the Hulk’s initial abilities, and therefore gains the following: Flight, Matter Manipulation, Time Manipulation, Reality manipulation, Invulnerability, Psychic Abilities and Energy Manipulation.
All of the above are of course Bruce Banner in the role, but there are other Hulks as well, including She Hulk, Skaar, Red Hulk (aka Rulk), Hulk 2099, and The race of Hulks in 2099. If you can think of any others I may have missed please add to the comments below. The Hulk pictured above is of course played by Mark Ruffalo and Voiced by Lou Ferrigno, in the Avengers movie.