I was honored to have been asked to write an article for a newspaper in India on how Stan Lee influenced me as a writer. Check out a direct link to the article in the DB post here: http://epaper.dbpost.com/bhopal/14/18112018/1/
You’ll see my contribution on the right side of the page. Let me know what you think. So far the feedback I’ve been getting is that I made some people shed a few tears, but in a good way.
Roberta and I chat about the late Stan Lee in this latest episode of #thinksipwrite. What were your fondest memories of him and what impact did he play if any in your life? Comment below and let us know.
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.
One of my biggest influences that pushed me to get into writing, and my brother into drawing has got to be Stanley Lieber. You all know him as Stan, the man, Lee. His “excellsior” creations have become a part of pop culture and are known around the world.
We’d like to wish him a happy 90th birthday today, and hope for many many more to come. – Nuff said!
Sorry for the delay folks, but it took a while and I had to convert the file smaller for youtube. Here it is… the epic Q and A session with Stan the man Lee. Wizard World 2012 in Philly brought the legend to the stage in an absolutely entertaining and hilarious interview. Check out the four parts below. I was honored to be right there as close as I could be.
Things to take note of are his occasional jabs at DC comics, his realism and his overall persona. The guy really is a MARVEL. Thanks for the entertainment, Stan.
Part 1 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcMVrdnWAMA&feature=youtu.be
Part 2 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdkZMIlVUHs&feature=youtu.be
Part 3 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8g-IrLt-Lc&feature=youtu.be
Part 4 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9o7YWGy3sA&feature=youtu.be