Marvel’s and Whedon’s Avengers… again

Avengers 2: Age of Ultron has now been released in Korea, and I was lucky enough, thanks to a surprise by my cool wife, to see it for its first showing this morning – opening day. Unexpectedly for an early morning show on a weekday, the theatre was packed. Understandably, the audience loved the sequences in Seoul and with Korean dialogue, although perhaps equally understandably, I heard comments that in a blockbuster you want to see locations you can’t visit every day. This time it was our turn for action with a hometown perspective. As an almost twenty-year resident of Korea, I was pleased to see all the little details which showed that the film crew was actually here, using local gear and locations.

Avengers2

I lived in Seoul for more than a decade and even so, I wasn’t expecting to see any place that I recognized specifically. I moved to Daejeon three years ago last month. Much to my surprise, I still recognized every place I saw in the film having lived near, worked near, or regularly travelled to each location. I marked the map below with squares of relevant former apartments, and triangles for relevant former working locations. Funny~

Avengers1

Age of Ultron is a long movie, although not by comic book movie standards. It has a lot of weight to carry, but even so it moves very quickly and lightly on its feet. To my eyes it handled its burdens well. For fans of the characters as they appear in the comics, I cannot speak. Most of these characters are not ones that I read at any point in my life. I expect that the longer the movies are in motion the more distinct these characters will become from their sources. For fans of Whedon, it may come to represent a moment where his art, his talent, and his exuberance achieved a balance we have only seen brief glimmers of in the past. The film has many stories to tell, small and large, and each character, small and large, has something to say. One of Whedon’s many strengths is writing and directing an ensemble cast. He has shown a talent for handling the grand scope of a tale, and the little details which bring that scope into focus. What this film has to labor under which Avengers did not, however, is the weight of expectations. Already reviews of how ordinary the film seems in comparison to other offerings from Marvel Studios are littering the internet. Already, people are writing and saying, “It’s good, but…”

It’s almost as if those who make these ‘reviews’ forget this is a bridge film, not an introduction or a climax. It serves different purposes, it travels in different directions, and it is in its adroit handling of those differences that Whedon shows us his skill – and shows us why he feels so exhausted now.

There is another bridge film in a famous franchise that perhaps these people forget was deemed less than its predecessor at the time, but now shines for most of my generation as the pinnacle of the series. With trailers featuring Hamil’s voice and Ford’s face now lighting the internet with nostalgia and excitement, I expect you know the film I mean.

I see Age of Ultron differently from its detractors, obviously. Also, with this being a blog about tabletop RPGs, and not a movie review site, I do not intend to dig into exactly why that is. Your enjoyment is in your own hands, where it should be.  What I will bring to this blog in the days to come about the film will be how it, like its predecessor, can offer something to gamers. Not many films make me think in this way, but I find that Whedon’s work always does. I feel this film and its many locations, its many characters, its many stories to tell, can provide a reminder or perhaps a lesson to GMs and players as they approach the multi-faceted imagined worlds we spin into being with our words and thoughts. We can expect more from characters, and through those expectations, bring them to life… kicking and screaming if need be~

Is Age of Ultron an enduring classic, destined to be shown to children by doting parents for the next 40 years? I refuse to say – that’s time’s job, and it does it well. I will say that I enjoyed this version of the characters. I felt like I got Iron Man back from the strange place that Iron Man 3 took him. I felt buoyed by the stalwart heroism of Captain America, despite his personal tragedies. I felt a touch of awe at Hawkeye, and finally found sympathy for Black Widow. Thor, still larger than life, seemed to have learned better how to carry the weight on his shoulders, and the others…. well, you should meet them yourself before we talk. It’s only fair that I not intrude on their chance to make a first impression.

Comments
3 Responses to “Marvel’s and Whedon’s Avengers… again”
  1. Carl S says:

    That’s cool. And glad to see Iron Man is back to his old-self. I can’t wait to see it. I used to watch shows shot in, and around, Boston and loved seeing familiar sights. This happens now when I see films shot in Seattle. “Hey, that’s my apartment building! That’s where I got coffee! That’s where I played D&D!” 😀

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