Am I the only one who’s starting to panic about Age of Ultron?
I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been following the Avengers sequel that closely. I saw that trailer from a while back that had Iron Man’s take on the Hulkbuster, and I’ve seen a few posters, and I kinda-sorta know who’s set to appear in it. But the details are lost on me, and that’s the way I want it. An air of mystery is still appreciable -- even if the movie does just ultimately boil down to “punch lots of bad guys”.
But man oh man, I can’t help but worry. There’s a lot of hype (and money) riding on this thing, and it’d be way too easy for it to fall apart in any number of ways. What if it’s just pure stupidity? What if it’s just no fun? What if it can’t deliver on the spectacle? Yeah, the Marvel movies have had one crazy-long hot streak, but every streak has to come to an end. When is it going to happen? I don’t know. But what if it’s this one? The one movie that matters most?
More recently, there’s been something on my mind: have all the Marvel movies secretly sucked?
It’s weird. I don’t have any attachment to comic books or the heroes bouncing around in them, but it seems like these days the best way to get me in a theater seat is to play something from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s practically a cycle at this point: a new movie comes out, I go see it, I enjoy it, and then come back to Cross-Up to post a glowing recommendation. I’m practically a sycophant -- a stooge that might as well be Stan Lee’s puppet.
Just how far am I reaching when it comes to these movies? It’s hard to know for sure, but I have a really bad hunch. Part of me thinks that I like the Marvel movies because I just get swept up in the fever; all the hype and spectacle and cool guys doing cool things makes me more likely to offer my praise and overlook the flaws. That’s kind of a given with any story (explosion density aside), but have the Marvel movies won me over because they’re genuinely good? Or because I’m amped up by them when I walk out of the theater?
Right now Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not only my favorite of the bunch, but wormed its way into my top ten favorite movies -- by nudging The First Avenger just enough to the side to slot in. I did two separate posts analyzing the movie, which seems a little much for something starring a guy dressed like an American flag. Did I praise it so much because I’m a Cap fanboy? Because the movie dulled my senses? If I saw it again today, right now, would I be so kind? Or would I go on a rant that not even a CinemaSins video could match?
I guess the most important question to ask is this: what do the Marvel movies do well?
My answer to that question, I suppose, is that they’re pretty hype. Not hyped up by marketing (though they technically are), but what happens in them is so exciting that it makes awesomeness practically routine. It’s a given that Cap and the Winter Soldier are going to duke it out, but the movie presents it -- the multiple encounters, of course -- in such a way that it’s always a thrill to watch. Same goes for Guardians of the Galaxy, albeit on a different, more comedic axis. Even if Thor: The Dark World had its problems, it’s still got a ton of good moments in it. I can’t think of a movie in the MCU yet that’s made me say “Well that sucked” or “Just skip this one, you’ll be fine”.
I tend to read deeply into the things I consume, because I’m me and I need to put this big head of mine to good use. But even if you aren’t, there’s always the fact that the Marvel movies -- even if they have faults, and even if they’re dumb -- are fun. They’re there to take ALL OF THE MONEY, sure, but they’re also bumping around (and succeeding routinely) because they’re here to try and make people happy. You can’t really compare it to something like Michael Bay’s Transformers, because “jokes” aside, it feels like a product of and bringer of misery -- just something churned out by a machine with no sense of romance.
We live in a world where Marvel’s greatest rival (one struggling to create its own cinematic universe) is rumored and assumed to have a “no-jokes policy” baked into its movies. Meanwhile, the Marvel movies are free to do pretty much whatever comes to mind. They can try to be funny. They can try to be dark. They can try to be smart. They can try to be thoughtful. Do they succeed all the time? I don’t know; maybe they’re just that good at pulling the wool over our eyes. But damn it, we can count on the MCU to give us heroes fighting villains. Even if it’s not a Shakespearian effort, maybe sometimes all we need is simple fun. Maybe all we need, every once in a while, is a chance to see heroes rolling out -- and a reminder that heroes are all around us.
I don’t know what the answer is. And that’s why I’m making a call to action for you readers. The question is simple, so answer it if you dare: how good are the Marvel movies? All suited up? Then you know what comes next.
And that’ll do it for now. See you next time. And…please don’t let Age of Ultron suck. My heart can’t take it.