Tag Archive | SDCC

Decoding the Age of Ultron (SDCC Recap Part Two)

On the opposite side of the coin from my previous post, Marvel added some revelations of their own to the SDCC mix, not the least of which was a bald Amy Pond (Karen Gillian) surprising everyone in the middle of her panel by revealing her always gorgeous ginger locks had been cleanly removed for her role as Nebula in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. What is it with departed Doctor Who actors suddenly shaving their heads? Anyway…

In what will likely be the most speculative announcement coming out of Con from the movie side of the Big M was the title of the 2015 Avengers sequel.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Those of us familiar with the current comics may clearly recognize this title as identical to the latest in a long running line of books dedicated to post-apocalyptic alternate universe scenarios in which one specific villain has accomplished their goals of world domination. Somehow, I doubt that this title would hook-up with anything remotely related to the current Age of Ultron now reaching its zenith on a comic store shelf near you.

While Ultron is probably the most classic villain of the Avengers as a team and while I have no doubt that the Avengers vs. Ultron would play incredibly well on screen, I have some reservations about this overly obvious mission statement which I will now list for you here.

1. WTF happened to Thanos and my Infinity Gauntlet Movie???

Putting Ultron’s name in the title gives most Marvel fanboys (like myself) a general plot outline, none of which involves anything that was teased at the end of the first Avengers. Ultron, for those of you who spent your youth outside and not buried up to your nose in comic books, is a sentient, ultra-intelligent, and practically indestructible robot. Nothing in that sentence is at all related to Thanos or any other greater cosmic threat. As I just said, this battle will play well for the screen and will likely make for an awesome movie, but at a highly reduced scale to the Infinity Gauntlet movie that has been dangled in front of us ever since the Gauntlet itself went on display at SDCC in 2011 in the official Marvel area (next to Cap’s shield, Thor’s Hammer, and a set of Iron Man armor). They’re holding filet mignon under our noses then feeding us hamburger on this one.

2. WTF happened to Hank Pym?

Dr. Henry Pym – AKA Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Yellowjacket, and Goliath among others – is the creator (more like Father) of Ultron in the comics, not to mention a founding member of the Avengers. One would assume that as goes Ultron, so goes Hank Pym. The problem is that, in the Avengers Panel, it was revealed that Ultron would be created without Pym’s influence due to the fact that he has not yet been established in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know that as far back as 2010, when the Avengers movie was still a fanboy’s sick fantasy on the verge of becoming tangible, it was announced that Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim fame) would be helming the Ant-Man movie as a precursor to the Avengers (along side Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America).
This film has been largely up in the air. Rumor had it that the comedic vibe with which Wright approached the initial screenplay wasn’t jiving with the studio’s long-term vision for the universe and would make Dr. Pym seem out of place if suddenly pressed in with the more “serious” cast of characters. Two complete re-writes later and Wright’s Ant-Man is now slated for a post-Avengers 2 release. In my opinion, this kinda puts the cart before the horse as far as comic book canon is concerned and takes away the creator/creation relationship which made Ultron a more interesting machine of mass distruction. I’m sure Joss H. Whedon knows what he’s doing by taking this step and he’ll likely come up with a good end around, but it runs the risk of decreasing Hank Pym’s character. Ultron was simultaneously his greatest achievement and his biggest failure. On that note…

3. Ultron is supposed to be Hank Pym’s biggest failure. Who does that fall to now?

The reason Hank Pym is essential Ultron’s creator is that Ultron’s artificial intelligence is based on Pym’s own thought patterns. Ultron shows the dark side of Pym’s genius, making both of them more sympathetic characters. It also adds that faint glimmer of humanity to Ultron even if it was in the form of jealousy and cruelty. It foreshadowed the eventual reveal that Pym was a wife-beating scumbag, but that’s a story for another time and could be another reason they wanted to leave Pym out. I mean, Stark’s an alcoholic, but at least he’s not a domestic abuser. Kinda hard to justify that sort of behind-the-scenes action in a superhero movie and still have you rooting for him.
The most likely choice of main characters the creation of Ultron (and its subsequent brain patterns) would fall to would be one Mr. Tony Stark. We’ve already seen the capabilities of his AI-tech thanks to Iron Man 3 (house party protocol!) and we know he’s capable of creating robots with personality (the dunce-cap lab-bot). If he’s serious about quitting as Iron Man, Ultron might be his next step.

Oh crap, guys, I think I just figured out the whole plot of Avengers 2 right there.

4. Screw the rest of this list, I just figured out the plot of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Tony quits being Iron Man, but the Avengers still want him. Since Pepper doesn’t want him putting his life on the line anymore and Tony seems to want to concentrate more on their relationship, he has to figure out another solution.
Operating the armor remotely (as seen many times in IM3) won’t cut it because Pepper will be up his ass to stop playing superhero. He’ll feel obligated to do something about it and will create Ultron, implanting that robot with his personality as a guide for its AI. At first, it will seem the perfect replacement for Tony and Iron Man on the team, but it will quickly fall to the dark side, likely by realizing that its father has it better than it does (a la Hank Pym) and not enjoying being referred to as “it” just as I’ve done for the last paragraph.
Ultron then goes rogue and will need a helper. He creates The Vision (as he did in the comics, and as is rumored to be played by Vin Diesel) but this backfires on him as he creates another being similar to himself, with the capacity for all human emotions, and the Vision grows compassionate toward humanity eventually siding with the Avengers in the final battle and surviving the ultimate destruction of his creator.
Tony will also feel obligated to get back into the armor after his creation goes crazy and either him or the Vision will land the final blow on Ultron.

Maybe in Avengers 3 we’ll finally get that Infinity Gauntlet movie.

Remember you heard this here in 2015, kids. I would love to be right this far in advance.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

The Holes in the Cape (SDCC Recap Part One)

In case you missed it, this weekend was San Diego Comic Con. Chances are, if you’re reading my blog, you’re overly aware of this.

I’m going to take this week (hopefully more than one entry) to discuss items arising from SDCC, albeit a bit late. I would go on about how I usually enjoy letting things simmer for a while before injecting my opinion but I’d be lying. I was actually on vacation (not at SDCC) this weekend and I am also exceedingly lazy. That being said, there are more than a few interesting things which have sprung from SDCC and are worthy of words from me. Let’s begin.

DC/Warner Bros. have announced that the sequel to this summer’s fair success, Man of Steel, will be the long sought-after Batman/Superman movie. Whether this means that Will Smith’s I Am Legend is actually going to happen prior to release in 2015 remains to be seen.

This particular announcement brings the DC/Warner Bros. machine to an interesting intersection. With Christian Bale’s divorce from the Batman franchise and Christopher Nolan’s tenuous (at best) involvement in the ongoing construction of the DC Movie Universe, will the flavor of Henry Cavill’s opposite number be retained or will we see another wholesale change for the Caped Crusader before the (thankfully pushed back) Justice League movie in 2017?

During the panel, it was revealed that my favorite line in the history of comics will be included in Batman/Superman:

“I want you to remember, Clark… in all the years to come… in your most private moments… I want you to remember my hand at your throat… I want you to remember… the one man who beat you.”

This, of course, uttered by Bruce himself as he has a crushing spiky boot wedged firmly on the throat of the Man of Steel in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

The panel would later go on to admit that the movie will be based partly on the World’s Finest comics (hopefully modern era and not Golden Age) and the aforementioned Frank Miller source material. They made it clear that this will not be a straight up adaptation of DKR, but will certainly borrow heavily from the plot elements including that famous line. Certainly, it won’t be about the grim future of the DCU and an octogenarian Batman beating the living piss out of a Supes who is past his prime. They are planning to use this movie to start setting the table for Justice League, after all.

This brings me to my second point: It’s wonderful to see DC finally jumping on the continuity train even if it is a few stations behind Marvel. If you’re going to plan an epic like Justice League, you have to take your cues from Joss Whedon and the Avengers. You must first build a solitary universe which houses all of these heroes before simply jamming them into the same story. I’ve been over and over this regarding the film aspirations of both major comic houses, but it’s true. This will be the first movie which unites two DC properties and establishes a proper and stable universe. That is, if they do it right.

While Man of Steel was a good mildly-gritty reboot of the Superman franchise (barring Lois showing exactly how easy it could be to connect Kal-El to John and Martha Kent), we have to examine what this means for the Nolan Bat-verse and what, if any, implications this movie has on the state of that particular Gotham City and its denizens. Do Man of Steel’s Smallville and Metropolis exist in the same universe or will we so soon be force-fed a new image of Gotham?
It would have to be Gotham that changes, not Metropolis, as they’ve confirmed Henry Cavill under the big red S for the duration. This means that the Man of Steel universe is THE DC movie universe.

This is where we run into some serious problems.

As far as the Nolan-verse is concerned, Bruce Wayne’s time under the cowl is over. As of The Dark Knight Rises we see him go so far as to pass the torch to one Detective Robin “John” Blake. Without going into the screaming inconsistencies there, the best parts of any Batman/Superman story come from the diametrically opposed identities of Bruce and Clark – Bruce was given all the money and had to work for his power; Clark was given insane amounts of power and had to work for his money. This goes along with the fact that Bruce’s inner darkness and Clark’s outer light lead to two very different rhythms with the same melody. Their methodical differences and their backgrounds give them that tete-a-tete which makes friendship, let alone outright partnership, difficult. The draw here is two heroes who can’t completely work together. If you leave John Blake as a n00b with a cape, you run the risk of losing that awesome dynamic.

This means that they’re going to have to either bring back Nolan-verse Bruce Wayne (with a different actor unless they can somehow convince Bale), meaning that the Nolan-verse takes place in the same continuity, or establish a whole new Batman movie continuity which can connect properly with the Man of Steel/Justice League universe.

Negating the Nolan-verse would be a foolish and too-soon move, so it would seem that DC’s back is against the wall on this one. Don’t think for a second they won’t wipe the continuity and start a-fresh for the sake of the Justice League. They know a Superman/Batman movie will empty wallets (mine included) regardless of which Batman you throw into the mix. They also know that Justice League will likely explode at the box office considering that two out of DC’s main trinity (Bats, Supes, Wonder Woman) have enjoyed very recent success.

Bats/Supes aside, moving the Justice League movie back to 2017 (as opposed to their knee-jerk reaction of 2015 to compete with Avengers 2) as well as the announcement of a Flash solo movie in 2016 shows that they’re attempting to move in the right direction. This is just me being optimistic as they announced the Flash during the Batman/Superman panel which indicates that it’ll tie in directly to the Justice League. This is no guarantee that we won’t get another Green Lantern.

Also, seriously, Wonder Woman needs her own flick before this whole thing goes down. I know it’s apparently Hollywood poison, but it should get done. You can’t back off when it comes to one of the members of DC’s Holy Trinity just because it’s a girl and you don’t think girl heroes sell tickets.

Really, everything I’m talking about here won’t prevent myself or any other fan from seeing any of these movies on opening weekend. It’s just a matter of principle. If they’re going to go the full-nine with this, it should be done right and with respect to the most recent successes. DC needs to do what it should have done since its main competition came into existence: figure out what Marvel has done right and DO THAT THING.

The dots should have been lined up from the beginning. It should not be a struggle to connect them all.

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—