Note: SPOILERS ABOUND IN THIS BLOG. If you have not watched Age of Ultron, by Loki’s horned headpiece, get off this blog and go see it!!!
Graphics for the icons taken from the awesome, awesome sketch by FadlyRomdhani at Deviantart
As a sci- fi romance author, I’m probably looking for different things in my movies than the average person. Yes, I want
action. I want some humor. I want a great villain. But I also want some great romance.
It doesn’t have to be pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, Fifty Shades of Grey-type stuff. In fact, I thought the mix was pretty much perfect through the Iron Man films. Action, humor, and a romantic arc that took him from a billionaire playboy to a decent human being by the end of the three films.
Romantically, I was particularly excited for The Age of Ultron to come out. There is the Thor and Jane Foster romance, and the aforementioned Iron Man and Pepper. There are also the Hulk, Black Widow, Steve Rogers, and Hawkeye as the yet unknown romantic opportunities.
We’ve had some beautiful moments between the Black Widow and Hawkeye in the first Avengers, and more recently, the Black Widow and Steve Rogers in The Winter Soldier.
And what did we get?
A hot mess of characters basically vomiting all over the screen because each of them lacks balance and purpose. During the whole movie, we have no idea why any of them are there. Honestly, it just seems like they have nothing better to do. Hey, it’s a paycheck. There’s no urgency, no purpose, no reason to look to the future.
Marvel is forgetting that Age of Ultron isn’t just a sequel to the Avengers. it’s also a sequel to all of the Iron Man movies, the Thor movies, and the Captain America movies.
And it doesn’t matter who you are or what media you’re in, you can’t have a fulfilling sequel if you are leaving the love lives of your characters offstage. It isn’t just that you are leaving the romantic partners out, it’s that those romantic partners have helped to make the characters who they are.
Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, doesn’t exist as a fully-fledged male without Pepper. Loving her brought out the selfless, wonderful part of him. The part that cared about something more than his company and his money. It gave him balance. It made him want to protect the world and gave him something to fight for.
When I think about it, they really had to make Pepper disappear for this movie to work, or he never would have created Ultron. Because a woman will kick your ass if you try to invent stuff that can cause the next extinction level event on the planet.
Thor also doesn’t exist without Jane, for a similar reason. She’s the reason he cares what happens here. She’s the purpose. For her to be completely missing – and for him not to even know what continent she’s on – is ludicrous. Even without the fact that he loves her – he’s a god. He would know where she is, trust me. We need to see that connection, to remind us of why he is here; why he is vested in saving Earth.
Of the two love interests we did see in the movie, one was completely unnecessary and the other was completely unwarranted. As viewers we are completely uninvested in Hawkeye having a wife and kids. There has been no Hawkeye movie, no buildup to warrant the screen time.
Also, Hawkeye’s wife was almost encouraging him to quit the Avengers. She worried that no one would have his back, and asked him to look out for number one. That’s really a bad thing for a superhero movie. Superheroes have to be bigger than their own personal lives. The people they love give them purpose, and they have to be willing to self-sacrifice to save them. This character arc only works when we see that he actively decides to risk his life anyway, and she comes to understand that and see it as heroic. But we never got that completion.
Second, there has been no inkling of a romance between Bruce and Natasha. In the first movie, she was afraid of him when he hulked out and chased her. Seriously afraid of him. That she’s figured out how to master him is probably less about romance and more about the fact that she likes to be in control and he is the greatest threat on the team.
For her to be ready to run away with him skips the entire romantic buildup. Suddenly we’re three-fourths of the way through the romantic arc without first seeing that these two were attracted to each other.
Sadly, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlet Johansson are such good actors that they actually manage to pull us along with them even though that arc is missing. I say sadly because it’s unfair to their characters, and to them, to have to miss the building attraction, making mistakes, mutual affection, overcoming obstacles, and finding balance that comes with forging a solid relationship.
We still aren’t fully vested in them by the end when he leaves, and the ending leaves the viewer with more sadness toward them as individuals rather than a sadness as to how great their relationship could have been, and rooting for them to overcome their differences and get together in the next movie.
We are left with the sad fact that no matter who Black Widow goes for next, it’s going to be bad. If she goes for Hulk, there will be two pretty damaged characters getting together from a place of weakness. If she goes for Steve, she’s now flip-flopping between men on the same team. Never a good idea, even if he is a hundred times better for her than Bruce. If she goes for someone new, it will be the fourth love interest and now we’re getting up in numbers.
I really hope that Marvel can get it together when they write the script for the next movie. We need a script that builds on the lives of the individual characters. We need a reason for them to fight, and love is the best reason there is. In the next movie we need to see the continuation of the former romantic arcs, and one new, believable arc that the viewer can invest in that takes the two parties to the next level.
And if I don’t get to see Thor kiss someone in Avengers 3, dammit, I’m never going to see another Marvel movie again.
It seems like unless a movie is in the romance genre, it is just something thrown in but rarely done well, in my opinion.