Fun for All Ages
Marvel Studios have definitely had a positive response for their movies from both children and adults alike. Often the children get more enjoyment from these movies because they're not too focused on the story or even the quality of the film, they could care less, they're not the critics that adults often are. All they want is some big action starring their favorite superheroes intertwined with some lighter moments of humor (often in the form of slapstick).
Now, obviously there is stuff that most adults (who watch these type of films) enjoy. There was nobody who sat in the theater for The Avengers back in 2012 who didn't get at least a good chuckle from a few of the more humorous scenes, unless of course, they didn't have a sense of humor.
I'll never forget the first time I went to see The Avengers back in 2012. My daughter was only 2-years-old and this was the very first movie she'd gone to see that wasn't in a Dollar Theater. We had a big group with us and she insisted on sitting between me and my wife (she looked so little in that huge chair).
But there is something special about when a father like myself, who has been a hardcore fan of these characters his whole life, gets to take their child to the theater to watch these movies with them. There's a joy in the shared interests which can often be a small fraction of things between parent and child.
I think, if I remember correctly, even before seeing this film, the Hulk had been a character that caught her attention. But during the movie, I wasn't quite sure how she would handle the character and his intense moments of rage, rampaging, and well, smashing; so I frequently asked her if she needed her mother or myself to hold her and each time she said no. In that time, I remember being so impressed as Bruce Banner began to Hulk out on the Helicarrier, that my daughter sat there, unfazed by the raging, green giant.
She's only 5-years-old now but she behaves much older. For this reason I've allowed her to watch some films like Man of Steel, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Incredible Hulk, and a few others. Her favorite though, was Captain America: The First Avenger (she tried watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier but I think it was too "grown-up" for her to care).
So far in this Marvel Universe, it's not been so much that there's movies I won't let her watch, she just hasn't really care enough for some of them and that's understandable.
However, after watching the trailers for Avengers: Age of Ultron, I'm beginning to think that this movie might have to wait a few years to be shown to my kids. I'll give you a list of reasons why.
- Ultron almost feels like he belongs in a horror film (he gives me chills).
- Some imagery might be a little more intense than what she's used to seeing.
- The heroes don't seem to be acting too heroic.
If you don't see what I'm getting at, I want you to take a look at the newest trailer below and then I'll get more in depth for my reasoning behind it all.
I cannot express to you how excited I am to see this movie. I'm so glad that Marvel has begun to grow in it's movie making capabilities by not holding back as far as providing homages to the comic books, for instance: Hulk Buster armor, homages to Black Panther, and what I believe to be flashbacks for Black Widow.
But as cool as all that it is, some of it is much, much darker than anything Marvel Studios has put out. I've already listed some of those reasons above, let's get into why I feel this way.
1. Ultron - A Superhero Horror Villain?
Apparently, Ultron is the product of Tony Stark wanting to play the role of Dr. Frankenstein with some Chitauri technology that he gets his hands on from the battle in New York from the first movie. This tampering of power unknown leads to the creation of a terrifying robot with a thirst for the death and destruction of the entire human race.
The villain's voice is none other than James Spader, a very prolific speaker who has just enough wily and eccentricity to provide a menacing dialogue. This is the kind of villain that you fear as they make their way on screen. The only villains that I've ever felt that way about in past superhero movies were Joker from The Dark Knight and Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.
Just as these two movie villains proved to be more ruthless and frightening than what I'd typically allow my children to watch, I'm beginning to get the same vibe from Ultron.
Tell me you don't almost have nightmares of Ultron's voice, misconstruing some otherwise lovable, Disney-cartoon phrase into a menacing declaration of evil.
2. Some Intense Imagery
Well, as true as that it is, it isn't the only thing I find horrific in this trailer. Some of the imagery shown in the trailer suggests a rather bleak flashback to Scarlett Johansson's character Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow. Above you'll see the picture of some surgical tools in what looks to be an unsanitary location for such tools. The image above had followed the images below, in the trailer.
Just how screwed up is Black Widow's past? Obviously, comic book readers are familiar with Romanoff's past but for it to be focused on in such a way that isn't flashes and indistinguishable blurs (a cop-out for most movies like this with instances like this) is showing that Joss Whedon and Co. obviously want to scare the living daylights out of us. Thus, another reason why my child may not be seeing the film.
A hint at these flavor of adding an out-of-touch insanity to the characters was definitely hinted at in the after-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
3. Our Beloved Heroes Have Lost the Heroics
This point is not so huge for me that it would keep my from allowing my children to watch the movie, but other parents may feel the same way (considering how some people reacted to Man of Steel). We all know that the heroes that make up the Avengers are not perfect people. We've got an egotistical Tony Stark, a morally-bound Steve Rogers, a hot-headed Thor, a few shady and misguided S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and a Hulk.
And we all saw that the Avengers didn't really get a long a whole lot in the very first film. There was quite a disagreement between the members of the team whenever certain issues came up. There was the Iron vs Thor vs Captain America fight...
...the almost fight between Iron Man and Captain America...
...and of course the Thor vs Hulk fight.
But none of these moments felt like they were as serious or probably better put, as dark, as the moments that transpire between our heroes in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the 2012 Avengers film, all the fights that took place between our heroes were mostly due to the unfamiliarity with each other which caused some major trust issues, which ended up being instrumental to Loki's plan.
But the heroes have grown since the first movie, they've banded together and worked together like Captain America did with Black Widow and Nick Fury in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and even formed tight friendships like what Tony Stark and Bruce Banner have (hence the origin of "Science Bros."). Even the beginning of the first trailer that was released showed that these characters can enjoy time with each other and maybe form some lasting relationships.
But when the world starts crumbling down around them, they're all at each others' throats...literally.
I think many [younger] kids are going to be shocked by the fact that these characters that they've seen grow over the past couple of years will be horrified to see such violence among friends. But of course, there'll be those who don't care and want to see all the action like the rest of us. And as for myself, this particular point is a non-issue, but like I said, there were many who complained about the violence in Man of Steel, the collateral damage that was taking place during the fighting, and the conclusive, "finish him" moment at the end of the film.
When my daughter asked what Superman did to Zod at the end of the movie, I told her that he killed him. I have no qualms about this, she understood that Zod was a bad guy, Superman was the good guy and that there was no other choice for him to make in this moment. It was a pretty opportune life-lesson for me to give her right there: that tough decisions have to be made sometimes to protect others. I tell her that that kind of decision making is what I would do to protect her and the rest of my family. She understands that very well now.
Now, I'm willing to bet that none of our heroes are going to actually die in this movie, at least not the core heroes (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor) considering that they all have sequels or appearances in sequels due out in the coming years. But this movie is going to be much darker than the first installment and our heroes will probably not have the happy-ending they did in the first film. We're going to see our heroes broken and bitter towards each other, due to the events that will transpire within this film. I also wouldn't be surprised if there was a bit of a depressing cliff-hanger to keep us guessing at the end.
Now, I'm not saying that I'm not going to let my children watch this movie, that's what I spoke about and there definitely may be parts where covering of the eyes may need to take place for "scary parts". But, what I am saying is that this movie in tone, is much darker than the first installment which had more a family-friendly, family-fun kind of fun to it while still providing an entertaining film for adults as well. Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be the start of some pretty nasty stuff in future Marvel Studios films like Captain America: Civil War and possibly Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther (there are theories).
So what are your thoughts about the film? I for one am excited to see this film, despite the tonal changes. But I know, from the looks of the film, it looks much darker than what any Marvel fans have seen so far from Marvel Studios.
What do you guys think about the dark vibe of Avengers: Age of Ultron?
If you haven't already, check out my article regarding superheroes and their target demographic in general, here: Are Superheroes Really Just for Kids?