This is not a fair comparison. These are two completely different movies, from two completely different ends of the spectrum. The only thing they seem to have in common is that they are superhero movies. And that is the point. Remember, after the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, all of those articles circulating the web, comparing these two incomparable movies? And the common thread between all of the articles was: How Avengers got it right where Man of Steel failed. And articles such as that were laughable at best. However, since Man of Steel still gets brought up two years later by those who enjoy tearing it down, I figured that now is the perfect time to discuss how Avengers failed where Man of Steel succeeded.
Also, this analysis will have SPOILERS for both Man of Steel and parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe... YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.
Time to let the cat out of the bag, and wow... Marvel still struggles with their villains. [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) trailers promised us a complex, evolving A.I who would test the team to their limits, and that the team might not even make it out alive. However, what we got was another Marvel switcharoo, promoting an evil, maniacal villain and replacing him with a joke.
Remember The Mandarin, and how promising that concept was? From the trailers alone I was getting shivers, waiting to see the way he would test Tony. But in the end, Marvel just couldn't, not even for a moment, give us something serious. They literally turned that character into a joke, and Ultron followed the same route, but to a lesser extreme. He was a generic, artificial intelligence robot trying to take over the world because human extinction was the only way to peace. I was fooled from the trailers, expecting a deep, sometimes dark and introspective film about this robot who, on his way to destroying the world, also tears apart The Avengers. But Marvel just couldn't give us that.
Let's hop over to Warner Brothers and DC, and to a studio that actually knows how to handle their villains. Zod was a fully fleshed out character, who posed an actual threat to the hero, and more importantly, we understood exactly where he was coming from and his motivation. Zod's only goal was to restart the Kryptonian race, and the key was in Superman's blood. Ultron surfed the net for five minutes during his conception, and realized that humans needed to go extinct.
Not only Zod, but we also got a surprise with Faora in Man of Steel, a fierce warrior who stole every scene she was in. Every line of dialogue, and everything she did gave us insight into her character and her motivations, which we already know she shares with Zod. With Ultron, we understood why he wanted to destroy the world (I think), but him coming to that conclusion felt forced, rushed and it feels like Marvel just rushed that out to give the heroes something to fight.
Another issue with Age of Ultron, which Man of Steel did not suffer from, is that they did not know how to treat anything with the seriousness it deserved, and that again, is a problem with the MCU in general. Kevin Feige recently stated that Marvel will never go dark, but I don't think he understand the difference between being serious, and being dark (just like a majority of us).
Man of Steel for instance, contrary to popular belief, was not a dark movie. It simply took itself seriously. I am not saying Marvel needs to follow DC's path and make their films more serious in tone, but Marvel does need to learn that there is a time and place for comedy, and forcing it into every situation does not work, in fact, after a while, the jokes simply become tedious and boring.
For instance, let's take a look at that scene from Man of Steel where Superman learns to fly. It was handled with seriousness, and gave us one of the most iconic and beautifully shot scenes in the superhero genre. The look on his face when he flies was the same look that all of us would have, and it filled us up with giddiness and excitement, reminding us what it felt like to be a kid. If Marvel were to do that same scene, we would have had Superman fly into a few things, him cause a couple of avalanches, then eventually fly into space and crash into the moon, and he would have ran across some martians on his way back down. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but we would have gotten something like that were Marvel to film that scene.
There might have actually been one thing that Marvel learned from Man of Steel, and implemented it into Age of Ultron. Unfortunately, they learned the wrong lesson. I feel like Marvel told Joss Whedon that he could destroy an entire city (literally), but first he had to have his heroes save EVERY SINGLE PERSON, and therein lies the problem. When Captain America was trying to save those two cars while the city was rising into space, and they fell, I sat up in my seat in anticipation for Cap's response, and the emotional weight that was about to be laid onto his character. Then Thor showed up, those people were saved, and I slumped back down in my seat and waited for the unimpactful, boring final battle scene which lasted far too long, especially since we all knew the outcome. And then, Fury shows up, out of nowhere, with a hellicarrier to save the day and evacuate the city, and Marvel expected us to watch a mediocre TV show (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) to learn how he got his hands on a hellicarrier. At that point, I was done and just waited for everything to end.
With Man of Steel, I understand that he didn't try and save people when he was fighting the Kryptonians, but at the same time, if he turned to save someone, then either Zod or Faora would have killed 10 or 20 more. But when he was free and not fighting anyone, then he saved who he could. When we take a look at Age of Ultron, they are a team, and thus have the necessary tools to save civilians when necessary, but at the same time, Whedon went out of his way to show them saving every single person in the city, and it became tedious and took away all of the weight and emotion from that final battle. By the time Quicksilver actually died, I was checked out of the movie and did not care.
If Ultron truly was truly trying to destroy The Avengers, then he should have focused his attention on killing a many civilians as possible, I mean, he did have an entire robot army. But that would be too dark, so it seemed like Ultron focused his attention on the team itself, and again, their battles held no weight. I thought Ultron was supposed to be smart. The second he realized that the team was trying to save everyone, he should have focused his attention on killing everyone. Again, too dark for Marvel, so we got this bombastic, emotionless finale.
Again, comparing it to Man of Steel, Age of Ultron just didn't handle anything with the weight and attention it deserved. In Man of Steel, during that last, climactic battle, the attention was focused on the conflict between the antagonists and protagonists. If we notice all of the damage during the end, a majority of it was caused by the world engine, and Superman couldn't save everyone because he was over the Indian Ocean trying to destroy the other engine. And the imagery and music during these climactic scenes all built up this picture of hopelessness, and destruction and loss, all caused by a terrorist from another planet. With Age of Ultron, even while that mass of land was floating, I didn't care because the way everything was handled, I never felt like anything was on the line.
I'm sure there are other lessons that Age of Ultron could have learned from Man of Steel, but these were some of the bigger issues that jumped out to me. Of course Man of Steel was not a perfect film, but the mistakes within it weren't as glaring a the ones within Ultron. Not to mention that Age of Ultron felt like a set up to something else while Man of Steel told a complete story while leaving it open ended, to be continued in [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870).
Leave your thoughts/comments below, and thanks for reading.