Saw the new Avengers movie Age of Ultron last Sunday, and yes, there is one thing I just keep going back over like a tongue over a missing tooth.
As good as the movie was, and as much as I enjoyed the character development of Hawkeye, it had its issues.
Fine, I get that. But most of it was subjective. What one person might have seen and been annoyed at, someone else might have really gotten into and dug. The movie was very good, and I really can’t pick anything out in that movie to be cranky about that I can’t spin it the other way and like. Not gonna try.
But… okay, there is this one thing.
Massive spoiler about the final plot here, so if you haven’t seen the movie, please, I ask you, don’t read past this. This is just my annoyance with the final scene as it is written, PLEASE don’t let my take on this ruin the experience for you. I’m going to say flat out that nothing in the movie as it LOOKS is a problem for me. The visuals were great, I enjoyed the acting, unlike many I enjoyed the pacing, it’s a great looking movie.
But the plot, the written plot, the story as it would have been if it were words, a novel, a transcript read cold, that I have an issue with.
Still with me? Are you sure?
Okay, let’s do this.
At the very end, big old Ultron has his master plan, he is going to hit the reset button on planet Earth by hitting us with his own version of the meteor impact extinction event. I like it as a concept, I really do. It ties in with the theme running throughout the movie, Ultron seems fascinated with, heck obsessed with evolving, extinction and growing, adapting, or dying off and making way for someone else. The whole meteor thing makes perfect sense based on how Ultron has been portrayed and his rambling monologues that we see over the course of the film.
What Ultron does is he makes this city in a European country into the meteor. I told you this was a massive spoiler, please don’t get cranky. He has an entire city fitted out underground with, as far as I could tell, an iteration of Tony Stark’s repulsor technology, and at one point the comment is made that the land mass is being held together by a magnetic field working on the ore within the bedrock.
So there you are, this majestic view of an entire city, bedrock and foundations and all ripping loose from the Earth and flying up into the sky. Awesome visuals, eventually the fight is being done on the city streets amid the clouds because they’ve gotten that high up, the whole thing is done very well. Again, not knocking any of the visuals of the film.
But here is the big challenge for the heroes, right? There is a city full of innocent people flying into the sky. A whole city. And Tony Stark peeks under the hood, sees that this thing ain’t just rigged to drop when it gets to maximum altitude, oh no, the engines are balanced on pivots and are set to flip over and power this thing down into a screaming eagle of devastation, driving the city into the Earth turning the city into a much more mass-intense kinetic weapon than just dropping a rock into a gravity well would be. Stark keeps up a sort of running commentary on how far out the blast wave of extinction would travel based on current altitude, until I guess they figure we got the point that this was a bad thing.
Still, all good and I’m fully invested in this story. What the hell are the Avengers going to do to stop the evil plot and prevent the extinction event, and at the same time save a city full of innocent people? This is a freaking great twist, the ultimate ‘innocents held hostage’ situation. You might sacrifice one or two people to save millions or billions, but a whole city? And if a city is too much, where exactly IS that line drawn? If 50,000 deaths are too many, what about 25,000? 5,000? 5? Where do you draw the line?
Great questions to force the characters to face, each in their own way. Great plot development for where the movie took each of them.
But… oh geez, but.
But then Nick Fury shows up with a SHIELD helicarrier that just happens… JUST HAPPENS to have a shitload of flying buses on board to fly over and evacuate the flying city.
And almost before you know it the entire city has been safely evacuated because everyone in the city is able to walk and can be guided at a run to get in one of these flying buses.
I mean… oh geez.
How does that make it through a script reading?
Nick Fury, who the rest of the world and ALL of SHIELD (except for a select core handful of our good friends in Agents of SHIELD) thinks is dead just happens to have a helicarrier that he pulled up out of mothballs. And he just happened to be able to get it from wherever he had it to the city, with the crew he put together.
Okay, I’m not gonna nitpick flight times of imaginary helicarriers. I would submit to you that the thing is too massive to have the flight characteristics of a concorde jet, but okay. I’ll give you, for the sake of argument, that this can happen. That when the Avengers get the nod from Black Widow and immediately head to her rescue, Nick Fury had already gathered a crew and recommissioned the helicarrier and brought it out of mothballs where it has been floating overhead somewhere, stealthed and out of the internet so it will come as a complete surprise to Ultron (who was all up in the internet) and be able to respond, literally, at a moment’s notice. So as fast as the Avengers travel, the helicarrier is only moments behind.
Okay, I’ll assume all that.
I want someone to explain to me, in itty bitty words, how the fuck he knew the threat was going to involve a flying occupied city that would have civilians that needed to be evacuated with enough advance notice to load up the helicarrier with flying buses instead of assault craft?
Don’t bother, I’m not buying it. That is complete horseshit. I’ll take the helicarrier showing up, but the flying buses? Fuck you.
Also, the entire population of that city can run? What about hospitals? Wheelchairs and walkers? What, do they all just die because tough shit?
No, no they don’t, but we don’t know that. We have to assume that this was all taken care of off camera.
Or worse than that, the writers figured the story was too bullshit for anyone to take a close look at in the first place, and if we’re wondering these things we’re missing the point of a movie about comic book characters. We’re thinking too much. If that were the case, it would be a bullshit move, because if we’re going to try to have a smart movie with tough choices and dramatic moments then don’t condescend to us right at the end because it’s just a comic book movie. You don’t get to have it both ways.
But here’s the thing that really bugs me.
The writers didn’t have to go this route. When they came up with this great concept for the ending, they didn’t write themselves into a corner that required flying buses to bail them out.
We can get a solution to this that is internally consistent with the Marvel Comics Universe we’ve been shown, even one that is consistent with the movie up to that point.
If you saw Iron Man 2, you’re familiar with War Machine, and you also saw the US Government wanted Iron Men of their own. They even contracted for autonomous guided robots, robot version of drones if you will. We saw that first implementation fall apart due to internal hacking.
Then in Avengers we see that Stark has taken this concept to heart with his own guided Iron Man drones, being used for crowd control. But of course, those are guided by Jarvis, the AI that was destroyed over the course of the film.
If you take what we’ve already seen, we could infer that the US Government would have been on the brink of having Iron Man drones, functional and deadly, that only required software improvements to prevent hacking. Drone robots that were not part of the Jarvis loop because that was the point of Iron Man 2, the US Government wanted control over the project all to themselves.
And what did we have in Avengers 2? We had War Machine, piloted by an active duty US military serviceman and supposedly acting under orders to assist in the final battle.
So if we had a helicarrier and War Machine and the need to be ready for ANYTHING at the drop of a hat, then we could have had (instead of flying buses) a shitload of US Military war drones, remotely piloted humanoid robots that could fly. Primitive compared to the real Iron Man, sure. Hell yes. But still flying robot drones that can, you know, pick things up and have chainguns on their shoulders, or even just use rifles.
And the robot drones could have been flown over from the helicarrier to pick up people and carry them back over. To go grab cars, pieces of wall, whatever that you can stick a person on and fly them to safety. With the added benefit of being able to fight off individual Ultron bots, and be able to gently pick up sick and elderly and handicapped people and carry them to safety, no walking of the elderly required.
We could have flipped to those internal shots of consoles and drone pilots inside the helicarrier controlling the drones and having their own, very human reactions to the stress and confusion and urgent necessity of saving as many lives as possible. Of having to choose between playing hero and fighting an Ultron robot or of putting weapons aside to try and save just one more life by lifting a citizen to safety.
I’m sorry, the flying buses… that just irritated the shit out of me. A whole team of writers crawled all over this thing, and flying buses was the best they could come up with? Grrr. Grrrrr.
Okay, I think that’s good. I got it out of my system. 1600 words on freaking flying buses. If I didn’t really like the movie, you know I wouldn’t have cared less. But I did like the movie, which is why it annoyed me all the more.
Okay, I’ve said my piece. Other than that, hey, how about that Hulk vs Hulkbuster fight? Pretty cool, right?