Avengers: Age of Ultron

I know you miss my clever titles, but…SEO.

As you may have noticed, I enjoy superhero films. And games. And sometimes graphic novels. So, naturally, I have been looking forward to The Avengers: Age of Ultron since it was announced. Admittedly, I actually found myself less enthusiastic about it as time went on, to the point that when I woke up on Thursday morning, I didn’t remember that I was going to see it. But, I was happy to be going back in to see Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, et al. Mostly, I wanted to see one of the new additions to the Avengers team, The Vision. Well, I say mostly, but it was half that and half wanting to see James Spader’s Ultron.

From the trailers, we got the impression that Ultron could be the first villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who was truly menacing, intimidating, and scary. Someone who posed a very real threat to the Avengers, powerful as they are. Unfortunately, what we got was…a comedian.

Avengers Age of Ultron

Let’s start from the start. The snowy, forest scene that we saw plenty of pictures of gets blasted apart by the Avengers and Hydra. Already, about 1 minute in, the film made its first mistake. It tried to copy the impressive single-shot sequence from near the end of the first Avengers. The one where the camera moves from one Avenger to the next, to the next, without cutting. It looked good in that film. In this film, it was some of the worst CGI I’ve seen for a long time. It was contrived and looked simply awful.

And that just, for me, sums up a lot of Joss Whedon’s writing in Age of Ultron. He seemed more concerned with getting cheap laughs than telling a story. With forcing ‘cool’ scenes than actually telling us what the hell was going on. Although the story is simple, I found myself confused more than once. Ultron himself seems to go through a few different variations of his evil plan but we, the audience, seem to find that out by accident. Of course, the story itself is the biggest cliche there is when it comes to stories involving artificial intelligence, but that should have been okay. After all, it’s how a story is told that’s the main thing. Unfortunately, it was told quite badly.

Ultron. It’s James Spader! How do you get a voice like James Spader’s to come out of your villain’s mouth, and still manage to make him benign and unthreatening? Yes, he’s more powerful than any of the Avengers and, yes, he kills a few people, but he also jokes constantly. It takes a very special writer to write a character who is both witty and scary, and Joss Whedon is not that writer. So yes, Ultron is funny. Very funny in places. But what do you want from a big, bad villain: threat and menace, or some laughs? The humour of the Marvel films is one of their attractions, but set yourself a damn limit!

It’s Iron Man 3 and Mandarin all over again. Remember how good the trailers seemed? How menacing and threatening The Mandarin sounded? We knew it was going to be good. Then we watched the film and…Trevor Slattery. What? Not that Ultron isn’t a threat. He’s just not threatening.

It seems like Whedon wanted him to be like a moody teenager at first, since he has only just been created. But he never really bothers to push the character down that route. Which leaves him a bit all over the place (like most of the film).

James Spader is, naturally, very good as Ultron regardless of the writing.


You’ve probably noticed that the writing is the main let down of the film for me. It had little structure. Things just happened. It was simply ‘Oh now this is happening’, rather than ‘This is happening because he did that, and they need this outcome, blah blah blah…’ Rarely was there much cohesion between the scenes and the storytelling.

So those are my main complaints.

It’s less of a complaint, but I was disappointed with how little Paul Bettany’s The Vision was in it. He appears late on in the film, and only really has 4 or 5 scenes. And a very small handful of lines. Yet, despite that, he was one of the best things about the film. Him and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, who was much better utilised this time round. And funny.

Thor seemed a little redundant this time, despite practically being a god. In fact, he took more of a beating from Ultron than any of the mere mortals, who held their own against him perfectly well. But there was no real story to his character, other than in a set up for future films. Though in light of the other issues, this didn’t really bother me. He was still Thor as we know him – though perhaps not taking quite as much punishment as we know he should be able to.

Overall, I did enjoy the film, you might be surprised to hear. I will definitely watch it again, perhaps at the cinema with the free ticket I got to make up for the flickering of the screen throughout.

I should probably list all the things I liked about it now, but it’s actually a lot harder than listing the things I didn’t. The memory of the film seems quite blurry, thanks to the aforementioned lack of structure.

Ah, but I know what I will complain about again though! Coulson. No Phil Coulson. The current events of Agents of SHIELD do mean that it kind of makes sense that he wouldn’t have a cameo, but I’d hoped they would find a way. After all, his death in the first film caused such outrage that Marvel had to bring him back!

But then I read Whedon’s comments on the topic. As far as he’s concerned, Coulson is dead to the MCU. Basically, he sounds extremely bitter, with his ego bruised by the fact that Marvel decided to undo his decision to kill the character. I wouldn’t be too happy either, but at the end of the day, these characters are Marvel’s not Whedon’s. The fans are Marvel’s, not Whedon’s. So I’m as disappointed with Whedon as I was with the film. More so, actually.

What I found amusing by his statements concerning Coulson, though, was that he said that the plot device of someone dying and then coming back can be used to the point of there never feeling like there’s something at stake. While that’s true (and let’s ignore the fact that it doesn’t lessen the impact at the time), he’s saying this after putting out a film that contains the utterly pointless death of a main character. Not only is it utterly pointless, and only there so that we feel like the whole thing had been dangerous and they didn’t all get out unscathed, but it seemed like he had been thrown into the film for that purpose.


I understand the idea that characters might need to die, otherwise it’s all too easy and clean and nothing really feels like it’s at stake, but that’s not necessarily the case. Ultron could have been the villain who tore the heroes apart on the inside. Who got in their heads and broke them. After all, as someone said: Ultron probably knew more about each of them that they knew about each other. He could quite easily have used that knowledge. No one needed to die in order for them to not make it out unscathed. But more to the point, if you are going to kill a character, don’t make it so entirely contrived.

But anyway, that’s probably enough ranting. Go and see it. It’s quite good, despite what I’ve said… I’d probably rate it 4th or 5th out of the Marvel films.

Marvel Vs. DC

So, the other week we got the announcement of the DC movie slate up until 2020. Yesterday, Marvel announced their Phase 3 movie slate. We now know their film slate from 2015 up to 2019. Get ready for a damn long list:

Marvel v DC

Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 1, 2015

Fantastic Four

August 7, 2015

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

March 25, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

May 27, 2016

Doctor Strange

November 4, 2016

Untitled Wolverine Sequel

March 3, 2017

Wonder Woman

June 23, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

July 28, 2017

Justice League Pt.1

November 11, 2017

The Flash

March 23, 2018

Captain Marvel

July 6, 2018


July 27, 2018

The Amazing Spider-Man 3

TBA 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 2

May 3, 2019


April 3, 2020


July 17, 2015


February 12, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

May 6, 2016

Suicide Squad

August 5, 2016

The Sinister Six

November 11, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

May 5, 2017

Fantastic Four 2

July 14, 2017

Black Panther

November 3, 2017

Female-Led Spider-Man Spin-off

TBA 2017

Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 1

May 4, 2018

Untitled Fox-Marvel Film

July 13, 2018

The Inhumans

November 2, 2018


April 5, 2019

Justice League Pt. 2

June 14, 2019

Green Lantern

June 19, 2020


So that’s our next five years. Thirty superhero and superhero-esque films (I don’t class Guardians of the Galaxy or the anti-hero/villain ones as superhero films). It will be a good five years for people like me who can barely get enough of such films, but might it be a little too much? I recently dismissed the idea that the superhero genre was becoming oversaturated by saying that no one ever said that about action films or romantic comedies. However, thirty films in five years is quite a lot. I suppose it does make sense, though. In five years, all of those actors are going to look quite different. Some aren’t particularly young now. So it makes sense to round off storylines and bring things to a close while those actors are still have the interest, and are able, to play those characters.

I’ve already written a post about the DC films, for Uproar, so now I’ll say a bit about some of the Marvel ones:

Age of Ultron

The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer was released just the other day, and it looks extremely good. I was surprised by the casting of James Spader as Ultron, but given his monologue through the trailer, I can see it was a very good choice. Even if I hadn’t seen it, I’ve recently started watching Blacklist, and some of his scenes in that show that he can be quite intimidating using nothing but his voice.

The question that the trailer prompts is: what’s wrong with Bruce Banner and Hulk?


A lot of people have got very excited at the prospect of a Deadpool film. The ‘Merc with a Mouth’ was quite severely abused by the first Wolverine film, but now Marvel are giving him his own film, and by the leaked test footage below, we can be fairly sure they will be sticking closely to what the anti-hero is meant to be: random, unstable, and weird. Ryan Reynolds also is very likely to be reprising the role of the fourth-wall-breaking, near-indestructible assassin who once killed off the entire Marvel Universe and then turned on his writers and artists, and the readers.

Captain America: Civil War

The Civil War storyline revolved around the US government introducing the Superhero Registration Act, which would see all superheroes answering to the government. This causes a schism between the superheroes, with some agreeing with the act, and others opposed. Captain America is at the head of the group opposed to it, while Iron Man leads those who support it.

Marvel's Civil War

I’m not convinced that storyline could work all that well on film. Apart from anything else, we like to be able to root for one side, but in a story where heroes are fighting heroes, who do you root for?! But also, I can’t see the Tony Stark/Iron Man that we know from the films being pro-registration. It doesn’t make sense. Presumably, something drastic will happen in Age of Ultron, changing him quite fundamentally. Perhaps simply the fact that he has created Ultron will be enough to make him think that he should be answerable to someone.

The other thing I’m unsure about is sticking the storyline into a Captain America film. doing so surely makes it much more than a Captain America film, doesn’t it? Maybe they should have done a DC and called it Captain America v Iron Man: Civil War. Or not.

Black Panther

Black Panther

This contradicts what I said in the DC article about DC beating Marvel when it comes to diversity. Well, a bit. DC still have Mamoa and Gadot. But Marvel will be the first to have a black superhero lead (although to be fair, Hancock got there long before either of them!).

Black Panther – named before the Black Panther Party, it may be worth noting – was the first black superhero to be published in mainstream comics, also predating any black DC heroes. He is an African king, and if you mixed Captain America and Batman into a mystical, panther-costumed human stew, you’d get Black Panther.

Marvel also released concept art for Black Panther, which is very close to his depiction in the comics, minus the cape. It’s also pretty good looking.

Infinity War

Just like DC’s Justice League, the Avengers’ next outing after Ultron will be a two-parter. It’s not too surprising, given the storylines of other Marvel films, that it is the Infinity War. There are six Infinity Stones, which predate the creation of the universe, and can only be wielded by by beings of incredible power. We’ve seen four of the Infinity Stones so far in the films, and seen what happens when a ‘lesser’ being tries to wield them (unintnetionally in some cases):

  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Red Skull comes into possession of the Tesseract, which reappears in The Avengers. It is the ‘Space Stone’
  • Loki’s Chitauri sceptre appears in The Avengers and in the after credits scene of Captain America: Winter Soldier. It is the ‘Mind Stone’
  • The Aether is what afflicts Jane Foster in Thor: The Dark World, and is later delivered to The Collector by Lady Sif. It is the ‘Reality Stone’
  • The Orb is the centre of the Guardians of the Galaxy film, retrieved first by Peter Quill, and then stolen by Ronan the Accuser. It is the ‘Power Stone’

We can see (until it’s pulled) in the teaser video Marvel showed during their announcement of Phase 3 that Thanos will be in possession of the completed Infinity Gauntlet, which incorporates all six Infinity Stones.

I’m looking forward to the two-parter, but I’m afriad to watch it at the same time. It will almost certainly bring together not just the Avengers themselves, but the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, and quite possibly some of the others mentioned above, against Thanos the Mad Titan. Don’t expect everyone to make it out alive.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

DC will beat Marvel to the punch with Wonder Woman, but who cares? It’ll be good to have the female led Captain Marvel – aka Carol Danvers – rather than the male one. This makes me wonder about my Agents of SHIELD predictions though. One of my Skye predictions doesn’t work now, but the Coulson one still might (even though it was a long shot to begin with).

In the comics, Carol Danvers gets her powers from an explosion that causes her DNA to merge with that of the original, male Captain Marvel. This is possible if my above Agents of SHIELD theory is right – which it probably isn’t – but most likely, it will occur some other way (probably still an explosion).


So, unless films such as Spider-Man 3 get killed off, those are our thirty superhero and superhero-esque films for the next five years. Which are you looking forward to most: Marvel or DC?

Days of Winter Guardians

I have left it so long since the last blog post that the whole layout of this New Post screen has changed. But anyway, it’s time to update the world on my goings on and allow you to unbate your breath.

The main, important things are that I have now finished my second short story featuring Kira. It is tentatively entitled ‘Kira Part 2’. Or ‘Horizon’. It will be first published in the sequel to last year’s anthology: ‘Wyrd Worlds II’. The exact date isn’t known just yet, but it will likely be as soon as this September! So I should probably get started on the cover.

The second important thing is that I’ve been writing a number of blog articles for Uproar Comics, hence why I’m even more quiet than usual here. I’ve been writing about a range of subjects, from the usual films, TV and games, to extraterrestrial life and the Mariana Trench. If you’re interested, which…why would you NOT be, they can all be found here.

And now for the all-important film update! I’ve watched several films in the past couple of months, some of them crap and some of them good.

Captain America 2: Winter Solder is good. Very good. Damn good. I think it’s tied for second place in my list of best Marvel films with Guardians of the Galaxy. The Avengers is better, I think. The only downside is that I guessed the big twist before the film was even released.

Guardians of the Galaxy is also good. Very good. I should probably say damn good, too, because it’s tied with Captain Freedom. It’s not the typical Marvel film, yet ties in with the Marvel universe well. I expected it to be pretty bad purely, simply, because of Chris Pratt. He seemed from the trailers to be an incredibly irritating…prat. But, in fact, he was pretty decent. Personally, I think Nathan Fillion would actually have been better in the role, but it doesn’t matter. It was damn good. And very funny.

X-Men: Days of Future Past was…actually a bit of a let down. Probably mostly because of how much people raved about it, and claimed it was the best Marvel film yet. It isn’t. There are several better ones in my opinion, including at least two previous X-Men films. But it was pretty good. Wolverine was in it, so that was good. But it didn’t feel like a superhero film at all. It was mostly talking, and shouting, and running around. The scenes in the future seem to be there more because they realised how boring the main film was in terms of action, so stuck them in there to keep people interested. And Quicksilver was pointless. But, good acting and a decent enough story. I’m not entirely sure what to think of it, so it’s just as well I’m not giving it a star rating.

Machete Kills. Surprisingly entertaining and amusing.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 was terrible. The worst Marvel film yet, perhaps. Not quite as bad as I’ve heard people say, but terrible. Electro, or whatever his name was, was a complete joke of a villain. Foxx played him well, but the character himself was just ridiculous. I can’t even be bothered to explain why. Plus, spoilers. The conclusion of the relationship with Gwen Stacy wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was ruined by the stupid ending.

So, that’s that. Look out for Kira in Wyrd Worlds II next month. Probably.

Agents of SHIELD

…and other miscellaneous stuff not mentioned in the title.*

I almost spelled miscellaneous without my browser’s help! Which would be mildly impressive if I weren’t supposed to be a writer.

I haven’t written anything other than the book tour posts for quite a while, and I still can’t think of anything much to say, so I thought I’d ramble about some stuff. Starting, and quite possibly comprising entirely of, the Agents of SHIELD finale.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Agents of SHIELD is a spin-off from Marvel’s Avengers. SHIELD is, of course, the government agency put together to protect people from stuff. They are the ones who put together the Avengers initiative. The TV series is headed by Agent Coulson, who has a small role in some of the Avengers’ solo films (Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor…and off the top of my head I think that’s all) and then another small, but pivotal, role in the Avengers film itself (or Avengers Assemble in the UK, since apparently we can’t tell the difference between the Hulk and Mrs Peel).

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of SHIELD started off a little too cheesy for my liking, but I decided to give it more of a chance, because I like Agent Coulson a lot. He is very stand-out in the films for someone who has so little screen time. He also always manages to say something funny, even in the most serious of situations, without taking away from that seriousness. I’m glad I did, because the show gets better and better. And better. The acting, CGI, story and general writing all improves quite drastically over the course of a single season. In fact, it has come so far in a short time that it feels to me like I watched the end of the second, or even third, season rather than only the first.

As soon as it got its talons (’cause the SHIELD symbol is a bird! Get it?) into a solid overarching storyline, it really got going, and took some turns that I thought were actually quite brave for any TV show, let alone one that has such a mixed reception.

Spoilers ACTIVATE, as…no SHIELD agent would ever say.

There are two main plot points that stand out to me. First is the reason Coulson is alive and not dead. He died in the Avengers, and I think it was really only due to fan outrage that Joss Whedon decided to bring him back. Coulson believes that he only died for a short while, but the EMTs arrived in time to revive him. Nick Fury then used his supposed death to unite the Avengers. This is not so subtly disproved by Shepherd Book’s (or whatever his name is in this) line of ‘He really doesn’t know, does he?’ It’s an absolutely terrible line, badly delivered, and contributed to me wondering if this was going to be a worthwhile show. However, now we were all wondering what really happened to Coulson.

Agent Coulson

Over the course of the season, Coulson begins to wonder as well. A nice touch is that every time anyone mentions Tahiti – where he supposedly spent his R&R time – he is compelled to respond with ‘It’s a magical place’. To begin with, this seems like an amusing quirk of Coulson’s, until you realise that it really is a compulsion. Then he realises too. And it’s a surprisingly impactful moment when he does, because he’s always such a believer in SHIELD that when he starts to doubt what he’s been told by them, you really feel sorry for him.

In short, he discovers that SHIELD scientists brought him back to life with a controversial process, and that he was begging them to let him die the entire time. Which is quite sad. As though that weren’t bad enough, he then discovers that the drug they used was being harvested from some kind of alien who appeared to have been cut in half at some point. It looked a bit like a Frost Giant (from Thor), but according to internet consensus, it isn’t. And then as though THAT weren’t bad enough, he discovers that he was overseeing the research for the project, which was being put together in case an Avenger fell, and told Nick ‘Motherf*$#ing’ Fury in no uncertain terms that the project should not continue, as too many psychological issues arose from the process.

The second plot point was the brave one, I thought. I don’t really remember any other show that has done it. My memory isn’t the best, though, and I’m sure it has been done at some point. Episode 17 reveals that one of Coulson’s team – Ward – is actually a Hydra agent. And it’s not one of those ‘Oh, really he’s a SHIELD agent pretending to be a Hyrda agent pretending to be a SHIELD agent’ things. Nor does he have a change of heart at the end and save their lives. He’s simply a traitor. I thought, after nearly a full season of him protecting the team and whatnot, this was quite a brave direction to take. That said, I have to say I think Ward was the weakest character and actor. He was a little too stereotypical, generic tough guy. The actress who plays Skye seems to have realised that her looks alone won’t pull her through, and so has improved her acting a lot, but Ward hasn’t changed.

Nick Fury

Lastly, I wanted to rave about the finale, which inspired me to write this meandering post. It was very good. It was, by far, the best episode of the season. It was let down only by Bill Paxton’s overacting. He was fine up till this episode, but then his character went a tad crazy. But what I liked most about the episode was Samuel L Jackson’s appearance (as Nick Fury, obviously). I never read about the TV shows I’m watching, so I never know what’s going to happen or who’s going to be in it, etc. If I wasn’t so oblivious, I would have guessed that he’d be in it, but…I am and I didn’t.

‘FitzSimmons’ – the team’s scientific duo – are trapped in a storage unit at the bottom of the ocean, after having been ejected from their plane by Ward. They work out a way to escape, but the problem is that they’ll still be in the middle of the ocean with the bends and nobody looking for them. Fitz rigged up a weak transponder thingy, but it’s on a SHIELD frequency, which no one will be listening for. The other problem is that they only have enough air for one of them to survive. Fitz, being in love with Simmons, makes her take it. Before she can argue too much, he blasts the window out and the ocean surges in.

It’s a pretty good scene in itself, with the air flooding out of the window, followed by Simmons. Then we see that she’s dragging the unconscious Fitz with her. They reach the surface and she starts shouting for help. There’s no telling if she’s just vainly shouting at nothing, or if she can actually see something. The camera follows her underwater several times as she struggles to stay afloat, and then suddenly, it breaches the surface and Nick Fury is staring down at her! Hanging out of a helicopter and reaching for her hand. It’s very good, even if it is a ludicrous idea that a helicopter would hover that low over someone in the sea… It turns out someone was listening on that frequency. If I hadn’t had a cat on my knee, I might have leapt to my feet in excitement and broken into the American national anthem, probably while a bald eagle swooped in to land on my shoulder. But the cat was sleeping.

Fury has a bit more than a cameo this time, and even shoots someone. His justification of what they did to Coulson is, on the one hand, a little weak, but on the other, kind of makes you proud of Coulson. Basically, Coulson says that program was only ever meant for a fallen Avenger, to which Fury replies ‘Exactly!’ He might as well have given Coulson a big hug, for how much that simple statement would have meant to him.

Anyway, the meandering ramblings have run out. It was a very good finale, and I enjoyed it even more than the Arrow finale, which I also watched last night. I’m looking forward to the next season of both (and I’m relieved that Agents of SHIELD has actually been renewed for a second season, as it was a bit touch and go).

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Promo

It turns out I have not written about other miscellaneous stuff after all. May The Force Be With You, or something.