Still in a Steve/Tony high, I decided to have an MCU mini-marathon with The Avengers
, Avengers: Age of Ultron
and Captain America: Civil War
. It was most fun. Some conclusions:
- The Avengers is more nerve-wracking in rewatch, knowing that SHIELD is actually Hydra part deux. Just about everything to do with or done by SHIELD made me anxious.
- The action in The Avengers isn't... shot very well. Age of Ultron, despite having more CGI weirdness, is far more dynamic and physics-heavy. On the flipside, The Avengers as a whole is continuously exciting and engaging, while I found myself mentally checking out of some quieter scenes of Age of Ultron. As for Civil War, it feels emotionally tight in a way that the other two films simply don't, and the hand-to-hand combat is also excellent, but the airport fight goes on way too long in rewatch.
- There is something to be said for the opinion I'd seen on the interwebs that Age of Ultron works really well as an immediate follow-up to The Avengers, i.e. if you pretend that Iron Man 3 never happened. (Captain America: The Winter Soldier less so, because there's at least some consequences from that movie brought forward.) Which is a bummer, because I love Iron Man 3.
- Considering I just read a book about meteoroids and global-level extinctions, Ultron's plan is even more ridiculous. I mean, sure, superhero-movie physics, but eh.
- Steve's dialogue improves DRAMATICALLY between The Avengers and Age of Ultron. How much of that was Steve's The Avengers PTSD getting lost to the cutting room floor, and how much was it due to Steve's snarkiness being highlighted in The Winter Soldier, which might've influenced the writing for Age of Ultron? Don't even get me started with Steve's costume in The Avengers.
- Natasha and Thor are hilarious, and although I can understand them being flattened a lot in fic that's focused on other characters, it's still a damn shame that it happens.
- Look, Steve is my fav, but the thing that bugged me the most about his POV in Civil War is that he presented no alternatives to signing the Accords. He was just a wall, and made no effort to bridge the divide. I can buy that being part and parcel of the character, but let's just say that I know enough walls like that in real life that I get stressed as hell seeing it in fiction.
- The logic of the Accords continue to be shaky as hell (why... are they blaming damage caused by other parties on the Avengers) but I can buy this in a sense because the true endgame a la Zemo had nothing to do with the Accords itself. Though I am interested in seeing how the Accords play out in the following films, if at all.
- All three films involve the core team being split apart by the bad guy. ALL THREE. It's weird as hell to watch back-to-back, and the only thing Civil War does differently is that it makes it permanent, while the previous two have the team getting back together for the sake of the battlefield, though without actually talking about it or having any emotionally honest team moments. Which, I guess, highlights how the team was volatile to begin with, and only really work as a team when they can focus on a common target. Fandom has wanked to hell and back about whether these guys really are friends instead of mini-cliques who work together by necessity, but I find it more interesting to look at it this way: Tony and Steve's first real emotional moments happen under the weight of the Accords, and later in Siberia in the worst possible circumstances. (They had a single, great banter scene at the end of Age of Ultron, but it felt like merely skimming the surface, especially compared to the connection between Tony and Bruce in The Avengers, plus Steve's with Sam and Nat in The Winter Soldier.) Extrapolating from that, Avengers: Infinity War would be a spectacular cap off for this cycle of films if it manages to present true, bona fide emotional team moments. No pressure.*
*I mean, I'd love it, though I know better than to pin my hopes on it.
It's just really egregious when watching the films back-to-back, how the team just head off for the final fight with Loki/Ultron without addressing the team conflict presented on-screen beforehand. The Avengers
is less an issue because they're just starting out as a team, but Age of Ultron
is really awkward -- they were literally beating the crap out of each other before Vision pops out and picks up Mjolnir.
I felt that Civil War
does really well to address that emotional gap with dialogue that actually
depicts familiarity between the members (the Steve & Tony argument just before Bucky gets triggered is so so SO different from their arguments in the first two films, with actual affection present between the lines) but, well... civil war, et cetera. Even the epic fight in the airport felt less stressful in a sense, because they were aiming to stop, not to hurt, whereas the fights in both Avengers
films were very much targeting the soft, squishy bits of each other. Basically, after watching the first two Avengers
I felt starved for more friendly interactions, but somehow after Civil War
I wasn't as much, despite it ending on such open-ended heartbreak. Which is food for thought, I guess.
While I was about halfway through Civil War
, my father came in and decided to join me. He'd never seen it before, and he hasn't seen Age of Ultron
either, but he seemed to be able to follow it well enough, and was really into it until he realized what was going on and said, appalled, "They're fighting each other
Plus, once the reveal with the 1991 accident happened, he said flatly: "Well, that's difficult."
Yes. Yes, it is.