Superheroes Round 17: Gone Avengin’
This post had to happen. I just saw The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it was excellent.
It was also a classic superheroes movie, and you know what that means. (In case you don’t — it means physics has taken an extended vacation.)
Also: all the spoilers! So, if you haven’t seen the movie, go do that first.
But I will say: Joss Whedon, trolling level expert.
Artificial Intelligence Does Not Work That Way
Well, it doesn’t.
Realistic AIs aren’t represented by a bunch of shiny holographic things that Stark cooks up. And you can’t get a good idea of how one works just by looking at such a diagram. Do you get how a brain works just by looking at it?
Besides, there’s another fundamental difference here. You don’t represent software by looking at the hardware.
Looking at someone’s brain doesn’t tell you whether or not they like to eat apples, or like watching fun superhero movies. It doesn’t tell you much, aside from possibly finding certain specific structural problems or other issues that are only obvious from having studied lots of brains.
The same is (kinda) true of the AIs in the movie — but having something that “looks like neurons firing” is NOT indicative of an AI. Those diagrams look like hardware, not software.
Software is a bunch of text files that can be translated into something a computer knows how to do. Not a shiny hologram. Stark really should have read through the source code before downloading Ultron…
You Reminded Me Of A Movie I Don’t Like
Sorry, but you did.
There’s a scene in Superman Returns when Superman lifts an island of kryptonite and phlebontinum into orbit. It’s so annoying because there’s no realistic way for Superman to carry that without having it fall apart.
And this movie does that with a piece of a city, and all the rocks underneath… at least you’ve got the edges crumbling, but…
I just… I don’t care how you handwaved it, it’s still annoying.
It’s refreshing to see the Avengers directly working to prevent collateral damage. And not just by protecting that one cute kid from a bit of falling rubble, either.
When the Hulk is mind-whammied into losing control, one of Iron Man’s goals is to take the fight out of the city, or at least drop the big green monster onto an unoccupied building.
When the Avengers realize where the final showdown is taking place, they attempt to evacuate the nearby town. There isn’t enough time, and more bad stuff happens, but they’re trying. Captain America even objects to a plan that would save the day, and prevent world destruction problems, but which would kill thousands of civilians. Speaking of which…
Troll Me Once, Shame On You
This one, I saw coming. Mostly.
Once we’re introduced to Clint Barton’s/Hawkeye’s family, and he mentions to his wife that this will be “the last project,” he looks like he’s completely being set up for death by retirement. I saw that coming so much, I was really hoping it would be averted.
Meanwhile, there’s a scene where Hawkeye gets the drop on Quicksilver (the speedster), and says, “Bet you didn’t see that coming.”
Later, Hawkeye goes back to get one last kid who got scared and hid in the rubble. He’s carrying the kid back to rescue when a plane starts shooting at them. There’s no chance of avoiding it… until Quicksilver swoops in and gets them out of the way, taking the bullets himself.
Quicksilver’s last words: “Bet you didn’t see that coming.”
Well, I half-did, so… anyway, Hawkeye/Barton gets to live and go home to his family. I am happy with this resolution.
Troll Me Twice, Shame On Me
I didn’t see this one.
There’s a setup early in the film, in which all the Avengers try (and fail) to lift Thor’s hammer. Only Captain America even makes it move.
There are other plotlines where Captain America picks up Mjolnir. Despite being a Very Good Guy, the main reason advanced for his not being able to use it normally is his extreme reticence to kill — even when doing so would save more lives. (Note the example I mentioned earlier.)
I was expecting him to embrace the inevitable at some point, and borrow the hammer for something epic.
But it’s not Cap. Fast foward through the film, and The Vision, a cyborg/AI built from a combination of Ultron and Jarvis (Stark’s pet AI), is attempting to convince the group that he wants to help them take Ultron down, and that he values life. He says he has no way to prove this… and then, nonchalantly, picks up Mjolnir and returns it to Thor as if it’s no big deal.
The looks on all their faces (and probably also mine)? Priceless.
Troll Me Thrice, um…
Trolling level expert.
There wasn’t a long teaser scene after the credits… what?
Well, from the mid-credits snippet, at least we know Thanos is up to no good…
A Note On Theme
One thematic element does bother me, though. Ultron says, “You want to protect the world… but you don’t want it to change.” Okay, fine.
But then the Vision’s dialog makes it sounds like he thinks humanity is doomed, too. That beauty doesn’t last, to paraphrase. Does he think that humany will inevitably destroy itself? Or just change into something different?
It’s a bit ominous, and more pessimistic about people than I was expecting.
Given the re-emergence of the latest Infinity Stone and the hints at future plot, I have to know:
Did Loki plan the whole thing?