Its Josiah again!
Loki, the God of Mischief, is coming back to make trouble, and he’s not alone. Last week,, Tom Hiddleston was announced as a returning cast member for Thor: Ragnarok, the third installment in the Thor movie series; and he’s not alone. The “threequel” adds some new players wearing the faces of Cate Blanchet of Lord of the Rings fame, Karl Urban beamed down from the U.S.S. Enterprise, Tessa Thompson by way of Philly and Jeff Goldblum at the top of his ‘Resurgence. The movie of course heralds the return of Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Thor: Ragnarok decimates theaters some time in 2017.
But enough about them, let’s talk about Loki!
Well to be fair, its all of the other characters that got me started thinking about him in the first place. In fact it was Zemo, the villain from Captain America: Civil War that first got me reminiscing on Loki again. My friends were comparing villains from the various Marvel serials so it was only a matter of time until we traced it all back to Thor’s adopted brother. I liked Zemo enough, as understated as he was. Just a normal guy who had a bad day and used his resources in the government to bring the Avengers to their knees. He had a family, he was human – one of us.
The Punisher, Kingpin and Kilgrave from the Netflix corner of Marvel Studios, share similar traits to Loki, all able to draw some sense of sympathy from the audience. In some way shape or form I could mostly find some way to relate to some of the best baddies that Marvel had to offer.
And then I remembered Ultron.
The second Avengers villain, Ultron was an android built by Tony Stark/Iron Man as a means to save the world, a global “suit of armor” as it were, until via the world wide web, Ultron got a whiff of every troll throughout the history that ever plagued mankind. Ultron’s solution? Rain fire from the sky and cleanse the planet.
Ultron was played by the excellent James Spader, who waxes poetically about God, Noah and the Flood, and allusions to Pinocchio and his refusal to be a puppet.
There are no strings on me. (Ultron – The Avengers: Age of Ultron.)
And through it all on the first viewing I felt kind of bored, or rather, underwhelmed. I knew what I was getting into with a robot villain and the buzz excited me. But imagine my surprise when while watching the movie I suddenly felt like I was at a great party that just got crashed by that one nerd who just recently learned some lore about a character and just has to tell everyone how much he knows now.
That’s Ultron, and I just wanted him to go away.
Back to Loki for a second, I have to be honest here, I never liked him all that much. I always felt like I missed something about the character. He was just, already mean, yet everyone swore he was a tragic character deserving of my sympathy. I just didn’t see it. He is childish, power hungry, delusional and a bully who tried to take Asgard and then planet Earth by force:
You take the world I love as recompense for your imagined slights? (Thor – The Avengers)
And for all of that mess of a character, for all of that disconnection I felt… that I connect with Loki so much more than I do Ultron! The robot was just born, “learns” about humanity from of all places, the Internet. He doesn’t even try to reason with the Avengers or give them a chance to work anything out, he’s condescending and behaves as if he’s one of us. One of us? Dude, you just got here (but you don’t even go here), and to top it all off you’re LATE! How are you going to “teach” us about ourselves?
Don’t get me wrong, his speeches are pretty, but I didn’t connect them with Ultron, I kept waiting for Loki or some thinking AND feeling (no really come on) character to echo such grandiose rhetoric about purpose, evolution and rebirth to step out from behind his monochrome back.
I think its the blessing and curse of Spader. He is so convincing as Ultron that it makes him all the more annoying because you can tell that he believes everything he is saying even though he hasn’t earned anything. Which I still felt on my second only viewing of The Avengers: Age of Ultron tonight. Ultron didn’t grind my gears quite as much this time and I appreciated his ideas about death and change a lot more this time. I think it’s because I connect Ultron to Tony so much more than I did the first time; I think a lot of what Ultron is projecting onto the Avengers belongs to Tony (somehow) and was transferred through faux comic book science mumbo-jumbo. And the father/son ideas are better the second time around too.
I guess I just want to connect. I feel like the Avengers are fighting an idea more than a person in this movie and that makes it a challenge to believe in Ultron. Plus the movie was rushed. Loki at least had a single movie prior to his invasion in the first Avengers movie, but Ultron’s development would have benefited from a more gradual descent into darkness rather than his immediate villainy; for me anyway. No shade aimed at Marvel or Ultron or any of you that really enjoyed the character and the movie, these are just my observations.
I sometimes feel cold and mechanical like Ultron, we all have our days. Sometimes the world seems all doom and gloom, all hope is lost, like we’ll never achieve our highest potential and get it all done. But we try, we never give up. You know, I think that’s why the Vision, Ultron’s “brother” I guess you could say, makes so much sense (plus Paul Bettany has voiced JARVIS in four movies already). He works very well as a hero at this stage of the game thanks to his relationships with the team and humanity at large. He’s seen us at our highest and lowest points and he’s stuck with us all the while and transformed from a servant into a friend. Without Ultron I don’t think this resolution would have been as poignant.
Wow, You’ve Got A Friend In Me reference, two toy allusions in one post, two Disney (and Pixar) jokes at that, okay time to end this. So movies can teach us about relationships and first impressions as well as yeah, watch a movie more than once!
(All images taken from Google)