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by Anthony Weber
The Avengers have invaded your local theaters - and the public consciousness. Critics like it and audiences love it. It passed the $700million dollar mark only eight days after its release. A spokesperson for Disney said it should pass the $1.5 billion that the first movie brought in. That billion, with a 'b'. The next Avenger movie is several years away, but between now and then you will see plenty of TV shows and movies preparing the way.
I'm not going to rehash all the (appropriately) congratulatory things others are saying about the quality of the film. If we can grant that Joss Whedon knows what he's doing, we can move on to issues that go beyond the artistic merits of Age of Ultron.
Comic books are today's mythology without the religious devotion. All of the Avengers are reminiscent of these more-than-human heroes. Thor is the only demi-god in the classic mythological sense; Captain America and the Hulk have been made superhuman through science; Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were crafted through genetic and supernatural influence. They are all some version of Heracles, a blend of humanity and something greater that makes them so much more.
Iron Man, Black Widow and Hawkeye are merely human, but Natasha and Clint’s gifts and training along with Tony’s technological genius have left them all with abilities that qualify them as “super.” They are Hector, Ajax, or Aegea, blessed by the nature and nurture gods to be bigger than life.
As with any story that involves super folks, both the best and the worst of humanity will arise. These stories are not meant to present simplistic heroes and villains. They are meant to tales of horror and hope, cautionary and encouraging in a way that helps us better understand or navigate life. Of course, everyone who tells a story - director, singer, author - approaches it from a particular worldview. What is the problem of humanity? Where is our salvation? Do our histories define us, or can we choose who we want to be? Age of Ultron is no exception. Whedon has crafted a movie that focuses our attention on the best and worst in the world - and in us…
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