A new fad in movie characters seems to have taken hold, the villain next door.
I like a good movie, strong plot, great cinematography, relatable characters and believable performances whether they be action, romance, drama or anything else these characteristics are what make me enjoy a movie, and they are also the characteristics upon which I judge it’s quality. Operating in the comic book field I dare not miss a good comic/graphic novel inspired movie. Were I to miss one I’m sure my privileges as a lover of comics would be revoked by the community at large for my lack of dedication to the cause.
And so I watched Avengers : Age of Ultron.
I went in seeking. Seeking the Easter eggs for the fans, seeking the cliches established by the movies forerunners, seeking every scene from the plethora of trailers that preceded the movie, and seeking justification for loving the art form of comics judged by most as whimsical at best. What I had forgotten I was seeking was plausibility. One would think that would not even be a consideration when going to watch a film about Norse gods, ogres, technofants and super men but as the glistening effects rolled on and embalmed my eyes in every candy goodness Hollywood could muster I became increasingly aware of a pattern I had not realized Hollywood writers were peddling as the formula for a 21st century blockbuster.
You see Ultron was kind of a nice guy… with the small personality quirk of a temper problem and sadistic maniacal tendencies. As an all powerful villain I did not find him scary at all; yes his design was imposing and powerful, yes his voice was weighted with gravitas and with out a doubt his cause was just plain evil… but he wasn’t scary. I did not fear the impending doom for all humanity he tried to slide past us and this was because he was (his character that is) that every-day bad tempered sarcastic neighbor. Watching the movie I began to see the plot holes this nice/evil Ultron left i.e if he was in the internet why didn’t he just crash the world, surely he could have destroyed humanity by being the embodiment of everything we feared at Y2K (yes I still remember that ridiculous global hysteria caused by clocks). Instead he sarcastically listened to Quicksilver’s sob story, Negotiated with a arms dealer somehow capable of offending a machine, oddly he does not have a WiFi link to his super advanced new body, and he felt the need to have his enemies understand him… while he killed them. I noticed these things because I had lots of time on my hands not being scared of him.
This wasn’t the first time the villain next door reared his menacing head over the 5 foot hedge, Loki was a nice/evil, Aldrich Killian from Iron man 3 was nice/evil, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance villain was nice/evil, even Dr Doom from the old Fantastic Four movies fits into the fold. A villain who for all intents and purposed looks ferocious but we just can’t take 100% seriously because he is just a tad too relatable is becoming a mainstay for the superhero movie genre. Is it because the pre-teen audience is becoming increasingly important to corporations? Is it because comic book evil is too practical to translate to movies? Or is it because society likes the company of people they hate, the friend who’s a jerk and says the off-side jokes that are funny but cruel.
Maybe mainstay superhero movies are taking a leaf from villains in the Dragon Ball Z series who are oddly cavalier about their torment of earth to the extent that they can joke with the heroes while at it. I don’t know, but what I can say is this new breed of villains is great for Saturday morning cartoons but if the big cinema releases keep going for this style we could all too soon lose the lessons behind the superhero movie as we focus on the personalities rather than the problems prevailed.