Gender Roles - Women
Gender Roles - Women: 4 Stars
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is full of hard-hitting, smart, and threatening women. The Black Widow is a well-trained assassin. Dr. Helen Cho is a brilliant scientist. And Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, is yet another enhanced human who has gained the ability to control people's minds.
It's just unfortunate that all of these impressive women are cast in supporting roles rather than shaping the story. Even the Black Widow, who is a core part of the Avengers' team, is given a thin romance to keep her connected to the action - rather than a critical role in hunting down and destroying Ultron. Sadly, this film is just one of so many that takes the important first step of creating powerful female characters, but then sets them on the sidelines and allows them to fade into obscurity.
Plot: 3.5 Stars
The Black Widow may be a core member of the Avengers' team, but she's treated more like a sidekick or a love interest than a superhero. She isn't involved in the tense conversations between Tony Stark and Dr. Banner that lead to the creation of Ultron and she isn't a part of the heated arguments on how to defeat him. She is never given a leadership role, but simply carries out her duties in the background. At one point, she is even taken captive until she is rescued by Dr. Banner. She's also one of the few Avengers that doesn't actually have a superpower - and putting her in a black jumpsuit and delivering a couple of lethal kicks to some unintimidating bad guys doesn't do much to exalt her place in the Marvel Universe.
It could easily be argued that the Scarlet Witch has a larger role in saving humanity than the Black Widow. She does her part to keep Ultron and his robots from decimating the city and even proves that she has enough intelligence and mental strength to get past the scars of her childhood. She not only survives the death of her brother in the final battle with Ultron, but ultimately becomes the sort of superhero that she's meant to be.
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles - Men
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Men: 3 Stars
By their very nature, superheroes tend to be fierce and unyielding men - but most of them also have a vulnerable and troubled side. We see them attempting to cope with some terrific loss or struggling for some sense of normalcy within the populations that they protect. The Avengers: Age of Ultron does allow its male superheroes some rare moments of sentimentality, but mostly as a side effect of a temporary mind-warp, and each of their sad stories are short-lived and under-developed. The only character who truly displays a consistent and compelling sense of vulnerability is Dr. Banner, who is always haunted by the knowledge of the monster that dwells inside him.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 2.5 Stars
The women in the Avengers: Age of Ultron are all fairly self-assured. Each one proves herself capable of not only making difficult, split-second decisions, but deftly and promptly executing them. And with the exception of the Black Widow's quintessential superhero jumpsuit, none of these women are objectified to the point that their powers seem to stem from their sexuality alone. It's still unfortunate that there isn't a lot of personality packed into these characters - and to some degree, they aren't much more than attractive scenery with a few subtle lines and action sequences. All things considered, The Avengers: Age of Ultron certainly isn't the
worst depiction of women superheroes out there, but it isn't the best either.
Character Development: 2.5 Stars
One thing that doesn't work for the Avengers movies is the growing cast of characters. The film may boast a number of dynamic and intriguing women, but they're each given just a small sliver of the action. As a whole, audiences don't really get to know any of the Avengers or their adversaries on a deep level. Most of the film is a series of action sequences and corny jokes, with very little character development for the men or the women. We do get a small glimpse of the Black Widow's harsh background and how it may have warped her ability to trust even those who are closest to her. But all we're given is a cryptic flashback and one impassioned speech, with no real resolution or redemption.
The Scarlet Witch has a bit more backstory, though not much. She grew up with her own tragedy and ends up fighting for an appropriate balance between peace and revenge. But she, just like the other Avengers' characters, is just a bit too invincible to really appear human. Audiences are never lead to believe that there might be an unhappy ending for any of these characters. They always come back and they always win the day, which makes their struggles a lot less personable, and a lot less relatable.
Love: 3 Stars (Spoilers)
The Black Widow's love affair with Dr. Banner is tame at best and unconvincing at worst. The couple doesn't spend enough time together to build any real chemistry or investment - but at the very least, the Black Widow isn't so taken up in this whirlwind romance that she forgets herself. She proves that she is every bit a real woman in search of love and intimacy, but she's also a fighter and an Avenger, and refuses to walk away from her calling in order to live happily ever after with Dr. Banner.
Once again a team of disjointed superheroes, the Avengers, is called upon to save the human race from a supernatural threat. After successfully reclaiming Loki's scepter from a guarded fortress, Tony Stark begins experimenting with the scepter's mysterious properties. But his hopes of shielding the Earth from other worldly threats are destroyed when he unleashes a powerful force known as Ultron, which is bent on the destruction of the Avengers and all of humanity itself.
Kelly is a labor law