‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ trailer begs the question: How can Joss Whedon not direct ‘Avengers 3’?

Ultron no strings on meBy now the entire world has seen the teaser trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. There really is only one word to describe it: awesome. The first movie made over $1.5 billion worldwide. It seems fair to say that $2 billion this time around is a distinct possibility. However, if director Joss Whedon delivers the goods — and all signs point to ‘yes’ — then it begs the question: How can he walk away from a climatic Avengers 3?

Over the past few weeks it’s been rumored that Marvel wants Joe and Anthony Russo to sign on for the 3rd and 4th Avengers movies, but it feels as though everything is building to Avengers 3. Only Marvel knows if that is the case, but I can’t help but feel as though walking away before completing an Avengers trilogy would be a bizarre move on Mr. Whedon’s part.

Directing a movie on as big of a scale as The Avengers must be physically and mentally exhausting. The time away from family and the pressure it puts on the director must be unbearable. However, if Mr. Whedon has set the stage for the superhero movie of all superhero movies to be Avengers 3, then passing on the job would be like the quarterback who leads his team down the field at the end of the big game, only to walk off the field on the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Regardless, for those who were too dazzled by the visuals of the teaser trailer to pay attention to the narration, it appears as though Whedon is going Empire Strikes Back-dark with this installment.

Ultron: “I’m going to show you something beautiful — everyone … screaming for mercy. You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change. You’re all puppets tangled in strings. String. But now I’m free. There are no strings on me.”

Then there is this exchange between Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff:

Tony Stark: “It’s the end. The end of the path I started us on.”

Natasha Romanoff: “Nothing last forever.”

Meanwhile, an eerie rendition of “I’ve Got No Strings” from Disney’s Pinocchio plays in the background. (The merger between Marvel and Disney continues to pay off in interesting ways.)

Avengers Age of Ultron teaserIt’s hard to see how Marvel can continue to keep this momentum going. The Black Widow is right: “Nothing lasts forever.” Eventually, Marvel will create a movie that implodes under its own weight. Eventually, all waves crash against the shore. Regardless, when that happens it will be hard not acknowledge that it was one wild ride.

Spider-Man: War Zone liability thinks small in big situations

A week ago I covered Spider-Man, and how liberal writers have turned him into a walking war zone liability. In a situation where 6 billion lives hung in the balance, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man did the “neighborly” thing and thought to use precious seconds wondering whether a bunch of North Korean soldiers (those same guys overseeing the world’s most notorious gulags) were ushered to safety before explosives took out the weapons … they were guarding. He then saw fit to warn his soldierly teammates “no one dies,” precisely the kind of all-or-nothing delusional thinking that sets the stage for death to occur.

Issue #686 of Amazing Spider-Man takes place right after our heroes believe half the world has been destroyed. With carnage surrounding them, Black Widow tells Spider-Man they must leave immediately, as time is not on their side if they want to save the roughly 3 billion people remaining on earth. Spider-Man’s response? He’s not budging because he has people to save right there. Dan Slott’s Spider-Man is so myopic that he only sees the lives right there in front of him. He’s like a baby, tricked by peek-a-boo because his mind isn’t fully developed; if there are lives to be saved right in front of him, there’s a good chance he can be distracted. The Black Widow knows it and, sadly, his deadliest foes take advantage of it.

With 3 billion lives at stake and with every second counting, Dan Slott’s Spider-Man wanted to play search and rescue. It’s an honorable job, but the problem with that is this:  At that moment in time Spidey was the guy who was supposed to be saving the world — not Black Widow.
Even Spider-Man’s deadliest foes know that while his heart is pure, his mind is clouded with the quixotic belief that “no one dies” on his watch. Like a heroic Spider-Man-Pigeon, he’s easily distracted by lives in immediate danger, never acknowledging that by “saving” the few to his front, he may very well condemn 3 billion to his rear. A hero is still a hero, but some of them are meant for city streets, and some of them are meant to determine the fate of the world. Dan Slott’s Spider-Man may save the world, but an honest writer would have penned the more logical conclusion: utter defeat caused by unforced errors.

In the end, Dan Slott gives Spider-Man a reprieve, and the hero is given a chance to save the day by taking advantage of the vanity, greed and hubris of his enemies. The “end of the world” was an illusion meant to distract the heroes and buy time for the machinations of evil men to materialize. It would have worked, but the enemies who literally have the world in their hands want more, overreach and lose it all. Spider-Man takes advantage of his second chance, but it feels like a Deus ex Machina of sorts, freeing the character of the consequences of his short-sighted actions. In the real world we often don’t get second chances.

Even Black Widow can’t resist rubbing Peter Parker’s nose in the evidence of his ignorance — in his own book, no less:

Spider-Man’s complete lack of foresight nearly cost his team the chance to save the world. Black Widow makes sure to let him know it. Lectured by a supposedly-lesser hero in his own title. Sad.

At $4.00 a pop, The Amazing Spider-Man hurts the wallet over the course of a year. These days, it also hurts just to read the title, period. Here’s to hoping Peter learns something from the experience. If not, look for books featuring Black Widow. She deserves it.