Home / podcast / Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast: <em>Age of Ultron</em> with SEK, Kendra James, and Arturo Garcia

Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast: Age of Ultron with SEK, Kendra James, and Arturo Garcia

Cropped so you can't see that he's totally flipping yout the fuck off
Cropped so you can’t see that he’s totally flipping yout the fuck off

I apologize for the background noise, but Kendra was in New York City and, it turns out, New Yorkers are very, very loud.

And the Game of Thrones podcast is on the way — as is one about Daredevil. I apologize for the delay, I’m only very behind on everything at the moment.

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  • Barry Freed

    What do you think of this piece?

    I thought it was very good but then I haven’t seen the movie yet. (And I probably won’t for some time. Mad Max: Fury Road on the other hand…)

    • Halloween Jack

      That’s an oddly peevish article from Sady Doyle, who is usually much better. It reads as if she’s just burnt out on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is casting about for rationalizations for that.

      • SEK

        I concur, actually — both about Doyle’s usual excellence, and the general peevishness of the piece. I think I’ll write up a response to it later.

        • I think the core problem with that essay is that it treats Age of Ultron as emblematic of the entire MCU, and hardly addresses the more recent standalone movies. Winter Soldier, in particular, addresses most of Doyle’s complaints, particularly when it comes to putting the characters’ feelings front and center and imbuing the action scenes with emotional weight. That said, I find myself sympathizing with Doyle’s fatigue with the MCU, without even being certain why – yes, AoU was a letdown, but Winter Soldier and Iron Man 3 were genuinely good, Guardians of the Galaxy was a lot of fun, and Agent Carter and Daredevil are both interesting if flawed efforts, so why am I losing patience with the franchise? So while I’m not sure that Doyle has captured the MCU’s present, I think she may be painting an accurate picture of its future. She’s definitely right that it’s getting more and more frustrating waiting for Marvel to deliver on the potential for female and non-white characters and getting only table scraps, and, given the news that Civil War is going to be turned into Avengers 2.5, it’s hard not to be persuaded by her argument that the age of the smart, fun blockbuster is at an end.

    • Colin R

      I’m frustrated by analyses of Black Widow and the Hulk’s interactions as being about Natasha wanting BABYEEEZ. Doyle is complaining that characters don’t have arcs in this movie, but isn’t that what is going on here? Bruce Banner and Natasha may not make immediate, intuitive sense together, but when I see what Whedon did with their relationship I think it works. Here are two characters who consider themselves monsters, who are ambivalent about their nature as ‘heroes’, and who function by compartmentalizing their lives.

      Natasha uses her sexuality as a weapon and a shield, which is uncomfortable but also part of what makes her badass. But her sexuality is also something that has been taken away from her, literally-she was sterilized. I think there’s a clear divide between how the audience should see this and how she does though–she sees herself as having willingly cut off part of her own life in order to be good at killing people. She blames herself for this, but it’s pretty clear that this is not something she actually consented to–she was trained from childhood to be a killer, and there was no walking away from that. There’s nothing feminist about forcibly sterilizing a woman. If there’s a problem, it is as others have observed, that Black Widow is forced to stand in for all women on this team.

      Anyway, with that in mind it’s not hard for me to see why she would be attracted to Banner–she deals with her pain by making her life about her job. She is hyper-competent, at the expense of having her own life. Some people derided her “Red in my ledger” talk in the first Avengers movie, but that’s clearly something she carries with her, and she is wondering now if she has done enough, if she can live a normal life.

      Banner has the same ache, but he comes at it from a different place–he compartmentalizes because he has to, because his two selves are terrified of each other. Banner fears losing control; the Hulk fears being controlled. They refuse to even acknowledge each other as being part of themselves. Banner fears that he can’t control himself enough to live a normal life. The Hulk fears that maybe he can.

      • Becker

        But her sexuality is also something that has been taken away from her, literally-she was sterilized.

        I preferred Marcotte’s take on that bit of backstory, but I’m going to push back against your conflation of fertility with sexuality. Even being infertile, Natasha is very much still capable of sexual expression.

      • The problem with this reading of the scene (aside from, as Becker says, that sexuality and fertility are two completely different things) is that claiming that it’s about Natasha’s fraught relationship with her fertility is almost as much of a misreading as claiming that Natasha thinks being infertile makes her a monster. Yes, it makes sense for anyone to feel very upset and traumatized about having been forcibly sterilized, but that’s reading something into the scene that simply isn’t what it’s about. Natasha doesn’t bring up her sterilization to talk about her feelings about it. She brings it up to talk about her desire for a relationship with Bruce. The movie is using forced sterilization to drive a romantic subplot, and for all that I think the outrage over that scene and the handling of Natasha in general are overblown, I can’t deny that it’s a ham-fisted, ill-conceived idea.

  • New Yorkers are very, very loud.

    Some of us are quite dainty.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    I have no proof of this, but I’d wager that a big factor behind the lack of a Black Widow solo movie is that Johansson and/or her people don’t want to do one. If she did do a BW movie and it under-performed for whatever reason, Johansson would get the blame, which would hurt her clout in Hollywood. It’s just not worth the risk, considering that right now, she can pretty much do whatever she wants.

    Actually, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, other than RDJ*, the only two Avengers without solo flicks are the two that can open a major Hollywood film on their own. (*And RDJ was not in that position until Iron Man blew him up.)

    • And by “I have no proof of this,” you mean “I’m either ignoring or unaware of the multiple interviews, some of them quite recent, in which Johansson has expressed willingness and indeed enthusiasm for making a Black Widow movie”? Not to mention that she has multi-picture contract and thus that her willigness or otherwise isn’t really a factor.

      What I could believe is that she isn’t keen to make the movie on the terms Marvel is offering. I read somewhere that she’s getting $17.5M to star in Ghost in the Shell, and even if that’s an exaggeration it’s well outside the realm of what Marvel pays its stars.

      • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

        “I’m either ignoring or unaware of the multiple interviews, some of them quite recent…

        Not ignoring, I just don’t think that such statements have any bearing on her actual business/career interests. I mean, what would you expect Johansson to say when she’s pitched soft-ball questions while promoting a Marvel movie?

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