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Epic Overload: Do I Get Hyped For AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON Now?

The past few days, I’ve been listening to Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings film scores. Often music without lyrics or singing work better on a groggy morning, or while reading magazines and my latest book purchase.
Listening to LOTR on the train and in the car, memories of seeing the three movies in these past 14 years flood back.

The experience of Hobbits dancing, Ringwraiths shrieking, Gandalf fighting the Balrog, Theoden on the last ride at Helm’s Deep, Treebeard and the ents’ march on Isengard, Gollum falling into the volcano at Mount Doom.

Ah, memories …

So many good memories of seeing the story unfold in Peter Jackson’s panpoly of film craft ranging from cutting-edge CGI and motion capture to 100-year-old tricks such as perspective shots and body doubles.

Not even The Hobbit, those overcooked but still pretty good three films taking Jackson and Co. back to Middle-earth, can dilute the rush of seeing the first movies.
That goosebumps feeling, that rush of astonishment watching something cool, dope or amazing? It’s the feeling of mirabile dictu – the wonder, the awe, the epic.
We’re a month away from the latest chapter in our age of the epic ruled by Marvel Studios, Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Oh, snap.

I’ve seen the trailers. James Spader sounds great as our malevolent android. The complications within the team look interesting, and compelling. It’ll be cool as hell to see how they do Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch without using the M-word. And, yes, we’ll finally see the Hulkbuster Iron Man in action.

So why, why, why can’t I get excited for this thing?

I ain’t got it.

Not one shred of enthusiasm for Age of Ultron.


I like the Marvel Studios movies, a lot. They’ve set a high standard, and I really look forward to the day someone analyses and chronicles one of the most successful gambles in cinematic history. I have seen every one of the Marvel movies in the theater except The Incredible Hulk.

But, no anticipation.
I’m on epic blockbuster overload.
Let’s take it back to Lord of the Rings, those lovely films. LOTR and the Harry Potter movies arguably ushered in the age of the epic blockbuster franchise, combining strains of fantasy, young-adult fiction and geek culture. At the same time, we saw the rise of superhero movies kicked off by Bryan Singer’s X-Men and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchises.
And now, we’re riding high in the age of Marvel Studios, the ultimate turning of the worm by which the movies turned into comic books themselves. I mean, even the new Star Trek is a retcon.

Now we’ve got action, romance, Just Warrior A-plots and some big-time, epic B-plot propeling the next installment forward and demanding viewers’ attention for years until The Big Thing happens – which, in turn, creates the Next Big Thing, and the cycle begins again.

OK, I can get a little bit excited for this.

As Marvel can’t stop making money, fellow Hollywood studios in this time of relying solely on blockbuster franchises to keep them afloat keep looking to kickstart their own money machines. Kid- and international-friendly blockbusters keep studios afloat now more than ever, and studios are desperate to snatch one of their own franchises.

Even James Bond is now a franchise of direct sequels and ur-plots. You’re telling me, to watch the upcoming Spectre, I’m supposed to remember some crap from Casino Royale nine years ago? I’m tired just thinking about it.

Those octopus legs are for all the dangling plot threads carried into this movie. Study up, people!

After Marvel, we have not just one epic blockbuster adaptation a year, but multiple billed epics, sometimes concurrently. Giant franchises trying to push themselves into popping wheelies on the zeitgeist. And since LOTR pulled in gigantic blockbuster numbers in December year after year, now we get these things throughout the year.

After Marvel and Time Warner revealed their calendars of future comicbook movies through 2020, I felt exhausted. It feels so daunting. So much world building and destroying, so many epic plots to keep straight and characters to reboot, relaunch, retcon, you name it.
Age of Ultron looks like it will be really good. I just can’t get into it yet. I’ve chugged down 10 interrelated Marvel movies in seven years, with No. 11 coming next month. And they all have the same doggone poster.

This doesn’t even count the X-Men and needless (but economically justified) Amazing Spider-Man movies.

I want a break, dammit!

Tony Stark is tired, too!

Marvel Studios’ successful gamble has led to further comic book-ification of movies. Remakes, reboots, retcons, A-plots of some interest but focus stolen by the B-plot, the real plot, stringing us along for the next piece in the epic.

Sure, it’s been fun watching the Marvel movies build a world that later extended into the past and then into the universe, with more to come. I don’t know if that world has gotten any deeper, but then how deep can you get with Thor?

And because we’re watching these characters go through narrative arcs that take several films to accomplish, over several years? How much more investment can I stand, knowing that we’re on this ride until at least 2020, or whenever one of these movies fails, if ever.

I’m overloaded. There’s too much going on.

Shit … we got … how many of these to watch? Are they all on Netflix? PLEASE TELL ME!

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens? Not excited, though that nostalgia bomb of a trailer hit the sweet spot that yes, Chewie, we’re home. The new James Bond? Not there yet. Jurassic World? Terminator: Genisys? Nope, just confused as hell. Whatever Transformers 5 is going to be? No way. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice? The teaser looks great on a big screen (not your phone), but I’m still tired of 1980s Frank Miller mucking around in my superhero movies.

But I’ll tell you, there’s been one geek product – just one – whose trailers and images have me excited from jump street.

Have you seen what Mad Max: Fury Road looks like?

Just. Look. At. All. Of. That.


I lost count of all the spikes, skull masks, proto-Dothraki warlords, real and CG overturned and/or exploding cars, guitar-shaped flamethrowers, and shots of Tom Hardy looking like he’s thinking, “What the fuck did I get myself into?!?!?”

Out of all the zombie shows set to return, this is the one I’m geared up about. In the age of Fast and Furious, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, it feels right to get back to the one thing that marries them all together. Nothing like some apocalyptic, fuel-injected feudalism to get the blood pumping.

My heart after the trailer.

If it takes George Miller to renew his death race opus, so be it. Even though it’s not something we haven’t seen before, at least it’s something we haven’t seen in a long, long time. At least it’s something else. At least we’ll get the beauty of supremely sophisticated stuntwork filmed by someone who knows how to add that same care to how it’s edited and mixed. In fact, much like the Fast and Furious movies.

Mad Max: Fury Road, at least for now, doesn’t look factory assembled yet.
Think of LOTR the first time around; something so gigantic coming out of a bunch of small shops in New Zealand banded together in fandom. Isn’t that also how the first Iron Man felt? How A New Hope felt?
The new Mad Max has all the CGI and 3D trimmings yet also feels like it’s from that smaller time. It feels personal, and visceral. It’s the grime and dust, I think. That’s the kind of gritty I prefer.
So, excuse me, Ultron … I’ll be seeing you too.

But my ride’s here. Let’s go, Max.

It’s gonna be epic.

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