People have been saying a lot about this latest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, not much of it very coherent. But then, the movie itself on first viewing is a bit incoherent. On second viewing, though, I find that my opinion has solidified:
This is a great work of art.
Oh, I know what people will say. It's cinematically flawed. The bad guy is bizarre, his motivations unclear, messy, poorly characterized. There's too much going on. It just flies at you out of nowhere. It's just a bunch of meaningless action scenes. But that is what makes it great. Because that is what the movie is about. The mess isn't random.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is about mess. About the unknown, impermanence, the inevitability of failure and death. And fighting anyway. Risking anyway. Embracing life anyway, knowing not just that it may go wrong but that it will go wrong. That there are no perfect answers, no ultimate solutions, that trouble will always come 'round again. Yet this is no excuse not to live, or to declare the whole thing not good enough and set out to smash it all.
Ultron had one thing right . . . destruction is perfect. It is pure. It is the only thing that is. And if purity and perfection are your standards, your goal, your "peace in my time" . . . then destruction is your only aim. The only realm in which evil can never happen is one in which nothing can happen.
To embrace life fully means not just to embrace happiness, but to embrace pain. To embrace the inevitability of death, of failure. You can call them your enemy, you can fight them with every part of you, but you must embrace that they exist and can never be escaped. Only by embracing their existence can you conquer them and have a chance at creating something that is majestic, glorious, transformative in its very messiness.
Like this movie.
It may not be everyone's cup of tea. But it's a great work of art.
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