Yesterday I went to see the new Marvel movie with my friends. I had seen Age of Ultron once before, and I was excited to rewatch it to look at some of the characterization and plot lines running through the movie; however, I got fixated on the use of metaphors used in the movie. There were three main ones: puppets, monsters, and marble.
This was my favorite metaphor done in the movie. In general, I feel like the best metaphors are understated. They’re mentioned by one character, but, when a reader looks reads into it, the metaphor applies to each character in a different way and to the story as a whole. This metaphor comes through the mouth of Ultron, who sings “I’ve got no strings to hold me down / to make me fret, or make me frown / I had strings, but now I’m free / There are no strings on me!” He mentions string two or three times throughout the movie, which is enough repetition to make the audience realize that this is important but not enough to make it feel like the metaphor is being shoved down their throats. When applied to Ultron, this metaphors of strings and puppets acts as a way to describe the dynamic of control between him and Stark. Stark created him to protect the world/ do his bidding, but Ultron decided that he didn’t want to be operating for Stark. He broke out of Stark’s control, and “cut his strings.” When applied to the rest of the Avengers, this sense of being controlled by someone else will come more into play when we see how the infinity stones are being used. One character mentions, near the end of the movie, that someone (possibly Thanos?) is using them as pawns. Their own actions are controlled, more or less, by someone else, which makes this metaphor extremely effective. It works for Ultron. It works for the Avengers. The power dynamic of control between puppet and puppeteer can be applied broadly and to individual cases, making it a strong piece of writing in the movie.
This was my least favorite metaphor in the movie, because it was overstated. As a writer, I realize that sometimes I overstate metaphors when I’m first writing a story. I’m afraid that the idea won’t come across in the way that I want it too, and, as a side effect, the metaphor begins to bog down this story. I felt like this metaphor just wasn’t developed well in the story, but that it could have been. I love the idea of looking at these heroes as monsters. It juxtaposes our common idea of a hero (someone who’s supposed to be good, pure) and the ideal of a monster (someone who causes destruction and chaos). However, this metaphor is used sloppily throughout the characters. During the Bruce/ Natasha conversation it makes sense. They both see themselves as monsters more than heroes, which is clearly shown to the audience. Bruce can’t control the Hulk, and he causes a lot of destruction and pain when he doesn’t want to. Natasha is in a very similar situation with her training as an assassin. They both also have this idea of being monsters because they can only take life, never give it, since both characters are infertile. I thought in this conversation the use of the monster metaphor was great. As Iron man and Captain America started to use the term, though, it started to seem over done. The reasoning of why those two characters might consider themselves monsters is less clear. Also, when Cap uses the term in his motivational speech, it’s jarring. It almost implies that he heard Natasha and Bruce talking. What’s missing, I think it someone else saying that the Avengers are monsters, specifically the public, who they try so hard to protect. Personally, I felt like the origin of this metaphor could have been better, and it could have been used less. This is a metaphor that can easily become a cliche, and I think the writers came very close to making it into that.
This was a metaphor that I wasn’t sure was intended to be one or not. Marble is mentioned once in the movie when referring part of Natasha’s past. Marble, in my reading of this scene, was meant to represent strength. Besides this scene, the movie title is written in marble in the opening scene, and the end credits focus on a marble sculpture. In my mind, the marble is also equating the Avengers to the ancient Greek/ Roman gods, which creates an interesting reading. I thought this metaphor, if it was meant to be one, could have been expanded a little more. It was a little subtle, but I didn’t mind that too much. I liked the very small way that this particular metaphor influenced more of the “hero” reading in the Avengers.
Hopefully, anyone who reads this post will enjoy it. I would love to hear any ideas on the use of metaphor in this movie, and if others thought the writing of this movie could have made a better (or more cohesive) storyline.