Friday, May 8, 2015

Review: Avengers: EMH "Ultron-5" & "The Ultron Imperative"

Okay, I've got until the end my Review of this two-parter do figure out how to defeat Ultron.

Oh, I I have to review the two-parter, too.

No biggie.

"I predict your failure at one of those goals. At least."
Basically, the first part (Ultron-5) was a fairly standard Ultron story. Not the first Ultron story, because that involved Ultron pretending to be a villain called “the Crimson Cowl,” but it’s your basic Ultron story.

Actually, it’s a basic rogue AI story tailored to fit the show. Evil robot, wants to kill the world, tries to do so, gets stopped.

But what’s very impressive is how Ultron’s turn to villainy is justified. Basically, Ultron’s originally vague programming to bring about “world peace,” coupled with learning about violence, interfacing with Kang’s tech, and a few offhand comments from Hank created a logical progression. If there are no humans, then they can’t cause problems. Simple as that.

As for the second part (The Ultron Imperative), it was a mish-mash of most of the famous Ultron stories. Except Age of Ultron for the simple reason that it didn’t exist yet. And except the stuff with the Vision, because… well, I’ll just say that we’ll get to that.

But the title comes from a classic Avengers plot and certain elements are lifted from stories across the ages, like Thor’s iconic line. But the meat of the story comes from the first story arc of the Mighty Avengers comic, where Ultron hijacked the helicarrier, delivered a speech, then fired all the missiles. In fact, that speech is taken almost word-for-word from that story.

Of course, Ultron also turned Tony Stark into a robotic woman to use as a body, but that’s neither here nor there.
All in all, these two episodes were a well-written adaptation of a good chunk of Avengers stories, distilled to the purest elements and served with a slice of lemon.

The main theme is that of identity. Ultron is defined by his programming. To be that which he is, he must fulfill his function. His entire motivation is simply to do what he does because that’s all he can do.

Hank suffers a bit of an existential crisis when he sees what Ultron is capable of. Because anything Ultron can bring himself to do, so can Hank. At their cores, they see the world in the same way. They interpret the world differently, but their minds are the same, deep down. And it’s this realization that Hank uses to shut down Ultron with an existential crisis of his own.

Some people have argued that this two-parter seems to teach the lesson that pacifism is useless… and I can see it in the first part. Mainly because Ant-Man acquiesces and resorts to ripping out Ultron’s heart to save the day. But at the end of part two, the day is saved by downloading information into Ultron’s brain. Basically, the day is saved by talking, just like Hank always dreamed.


My God, Ultron was creepy in this. No emotion. None. No malice. No hatred. Just logic. But based on an illogical being. As I said earlier, Ultron was distilled down to his essence, but also had improved motivation, creating one of the most memorable incarnations of the killer robot.

Ant-Man had been struggling all season with being an Avenger, but it finally reached a tipping point. Seeing his best patients resort to supervillainy pushed him to quit the team… only for a robot based on his brain patterns to decide to kill everyone. And when Hank lashed out against the Serpent Society, it showed perfectly well what hidden darkness could be lurking in his brain if given just the right trigger.

Hank will not be the same after this episode. This is where his downward spiral truly begins.

Wasp had a genuinely nice moment in “Ultron-5” where Tony straight up told her what her problem was. Did she ignore his advice? Yes. But… Well, that’s it, really. She ignored him. Still, it was a moment that I appreciated because I probably would have ended up leading to quite a bit of character growth if certain people named Jeph Loeb didn’t demand fewer plot threads in Season 2.

It feels like the tiniest bit of a cheat to “kill” Thor off in one episode only to bring him back the next, but the characters’ reactions to his death give some nice character moments. It also provides good foreshadowing for the events of the season finale and creates a pretty awesome moment when Thor returns to play the cavalry. And deliver that iconic line.

Bruce Banner
I just find it odd that Ultron reverts the Hulk into a science nerd and he just kind of stands back for the rest of it. I think it would have made the episode just a bit better if it had been Bruce who ends up solving the missile crisis, not Tony. You know, one last metaphorical blow to the villain. Show him that brain isn’t necessarily weaker than brawn. Plus, how often do we see Bruce save the day instead of the Hulk?

Instead, he talks to the hand.
Maria Hill
She’s not too thrilled with the Avengers having to defeat a villain one of them made himself. Expect this to color her views on the team….

Really good, so par for the course there. But I wanted to bring up that the red glowy Kirby dots that Ultron is usually depicted with are actually traveling between the two halves of Ultron’s head instead of simply glowing.

Seriously, I really love the effect from the side.
Final Thoughts
All in all, probably the best two-parter in the first season. Great action, suspense, character moments, animation, you name it. This two-parter really is a high water mark for the series. Though you probably need to watch a few episodes to get all the references to previous events, this is a great way to begin the end of the first season. I highly recommend it.

And… that’s it I guess.

Sorry, everybody. I thought I could come up with a final plan, but I’ve got nothing.

"Then I no longer have need of you."
Can a man about to die ask a simple question?

"Your paradoxes...."
No. Not like that. I know when I’m beat. I just want to know how you’re going to kill me before you take off into the internet.

"Simple. I shall reconfigure your laptop into a physical body and choke the life out of you with my bare hands."
Yeah… that’s not how technology works.

"What do you mean?"
You can't “reconfigure” things like that in real life. Not only is there not enough mass in my laptop, there’s not enough working parts.

"No matter. You shall perish soon enough in the Age of Ultron."
Um… no I won’t. Actually, I’ve already won.

"Have you? Do enlighten me."
I knew those paradoxes wouldn’t beat you.

They don't even trip up Siri.
But I knew that you wouldn’t know that I knew that… Oh, dear, I’ve gone cross-eyed.

"And your point is...?"
My point is that while you were distracted by correctly answering my paradoxes, and your own delusions of grandeur, my real plan was going on in the background all this time. And it looks like it’s already taken effect.

A plan so simple, you would never have thought I would even attempt it.

You should feel your mind going any second now.

What’s to explain? I win.

Oooh, having a little trouble, MissingNo face?

Don’t let the Recycling Bin hit you on the way out.
The moral of the story? I'm not opening strange, unsolicited emails any more.
And knowing is half the battle.
See you next time. Hopefully with less Ultron.


  1. WELL, FUCK, HOW I'M I GETTING PAID.ÑLAKFNGLANDFGKJNlakdnfglka Well, you finally defeated Ultron, and I got rid of that Skrull he put to stop me from telling you how to defeat him, and I got a brand new slaaaa... unpaid employe, all in all everything turned out fine [Insert laughs here]

    1. Yes, everything seems to be back to normal.

  2. Hopefully this won't lead to you getting a robot doppelgänger, like a certain other comic-based reviewer...

    - That One Anon

    1. I've instructed my family to ask me what I would do if I saw an upside down turtle in the desert if they ever catch me doing something out of the ordinary.

    2. If that didn't work with Ultron... You get my point

    3. Curses. The potential for sequels rears it's ugly head like Deadpool shushing the camera at the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

  3. ...You know you could've unplugged your computer when Ultron came knocking. Would've saved you a lot of complicated planning.

    1. My friend, you argue very well for the merits of non-laptop-based computering. I probably should have taken out the battery and unplugged my laptop, but who knows if I could have done it in time.

      Still, I'm filing that suggestion away for later. Heaven forbid there be any sequels to this little incident....

    2. Speaking of this incident... what did you actually do to get rid of ol Ultron? What he didn't see coming because it was so simple? BTW I LOVE how you called him "peanut gallery" in your Ultron 5 recap

    3. Well, since Ultron was so intent on acting like a computer virus, I just HAD to introduce him to Norton. For all that talk of superiority, he went down after one system scan.

    4. Ah... clever