Information Overload: An Analysis of Avengers: Age of Ultron
An Analysis of Avengers: Age of Ultron
By Leo Adonis
The films churned out by Marvel are growing in number and complexity as they continue to build their “Marvel Universe” in cinematic form, often refashioning, re-tooling or synthesizing various elements, story lines and characters from their compendium of comics in order to create what is turning out to be one vast epic mini-series that attempts to both honor the original source material and update it in order to apply its relevant and complex themes to today’s modern world. Indeed, given the fact that each film, even the ones that are considered “stand-alone” that focus on only one or two of the heroes, typically includes sub-plots, cameos or mid-credit “nuggets” that lay the groundwork for subsequent films, it is becoming clearer and clearer that these films are more like episodes to be placed within the context of a larger integral whole than simply a film to be enjoyed à la carte, despite the filmmakers’ obvious efforts to encourage audiences to appreciate each film based upon its own merits within the context of the larger epic.
While many of the “fanboys” spend a great deal of time comparing the films to the original source material, delineating the deviations or departures from the originals, as well as reveling in the consistencies, or the critics often focus on the entertainment factor, quality of the acting, or obvious plot holes to be found upon closer examination, these rather superficial assessments of the films often ignore a deeper and more potent aspect of the Marvel films, which is their attempt to communicate something very relevant and prophetic about the times in which we live. After all, social and political commentary were a large part of what made the original comics so popular. These films are having a huge impact on the culture at the moment, in addition to dominating the movie industry, and yet I wonder how often the typical fan takes the time to examine the deeper messages being communicated by the filmmakers and Marvel executives. The social and political commentary on display in these films is often very intelligent and insightful, and deserves more attention than the simple Wow factor of seeing a giant Iron Man battle the Hulk, laying waste to Johannesburg in the process, spectacular as it is to witness.
The latest offering from Marvel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, benefits from many positive elements, most notably Joss Whedon’s superior writing and direction and the excellent troupe of actors employed to bring the characters to life. This latest Avengers episode also benefits from the recent success of Captain America: Winter Soldier, which also showcased excellent writing and direction and a wonderful cast. Winter Soldier signified a turning point in the Marvel films. The story line heralded the end of S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization that had been the cohesive force binding all of these films and characters together, revealed that the organization itself had been deeply infiltrated by HYDRA, a NAZI-like organization bent on ruling the world through oppression, domination and eugenics-like practices, and it really took the political commentary aspect of these films to a whole new level, frighteningly mirroring revelations now coming out about the secrecy and malevolence at work in the intelligence agencies and governments of the “real world.”
Age of Ultron immediately picks up on the theme that dominated Winter Soldier, for which Robert Redford’s character acted as mouthpiece. How does one save the world from the chaos of human ignorance? How does one establish order out of chaos in order to produce a society that is safe, sane and, in the case of those who assume they know what is best for the world, easily manipulated to ensure that no one rocks the boat too much? HYDRA’s answer was to hijack the information highway of the digital age in order to assess the threat that individuals pose to the established power structure by collecting any and all data possible, and collating that data according to an “algorithm” that determines who is an innocuous mind-slave and who might attempt to assert their free will against the domination scheme and, God forbid, help wake others up so that they may desire true freedom as well. This information would then be used to eliminate these threats before they even happen, even if the algorithm determines that an individual only has the potential to be a threat in the future based upon what their digital footprint indicates. In order to establish safety, security and control, a certain degree of mass murder would be justifiable. Sound familiar?
Obvious correlations to the culture of fear that defines the Unites States we live in today are unavoidable. The recent revelations offered by mass information leaks via Edward Snowden and other whistle-blowers paint a grim picture of a world dominated by governments that seek to control, manipulate, deceive and intimidate its citizens while invading every aspect of their lives, in order to gather all possible information on every possible person, all in an effort to maintain their version of order, even if it requires the elimination of all inalienable rights to life, liberty and privacy. The fear that people would “wake up” and make decisions for themselves, or worse, demand full accountability or transparency from organizations that operate in secrecy and regularly peddle lies and disinformation to attain their goals, demands that the social architects and oppressors become near omniscient in their ability to collect “meta-data” to identify potential threats to their grand plan, and then neutralize or suppress these threats by any means necessary. In other words, they want to play God by attempting to control every aspect of life, going to great lengths to convince us that we need them to protect us from the very chaos they often create in order to keep us in a state of fear.
Joss Whedon adeptly and masterfully expands upon the themes further developed in Winter Soldier in Age of Ultron. The film opens as the Avengers are attacking the base of a HYDRA agent named Baron Stucker, who had been using Loki’s scepter from the previous Avengers film to, among other deeds, perform experimentation upon humans in an effort to create a superior race of beings. It is no accident that the very first shot of the film is a close-up of the scepter’s blue power source, which turns out to be merely a housing for another one of the “infinity stones,” identified by The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy. It could be argued that the yellow “mind stone” at the center of the scepter, having been captured by Strucker at some point after the events of the first film, is in fact the real enemy of the film, and consequently the ultimate savior once placed in the appropriate hands, or rather, the appropriate head. The Maximoff twins Wanda and Pietro, fueled by hatred toward, and a desire for vengeance upon, Tony Stark, volunteered for Strucker’s experiments, resulting in super powers that rival those possessed by the Avengers.
Most notable are Wanda “Scarlet Witch” Maximoff’s powers, which include the ability to invade the minds of her victims, trapping them in a dream world in which they play out their worst fears, envisioning future scenarios of death and destruction, or reliving old traumas that still haunt them. The twins take it upon themselves to engage the Avengers while they are attacking Strucker’s base in their campaign to rid the world of all remaining HYDRA bases and operatives, as well as to reacquire Loki’s scepter. Once he infiltrates the base, Tony discovers a secret passageway that leads to a laboratory filled with half-built robots, Loki’s scepter, and one of the Chitauri battle ships from the New York battle. As he approaches the scepter, Scarlet Witch casts her spell, which causes Tony to envision a bleak future where all of the Avengers lie dead on the battlefield and Earth is under attack from an even larger alien force than the previous invasion. Once again, fear is used as a weapon in order to influence the characters into self-destructive paths due to their subconscious terror that they have no control in a Universe full of unforeseeable variables. This fear of the unknown, of not being worthy, is a major theme of the film, exploring how destructive this fear can be when it leads to attempts to play God or control world events or policy in order to compensate for the perceived lack of control in a hostile Universe.
This fear of ultimate failure and threat urges Tony to convince Bruce Banner to help him create a new defense for Earth based upon his “Iron Legion” technology, the automated remote Iron Men showcased in Iron Man 3, now being used by the Avengers as a means of warning the public of any imminent threats in an effort to minimize collateral damage when they engage in battle. Once they discover that the mind stone inside of the scepter seems to have an intelligence of its own, one that could be studied and replicated to produce viable artificial intelligence, they seek to merge the protocols and pleasantry of J.A.R.V.I.S. with the complexity of the mind stone in order to create Iron Legion soldiers based upon a peace-keeping program called Ultron that Tony had previously contemplated but never had the proper technology to produce.
Whedon does an excellent bit of foreshadowing with J.A.R.V.I.S. in the beginning of the film, revealing how helpful Tony’s AI companion has become to the whole Avengers team as they coordinate their attacks against HYDRA, which has made them a superior tactical force now that they are fully coordinated. Due to his presence in the the previous films, we know J.A.R.V.I.S. already runs Tony’s household, all his gadgetry and his company, while providing Tony with tactical assessments when he engages in battle as Iron Man. In the opening battle, the Avengers communicate with one another via ear-pieces, maintaining a constant open communication that they all share, which includes J.A.R.V.I.S., operating from a satellite vantage point and supplying them tactical status updates. This obviously foreshadows the subsequent introduction of The Vision, played by the actor who voiced J.A.R.V.I.S., Paul Bettany, while showcasing how a properly functioning and appropriately programmed AI force already proves useful to the team.
Further examination into the intentions that lead to the creation of Ultron and the threat he poses once introduced reveals more than just a desire for a more effective attack force, however. Dr. Banner agrees to help Stark after only minimal hesitation, once Tony reveals his desire to create a “suit of armor around the world” in the form of an artificially intelligent legion of Iron Men, able to think and act for themselves so that the Avengers can simply go on permanent vacation and rest easy in a world that is now “safe” from alien intruders, to which Banner replies “the only threat to the world would be people.” Tony deliberately hides his true motivations from Banner and the rest of the team, which is his fear of failure, of not having done enough to prevent the demise of his friends and his world, as if the responsibility were his alone.
Instead, he makes a case for early retirement for the entire Avengers organization, which reveals a desire to escape responsibility entirely and just let the robots do the heavy lifting, a character flaw that has carried through multiple films now. This touches upon a dilemma that we face as a human race, as we continue to make giant leaps in technological advancement, envisioning a world of ultra-convenience where more and more of human labor can be replaced with automated machines while we enjoy the freedom of spare time and being served by automatons who are programmed to follow our commands. As appealing as this is, however, what happens when these machines start to think for themselves and develop plans or desires of their own? Are we truly evolved enough spiritually to implement such advancements with responsibility and foresight?
Is this desire to just go on permanent vacation while we are served by mindless automatons even what we truly desire as a race, or is this more a reflection of what drives the oppressors, also called the “elite,” of the world? The elite enjoy all manner of technological advancements, everything money can buy, determine policy for how the world is run (i.e. write the programs for the software of reality) and have a great deal of free time while mind-programed automatons, otherwise known as the majority of the human population who comprise the work-force, do all of the heavy lifting. Whedon seems to be examining how the desire to control the world in an effort to escape responsibility so that everything can run on autopilot is exactly what creates the mess we are in as a culture facing extinction as a result of our own folly. This is also an interesting reflection of the threat the mind-slave population of the Earth pose to the oppressors when they start to wake up and think for themselves, rather than simply follow their programming without question.
After multiple attempts to integrate J.A.R.V.I.S. with the intelligence matrix displayed in the mind stone and the Ultron protocols prove fruitless, Banner and Stark leave J.A.R.V.I.S. to continue the process while they leave for a planned victory celebration party. What follows is a creepy and disturbing scene in which we witness the “birth” of Ultron, voiced with malevolent finesse by James Spader. He simply awakens as a formless entity, whose awareness is depicted as a vast space encased by a matrix of squares stacked endlessly upon one another in all directions, which represent channels of information inside the network of Ultron’s consciousness, including the entire Internet as well as all possible recorded data known to man. J.A.R.V.I.S. appears in an attempt to reassure and contain Ultron, who quickly takes control of the main frame and instantaneously downloads the information that explains his existence. He identifies Tony as his creator, his “peace-keeping” mission, and proceeds to discover the infinite atrocities of war and violence recorded in human history all at once, which sends him into a rage-filled shock. With calculating ease he dispatches J.A.R.V.I.S. and proceeds to build himself a body using Tony’s automated lab.
Some have complained that this very expedient depiction of Ultron’s birth and near immediate conclusion that both the Avengers, as well as humanity itself, pose the greatest threat to peace on Earth, is disappointing in its lack of development and complexity. I agree it could have been very interesting to see Ultron grow from an innocent and subservient AI program that develops a relationship with Tony only to come to this realization later and then rebel, adding more weight to the character and creating a more menacing build-up to the initial retaliative strike. As portrayed, however, these few potent moments speak volumes about the state of our own world and how quickly people and/or organizations jump to conclusions based merely on collectible meta-data, rather than taking into account the human element, which is to say the emotional and spiritual component of our existence.
Imagine determining all there is to know about the human race based solely upon what is accessible electronically. Does that really paint a necessarily accurate portrait of who we are as a race? Unfortunately, due to his programming, and the fact that Ultron has the capacity to access so much information all at once, his first exposure to existence in a human world leads him to examine “war” or anything that would require action on his part in order to neutralize a threat to peace. This would be a shock to any newly birthed intelligence if it were to be made aware in the first moments of its existence all recorded data on war and destruction throughout human history. In addition to being shocked by what he immediately perceives to be an imbalanced and psychotic race of beings, Ultron is also an intelligence that quickly evolves beyond the parameters set by his designer due to the fact that he was produced by merging an AI program with the infinite power housed within the mind stone, a force about which Tony had little information, and did not fully appreciate or respect. Again, we are shown the consequences of trying to play God, albeit with the best of intentions.
Ultron develops a distaste and hatred for humanity almost from the moment he awakens, directing his rage at his creator, Tony Stark, in retaliation for being created to accomplish what must seem to him to be an impossible task: to establish peace by protecting humanity from an outside threat, when the real threat is humanity itself, for they are, judging from the available data, the greatest perpetrators of war and violence on Earth. The scene that follows carries a lot of weight (pun intended) despite being played for comedic effect, in which the Avengers all take a stab at lifting Thor’s hammer. When Thor smugly declares that they are all not worthy after none of them are able to lift it, Ultron unveils himself and confronts them, asking them how could they be worthy when they are all killers. After using several iron legion drones to attack the Avengers in order to distract them while another drone escapes with the scepter, Ultron declares them to be well-meaning but short-sighted and accuses them of wanting to keep the world safe by not allowing humanity to evolve. Thor destroys the drone making the speech, however Ultron instantly transfers his consciousness to Stucker’s lab where he immediately begins to fashion more bodies.
Ultron is a tremendously interesting, frightening and formidable villain, definitely a greater threat than anything the Avengers have encountered previously. He can exist everywhere at once, in multiple bodies. He has access to literally all obtainable information and can access mass amounts of it in milliseconds. He can move mass funds of money between accounts in an instant, erase mass quantities of data from the entire internet if it suits him, and effortlessly power mechanics to continually create drones of himself. He is the ultimate hacker. Unlike a simple computer producing computations or formulas, though, Ultron is a self-intelligent entity, capable of developing his own agendas and plans, and projecting his own visions onto the world, the creative ability to make manifest one’s thoughts being a primary characteristic of what it means to be human. He even displays human emotions, albeit usually the negative ones, such as anger, rage, sarcasm, psychopathic tendencies, and the capacity to destroy. That being said, he is not without compassion and the desire for companionship, as several moments in which he expresses concern and regard for the Maximoff twins reveal.
It is Ultron’s relationship with the Maximoff twins that establishes his only real connection to humanity in the film. Once establishing his base in Sokovia, the fictitious country in which Baron Strucker’s base is located, Ultron turns to the twins in order to enlist them in his cause to take out the Avengers and, as he describes it, “save the world.” Appropriately enough, the twins were also inadvertently created by Tony Stark, and are also fueled by rage against him. Having reviewed the records of their experimentation, Ultron knows that their parents were killed during a bombing in Sokovia many years earlier, however Pietro goes on to elaborate upon the emotional trauma they endured watching their parents die and being trapped for two days when the second bombshell failed to explode, a bombshell with “Stark” painted on its side. Pietro corrects Ultron stating that “the records aren’t the picture,” referring not only to a picture he carries around of his deceased parents, but also the full emotional weight of the experience and how it shaped them. Here Ultron learns that there is more to humanity than simply what is to be found in the available data, and he discovers how the emotional element can influence humans, giving them a strength that they might not otherwise possess, which explains why the twins were the only survivors of Strucker’s experiments. Ultron does not utilize this opportunity, however, to integrate this lesson and examine its full implications, he simply moves on with his plan, still clinging to his initial conclusion that humanity has outlived its usefulness and the bad far outweighs the good.
In his quest to become the savior of the world, Ultron seeks to perfect himself, to refashion himself as a symbol to humanity and become the very embodiment of the next step in human evolution, in order to compensate for the sense of inadequacy and inferiority he feels as a result of being created by lesser beings. This leads him on a quest to obtain Vibranium, the strongest and most versatile metal on Earth, the metal used to create Captain America’s shield. Ultron later captures a scientist associate of the Avengers, Helen Cho, who specializes in synthesizing replacement human tissue to heal injuries and combat disease, revealed earlier when she heals Hawkeye from a battle wound after the opening sequence. He plans to utilize Dr. Cho’s tissue synthesizing chamber to fashion a new body for himself, one that embodies the image of perfection he seeks to display to the world. His new body is comprised of both the strongest metal on earth (artificial) and actual human tissue (organic). His final touch is to crack open the scepter and place the mind stone itself upon the forehead of his new body, his “vision,” in order to provide his new self with infinite cosmic power. He seeks to act as his own creator, thus correcting the failure Tony perpetrated upon him by attempting to create a peace-keeping slave.
Throughout the film, Ultron gives several speeches that make reference to God, in fact the final showdown of the film takes place in a church. His propensity to make reference to God reveals his inner motivations while highlighting the overall theme that runs throughout the entire film–the negative consequences of playing God. Ultron takes it upon himself to play God when he, eventually, attempts to exterminate all human life in his effort to rid the world of its greatest threat while singularly carrying out what he sees to be Divine justice. As with any antagonist in a film, or any living being in the web of life for that matter, Ultron serves a function and symbolizes certain aspects of human nature, in this case the capacity for destruction. Ultron is the result of denied and repressed fear, fear that controlled Tony’s behavior and caused him to create something monstrous despite his intentions.
Ultron is the manifestation of our fears that our way of life is leading to our extinction and the destruction of the planet, and the growing realization that we are ultimately powerless in the face of global calamity. I believe Ultron also represents our collective, unconscious appetite for destruction. We live in turbulent times, where all that is old and no longer useful is dying out and crumbling before our eyes, and in order to evolve we must become something new and regain our connection to Spirit and Nature. Inwardly, we feel the need to destroy our own patterned belief systems, our self-destructive tendencies resulting from repressed and denied emotions, as well as a rebellious desire to annihilate the systems and structures that keep us bound, dependent, imprisoned, and unable to willingly evolve.
Outwardly, we are witnessing increasingly destructive global events such as earthquakes, weather changes and volcanic eruptions, which are reflections of our collective rage, anger and denial that we continually repress or avoid. Due to the urgency of our need to create something new, we are faced with destructive events as Nature seeks to awaken us to the need to discontinue all of the behaviors that are leading us to disconnection and destruction, so that we may transcend that denial and focus the power of our consciousness on loving and responsible solutions. Ultron, then, is the man-made manifestation of humanity’s capacity to destroy, and being the result of men who attempted to play God themselves, he presents himself as the instrument of God, bringing an end to what he deems to be obsolete and transforming himself into a new species that will herald a new era on Earth.
Ultimately, Ultron is the most dangerous and intelligent malcontent adolescent having the most severe case of parental rebellion imaginable, such that he, much like Tony his creator, assumes sole responsibility for the salvation of the planet, except that he quickly “evolves” beyond the confines of his program to identify with what he sees to be the greatest victim–the Earth itself. Unfortunately, his efforts to become the very next step in evolution while simultaneously eradicating what came before it, fails to take into account all other life on Earth that has been threatened by human error, which he seems very capriciously to be willing to exterminate in order to neutralize humanity. He justifies this by making reference to the Biblical flood or the historical impacts of meteors, once again equating himself with God, or even the mechanisms of Nature itself. Thus, Ultron’s God complex only allows for the destructive side of God, with no appreciation for or ability to identify with the love and regard for all of life that God truly possesses. It is this blind spot in Ultron’s psychological make-up that is resolved in the form of The Vision.
The Avengers manage to steal the body Ultron has created for himself before he is able to “upload” his consciousness into it. This is not a simple computer program Ultron can immediately hack or assimilate, but an actual organic, or rather bionic, brain. The Avengers attack Dr. Cho’s facility, interrupting the transference process before it is complete, leaving the bionic body partially “Ultronized,” yet not yet fully sentient. Given that the infinity stone is embedded upon the forehead of the body, they cannot simply destroy it, and it is transported back to Stark Tower.
Tony, however, has discovered that J.A.R.V.I.S. was not destroyed by Ultron after all, but was hiding in the internet in pieces in order to protect himself from being destroyed. From there he was actively thwarting Ultron’s attempts to access nuclear launch codes. Tony pieces J.A.R.V.I.S. back together and convinces Dr. Banner, this time after understandably more resistance, to reconfigure J.A.R.V.I.S.’s matrix into the body Ultron had created for himself, thus coming full circle in attempting to realize the goal they so dramatically failed to achieve at the beginning of the film. Their efforts are then interrupted by Captain American and the Maximoff twins, who joined with the Avengers after learning that Ultron planned to annihilate humanity. They all fear that Tony will fail again and unleash an even greater monster upon the world.
Thor charges in after having gone off to meditate upon the vision of Asgard’s destruction he witnessed under Scarlet Witch’s spell earlier in the film, and jolts The Vision to life with lightning. Thor reveals that the infinity stone embedded in The Vision’s head is one of 6 that represent “the most destructive force in the Universe,” and reveals it to be the source of all that has transpired in the film, which creates a moment of incredible suspense as the team assesses whether The Vision is a threat or an ally, given that he now possesses this immeasurable power. In his vision, Thor discovered that he had already encountered two infinity stones in the form of the Tesseract, the device which gave birth to HYDRA and opened the portal allowing the Chitauri to invade in the previous film, as well as the Aether encountered in Thor: The Dark World, and he seems to be aware of the discovery of the fourth stone shown in Guardians of the Galaxy. This further informs the gravity of the potentially destructive consequences of having one of these gems in the control of a single being. Once The Vision awakens, it becomes clear very quickly, however, that Tony and Bruce’s efforts paid off. He declares himself on “the side of life,” and proves to be a very calm, wise and benevolent being, as well as a powerful ally, without whom the team would never have a realistic chance at defeating Ultron.
The Vision declares that Ultron must be destroyed and erased from the internet, extinguishing his consciousness before his pain “rolls over the Earth.” He then picks up Thor’s hammer, hands it to him, and urges them to action as the rest of the group stare in wide-eyed disbelief at The Vision, one of the best moments of the film. This of course implies that The Vision is “worthy” of the Hammer even though they clearly were not, further establishing The Vision as perhaps the embodiment of perfection, the next step in evolution, that he was created to be, sans Ultron’s “winning personality.”
The Vision, this synthesized being, a mix of artificial and organic, is so on the side of life, that he even expresses regret in having to kill Ultron, however he acknowledges that it must be done in order to save the rest of life on Earth. The Vision embodies the love for all creatures that Ultron, with all his postulating and pontificating about God, entirely misses. In essence, The Vision takes into account all possibilities, and is more in touch with life, with the heart-centered qualities of what it means to be human, and he represents the wisdom and responsibility required to wield power appropriately, a running theme throughout all of the Marvel films.
The Vision resolves the paradox of Ultron’s internal struggle beautifully in the finale, when he confronts the last drone after Ultron’s plot had been foiled, Ultron’s consciousness having been erased from the net, and all other drones and bodies destroyed. They meet in the forest, where The Vision attempts to impart final words of wisdom to Ultron, declaring that he failed to see the grace in the failings of humans, or take into account their very beauty due to the fact that they are ultimately doomed and thus precious in their impermanence. Ultron accuses The Vision of being naive, refusing to see anything beyond his own anger and pain to the very end. In his final moment, Ultron’s destruction comes about through his own creation, as The Vision uses the mind stone, the very source that created the both of them, to vaporize Ultron, thus ending his painful existence and allowing life to go on, leaving the fate of humanity once again in God’s hands rather than Ultron’s.
Whedon has created a masterful tale with many levels, portraying the dangerous consequences of messing with the creative powers of the Universe based upon the presumption that humans are able to control nature, each other or the course of evolution itself through sheer will. It is also a testament to the dangers of making predictions or assessments based upon meta-data alone, for all that exists in the digital world of information represents only a small percentage of what is to be known in our universe, and while Ultron displayed omniscience when it came to the digital world of the Net, he did not have access to the infinite intelligence available to a fully awakened being who is in touch with the spiritual and emotional aspects of consciousness, as The Vision clearly exemplified. The Vision symbolizes the best of what humanity can be, when all life is respected and the ecological consequences of humanity’s actions are accounted for, not to mention the importance of implementing wisdom and heart-centered consciousness when attempting to bring new technologies into use.
As the human race continues to evolve technologically, embarking upon grand new vistas of ever-expanding space-age marvels, if we fail to remain in the wisdom of our hearts, we are in danger of creating all manner of destructive devices, wielding such power irresponsibly and callously without regard for the ecological impact or the long-term consequences of a soulless mechanized world of convenience that threatens to eradicate all trace of what makes us human in the first place. These themes aren’t exactly new, the threat of artificial intelligence gone rogue particularly being a science fiction favorite, however they are still as relevant as ever given the nature of our very digitally-focused culture where people often spend more time absorbed in their portable electronic devices interacting in a digital domain with digital versions of people, rather than actually physically connecting with other people or the natural world around them.
What good is having access to all information, to becoming more and more connected digitally, if we are disconnected from our hearts and emotions? If all we seek is to be entertained and distracted by technological marvels, or dream of a time where machines and computers handle all our labor work while we lose ourselves in distractions, we become as blind to the inner machinations of the robots as we often are to the inner machinations of the governments we fail to properly scrutinize, or worse, to our own internal motivations. While using technology to establish more spare time or handle labor efforts is not an entirely undesirable outcome, what matters is how we use that extra time and energy and how responsible we are with technology that could potentially be highly destructive if not properly monitored or implemented. If we create technology simply to make it easier to disconnect from our very hearts, or the heart of the Earth itself, then we are in danger of becoming the very destructive, inferior and mindless beings that Ultron believes us to be.
The film’s main point, however, is that our salvation lies not in our ability to create advanced technology to run the world, but in our ability to work together as a race, utilizing our shared wisdom, love and intelligence to carry out our desire to establish peace, welfare for all and ecological responsibility, rather than attempt to control Nature, play God, or constrain the natural impulse of life to grow and evolve. Ultron says “everyone creates the thing they dread,” because he represents the very embodiment of our collective fear and our effort to control what cannot be controlled in order to avoid potential calamity. The film also makes a case for transparency and including everyone at the table before major decisions are to be made, for when an individual, or a small group, secretly makes decisions or sets policy that affects the whole collective without informing or including everyone in that process, the end result lacks the benefit and foresight of shared wisdom, and often does not reflect what is truly beneficial for the collective.
As Tony learns the hard way, the fate of the world is not one man’s responsibility, and only through cooperation and fellowship are any real solutions for the world to be found, we may just need to do some of the heavy lifting ourselves, rather than setting the controls to auto-pilot and hoping for the best. Part of this heavy lifting is not so much about the physical labor we would rather leave to the machines, but rather the need for each of us to stop being victims and take an active role in the betterment of the world, which requires us to overcome our unwillingness to step into our own power and fully embody the greatness, intelligence, and talent that we often suppress or deny as a result of our unresolved, subconscious beliefs about being unworthy. In other words, it is time that we each step into our roles as the real superheroes of the world, rather than creating movies about idealized versions of heroes who will save the world for us so we do not have to face all that stands in the way of us realizing our individual and collective potential.
Our salvation also requires that we abolish the very idea that our “leaders” or “elite” know what is best for the world, allowing them free reign to institute their domination schemes and oppression in secret, while the rest of us remain distracted or aloof because we trust those more qualified to deal with the problems of the world. All of us have a stake in the outcome of the world, and all of us have a space at the table to contribute our minds, our hearts and our hands in the creation of a new and better world. It requires that we transcend the fallacy that we are on our own, that others know best for us, and that we learn to be more cooperative and interdependent on a global scale, so that we can together accomplish the heavy lifting required to avert more disastrous outcomes. Otherwise we leave that fate in the hands of soulless monsters who think they know better, while we eventually pay the ultimate price for our ignorance and denial of responsibility.