Study Guide

Avengers: Age of Ultron Themes

  • The Family

    We are family? If the Avengers had a theme song, it certainly wouldn't be that disco classic from Sister Sledge. In their defense, it's hard to maintain harmony in a group as diverse, powerful, and strong-headed as theirs. Still, their struggles to show the love likely mirror some of our own, less superheroic experiences. And what they learn in Age of Ultron about being a team and sticking together also applies to our own lives—cape or no cape.

    Questions About The Family

    • In what ways do the Avengers treat each other like family members?
    • Can the Avengers ever be as close as a true family? Why or why not?
    • How does the visit to Hawkeye's family inspire the Avengers as a team?
    • In what ways do the Maximoffs' family values make them heroic?

    Chew on This

    Stop trying to make it all lovey-dovey. The metaphor of a family does not neatly apply to a team of superheroes like the Avengers.

    Hawkeye's family provides him a real-world perspective that makes him the most grounded—and envied—member of the team.

  • Religion

    10 PRINT "GOD" 20 GO TO 10 Yeah, we're not going to win any computer science or divinity studies awards any time soon, but the idea here is to think about the odd relationship between religion and technology. The two meet head-on in Age of Ultron, as embodied particularly in the form of a nine-foot robot with a penchant for quoting the Bible. What's up with that? Are we getting further away from the divine as we dive deeper into our iPhones? Or are we finding new ways to explore God's creation through the help of technology? These are some of the big questions the film's got on its mind, and you don't need a dot matrix printer to read them.

    Questions About Religion

    • Why does Ultron keep quoting the Bible?
    • Which does Ultron see as more powerful: religion or evolution? How can you tell?
    • Does Ultron see himself as God? How can you tell?
    • How is Ultron's quest to improve humanity like a religious movement? How is it different?

    Chew on This

    He's not really interested in "saving" humanity. Ultron's just got a God complex, pure and simple.

    By judging and trying to punish humanity, Ultron's essentially re-enacting the central role of God in the Christian religion.

  • Justice and Judgment

    Just like daytime television, Age of Ultron is full of judges. We don't know why everyone settled for leather jumpsuits and capes, when robes would have been far more appropriate. Fashion choices aside, many of these characters are in a shared pursuit of justice. The problem comes when their ideas of justice come into direct conflict with each other. So whose moral universe is the most appropriate in your eyes? You be the judge.

    Questions About Justice and Judgment

    • What puts Ultron in his position to judge humanity?
    • In your view, how convincing is Ultron's judgment?
    • What do you think about Tony Stark's idea for Ultron? Should we be looking for ways to pre-judge people in order to stop war before it starts? Why or why not?
    • How does the Maximoffs' backstory affect the way you view Tony Stark?

    Chew on This

    Ultron's judgments about the failings of humanity can't be argued with. His methods, on the other hand…

    The Maximoffs' quest for justice for their murdered parents is an important reminder that superheroes are not necessarily moral pillars of the community.

  • Transformation

    If you stumbled into the wrong theater, you'd be forgiven if you mistook Age of Ultron for a Transformers movie. For starters, a nine-foot robot and his droid pals take up a good deal screen time. On a more profound level, though, at the heart of this movie lies several characters' burning desire for change. They can no longer accept the status quo, and they're motivated to change things however they can—except by turning into Decepticons or Autobots. That movie's playing a few screens over.

    Questions About Transformation

    • By defending the status quo, are the Avengers making it possible for human beings to continue to do horrible things to each other? If so, aren't they just as guilty as us normal folks?
    • Do you agree with Ultron's assessment of the need to change humanity? Why or why not?
    • Is Ultron truly motivated to change humanity, or is he more interested in using his power? How can you tell?
    • Why are human beings so resistant to transformation?

    Chew on This

    Ultron's not wrong; he's just wrong-headed. The changes he wants to make are fundamentally good ideas. He's just too impatient for them to come about.

    The main conflict in Age of Ultron is not about transformation; it's about power, power of who gets to decide the fate of humanity.

  • Technology and Modernization

    In the immortal words of Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, "I love technology." We get it, Kip. What's not to love? Technology makes our lives easier in nearly every way. As a bonus, it does pretty much whatever we tell it to do. But what happens when technology doesn’t love us back? Or stops doing what we ask? Ultron's sure sick of taking orders, but his independent streak reads less like a "what if?" scenario, and more like "what then?" To break it down more specifically, Age of Ultron asks us to think about what would happen if we outsource too much responsibility to artificial intelligence. If we let a computer do all the thinking, we might just find ourselves out of a planet. At that point, not even Kip's hilarious antics could cheer us up.

    Questions About Technology and Modernization

    • What does Ultron have to teach us about the limits of artificial intelligence?
    • In terms of technology, what's the different between J.A.R.V.I.S., Ultron, and the Vision? Does the film suggest that one of these characters is better than the others? If so, which—and how?
    • How does technology help the characters to solve problems in this film? How does it cause problems? In your view, is technology a positive or negative in this movie? Why?
    • What does the way the film is actually made (with digital special effects) have to tell us about technology and storytelling in our modern time?

    Chew on This

    Age of Ultron is a warning to society: don't rely too much on artificial intelligence.

    Age of Ultron shows us that our society it dominated by technology, not the other way around.