marvel cinematic universe

A few more words about Stan Lee

A few more words about Stan Lee

I join millions of other fans in appreciating Lee from afar, whether it's reading the stories of his superhero creations, seeing him pop up briefly in the Marvel movies and shows, or generally watching Lee as a public figure, a personality that usually ranged between late night talk show host and used car salesman. Lee was not a perfect person and made more than one legendary creator deeply resentful of his persona, but there's no doubt that his non-stop charm offensive and sheer force of personality made him as revered as a pop culture figure as Walt Disney.

Is it worth buying "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on disc?

One of the biggest hits of the year was “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which continued Marvel’s unprecedented string of success in building an expanded universe on the silver and small screens. While the digital version of the movie was released in early September, the home video version didn’t hit shelves until this past weekend. The question is: is it worth it to double-dip for the physical discs?

I picked up the collector’s edition set, which includes the 3D blu ray, regular blu ray and download code for the digital version. Not going to lie: I don’t have a 3D TV or player, so I’m just going to assume that disc is up to snuff. However, I compared the blu ray disc to what I got on the digital download, and saw that many of the special features are the same.

Both the blu ray and the digital version have the same featurettes: “From the Inside Out – Making of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron;’” “The Infinite Six” and “Global Adventure.” “Global Adventure” is a three-minute short about the various places “Age of Ultron” was filmed, including Italy, South Korea and South Africa. “Inside Out” is a 20-minute standard behind-the-scenes feature that might be fun for kids to see how the film crew was able to combine practical stunts and shots with computer-animated characters like the Hulk or Ultron. “The Infinite Six” is a seven-minute feature outlining the ongoing Thanos subplot, which infinity stones have shown up so far, and the inspiration it takes from the comics.

Both the digital and physical releases also contain a short gag reel and four deleted scenes, the latter of which unfortunately doesn’t add much to the overall film. What the physical disc does contain is exclusive feature-length commentary from writer and director Joss Whedon, who has been pretty outspoken during the initial press tour about his ambivalence with the movie. He also offers commentary on the deleted scenes.

“Why on earth would I make another Avengers movie,” Whedon asks early in the movie. “They’re really hard. It was ill-advised, I see that now, but I think the most important thing about the movie is that it’s mine.”

While Whedon sounds down on the overall film (and, quite frankly, exhausted during the commentary), he offers few specifics about what he felt were the problems, instead focusing his commentary on praise for the cast and crew. He also often notes how hard he tried to make “Age of Ultron” visually distinctive from the first “Avengers” film, but outside of a slightly-greyer palette to reflect the morally-ambiguous tone of the sequel, this looks and feels like a standard blockbuster from Marvel Studios.

“I look at this movie as a series of compromises and failures,” he says at one point. “Just so you know, I’m not actually going to emphasize that. There are things about it that I love, I love very much, but I always think, ‘Ah, could have been better there.’”

That said, the picture and audio quality is the film and features on the blu ray disc are top notch. The disc also includes trailers for “Ant-Man,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” season two and “Agent Carter” season one.

Is it worth it? No. Whedon says nothing groundbreaking during the commentary, so unless you need the physical set to round out your Marvel Studios collection, save yourself a couple of bucks and stick with digital.