The second biggest summer blockbuster every (by dollars), and second only to its predecessor, released a few weeks ago. In case you hadn’t guessed, its Avengers: Age of Ultron (heretofore referred to as Avengers 2) and it definitely deserved the hype. We all know the big-name cast, the insane special effects, and cool Easter Eggs are inferred in every Marvel movie, especially the Avengers franchise. Avengers 2 had all of this in spades. James Spader was creepy, terrifying, an thoroughly enjoyable as Ultron’s voice. The original cast was excellent as always, and the two new additions (The other Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, aka Kick-Ass as Quicksilver) performed admirably, although Russian accents were occasionally beyond them. And the Vision was a well-executed inclusion, although he did not have a great deal of screen time.
The key difference you’ll notice between this movie and its progenitor lies in the “down-time” scenes where the Avengers gather, occaionally with other heroic types, and commiserate. They aren’t forming a team anymore, and Joss Whedon was free to do the things that made him famous and made Firefly incredible, and that’s witty repartee. The Thor’s Hammer scene was classic. It also enabled him to introduce a familiar idea of the star-crossed lovers, with Black Widow and the Hulk. I found these scenes to be endearing and well-integrated, and helped provide some backstory to the solo-movie-bereft Black Widow, including spy training and forced sterilization. We also got a focus on Bruce Banner as a person, which as one of the reasons I enjoyed the Edward Norton version of the Hulk. And, we get a lot more Hawkeye. I don’t want to spoil any of his surprises. So all the non-solo members had their day in Avengers 2.
So why didn’t this movie perform as well as Avengers 1? I couldn’t say for sure, but my guess is slight Superhero fatigue. Clearly everyone is willing to shill out the big bucks to watch and all-star cast put on costumes and fight some CGI robots. Part of the problem we may be seeing with the Marvel Movie Universe is the gradual build. Guardians was a great movie and performed well at the box office. Avengers 2 delivered but not as triumphantly as Avengers 1. Building to a gradual climax over the stretch of several integrated movies may leave some more casual movie watchers thinking they’ll wait to see the big one in 2016. I fear for the performance of Ant-Man later this summer, as a lesser-known superhero (Although Paul Rudd brings some pretty impressive star power) following a potentially fatiguing blockbuster, could mean it under-performs. All I know is I will continue to go watch these movies as long as they make them, and Avengers 2 was well worth the money, which is the highest praise I can give.