Avengers: Age of Ultron is already a massive hit at the box office, making an estimated $187 million dollars in only four days. In comparison, earlier Marvel movies Thor and Captain America didn’t make as much in their entire run in theaters. It’s earned the second biggest opening weekend of all time, beaten only by the original Avengers movie.
But does it measure up to the original?
The movie opens with a bang. There is no need for the Avengers to assemble, as they’re already together, fighting goons near a nefarious enemy base. The fight is intense, but there are so many people and the camera moves so quickly that it’s hard at times to figure out what’s going on. This problem pops up in some other fight scenes throughout the movie – you’ll see a second of Black Widow punching, a glimpse of Captain America throwing his shield, but it’s on to the next person before you know it.
They soon take down the enemy base, but not before meeting a pair of super-powered twins with a grudge against Tony Stark. The Avengers make it back home, but less triumphant than they expected. It is there where the villain, the titular Ultron, comes into being, the result of Stark and Dr. Banner using the captured intelligence.
Ultron begins as an artificial intelligence with the goal of world peace, but quickly evolves to something much more menacing. The scenes of his “birth” and introduction are truly threatening. Unfortunately, while he increases in power, he’s never again as scary as he is in those first scenes. His power spreads across the globe, forcing the Avengers to be on the defensive, trying to rip them apart.
Through this, we get to learn more about the Avengers as people, rather than as a group. In one sequence, we get to see into the heads of most the Avengers, showing what haunts them. We also get to see other secrets which characters are hiding, letting us connect better with them as people, not just heroes. Some of these smaller moments work very well, helping us understand and even care for characters we might have previously joked about.
But there are jokes, of course – Marvel can’t resist a good one-liner, no matter the time nor place. Ultron has his own sense of humor, like a darker Tony Stark, and of course the heroes have their own one-liners.
No joke, however, is the climax of the movie. It is intense, but it never matches the scope nor the feel of the climax of the original Avengers movie. Rather than being set in New York or another real city, it is set in a fictional country, and it feels smaller, despite a larger cast of characters. The scope is also world-threatening, but it doesn’t feel as grand. Sequels tend to go bigger, so it’s curious that this one feels smaller.
In the end, the movie was entertaining, but not as much as its predecessor. It’s no fault of the returning cast, who does well as their familiar characters, nor the new cast, who also deliver solid performances. It boils down to having a cast bigger than the story, and a villain who doesn’t make us tremble enough. Avengers: Age of Ultron is still worth a watch, but it’ll make you nostalgic for the first movie.