To celebrate the blu-ray release of Doctor Strange, let’s take a look back at some past Marvel films to compare and contrast the two. For this week’s Movie Fight, we’re going to see The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron battle to the death! By that I mean, I’m going to look at them both, compare certain qualities of each and then decide which is the more successful film! Without further adieu, let’s get this started!
As The Avengers was not only the end of one thing, it was the beginning of another which means that it had to do multiple things. A) Bring the team together for the first time and B) Complete Phase I of the MCU. The largest task that this film has to accomplish was bringing together the heroes that have been introduced and built up throughout the five preceding movies and make them all work together not just as a team but as individual characters interacting with each other. The film definitely pulled this off as it was not only faithful to the characters, but seeing them together was an absolute blast, and their chemistry (and sometimes, lack thereof) was extremely entertaining to see. In order for them to be brought together, the story had to make sense and the catalyst that drives the film needed to be effective and believable. Loki from Thor uses The Tesseract from Captain America: The First Avenger to bring an alien threat from deep in the galaxy that requires the galaxy’s best heroes to team up and defend Earth. It’s a great premise and it worked for everything that it needed to accomplish.
The one problem that I had with The Avengers was mostly in comparing it to other superhero films that I loved in 2012, mainly The Dark Knight Rises; the tone was too lighthearted and fun for there to be any real tension or stakes. Marvel is a very happy-go-lucky series, and it works for almost every film that takes place in their Universe, but because of that, we know that the characters are always going to survive (save for a few exceptions). The first half was pretty slow and the last half was full of action but without any real fear that anything truly bad was going to happen; however, the characters were so much fun together that it really didn’t matter and the scale that this film boasted made it fun to watch regardless of pacing and tonal issues.
So, let’s take it back to the original goals the film had to accomplish. Was this a successful team movie with these characters? Seeing Tony Stark and Bruce Banner work together was fantastic as they both had science to relate to on, and seeing how Bruce Banner’s quiet personality juxtaposed with Stark’s narcissistic exuberance was a great payoff for half of the preceding movies. What the end of The Incredible Hulk teased, we finally got to see. Iron Man 2 and The First Avenger both contained Tony Stark’s father, Howard, but we never got to see Tony’s reaction to Howard working with Captain American in WWII until now… and he’s not happy about it. Actually, he’s kind of jealous and understanding how he feels about it offers a layer of depth that we wouldn’t have expected to see from him at all. Furthermore, seeing how Thor interacts with all of the other characters, being an alien, was quite fascinating since they half blame him for his brother terrorizing their world. If this movie only worked on one level, it was that it knew how to treat its characters
If there’s one single job that a sequel has, it’s to deepen the story, and by doing so, test the characters further; without that happening, there would be no reason for this story to take place. So, in Avengers: Age of Ultron, we see the team continuing to fight to protect people, now on a global scale instead of just in New York City. The reason that this plot begins is that Tony, in his continuing efforts to make tech to do their jobs, makes a software that becomes so self-aware, that it turns into The Terminator and becomes an enemy to the Earth as well as the Avengers. So, from then on we have an emotionally bruised and battered Stark and a team that has been torn apart by the villainous Ultron, but also by their own differences. Stark and Rogers continue to butt heads which doesn’t bode well for the team but doesn’t lead anywhere until the next film they star in together. While the film does test our characters further, it doesn’t really do anything that the first one didn’t do.
Sure, this film had more of the tone that I was looking for in the first one but wasn’t able to juggle the comedic and dramatic scenes as well as it could have. Also, the first one had more of the story that this one should have had; if you combined aspects of both films, you would get a very successful film that effectively pulls off everything it would aim to do. As far as villains go, I think Ultron was the perfect choice because he not only provided a threat for our team but wounded one of our most precious heroes in ways that he can’t recover from (as seen in Civil War). Also, Black Widow and Hulk develop a love interest for each other which some (myself included) think was forced, but if she was going to have a romantic partner, the reasons Whedon provides for them to date in the film definitely work. Without a doubt, many people loved how Hawkeye was further developed and given a family; his character is now not some silly cannon fodder but is a real human being…and a real hero. Moreover, Vision was an incredible addition to the team and to the Cinematic Universe as he was something new and exciting in every way. The Twins, on the other hand, seemed shoehorned and didn’t do much for the film as a whole, I thought. Especially in the “dark” turn that this film takes for one of them, I didn’t find offered the emotional punch that it should have.
So, if I had to pick one by looking at story, drama, how the characters interact, the stakes for our heroes being high and the overall entertainment value that it has, I’ll have to go with the former film, The Avengers. While the sequel definitely takes the characters to new heights, and depths, I don’t think that it was as fun to watch as it’s predecessor. However, there were many, many aspects of the sequel that far outshine the original such as the action sequences throughout, the introduction of new characters, seeing the team fight on an emotional level and not just a physical one, and giving them more heart than they had before, especially in Stark and Hawkeye. I’m definitely excited to see how these characters interact further in Infinity War, and how they interact with the Guardians of the Galaxy in that film as well. Are you pumped to see that? Which film do you think wins this movie fight? Let me know! As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!