When you think of sequels, the first thing that probably comes to mind is how they never are better than or even comparable to the original. Film goers often dwell on the disappointment of movies like Godfather Part 3 while failing to remember that some sequels such as The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight have successfully expanded upon the success of their predecessors while also adding new story elements and surprises along the way. With the massive success for the first Avengers movie, Marvel definitely has its hands proving that in this case, the lightning from the hammer of Thor can most certainly strike twice.
Firstly, the widespread appeal of the first Avengers movie stems from the relatability of the characters, and how the director Joss Whedon has been able to seamlessly portray powerful superheroes with human emotions and values. Such a task is daunting for many directors, as it can be tough to project emotions that we see in ourselves as viewers onto seemingly godlike heroes. Joss Whedon most certainly proved with his first movie that there is definitely a method to his madness. A big part of the franchise’s success comes from showcasing that it is possible to make, “movies successful and fun at the same time” according to Mr. Segal. Marvel has been able to accomplish a monumental feat in cinema by allowing movie goers to become emotionally attached and involved in the worlds of such greatly fictional characters. The sense of realism, and the fact that “they are fun, but also grapple with moral dilemmas” contribute heavily to their popularity, says Mrs. Segal.
Here is the real question. Can this new Marvel movie take what was so great and fresh about the first movie and reapply it, especially without seeming repetitive? The expectations are vastly greater than the first movie, and it seems as though May 1st cant come any sooner for several Jesuit teachers. Some are looking forward to what the future of the franchise holds. Mr Lugo is excited to see, “how the story will transition to Civil War and the struggles that the Avengers, as a team, will have to face as their relationships begin to deteriorate”. Mr Harrington, on the other hand, is excited that this movie, “will spend less time introducing the characters and more time building on the events of other recent Avengers movies”.
What we know so far is that several different aspects of the Avengers as a whole, along with the movie’s new villain, will play a substantial role in the appeal of the film for avid Marvel fans. One part of the hype comes from the new antagonist, Ultron. This villainous character is the creation of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. His character seems to have been originally designed for a good purpose, but has gone rouge. As always, the Avengers are the only ones who can stop him from wreaking havoc upon the world. The trailers however, have almost seemed to paint a much darker world that the Avengers are living in, showcasing the insurmountable odds that they are faced with at all times. It also highlights pain within the characters faces, which may allude to a possible twist death or groundbreaking reveal. Further, a plethora of new characters are being introduced into the franchise with such new heroes as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Frankly, I use the term “heroes” lightly because the trailer gives the illusion that they might possibly be aligning themselves with the forces of evil in Ultron.
Finally, what makes the Avengers movies a “marvel” to experience, the characters. After a slew of different movies throughout the Marvel universe, fans of the franchise, myself included, have grown attached to these characters through their recognition and relatability. Fans have embraced every aspect of the characters, even their flaws. In fact, their flaws are what we admire most to a certain extent. The images of a literal God in Thor or a smart witty playboy like Tony Stark driven to their absolute lowest invokes a sense of humanity in the characters that is absolutely palpable to movie goers and fans. Mr Lugo agrees with this statement and articulated that, “though I love DC, Marvel has always done a better job at making the characters vulnerable and relatable.” This movie hopes to build of that same emotion by possibly putting in, like Mrs. Segal stated, “tough moral decisions” that don’t just require a bolt of lighting, or the Hulk’s hands smashing against the ground while bellowing, ‘HULK SMASH!'”
When talking about a favorite avenger, Mr. Segal took inspiration from his job as a history, religion and psychology teacher by stating that, “each character represents different aspects of what someone would want to be, but I like the historical aspect and virtues of Captain America.” In contrast Mrs. Segal admires the “sarcastic nature of Tony stark, but also how he wasn’t born with superpowers, rather he makes a conscious choice to use his intelligence and wealth to benefit others and is a great example of redemption.” In concurrence, Mr Harrington likes how Iron Man is “this larger than life character and can only save the day after he is brought down to earth and humbled.” In the end, the characters not only are what people come just to see, but also what is truly going to make or break the film. If the people at Marvel can harness those same themes of redemption and virtues, then fans will love with Age of Ultron because according to Mr. Harrington, “all fans really want to see is their favorite characters come alive on the big screen.”
However, there are things that Marvel could improve upon with this upcoming movie. For instance, Mr Lugo feels that, “Although I have been impressed with the entire Marvel Universe, my biggest gripe is they never commit to killing anyone off, and I would like to see a major character die and not just magically reappear after the credits, that would be EPIC.” Marvel does have the tendency to play the almost-dead-but-not-dead card in a majority of their movies. It’s almost becoming redundant and tedious to see a character’s eyes open at the last minute, when all hope is lost and death seems inevitable. This would definitely be a bold and endearing move to integrate some sort of twist death, giving the film the darker tone that appeals to comic book fans and movie goers alike.
Another problem within Marvel movies is their portrayal of women heroes within their movies. It’s no secret that we have definitely moved on from the days of women being damsels in distress and evolved into women as heroes and main characters of these movies. Mrs. Segal voiced her opinion on Black Widow, someone she views as a “Progressive character because she is strong and violent, however, she is over-sexualized which is stereotypical.” Another problem in the Marvel series is the lack of a great villain. In most Marvel movies, it seems as though the villain exists solely to move along the plot and never contributes a central element to the over all appeal of the movies. Mr. Segal feels that, “the Achilles heel of the series has always been that they haven’t had a great culmination of villains other than Loki.” Hopefully James Spader can bring the maniacal robot of Ultron to life and possibly usher in a new villain for the series that fans just love to hate.
With all this being said, Age of Ultron definitely has all the key essentials to be a great Marvel movie that builds on the previous film while adding new and exciting elements that Marvel fans crave. Mr. Harrington’s advice on how to keep the ball rolling on the so far great Avengers movies is to “stick to compelling yet simple stories”. This new Avengers hopes to repeat the first one’s success at giving fans likable, interesting characters intertwined in a world of absolute villainy and chaos that only that only they have the means to overcome. If the series can execute, we might bear witness to a new dawn of excellence within the Marvel franchise that takes darker themes of evil and human flaws and places them within characters that we know and love. If films like The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight can accomplish this, then the sky’s the limit for this franchise and nothing can keep Age of Ultron from becoming a film for this generation. As Ultron says, there truly are “No more strings.”