The most anticipated sequel of the year finally hit North American theaters on Friday May 1st. It had a massive opening day and a very strong opening weekend. Not quite as strong as the first Avengers movie but it easily dominated the box office this weekend. After watching Avengers 2 I realized how often I kept going back to the first movie so I thought why not directly compare them.
While I loved the original Avengers I often wondered why people were so enamored with the story of the first one? perhaps it’s because those type of alien invasion stories didn’t happen much in superhero movies? I enjoyed the story for what it was but I found it very simplistic and even formulaic at times. Another thing I found curious was how many fans embraced the story but were more divisive with DC’s new 52 version of Justice League. The first six issues particularly. Essentially it’s the SAME story that was in the Avengers film. It’s an origin story. You have the team bickering at first and later working together. You’ve got an alien invasion. You’ve got Darkseid, which is essentially DC’s version of Thanos, and you’ve even got a S.H.E.I.L..D. like element there. Even the style in which it was done was similar. Fast paced, tons of action and humor sparkled around. Not complaining, but I just thought it was a funny thing to point out. perhaps Marvel’s execution was better?
Right of the bat I’ll tell you that the story in this one is much more dense. There is quite a few more arcs hanging in the balance. A lot more characters to juggle as well. This could be a good thing or a bad thing but I felt that for the most part, it succeeded. You also get a lot more individual character moments in this one too. Hulk & Black Widow had their own arc that was interesting at times and random at others. It felt a lot more thought out and it even made you think a bit more as to what was really going on. They also seemed to pose more interesting questions despite throwing a ton of action at you.
Winner: Avengers 2
The action in the first movie was really ahead of its time for comic book movies. It set the bar very high. So much so that when Man Of Steel came out ( Which had awesome action as well) it seemed like we had seen it all before. One thing that really stood out among many things was the awesome panoramic shot of all the Avengers battling the Chitauri I had a smile from ear to ear watching that scene.
While you could say you’ve seen it all before, the action here just seemed bigger. Is bigger better? Well to give you a very sure answer I would have to watch it again, but it just seemed like it carried more oomph. There are so many highlights to mention. The Hulk vs Iron Man in the Hulkbuster armor was a nerds dream. Much of the Ultron action scenes were effective and entertaining. You even had another panoramic scene right at the start of the movie, which was dare I say, better than the first!
Loki was a fan favorite for sure. Charming, charismatic, scheming, interesting. Was he menacing or intimidating? I never thought so. In fact he does seem to get his ass handed to him many times in the film. He seems more like a petulant child who gets beat up and then throws a tantrum. Nevertheless I found his story very interesting because we had the pleasure of seeing him before in the Thor movie. The Chitauri were effective enough but I would have loved to have really seen Thanos! Loki just did not feel like an Avengers level villain for me. I enjoyed him but not as the main baddie.
I’m a big fan of Ultron so the prospect of seeing him brought to life was very appealing.for the most part I was pretty pleased with the end result, save for a few things. aesthetically he looked great. Almost a splitting image of the comics version which is rare for any superhero movie. James Spader continued his impressive run of playing likable villains. Although I guess you could say he plays more of an “anti-hero” on the Blacklist but I digress. Spader played him with enough menace to feel like a genuine threat. Ultron’s story is interesting enough to have kept me hooked as well. I wish they had explored the more psychological side to him but then again the movie was long enough. One thing I did not care for was the fact that this malevolent robot was so carefree and jokey at times. It was very weird and distracting to me. Although he did have a few great one liners that were both villainous and clever. They do tweak his origin slightly ( SPOILER) making Tony Stark his father and not Hank Pym which could ex-plain his sarcastic tone but I don’t know…
Winner: Avengers 2
I have to say that I have very little complaints in this department. The idea of seeing all these iconic characters together for the first time was awesome but it also posed an interesting question. How could they balance them all? Surprisingly it all fit together and it worked really well. The main guys continued to be the main guys without overexposing one or the other. I found Coulson’s death to be a meaningful one at the time. The chemistry between all the actors was very apparent from the get go and it shined all throughout the movie, making for a team you could root for.
Sort of a love/hate on this one. The mainstays are all great and they did give them all more substance. Perhaps the Hulk and Black Widow romance was a little out of left field but it allowed the actors to grow the characters through those moments. I could take it or leave it really but I appreciated the effort. The main thing is the addition of new characters. I liked the addition of Vision. In this case they stayed fairly true to the story of Vision minus a few tweaks. One thing I could say is that it was a bit rushed and I wished he had more screen time I thought he looked great but sounded too human. Paul Bettany did play him well though. Now for the “Twins” otherwise known as Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver. I got to say I was not a fan. Particularity of Quicksilver. He felt very much like a throwaway character. Scarlet Witch was better because she proved to be pivotal to many elements of the story. It was cool too see Quicksilver use his speed but It’s a shame you don;t get to see it used in a more dynamic way.Both the actors playing the twins had bad Russian accents but at least they tried which is more than I can say for Scarlet Johansson. ( Don’t get me wrong. ScarJo’s getting better and better.) One big plus was Hawkeye in this one. Much more time on him and thanks to Jeremy Renner, it paid off. Pretty much my favorite character this time around.
I know what you’re thinking. ” Acting? who cares about acting in a movie like this?” I get your point but acting always matters to me regardless of the movie. I have to feel and believe the performances that are put out there. The task of playing these larger than life heroes is not small. It does take very strong actors to pull off such a fantastical thing. We had already seen almost all of the Avengers in their own movies before Avengers actually came out so we knew what they could bring to the table. Still, they manged to exceed expectations when it came to acting as an ensemble cast. In fact the actors had their best moments when together on screen. A great first attempt. There was no real weak link here.
By the time Avengers 2 came out I really noticed the actors being more comfortable in their characters skins and knowing how to go where they needed to go. As mentioned previously , having unexpected character moments in the movie added to performances. Particularity Mark Ruffalo. I really liked his portrayal of Dr. Banner/Hulk much more here. He brought out the tortured part of Banner more believably and on a side note, he stopped referring to Hulk as ” the other guy” which became tiresome quickly in the first movie. Jeremy Renner, as previously mentioned was great. Spader was on the ball with Ultron, but the twins failed to floor me. The highlight of that film is the scene in which all the Avengers are just hanging out and shooting the breeze while trying to lift Thor’s hammer. All of the cast shined in that one.
Winner: Avengers 2 ( by a hair)
I’m not an expert by any means but I know what looks real and Hulk looked pretty damn real. Awfully cool too. The difficulty of pulling off such a large scale war that uses super powers is daunting which makes Avengers all the more impressive visually. Everything, for the most part looked clean and crisp. The movie looked like a cartoon that was just real enough. It was fun and it looked fun thanks to it’s stunning effects.
Once again everything here seemed bigger. It was certainly more fantastical than it’s predecessor. At times a bit too fantastical. I think that there may have been a slight overuse of C.G.I. that perhaps made it look a bit more artificial. I will say that Hulks facial expressions were far more emotive than the first movie. No doubt a testament to Andy Serkis’s presence on the set. Ultron looked badass and real enough. In his case, perhaps too emotive? a minor quibble but overall great.
It’s going to be tough to beat the first Avengers on impact. I mean it was the first time we saw a group of standalone characters together on screen! something no one thought would ever happen fifteen years ago. Remember, there was a time where superhero movies were commercial gambles and audiences didn’t always embrace them. Superman and Batman were the only sure thing and then came X-men which got the ball rolling. Eventually we got Spider-man, Iron Man and the rest but it was Avengers that set the bar for THE SUPERHERO movie. I remember when I saw the trailer and saw them briefly battling all together, I nearly cried. That’s impact.
My friend put it best. ” The film was missing the magic of the first”. What I think he meant was that the impact was gone. We had already seen them all together and it felt familiar. In a good way, but not the same way as the first Avengers. The problem was that it didn’t really tread on new ground either. Sure it introduced new characters but nothing else really NEW. What it did do was improve on nearly every aspect the first movie threw at us. So I guess what I would say is that Avengers is the legacy movie that has a long lasting impact but that Avengers 2 is the better movie overall.
Tough choices, but go out and see it so you can decide for yourselves!
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