The reviews for Avengers: Age of Ultron are hovering around the 70% mark now, and I’m hearing a lot of panic last-minute. Let’s remember that Rotten Tomatoes gave Thor: The Dark World a 66% and I think that’s one of the strongest films Marvel has produced. The film, though, that I’m hearing it most compared to is Iron Man 2 (in a negative way). Here’s the thing: I liked Iron Man 2. It made Whiplash cool and introduced Black Widow. It was also tasked with doing what I think (and this is speculation) Age of Ultron will be tasked with doing. It had to set up A LOT. Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were the first two MCU films and their success made it necessary for Iron Man 2 to set up a ton of characters, plotlines and themes that would be explored not just in that movie, but in phases to come. If you watch the film now, you can see how much of a pivotal film it was. You could compare it to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which JK Rowling used heavily to set up plot points that would resonate throughout the rest of her epic and, when reread, those books are much more powerful in retrospect.
That being said, my favorite scene in Iron Man 2 is the pure Marvel porn that is Tony and Rhodey versus Whiplash and his drones. You have the trademark banter, You have an amazing fight that shows everything those two sets of armor can do at that point. I giggled like a little kid through the whole thing.
I have passes tomorrow to see Age of Ultron and we’ll see what we see. I compared it to Harry Potter, because this is a franchise unlike any other. It’s a cinematic comic book with each movie an issue in a giant overarching story. Some chapters may stand out more than others, but in any huge story there are going to have to be chapters where you lay a lot of groundwork. Let’s not forget, also, that after Ant-Man, we have Captain America: Civil War, which will feature most of the characters in Age of Ultron AND MORE, so we’re closing out Phase 2 and also beginning what will be a very dark Phase 3 before the climactic battle that will be Avengers: Infinity War.