“Avengers: Age of Ultron” and Our Collective Superhero Fatigue

When will it all end?

As I write this, it has been confirmed that Avengers: Age of Ultron made less in its opening weekend box office ($187.7 million) than the first movie, The Avengers ($207.4 million).

That’s still a ton of money, enough for the second-best opening over, and there are already conspiracy theories as to why the highly anticipated sequel made less than the original (boxing, anyone?), but I think we all know why the Avengers and Ultron failed to deliver.

We are slowly getting tired of superheroes.

I mean, to be honest, I was restless even before the movie began. The previews showed trailers for the loud and amusing Ant-Man and the loud and gritty Fantastic Four and I was done. While Age of Ultron was fun, often funny, and action-packed like an action film should be, it was predictable and too funny too often.

Director Joss Whedon has stated that he wanted to show collateral damage responsibly – basically show its horrific nature, unlike a movie like Man of Steel – and he did his job. But he also had every Avenger crack a one-liner every fifteen minutes, even during the fight scenes.

It was so relentless, I’m actually looking forward to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which looks very dark and very serious. On the other hand, I’m not looking forward to any more superhero movies in the near future… which is fine because Batman and Superman don’t fight until next March.

People are starting to realize, one Marvel movie at a time, that they don’t need to see every single one to figure out what’s going to happen in the ones where the ensemble cast gets together and saves the planet again.

Each movie follows a very specific formula and while the formula is competent, it is also inherently predictable. There will never be a Marvel movie where a good superhero gets his/her own movie and dies. Iron Man will never die unexpectedly and neither will anybody else of any importance.

New heroes, like Ant-Man, certainly won’t die in their first feature films, and the story in every movie is the same: person becomes exceptional in some way, another person or group is evil, good person wins over evil, cue end credits and “secret” scene at the end.

The formula has become so predictable, in fact, that the newer Marvel movies don’t wait until the very end of the credits to show their infamous sneak peaks at what will happen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s near future. Now, they go through the important credits and then show the sneak peak.

Even the big movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron are becoming increasingly unimportant in the larger picture. Many people have been saying that Age of Ultron was worth watching for the surprising and borderline unfathomable sexual tension between the Hulk and Black Widow (no, really), and for James Spader’s great vocal performance as Ultron. Aside from that? Well…

Visual effects are always going to be impressive on some level, and there were some truly phenomenal ones here, like a shot in the opening scene where our heroes leap off a snow bank at the same time and briefly hang in the air in slow motion.

But even then, it’s nothing more than a collective shrug. Marvel is running out of ways to impress the audience, but the beings in charge probably aren’t worrying about it too much. Despite a decrease in the domestic box office, Age of Ultron has already scored over $400 million overseas.

Just remember this: every dog has its day, and this massive superhero universe started in 2008 with Iron Man. That’s seven years ago. Eventually, this empire will crumble, for better or for worse.

2 thoughts on ““Avengers: Age of Ultron” and Our Collective Superhero Fatigue

  1. Show collateral damage responsibly? We never see a single civilian die in the movie, I think “ignoring collateral damage altogether” is a better way of putting it. I don’t need to see egregious displays of violence against innocents, but how are supposed to take Ultron – a robot supposedly bent on the extinction of the human race – seriously when he’s incapable of killing even a single person?

    • Actually we do see a lady fall off a bridge and bounce off a ledge, although we don’t see her explicitly fall and die. Just implied.

      And you have to admit it was more responsible than “Man of Steel,” which showed a very macroscopic point of view, as in the damage was shown from a distance. Maybe it’s because Superman and Zod were flying around and getting tangled up in each other’s arms, but the action in “Age of Ultron” was definitely on a closer, more personal level.

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