Ever since the box office success of The Avengers in 2012, its sequel has been one of the most anticipated movies of all-time. How do you top the third highest grossing movie of all-time? Logic suggests that The Avengers sequel film has to move Titanic and Avatar out of the way to claim the #1 or #2 spots. With expectations like that, can anticipation be too high for The Avengers: Age of Ultron?
The first Avengers was not only a big box office hit, but it was also a pop culture phenomenon and critical darling. At the time of its release in 2012, Marvel Studios earned the respect of general audiences and other movie studios that plan to copy their success. The Avengers was the first of its kind and showed that audiences could follow larger storylines with characters appearing in multiple movies - in Marvel's case five movies leading up to The Avengers. It's success was certainly a surprise for anyone who thought that Marvel's plan to bring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Incredible Hulk together for one movie would be impossible. The way it ended perfectly put its superheroes on different paths, while promising that they would one day return, if the Earth needed their help.
The start of Phase Two with Iron Man 3 proved that Marvel's success wasn't a fluke, as they built closer and closer to the Avengers sequel. Even a one-off movies like Guardians of the Galaxy was greeted with box office success. Back in 2012, Joss Whedon announced the sequel's subtitle - Age of Ultron - and villain. While The Avengers hinted to the Mad Titan Thanos being the big bad in its sequel, its subtitle assured that Ultron, the artificial intelligent evil robot, would be its nearly-indestructible villain.
Now practically every movie in Phase Two (except Guardians of the Galaxy) built towards Age of Ultron. It seems that people even watched Thor: The Dark World, not to just watch a new adventure featuring the god of Thunder, but rather to see where the overall story with The Avengers film franchise was headed - it also seems that's part of Marvel's success.
Iron Man 3 was a billion dollar movie because it was, ostensibly, a sequel to The Avengers, as the first movie in Phase Two. Anticipation for Age of Ultron is at an all-time high eight months before its release. Just wait until trailers and TV spots start rolling out. Hype for Age of Ultron will be even bigger and higher.
But what's the result, can Age of Ultron live up to the hype and anticipation? At the moment, it's hard to tell. I was lucky enough to watch the teaser Marvel showcased at San Diego Comic Con this year and let me tell you, Age of Ultron looked great! I wasn't expecting much from the Avengers sequel to begin with, but after watching footage from the movie, I find myself looking more and more forward to its release. Even in a brief two-minute look at Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon was able to convey humor and action in the sequel film.
The stakes are higher and audiences are definitely expecting more from Marvel with Age of Ultron, but I'm willing to give the comic book movie studio the benefit of the doubt with all the good faith it has earned over the last few years. While Star Wars: Episode VII will open in December 2015, it seems that Age of Ultron might be the more anticipated movie of the year. Episode VII just has to be good after the disappointment of the prequels, Age of Ultron has to top the first Avengers movie. Now that seems like a harder feat to pull off. I mean, come on, Revenge of the Sith was a low bar. Can The Avengers: Age of Ultron live up to the hype? We'll certainly find out on May 1st.