Avengers: Age of Ultron dominates the world

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3 out of 4 stars

How do you make what could be the highest-grossing movie of all time?

If you’re Marvel, you spend $250 million to bring back all of the Avengers, spare no expense in computer effects to turn them into the greatest comic book superheroes ever, throw in more explosions than the Fourth of July and hopefully, sit back and hope you make movie history with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

James Spader brings the bad guy to life in Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Marvel)
James Spader’s voice brings the bad guy to life in Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Marvel)

At this point, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye are so popular they could be carved into their own Mount Rushmore, as the nine movies starring at least one of them have collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion in the U.S. theaters alone.

As strong as they are individually, their greatest power has been getting people to descend on theaters as if under the spell of the Scarlet Witch, who of course is in the sequel to the 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers film that grossed $1.516.8 billion worldwide.

But for Avengers: Age of Ultron, the magic number is $2.788 billion, which is what 2009’s Avatar grossed worldwide, the highest of all time, ahead of 1997’s Titanic $2.186.8 billion and third-place Marvel’s The Avengers.

The list, however, could be changing soon. Avengers: Age of Ultron opened in the U.S. on Thursday night on 4,247 theaters, including at 2,761 3D venues, 364 with be Imax screens and 400 with premium large-format screens. The movie opened internationally last weekend and took home $210 million from 44 territories, which defeated the first Avengers by 44%, according to Variety.

Of course Scarlett Johansson is back as Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Marvel)
Of course Scarlett Johansson is back as Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Marvel)

One number to pay close attention to in the U.S is $207.4 million, which is the record Marvel’s The Avengers grossed in its opening weekend en route to earning $623.4 million domestically with another $895.2 million generated internationally.

Is Avengers: Age of Ultron worth the price of admission? Yes and no. It’s a good movie, but not as good as its predecessor. Director Joss Whedon returns, as do Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow). Their ability to pull off witty dialogue and chemistry that were such vital pieces of the first film reappear in the sequel, giving viewers a welcome break from the a barrage of fight scenes and explosions throughout the two hour, 22-minute film.

But it’s the differences from the first film that give Avengers: Age of Ultron its identity. James Spader’s voice brings the evil Ultron to life as it tries to destroy everything and everyone on the planet. Why? Because it’s a badass and he can. The Avengers are joined by lightning-fast Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and his mind-controlling sister, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), which makes the screen cluttered at times, as if characters are fighting each other for face time.

You can't have the Avengers without Captain America and Thor. (Marvel)
You can’t have the Avengers without Captain America and Thor. (Marvel)

The story moves as quickly as the comic book. The movie opens with the Avengers’ kicking butt as they raid a Hydra stronghold in some European country called Sokovia to steal Loki’s all-powerful scepter. The plot really takes off upon the heroes’ return home, where Tony Stark (Downey when he’s not in the Iron Man suit) thinks he can prove he’s smarter than everyone else by secretly creating an artificial intelligence warrior to ensure worldwide safety.

Of course, this backfires. Stark creates Ultron and the next thing you know, it’s one fight and one explosion after another as the Avengers try to save themselves — and the world. So basically, the Avengers are trying to avenge’s Stark’s stupidity.

In the end, Avengers: Age of Ultron is, at best, a spectacle, which is good or bad, depending on your point of view.

If you watched the first one, you’ll enjoy the sequel.

If you missed the first one, there’s no need to rush to the theater — you’ll have plenty of time to watch it on TV before the third Avengers hits the screen in 2018, with the final installment coming in 2019.

Either way, the Avengers won’t be away for long.

Take that to the bank.