Saturday, May 2, 2015

TLDR: Avengers 2 is Great

Star Wars showed the world that movies were able to depict epic fantasy in ways never before imagined. Spider Man (2002) proved that technology had advanced enough that making a good super-hero movie was possible, given good enough writing. The concurrent Lord of the Rings trilogy (ending in 2003) showed that big-budget spectacle genre franchises actually could happen as movies. Also around that time the Harry Potter series kicked off (2001-2011) kicked off, showing that if the writing, acting, special effects, and the magic bit of luck are all there, the audiences will follow a huge multi-year franchise.

Yes, historically, the table was all set for the grand Marvel cinematic universe. But even then, it really should not have worked. A series of movies about B-level characters from power fantasies for kids set in a bunch of disparate genres, from the existential sci-fi horror of The Hulk, to the WWII era war stories of Cpt. America, to the Bourne-esque spy-vs-spy of Shield agents, sounds like a terrible idea. And yet, somehow, The Avengers connected in a big way with people. Personally, I think it was on the strength of the character stories, not on the action (though good) and certainly not relying on nerd nostalgia (though the is plenty of payoff for that).

So after such a great first time out, I went into Avengers 2 with hopes that maybe it would be as good as the first one, but some doubts too. I am happy to report that for my money Avengers 2 was better than Avengers. Perhaps better even than Guardians of the Galaxy, if only because it was more grounded, more serious, and more connected to the universe being built by Marvel. At to have an even larger ensemble than the first, it still managed to get in a bunch of character moments between the action beats. And that, of course, is why it still works so well.

I guess this means I'm in for Ant Man. As nutty as that sounds. And I still ponder one of my favorite speculations: as we now hear the tales of Heracles, Gilgamesh, Shahrazad, Moses, and indeed Thor, in another thousand years, who will the legendary gods and heros of myth be?

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