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It’s hard to think of an Avengers movie being like a neglected stepchild, but that’s what some fans say has happened to the second movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron from 2015. Fans argue the movie doesn’t deserve the “hate” it gets and is actually underrated. 

A closer look at history shows that “hate” may be a bit of an exaggeration. While some argue that it’s better than people remember, it pales in comparison to other Avengers movies because it’s not the milestone other movies were. It has middle-kid syndrome: loved but overlooked. 

‘Age of Ultron:’ How did it stack up at the time?

Mark Ruffalo in Avengers Age of Ultron
Mark Ruffalo in Avengers: Age of Ultron | Source: Marvel Studios

Anticipation reached sky-high levels when the Age of Ultron came out because The Avengers from 2011 had been such a massive success. The 2011 movie made $1.5  billion at the worldwide box office, according to The Numbers, making it the first member of the MCU billion-dollar club. By contrast, the second most successful movie up to that point had been Iron Man 2, with $621 million worldwide. 

The Avengers had also been the first movie to score better than 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes since the original Iron Man. It was the first big mainstream movie to feature multiple A-list heroes on such a grand scale — unless you count the X-Men movies — and the general consensus is Marvel began to hit its stride here after a somewhat patchy Phase 1. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron could only pale in comparison. Its opening weekend was $191 million, versus the prior movie’s $207 million. It was hardly any kind of failure financially, making $1.4 billion at the worldwide box office, but it was still a step-down.

The Rotten Tomatoes score was 75 percent, which is the low end of a “certified fresh” rating. The critical consensus said “Exuberant and eye-popping, Avengers: Age of Ultron serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel, reuniting its predecessor’s unwieldy cast with a few new additions and a worthy foe.”

Fans argue ‘Age of Ultron’ is better than its reputation

Five years later, Marvel fans on Reddit are reevaluating the movie, realizing that it laid a lot of groundwork that would become important later, not the least of which was the introduction of Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch.

A topic-starter said: “While I love the first Avengers movie, the film spends a lot of time getting the team together, reintroducing everybody’s storylines, a lot of time with shield, etc. In AoU, you have a lot more of the team just being together and having fun … (it feels_  like the first REAL Avengers film that makes the team official from here on out.”

Many fans concurred, with one saying, “I understand that AoU had a lot of flaws, especially because of its troubled production, but I also personally prefer it over the first Avengers movie.”

Another said, “I don’t know if I necessarily like it better but AoU definitely has some of the best interactions in the team. It does a great job setting the characters up for the rest of the franchise.”

Still, other fans argued that it was all relative and that people don’t “hate” the second movie – it’s just not as good as the first. One said, “It’s a little bit crammed and setup-y, and Thor was shoved carelessly to the side, but apart from those reasonably minor gripes the film is thoroughly enjoyable and has big implications for the MCU.”

Marvel is a victim of its own success

As discussed in the thread, Ultron may seem like it gets “hate” but perspective indicates it actually doesn’t. Marvel has become so phenomenally successful, that their lesser lights may seem worse than they really are.  After mega-successes like Black Panther and movies doing better than expected like Ant-Man, any movie that’s “just’ a hit gets a bit lost in the shuffle. 

At the same time, Ultron did lay some important groundwork, even in subtle ways. At the time, in the Mjolnir-lifting scene, not everyone noticed that Captain America budged it a smidge, although he pretended to struggle with it. That paid off like gangbusters later in Endgame, when Cap’s use of the hammer got some of the loudest cheers in that three-hour movie. For that alone, Ultron merits a re-watch.