Are the Avengers still invincible?

Marvel's dream team returns to movie screens in Europe this Wednesday, and in the States on May 1, with "Age of Ultron," the sequel to 2012's "The Avengers." But will the public flock to theaters as it did for the record-breaking first installment, or has it become jaded by the wave of superhero films flooding the multiplexes these last few years?

In the spring of 2012, after two "Iron Man" films, "The Incredible Hulk" and the first "Thor" and "Captain America" offerings, Marvel united them all for one film, directed by Joss Whedon. The result was colossal, with $1.5 billion in worldwide receipts. "The Avengers" became the most successful superhero movie of all time, and third on the overall list behind two James Cameron flicks, "Avatar" and "Titanic".

It will be difficult for "Age of Ultron" to duplicate such a feat at the world box office. With the exception of "Iron Man 3", no other Marvel film has managed to surpass the coveted billion dollar milestone, but there are a few indications that this sequel could open strong. Last October, the movie's first trailer was viewed by a record 50.6 million people on YouTube in the first week alone.

Television spin-offs

Though the arrival of new superheroes (Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen respectively) alongside Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner could provide renewed interest, is the superhero wave still such a hot commodity?

Since 2012, characters with special powers are everywhere. The success of "The Avengers" even prompted Marvel to extend its empire to the small screen. Since Fall 2013, ABC has been airing the spinoff "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.". A few of the characters from the film franchise even had guest spots, including Samuel L. Jackson, aka Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill) and Hayley Atwell. Atwell, who played Peggy Carter, even got her own show in January, also on ABC. Statistics indicate however that viewers aren't tuning in to these spin-offs anymore and that they could soon disappear from the small screen.

This second "Avengers" installment will, in any case, enrich the Marvel mythology and be essential to what happens next. The film will introduce us to the divergences between Captain America and Iron Man, the theme of the third Captain America film, "Civil War", scheduled for May 2016. It will also introduce Ulysses Klaw, played by Andy Serkis, future villain in "Black Panther", scheduled for November 2017.


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