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The Avengers Review

Its taken me a little while, but I had every intention of reviewing The Avengers.  As I said on the podcast, this is the movie I’ve been waiting for since I first started reading comic book and it really didn’t disappoint!  I’ll to not got into spoilers right away, but they are coming.  And honestly, you really should you seen this movie, so hopefully I won’t be spoiling anyone!

There was tons of hype heading in to this movie and I think this is something that was expected.  After all, Marvel was doing what many people thought to be impossible and assembling a team of superheroes onscreen in a live action movie.  I had thought that Joss Whedon was the perfect choice to direct this movie.  Throughout all of his past TV series he has proven that he can handle a large ensemble cast and still build up each character individually.

I waited until Saturday to see the movie, and the theater was still packed.  Even in my 2D showing there was a huge crowd.  It seemed the 3D was just as crowded as well as there were tons of people exiting when I came in.  Sadly, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones that received a trailer for both The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises.  In fact I got neither of those trailers.  However, that didn’t matter as the main attraction, the movie, was incredible.  The 143 minutes just flew by and at the end the first thing I thought was, ‘I want to see this again!’

The scary thing is, that Whedon has said in earlier interviews that he ended up cutting a bunch of material from the movie to make it flow better.  Some reports say there is as much as 40 minutes of content that ended up on the cutting room floor!  In that case, I can’t wait for the Director’s Cut of The Avengers.  One of the scenes that Whedon spoke of was Cap going to go meet with modern-day Peggy Carter in part to see her with his own eyes and explain what happened to him.  This wasn’t included in the movie and I can see why as it wouldn’t fit very well.  However, the scene would be emotionally poignant and help to beef up Steve’s character some more.  I can’t wait to see this deleted scene in the future.

Just a heads up everyone, from this point on there will be spoilers and a discussion on the plot of the movie.  Read at your own risk!

There were so many things I liked about this movie and I really only had one minor quibble.  That surprised me as I can generally find something to complain about in most comic movies.  Some of the things I bring up here might sound familiar and if you’ve listened to the All Things Good And Nerdy podcast that’s why.  I was lucky enough to geek out about this movie with 3 other co-hosts.  To be fair, I am a big Iron Man fan so I probably focus on him a little too much.

Things I Liked:

  1. Black Widow Gets to be a Badass - In Iron Man 2 Black Widow served as little more than eye candy.  Luckily, Joss Whedon knows how to write strong female characters, just look at his work on Buffy, Angel, or Dollhouse.  In The Avengers Widow has a chance to proves what a good asset she is.  The opening scene with Black Widow was both funny and badass as Widow is tied up and being interrogated when SHIELD calls to recall her.  The fight and the humor within just made for a great moment.  And then Black Widow basically played Loki like a violin later in the movie where she just manipulates him into revealing his purpose on the SHIELD Hellicarrier.  It was a great moment that showed off the manipulative background of a spy.
  2. Mark Ruffalo is Bruce Banner – I loved the way Ruffalo portrayed Bruce Banner as the smart quiet man in control of the beast inside.  Ruffalo’s Banner is easily the best in the Marvel movies as gives him a quiet strength.  I have to say I loved the chemistry between Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. as well.  The two played off each other extremely well.  The most powerful scene between the two was in the lab as Tony said he understood Banner.  Both of them received their ‘gifts’ through a tragedy.  In Stark’s case one of his weapons nearly killing him and for Banner his experiment going haywire.  Both Stark and Banner are making the best of a bad situation and trying to help others.  Meanwhile the other heroes chose to use their natural or non tragically acquired gifts.
  3. Continuity Moments - It was a very simple piece but Coulson informing Thor of Dr. Jane Foster’s status was a good moment to remind everyone why Thor is so attached to the Earth and to bring back references to previous films.  Including Pepper Potts in the movie in a couple short scenes also reminded viewers that we are in one big Marvel Universe.  And it was good to see how Tony’s relationship with her had improved.
  4. Killing Coulson – I had a feeling that Whedon would kill of a popular character but I can see why it was done.   Coulson’s sacrifice is the motivation all of the heroes needed to set aside their differences and band together.  The moment where Nick Fury plays on Coulson’s death to motivate the team is a perfect portrayal of Nick Fury.  He wants so hard to achieve his mission that he will manipulate or lie to make it happen.  Lying and saying Coulson had the Captain America trading cards in his pocket upon his death due to his belief in the heroes was just the tool to bring everyone together.  Was it right to play on everyone’s emotions?  No, but it was necessary to save to world and I doubt Coulson would have objected.  I hope this is a death that sticks, if they find some cheap way to bring Coulson back it would cheapen his death a great deal.
  5. Iron Man Armor Removal  - The platform on Stark Tower that is used to remove the Iron Man armor just makes the process look so cool.  It’s really impressive to see the evolution of this process over the span of the Marvel movies.  Originally, getting into or out of the armor was time-consuming and awkward but Stark has continued to refine it in each movie.
  6. Iron Man Mark VII – This armor was just cool.  When Tony was putting on the wristbands I was trying to figure out just how they would come into play.  Seeing Stark get thrown out a window and a suit of Iron Man armor deploy around him was just like something out of the comics.
  7. Quips and Humor – In typical Whedon fashion the movie is full of quick one-liners and puns thrown in the midst of a battle or dramatic moment.  This never takes away from the movie and leads to fun moments.  There were times in the theater where people were laughing so hard I missed bits of dialogue.  I think Thor had one of the best quips during a discussion about Loki where he tried to defend him only to learn Loki had killed 80 people in two days.  His response immediately thereafter of ‘he’s adopted’ had the theater rolling.
  8. Sibling Rivalry – It was interesting to see Thor try so hard to redeem his brother in the beginning of the movie.  In his own movie Thor had learned humility and how to set his pride aside.  It was very cool to see him try to pass that on to this brother.  Even at the end Thor tries to save his brother only to get stabbed in the gut.  Seeing no choice he has to fight and the realization of that on his face is powerful.
  9. Tony the Hero – In the earlier parts of the movie Tony and Cap had butted heads.  Cap pointed out that Tony wasn’t willing to do the hard things as a hero and that he was in fact not a soldier.  This fact, not being a soldier, is something Stark readily agreed to.  However, when faced with NYC getting nuked or sacrificing himself Tony didn’t bat an eye.  And how heartbreaking was it to see Tony trying to call Pepper and say goodbye and she doesn’t even see her phone ringing?
  10. Hulk is the Man – To steal a phrase here, Hulk does more hulking in Avengers than he ever did in his own movies.  There were so many great Hulk moments throughout the film.  There were two in particular that stand out to me.  One is Hulk grabbing a fallen Iron Man out of the sky and bringing the fallen Avenger to the ground.  The other is his confrontation with Loki, where Loki continues one of his longer evil rants and Hulk just grabs him by the ankle and throws him around like a ragdoll.  What made that moment perfect was Hulk muttering ‘puny god’ and walking off.  That was something that felts so much like the comics to me.
  11. Thanos! – This was an awesome setup for the future Marvel movies.  I’m guessing we will see the Infinity Gauntlet come into play as it was already seen in Odin’s vault in Thor.

Minor Quibbles:

  1. Cap’s Costume – I think they really gave Cap a near perfect costume in his movie.  I understand why they changed the costume, mostly to modernize it, but it would have been cool to make it look a little closer to his WW II uniform.
  2. Thor’s Return To Earth – With the destruction of the Bifrost Bridge in the Thor, many were left wondering how the God of Thunder would return to Earth.  To me, just saying as an aside that ‘Odin did it’ seemed a little bit like a cop-out.  My guess is that the explanation for Thor’s return is in one of the deleted scenes.

Overall, I loved this movie and I think it opened up a lot of possibilities for future Marvel films.  If I had to give it a score I’m thinking a 9.5 out of 10.  There were a couple of things I was left curious about that I’m hoping are in the deleted scenes.  I’m anticipating that the Director’s Cut of this movie will make this a 10 out of 10!

It is pretty interesting to note that Mark Ruffalo has already been signed to appear in 6 Marvel movies.  I would love to see him have a cameo in Iron Man 3 if only to continue building upon the friendship Stark and Banner seemed to develop in The Avengers.  In fact I think the Internet agrees with me based on one of the newest memes floating around.

Time for Science!

Time for Science!

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Fanboy Analysis: Avengers vs X-Men Round 2

Yesterday we brought you the first round of teasers from the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men event from Marvel.  Along with all of those teaser images I presented my ‘expert’ fanboy analysis on who would win each match up.  Now I have three more matchups to give my analysis on.  But first a quick reminder, the current standings based on my analysis have the Avengers with a slim lead.

Avengers: 3

X-Men: 2

The first match-up for today is rematch from long ago.  This time we are pitting Ms. Marvel against the woman who stole her powers and memories, Rogue.  Rogue has worked to gain a better handle on her powers but since her first encounter with Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers has just become more powerful.  I think the increase in power and the anger over having her past stripped away give Ms. Marvel the edge in this match-up.  The only way Rogue pulls this off is if she makes skin contact with Ms. Marvel something that I’m sure Ms. Marvel will actively avoid.

Avengers: 4

X-Men: 2

The second match-up pits Luke Cage against Beast.  Beast is a longtime Avenger and in recent years Luke Cage has become a mainstay of Bendis’ Avengers.  Cage is near invincible and has enhanced strength.  Meanwhile Beast has a genius level intellect in addition to supreme agility and strength.  In a physical contest Luke Cage would probably come out on top.  However, I imagine Beast will use his mind to outwit Luke Cage in the end.  The win goes to Beast.

Avengers: 4

X-Men: 3

The final match-up sees Emma Frost, the White Queen, going toe-to-toe with the Incredible Hulk.  Hulk most definitely has the edge when it comes to pure strength.  However, how well would Emma’s telepathy work against Hulk?  Would she be able to sooth the savage beast?  Its possible, but the problem is in this picture Emma is in diamond form and as such cannot use her telepathy.  In a one-on-one fight where it is difficult to use telepathy I say Hulk smashes the White Queen.

Avengers: 5

X-Men: 3

So after day two of this individual match-ups the Avengers have extended their lead to be winning by two.  Will this trend continue?  Probably not, but it will be fun to see how these match-ups progress.  As more match-ups come up I will continue to provide my fanboy analysis.

New Avengers Movie Posters

Marvel has released some new banner posters for The Avengers.  There’s nothing new here, but the posters do look cool.  One thing to note, Iron Man is wearing the Mark VI armor as it features the triangular arc reactor.  A lot of the early promo art depicted the round arc reactor so its good to see that the movie shots reflect the current state of the Iron Man armor.

One final thing, is it just me or does Bruce Banner remind anyone else of a younger looking Admiral Adama from Battlestar Galactica?

Avengers Assembled – More Avengers Promo Art

Consider there have only been about 45 seconds of Avengers footage released to the public we sure are getting a lot of looks at the superhero team.  Most of this can be attributed to the large amount of promo art that has been flooding the internet.

This first picture is of the superhero team together and presumably fighting in an urban environment.  This would seem to hint at the fact the Avengers will be fighting in the city, and that should allow for some pretty awesome fight scenes.  To be honest, this artwork looks like something that would be used as the double cover for a comic.  I’m guessing we might see this cover art on one of the tie-in books released around the same time as the movie.

The Avengers Footage from D23

Marvel Studios was a big player in Disney’s D23 Expo that was held over the weekend.  In fact there was whole section of the Expo dedicated to just The Avengers, with some of the cast and crew on hand.  But what is probably the coolest is that Marvel took the opportunity to debut 5 minutes of footage from the film despite the fact that filming has not even been completed.

As you might remember I recently made a pledge to go spoiler free on both The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.  To explain why I am covering this news let me explain myself.  Simply, I am not consider this footage spoiler material.  This is footage that Marvel Studios released to the public at large, much like an extended trailer.  There is a big difference between the leaked scripts, set photos, and personal accounts from extras.  All of those items give away facts the studios are not comfortable with sharing.  Since Marvel Studios released this footage, albeit to a small Disney controlled crowd, I am considering it fair game.  As a concession to those who don’t even want the possible spoilers from this video I will put the recaps after the jump.  Click at your own peril! Read more of this post

Avengers Assembled

Say what you want about Marvel, but they sure know how to promote their movies and get fans excited.  This week at Comic Con Marvel released individual posters of each Avenger, and when placed together they make one large banner.  The Hulk was the last Avenger to appear in this format, but he completes a pretty awesome banner that the folks at Super Hero Hype have been kind of enough to piece together.  It blows up so click on it for a full screen look.

Here’s a few of the things I’ve noticed about the Avengers in this new poster.

  1. Iron Man has gone back to the round arc reactor.  We know that The Avengers takes place after Iron Man 2 so what causes Tony to go back to the old tech that was gradually killing him?  And strangely enough in the teaser trailer it looked like he still had the triangular reactor.  So when does the switch take place?
  2. Black Widow has changed her look some.  Now the costume looks to be leather-like and she is sporting shorter hair.  Not a major change, but a change nonetheless.
  3. The Hulk looks old school.  By that I mean he has the exaggerated facial features and large brow that was distinctive in early comics.  It looks good but its a little jarring to have Hulk look different in each movie he’s appeared in.  Hopefully they are able to stick to this look.
  4. Cap’s new costume is pretty streamlined.  You can see the difference between the World War II era and modern era costumes.  The new costume and streamlined and armored looking.  The wings on the helmet look a little odd though.
  5. Thor’s costume hasn’t changed in the artwork.  However, in the teaser trailer he is sporting the short sleeves without the chainmail.
  6. Hawkeye’s costume is straight out of the Ultimates comics.  If you look at the costumes side-by-side they are the same aside from the sunglasses worn in the comics.  I like this look and it translates to the big screen much better than the traditional 616-style costume.
  7. As for Nick Fury, he’s still pretty badass but that might be because he’s modeled after and played by Samuel L. Jackson.  The really cool thing to see is the SHIELD Helicarrier.  It looks awesome, and its safe to bet that we will be seeing it in the Avengers.
Kudos to Marvel for putting together this awesome artwork.  Between the art and the teaser at the end of the Captain America movie this has been a big week for news on the Avengers.  Only a year away now!

Hulk Smash Avengers

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has been talking about Marvel’s slate of superhero movies a lot lately.  In a recent interview with SFX Magazine he even set the stage for a possible sequel to The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton.  However, he didn’t say if Norton would be starring in The Avengers movie slated for 2012.

He had a very interesting statement about how The Avengers is currently shaping up:

It’s fun now, and we’re introducing some new characters in ['Iron Man 2'], but it’s not about just cramming in lots of new people; that’s sort of the cardinal sin of the sequel – adding in too many characters. This is totally Tony Stark’s story. And that’s gonna weave into Thor’s story, and Steve Rogers’ story, and it’s already ingrained with Nick Fury’s story and an organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D.

My only concern is that when we launch a franchise–whichever character’s franchise that may be–it should stand on its own two feet… So by the time ‘The Avengers’ comes in 2012, it’s not just a team superhero movie with a bunch of characters with powers. It’s three people – four including the Hulk; five including Nick Fury – who you’ve seen before in other movies, coming together for the very first time.

To me that strongly hints that Hulk will be showing up in the movie.  I for one am excited by this news.  The question is, will Hulk be a good guy or a bad guy.  The Tony Stark cameo in The Incredible Hulk seems to indicate that the Avengers might be rounding up Hulk.  Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

SDCC: Planet Hulk Trailer

The new trailer for the animated Planet Hulk debuted at the San Diego Comic Con during the Marvel Animation Panel.  The movie is based on Greg Pak’s Planet Hulk story collected in the Incredible Hulk issues 92-105.

Planet Hulk was a good story and can be summarized as:

In the 2006 crossover storyline Planet Hulk by writer Greg Pak, a secret group of superhero leaders, the Illuminati, consider the Hulk an unacceptable potential risk to Earth, and rocket him into space to live a peaceful existence on a planet uninhabited by intelligent life. After a trajectory malfunction, the Hulk crashes on the violent planet Sakaar. Weakened by his journey, he is captured and eventually becomes a gladiator who scars the face of Sakaar’s tyrannical emperor.

The Hulk becomes a rebel leader and later usurps Sakaar’s throne through combat with the red king and his armies. After Hulk’s rise to emperor, the vessel used to send Hulk to Sakaar explodes, killing millions in Sakaar’s capital, including his pregnant queen, Caiera, and the damage to the tectonic plates nearly destroys the planet.

The movie hits stores in Blu-ray and DVD sometime in February 2010.  But the real important question is, will this lead to a follow up movie based on the World War Hulk mini-series?  I surely hope so!  Until then check out the trailer below.

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