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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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Empire Magazine Covers The Avengers

Empire Magazine has gotten some big scoops on upcoming superhero movies like The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers.  They continue this trend by getting exclusive magazine covers for the upcoming Marvel movie The Avengers.  Probably one of the coolest is the ‘subscriber only’ cover featuring a chunk of the ensemble cast in costume.  It looks pretty cool to see a collection of The Avengers in one place.

It seems that in this cover art that Tony Stark is wearing an older version of the Iron Man armor as he once again has the round arc reactor in place.  At the end of Iron Man 2 Stark had created a new arc reactor that was triangular in shape.  I noted this irregularity in some of the earlier artwork for the Avengers and didn’t understand why Stark would be using old armor in the Avengers.  Turns out the folks at Empire Magazine can shed some light on that.

Now that sort of makes sense that Tony Stark would make use of multiple suits or armor in the movie and explains why a good deal of the promo artwork features the round arc reactor.  My theory is that something happens to critically damage the current Iron Man armor.  As such, Tony will be forced to use the older Iron Man armor and the arc reactor that will slowly kill him.

Empire also released covers featuring each individual character.  These are featured in the gallery below.  They seem to be the same character pictures just with different backgrounds.  Is it time for this movie to come out yet? I’m really ready for the Avengers on the big screen.

Fanboy Analysis: Avengers vs X-Men Battles

Marvel has been putting out tons of preview pages for the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men tie-in books.  All of these one-on-one battles intrigue the fanboy within so I can’t help but be fascinated by the matchups.

There are four new matchups that have been revealed in addition to the Magneto vs. Iron Man battle that was revealed earlier this week.  The four match-ups are shown below with my opinions as to who would win the battle.  Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments though.  I’m always up for a spirited comic book debate.

The first match-up we’ll cover is Black Widow vs. Psylocke.  Both are highly trained martial artists and have notoriously been depicted as being able to stand toe to toe with anyone in physical combat.  From my perspective Black Widow probably has the slight edge in martial arts but Psylocke takes the fight with her mutant powers.

Avengers: 0

X-Men: 1

Second up we have the God of Thunder, Thor, against the Queen of Wakanda, Storm.  Now this is an interesting match-up just because of the parallels of both combatants being able to use thunder and lightning as weapons.  But how does a mutant beat a god?  I just don’t see Storm pulling out the win against Thor.  Thor can take just about anything Storm throws at him and his still has his hammer which can do tons of damage.  Thor gets the win here.

Avengers: 1

X-Men: 1

Next we have Spider-Man taking on his amazing friend Iceman.  I like this pairing if only for the play on the 80s cartoon.  Just add Firestorm and it will be a reunion.  Iceman is an Omega level mutant once of the most powerful of the X-Men.  Peter Parker is finally getting his due as one of the smartest minds of the Marvel Universe.  His close relationship with the Future Foundation/Fantastic Four allows him to exercise his mind and encourages him to think first and then act.  Both combatants have a history and familiarity with each other.  Spidey’s big brain saves him in the end as he comes up with a good plan or technology to defeat Iceman.

Avengers: 2

X-Men: 1

The final battle puts the leaders of both teams against each other.  Captain America takes on Cyclops in what I think will be a fun read.  Cap is the longtime leader of the Avengers and is a historical icon.  Cyclops is the longtime leader of the X-Men and now the leader of Utopia and a vast majority of the remnants of mutantkind.  Both men are well established leaders and strategists so I think this battle comes down to one thing… experience.  Cap has been fighting since World War II long before Cyclops was even born.  His experience gives him the edge here and he exploits Cyclops’ obvious weakness, his visor.  Cap’s shield can take anything Cyke throws at it… but one shot from Cap’s shield to the visor and Cyclops is down for the count.  Cap takes this fight.

Avengers: 3

X-Men: 1

I spoke about the match-up between Iron Man and Magneto last week but I didn’t give a prediction as to who the winner would be.  Its a toss-up between Reed Richards and Tony Stark in regards to who the smartest man in the Marvel Universe is.  Tony’s powers all stem from his creations and the Iron Man armor is a phenomenal piece of tech.  Magneto has reformed from his terrorist ways and has become a solid member of the X-Men.  But he’s still the master of magnetism and Tony Stark wears a metal suit.  That fact alone makes me lean towards Magneto as the winner.  Tony might come up with a way to make his suit non-magnetic but there are still lots of other things around that Magneto can control to combat Shellhead.   Also factor in the fact Tony is still recovering from falling of the wagon and I think in the end Magneto comes out victorious.

Avengers: 3

X-Men: 2

With a current score of 3-2 nobody is running away with the fight and the Avengers keeps a slim lead.  As more of these match-ups come out I will continue giving my fanboy analysis.  In the end I think the Avengers will just barely eke out the win… but I could be wrong.  If you disagree with my predictions let me know and lets start a debate on this.  One of the best parts about being a comic fan is arguing over who would  beat who in a fight.

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?

The Avengers Trailer is Out

For your viewing pleasure, I bring you the official trailer for The Avengers.  Enjoy!

First Look at The Avengers

Entertainment Weekly is running a big spread on The Avengers this week.  This includes interviews with the cast and some pictures from on set.  I haven’t gotten ahold of this issue of EW yet but I have looked at some of the pictures online.  This does not break my promise of going spoiler free for The Avengers as these are pictures officially released by Marvel.

I have to admit these first looks give little to nothing away but serve their purpose in continuing to get me hyped up for the movie coming out this summer.  There have also been some pieces of the EW article that have hit the web that speak of how the actors are interacting on set.

“In the sequence they’re about to shoot, Iron Man has just suffered serious ass-kicking, and Thor and Captain America are coming to his rescue. When Thor rips Tony Stark’s helmet free, the unconscious billionaire was suppose to wake suddenly, catch his breath, and ask, “What’s next?” Downey felt there should be more. Whedon agreed and put pen to paper, which resulted not just in a new series of exchanges between the three heroes, but a few alternates for Downey to say, giving the editors some options when it’s time to assemble the movie. One choice line from the bunch: “What happened?” Stark groans, coming back to consciousness as Captain America and Thor loom over him. “Please tell me nobody tried to kiss me.”

[Chris] Evans raises another question as the cameras are about to roll. ‘Wait, how do I check for a pulse?’ he asks, realizing that Iron Man’s armor makes it impossible. [Joss] Whedon’s face furrows as he thinks. Right. ‘Press his chest, lean down, and feel for his breath,’ the director says.

“‘May I see that?’ he asks, reaching for Evans’ star-emblazoned shield. ‘May I?’ Evans hands it over and Downey spins it slowly like he’s studying a record for scratches. He attaches it to his arm for a moment, striking a defensive pose, then flips it over like a bowl and turns to a prop master nearby: ‘Put some nachos in that would ya?’”

To me, it looks as though Joss Whedon is encouraging some ad-libbing in the movie.  Anytime you can let Robert Downey Jr. ad-lib lines it tends to work out well.  It has been reported before that RDJ ad-libbed a lot of his lines in the original Iron Man movie and that is one of the best superhero films made to date.  As to whether the other stars of the Avengers can ad-lib as well I have no clue, but I have faith that Tony Stark’s role in the movie will be lots of fun.  After reading the quote above it does seem as though the actors must be having fun on set.  What I really want to know, is did they eat nachos out of Captain America’s shield?  Sounds like that would be good for a laugh!

As for the pictures I think the best one to come out in this batch is Steve Rogers looking at his new Captain America costume.  The best touch is that Rogers is wearing clothes from his era while looking at a modern streamlined costume.  Fans of Captain America might notice that the headpiece of this costume does in face include ear holes just like the costume from the comics.

We can continue to assume that Loki plays a fairly large role in the movie.  It looks as though he is being escorted by SHIELD agents and Loki also looks to be a prisoner.

The remaining pictures looks to be action shots of both Nick Fury and the Black Widow.  They certainly look badass and seem to hint that there will be a lot of fighting in the movie.

Marvel Reveals The Mighty

The mega-event at Marvel, Fear Itself, is about to wrap up with issue 7 due to drop next month.  As such it’s finally time to figure out who will step up to save the day.  Originally, Marvel released a promo entitled The Mighty with the silhouettes of 9 heroes.  Looking at the shadows you could get an idea of who these character are, but today final promo picture was released showing all of the heroes with their new costumes.  These costumes are a hybrid of Stark technology and Asgardian forged armor.

From left to right there is Ms. Marvel, Iron Fist, Dr. Strange, Iron Man, Wolverine, Red She-Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Spider-Man.  These heroes are The Mighty who will be tasked with stopping the Serpent and his Fallen.

I think that some of these armor designs are pretty boring, but I’m a big fan of Iron Man’s new armor.  This is one of the pieces that shows this truly a hybrid of Stark and Asgardian technology.  Stark’s new armor looks like the body of the Destroyer fused with an Iron Man head.  I think it looks great.  Some of the ones that miss the mark specifically Spider-Man and Hawkeye.  Spidey looks like he’d make a great Blue Lantern in his all blue costume with electric lighting and Hawkeye looks to have the same uniform but with Tron lights added on.  Those two costumes miss the mark.

Overall, I’m looking forward to seeing how Fear Itself ends.  My guess is that the Mighty will save the day at the end and after the Earth is saved their new armor/costumes are then destroyed or unusable.  It seems highly unlikely that Asgardian technology would remain in mortal hands.

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!
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