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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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The Avengers Super Bowl Trailer

I love this trailer.  Marvel released an extended cut of the trailer shown during the Super Bowl and it is awesome.  Robert Downey Jr. continues to own the role of Tony Stark and the scene with all of the Avengers back-to-back preparing to fight looks like something straight out of a comic book.  I cannot wait for this movie!

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.

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?

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.

Tony Stark’s New Iron Man Armor

Not sure how much you all have been following the Iron Man comics lately, but they’ve been really good.  Recently Tony Stark lost his position of Director of S.H.E.I.L.D. and was on the run to protect the registered Superhero database.  How did he protect it you might ask, simple he uploaded the data into his brain.  In order to delete the identities of the registered heroes Stark was forced to delete portions of his own mind and in the end left himself catatonic and near death.  But the plus side was that he had saved the identities of all the heroes.  It’s important to note that Stark is generally a step ahead of others and had left plans for how his brain could be rebooted.  In the Stark Disassembled story-arc Tony’s mind was restored to him.

Now Tony is back at 100% and will have a new suit of Iron Man armor starting in Invincible Iron Man #25.  Marvel released the first picture of it late last week.  Iron Man writer Matt Fraction was quoted as saying:

“The inspiration for the new design came from thinking about a sleeker, leaner, tougher Iron Man,” revealed Fraction. “If technology is increasingly getting smaller and lighter it seems like the Iron Man should do the same: ergonomic and aerodynamic. We were looking for something that felt as sleek and glossy as a sports car Tony Stark would covet. I love what we’ve come up with. It feels like the next evolutionary step in the Iron Man’s design.”

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not 100% sold on the new armor.  It looks a little too different for my taste.  But what’s your take on the armor pictured below?

New Pictures From Iron Man 2

It’s been reported that Iron Man 2 finished filming earlier this week.  Jon Favreau has stated that filming went quicker than he had thought it would and that’s why they were able to finish filming early.  This is good news as it means Iron Man 2 is on track for its summer 2010 release.  Also, additional pictures from the set have found their way onto the internet.  I have posted them below.

Tony Stark on the Track

Tony Stark on the Track

This picture shows Stark in a fireproof suit presumable from his race car.  With the fire in the background it looks like a car, maybe Stark’s, has wrecked.  Is it possible that Whiplash made his presence known and caused some damage?  That could account for the intense look on Tony Stark’s face.  Remember the early picture of Mickey Rourke as Whiplash was taken at this same race track where this picture was taken.

The next picture is Scarlett Johannson as Natasha Romanoff, the civilian name of the Black Widow.

Scarlett Johannson as Natasha Romanoff

Scarlett Johannson as Natasha Romanoff

I’m not sure whether the documents she’s holding are important or not.  I’m wagering not, but its best I analyze the documents rather than act like a fanboy and go ‘hot, hot, hot!‘  In all seriousness we know that Romanoff will be playing the part of Stark’s new secretary since Pepper Potts has moved onto CEO.  I’m curious to see how the Stark and Romanoff banter will go, hopefully its as entertaining as Stark and Potts.

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