Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Trailer & Poster Released

Before it was released, Guardians of the Galaxy was considered to be the biggest risk Marvel Studios had taken to date. Jump ahead 2 years and here we all are rejoicing at the thought of even just 1:30 minutes of volume 2 in this new teaser trailer. Well played Marvel, well played.

It seems we’re all hooked on that GotG feelin’ and we cannot wait to get another adventure from the team that nobody knew they wanted, especially when they’re presented as the pop icons they’ve clearly become:

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

If you can’t wait until May next year to get some more Guardians in your life, check out our exclusive Milano inspired Guardians of the Galaxy tee today:

Click here to buy t-shirt

0
Avengers

Avengers – Marvel Cinematic Universe Retrospective

If Marvel Studios stopped at Avengers (or the mouth filling Marvel’s Avengers Assemble in the UK) they won. With the dizzying heights the Marvel Cinematic Universe reached just this year with Captain America: Civil War and the interim movies, it’s hard to remember just how lightening-charged the prospect of Marvel’s movies franchises combining into one big superhero-a-palooza!

 

Not only had we seen our heroes go from zeros to heroes and back again, we would now get to see how they’d fare kickin’ ass and takin’ names as one force. While the freaks and geeks could revel in the dream of seeing their half tone heroes writ large on the silver screen, any Average Joe with more than a passing interest could appreciate the culmination of 5 movies tying together. Even if you didn’t know that Joss Whedon, King of the Nerds, would be polishing the script and directing the joining of World’s Mightiest Heroes, it would still be the cinematic event of 2012. Which it was. By the end of it’s run Avengers was the third-highest grossing flick of all time and it had earned it stripes.

 

Even when you take some nods from the comic book origin where Asgardian, Loki, seeks revenge on his brother Thor and even uses Hulk as a pawn at one point, there’s still an awful lot going on and one thunderous mountain to climb in terms of storytelling. Whedon must have felt a lot like Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD. He may have had a reason to bring the 6 heroes together, but he had to tie strands from the previous flicks together, make reference to them for anyone who’d wandered in blindly to the multiplex and lived in a cave since Iron Man, set up the characters and their conflicts, put them all through the meat grinder so the audience cared about them, convincingly make them work together and then bring it home in the third and final act. More importantly, each and every character needs a complete arch in the same running time allowed for one hero. If you’re unsure how tricky a chemical mixture this is to get right, take a look at Suicide Squad. For all it’s effort and best intentions it never did balance the elements of character and story – and that’s with two main characters to focus on while the others strutted in the periphery. Even other rag-tag ensembles have offed characters to make things a little easier narratively.

 

When you watch Avengers, however, you’d be hard pushed to notice the Hulk-like heavy lifting it had taken to keep this fictional hellicarrier flying. It had much more than most of us expected. In part, this is because Joss & Co manage to combine the story telling and character beats with action. Even though the Stuttgart Standoff is part of Loki’s machinations it includes Loki measuring up his adversaries – Cap gives him more trouble than expected – it reinforces Loki’s ethos in ruling humanity and the introduction of Iron Man to Captain America. You may have time to catch your breath, but it’s a matter of minutes before Thor is thrown into the mix and Shakespeare in the Park turns into smack down where powers and abilities are compared. Even the Hostilities on the Hellicarrier galvanize Tony and Steve’s respect and understanding for one another. While this leaves time spare for the biggest world-wrangling war that’s ever taken place in the Big Apple, it still manages to squeeze in Tony overcoming his narcissism by selflessly flying a nuke into a worm hole. Which unto itself sounds as ridiculous as a flying battleship, but the approach is so primed with gusto you very rarely have a chance to question anything. Where this gusto doesn’t fill the gaps, the funnies fall in between. Multiple viewings offer even more nuanced rewards, the repartee between the main team is on thing, but Coulson creepily explaining he watched while Cap slept and LuchKov’s confused assurance that “I don’t… give everything.” are gems more appreciated on multiple viewings.

 

Amid the fireworks there are some jumps in logic that need suspension of disbelief. Banner’s ability to conveniently control the Hulk, come the third act, is alluded to during the spat in SHIELD’s lab but it doesn’t make sense when you consider he would’ve given a world-beating pimp slap to Black Widow had Thor not rolled up. Likewise the hive-minded Chitauri collapse once the mother ship is obliterated, but seemed perfectly organic before that moment. The fact that it’s never enough to derail the behemoth is testament to how well it’s crafted and it’s startling effectiveness.

 

5* – Fanfare of the Uncommon Man

0
Wolverine

Title and Poster Released for Wolverine 3

It’s been mooted for some time now that the third and final Hugh Jackman fronted Wolverine solo movie would be based upon the Old Man Logan story from Mark Millar. This rumour was given considerable legs by the fact that Millar has been working on all the 20th Century Fox superhero properties, now, thanks to the film’s director, James Mangold, we have our clearest indication yet that there is at least some veracity to these claims:

Dropping the ‘Old Man’ but keeping ‘Logan’ as the title for the new movies is an interesting move, true to the character whilst keeping it simple. Looking at the script it seems that we are indeed dealing with an older Wolverine in this installment, a Weapon X whose mutant healing factor is fading, meaning his pain is increasing along with his drinking to dull that pain.

Not only do we get a title but we also get a poster, aren’t we lucky:

 

Logan

0
Captain America

Captain America: The First Avenger – Marvel Cinematic Universe Retrospective

From Iron Man through to Guardians of the Galaxy, right up to Captain America: Civil War, Marvel has become progressively sophisticated in not just how the story’s told, but how each strand weaves it’s way through the tapestry of the shared cinematic universe.  So, even with the latest knock-down-drag-out installment of the Captain America saga – or indeed the Marvel Cinematic Universe entire – it’s easy to dismiss Steve Roger’s inaugural debut.  Overly earnest and intentionally twee, much like our Chief Avenger,  Captain America had a lot of responsibility on it’s shoulders while still heroically standing up to his colleague’s solo outings.  Thor had just thrown down the hammer by delivering wonder and magic with Shakespearean eloquence.  Tony Stark oozed rock’n’roll through every joint in his Iron Man armour.  How then would the weakling from Brooklyn fare? Particularly when he started lecturing us on right and wrong because he now had the greatest gun show in town?  Not only that, but being set during World War II meant that this would be the ball of yarn that all the other threads would originate and then entangle themselves.  It’s a tall(er) order.

Thankfully it doesn’t take the fabled super soldier serum to notice the super-heroic effort the team behind Captain America: The First Avenger made. It still accomplishes everything it set out to do and keeps it’s own identity.  It’s especially rewarding now seeing the bigger picture of the MCU confirmed by the installments that were yet to come.  Bucky turning up to save Cap in the alley way has a  sting tinged with loss now. While the opposite can be said for Steve’s courageous “I can do this all day”, bearing in mind the fisty-cuff in Civil War.

By the second scene our Mcguffin, The Tesseract, is established using the Norse mythos set up by Thor.  Howard Stark nonchalantly charms his way through scenes, leaving little doubt to where Tony got it from.  The birth of SHIELD spinning out of the SSR is a minor touch, though not an easter egg.  Speaking of which, with Captain America: The First Avenger standing alone in this particular part of the MCU timeline leaves it  free to add in bonuses that wouldn’t upset the present apple cart:  A cheeky presentation at the 40’s Stark Expo of the original Human Torch is a delightful nod to the Invaders.  Arnim Zola’s introduction is as much a nod to his comic book counterpart as the reverential reprinting of Captain America’s cover when our Star-Spangled Avenger rises in popularity.

While the tone may teeter on mawkish, particularly when cap exhibits his trademarked do-right attitude, it’s hard to imagine how Cap would be better introduced to us.  Certainly the 40’s was a lot less jaded and while it’s only as obvious in Erskine here, Cap’s impassioned proclamations and unwavering integrity was certainly more common.  Even if you’re not completely sold on Cap’s wholesome schtick, you’re hard pushed to disagree with his principles and actions, thus it becomes convincing that Steve would eventually get his own team to run covert ops and near-single-handedly win the war!  Of course, it helps that he’s been dosed with super soldier serum and blasted with rays.  However, it’s not the only thing that keeps him stronger than those around him.  The evening before Steve’s procedure Ersklne mentions the amplifying effects of the programme, “Good becomes great…” he says.  What then of Steve’s resolute beliefs?  Maybe his faith alone in what he feels America should stand for is what keeps him nigh indestructible (or extremely lucky).  Not letting go of his star spangled shield is one clue should you want to go down this road.  His first mission, deep behind enemy lines on an unauthorised rescue mission.  While the shield may provide a certain amount of protection, anyone with a passing interest in staying alive may not fly the enemy colors quite so fragrantly, particularly when they’re that bright.  Nearing the climax of the film, Cap single-handedly infiltrates the Red Skull’s base.  Just before he enters the final gate a tank, that looks like a skyscraper on tracks and armed with the energy of an infinity stone starts to blast at our hero.  What else is there to do, but firmly plant the shield, adorned with the modified stars and stripes, on your handle bars and speed up?  As ridiculous as it may seem, it’s perfectly fitting to the man who would later plant himself like a tree, in the way of the whole world and say, “No.  You move.”

4* – National Measure

0
Thor

Thor – Marvel Cinematic Universe Retrospective

The fourth installment of Marvel’s cinematic output, Thor, was perhaps less of a gamble than say Guardians of the Galaxy.  Based on an established Avenger and the re-invented series was seeing new popularity on the shelves of Local Comicbook Stores.  It was still something of a departure from the installments so far.  Iron Man did enough to ground the tale before getting into the techno-engineered whimsy of the suit and Hulk was so well established in the zeitgeist of audiences the premise could be accepted with little effort.  That being said, not only was Thor going to be dealing with Norse mythology, Gods and magic, but our blonde haired Avenger had been trapped in development Ragnarok for 2 decades.

Originally put into development by Mr Spider-Man himself, Sam Raimi, following the popularity of Darkman.  However, 20th Century Fox didn’t understand it.  Then, following the success of Bryan Singer’s X-Men, it was thought a good idea to make our Hammer Wielding Hero into a TV serial.  Sony even flirted with Odinson and put Batman collaborator, David S. Goyer at the helm, before giving up and passing it all back to Paramount and then Marvel.  But the hot-potato’ing didn’t stop there.  Layer Cake and X-Men: First Class’ Mathew Vaughn took a stab before leaving the project to Guillermo Del Toro, who in turn jumped ship for Middle Earth and The Hobbit.  The character himself seemed like a sure bet, but making it a cohesive blend of reality and otherworldly did not seem easy.  Who better than Shakespearean master Kenneth Branagh to adapt the “verily” into something audiences would embrace as much as Tony Stark’s box-office-busting adventures.

Thor’s celluloid mead is a tasteful retalling of the fallen hero’s tale.  The story is a template as old as the viking tales that birthed Asgard’s pantheon, but Thor is a real victory of detail and unapologetic bombast.

The MCU brain-trust were probably never worried about the performances Branagh could pull from the cast and there are some thunderously powerful emotional exchanges.  When Thor returns from inadvertently sparking an age-old war with Frost Giants, Anthony Hopkins’ growling reproach of his son is so powerful you’re left in stunned silence.  Similarly, Loki’s discovery of his felonious origin and following confrontation is as emotionally charged as bolt from Mjolnir.  However, there’s subtly here too.  Thor’s realisation of his unworthiness is as drenched in mournful resignation as the sodden ground.  Hiddleston and Hemsworth dance a despondent two-step of Loki’s faux-empathy and Thor’s anguish when he’s captured by SHIELD and at his lowest ebb.

However, the real surprise is the visual flare in which Branagh attacks his foray into Marvel’s shared universe.  Much like his control with the script, it’s equal parts brave committal and subtle assurance.  While Odin’s monologue plays and introduces us to the gods we’ll be spending the next few hours with, the camera is all cinematic sweeps that would give pause to David Lean.  There’s rushing shots of landscapes, marauding monsters and epic battle scenes which add a surging momentum to the proceedings.  Asgard’s introduction is all panoramic dynamism that allows you to soak up the wonder of this otherworldly decadence.  Again, there are understated details abound that push certain moments over the edge to fantastic.  Odin’s silhouette in the bifrost before bringing a stop to the Frost Giant’s fracas dominates the moment before he even opens his mouth.  Mjolnir’s enchantment represented visually with a symbol that presents itself when it comes into effect is one thing, but the low thrum that it emanates from it whenever an unworthy suitor tries to lift it is beguiling.

Thor does drop the hammer in parts.  As effective as the humor can be, it’s broad statements don’t quite fit into the jigsaw of it’s more lofty scenes and it creaks a little uncomfortably.  In the wake of the persuasive potency of Asgard Branagh seems to struggle a little to make the dusty americana of earth quite as dynamic, resorting to “the dutch” so much you’ll need a spirit level to readjust come credit roll.

3* – Much Ado About Loki

0
Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 – Marvel Cinematic Universe Retrospective

Following the successful opening weekend of 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel Studios merrily marched out it’s manifesto of the handful of films kicking off “Phase 1”.  The slate even included ambitious release dates, including Iron Man 2.  So high in the skies were audiences willing to go with Marvel that no one ever questioned whether the formula of this particular ore could be smelted again.

Time has not been the kindest to Tony Stark’s second installment (not counting the cameo of Incredible Hulk!).  This isn’t because of evolving effects technology or the pitfalls that hamper most sequels.  The fans turned against it a little, even though it was relatively well received at the time.  Marvel were careful to bring us something different in it’s next installments; with Thor adding something more mystical and Captain America: The First Avenger offering us something a little more wholesome.  It may be this diversity that left Iron Man 2 falling a little further down moviegoers populists of the MCU.  While it’s certainly muddled in parts with a light whiff of post-shoot story tinkering, it’s still a solid installment.  There’s even things we take for granted that later solidified the mythos of the MCU – see Fury’s casual disclosure of Howard Stark’s founding of SHIELD and the introduction of Natasha Romanov as Black Widow.

Unable to turn Tony’s world upside down by imprisoning him and releasing him with a new outlook, Ol’ Shell Head watches it crumble around him.  If a rival upstart looking to knock Tony from his perch just after he hands the company to Pepper wasn’t enough, the arc reactor keeping Tony alive is slowly killing him with palladium poisoning.  Although it’s certainly a grim prospect it’s as much an extension of Stark as Last Crusade was to Indiana Jones – and this is not just thanks to daddy issues.  Once you’ve already established your hero, you can put them through the mill and see how many licks they can take.  The comic books were always the most enthralling when our heroes reach their lowest ebb, so it seems only fitting that at the height of his desperation tony hits the liquor, a la the lauded “Demon in a Bottle” arc.  However, as this isn’t Lars Von Trier’s Iron Man 2, Favreau keeps it light.

The reason Iron Man was so refreshing in 2008 was it’s seemingly improvised delivery.  Less chaotic and more spontaneous, the character’s naturally reacting to one another completely removed any superhero template fatigue.  Iron Man 2 capitalises on this with wonderful character moments that add complexity while still adding fun to the proceedings.  Tony’s verbal trouncing at the senate hearing is deliciously rawkus.  Better still is the exchange with Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer wooing Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko.  Hammer’s pitch is faux confidence dripped in desperation.  His vanity is highlighted in both the pretentious set-up in the hangar and the fake tan caked in his hands.  It makes for a satisfying attention to detail whether you catch each detail or not.

But it’s not all character study and minutiae – there’s some great action set pieces.  Considering the purpose of the melee in Monaco is to knock Tony from his perch, it’s a joy to watch the Man in a Can go toe-to-toe without the bells and whistles afforded the less portable armors.  As messy as the final battle with Rhodey and the Hammer-oids is, it’s choca-block full with wish fulfillment.  Tony pin-wheeling through the World Fair’s globe, in the middle of the Expo, to dispatch hammer drones is imaginative and still gives a glimpse into how man and machine work together.

As the credits roll and you wait for the post-credit sequence, we dare you not to feel entertained and exhilarated.  Although it’s an early is chapter, it’s satisfying to watch a Marvel movie unafraid to get by on it’s own steam without leaning on the association of the super-world going on around it.  The tantalising self-referencing is something audiences have now become accustomed to, but at this point it’s quite refreshing and go back to an installment more concerned adding something to it’s predecessor than another brick in the shared cinematic wall.

4* – Beamin’ in a bottle

0
Tactical Batsuit

Zack Snyder Reveals Justice League Tactical Batsuit

Batman has always had multiple costumes in the comics, the right suit for the right job, this has never been represented on-screen with most adaptations only changing suits between films…until now. Zack Snyder, director of Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and the upcoming Justice League movie tweeted this image of Ben Affleck in the Tactical Batsuit:

Many have commented that this new suit is reminiscent of the Nite Owl costume from Watchmen, another Zack Snyder joint. Nite Owl himself, well the second one at least, is supposed to be an almost parody of the Batman character, so here we have art imitating other art which in itself is imitating the original art the new art is based upon. Confused? I know I am, in all fairness it is hard to argue against the comparison:

Nite Owl

Maybe it’s the goggles…yeah, it’s definitely the goggles.

Of course instead of going for a different Batsuit, Affleck could always just try one of our Batman-inspired t-shirts instead:

Arkham-Designicesq

0
Concept Art for Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2

Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2 ‘Biggest Spectacle of all time.’

Whilst promoting his latest sure-fire hit, ‘The Magnificent Seven’, Chris Pratt had a few interesting words to share with the Toronto Sun on the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2:

”It’s a fabulous script. I think it’s going to be – I’m not using hyperbole, here – I think it’s going to be the biggest spectacle movie of all time.”

Pratt, who lays Star-Lord in the franchise, says he isn’t bothered by the haters who claim that superhero/comic book films are sucking the life out of the industry:

“to be part of a franchise that really is so totally different. It’s new and exciting and unlike anything people had seen before. There are a lot of superheroes out there, but I think we do something a little different. The genesis of these characters was in the Marvel Universe but we do something a little different, more cosmic, with Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is scheduled to be released on May 5, 2017, in 3D and IMAX but if you can’t wait that long to show your Guardians love then check out our GOTG-inspired Milano t-shirt today:

 Buy Milano t-shirt
0
The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk – Marvel Cinematic Universe Retrospective

Marvel’s Incredible Hulk is considered by some as the ugly step-child of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It’s gestation began as the sequel to Ang Lee’s 2007 Hulk.  Universal stalled wondering what to do with the ill-received deconstruction and exploration into rage and daddy issues. While Marvel galvanised the alloy soon to become its flagship cinematic outing, Louis Leterrier pitched for the Man In A Can losing out to John Favreau.  However, Marvel had something else for the Transporter director: The Incredible Hulk. It’s a confusing proposition.  Not only could nobody decide if it was a follow-up or reboot (even producer Gale Ann Hurd coined the phrase “requel”), Leterrier knew enough that he didn’t want to ape Lee’s foray into the superhero genre.  In hind site following in the wake of the seminal Iron Man must have been daunting, even with one of Marvel’s most recognisable characters, but The Incredible Hulk crash-landed into our multiplexes in the same year.  Universal’s failure to produce a sequel since 2003 meant Marvel could produce and use a double-hander to get its road to Avengers off to a gamma injected start.

Being the second offering in the MCU cannon is something of a benefit to The Incredible Hulk.  Free from the ingredients of a yet to be tried-and-tested formula, Leterrier was free to do a little more experimentation.  Forget about the hubris offered Tony, Thor and Star Lord before realising the error of their ways.  This incarnation of Bruce Banner would already be painfully aware of his frailties.  He’d also not waste time with a 40 minute origin story that we were all pretty much familiar with.  For the uninitiated quick cuts between opening credits would get you up to speed with Banner’s odyssey.  However, now fully in control, Marvel would also be free to interlock this with the other DNA strands making up the MCU.

After watching the espionage-tinged Captain America: The Winter Soldier, audiences wondered why Marvel Studios hadn’t had more of stab at other genres.  However, after watching The Incredible Hulk after such a long reprieve it’s an uncomplicated actioner – why else would you get the kinetically competent Transporter helmer?  Bruce Banner works with “Thunderbolt” Ross on revitalising Cap’s Super Soldier Program.  Things go awry.  Bruce now changes into the very manifestation of rage.  Ross afraid of the connection to his daughter along with his error in the experimental military operation turns Hulk into a threat, chasing him a round the globe.  We’ve all bought cinema tickets for less!

Now while we all have our favourite instalment it’s universally agreed that The Incredible Hulk isn’t the crown jewel of the MCU, but it does have a lot to offer.  Taking more than just a passing nod to the TV series (and a surprising amount from the comics) it means our hero gets to continent-trot and meeting Banner in the Favelas offers something refreshing.  Not only do we get to see him with the kind of home-made set-up that could win second prize at the science fair, he’s doing a convincing job of staying out of trouble.  His mawkish schleping around the soft drinks factory is enough to throw anyone off the suspition that he could crush you like a worm.  The first introduction to our not-so-jolly green giant is also tantalisingly fun.  Hulk lurks in the abundant shadows supplied by huge vats and walkways.  Even the special ops team are confused by what’s literally hit them.

The lulls do draw somewhat from the impressive set pieces that follow.  While it’s necessary, the love story between Bruce and Betty is little more than functional – although the set up of Bruce not being able to hulk-uglies is a thread continued in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  The antagonising Ross and his ultimate about-face on the Hulk doesn’t have the effect it needs.  But there’s a big, green fist of fun to be had!  If the Captain America, SHIELD and purple panted easter eggs weren’t enough, the emancipating set pieces are.  Watching Hulk tear apart a battalion on a college campus is such a release its cathartic.  Rather than question the devastation left by the big guy, you’ve waited so long while being bullied you cheer him on while he body checks HUM-Vs and bring down gun ships.  Then if that’s not enough of an entré we get to watch him do 10 rounds while he slugs it out with Abomination using cop cars as boxing gloves.  It really is an inventive foray of comic book violence and Letterier is not afraid to get in close rather than look away from the pain.

3* – The Angriest Hobo

0
Iron Man

Iron Man – Marvel Cinematic Universe Retrospective

There was a time when superhero movies were personal gems found on the deserted beaches of geekdom.  Studios sporadic attempts to capture the market they just knew was out there.  For every Batman (1989) there was a Phantom.  Later Spider-Man had it’s Fantastic Four.  In true comic book fashion there seemed to be villainous adversaries, poised to strike at the zeitgeist and ensure the general population would look at most comic book movies in the same way they looked at the funny pages.  There were still the adaptations that went under the radar:  Red, A History of Violence and Road to Perdition all seemed to come away unscathed from the nerdy apprehension that came with super heroes.

Then, following the success of Spider-Man and to a lesser extent X-Men, Marvel took a look at the properties still in their war chest and decided they could do what FOX and Sony/Columbia did with the franchises they had the rights to.  Even better, they’d be completely in control and, if successful, their characters could share the universe just like the comics.  Creating Hollywood’s first major independent studio since Dreamworks, Marvel secured a $525 million revolving credit facility with Merrill Lynch and began setting up the building blocks of what we would know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

It’s easy to take the first Iron Man movie for granted nowadays, just like the Mk 1 Armour that birthed our hero from the cave.  Years of multiple viewings, improved sequels (Iron Man 3, if not Iron Man 2) and dizzying interlinking timelines from other superhero outings have left Tony Stark’s breakout movie encased in its very own Hall of Armour.

If you’ve not donned the original Iron Man Armour for a while you’ll be struck with how the opening packs quite a repulsor blast.  The raw riffs of ACDC’s Back in Black as the HUMV’s glide across the Afghan desert pulls you straight into the hull while Tony mixes it up with 3 troops.  It’s a brilliant introduction to Stark.  It establishes his trademarked wit and hyper-verbalisation.  Not only that, but while Tony shows off to the troops and chalks up the previous years MAXIM cover models, he also puts them at ease.  It also lulls the audience, before we’re reminded of where we are and the danger it brings.  No sooner are we grinning like we’re in the “FUNV” that the vehicle in front explodes in a jolting blast.  The discs special features show an extended scene that really pushes the bluster and percussion of a firefight.  The final film succeeds in half the time by illustrating just how precarious a situation Tony’s in.  The panicked concussion as Stark stumbles bewildered from the truck before we see him flat on his back, helpless, his life literally seeping out of him into his taylored shirt.  If that wasn’t perilous enough, a sack is then whipped from his battered and bloody head and he finds himself front and centre of his own fundamentalist hostage video (or so it seems) while terms are harshly delivered and the kidnappers cohorts proudly brandish automatic rifles.  Amidst the hustle of this intro some if the impact may be lost that during this time we’d become used to the highlighted horrors of very real videos on our news.  It’s an unsettling and brave prospect.  The fledgling studio must have bitten off a few nails while they considered the controversy.  Iron Man (MK 1), seemed to be all about brave choices…

Downey Jr’s spiral and phoenix-like resurrection is well documented, but Favreau was yet another brave choice for studio.  Now one of the architects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and credited as an Executive Producer, by 2008 he’d cut his directorial teeth with Made, a spiritual sequel to Swingers, delivered the surprise seasonal hit with Elf and then the under-performing Zathura.  Perhaps, not the experience that other studios would’ve been willing to gamble on.  However, John Favreau brings an impromptu (rather than improvised) energy to the proceedings.  There’s a real feeling of Tony winging it throughout the adventure.  Even the characters that orbit his charismatic sun all seem to be reacting spontaneously to him.

Iron Man also set the template for the proceeding movies.  Not just the hero’s fall from narcissistic heights to be humbled by a chance event and realise their errors before trying to walk a higher path, but post credit sequences and cheeky referencing.  You just don’t know your bad guys if you haven’t figured out why the planes that chase Iron Man across the sky mid-way through are called Whiplash 1 and Whiplash 2.  Even the most engrossed of us would have noticed the geekgasm of certain audience members when they noticed Captain America’s shield in the workshop.

Setting aside all the referencing, inside scoops and the kudos of knowing this was the genesis of the MCU, Iron Man is still an accomplishment.  One that can stand tall not only to those in its cannon, but the majority of star vehicles or Friday-Night-Actioners.  It still has its problems, though; the jittery narrative sometimes feels like it’s picking up strands its forgotten about, the obvious switch-and-bait villain and let’s not forget the fact that the MK 1 looks nothing like the missile Yenson and our eponymous hero were tasked to make!  However, the successes drown out the problems.  Tony’s have-a-go inventing of the upgrading armor while his mechanised helpers worryingly spectate is a delight.  The cast too seem to commit to presenting a (hyper) real version of the characters.  Paltrow’s Pepper certainly develops more as the sequels progress, but there’s enough here to be getting on with.  Jeff Bridges convincingly predatory Obadiah Stane is a great villain, capable of persuading the characters around him he is what he presents, before explding into the third act.  One moment in particular is a wakeup call as he bellows “TONY STARK WAS ABLE TO BUILD THIS IN A CAVE, WITH A BUNCH OF SCRAPS!” As an audience we start to rub our hands for the moment Tony will have to go up against him in the Iron Monger suit.

At the time, there was a lot of talk about the Afghan sub-text or the metaphor of America’s exit from the middle east , but if anything the climate at the time is used as a backdrop for the amoral rabbit hole our hero is in danger of falling in.  To it’s credit, Iron Man isn’t trying to be that clever.  If it doesn’t know quite what the finished narrative armour may look like, Favreau and Co certainly know what they want it to do.  Just like the suit itself; the development is painful at times, but throw a little hot rod red in there and you’ll be hard pushed to find anything as cool.

4* – World’s Mightiest Douche Bag

0