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Countdown to INFINITY… Spider-Man | Homecoming


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ONE A WEEK UNTIL Avengers Infinity War opens in May!

Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk| Iron Man II Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange | Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther

Week Sixteen: Spider-Man | Homecoming

SpiderMan

Tom Holland is perfect as Spider-Man. Perfect. Marvel directors seem to have unerring instincts in casting and their choice for Spider-Man (who debuted in Captain America: Civil War – a film creatively revisited in this one) in Tom Holland is spot-on. This is a very fun film and does a massive amount of world building while telling a compelling Spider-Man story, too. The filmmakers based their take on the high school movies of John Hughes, and they do a great job generating that vibe.

Spider-Man | Homecoming is absolutely jam-packed with delightful easter eggs… Bruce Banner’s picture on a classroom wall display of famous scientists, the principal of Peter’s school is the grandson of a solider who fought with Captain America in World War II, Captain America’s educational videos, the Sokovia Accords, Donald Glover (soon to explode as Lando Calrissian is on hand), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is on screen, and Jennifer Connelly – the wife of Paul Bettany who provides the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. and is the Vision – is the voice of Peter’s suit, which he names Karen. There are many more and, somehow, they do not overwhelm the movie.

Spider-Man | Homecoming also features one of the best Marvel villains in Michael Keaton’s Vulture. Fun, breezy and suitably Marvel, this is the second best of all Spider-Man movies (it does trail Spider-Man 2 by a pretty wide margin). It is also the most multi-cultural of all the Marvel movies (prior to Black Panther) and that casting serves it very well. There are a series of great set pieces here and the interplay between Spider-Man and Iron Man is fun to watch. It is so pervasive, however, that it does lead one to question whether Spider-Man will be able to carry his own movie.

Oh, and the twist ending is very, very well handled.

When Spider-Man | Homecoming opened last summer, I gave it FOUR AND A HALF (because Holland is just SO good) FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOODS out of a possible FIVE.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • Adrian Toomes, The Vulture
  • Damage Control
  • MJ (Mary Jane, perhaps?)
  • The Shocker (two, in fact!)
  • Aaron Davis (the Prowler)
    • Miles Morales is referenced… he will become a Spider-Man, too!
  • Phineas Mason, The Thinker

CONNECTION(S) TO INFINITY WAR:

  • For a movie that almost immediately precedes Infinity War, there are surprisingly few lead ins to the movie, however…
  • The so-called Iron Spider armor is introduced at the end of the film when Peter turns down Avengers membership.
  • Tony Stark’s relationship with Pepper Potts seems very much back on after the “break” the two were on in Civil War… perhaps setting up for tragedy in Infinity War.
  • The new Avengers upstate New York headquarters features prominently in the last act. It is also remodeled just in time for Thanos to, likely, destroy it.
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Countdown to INFINITY… Iron Man 3


Related Content from And There Came A Day


ONE A WEEK UNTIL Avengers Infinity War opens in May!

Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk| Iron Man II Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy \ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange |            Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther

Week Seven: IRON MAN 3

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 is one of my favorite Christmas movies. Did you forget it takes place over the holiday? It is also smart and fun and directly deals with fallout from Avengers. Though there are many for whom the big reveal of the identity of the Mandarin did not land, it absolutely worked overtime for me. Almost every choice made in Iron Man 3 works. It is a much superior sequel to Iron Man 2. 

It is surprisingly funny and it might be Robert Downey jr’s best performance in the role of Tony Stark which is surely saying something. The movie’s main antagonist, Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian, is a slight improvement over the typical villain. And the chemistry between Downey and Gwyneth Paltrow along with the dynamic between Downey and Don Cheadle is terrific, too.

Iron Man 3 is a very much self contained affair. There is very little world building here and the majority of the plot threads it introduces are not really revisited again. It also takes on some of the most “grown up” themes of any of the Marvel films.

And the initial segment of the closing credits – the Hart to Hart homage, the driving and super-duper theme song by Brian Tyler and the images from all 3 Iron Many movies – is too much fun.

Iron Man 3 plays like the final installment in Iron Man’s solo adventures, and so it has been.

 

Iron Man 3 premiered before I was blogging reviews, but it receives FOUR AND A HALF DORA THE EXPLORER WATCHES out of a possible FIVE.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • The Mandarin
  • Tony’s army of Iron Man suits (which are, of course, destroyed in the context of the movie)

CONNECTION(S) TO INFINITY WAR:

  • The kind of artificial intelligence that is seen in the new suits sets up a plot point of Avengers: Age of Ultron which will lead to Captain America: Civil War which will… you get the point.
  • Stay for the post credit scene which continues the development of the so-called “science bros” rapport between Tony and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner.
  • We know that Tony puts his armor back on before Avengers: Age of Ultron, but the audience is never actually told why or how.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming – A Movie Review


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Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming has a lot riding on it. Billed as a coming-of-age story constructed in the vein of a 1980s John Hughes movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming is also the first joint venture between Sony and Marvel with Marvel controlling the content of the film. It brings Spider-Man firmly under the control of Marvel Studios and fully into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is intended to re-launch perhaps the most famous Marvel Comics character into a series of successful solo movies.

It is likely to succeed very well in this ambition.

The best – the very best – thing Spider-Man: Homecoming has going for it is star Tom Holland. Marvel movie fans got a taste of the actor in Captain America: Civil War when he joined the super hero clash and the screen lit up whenever Holland was on it. Pitch perfect in that movie, the actor is even more appealing here in his solo venture. Following two very good performances as Spider-Man (in Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield), Holland had a bit to live up to as he stepped into the high tech tights. He is more than up to the challenge. In fact, for my money, he is the best of the bunch. That is saying something as the others were very good themselves.

Tom Holland makes the movie work. Though he is surrounded by wonderful actors (all the students in the movie are terrific, especially Zendaya as Michelle and Jacob Batalon as Ned), his energy outshines them all. This is quite a feat when considering Michael Keaton and Robert Downey, jr (not to mention Jon Favreau) are all on hand. Keaton and Downey, jr as as one would expect, both fully committed to their roles as the antagonist The Vulture and the mentor Iron Man respectively. Keaton, in fact, is a far more fully developed villain than we have come to expect from most Marvel movies and Downey, jr is so good as Tony Stark that it is difficult to determine where the character stops and the actor starts.

A common issue with these movies is that they try to do a bit too much, and Spider-Man: Homecoming suffers a bit from this malady. I loved the cameos (especially the one at the end!) but are they critical to the film? There are some nice set pieces, though some of the action sequences are fairly muddy in their execution. The entire side trip to Washington, DC seems excessive and unnecessary. It seems to me that everything that scene accomplishes could be handled in New York which is where the character belongs. But Spider-Man: Homecoming is Holland’s movie and, while it is not a perfect film, Holland makes up for all of these shortcomings and then some.

Beyond casting Holland, the filmmakers make two important decisions for Homecoming. First, they do not re-tell the origin of the character. Been there. Done that, thank you very much. Second, they put Peter Parker in high school. Spider-Man has always worked best as a teenager going through the struggles of coming-of-age. This Spider-Man has girl troubles, homework and a curfew (that he regularly breaks). He is trying to understand who he is and what he can do. He is carving out his place in the world and the movie does a terrific job with that arc.

Here is a Spider-Man that changes over the course of the film. Here is a Spider-Man that is funny and engaging. Here is a Spider-Man that is not driven by angst (the best versions of the character are not). Here is a Spider-Man that simply wants to be heroic.

Spider-Man: Homecoming succeeds in evoking a feel of high school movies of the past (think The Breakfast Club but Anthony Michael Hall with superpowers). It succeeds in incorporating the character into the fuller Marvel Universe. It succeeds in launching this version of the character. It succeeds in being a fun, summer entertainment and places itself firmly on the list of very good – not great – Marvel movies.

In many ways, it does feel like Spider-Man has come home.

 

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING receives FOUR AND A HALF (because Holland is just SO good) FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOODS out of a possible FIVE.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron – A SPOILER FREE Movie Review

Age of Ultron PosterHow does Joss Whedon, writer and director of 2012’s Avengers top his own creation? How does he capture the imagination of the world-wide movie going public and reel them back in for two and a half more hours of Avengers action? How does he out-do what seemed incredibly difficult to do in the first place? These are questions Whedon must have asked himself when he sat down to break story ideas for the sequel that would eventually become Avengers: Age of Ultron. It takes something of a mad scientist to accept this kind of challenge. I, for one, am very glad he did.

I won’t be alone in that assessment.

First things first: it’s eventually going to be very difficult for Marvel Studios to receive both solid reviews and big money for their movies. I thought that the bubble was going to burst with last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy (boy, was I wrong!). Some think it pops with July’s Ant-Man. But there are indications sneaking in at the corners of the reactions to Age of Ultron that some opinions are about to turn and that being great (like Age of Ultron is) is not going to be enough.

People don’t like the New England Patriots. They win too much.

People are going to begin decrying Marvel movies for the same reason. It starts here.

The Junior Senator, as we left Age of Ultron (my second viewing, his first), suggested that some comments he’d read about the film indicated that some people had their narratives already set in their minds and that those narratives were very similar: the movie has too much going on, there are too many characters, the action is too crowded.

Don’t you believe it. When you see Age of Ultron and, if you’re reading this review, you’re likely going to see it, pause for one second and see if you can keep all the characters straight. Forget the big ones from the last Avengers, I’m talking about the ones who weren’t in the last movie. Can you keep War Machine straight from Ultron? Do you confuse Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch? Are you not able to discern between… wait, I won’t name any other new characters because this is a spoiler free review. Suffice it to say that, while there are many new characters and there is a lot going on in Age of Ultron, movie goers can keep it all straight. To suggest anything else is lazy thinking.

I admit that Age of Ultron is a very different movie than Avengers and, as Whedon is a child of The Godfather and Star Wars, perhaps that is to be expected. Modern audiences have grown up thinking the second chapter of a movie series has to unspool with more gravitas than the first. The Godfather II is far darker than The Godfather. It has a far more complex narrative structure, too. Some might argue it’s a better film. The Empire Strikes Back turns away from the almost sunny tone of Star Wars. It tells a far more “adult” tale and the characters suffer significant loss before it’s over. The end is something of a cliffhanger, indicating all is not right in the universe. Just as his contemporary Christopher Nolan put together a bleaker and far deeper Batman sequel in The Dark Knight, Joss Whedon understands that Age of Ultron has to take the characters and tone of Avengers and do something different and more complex with them in the sequel. He succeeds in this goal so well that one of my first reactions to Age of Ultron was loss. I wanted it to be more fun. Avengers was fun and, while Age of Ultron has fun moments, the stakes to the main characters (if not to the world overall) are so much higher in this film that I left the theater a bit wistful… much like the reaction I had to Lando and Chewbacca flying off from the Rebel Armada at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Don’t get me wrong: that’s a very, very good thing!

There is so much to like in this movie. The action of Avengers, which was both exciting and verging on overpowering, is superseded by what occurs in Age of Ultron and Whedon has a more sure hand with it. Rather than roll the last act (big good vs. big bad’s minions) as one, long fight sequence, Whedon intersperses the explosions and slow motion battle with honest-to–goodness character moments that work. They work because the audience cares about the characters, some of them introduced earlier in the movie. While there are plenty of incredible set pieces on hand, they are balanced throughout the course of the movie by smaller and more intimate moments.

The cast is wonderful – so comfortable in their roles and so believable in them, too. It’s difficult to single any of them out as either the weak link of the ensemble or the stand out. Robert Downey, jr. once told us onscreen that he is Iron Man, and it’s impossible to argue the point; I don’t know where Downey ends and Tony Stark begins. Chris Evans takes Captain America – a character who could be painfully one note – and makes him somehow nobly tragic. Thor, as played by Chris Hemsworth, is quite amusing. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye is the everyperson eye into the team. They are all damn good in the roles and very fun to watch.

Scarlet Johanssen as the Black Widow and Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk deserve special mention, not because they are any better than their co-stars, but because the script does call for a little more from them. The scenes they share are almost poignant and they are every bit the match for them. It might be difficult to find deeper, emotional moments in a green-screen spectacle, but these two manage to do it and make it look easy.

A review of Age of Ultron would not be complete without a mention of James Spader as the artificial intelligence called Ultron, bent of revenging himself against the Avengers and, of course, destroying humanity. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve seen the film twice and, on the second viewing, I really watched Ultron carefully. It’s an incredible movie creation, to be sure, but I had read that Spader did the motion capture work himself and one can really tell it’s Spader bringing the character to life. It’s not just the actor’s voice (which is perfect by-the-way), it’s the physicality of the role. Spader doesn’t voice the character. He plays the character and he stands toe-to-toe with the likes of Downey, jr., Evans and Hemsworth who’ve played their respective characters time-and-again. Spader makes Ultron a special villain. That’s more than half the battle in a movie like this.

Age of Ultron has a lot going for it before it starts. It has a built-in audience. It has a tremendous cast. It has special effects wizards on hand. It also has a very smart and snappy script. More on the smart in a moment. Whedon’s Avengers are so quippy, they sometimes sound as though they’ve been written by Aaron Sorkin and have stepped directly off the set of The West Wing. This is fine by me and it serves the movie well when Ultron trades barbs with the team. At one point, after a particularly amusing comment by Ultron, Iron Man says “he beat me to that one by one second.” Part of the fun here is the verbal jousting among the characters. It amuses throughout the movie and, if some of the references are a bit off the beaten path (“Banksy” anyone?), that’s okay. It’s a Joss Whedon script. We should know what we’re in for.

It must be challenging to surprise us with these movies at this point. It must be difficult to develop a story that keeps our attention. No longer can these movies rely solely on their amazing special effects (which Age of Ultron has in spades). They have to do something more, they have to tell these heroic tales with a different spin, they have to – dare I write it – inspire their audiences to think.

There is a lot to think about in Age of Ultron. There are questions raised of trust and of heroism, of parenting and of friendship, of science and of faith. Blithely dismissing the possibility that such issues could be raised in superhero fare is a mistake. Between the robots and the superheroes and the explosions and the quips, there are some pretty serious questions being posed. Good on Joss Whedon for doing so.

Age of Ultron has an almost two and a half hour running time, but it feels light on its feet and, when it’s over, it promises us that “The Avengers Will Return.” I will be there when they do.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON receives FOUR AND A HALF “I Bet You Didn’t See That Comings” out of a possible FIVE.

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Iron Man 2 – A Movie Review

image from IMDB.com.

image from IMDB.com.

Though I am writing this review in 2015, less than a week before the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I am attempting to place myself back in the mindset of 2010 when Iron Man 2 was released and it became clear that Robert Downey, jr, could carry even a not-so-great Marvel movie.

Let’s get this out of the way: Iron Man 2 is simply not as good as Iron Man. It’s not even a close race.

Let’s get this out of the way, part two: Don Cheadle is better than Terrence Howard as Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes.

Let’s get this out of the way, part three: Iron Man 2 has an awful lot in common with Spider-Man 3, the movie that all but killed the Spider-Man movie franchise: too many villains, a highly convoluted plot, special effects that almost overwhelm the narrative and a protagonist that behaves wildly out of character for a few scenes.

And yet, Iron Man 2 emerges from all of this as a pretty enjoyable movie that continues Marvel Films’ process of creating a remarkable shared universe. Most of the credit for that has to go to Robert Downey, jr.

There is way too much going on in Iron Man 2 and that may not be director/writer Jon Favreau’s fault. This movie begins to really define the so-called “Marvel House Style” and this means that Easter Eggs and set up for future movies must be a part of the business at hand. It also mandates cameo appearances, continuation of storylines from prior films and set up for future ones. That’s a bunch to juggle. While I love the Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, Black Widow stuff, I just named 3 characters that have very little to do with Iron Man himself and that would be second bananas in other films, barely having any screen time. In this one, they are more than supporting characters, they each advance pieces of the plot (in this movie and for other films) and, therefore, take away from the main characters’ story.

There is a story for the main characters and, I would guess, that’s the story that Favreau was really intending to make. Tony Stark is about to go off the rails as the movie begins. He’s being poisoned by the very invention that keeps him alive and he is confronting his own mortality. Further, it’s become clear to the world that Iron Man is a political force and one that is outside of any government and, therefore, uncontrolled by any government. Called to appear before Congress, Stark is taken to task for his proprietary control of the Iron Man technology and refuses to acknowledge that the United States (or any other government for that matter) should be at all concerned about what he chooses to do in his armor. Here, Stark confronts his own morality.

In the background is a developing romance with Pepper Potts, played to great effect by Gwenyth Paltrow. Pepper is more than window dressing in the movie, and that’s refreshing for a superhero romp. Paltrow and Downey, jr. have real chemistry and their scenes together crackle. They are an onscreen couple that works and Paltrow’s Pepper is a force to be reckoned with throughout the movie.

Stark is also supported by Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Don Cheadle takes over the role in this movie and he is terrific. He’s one part best dude and one part Jiminy Cricket to Tony Stark and things really get happening when Rhodes dons the so called “War Machine” armor. Yes, we get the obligatory superhero v. superhero fight, but we get something even more interesting later in the film when Rhodes, a solider, is forced to choose between friendship and country. A different actor than Cheadle might phone this thing in. He simply doesn’t.

There are 2 villains on hand in Iron Man 2 and it’s like an NFL team having two quarterbacks – if you have 2, you don’t have 1. I think that Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer is completely awesome. Rockwell himself is a fun actor and he plays his role here as something of an anti-Tony Stark. He’s rich. He’s smart. He has power, but he comes off like the kid always picked last in elementary school a, trauma he’s never gotten over. He’s a step back, a few stones less, a quip behind Downey, jr.’s Tony Stark throughout the movie, and it’s great to watch. He doesn’t come off as a Jeff Bridges retread because Rockwell is so fun. In fact, Justin Hammer would have been villain enough for the movie and, in fact, he could have carried almost all of the action that is given to villain number 2: Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko.

Mickey Rourke seems to be one weird dude and he brings all the oddness to his work in Iron Man 2. When creating villains, writers often attempt to recast the hero’s story in darker shades and that’s exactly what we get in Rourke’s Vanko. He’s the son of a brilliant scientist. Check. He’s incredibly smart. Check. He can create technology no one else can. Check. He’s like Iron Man but from Russia! Check. And he’s pretty one note. There’s no arc for Vanko. He’s given some fun speeches – his “There’s blood in the water and the sharks will come” sounds so good it seems ad libbed – and an okay gig in his laser whips, but all of that doesn’t amount to a very compelling villain. He’s pretty forgettable.

So, Iron Man 2 is pretty packed already and we’ve not hit Scarlet Johanssen’s Black Widow, the Monaco Grand Prix, the Stark Expo and Tony’s discovering of a new element yet… and we won’t. Johanssen’s good. The Grand Prix scene is fun. The Stark Expo is cool. Tony’s discovery of a new element is deus ex machina of the highest order.

But, here’s the thing: it’s all too much. This movie is so over stuffed it falters under its own weight. It’s so full, characters simply leave the movie having really played no role in it at all (hello Agent Coulson, goodbye Agent Coulson). it’s so strange that it even contains a Gallagher reference. Is it bad? No – Downey, jr. and Paltrow and Cheadle and Rockwell are so fun that they make it worth the price of admission. Is it good? No – but it’s a Marvel Movie, so it gets more benefit of the doubt than it should.

Iron Man 2 is one of the lowest points of the Marvel Films, which is a shame.

Iron Man 2 receives TWO AND A HALF exploding watermelons out of a possible FIVE.

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Iron Man – A Movie Review

image from IMDB.com.

image from IMDB.com.

Though I am writing this review in 2015, two weeks prior to the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I am attempting to place myself back in the mindset of 2008 when Iron Man was released, when Marvel Films was not cranking out hit-after-hit, and when few were certain that Robert Downey, jr could carry a movie as a lead anymore.

From its first moment, Iron Man knows what it is and what it’s doing. What Iron Man is is a high-octane, laugh-out-loud, grab ’em and don’t let go action movie that is fun from start to finish. What it’s doing is apply a pitch-perfect tone adapting an American literary genre that has – too often in the past – been taken too lightly or too seriously. When you take comic books too lightly, camp becomes the order of the day. When you take comic books too seriously, the result is painful and overwrought.

When you hit the sweet spot (say with Superman the Movie or Spider-Man 2) the audience is treated to wonderful spectacle, heroic adventure and an iconic rendition of a character. All actors who have or will play Superman will be judged by the standard Christopher Reeve set. All who put on Spider-Man’s tights will be following Tobey Maguire’s terrific performance. We can add Robert Downey, jr’s Iron Man to this list.

From his first moment on-screen, riding in a Humvee on his way back from a successful demonstration of military hardware, Downey, jr. commands the entire movie as Tony Stark, brilliant inventor and scientist with an outsized ego and an oversized wit. Smooth, engaging and impossibly charming, Downey, jr. delivers each of his lines in the film – in the Iron Man armor and out of it – as though he’s making them up as he goes along. At each step of his development as an unlikely hero, Downey jr. seems as surprised by how events are unfolding around him as the audience is. If there is a recent better fit for an actor to a role than this, I am hard pressed to recall it. Downey, jr. is simply perfect. Primarily because of his performance, we care more about Tony Stark out of the armor than we do about him in it, and for a movie about a superhero, that’s a pretty rare feat.

Downey, jr. is well supported by a great cast. Both Gwyneth Paltrow and Terrence Howard are very good in second banana roles, Paltrow as Stark’s executive assistant Pepper Potts who may or may not develop into his love interest and Howard as Stark’s best friend Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes whose job in the movie is to play conscience to Stark’s man-child proclivities. Neither actor is stretched much beyond the comfort zone, but they fit the flavor of the movie very nicely.

Jeff Bridges, on the other hand, seems to be having just as much fun as Downey, jr. His Obadiah Stane is one part corporate titan, one part father-figure and one part ruthless business man. Of all the actors, Bridges is the only one who truly matches Downey jr. in terms of wild energy and emotion and his off-kilter line delivery is a pleasure. His plaintive “Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave… out of a box of scraps!” is likely not destined to be the most quoted line of his movie career, but perhaps it should be. I can’t say I’ve seen all of Bridges’ movies, but I think I can say without fear of being contradicted that he’s never played a role like this one and, just when he could chew scenery and take Stane completely over-the-top, he doesn’t. He’s a great foil for Stark.

The plot itself adheres very closely to the Iron Man origin story in the comics, but not so slavishly that the magic of the creation is lost in translation. At its heart, Iron Man is a redemption story and there is no better actor working today to place in the center of such a story than Downey, jr. That the audience has as much fun getting to the redemption as the actors seem to be having is a great testament to the direction of Jon Favreau. Every choice he makes, from set piece to soundtrack, seems inspired and all of them lead to a terrific finished product.

And when we get to the “secret” ending, we know there is a wider plan at work for Marvel’s movies, and we’re thrilled by its potential.

IRON MAN receives FIVE FUNVEES out of a possible FIVE.

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What Do YOU Need To Know Before Age Of Ultron?

UltronAvengers: Age of Ultron opens in just over two weeks. People like me have been ready for this since the last frame of Avengers un-spooled three summers ago. People like… most everyone else in the movie going public … are looking forward to the movie, too, I am sure, but they may not have hung on all the details and minutiae between the two movies. So, as a public service, here’s all you need to know!

IRON MAN WAS WORSE, IS BETTER

After saving New York from an alien invasion in Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, jr) further committed to a romantic relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow )went through a rough stretch of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, saved the life of the President of the United States, fought alongside Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle), and hired former SHIELD agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to work for Stark Industries. He also destroyed all his Iron Man armors. All this happened in Iron Man 3 (reviewed HERE). He seems to have fully recovered from PTSD and has built new armors judging from The Age of Ultron previews. We may or may not see Pepper in the movie but we know we will see Iron Patriot.

CAPTAIN AMERICA HAS A HARD LIFE

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier (reviewed HERE)Cap found out that S.H.I.E.L.D. was infiltrated for years by Hydra, a Nazi off-shoot, and had to destroy the organization. He also discovered his best friend, Bucky Barnes, who was thought to be killed during World War II was actually still alive. Good news? No, because Bucky had become Soviet super assassin The Winter Soldier who beat Cap in battle at the end of Winter Soldier. Rough life, Cap. I bet you liked the mid-20th century better.

S.H.I.E.L.D. IS NO MORE

Following the events of Captain America: The Winter Solider, the covert spy organization no longer exists in the form it had in previous Marvel movies. Though some agents are trying to hold it together, S.H.I.E.L.D (and erstwhile director Nick Fury [Samuel L. Jackson] who has let the world think him dead since the end of The Winter Soldier), is not the force it once was. “So what’s with that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D show? It shows the activities of former S.H.I.E.L.D agents, led by fan-favorite and new S.H.I.E.L.D Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) trying to keep the group running. No word on whether Coulson (who died in Avengers, remember?) or any of his team will make an appearance.

THOR SAVED THE WORLD. 

In Thor: The Dark World (reviewed HERE), everyone’s favorite, hunky Asgardian Thor (Chris Hemsworth) saved the world but lost his mother. Oh and he fought Loki, his brother, again. And Loki kind of won. But Thor doesn’t really know it. Don’t expect to see Loki in Age of Ultron. We’ll see him again in Thor: Ragnarok in a few years.

THERE ARE MIRACLES IN THE WORLD

The “stinger” scene after The Winter Soldier introduced us to “the twins” who were called “miracles” by a character named Baron Von Strucker (I suspect his movie backstory will come in Age of Ultron). These two are the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). There is a massively complicated comic book history here, but all you need to know is this: they are powerful “miracles” who will play a big role in the movie. They are not “mutants.” That term, along with those characters most associated with it – The X-Men – is owned by Fox.

TONY STARK MADE A BIG MISTAKE

In the comics, Ultron is created by an Avenger: Hank Pym also known as Ant-Man. Now, Ant-Man isn’t in Age of Ultron. He’s got his own movie coming out in July and Hank Pym in that film is not a contemporary of the Avengers as he’s played by Michael Douglas. Ignore all that. This movie features Tony Stark creating something that lead to Ultron. Nice work, Tony.

J.A.R.V.I.S. MIGHT HAVE  A BIG MOMENT

J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just Another Really Very Intelligent System) is the computer system that is the I.T. behind Iron Man. Edwin Jarvis, as established in Agent Carter, was Howard Stark’s butler whom, presumably, Tony Stark knew as a child. J.A.R.V.I.S. is voiced by actor Paul Bettany. Paul Bettany is playing android superhero The Vision in Age of Ultron. Is it possible that J.A.R.V.I.S. becomes The Vision?

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