Life has gotten in the way of my updates, which is why I’m quite behind. We’ve got 11 days until Avengers: Age of Ultron and after this, I still have six movies to go. We’ll see how close I can get.
So we return to the world of Tony Stark in Iron Man 2. This time, Tony has apparently made the world a safer man, due to his Iron Man technology. But alas, the government wants to get its hands in the cookie jar. Led by Senator Sterns (who we will lately learn a nasty secret about), the federal government wants Stark to turn the suits and the technology over to the military. And they succeed, more or less, and the slimy Justin Hammer gets his slimy hands on the tech (Hammer Industries got the military’s weapons contract after Stark Industries stopped selling weapons).
Tony is able to keep the government at bay, because as I said, he’s making the world a safer place.
“I’ve successfully privatized world peace!”
However, It turns out that there are outside forces working to unravel things. Long ago, Howard Stark invented the Arc Reactor along with the his friend and partner Anton Vanko. But when Vanko tried to sell the technology, Howard had him deported. Now Anton has died, and his own son, Ivan Vanko, is out for revenge. He designed his own Arc Reactor and used it to cause havoc at an Indy race in Monaco. Iron Man managed to defeat him, but Hammer arranged for Ivan to escape incarceration so that he can design tech to upstage Tony at the Stark Expo. Hmm… trusting someone who is hellbent on another’s destruction. What could possibly go wrong?
Another plot is that while Iron Man is protecting the world, the tech is slowly killing him. The core that powers his Arc Reactor that keeps him alive is slowly poisoning his blood. Of course, no other known element can simultaneously power the Arc Reactor and not kill him, so Tony starts acting quite erratic (in his mind, he’s a dead man walking, so he might as well go out with a bang). However, Tony discovers the blueprints for a new element hidden in the design for a Land of the Future designed by his father. Tony is able to synthesize the element, power the Arc Reactor, and not kill himself. Yeah, dad!
In the film’s climax, Ivan remotely takes over the drones he designed, as well as the Mark II suit that Hammer had acquired (with Stark friend and Air Force Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes helplessly inside), using them to attack Iron Man. With careful maneuvering and help from Natasha Romanoff, Iron Man defeats the drones and gives Rhodes control of his suit again. But like a video game, winning the boss battle leads to the final boss, as Ivan attacks on a special hybrid of the Iron Man suit and the electric whips he used in Monaco. Iron Man and War Machine (Rhodes’ suit isn’t referred as this in the movie) combine their powers to defeat Ivan and save the girl.
In the post-credits stinger, Agent Coulson had been reassigned from Stark duty to investigate an 0-8-4 in New Mexico… Thor’s Hammer.
Back with another installment of Avengers April, in anticipation for Avengers: Age of Ultron, today we look at the only standalone movie dedicated to the Hulk, titled The Incredible Hulk. Starring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner and the big green guy you won’t like when he’s angry, this film was seen as a correction for the mess that was Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003).
The film was not an origin story, as most people already know that story, due to the popular live-action television show The Incredible Show, which starred Lou Ferrigno as Hulk (but not Banner). As a nod to that cultural icon, Ferrigno voiced the Hulk in his few lines (in fact, I can only remember one… “Hulk Smash!”) and had an additional guest role as a security guard. The film instead picks up five years after the failed gamma ray experiment, with a Banner on the run and in hiding. For the uninitiated, the opening credits montage did recap the origin story.
You can’t talk about this film without talking about Edward Norton’s decision to not reprise the character in The Avengers. It’s a shame, because Norton is a Hulk fan who actually rewrote the script to fit his vision. Yet when casting was underway for The Avengers, Norton declined, and the role was given to Mark Ruffalo. I don’t think anyone but Norton really knows why. Maybe it was money, or lack of control. Maybe he didn’t like Hulk’s part in the film. Norton once she that being in The Avengers would keep him from pursuing other smaller films in the meanwhile, but considering Ruffalo’s ability to still do exactly that, that was an exaggeration.
Ultimately, I think Ruffalo is a better choice anyway. While I did enjoy Norton’s take on the character, I liked Ruffalo’s fit as Banner. I just get more of a “genius scientist” vibe with him. No offense to Norton.
The film centers on the U.S. Military’s efforts to capture Hulk. The commander for these missions, General Thaddeus Ross, was involved in the ill-fated experiment that turned Banner into the Hulk in the first place. Now he wants to capture Banner so he can weaponize the Hulk for military purposes. How exactly he intends to use this weapon, I have no idea. Does he intend to make a bunch of tamed Hulks that he can send out onto the battlefield? Does he want to refine the original experiment in order to continue to pursue the original Super Soldier serum?
To that end, Ross employs British marine Emil Blonsky, played by Tim Roth. Blonsky starts as the good marine who is shocked by the emergence of the Hulk, and even more surprised that Hulk and Banner are one in the same. To help even the playing field, he agrees to receive a serum that gives him increased speed, strength, agility, and apparently healing power. While it’s not quite the Super Soldier serum, it shows a clear improvement on Blonsky’s abilities. However, it also makes him mad, so that he eventually demands an infusion of Banner’s blood and turns into the Abomination.
In the film’s climax, Hulk and the Abomination battle through the streets and rooftops of Manhattan, with the Hulk eventually subduing Blonsky. He was going to kill him, but was stopped by the pleas of Betty Ross, Banner’s former colleague and girlfriend. While the film doesn’t go out and say so, I assume that Blonsky’s transformation may have put to rest Ross’s pursuit of weaponized the Hulk.
The film was one of the few (if not the only) MCU movie to not feature a mid- or post-credits stinger, instead slapping the final scene before the credits. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark, who approached a downtrodden Ross in a bar and tells him that “we’re putting a team together.” While everyone assumes that Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. are inquiring about having Hulk in the Avengers, this was not actually so. In the comics that fill in the gaps between the MCU films, it’s revealed that the World Security Council wants the Abomination for the Avengers Initiative. Knowing that’s a crazy idea, Nick Fury seeks to sabotage the WSC’s efforts. So while he still is required to inquire about the Abomination, S.H.I.E.L.D. intentionally used Stark as its pitch man. Well, Stark succeeds as thoroughly pissing Ross up to the point that there is no way in hell the General will allow S.H.I.E.L.D. to get anywhere near the Abomination. Mission accomplished. Thanks, Tony.
I didn’t see Iron Man until shortly before seeing The Avengers (expect to see this statement a lot), so I don’t know if anyone knew that this was the first movie in a massive cinematic universe. As far as I know, there wasn’t any real hint to this until the post-credits stinger with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Speaking of which, we were taught early on to not leave a Marvel movie until the lights turned on in the theater (Joss Whedon says that there will be only one mid-credits stinger in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Personally, I don’t believe him. Stay till the lights come on, just in case.).
“I am Iron Man.”
Such a cool statement. Tony Stark has saved the day, and there is every opportunity to disavow involvement. But Stark likes the spotlight, so why not?
There was a running gag in the movie when Agent Phil Coulson would introduce himself as part of the Strategic Homeland Intervention… and he didn’t get much farther than that. Pepper Potts and Tony would make a joke about the length of the name. Then at the end, Potts starts making another joke, and Coulson says, “Just call us S.H.I.E.L.D.” So were they trying to act like Coulson just created the acronym on the fly, because it’s well established by now that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been around a lot longer than Coulson has? Or did Coulson just like hearing the full name?
So this Iron Man movie didn’t really have a lot of Iron Man in it. The crude armor didn’t make its appearance until more than 30 minutes in. The full armor waited an hour. Once all the testing is done, Tony takes a joyride in the suit, saves the Middle Eastern village, and shows up for the finale battle. That’s it.
By the way, Stark has got J.A.R.V.I.S. running his home and his suit, but it seems that Tony could have benefited from a simple home security alarm. Obadiah Stane breaks in undetected and paralyses Tony, and later Fury makes his entrance. Stark, go ahead and give Brinks a call.
Now while I’m making jokes, I do want to stress that I enjoyed this movie. Robert Downey Jr. is the PERFECT Tony Stark. Terrance Howard is a fun Rhodey. There was a great nod to War Machine when Rhodes looks at an extra suit, thinks about it, and then says, “Next time.”
I close out this installment of Avengers April with the post-credits stinger, as Fury finished with, “I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger initiative (Holy shit!).”