More Irons in the Fire

In Iron Man 3 poor Tony is suffering the after effects of the events in The Avengers, and is not in a good place at all. In fact he is in a very dank, dark, dirty, place and, not even the love of a good women (i.e Pepper) can bring him out of it.

The movie starts with a voice over where Tony is in some sort of therapy and telling the story of the events of the film to an unknown other person. We flash back to the Millenium Eve where Tony was in Switzerland, way back before the events of the first movie, where Tony ended up copping off with Maya Hansen, a rather attractive scientist who had invented this treatement which allowed people to recover from previously un-recoverable conditions, but was less interested in her work then her body, and basically spend the night with her, tupped her, and the buggered off the following morning.

He also managed to upset a fellow scientist, Aldrich Killian, who offered both of them a place in his company by promising that he would see him up only to spurn him and leave him waiting for him on the roof of the building where they were. Of course none of these bothered Tony at that time, because that was the old Tony and he got what he wanted, which is in the knickers of Maya Hansen (and to be honest you wouldn’t blame him, so that was the main thing.

It turns out that Tony is in fact suffering from PTSD which is not surprising given what he had been through even if he did sort of pretend that he didn’t really care and in his film that really shows and there were times in this movie that you thought that he might actually break down and not be able to do what he wanted to do.

Whilst he is having his mini breakdown the world appears to be in the thrall of a man named the Mandarin who appeared in flashy videos and promos telling the American public exactly what he is going to and how he is going to do it.

When Tony publicly criticises the Mandarin on a news broadcast Tony becomes a target and his home is basically razed to the ground by the Mandarin’s team and Pepper is kidnapped and Tony left for dead. Tony who is just about able to survive this attack with the help of his various Iron Man suits is then on a mission to find out who the Mandarin in and stop him in his tracks and rescue Pepper from his clutches. What a guy!

For me the standout part of this film apart from the various Iron Man suits and the cool way that Tony is actually able to get into the suits even at the most difficult moments which get more and more ludicrous with each film and each iteration of the suits, was Ben Kingsley’s turn in the film as what appeared to be a terrorist figurehead who only appears in videos, but turns out to be nothing of the sort in what is a very clever twist and not always that obvious until it spelled for you, well spelled out for me anyway.

Of course there were plenty of big set pieces peppered through the movie all of which got bigger each time which were both quite exciting and shocking at the same time due to nature of them. Once again it would look great on the big screen and does lose some of its impact on the small screen.

Another star turn in this film was from Guy Pearce aka Mike from Neighbours as people of my generation remember him best. He first appeared as a very nerdy, partially disabled gentlemen who was pretty much ignored by everyone including both Tony and Pepper, and took this rejection very much to heart ultimately leading to his actions in this movie. His transformation in the movie was a little bit Captain America like but with more dire and serious complications than Steve Rogers suffered.

Of course with Killian being a bit of a scientific genius like Tony helped him to get to where he was when he reappeared at Stark Industries later on in the movie, which is more like how you would expect Guy Pearce to look like but from a character point of view was quite remarkable.

Like I said this movie was a lot of fun in many ways but was not great for Tony Stark himself, which he did sort of deserve when you think about it.

No Assembly Required

The Avengers Assemble took a wee while to get going as far as I am concerned. It also made absolutely no sense to me until at least half way through the film as I have never seen any of the previous films in the Marvel Comic Universe, and therefore was not aware of many of the characterisations of the main characters and their relationships with one another, which really makes this film what it is.

So I had no previous knowledge of the Tesseract, or of the importance of the Dr Selvig to Loki’s plans, or even to who the hell Loki was and where he came from. I also had no idea of why Tony Stark had such an attitude problem and why Steve Rogers seemed to be so unhappy with his life.

In short I came to this film originally as a total newbie and whilst I enjoyed the set pieces in particular the final set pieces when the wormhole opened and all of the aliens come through and all of that, that all it was a bit of a spectacle for my eyes, which if I had watched the film on the big screen would probably have been enough but I wasn’t invested in the characters and in their histories with each other in the wider cinematic universe.

So for example when Agent Coulson was killed then it didn’t really resonate with me as it was probably meant to do as he was just a new character for me and whilst it was a bit sad it wasn’t the shock that I am guessing it was meant to be for MCU aficionados. In short I wasn’t really bothered about it.

I also thought that Tony Stark was an arse and not a very likable person. I didn’t have much of an opinion on Dr Bruce Banner as he seemed to be a rather boring character in my opinion. I found Captain America a bit whiny and moany. I found the Black Widow to be very sexy, and I found Hawkman to be a complete cipher. As for Nick Fury well he was just Samuel L Jackson in an eye-patch.

Once I had watched all of the first phase of MSC films and then watched this film it all started to make sense and I enjoyed it a lot more than I did originally but it was still a bit of a mess, and had too many characters, and tried to be something for everyone and sometimes fell a little bit flat.

I think when you are trying to shoehorn so many elements into one film it is bound to be a little lacking in places and this film is not exception to that rule.

After I has watched this film in context after seeing the rest of the first phase of films my opinions of the characters didn’t really change much for Nick Fury, the Black Widow and Hawkman, but I did have a better understanding of why Captain America and Tony Stark acted the way they did in this film, as I now knew what they had gone through before and to be honest you couldn’t blame either of them for acting the way that they did and I didn’t have the same problem with Tony Stark as I did when I saw it the first time.

I still think that he is an arse but there are good reasons for him to be an arse, which doesn’t excuse the fact that he is an arse, it just explains it for the purposes of characterisation. Hawkman didn’t really fare to well in this film as he spend most of the first half of the film in the thrall of Loki but he was very handy with his bow and arrows in the latter half of the film. It also seems that he has a past with the Black Widow, which will no doubt be explored in future films.

In fact Hawkman could have very easily been replaced by another Marvel character without much of problem as even though he did play his part in the film his role could have been done by absolutely anyone.

The Black Widow just spend the film looking incredibly hot, and kicking as much arse as possible which was very nice but, like Hawkman, she could have been replaced by any other female marvel character you could care to mention.

It was a bit odd having a new actor playing Banner and it was a bit disconcerting at first because when he first appeared it was difficult to work out who the hell he was until he mentioned about the big green guy but, pretty soon, you forgot that there was a different actor playing Banner before.

The Avengers Assemble is worth watching but not without having seen the previous MCU films as it will make no sense and doesn’t stand up very well to repeat

Team America

I really enjoyed Captain America The First Avenger, and I would have to say that this has been my favourite of all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies so far. I think it might be because the fact that Steve Rogers was a very skinny, wimpy kid, with more illnesses than you can throw a stick at who became a super hero and as I was a rather skinny and wimpy kid back in the day (less skinny now but I am working on it)and I like the idea that this might happen to me, apart from the fact that I am not American, do not live in the 1940s, and would not actually want to go to war as Steve Rogers so enthusiastically did.

Now I have never seen Chris Evans in anything before this film so I didn’t realise that he is more like Steve Rogers after the serum than Steve Rogers before the serum but they did a good job in making him look like the weedy person that Steve Rogers started off as and it made the transformation into Captain America that more remarkable and surprising, especially when there were other candidates who would have been much more straightforward candidates for the process, who wouldn’t have needed as much help as Rogers did, but obviously lacked the special something that Rogers possessed which didn’t seem at all obvious until he did something much braver than any of the other people would have done and the more perfect specimen ran off like a girl.

The storyline of the movie was a very straightforward and traditional version of the many versions of the Captain America origin story that we have had over the years and is a rip roaring adventure with a very fine villain in the shape of Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull and lots of fight scenes and battles in the air and derring do by the American soldiers.

You do have to feel a bit sorry for Steve who thinks that he has got what he wants when he is given the serum only to be used as some sort of symbol, who is looked down upon by the soldiers that he so wanted to be like and so wanted to treat him like one of them only to be viewed as a person who couldn’t be taken seriously at all, and was not making a difference like they were by actually fighting the Nazis and not parading in front of lots of showgirls, which was pretty much what he had been doing for most of the film once he had buffed up to become Captain America, so when he had a chance to actually start getting stuck in and actually do what he wanted to do and to fight for his country he jumped at the chance, as that was the main reason why he had put himself through all the pain that resulted from him being given the serum, so he wasn’t going to not do that was he.

He is very much a very patriotic American who just wants to do his best for his country and is willing to lay his life down if he is ordered to because that is just the kind of guy that he is, which I think a lot of young men in his situation at the time were.

I think it also had something to do with girls too as it is well know than girls love a man in uniform and when his best mate James “Bucky” Barnes set him up with a friend of a girl he was dating and poor Steve found himself ignored by the girl because he was a civilian and she only had eyes for Bucky who was in uniform even if he was going out with her friend at the time which made him even more determined to be called up.

You have to laugh at his persistence in being drafted by making up lots and lots of different aliases in as any different places as he could hoping to get the call up but never managing to trick them. I bet there were plenty of young men at the time who would have loved to have had his trick of getting ruled unfit for war, and I am one of those who would quite happily have traded places with him, for not getting drafted that is, not for being injected by a super serum, even if it did give me a six pack and make girls gasp when they see me.

Even Agent Peggy Carter, about the only female character in this very masculine film, wasn’t immune to the charms of Steve Rogers after he had received the serum, witness her face when she sees what he has become after being aware of Roger’s physique before the serum.

This is definitely my favourite of all of the MCU films so far.

By The Power of Asgard

Thor is at its heart about the battle of two brothers for the approval of their father and that is the main thrust of the plot, and everything that each brother does is to make their father choose them as his successor in place of the other but, in the case of these two brothers, the consequences of what they are doing can be quite monumental and destructive.

One of the brothers Thor is the first born son of Odin and is first in line to succeed his father as King of Asgard and is very much ruled by his feelings and acts first rather than thinking first. The other brother Loki is very different, and is more considered and thoughtful. The brothers are very much chalk and cheese.

One time Thor choses to defy his father he almost gets himself killed and virtually starts a war that his father has spent years and years trying to prevent and had got a rather nice little truce which was all going well until Thor decided to take it into his own hands and cocked everything up.

As a result Thor got himself banished from Asgard by Odin and stripped of his powers as punishment for almost starting a war and worst of all for defying his father. Odin also took from Thor his magical hammer and threw that out as well. Both Thor and the hammer crash landed on Earth with the hammer attracting SHIELD in the shape of Agent Coulson who immmediately locked the area down.

Thor ends up being knocked down by Jane Foster and her colleagues who are soon found by SHIELD which makes Jane team up with Thor to try and get his hammer back, but when he finally get to it after being up half of the SHIELD agent rather easily it has to be said.

He probably would have a bit of a problem getting past Natasha Romanov but she must have been busy elswhere when this was happening. Of course when gets there he is unable to life the hammer because he has lost his power and also he needs to be worthy of it which was the reason why he lost it in the first place so it was pretty obvious at that point that he wasn’t worthy of it at that moment.

Thor is rescued from the clutches of SHIELD by Dr Selvig one of Jane’s colleagues who being Scandiweigan is fully aware of the whole pantheon of Norse gods even if he just views them as fair tales and kids stories even if he wanted them to be true.

Back on Asgard, Thor’s friends decide that they need to get Thor back as it wasn’t fair that he was banished and that Loki got away scott free. What they didn’t realise what that Odin had fell into Odinsleep, which is a kind of coma and that Loki has now taken over the mantle of the thronw, which makes them even more positive that they need to get Odin back. They manage to persuade the gatekeeper to let them go to Thor but Loki finds out and decides to send his own agent (a sort of giant robot ala Iron Man) to stop them from finding Thor and make sure that none of them get back to Asgard and tries to make this even more likely by using his frost giant powers to freeze the gatekeeper and then goes to the king of Frost Giants and tells them that he will allow him into Asgard to kill Odin.

There is a massive battle between the Asgardians and Loki’s agent which sees lots and lots of shit blowing up and total pandemonium caused and Thor appears to be killed by Loki’s agent. Loki assumes that he has got away with it but at that moment Thor gets his hammer back as he has now proved himself worthy of the hammer and is back to his old self, well a new improved version of his old self who is actually now ready to wield the power that he has been given. They manage to get through to the gatekeeper is able to bring them back to Asgard.

When there Odin is almost killed by a Frost Giant but is resuced by Loki who then slays the frost giant so Loki is totally duplicitous and has more faces than a politican and you can never know what he is thinking and what he would do to get his own way, which is pretty much anything.

Thor and Loki then have a massive set to which is the climax of the film where Loki calls Jane which sends Thor over the edge which is a bit odd considering that he hadn’t known her that long and there is a very exciting fight sequence which lots and lots of special effects and interesting camera work and ends up with Thor breaking the bridge between Asgard and the Earth effectively stopping him from seeing her again and almost ending the story there and then.

Loki appears to be killed but it is very unlikely that we have seen the last of him as he just wouldn’t allow that to happen.

I enjoyed Thor. It was at times a bit overblown and pompous, particularly the scenes set on Asgard, and quite Shakepearan which suited the director down to the ground but it was a hell of a lot of fun especially the scenes in modern day Earth, with Thor not really getting to grips with modern life.

Hemsworth was good as Thor as was Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, a very strong female character for the girls in the audience. It was a bit disappointing that in the end she was just another love interest as it might have been a bit more interesting if she had been a bit more coy with him, rather than flinging herself at him.

Anthony Hopkins bought suitable gravitas to the role of Odin and did steal every scene he was in. I did think that Idris Elba was a bit wasted in the role of the gatekeeper though.

Not a bad film, but not a great one either.