Looking Back Before Moving Forward
On May 4, one of the most ambitious movies ever made will be released to theaters here in North America. That’s right; I’m talking about The Avengers. This has been a franchise in the making for at least four years, due in large part to the rousing success of the 2008 film Iron Man. When that took off, Marvel Studios decided to bring the core group of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to film.
Now, I’ve seen all of the movies, and I think all of the reviews are available here. If not, they should be. At least most of them are. Anyway, you know my format for these, so let’s not lollygag any further, shall we?
Iron Man – 2008
The movie that started it all. This movie was the kickoff to the resurgence of one Robert Downey, Jr. He commands the screen as the rambunctiously blunt philanderer Tony Stark, and the Academy Award Nominee is supported by a veritable who’s-who of Hollywood talent. Academy Award Winner Gwynneth Paltrow shines as Virginia “Pepper” Potts, future Academy Award Winner Jeff Daniels chews the scenery as Obadiah Stane, and Academy Award Nominee Terrence Dashon Howard (as he used to go by) plays the beleaguered James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Director Jon Favreau had a chore on his hands, and he handled it magnificently. A driving, rock-based score by Ramin Djawadi sealed the deal for this blockbuster film. The only complaint that comes to mind is the finale that subscribed to the same tropes as most other Hollywood popcorn films. The final confrontation could have been so much more, but it looked good for what it was. On top of that, it introduced the “Avengers Initiative” to the rest of us, and set the stage for what we are looking forward to now.
The Incredible Hulk – 2008
Most comic book movie fans tend to discount the first botched attempt at making a movie about the green superhero, and so shall I. The movie I’m talking about is the re-imagining starring Academy Award Nominee Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, Academy Award Nominee Tim Roth, and Academy Award Winner William Hurt as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. The movie in and of itself wasn’t a bad movie; in fact, it was pretty entertaining. Liv Tyler’s voice began to grate my nerves after a while, because it was more akin to a high-pitched whine than a speaking voice, but it was only a minor gripe. It didn’t falter near the end; in fact, it made me happy that it ended strong. Plus, having RDJ pop in as Tony Stark was just as entertaining.
Iron Man 2 – 2010
The inevitable follow-up to Iron Man brings back the principle good guys, with the exception of Terrence Howard; he was replaced with Academy Award Nominee Don Cheadle. The cast also included Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, Academy Award Nominee Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko, and Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman/Black Widow. With the exception of my final rating – I’m knocking it down to Three Times More Epic than Love Jones, my review can be found by following the link.
Thor – 2011
This was one of those Iron Man-type movies: second tier property with a relative unknown, surrounded by a pretty strong cast. What could go wrong? Not much. Chris Hemsworth became a household name as the Norse God of Thunder, Academy Award Winner Natalie Portman did her due diligence as Jane Foster, Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig, Idris Elba as Heimdall, and a host of other characters too numerous to mention in this brief synopsis. Instead of repeating myself from my original review, you can find my initial thoughts by clicking on the link.
The final piece in the Marvel Cinematic Universe puzzle is Captain America, and he is represented well on the big screen. Chris Evans stars as the titular hero, and he’s accompanied by Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/Red Skull, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes Stanley Tucci as Howard Eskine, and Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark (yes, Tony Stark’s dad). I already gave my thoughts about it earlier, and I invite you to check it out by following the titled link.
So, there you have it. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Samuel L. Jackson) – are coming to take over the movie theaters.
The world had better be ready.