Showing posts with label Marvel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marvel. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wolverine, X-Men and a long history with comics

Just to be clear, in the trailer for the new Wolverine movie, he gives up his mutant power of healing.  So, yeah, it's yet again a 2nd movie in a superhero installment where the hero gives up his powers or loses them or whatever, and must prove how they're a hero without their superpowers.

How long until people who don't obsess about this sort of thing pick up on this trend?  As lousy as the both Fantastic Four movies were, correct me if I'm wrong, but nobody lost their powers, right?  Because aside from that movie and maybe Ghost Rider 2, which I've yet to see, it seems like this is the go-to for all Hollywood superhero films.  Oh, right.  Iron Man waited til the 3rd installment for that to happen, and Hulk just rebooted between movies.

I probably won't go see Wolverine because... honestly, I don't care.  At least the last one was so bad I had a good laugh (this did not amuse my fellow movie goers, but, honestly...).

Like everyone else who reads comics, I was once a big Wolverine fan until the circa 1988 solo series, during which middle-school me decided he was more compelling as a team-player than running around Madripoor with an eyepatch.  I used to read and re-read that original, four issue mini-series by Claremont and a young Frank Miller.  That thing read like poetry, but, man, it also sort of had the final word on the transformation of Wolverine from "Canadian White Trash Stabby Guy" to "Samurai Warrior".  After that, I didn't really care about the various stories trying to take Wolverine apart and put him back together or whatever.

last time I found Wolverine an interesting character

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Finally saw Iron Man 3

In Robert Downey Jr.'s fourth turn as Ol' Shell Head, we see what Marvel is going to need to wrestle with as its franchises become as familiar as James Bond or Santa Claus.  What now?  What's next?  What superhero trope are we going to check out from the library and use for this movie?

Well, this was the "strip him of everything he has" story/ "what is the hero without his powers?" angle.  And it works better than you'd think.  Sure, you get limited armor action, but writer/ director Shane Black makes sure to resolve any deficits you might be feeling with a big, explosive conclusion that should make you forget that for 90% of the movie, Tony Stark is not in the suit.

Like the first Iron Man film, this one reflects back the headlines of the modern era, with a mix of politics, elusive terrorists, media management, and a few other bits that I don't want to get into for spoilery reasons.  The gang is back together, from Paltrow as Pepper Potts, to Don Cheadle as Rhodey.  Tony might not be doing so well in the wake of the Avengers' first team-up as he wrestles with PTSD, meanwhile continuing to explore the limits of the man-machine combination he's become and continues to explore as he seeks to build a better suit of armor.

I'm not telling you kids anything you don't already know.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Everything About Superhero Comics is Wrong - Part 1

As I've transitioned from weekly comic shop junkie who picked up way over his allotted budget in comics every month, who read every article on five comics websites every day, to: guy who stops by the comic shop once a month and is mostly picking up Superman, Daredevil and the occasional other book...  I've been thinking a lot about the American Comic Industry.

The summer movie The Avengers made more money than the GDP of many nations last year*, comic conventions fill 100,000 attendee halls in single cities, and, of all things, Pepper Potts is now a popular character in the zeitgeist.

Most comics sell a few thousand copies per month.  So I'm going to say a few things that are patently obvious, but need to be said.

If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you've heard these sentiments before, but I figured one last, grand parting shot couldn't hurt.

Appealing to adults was woefully misunderstood

When Time Magazine and other arbiters of the zeitgeist were saying things like Watchmen read as, finally, a comic for adults, they weren't talking about boobs and blood.  They were talking about a rich, layered story with characters that had motivations, flaws that couldn't be sorted out with a magic crystal, and who behaved in ways that felt true to experience outside of a comic-book universe.

somehow Dan Didio thought this should lead to his version of "Suicide Squad"

Friday, February 22, 2013

Let's Re-Boot "Turner D. Century"

Marvel.  The more realistic universe.


Back in the day Marvel was as devoid of ideas for new villains and driven to whatever place of madness that also drove DC to create "Terra-Man".  

You Millenials won't remember this, but there was a time and a place before January 1, 2000 when "turn of the century" meant the change from 1899 to 1900 and was several decades in the past.  Apparently on a bet or because someone had a deadline they'd forgotten about, in the pages of Captain America a new villain was born:  Turner D. Century!

yes, that's Spider-Woman creeping up to give Turner D. the beat down

A ragtime dandy, Turner rode around on a flying tandem bicycle with a dummy (because... sure), and had a flame-throwing umbrella.  LIKE EVERYONE HAD IN 1900.

He was absolutely driven to convince people to go back to living in an era of doilies, barber shop quartets and when Gary, Indiana was something you wrote about for the Music Man, not a depressing, burnt out mid-western hell hole.  And he was out to achieve this with small scale violence and property damage.  And we try very hard not to think about his relationship with that dummy on his bike.  And we really try not to think too hard about his views on race relations.

But, here in the glorious future of 2013, replete with flying skateboards and Mr. Fusion on our Deloreans, the phrase "Turn of the Century" isn't used so much as it refers to 13 years ago.  Now we just say "a few years back".  Or:  "When Britney Spears hadn't overstayed her welcome".

So, I'm curious.

Here's your weekend assignment:  Turner D. Century is introduced in 2013.  He is based not on the old turn of the century, but on our most recent turn of the century, from 1999-2000.

  • What does he wear?
  • What are his accouterments?
  • What is he railing against in modern life that he thinks was way better in 2000 than now?
  • Who does he fight?
  • Is he still relying on flame throwers?

Please let us know in the comment section all about this all-new version of Turner D. Century!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Signal Rewatch: It turns out "Avengers" is a pretty good movie

I didn't hate Avengers the first time I saw it, but I also wasn't a huge fan of the movie.  I liked it well enough, but something about it didn't click with me as much as I was hoping for.  Look, straight up, I'm a Captain America fan, and I kind of though the movie gave Cap short shrift.  I think I had expectations vis-a-vis Cap's assumed leadership role in Avengers, and that just didn't happen, exactly.

But as a fun roller coaster ride?  Yeah, it's pretty phenomenal.

I still don't quite get how people even followed the movie who hadn't paid to see the other Avengers movies in the lead up to this one, especially if you missed Thor (and, really, why would you miss Thor?  My MOM liked that movie).

On a second viewing, a bit more calibrated for what one could expect from Avengers, I didn't just watch it to enjoy a few choice scenes, I really quite liked the whole package much, much better - even if the ending is kind of ridiculous.  And, man, yeah, no wonder they can't keep Avengers toys on the shelf.

Watching the big, exciting fight scene at the end, I'm now in total awe of the package Joss Whedon put together.  I mean, it's about as perfect a super-hero-y playscape, threat, etc.. as you're going to find, and then the camera work and FX just really carry you through that whole terrific, chaotic cityscape.

I know I'm telling you guys something you already know, but by that point the last time I saw the movie, I was sort of ready for the conclusion, and everything between me and our villain stowed safely away felt a bit like a semi-welcome delay before we could all file out.  Not sulking about Cap's second-tier status kind of set my mind at ease, as did enjoying a lot of what Mark Ruffalo was up to in every shot where he appeared as either Banner or Hulk.  And, yeah, as much as a Planet Hulk movie sounds boss as hell, I'd like a Ruffalo-as-Hulk movie first.

Anyway, that's this evening's geek-out.

I'm pretty jazzed about Iron Man 3, and the in-production Cap and Thor flicks.  And word is that fricking Rocket Raccoon is coming to the big screen in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  Rocket Raccoon is getting a movie before The Flash, Shazam, Wonder Woman, Aquaman...

Go to hell, DC.

Now, if I can get a Black Panther movie, I might relax a little.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Signal Watches: Punisher - War Zone

So, yeah.

I'm, at best, a casual reader of The Punisher comics from Marvel.  Back in the 80's, when Punisher was sort of relevant in the wake of a few Deathwish movies (clearly the idea behind the character came from Bronson), and Bernhard Goetz had opened fire on a NYC Subway, I recall names like Mike Zeck, Klaus Janson and a young Jim Lee working on Punisher stuff.

I've tried various Punisher comics over the years, but it's a book that, when I'm not reading it, I don't really miss.  Watching someone stone cold execute people because they're "mobsters" or "criminals" - gets kind of stale after a while.  Yes, I started reading Ennis's run, and enjoyed it.  I intended to read it as trades, and just never got around to it.  I am reading Rucka's stuff, and it's good, solid, Rucka - if a bit spot on the nose "oh, of course he has a broken female protagonist" Rucka, but that doesn't mean its not worth checking out.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Stan Lee!

When I was a wee League, I was all about the Saturday Morning Cartoons.  If you're one of my fellow Gen X'ers, you might recall some of the Marvel cartoons that were on during the era, like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  What I recall is that episodes of The Incredible Hulk and other shows would start with Stan Lee breathlessly welcoming us "True Believers!" with a hearty "THIS IS STAN LEE!".  So, for a long, long time (like, since 1981) I've associated the thrilling adventures of Marvel characters with Stan.

And, I'll tell you what else, I read all of Stan's Spider-Man, and it's really good, y'all.  Not to mention how good I used to find the daily newspaper strip by him and Larry Lieber.

Friday, December 7, 2012

On "Marvel NOW!"

I've had a few people write me and ask if I had thoughts on Marvel Now!, which I take as a good sign for Marvel since I don't remember anyone asking me any Marvel questions in, literally, years.  But a bad sign, because nobody seems to know what this thing is.

For those of you not in the know, Marvel Comics - home of The Avengers - is starting a lot of their series over with a new #1 without feeling the need to reboot their entire universe the way DC did with the New 52, about 16 months ago.

DC immediately took a dollar share lead with the New 52, and all of Marvel's attempts to stop the bleeding with events like "Avengers versus X-Men" didn't really help.  I still think a lot of DC's success had to do with slapping #1 on the covers more than any reboot, and their willingness to embrace digital delivery.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cap is a Write-In for President In a Comic Somewhere

As we head into election season, the online media looks for click-fodder, and Marvel and DC think up events that will get headlines rather than sell some damn comics...

Was I surprised to read on a mainstream news site that Captain America is going to become President of the United States in the "Ultimate" version of the Marvel Universe?  Well, yeah.  I mean, that's a pretty drastic idea.  Of course, I haven't followed the Ultimate universe in a while, and last I checked they'd also killed off Peter Parker, half the X-Men, and, I think, basically gone "dystopian" with their version of the world.  So, you know, whatever.

I mean, Cap over in the mainline Marvel U pondered a run circa 1980 (we got Reagan instead, who, while charming, couldn't have taken Batroc the Leaper).  And Superman was elected President in one of those "Imaginary Stories" back in the day, Lex won the election in 2000 as a third party candidate (with Superman's childhood pal, Pete Ross, as VP), and Morrison made a version of Superman President who appeared as recently as Action Comics #9 (Volume 2).  And, Superman has been the Prime Minister of Russia over in Red Son.  And that doesn't include the dozens of times Superman went crazy and declared himself either king of the gorillas, some locality or of all the Earth.

Back in the 1970's, Batgirl served in Congress for a number of years (it was insane).  And, of course, one must never forget DC oddball youth-culture-appeal character Prez Rickard.

and the President thought he'd really discovered something when he watched  his first Kubrick movie...
So, basically, comics are full of crazy-brained stunts and goofy ideas about our elected (and not-elected) leaders.  They always have been, and I guess they always will be.  I'm glad that superhero comics aren't above the sort of wacky story telling that leads to stuff like Batgirl running for office, but I'm an old reader and seeing Cap sworn in as President on a write-in vote doesn't exactly blow my mind.  I hope younger readers feel differently.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A few random things to take us into Friday

Movies 2012:  I watched John Carter again.  I don't want to talk about it.  It's a weakness.  On this go-round I really realized how far it strays from the novels, but I guess I like it well enough on it's own as a planetary romance.  And I really like both Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins.  But I sincerely doubt we'll be seeing a sequel.

Marvel:  Marvel has been running these ads for the "Marvel NOW!" project, I guess, and they all seem to have one word in a sort of overly aggressive font splattered in blood.  The latest said "SURVIVE."  With BLOOD on it!  Which seems like something I would have drawn in the margins of my notes for class in middle school trying to come up with something really hard-core and edgy, but being a kind of pudgy kid who hadn't kissed a girl yet.

your content-free totally edgy concept has really wowed me, House of Ideas
I am so too old for whatever it is they're doing over there.  But I know 13 year old me would have eaten that stuff up.

Taking a couple months off from consumer spending:  For the next two months I'm not going to order anything from Amazon, I'm not going to sponsor any Kickstarters, I'm going to the comic shop once per month and I'm sticking to my budget for the online purchasing of comics-related stuff.  I also want to see what survives the forced pickiness.  It's a routine time to prioritize.

I liked the idea of Kickstarter at first.  Maybe too much.  Basically, in recent months, I didn't think one of the projects I was sponsoring would make, and so I sponsored something else, and they both made, so I'm out the cost of both.  And, of course, you're still not just buying the item you wanted, you're paying a premium to feel good about being part of the process.

I don't feel any return on the latter portion anymore.  If I want to feel good seeing money go nowhere, there are pretty good causes that could use the money.

I can't breathe:  Yeah, I thought I was getting better, too, but this thing is just clinging on well past it's expected shelf-life, all while finding new ways to annoy me.  Like Justin Bieber, in it's own way.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: The Amazing Spider-Man

I think it may have been Tom Spurgeon who commented that, to him, Spider-Man was this thing that occurred between 1962-1972 or so.  And if you've ever read early Spider-Man, it's not hard to see why that might be.  So much of what came afterward has been either retread or adding unnecessary baggage to the Peter Parker formula that seeing the story about the kid who puts on tights to fight crime and super-villains got lost somewhere with alien symbiote suits, clones, clones of clones, clones in symbiote suits, etc...

I've read probably the first 100 issues of Spider-Man in Marvel's phenomenal Essentials collections (and that artwork sings in black and white.  Trust me.).  I can't exactly remember when I first came to Spider-Man, because he was on The Electric Company, starred in TV movies, was in the paper, and was on Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.  I don't remember either the first Spidey comic I read, nor the last.  I do remember reading the wedding issue when it hit the newstand (it was such a big deal, guys).  But reading Kraven's Last Hunt totally wigged me out and made a bit of a Spider-Fan of me.*

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Avengers Assemble! Saluting Jack Kirby and dealing with the complications as a fan

Your Pal, Jack "King" Kirby!

It's hard to underestimate the cultural impact of comics creator Jack Kirby.  He may not carry the cultural cache of a JD Salinger, but he's probably as widely read, and inspired an army of imitators and worshippers.  And, hey, you can't find action figures nor bedsheets of Holden Caulfield.

still a little peeved the movie will have neither Giant Man nor Wasp (nor Subby)

Kirby didn't create Superman or Batman, but he was part of the creation of (an incomplete list to be sure):
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Captain America
  • The Mighty Thor
  • The Avengers
  • The X-Men
  • The Fantastic Four
  • The Silver Surfer
  • Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos
  • The Black Panther
  • Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy
  • Mr. Miracle & Big Barda andthe pantheon of The New Gods
  • The Newsboy Legion
  • Kamandi
  • The Demon
  • OMAC
  • Challengers of the Unknown
  • Silver Star
  • Captain Victory
and there are some versions of Kirby's bio that suggest he was the guy who originally pitched a "Spider-Man" to Marvel and didn't do the series as he was too busy (not hard to believe).

No matter what you think, you are not ready for this comic
He also did books that he didn't create (Jimmy Olsen, his mind-bending 2001 work), created romance comics, westerns, and a hundred other things that are somewhat forgotten.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Avengers Assemble! Captain America - The First Avenger (2011)

Yup.  I was going to wait and give Jamie some pacing when it came to watching Captain America (2011), but I got the BluRay of this movie a couple weeks back, and I am an impatient fellow.

I was a bit curious as to how well I'd like Captain America as the last time I saw it, there were extenuating circumstances.  Namely: Mark Waid was there and was a hell of a nice guy.  Also, Austin Books was there shooting t-shirts out of a gun, and the place was full of friendly comic nerds.  Also, I'd had a margarita right before the movie.

If you read my review last August, you may recall I sort of freaked out and gushed about the movie.

like a boss...

You know what?  I still find this a very satisfying movie, superhero or otherwise.  I mean, its not exactly Citizen Kane, and it doesn't have either the grandeur or myth-making of Superman: The Movie, nor the "geez, I can relate" feel of the Young American Hard Luck Case that comes part and parcel with Spider-Man.  But its a celebration of what is best about why we fight, and what it means to be the good guy in the old school, unironic way, nor by becoming the anti-hero.

All very strange because I'm not much of a fan of director Joe Johnston, shy of his work on The Rocketeer.

I suppose part of my attraction is still the pacing of the film, and that even more than Iron Man, I feel like we get a complete story that takes place over an extended period of time.  And, Cap's evil opposite makes a lot of sense in the context of this film, at least in my crazy head.

Sure, it would have been nice to have Mark Waid stop by and enjoy the movie with me (you're welcome anytime, Mr. Waid), but even without his presence or any comic geeks who are not my wife or my black lab, its still a decent flick and a solid entry in the superhero genre.

Of course, its a mix of the original tales as told my Jack Kirby and Joe Simon (I am aware that Kirby did leave to go serve in WWII after Cap debuted, but am unaware if Simon did the same).  Of course it harkens to the Avengers work done around 63'-64' when Cap returned to comics thanks to Smilin' Stan and Jack Kirby.  But it also is an interesting mix of both The Ultimates take on things, leaning heavily on the recent work of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting on Captain America (which is highly readable in collected editions).

Special bonus:  I had a moment of clarity not too long ago when some stray neurons fired and I remember trying to impress a girl when I was a freshman in high school by showing her the Captain America poster I'd recently acquired and hung above my dresser.  Yeesh.

I found a picture of that poster online.

also... like a boss

She did still go out with me a couple of times.  That's the power of Cap, I guess.

Dang, man.  What happened to that poster?  Also, my picture of Earth?  And my Michael Jordan poster...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Avengers: Meet-Up, Saluting the Creators

So, not too many of you live in Austin, but if anyone is interested in seeing the movie of Avengers on May 6th, I guess (I just realized we have a graduation party to attend on Saturday, so its got to be Sunday), let me know.

We'll hit one of the Alamo locations to ensure the bestest experience for seeing the movie.  And if you're Aaron, I think I promised you a ticket.

Am I excited for Avengers?  No, not really.  I am probably more excited for this than, say, Tintin, but less excited than I was for...  lots of other stuff.  I mostly get excited at about the 30 minute mark if a movie hasn't let me down yet.  That's how, these days, I deal with the crippling disappointment that comes with trying to enjoy superhero movies.  People, I saw both Fantastic Four movies, a Ghost Rider and Daredevil in the theater.  This is the only sane reaction.

If you want to join me and the missus (who is revealing herself to be more into all this than you'd think), contact me anyway you like, and we'll sort it out.

Leading up to the movie, I think its only fair I do something in honor of the men and women who paved the way for Avengers to become a huge, tent-pole type movie.  So do not think I will diss Jack and the gang as we head towards big summer fun.

If you'd like to join in by writing about Jack Kirby, Walt Simonson, Joe Simon, Stan Lee, etc...  just let me know!  I'd welcome the participation.

Avengers Assemble! THOR (2011)

It seems like just yesterday that I went to see Thor (2011) a second time in the theater.  Yeah, I pretty much liked it that much, plus, I don't think I paid to see it on round 2.

CanadianSimon is a big fan of the Thor comics, but I'd never really read them.  Something about Thor didn't click with me when I was a kid, and then as an "adult", I just never swung back to checking out the character for more than a few issues at a time.

Anyway, I stand by my review of about 12 months ago, give or take a week.  Its still a nifty movie with cool FX, a swell cast, and a story I find oddly moving for a movie about two brothers with very different takes on filial piety and affection.  Sometimes a story, even one about transdimensional space gods, can be universal enough at its core to be effective.

I really like Chris Hemsworth in this movie.  He's actually quite good, especially when you realize he's working with folks like Rene Russo, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman and the very, very talented Tom Hiddleston who plays Loki.  Hewsworth was almost unrecognizable (but well cast) in The Cabin in the Woods, and I hope he does well.  Hollywood needs to make room for more actors over 5'6".

Also, this movie has Sif.  And that is okay by me.

Her deadly polearm really brings out her eyes

So now we're down to Captain America, and then Avengers itself.

I wish I could find some way to salute Jack Kirby in all this.  After all, Kirby originally envisioned Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, and the concept of The Avengers.  If you have ideas for what we can do to salute King Kirby, lemme know via email.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Avengers Assemble! Iron Man 2

You know, it seems it was unhip to say you liked Gwyneth Paltrow, and I found her marrying anyone in Coldplay annoying, but I like her a lot in both Iron Man movies.  The 00's will be remembered as the era in which Marvel made superhero movies legitimate, something even the success of Tim Burton's Batman film couldn't do (see: the sequels).

Unfortunately, despite a huge budget, some great set pieces, a decent set-up and good ideas...  Iron Man 2 is just a mess.  It feels like 3 movies' worth of stuff piled in, and only some of it jives.  Only not really, because the basics of the plot all DO tie together, they just feel slapped together, and it feels a bit like RDjr needed to, and I hate to say it, tone it down a little bit.  I like the Senate panel scene, too, but...  its a wee bit silly and ventures into that area that makes me uncomfortable when they talk about Batman being smarter and better than everybody else.  "So, you're arguing that he's just a guy, just...  smarter, more athletic, deadlier, handsomer and more technically savvy... oh, and RICHER than everyone else.  And this relatable how?".

I mean, I know the scene is there to show Tony spiraling but... anyway.

Its not as pristine and entertaining as the first movie, nor is the weight of Stark's legacy writ large as a challenge.  That's been resolved to as astronomic degree (if its been a while - in this movie, Iron Man has ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on his own).  And the fight between Rhody and Tony at the half-way point is sort or rubbish.

But its better than most of what we got in the 90's for superhero fare, so, whatever.

Oh, right.  ScarJo.  Well, she certainly adds production value.  And her character is certainly lucky nobody back sup ten feet and pulls out a gun.  Anyway...

On to Thor.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My One Concern About The Avengers Trailer, Birthday Presents, Get Superman a Star

On the Avengers Trailers:

Captain America:  "Big man with a suit of armor.  Take that away, what are you?"
Iron Man:  "Genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist..."
cut to:  (in trailer 1):  Thor laughing knowingly at the humiliated Cap
cut to:  (in new TV trailer):  shrug from the sexy girl agreeing with Iron Man
implied:  the sad trombone

Marvel may not know it, but it seems they're setting up their Cap to become the insta-square that DC accidentally made of Superman back in 1986 and which, 26 years later, they've never recovered from.   By setting up our pal Cap as The Bad Guy In the Dorky Outfit picking on The Guy We All Related To a Few Summers Back,  its more than possible they're sinking one of their own flagship guys, all before the movie is released.

Sure, the exchange is intended to sell us on the crazy dynamics of the characters that we'll see if we give our local cinema $10, but the whole exchange feels out of character for Cap, including the Cap from last summer's movie (the whole point of which was - he's generally better than that).  Yes, we need a "clashing team", but...  you're losing me a little here, Marvel/ Studio/ Joss.  That exchange is supposed to be the response the drunk on power/ charming Stark gives to the stuffed suit SHIELD Agent, not the guy who just got unthawed after saving the Free World.

I'm a Cap fan. Don't make me regret your movie.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Avengers Assemble! The Incredible Hulk (2008)

We talked The Incredible Hulk during its initial release in 2008, and we sort of glossed over the movie at the time.

I like the two Hulk movies pretty well, I suppose.  I own them both for home viewing and I'll watch them both when they're on cable, too.  There's something about the "monster lurking inside" that's all emotion, be it rage or whatever that is The Hulk is thinking when he sees Betty Ross.  No wonder Ang Lee was so smitten with the idea.

Anyway, this was Take-2 for the Hulk character in the post Spider-Man era.  Folks had sort of complained about Lee's take on the character and it hadn't made the money Marvel had seen from Spidey or Spidey 2.

The Incredible Hulk (2008) isn't a terribly complicated movie, perhaps in direct response to the supposedly heady The Hulk (2003).  Its a fairly fun movie, and the complication between Thunderbolt Ross, Betsy Ross and poor 'ol Bruce Banner manages to carry some weight.

Despite the somewhat baffling/ brilliant casting of Tim Roth as villain Emil Blonsky, the storyline and eventual climax of the movie in a slugfest between Hulk and the Abomination just never feels much more than perfunctory.

Where Eric Bana had played Bruce Banner as a PTSD victim, I think I prefer Ed Norton's driven, desperate take.  And if you're going to replace Jennifer Connelly, I cannot complain about Liv Tyler tagging in, even if she mostly goes for dewy-eyed helplessness.

With The Avengers coming up, I'm curious to see how their Bruce Banner will fit into the mix, but I think it'll be fun, even with yet another actor coming in as Banner.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Avengers Assemble: Iron Man (2008)

In the run up to this summer's Avengers movie, Jamie and I are going to be watching the individual superhero movies that will take us right up to the big team-up picture.  Its a lot of flicks.  The Alamo will be running a marathon, but I just can't see myself sitting through what has to be roughly 12 hours of Marvel action of movies I've seen already multiple times.

  • Iron Man
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor 
  • Captain America
That doesn't mean I don't actually quite like most of the movies, but...  I dunno.  The Planet of the Apes marathon was just truly something Ahab-like that I felt I had to do once in my life.  Now, if they screened all the Superman movies...  now we're talking.

Iron Man (2008) still holds up remarkably well, even if this was the first time I wondered why the 10 Rings terrorist association wanted Tony Stark to build the missile rather than kill him as Obadbiah Stane had requested to garner goodwill and maybe get those Jericho missiles off a truck.

Looking at Iron Man and comparing it to DC's attempt to launch a hydra-headed franchise like Avengers with Green Lantern, its a reminder that WB and DCE are really, really bad at all this, and there's no reason to think that they won't really mess up the upcoming Superman film, Man of Steel.  DC's answer to a cocksure hero like Tony Stark didn't work with the Ryan Reynold's "I'm a loveable goof" take on Hal Jordan, a terrible costume and pretty much no motivation for our hero or the audience to embrace.

Iron Man was actually such a trick and gave such a clear arc to Tony Stark as a character that trying to repeat the narrative success in the sequel didn't really take.  I recall not being exactly bored during Iron Man 2, but also knowing that they were going to learn a lot about what was missing for when they wrote the third installment.

May I also add:  I really like Gwyneth Paltrow in this movie.  I can genuinely say I never thought I'd give a damn about Pepper Potts, but I like her understated performance.  She isn't given that much to do in this boy's own adventure, but she manages to do a lot with what's on the page and feel like a bit more than the girlfriend-in-trouble that Kirsten Dunst got stuck playing over three Spidey movies.  Her scenes with Robert Downey Jr.'s force of nature Tony Stark feel terribly natural in the work-wife sort of vibe, and the dialog just works (see: the scene where she has to swap out Tony's batteries).  It goes a long way.

And, of course, Jeff Bridges as a super-villain?  This movie is just terribly well cast all the way down the line, including Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, everyone's favorite G-Man.

Its a fun movie, even if it boils down to mad-scientist antics and two dudes slugging it out on a rooftop and goofing on a bit of BS for the conclusion to their spat (I am sure one can read all sorts of symbolism into the Arc Generator killing Stane, but I doubt 1 in 20 filmgoers found themselves weeping at all the lovely irony).  

On to The Incredible Hulk and Liv Tyler.