Marvel & Margaritas

One of my quarantine goals is to perfect the cocktails that I love, since I can’t go out and get them. (Total Wine having pre order is helping me in this goal.) I haven’t attempted my beloved Vodka Martinis with a twist yet, because I inevitably put too much vermouth in them, but I did get The Lemon Drop down, and on Monday, I decided to try a classic margarita. I usually just buy mix, but this time, I made it for real, ordering some tequila and tripel sec, and squeezing limes.

The drink came out well, and I was happy, but as I mixed it, I had a memory and decided to watch Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. For one thing, if I hadn’t already decided I wasn’t going to do Movie Season this year, I think COVID-19 had declared it so. (Black Widow isn’t opening on time, and that would have been the kick off) But back in the old days, before we got grown up jobs and apartments, Aless and I used to meet at Lucy’s, a terrifically mediocre and outrageously overprived Mexican restaurant on 34th Street before seeing movies. We would drink margaritas and eat tortas and nachos and put up with the indifferent service from cute waitresses in Hawaiian shirts.

Our movie going strategy switched when one time we couldn’t get decent seats at the 34th street theater so went for Lincoln Square instead. We went to PJ Clarke’s pre show and had a lovely time, and a few weeks later went back, and the bartenders remembered our names, orders and that we’d been going to the movies the last time.

Four years of Lucy’s and that had never happened, so we changed it up. It was more convenient as a meeting spot, and the food and service were better. But there’s still something about a classic, from the shaker margarita that makes me want to watch superheros. Then eat pancakes, we would go for margaritas, see the movie and then adjourn to the Tick Tock diner, also overpriced and mediocre YAY MIDTOWN, to discuss the movies. Important discussion were had there, like, “Is Cap a virgin?” and “Was Ryan Reynolds bred in a lab to play Deadpool?” and “Do we think Anna Faris would be a good Captain Marvel, because I kinda ship her and Star Lord?” (That last one hasn’t aged well.)

So I decided to watch those last two Avengers movies on Monday while I tried to make myself a margarita. The drink came out ok, the movies remain great. I also read Bob Iger’s auto biography The Ride Of A Lifetime this weekend, so I was in a Disney acquisition headspace. He’s really proud of The MCU, although that book is way less braggy and than it could be, and way more thoughtful than I expected. (He’s more fair to George Lucas than I would have been, “MOTHER FUCKER I GAVE YOU 5 BILLION DOLLARS AND APPOINTED YOUR ANOINTED SUCCESSOR AND YOU COMPARE IT TO SELLING YOUR CHILD INTO SLAVERY?” would have been my reaction. This might be part of why Iger got to run Disney for 14 years, and I write this blog.) (He’s still a coward for killing Stormpilot.)

This post may seem rambly, that’s because I wrote it while I was drinking margaritas and watching Avengers: Infinity war.

I continue to urge you all to stay home and safe. I’m working on some fun stuff here, I promise. I’m reading a whole bunch, binging Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (how long has it been since I reported on some Nerd Homework?) I’m sending as much love as I can out into the world, supporting local businesses and cooking hearty meals. Hope you’re all doing well, and when this is all over, I intend to make cocktails for everyone.

Ready For Endgame: Ant-Man And The Wasp & Captain Marvel

When I think about these movies, it’s in the shadow of The Snap, and how they even more than the others, reinforces that one of the strength of the MCU is that the journey counts as much as anything. We all knew that Ant-Man And The Wasp and Captain Marvel were hurtling towards the inevitable destruction of half the population.

But they handle it very differently. First of all, as I talked about both when I reviewed Ant-Man a few years ago, and when I talked about Ant-Man And The Wasp last year, I find these movies completely and utterly charming. I smile the whole way through all of them. Paul Rudd is wonderful. Evangeline Lilly is wonderful. Michael Douglas is wonderful. The whole supporting cast is wonderful.

Scott’s main motivation is his love for his daughter, which binds him with Janet Van Dyne, who just wants to get back to Hope. Oh, and she’s Michelle Pfeiffer, which is awesome. Seriously, you guys, I love this movie a lot, and I’m very worried about how Scott is going to feel after he returns from the Quantum realm and finds that his new family is gone. (Also, I hope Cassie is OK, I get the feeling it will be his ex wife, Judy Greer, who got snapped in that scenario.)

And then we have to talk abut Captain Marvel, which Aless and I went to go see again last weekend, so that one, we could see it again, and two, I could write about it intelligently. I love this movie. I love Carol Danvers, I love that she’s so powerful, that she doesn’t let people define her, that’s her arc. She’s in charge, she’s going to do what she wants, and it’s wonderful.

Like Ant-Man hinging on Paul Rudd, so much here is because of Brie Larson’s low key and charming performance. She’s smirking, quipping and pushing the boundaries at every moment, but it always feels like she’s a fully formed person, even when she’s Vers, and she isn’t.

Both movies end on a triumph for their heroes and then in the post credits brings us post snap, Scott in the quantum realm with Hope, Janet and Hank dusted, and Carol responding to Fury’s page,ready to join the Avengers.

One thing that’s great about a few key movies in The MCU is that they make for an inescapable status quo for the others. Because Ant-Man And The Wasp and Captain Marvel came out in between Infinity War and Endgame the snap had to be dealt with, it couldn’t be ignored. But the movies manage to stand on their own, even without that hook. We knew that they’d answer the questions of “Where were those guys when Thanos hit?” but we also knew that wasn’t going to be the point.

OK, that’s it. We rewatched the whole deal. Isn’t that crazy? It’s crazy.

Next time we touch base with The MCU, it’s going to be for Endgame, and the beginning of movie season. Taking this Monday, sometimes Tuesday when I’m busy/tired, will be the final seven (eight maybe) Game Of Thrones winners. And after that…well..we’ll talk after that.

Ready For Endgame: Black Panther

What is Black Panther?

Is it a boilerplate superhero blockbuster? Is it an important film about colonialism and black diasporan identity? Is it another cog in a corporate machine designed to take our money? Is it an important moment in social discourse?

Yes.

Black Panther is all of these things, and also just a rocking good time of a movie. It’s kind of hard to believe it’s been only a little bit over a year since it came out and the world exploded around it.

I’m the kind of idiot who sits around with her loved ones and identifies, “the next *fill in the blank*” depending on what we’re talking about. I like tracking where things place in history, and it’s always fun to see how people react to things. So at Christmas when I said I was pretty sure that Ryan Coogler was the next Spielberg (capable of both deeply felt personal art, like Fruitvale Station and crowd pleasing spectacle like Black Panther and Creed.) I didn’t expect everyone to agree with me.

Black Panther cemented Coogler as a blockbuster guy. (Creed cleared the brush away.) and it also made Michael B. Jordan into a certified movie star, reminded people that Angela Basset should be Queen Of Us All, let Lupita N’Yongo and Danai Guirara do their thing and intro’d us all to Laetitia Wright.

And that’s before we even talk about the way Chadwick Boseman’s poised and coiled T’Challa holds all these moving parts in place around him. Black Panther is a masterful example of the superhero medium, and the fact that people don’t talk more about what Boseman does in this movie is criminal. It’s a calm collected and altogether wonderful performance, than grounds the whole enterprise emotionally.

There’s of course a million angles to take when talking about Black Panther because there is a lot going on here. That’s part of why it resonated so hard, and got nominated for Best Picture. (The first superhero movie to do so! SUCK IT THE DARK KNIGHT! Incidentally, I don’t know why I feel the need to tear down the The Dark Night over and over again in this series of posts, it’s a great movie, that I like a lot.)

Black Panther 2 is coming and I’m deeply looking forward to it. I think there’s also a Dora Milaje film in the works. That could be very cool. But the way that this film connected with audiences was so special, and I was so grateful to be a part of it.

Next week, we talk about Avengers: Infinity War, and likely detail all of the reasons that I am not OK even a year later.

Higher, Further, Faster

In case you’re new here, I’m a really big fan of The Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m an easy mark for these movies.

In case you’re really, really new here, I also really like stories about women kicking ass.

In case you just stumbled here from another dimension, and can’t figure out from context clues, that means I had high hopes for Captain Marvel the first MCU movie to focus solely on a lady type hero.

My hopes were met. I wasn’t blown away by the movie, the way I was by Black Panther last year, but it did the job, and had some real stand out moments. Among them, of course, was the woman in question, Brie Larson. Larson embodies Carol Danvers in all of her stubborn, deeply feeling, ass kicking, princess sparklefist, shoot first and ask questions later glory.

She befriends Nick Fury, she’s got a cat, she’s looking for who she is in this crazy universe. And her appearance and eventual departure inspires Fury to start The Avengers, so that’s pretty cool.

Other things in this movie that totally rule:

  • Samuel L. Jackson. (Given)
  • Cat!
  • Soundtrack!
  • 90’s Fashion
  • Maria and Monica Rambeau as Carol’s main emotional ties
  • Annette Benning!
  • Jude Law!
  • Coulson! (In a small but nice part!)
  • Stan Lee Cameo to make ya cry.
  • Skrulls! And a killer plot twist regarding the Skrulls!

I’ll do an in depth review and essay about the movie in a few weeks, (When it’s number comes up in the rewatch) I intend to see it again, and I’ve got half baked thoughts coming out the butt, but I’d like to see it again and fully bake them. But the movie’s good, it does Carol justice and there’s a Kelly Sue DeConnick cameo, so I’m covered.

Ready For Endgame: Doctor Strange & Guardians Of The Galaxy: Volume 2

Last week I talked about how Ant-Man and Civil War began a time of transition for The MCU, they we’re sort of still in. Doctor Strange and Guardians Of The Galaxy: Volume 2 cement that, one of them making me very wary of leaving behind the world we know, and the other pushing a place we’d glimpsed and enjoyed to it’s borders and succeeding beyond belief.

I do not like Doctor Strange. I remember watching it and receiving it with a hearty “meh,” thinking I might like it on rewatch, but not remembering my reaction to it, and as I watched it finally allowing myself to accept, “I do not like this movie.” It’s overly long, unfocused, and Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t pull off asshole the way that other actors in this series have managed to. I’m also not crazy about Cumberbatch as an actor in general, so that doesn’t help my assesment of this movie.

But what annoys me the most about Doctor Strange is the way it squanders it’s really excellent supporting cast. If Rachel McAdams had been given a bit more to do, like say, Natalie Portman or Gwyneth Paltrow had, maybe this movie would have been better. If Benedict Wong and Chiowetel Edjiofort had gotten to rise above scowling at Strange as Wong and Mordo, perhaps the movie could have shone. Tilda Swinton and Mads Mikkelson are appropriately ethereal and menacing but still, underwritten.

It’s a poorly executed movie, that looks great, it gets credit for that, and the resolution of repeating the negotiation with Dormammu is a clever ploy, but until that climax, the movie just sits there.

Guardians 2, on the other hand is magical and wonderful and don’t you dare say a bad word against it, you monster. Seriously, I love this movie. I think it’s one of the best scripts for this kind of movie ever. I prefer this soundtrack to the first. (I prefer anything with Fleetwood Mac and Cat Stevens to anything without Fleetwood Mac and Cat Stevens.)

Guardians 2 is heartfelt, intelligent, beautiful and so well acted I watch it slack jawed every time that I watch it. (Which is frequently, I should note.) Kurt Russell is perfect as Ego, and really, my favorite thing about both Guardians movies is that they’re kind of about a bunch of people having temper tantrums on a cosmic scale. It’s super fun to watch.

But mainly, what I love about Guardians 2 is that it’s about family. I like stories about family, because mine is weirdly intertwined with each other. Rocket’s realization that he’s not alone in this crazy world, he has a family now, are so heart wrenchingly good that you’d be insane to not give the guy who made these movies whatever he wants for…oh…yeah…that…

I guess we have to talk about James Gunn, huh? I ranted my feelings about what happened with Gunn when it happened. I think it stinks. HARD. I think it may be impossible for Guardians 3 to bounce back from that setback. (Although they are apparently using his script, which is something.)

But we have two really wonderful movies that Gunn did get to make, by some miracle. (And we’re also apparently getting his take on Suicide Squad!) We live in a world were we all talk about how that space raccoon and the talking tree make us cry, and you know, what, that’s pretty amazing.

Next Week, we’ll talk about the real fun, though, we’ve got Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnaork, and wow, that might be the most fun double feature in the Universe!

Ready For Endgame: Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians Of The Galaxy

A very strong case can be made that 2014 was the best year for the MCU. (I’d say only 2018 can give it a real go…) It was the year that gave us my personal pick for the greatest superhero film of all time, and expanded the universe we’d all fallen in love with beyond even what Thor had shown us.

Let’s start with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which I think deserves much more serious consideration in the genre than it gets. It deals more elegantly with the themes of the surveillance state than everyone’s beloved The Dark Knight, presents a grappling with the reality of turning humans into symbols and going past your expiration date, like Logan and manages to fit into the Marvel formula perfectly and wring some killer performances out of Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson.

Not to mention, you could remove Captain America from the proceedings entirely and you’d still have a political thriller where a badass spy played by Samuel L. Jackson has to deal with being betrayed by the politician that he protected his entire career played by Robert Redford. Which would also be an incredible movie. What do you get if you take Batman and The Joker out of The Dark Knight? Huh? A slightly crazy DA loses his fiance to the mob and a police captain fakes his death? OK, that would also be a pretty good movie, but not as good.

My point is that The Winter Soldier rules. Chris Evans is perfect in it, it gives Natasha Romanoff real stakes, something she was surely and deeply missing in her previous appearances. It brings back Bucky Barnes, setting up Cap’s stakes for the rest of the series, and introduces us to Sam Wilson, The Falcon, the second best sidekick in the series. (The best is Rhodey.)

It’s action scenes are tight, it’s mystery well thought out and it’s twists well executed. And it’s funny, you guys, and it has Robert Redford. It’s amazing. It’s the greatest superhero movie ever.

Also, it sparked one of my all time favorite “Wait, what?” fangirl conversations that Aless and I ever had over pancakes after watching a Marvel movie (Margaritas before, pancakes after.) “Is…is Captain America a virgin?” (We concluded that, no, no he is not. We don’t think…but he might be? He definitely never got to have sex with Peggy, which is very sad for both of them.) (The rest of the pancake session was spent guessing which Agents characters might be HYDRA. We did not consider Grant Ward, like even a little. What a well executed twist that was. You didn’t see it coming but in retrospect it made perfect sense.)

Guardians Of The Galaxy, is not the best superhero movie ever, but it’s a very, very good one. Few superhero and sci fi properties embrace fun and dorkiness with such aplomb, (I’d say Legends Of Tomorrow might be the only other one I can think of that really hits the balance just right.) And Guardians is so confident in what it’s doing. While it starts with a scene that’s so maudlin it might be heavy handed, young Peter Quill at his mother’s bedside, the air is almost immediately taken out, when our would be swashbuckling hero hits play on his walkman and dances to his destination.

Guardians is full of moments like that, setting up moments that we should know by heart and just undercutting them enough that they work on their own but feel different because of the humor, the characters and my god that soundtrack.

The strength of both of these movies really does seal up 2014 as the best year. (Again, 2018, with three super strong entries is a close close second.)

Next week, we get into the movie that may have broken a legend, but did give us a controversial ship, and some good jokes. We give Avengers: Age Of Ultron another go. I don’t think my opinion on it will change much, which is basically that it’s a glorious mess. And it may have broken Joss Whedon’s brain. We can’t be sure.

Ready For Endgame: The Avengers

I remember when I first saw The Avengers I was underwhelmed. I’ve come to love it, really, but just, in that moment, I’d seen it all before. In my review of the movie, I laid out the ways director and writer Joss Whedon was playing his usual song in a new key here.

I understand that Cap relaying the battle plan was exciting and new to other people, but I’d seen Buffy do that six times. The iconic hero pose circle shot, which is wonderful was a more cinematic version of Angel’s “Let’s Go To Work,” final moment. (This single greatest end shot of a TV show ever.) Tony’s change of heart to fight the good fight alongside his friends had been handled by Mal Reynolds before.

So, while the novelty of The Avengers was lost on me, it’s that very profitability, the excellent execution of a formula I’m fond of, that’s made it hold up over the years, and my god, does it hold up.

The action is exciting, the team coming together, or not, is fabulous, the one liners delightful, and that final battle, is the stuff of legend.

But we’re not going to talk about that. I mean, we have. In the past. When I’ve written about The Avengers. Today, I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about Phil Coulson.

Phil Coulson was created for The MCU, meant to be a one off quick way to introduce SHIELD in Iron Man, he really took off when Jon Favreau liked working with Clark Gregg. Gregg was a long time Marvel fanboy and took the job at his wife’s (Jennifer Grey. They are my favorite C-List celebrity couple!) urging, saying when else was he going to get a job like this?  I’m a big fan of Gregg’s, because he’s in the Aaron Sorkin Repertory Company, and I’m convinced it’s that experience that convinced Whedon to make him the lynch pin here. The, “you lack conviction,” speech is straight out of the West Wing playbook. (Frankly, part of what I’ve always loved about Whedon is that he’s like Sorkin, but uses magic in his stories instead of patriotism.)

I was one of those people who was wrecked by Coulson’s death. All Whedon fans have their one that they’ll never forgiven him for. And I’ve gotten emotional over others. (I’m not made of stone, the phrase, “I am a leaf on the wind,” makes me gasp sadly. I too wish we had lived to see Winifred Berkle avenged, and Anya’s death in Xander’s arms is a real heartbreaker)  But Coulson is mine. (Yes he came back! But that took a while!)

Anyway,  Coulson, who’d already had some standout moments in the previous movies, really shines here before his death at Loki’s hands. His familiar banter with Pepper (I love that they were pals. Seriously.), his giddiness at Cap, his familiarity with Thor, it’s all of it hitting just the right notes.

I miss Phil Coulson. I mean, as much as anyone can miss a character that never really went anywhere, but I sort of fell out on Agents Of SHIELD a few years ago, I might catch up someday, but I have so many superhero shows to watch, and not all of them shitty WB relics or luke warm adaptations of my favorite comics characters either.

The Avengers is a stunning acheivement in franchise storytelling. What comes directly after is uh…less essential. Next week, we take on Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. One is a delightful action movie throwback that I love, the other, I got kinda bored and watched a bunch of Lonely Island Videos in the middle of.  Guess which is which!

Ready For Endgame: Thor And Captain America: The First Avenger

There are certain movies that are very hard for me to separate from the first time I saw them. These are usually because of the people I saw them with, or because I saw them as a kid. But with Thor and  Captain America: The First Avenger, it’s really because of timing.

People might not remember that these movies came out within months of each other, when The Avengers was a certainty but still a whisper. And everyone was still scoffing at them. “Right, like a Thor movie is going to work.” And because I was getting ready to finish my English Lit degree, I even added, “what is Kenneth Branagh doing?” (The film nerd in me was less skeptical about Joe Johnston because I’d grown up with The Rocketeer, and that the guy who made that was making a Captain America movie made perfect sense to me.)

But there’s something about these movies and the way that they act as a doorway for the MCU and the fact that they came out the summer I finished college that feels kind of perfect to me. There’s of course my epic, “Glen literally pulled Chrissy and me out of a bar at the end of a bar crawl to go see it,” Thor story. He was pissed as hell, because we hadn’t told him we were going on the crawl, his words, “I’d have gotten tickets for tomorrow if I’d known this was your plan.” Of course our very cogent response was, “PFFFF, we’re not that drunk! Let’s get pretzels, and HOLY SHIT THAT IS ONE HOT MAN RIGHT THERE ON THE MOVIE SCREEN!” I told this story in my toast at their wedding. I left out the hot man parts. The fact that these two people are parents now brings me such joy.

Captain America, I saw with my friend Lisa, which was the first time we’d hung out since graduation. I then saw it like 5 more times, because I wasn’t really working that summer, so had a bunch of spare time. It was what cemented Cap as my Marvel Guy. (At the time Batman was still my DC guy. I hadn’t fully fallen for Dick yet.) And whenever I go back and look at Phase 1, I realize it’s still the movie that I’ve watched the most. (Iron Man is close behind, btw.)

Anyway, my personal experience of these films aside, they’re both solid, and deeply enjoyable. Thor especially, is a treat. I think people tend to forget how charming it is. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are all in on Thor and Loki from their first moments on screen, and while it’s small scale is probably because no one was sure if this whole thing was going to work, it’s in the movie’s favor that it gets a quiet intimate scene where Thor explains the nine realms to Jane on a rooftop, or Thor and Selvig getting drunk together, or Sif, Loki and The Warriors Three sitting beside a fire discussing Thor’s banishment. Branagh uses his Shakespearian ear perfectly in these scenes, letting them breath and the actors relish in their ridiculous dialog, and melodramatic plots.

 The MCU in general is a miracle of casting but Captain America: The First Avenger might be the most clean example of this. Everyone in this movie is pitch perfect for it’s throwback tone. None more so than Hayley Atwell and Chris Evans though. Dear lord are they magical. Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers might be the only two love interests I’ve ever cosplayed BOTH of, because I love them both so much. (Having cut my hair again, I might bring Peggy back this year…) But seriously, there’s so much about this movie that’s absolutely right, that I have trouble not smiling.

I’ve written literally thousands of words about The MCU, and it’s hard to explain though, that the reason is because of these two movies and the people I was hanging out with at the time being so excited for them. I seriously doubt I’d have gone to see them in the theater if it weren’t for these folks, which is why it’s very hard for me to separate the movies themselves, which are great, by the way, from the experience of watching them for the first time. So I fail as a critic in this essay, because I’m too attached. (Also, if I’m frank, I watched them on a Saturday afternoon and I’ve had some wine, and I’m a little buzzy. Blogging is all about honesty right?)

Next week we talk about The Avengers, which, if you’ll recall was the first movie I ever reviewed here on The Fangirl’s Dilemma, and that was 10 years ago and that is disgusting. 

Ready For Endgame: Iron Man 2 

Man, Iron Man 2 is bad. I shouldn’t say that, it’s not terrible, really, it’s just so aggressively mediocre, and overstuffed and such a disappointment after the first one.

But, for all of it’s flaws we get some good things here, we get the introduction of The Avenger’s initiative, we get Natasha Romanoff, we get some great Nick Fury moments and my favorite MCU tweak, Don Cheadle replacing Terrance Howard (though I understand that the circumstances around the recasting had, uh, issues.) (I think racism is bad! But Don Cheadle is good!)

Iron Man 2 is worth revisiting for these things, as well as for once again, Robert Downey Jr.’s performance. He is so in sync with this character at all moments, and I’m dumbfounded by it. Especially having watching Infinity War over the past week, Tony’s come so far and yet feels of a piece with what Downey is doing here, it’s exceptional.

And, there’s something else that Iron Man 2 gives us, and that’s Howard Stark. I mean, the Howard Stark who’s shadow looms over the rest of the enterprise. He’s mentioned in Iron Man, Tony wanting to sure up his father’s legacy, and the arc reactor are both big points, but it’s here, in John Slattery’s quick performance that we get the outline that Dominic Cooper will later work off of, and Slattery will play again for Ant-Man and Civil War. 

Granted, I am always always happy to see Slattery, or pretty much anyone from Sterling Cooper pop up in my media.  (Except Vincent Cartheiser, which isn’t his fault. He’s a very good actor, I just really hate Pete Campbell.)

Now, onto Cheadle. Rhodey is stealth my favorite MCU character. I don’t know when it happened or how, but I always think, “Oh, yay! Rhodey’s in this one!” whenever he pops up. Terrance Howard did a good job with the character, but Don Cheadle explodes with him. Part of it is the chemistry with RDJ, but part of it is also just, buying him as an authority more. He’s in control of a room the minute he walks in.

And then there’s Natasha. Wonderful, wonderful, Natasha Romanoff. She doesn’t get a lot to do here, but she does get a “hallway fight,” which of course later became a staple of Marvel/Netflix. (It’s not a one take, but it still smells like one. It’s the fritatta to the hallway fight’s omelette.)

But the most important parts of Iron Man 2, are the things that the MCU takes a lot of heat for in it’s later installments, is that this one doesn’t really work as a movie on it’s own, just a piece of the bigger whole. (Age of Ultron also gets bogged down in this.)

Next week we’ll talk about Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, I’ll think about graduating college a whole bunch, and Phase I nearly completes.

 

Ready for Endgame: Iron Man & The Incedible Hulk

OK, so, I know we tried this last year and we didn’t get anywhere with it. But this time I have a schedule and a plan, and I’m determined. I am rewatching the MCU and I am writing about it! (HOORAY!)

So, we’re starting at the beginning, whenever possible I’m going to do 2 movies per post with each Avengers movie getting their own post. A few, just by virtue of timing will be getting solo posts.

First up! That first year. Let’s go back shall we? It was the summer of 2008. People were curious about a little film called, Iron Man, and very excited about a movie called The Incredible Hulk. 

Then they came out. It does feel hard to believe that everyone was way more psyched about Hulk, but to be fair, it was the big flashy one, with the movie star lead, not the washed up former addict.

But then you started hearing about it, and that sentence, “Stay until after the credits.” People forget that wasn’t really a thing you did before. I mean, sometimes, there would be cute jokes or teasers after a movie, but nothing you know, essential. But then Nick Fury stepped out of the shadows, and we all knew, something was beginning.

But that wasn’t the only thing about Iron Man, everytime I watch that movie I’m thrilled by how it holds up. It’s funny, and smart, and the performances are universally excellent. The final fight is simple and a bit crude looking in retrospect, but still a fun watch, and really, truly and honestly, Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic. I’ve read complaints a few times that The MCU as a whole leans too hard on Tony Stark, but really, watching the first few movies again, I can see why they went that way. It’s such a committed and lovely performance.

The Incredible Hulk, on the other hand, is simply nowhere near as strong. Edward Norton’s performance as Bruce Banner lacks conviction, Liv Tyler is, well, I mean, Liv Tyler. The CGI is sloppy, the final fight is still fun, but feels oddly low stakes, and it’s just not a good movie. It sets up some intersting concepts that remain constants (pointing the Hulk, Banner trying to control the time of transformation, General Ross)

But then it happens, that amazing moment where Tony Stark walks into that bar, declaring that “the super soldier program was put on ice for a reason,” and it’s a moment of clarity. We aren’t in Kansas anymore, this is something new, something exciting.

It would two years before we got more, and another year after that before the clarity of vision comes into place, but the picture began to form, the big experience was starting, the game had begun, and it all hinged on the one guy. It was about Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, it was about charisma, and strong casting and fitting the guy to the suit, not compromising on what makes a hero a hero.

We’ll get into that more next week, when Iron Man 2, easily my least favorite movie in the whole series (like The MCU, not just the Iron Man series,) gets a solo week, because of how this is all working out.