Day 169 – Iron Man 2 – 2010

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How do you create a sequel that contained everything that a superhero film should have? You do the same thing, this time bigger. That is what Jon Favreau has done with the sequel to Iron Man with Tony Stark taking on even bigger problems with Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan and long time friend Colonel James Rhodes. This time around he has fix his declining health and take on a vengeful being that has links to his mysterious father. Directed by Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey Jr, Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell, this is the third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which received universal praise from both critics and long-time fans of the character.

At the end of the first film, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) revealed to the world he was the Iron Man thanks to his life-saving Arc reactor in his chest powering the suit. This time around the world knows his identity and the US Government want the technology that powers his chest and the suit for military purposes and so does his old business adversary Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) What they don’t know are that the thing keeping him alive is also killing him slowly from the inside thanks to Palladium poisoning his blood. At the same time in Russia Ivan Vanko (Mickey Roarke) watches his father die in his hand’s thanks to radiation poisoning from working on the original Arc Reactor at Stark Enterprises. He then turns his attention on killing Tony Stark to avenge his father’s stolen legacy.

The great thing about this film is the faint world building that they did in the first film comes full circle with the full introduction of SHIELD. Both Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) appear in the film aiding Tony Stark. The film goes even further telling the audience when Agent Coulson has to leave to attend an event in New Mexico which many fans know he will be at the introduction of Thor into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I love that Kevin Feige had done this, instead of going in cold on the film like they would have done back in the 90s. Also, the introduction of Tony Stark into the bigger world has an effect on him with some demons even coming out of the closet (alcoholism). RDJ injects an energetic second round into his foray of Tony Stark with Favreau even showing us his dark side (only temporary) when he is drunk and fighting Colonel Rhodes in the Iron Man Armor. Also, we meet Natasha Romanoff played by an incredible sexual Scarlett Johansen who kills with both her looks and skill.

 

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Wasted Opportunity Roarke.

 

Don Cheadle plays James Rhodey in this film after Terrance Howard wasn’t asked to come back thanks to problems on set with director Jon Favreau. He brings the full sense of the airforce with him when on screen and also shows a great friendship with Star when together on screen. Mickey Rourke is completely forgettable as the villain Ivan Vanko thanks to his boring Russian identity and his inner demons fueling the demise of Tony Stark. Mixing both Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo didn’t seem to fit the context of the film and ultimately wasted the villain in the film. The sexual tension between Tony and Pepper is also expanded on and is ultimately tested by the end of the film. Gwenyth Paltrow brings her

Ultimately the film is good, but the motivations behind the villain let it down. Also, the script which was written by Justin Theroux (Jennifer Aniston’s husband FYI) was rushed thanks to the studio wanting to further expand on the shared universe with the inclusion of SHIELD. It was a wise decision by Kevin Feige and was pulled off successfully thanks to great performances from the entire cast. The music was also tasteful thanks to it being entirely created from the back catalogue of AC/DC.

Overall a mixed return for Tony Stark with him slightly taking a back seat thanks to the world building the plot tries to further expand on. RDJ brings the charm and charisma we now expect from Tony Stark and the supporting cast does their best to help or create chaos for him. The best thing about this film was Gary Shandling and his great cameo as Senator Stern. Whoever asked him to star in this film needs a promotion.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 161 – The Incredible Hulk – 2008

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The producers of this film dubbed it a “requel” because they felt it was a reboot and sequel to Ang Lee’s cerebral Hulk from 2003. This time around director Louis Leterrier brings in a new cast and a new origin story for Bruce Banner played by Edward Norton who brings the same vibe that Bill Bixby did the original show in the 70s.

This is the official second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the debut of Iron Man. This time around they retcon the original Hulk film from 2003 with a different take on the origin going down the same path as the original TV show from 1978. Bruce is on the run in Rio De Janiero working at the local drinks plant. General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hunt) hear of radiation poisoning from a drink that plant is made and locates Bruce. On the run, he meets up with his ex-girlfriend and daughter of General Ross – Betty (Liv Tyler). Together they try to figure out what went wrong in the experiment that gave Bruce is the uncontrollable rage. At the same time, General Ross brings in special forces agent Emile Blonsky who injects himself with a type of super serum and tries to take on the Hulk one on one.

Louis Leterrier has managed to create a wholesome story of which is self-contained and has compelling ideologies for the main characters. From a script from Zak Penn (who also wrote the incredible X-Men 2), together they create a great story for Banner who tries to control the rage in time to save his loved ones. Changing up Eric Bana for Edward Norton was an interesting decision, but looking back at the original TV show the choice was justified. They both bring a sense of wonder to the character. With Eric Bana looking to find out who he really was, Norton’s take on Banner is more an explanation of becoming the Hulk and finding the cure to save himself. William Hunt portrays General Ross as the conniving man who is trying to weaponize the Hulk for military purposes, and his intentions are clear from the beginning. Hunt portrays him as a man you wouldn’t want to cross. Also, we have Tim Roth who plays Emile Blonsky, the Russian-born UK trained SAS soldier sent to help Ross take down the Hulk. It’s interesting, as Roth is a smaller man compared to the Abomination he becomes – polar opposites.

The Incredible Hulk is a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Louis Leterrier has created a fantastic world which spans 3 continents for Bruce Banner to find himself. With some fantastic locations, special effects and some great acting from Edward Norton, Tim Roth and William Hunt (who reprises his role in Captain America: Civil War). Overall its more fun then is predecessor and brings the Avengers closer for Bruce Banner.

Should you watch it: YES

Day 72 – Doctor Strange – 2016

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Doctor Strange has always been one of my favourite Marvel superheroes. I remember watching the animated film from 2007 and being struck back at the journey of how Doctor Stephen Strange became the sorcerer supreme. And then seeing them turn it into a live action version, this was a dream come true for me.

Stephen Strange is a gifted neurosurgeon who helps the unfortunate get back on their feet and back to normality. He is very clever and always thinks logicially. One day he is involved in a car crash and destroys the use of his fingers setting him on a downward spiral into the unknown. He then seeks help in Nepal, with help from the Ancient one, he slowly learns of the mystical arts of which he always thought was an illusion and fantasy to become the sorcerer supreme.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Stephen Strange, the main man who becomes obsessed with fixing his hands after the accident stole his purpose in life. Helpless and alone after leaving his girlfriend on bad terms he turns into an angry man. It’s horrible to witness the man who played Sherlock turning cruel. When he becomes the sorcerer supreme, his ego is gone and his knowledge is key. There are similarities between Strange and Tony Stark as both are geniuses, both have money to spare (in the beginning) and both become something otherworldly. Stan Lee has essentially copied and pasted the character (even the goatee is cloned). It is not a bad thing, however, because the mystical world of Doctor Strange is incredible and abstract. The magic, the infinite universes and the use of time separates Stark and Strange, and that’s where the film has its best bits. Similarities.

Directed Scott Derrickson has created an incredible world of which magic exists, with some of the most surreal and intense scenes ever to be witnessed by the audience and this is where Doctor Strange excels. The weird. Not the weird from Guardians of the Galaxy, but the really weird. Spells, magic and sorcery are the incredible in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (first teased in Thor).

The supporting cast is great, with Rachel Adams playing the love interest Christine Palmer, who has much love and admiration for Strange both as a doctor, and lover. She is essential to the plot as she saves Strange at points in the film both physically and mentally. Tilda Swinton plays the Ancient One respectfully, playing the old and wise Celtic sorcerer (not sure if she was male or female to be fair), and Chiwetel Ejiofor playing the friend of Strange; Mordo. Mads Mikkelson plays the corrupted Kaecilius who was infected by the dark knowledge of the mystical realm.

Overall a film which changes the Marvel Cinematic Universe, pushing its boundaries into another dimension of mystical unknown.

Should you watch it: YES