Great Moments In Comic Book History #28: Iron Man Meets Thanos and Drax The Destroyer


50 years ago, in Iron Man #55, both Drax the Destroyer and Thanos made their first appearances.

Iron Man #55 opens with Drax the Destroyer being held prisoner on Thanos’s mobile prison planet.  This Drax is far different from the Drax who became famous as a result of being a part of the MCU.  This Drax is a former Earthling who was killed by Thanos but then resurrected and given one mission, to kill Thanos.  There’s nothing funny, not even unintentionally, about his Drax.  Knowing that Drax will not stop until he has destroyed him, Thanos has chained Drax up and spends his spare time taunting him.  Just because Thanos is evil, that doesn’t make him smart.

Drax sends out a mental message to Iron Man, despite the fact that he and Iron Man have never met.  Tony Stark agrees to help Drax because Drax’s messages are so powerful that Tony can’t even attend a business meeting.  After suiting up as Iron Man, Stark flies out to Thanos’s prison planet.  Along the way, Drax tells him the abbreviated details of Thanos’s origin and Thanos’s love of death.

Iron Man’s fist meeting with Thanos is not particularly auspicious.

Thanos thinks so little of Iron Man that he assigns the moronic aliens known as the Blood Brothers to battle Iron Man.  Iron Man is able to free Drax, the Blood Brothers are easily defeated, and Thanos makes a hasty retreat.  Drax thanks Iron Man, shakes his hand, and then heads after Thanos.  And I suppose Iron Man gets back to Earth somehow.

Thanos and Drax were created by Jim Starlin, who wasn’t even Iron Man’s regular writer.  When the planned story for Iron Man #55 ended up running behind schedule, Starlin was assigned to create a filler story.  Thanos and Drax were both characters that Starlin had invented for a planned-but-never-written sci-fi epic in college.  Starlin reused them and their origins in Iron Man #55.

Though thrown together at the last minute, Iron Man #55 predicted the future of Marvel in a way that, even at the time, few realized.  When Starlin took over Captain Marvel, he reused both Drax and Thanos and crafted an epic space opera that was later reused during phase one of the MCU.  For all the credit that was given to Kevin Feige, the Russo brothers, Stan Lee, and countless others, the MCU owes much of its success to Jim Starlin.

And it all began with Iron Man #55 running behind schedule.

IRON MAN #55 (October, 1972)
Writer: Jim Starlin/Mike Friedrich
Penciler: Jim Starlin
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Roy Thomas

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York
  19. NFL SuperPro is Here!
  20. Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window
  21. Captain America For President
  22. Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man
  23. J. Jonah Jameson Is Elected Mayor of New York City
  24. Captain America Quits
  25. Spider-Man Meets The Fantastic Four
  26. Spider-Man Teams Up With Batman For The Last Time
  27. The Skrulls Are Here

Confessions of a TV Addict #3: The Marvel Super Heroes Have Arrived!


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Captain America and his costumed cohorts made their television debuts way before the Marvel Cinematic Universe began dominating box offices around the world. THE MARVEL SUPER HEROES debuted in 1966, at the height of the BATMAN camp craze, with Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and The Sub-Mariner the rotating stars of this limited animation series. And I do mean limited – Grantray-Lawrence Animation literally made copies of the comic book artwork of Jack ‘King’ Kirby, ‘Sturdy’ Steve Ditko, and other Bullpen artists, transferred them to film and basically just animated the character’s mouths and an occasional swinging fist!

The cartoons (and I use that term loosely) were syndicated to local stations, who filled holes in their time slots with the mighty Marvel heroes. Some stations ran them as stand-alone series, while others used the segments as part of local kid’s shows. Up here in New England, we watched on WNAC-TV (Channel 7 at…

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Trailer: Spider-Man: Homecoming


Marvel released the 2nd full trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is looking pretty good. It seems that having proved himself to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has received some cool upgrades to his Spider-Man suit. While Peter appears to want to join the Avengers, Stark would have him just keep an eye on New York City and some of the more low-level stuff. When The Vulture (Michael Keaton) threatens the city, Spider-Man may be the only one to stop him. Then again, it does look like there’s an Iron-Man team up here, which is sweet. This trailer is feeling like some of Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man line.

The film comes out on July 7th. Enjoy.

Lisa Marie’s Thoughts On Captain America: Civil War


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It was freaking awesome!

That, in a nutshell, is my main thought when it comes to Captain America: Civil War.  It’s a movie that we spent a year anticipating.  It’s a movie that we were continually assured would be great.  And it’s a movie that, unlike Batman v Superman, actually lived up to all the hype.  It’s also a movie that has already been reviewed here on the Shattered Lens.  Check out Arleigh’s review by clicking here and be sure to check out Gary’s review as well.

So, what’s really left for me to say about Captain America: Civil War?  Beyond, of course, that it was freaking awesome.

Of course, it’s hard to talk about Captain America: Civil War without also talking about Batman v Superman.  Both films start with the same basic idea: the heroic activities of super heroes has led to cities being destroyed and innocent people dying.  In Batman v. Superman, Batman takes it open himself to avenge the destruction of Metropolis and expose Superman as being the biggest false God since Baal.  In Civil War, the United Nations announces that, from now on, all super hero activity has to be cleared with them.  In Batman v. Superman, Batman and Superman are manipulated into fighting each other.  In Captain America: Civil War, Captain America and Iron Man are manipulated into fighting each other.  In Batman v Superman, Jesse Eisenberg plays a neurotic villain.  In Captain America: Civil War, Daniel Bruhl plays a neurotic villain.  Batman v Superman features more heroes than just Batman and Superman.  Civil War features more heroes than just Captain America and Iron Man.  Batman v Superman ends with a promise of more films to come.  So does Civil War.  Both films are huge and expensive star-filled spectacles and both of them are a part of a larger cinematic mythology.  They both even have roughly the same running time.  Of course, Batman v Superman seems even longer while Civil War is over far too quickly.

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And yet, Civil War is a thousand times better than Batman v Superman.  For all of its sound and fury, Batman v Superman is ultimately an empty shell.  I left the film feeling not at all emotionally moved but definitely deafened by all the explosions and the yelling and the ranting and the pounding score.  As I left the theater, the world sounded like it was underwater.  Batman v Superman opens with the world exploding and the explosion continues for another two and a half hours.  Civil War, on the other hand, takes its time.  After the initial battle scene (which features a nice cameo from the great Frank Grillo), Civil War slows down.  It explores its characters and their relationships and their motivations.  The first hour of Civil War may be dominated by people debating but its compelling to watch because, after 8 years, the MCU and the characters within feel as alive as the world outside the theater.

In Batman v Superman, Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck appeared to be acting in separate films.  That’s not a problem in Civil War.  When you watch Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr., you believe that they are friends and, when they fight, you don’t just thrill at the action.  You mourn the end of a friendship.  If Batman v Superman‘s battle ultimately felt hollow, the final battle in Civil War leaves you wincing in pain.

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Which is not to say that Civil War is not a fun movie.  It’s the most genuinely fun film that I’ve seen so far this year.  There’s a joy to the best films of the MCU, a joy that — with the exception of Gal Gadot’s cameo — was totally lacking from the somber and self-important mess that Batman v Superman.  I have never heard an audience applaud more than they did while watching Civil War.  The film may have been dominated by Evans and Downey but every citi of thzene MCU got a chance to shine.  Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, and Elizabeth Olsen all proved their worth to this new cinematic mythology.  After years of using Halloween to pay homage to Scarlett Johansson, I may have to go as Wanda Maximoff this year.  After seeing Hollywood waste her off-center and damaged talent in films like Godzilla, it was good to see Elizabeth Olsen playing Wanda as if she could have been a cousin to her character from Martha Marcy Mae Marlene.

Scarlet-Witch-Elizabeth-Olsen

The audience saved their loudest and most enthusiastic cheers for Tom Holland, who claimed the role of Spiderman as his own and thankfully freed Andrew Garfield to go back to being the intriguing actor that we all remember from The Social Network and Never Let Me Go.  Holland doesn’t have a large role in Civil War but he’s still well-served by the film and the script makes great use of the character and Holland’s energetic performance.  As opposed to the super hero cameos in Batman v Superman, Spiderman’s appearance didn’t just feel like merely a teaser for a future film.  He belonged in the story.

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Of course, Civil War is dominated by the battle between Iron Man and Captain America and it says something about how successful the MCU has been that the battle feels less like a marketing gimmick and more like the natural result of what happens when two differing worldviews come into conflict.  When Tony Stark sides with the UN, it makes sense.  Ever since the very first Iron Man, Tony has been motivated by both guilt over making weapons and a fear that he doesn’t deserve his success.  Of course Tony would side with the UN.  Doing so not only allows him to alleviate his guilt but it also frees him of responsibility for any future actions that the Avengers may take.  It makes just as much sense that Captain America would feel the exact opposite.  His name is Captain America, not Captain United Nations.  When the UN was founded, he was still frozen in a block of ice.

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(Also interesting to note: Civil War was the first MCU film that I could follow without once having to ask my boyfriend for any background info on who all the characters were.  The MCU has become such a part of our culture that we all know the characters, regardless of whether we have ever read a Marvel comic or not.)

There is a nominal villain.  Daniel Bruhl plays Zemo and his role is actually pretty small.  That said, Zemo is definitely more interesting than the typical MCU villain (he’s certainly more memorable than Corey Stoll was in Ant-Man) and Bruhl does a good job playing him.  (Watching Civil War, it was hard not to think about how much better SPECTRE would have been if Bruhl, as opposed to Christoph Waltz, had played Blofeld.)  But, for me, the real villain of the film was the U.S. Secretary of State (played by William Hurt).  The character represented everything that all good people hate about the power structure.  William Hurt turned him into the epitome of unthinking and unreasonable authority.

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After Civil War was released, Salon’s Amanda Marcotte (who, let’s just be honest, ceased to be interesting the minute that she sold out and briefly worked for John Edwards in 2007) complained that Captain America had become “a douchey Libertarian.”  I would argue that 1) Captain America is definitely not douchey and 2) it’s his “libertarian” stance that makes him a hero.  Captain America does not represent any institution or ideology and he doesn’t take orders from faceless bureaucrats.  Captain America doesn’t need permission to do the right thing.  As played by Chris Evans, there’s something undeniably poignant about Captain America attempting to cling onto his idealism and his belief in personal freedom in an increasingly complicated and totalitarian world.  When told that he has a duty to become an anonymous, order-taking drone, Captain America says, “NO!”

(As a sidenote: If you want to see what the world expects Captain America to become, check out William Klein‘s Mr. Freedom.)

I know that some are claiming that Civil War is the best MCU film so far.  I wouldn’t quite go that far.  The film never quite reaches the lunatic heights of Guardians of the Galaxy nor does it match the subversive glee of Winter Soldier revealing that smug old Robert Redford is an agent of HYDRA.  But, no matter!  Captain America: Civil War is pretty freaking great!

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Here are the other MCU reviews that have appeared here on the Shattered Lens:

  1. Arleigh on Iron Man 2
  2. Arleigh on Thor
  3. Arleigh on Captain America: The First Avenger
  4. Leonard on The Avengers
  5. Viktor Von Glum on The Avengers
  6. Ryan on The Avengers
  7. Arleigh on Iron Man 3
  8. Leonard on Iron Man 3
  9. Ryan on Iron Man 3
  10. Ryan on Thor: The Dark World
  11. Ryan on Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  12. Lisa on Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  13. Ryan on Guardians of the Galaxy
  14. Lisa on Guardians of the Galaxy
  15. Lisa on Avengers: The Age of Ultron
  16. Leonard on Ant-Man
  17. Ryan on Ant-Man
  18. Lisa on Ant-Man
  19. Arleigh on Captain America: Civil War
  20. Gary Loggins on Captain America: Civil War

 

 

Captain America Civil War

Review: Captain America: Civil War (dir. by Anthony & Joe Russo)


Captain America Civil War

Captain America: The Winter Soldier wasn’t just a surprise hit for Marvel Studios and parent company Disney in 2014, it also showed the general public that there was more to Captain America than just a flag-waving symbol of America’s past glory. Captain America was a character that wasn’t the hip, wisecracking Tony Stark. He wasn’t the tortured soul in a monster’s body like Bruce Banner as the Hulk. He didn’t have the Shakespearean gravitas that was always lurking behind Thor and his complicated Asgardian family. No, Captain America was considered too straight-laced, blonde and blue-eyed goody two-shoes.

Captain America: The First Avenger focused on those very qualities. Steve Rogers was just a skinny, asthmatic young man from Brooklyn who wanted to do his part during World War II. It would be thanks to an experimental super-soldier serum that Steve Rogers’ body finally matched the inherent goodness and will to defend the little guy. For some, this initial introduction to Captain America was too hokey, but was entertaining enough. His next appearance in 2012’s game-changing superhero team-up The Avengers saw him be part tactician for a burgeoning superhero team and part comedy relief.

It would be with The Winter Soldier that the rest of the general public finally got to what comic book fans have known for years. This is a badass man, out of his time but always fighting the good fight and staying true to his convictions and principles. What was seen as hokey idealism became something of a beacon of selflessness and the moral center in a modern world that was steeped in shades of grey. It helped that writing team of Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus (who wrote The First Avenger) finally found a pair of directors in the Russo Brothers (Anthony and Joe) who understood just what made Captain America relevant in this day and age of cynical anti-heroes.

It’s no surprise that the Russo Brothers were tasked with continuing the work they began in the Winter Soldier with McFeely and Markus with the film that would complete the Captain America trilogy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It would be quite a task in getting Captain America: Civil War off the ground and moving forward under all the weight of nearly every MCU superhero (minus Thor, Hulk and Nick Fury) in attendance and the introduction of two new ones to the universe.

Did the Anthony and Joe Russo pull off this massive undertaking? Or did they stumble to not just the huge cast and many storyline threads the way Joss Whedon did with the ambitious, but flawed The Avengers: Age of Ultron?

I’m happy to say that the Russo Brothers did better than succeed but may have just made the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and proved that Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige was correct in placing the brothers as the new captain of the massive thing called the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it enters Phase 3.

Captain America: Civil War is set just a year after the events of Age of Ultron where the Avengers barely defeated Tony Stark’s mad A.I. Ultron and it’s decision to wipe humanity from the planet. While the team did save the world from global extinction they also didn’t save everyone. there were still hundreds, if not, thousands of Sokovians who died during the battle. The same could be said for all the battles since the alien invasion over New York. The Avengers, led by Captain America, have saved the world from invading aliens, world-dominating terrorist group and killer A.I robots. Yet, the collateral damage caused by these battles have begun to weigh not just on some of the Avengers, but has made the governments of the world see the team as a sort of super-powered private military group who don’t obey international laws and borders. Yes, they’ve saved humanity many times from destruction, but at what cost.

It’s during a battle early in the film as Captain America and his team stop the theft of a biological weapon in the city of Lagos, Nigeria that collateral damage and deaths rear it’s head once more as Wanda Maximoff (aka the Scarlet Witch) accidentally allows a suicide bomb vest explode too close to a nearby high-rise causing the deaths of several aide workers from Wakanda.

It’s from this event that the world finally have reached a tipping point and want to put the team under U.N. control with Tony Stark agreeing to the plan to help assuage his guilt over the deaths caused by him creating Ultron. Some of the team understands that government oversight that the Sokovian Accords puts on the team is the right thing to do. While others, especially Captain America, think it’s best to leave the team to continue to be their own masters instead of beholden to a bureaucracy whose agenda may not be conducive to saving lives.

It’s a subject matter that was explored in some fashion in an earlier superhero mash-up but one that failed to stick the landing. Yet, even this battle of differing ideologies between Captain America and Iron Man only becomes part of the foundation to the true narrative for Civil War. It’s the friendship between Captain America and Bucky aka the Winter Soldier and how the former must try to prove the latter innocent of another terrorist attack the world thinks he’s responsible for. Those Avengers who signed the Accords must now bring in Bucky dead or alive while Captain America with the help of those who didn’t sign try to prove his innocence and find the true architect of the terrorist bombing.

Captain America: Civil War succeeds where the earlier superhero film failed because of the groundwork laid down by the 12 previous films released to make up the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. From Iron Man all the way up to Age of Ultron, these twelve films flesh out the backstory and characters that make up these heroes. We’ve gotten to know what motivates them to risk their lives for the greater good, but we also see glimpses of the inter-personal conflicts that looks to tear the team apart from within.

There’s not enough that could be said about the masterful work done by the Russo Brothers in juggling the personalities of twelve superheroes (two getting their initial introduction to the MCU) and giving them enough to do in the film to make them relevant to the proceedings instead of just becoming glorified cameos. The actors playing these characters have had many films to own the roles and each and everyone hits it out of the park. The stand out from the veterans in the ensemble cast still remains Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr as Captain America and Iron Man, respectively. Yet, it would be the arrival of the two new heroes into the mix with Chadwick Boseman as the newly-crowned king of the technologically-advanced nation of Wakanda, T’Challa and Tom Holland as the teenage chatterbox and dumpster diving tech genius Peter Parker aka Spider-Man.

Boseman as the Black Panther adds a certain level of gravitas and regal fury to the proceedings which balances the edge between serious to comedic. His Black Panther has his own agenda in getting involved in this intra-familial squabble. He has his own agenda and if it means siding with Iron Man against Captain and his team then he would do so if it succeeds in helping him finish his mission. It helps that he looks damn cool in what has to be the best superhero costume thought up by the designers in Marvel Studios.

It would be Tom Holland as the young Peter Parker and Spider-Man who steals the show whenever he’s on-screen. This is the Peter Parker and Spider-Man that comic book fans have been waiting for. While Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield succeeded in portraying some of the character’s personality, they could never fully capture what made Spider-Man such a favorite amongst comic book readers. This Spider-Man is geeky and not at all hip and cool, but with a sense of right and wrong that comes having great power means shouldering the responsibility to use it for good.

Captain America: Civil War, with its exploration of many profound ideas and themes, is still a superhero film and a tentpole blockbuster at that and audiences still want to see the action up on the big screen. Boy, does this film have action and enough of them to spare. The action scenes range from the grounded hand-to-hand fighting the Russo Brothers used to great effect in The Winter Soldier (this time around with the help from Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, directors of John Wick to provide 2nd Unit Directing help) up to the superhero battle that raises the bar on such things set at an evacuated airport in Leipzig, Germany.

This 6-on-6 tête-à-tête between friends and colleagues takes the climactic battles in both Avengers films and does them better. With each hero using their abilities to great effect in conjunction with their allies and against those they are fighting. There was never a time during this near on 20-minute action scene did it ever get confusing. Many filmmakers doing superhero (or just plain old action films) could learn a thing or two from how the Russo Brothers and 2nd Unit directors Spiros Razatos, Stahelski and Leitch choreographed and filmed all the action sequences in Civil War. It was near-perfect with only wishful thinking that Gareth Evans from The Raid films could’ve been asked to help out to make things perfect.

As huge and bombastic the film gets with this airport fight, it would be the final throw down between Captain America and Iron Man at the end of the film that we get the emotional heft the film needs to keep itself from becoming just another loud and explosive superhero film. This fight becomes personal and shows how fights between close friends become the most brutal and heartbreaking. Neither combatants are wrong about their stances in the fight, but they’re also wrong in not being able to think things through. These two alpha males who have a  friendship full of respect but also combativeness throughout the years of the MCU that finally explodes into all-out war when a tragic secret from both Tony Stark’s and Bucky’s past come to light.

It’s a fight that has no winners and for a superhero film that is a major change from the usual narrative (especially within the MCU storytelling playbook). The film ends with the very team created to save the world from all threats even more unsure of their place in the ever-changing and ever-judging world. It’s a bold move by Marvel Studios to start their Phase 3 that would culminate in the battle to end all battles with the two Avengers: Infinity War films (soon to be retitled) which happen to be under the master-class guiding hands of the Russo Brothers in the directors’ chair and the writing duo Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus.

In the end, Captain America: Civil War manages to capture not just what made comic books and films adapted from them fun and exhilarating, but also able to tackle some serious ideas and themes both existential and personal. It just goes to show that one doesn’t need to sacrifice one to have the other. One can have serious and dark but also be fun. It’s a balance that’s difficult to do, but when the people involved in creating such a story stick the landing then we a classic in the making. It bodes well for the rest of the films in Phase 3 to have such a great beginning, but also raises the bar for the other filmmakers following in the wake of what Anthony and Joe Russo have concocted. Let’s  hope they are all up to the task.

The Final Captain America: Civil War Swings By


Captain America Civil War

We are just two weeks away from the release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and just a week from the premiere of Netflix’s Daredevil Season 2. What better way to remind people that there is another hero vs hero film coming out to start off the summer than with the final full trailer for Captain America: Civil War.

One things which distinguishes this latest and final trailer happens right at the very end. One could almost say that this was the trailer’s post-credit sequence.

Captain America: Civil War swings into action on May 6, 2016.

Captain America: Civil War Super Bowl TV Spot “Rivals”


Captain America - Civil War

It’s that time of the year when the country (to some extent the world) witness a sporting event that’s become almost ritualistic in how it gathers it’s audience. I’m talking about the yearly Super Bowl pitting the NFC champions against the AFC champs. Even if one wasn’t a huge fan of football, the Super Bowl has become such an event day not just for the game, but the half-time show. Then there are the commercials which has become just as anticipated as the game itself.

It’s this day that we get major studios plying their upcoming films for the summer blockbuster season and Disney is not a studio to let this day pass without showing something new regarding one of their biggest films this summer.

The first Captain America: Civil War trailer a couple months ago got everyone anticipating the film. Now we have the Super Bowl TV spot to fan the flame of hype for the film that dared to go up against Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice when they both had the same release date: May 6, 2016. The latter film blinked and opted to dominate the film landscape a couple months earlier.

This tv spot emphasizes the fractured nature of Avengers that lends to the film’s title of civil war.

So, which team are you on? Are you on Team Captain America? Or are you more the Team Iron Man?

I guess, we’ll find out this May 6, 2016.

Captain America: Civil War Is Coming


Captain America - Civil War

“A Titan against a Titan!”

Captain America: Civil War is the opening shot of Marvel’s Phase 3 for their cinematic universe. The huge success of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, both in the box-office and among critics, even convinced Marvel Studios and Disney to pit this upcoming sequel against DC’s own Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. One of the two had to blink and move their release date and it ended up being DC.

In what many have called Avengers 2.5 due to the amount of Marvel superheroes involved in the story, Captain America: Civil War will look to explore the consequences of the collateral damage incurred by Captain America and his teammates in the Avengers whenever they fight it out in public. The destruction of Midtown Manhattan during the Battle of New York was the start. The wreckage of three advanced SHIELD Helicarriers in the Potomac was another. Yet, it looks like the destruction of the capital city of Sokovia during the team’s fight against Ultron may have been the straw that broke the global governments’ back.

So, will Tony Stark and his team of Pro-Registration win out over the out-gunned Team Captain America who do not want to be beholden to the agendas of any world government?

We shall find out when Captain America: Civil War drops on everyone on May 6, 2016.

Review: Iron Man 3 (dir. by Shane Black)


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“You can take away my suits, you can take away my home, but there’s one thing you can never take away from me: I am Iron Man.” — Tony Stark

[WARNING: SPOILERS WITHIN]

Iron Man 3 review by Leonard Wilson

That line above would make such a great send-off for what could be the final Iron Man film. In a perfect world, having Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 as the final one in the franchise wouldn’t be such a bad thing. This doesn’t mean that Iron Man will not appear in any future Marvel Studios endeavors, but as a solo franchise a series couldn’t have found a better way to fly into the Malibu sunset. I say this because in over 5 years Marvel Studios has created a trilogy that took a character in Tony Stark and put him through a character journey encompassing four major film releases and one cameo. They did so in such a way that we saw the character grow from a rich genius dilletante, to a desperate asshole trying to find his identity as Iron Man to finally realizing that he’s the hero with or without the Mark suits he’s has created.

Iron Man 3 is the culmination of what Jon Favreau began with Iron Man in 2008 and Joss Whedon expanded on in 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers. It took a writer of renown such as Shane Black (who also replaced Favreau as director) to get to the heart of what makes Iron Man ticks. It helped that the returning cast led by Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark and Iron Man once again did a great job in their roles with some characters even getting to do some surprising heroic stuff on the screen.

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Iron Man 3 starts off with a flashback scene just hours before the arrival of the new millennium. This is just Tony Stark before he becomes Iron Man so we see the character in full charming asshole mode. This sequence is important in that it sets up the whole plot of the film and, in my opinion, the overall story for the entire trilogy. We’re introduced to the geeky Aldritch Killian (played with equal amounts of geeky desperation and overconfident megalomania by Guy Pearce) who sees in Stark the mentor he needs to get his think tank going. With only sex with brilliant scientist Maya Hansen (played by Rebecca Hall) on his mind Killian is soon forgotten and humiliated by Stark.

The rest of the film sees Tony Stark having to pay a steep price for his behavior towards Killian in that flashback and, in conjunction, with his days and nights haunted by the events in New York with the invading Chitauri invasion having given him a case of the PTSD the film looks to bring Tony Stark at his most vulnerable and lowest. It’s a return to the proverbial “Cave” for Tony Stark as he must contend not just with the elusive terrorist mastermind The Mandarin, but also solve the mystery of who or what’s causing the inexplicable explosions and bombings occurring around the nation. All this he must do through most of the film without the use of his Iron Man suits and relying mostly on his own genius intellect and skill with making weapons and gadgets out of anything readily available.

Speaking of The Mandarin (in an excellent performance by Sir Ben Kingsley), Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce made a controversial decision (for comic book fanboys at least) to make the iconic Iron Man villain more than he appears to be. It’s a decision that won’t sit well with the more vocal and rabid comic book fans who sees any deviation from Iron Man lore as an affront worth of loud, vociferous rabble, rabble, rabbling that would make Randy Marsh and the people of South Park proud.

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To say that the twist in the story that explains who The Mandarin was such a surprise would be quite the understatement. The most important and iconic nemesis of Tony Stark comes out with both barrels of deliberate menace and sociopathic showmanship. We’re meant to see this character as the face of all the evils and troubles that has plagued Tony Stark since the first film. Kingsley plays this part of the character in the film to the hilt. Yet, it’s not until the second half of the film when we find out just who exactly The Mandarin really was and is that Black and Pearce finally put to rest whether the producers and writers would be able to handle a character that’s been seen as a racial caricature from a less than enlightened time.

Whatever howls and apoplectic ravings fanboys might be having about changing the traiditional character of The Mandarin into the pill-popping, drunk British wanna-be actor Trevor Slattery as a bait-and-switch was a brave move on the parts of Black and Pearce. To find out that The Mandarin was just a conjuration by Aldritch Killian to keep the eyes of the world’s governments and superheroes on someone else was very Bond-like. The fact that Killian himself is the true Mandarin and the Ten Rings terrorist organization his creation to have his revenge on Stark for humiliating him on the even of the new millennium closes the circle on what was begun all the way back in the first Iron Man.

This so-called “twist” was so unexpected (the internet scouring for any tidbits about the film’s plot having found nary a hint of this change) that it seemed like some sort of gimmick but as the film barreled on through the second half into it’s explosive conclusion one had to admire the massive stones by Black and Pearce to change such an iconic character knowing how it could easily alienate and anger fans of comic book. It’s this thinking outside the box by this franchise’s new director and screenwriter which makes me feel like Marvel Studios (especially studio head Kevin Feige) have their Phase 2 plan set to spring surprises on comic book and non-comic book fans alike as it marches on towards Avengers 2.

originalIron Man 3 was a definite improvement over the bloated second film in the series. It also manages to reach the high bar set by the first film, though as an origin story it still comes away as being the best of the trilogy, but not by much. There was much trepidation from fans of the film franchise when Favreau was replaced by Marvel Studios as director by one Shane Black. While Black was well-known for being a top-notch screenwriter who literally redefined the buddy cop genre his work as a filmmaker was just still only the suprise film Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. While this third film still had some holes in it’s plot that was explained rather conveniently by some brief bits of dialogue it still managed to tell a compelling story of actions and consequences and the discovery that our hero finally makes about just who is the hero of the saga: the man or the machine.

If there’s to be another film bearing the title of Iron Man I would surely hope that Feige and the powers-that-be over at Marvel Studios and Walt Disney just speed-dial Shane Black’s name and to also bring back his co-conspirator Drew Pearce. The franchise is well and good in their keeping. As the final moments of the end credits tick by we’re promised that Tony Stark will return. I sure hope so.

Trailer: Iron Man 3 (Super Bowl Exclusive)


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Iron Man 3 will be the film from Walt Disney and Marvel Studios that will kick-off those studios’ Phase Two of their Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was the Galactus-sized success of 2012’s The Avengers which this newest phase will have to live up to and with new director on-board (Shane Black taking over the director’s chair from Jon Favreau) and the original cast back with new faces on-board (Sir Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce and James Badge Dale to name a few of the new names).

It’s now 2013 and just a few more months before Iron Man 3 makes it’s worldwide premiere and what better place to start the hype and marketing ad machine that will lead up to that premiere by releasing the latest trailer for the film than during one of the biggest one-day event in the world: the Super Bowl.

Iron Man 3 is set for an international release date of April 25, 2013 with a UK premiere in April 26, 2013 after then a North American release in May 3, 2013.

Without further ado the Super Bowl exclusive Iron Man 3.

Source: Joblo Movie Network