Road to Infinity War- ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ (2015)

When I first heard that ‘Age of Ultron’ was coming down the MCU pipeline I was beyond excited to see the first Marvel Cinematic Universe “event”. One that would be universe affecting, chaotic and permanent. I didn’t quite get that, and I definitely didn’t get anything close to the original ‘Age of Ultron’ story, but I did get a lot of things to be stoked about. Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Hulkbuster, the first EVER mention of Wakanda, Ulysses Klaue played by Andy Serkis – whats not to love!?

Also, this movie came out the same week that my first child was due, so I was secretly hoping that he would wait for me to see this movie. He did. The fear was real, though!

So, on this edition of ‘Road to Infinity War’ it is Avengers 2, formally known as ‘AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON’!

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‘Age of Ultron’ is the second Avengers film in the MCU at this point, and its first major event adaptation from Marvel Comics history. The original ‘Age of Ultron’ story is a very, very different one filled with characters that Marvel cannot even utilize, but this adaptation is unique and therefore still very intriguing. Instead of Hank Pym being the father of Ultron, it is Tony. Instead of a time travelling robot with centuries old consciousness hopping through space and time to take over, we have an advanced AI who has been birthed by an infinity stone and Tony Starks intelligence trying to take over one planet alone. It is a wonder why he doesn’t think to simply jump ship and go into space looking for something better suited to his ideals- but he sticks around to cause some chaos instead. Because like most male heroes, he hates his dad.

The film brought in another huge return for Marvel Studios- a staggering $1,405,403,694 worldwide and birthing a whole new roster of superheroes for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to utilize and expand upon in the coming events.


Joss Whedon took on a far greater task than he did when he came on board to do the first Avengers film back in 2012, but Marvel Studios knew well enough that he was the man for the job. With a passion for all facets of geekdom, he brings a real positive and quirky energy to the universe. As the sole writer on this particular film, as well as director, he had a hell of a lot of weight on his shoulders and I feel that he held it well. Had this movie been about nothing more than Whedons vision, I’m sure that it would have been quite different, but his influence is still felt throughout. He brings in humanity as much as fantasy, and makes us laugh as much as he makes us cower. He brings in as much fan service as possible without making the coffee too sweet.

Back from ‘Thor: The Dark World’ and ‘Iron Man 3’ Brian Tyler brings in a score that is not quite so satisfying as Alan Sylvestri offered up in the first Avengers film, but it is still an epic accompaniment to this action packed piece of cinema.


Since this movie in particular has a hell of a lot of characters, plot lines and general content that is relevant to ‘Infinity War’- I’m going to arrange it a bit differently than usual. I’m going to give a summary of each characters storyline and journey throughout this film from start to finish. Strap in!

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CAPTAIN AMERICA/STEVE ROGERS: Steve Rogers is still hot on the tails of Hydra, who are in possession of Lokis sceptre at the beginning of the film. He has assimilated into the Avengers and emerged as their natural leader- albeit the leader of a group of very independent people. He has continued power struggles with Tony and the true divide in their ideals really starts to show in ‘Age of Ultron’. Tony wants so desperately to fix the world the only way that he knows how- building things-while Steve wants to fix the world the only way that he knows how- fighting the good fight. He is very resistant to Tony developing secret projects under the noses of his colleagues, especially when one of them comes to life and tries to wipe out the entire planet. His old fashioned views on war, peace and righteousness have barely tapered off, but he is developing a tremendous amount of strength and wisdom in his old age. Something is different about it, yet he is still very much the same.

Also, don’t swear around him. He doesn’t like that.

IRON MAN/TONY STARK: Tony Stark just took down the Mandarin- sorry, maybe he didn’t? There isn’t a lot of indication that ‘Iron Man 3’ was canon in any way. Tony seems (on the surface) well over his panic attacks and trauma, he has his suits back bigger and badder than ever before, and he has a newfound sense of relaxed confidence. The Avengers never get to see how hard Tony works behind the scenes to create the technological marvels that he does- but the results are quite apparent. Not only is he developing tech for himself, but he is also arming his fellow Avengers with fancy upgrades to make them safer and more effective. Like he says, hes the one in charge of paying for everything and making everyone look cool. But still making himself look REALLY cool.


Tony reveals the true demons that are behind his decisions to several different people in the movie- making it no secret that he believes that he is capable of creating a world that need not worry about events like the Chitauri invasion from happening again. While SHIELD has been trying to defend us, Tony wants to protect us. He wants an end game- an end to the Avengers, “peace in our time”. His decisions in ‘Age of Ultron’ are tremendously careless, even for Tony, but he believes greatly in the power of science to come through so that we don’t need to rely on superheroes. He gets more than enough flack for it, but unfortunately his experimenting with the mind stone goes about as well as it would have in Hydras hands. Luckily, he has the stones to help fix the mess that he made- no matter how stubborn he may be about it. I did notice a much more sedated Stark in this movie- so I think that he knows exactly what his situation is with his fellow heroes. Ultron is thoroughly intelligent and basically the spawn of Tony himself- and he wastes no time conveying exactly what is so dangerous about their shared perspectives. As Wanda comments “Ultron doesn’t know the difference between saving the world and destroying it- where do you think he gets that?”.

HULK/BRUCE BANNER: Bruce has been quite busy, apparently. He and Tony have been working together on different projects at Avengers tower, up to and including artificial intelligence. He has also been working on some projects with Natasha, seeing as she gives him the sexy eyes every time that she sees him. There are also some less than subtle conversations regarding their relationship and showering together, so I think they’re officially an item. Does she know that he can’t have sex? Can he have sex now? She looks at him like she really wants to have sex with him.


Bruce has been a close friend and coworker with Tony, but like most of Tonys friends, he disagrees with him almost all the time. They bond well over their mutual love of science, but Bruce knows well enough what science can create, so he keeps him in check whenever possible. Natasha keeps the Hulk in check with a mind control technique called a “lullabye” which brings Bruce back into the picture- which it seems only Natasha is capable of because Hulk and Bruce both trust her. Hulk and Bruce seem to be far more in sync than ever before, and although Hulk is still barely speaking he is able to cooperate with the Avengers without going off the rails- until Scarlet Witch forces him into a state of panic and brings out the worst parts of Hulk in a very public fashion. This scene and all the publicity attached to it forces Bruce to be more withdrawn than ever- backing away from Natasha to let her down easy and removing himself from the chaos. Unfortunately, when Bruce decides that he and Natasha can get away from it all-she unleashes the Hulk one last time to help win the war against Ultron. To finish the mission.

In the end, he gets on a Quinjet-still as the Hulk-and sails off to…who knows where. Where in the WORLD could he go?

BLACK WIDOW/NATASHA ROMANOFF: I think that I covered Natashas situation pretty well under Bruce-but theres more to her story. Natasha continues to be the unflappable warrior princess that the Avengers need to keep all of their masculine hormones under control- including Hulks. She is generous, kind, damaged, dutiful and she works hard as hell to prove herself in a group full of Gods, monsters, soldiers and machines. She is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to combat and agent ingenuity, but her real strength is in her survival instincts. She thinks fast and she isn’t afraid to make the tough decisions-but she also goes well out of her way to keep others out of danger by throwing herself directly into it.

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In Black Widows vision, we learn that she came up through a program that specifically groomed women to be just like she used to be. Cold, calculated and unstoppable. She worries that she will never truly wipe away her past and that she is forever destined to be the killing machine that she was trained to become. In a very emotional (but slightly awkward) scene between Natasha and Bruce, she reveals that she and Bruce have one vital thing in common- neither can have a “normal life”. Part of her programming involved a sterilization process that made her unable to bear children. There was some backlash to this scene because she refers to herself as a “monster”-but I thought it was rather obvious that she is referencing the severity of this action as part of her training, not that shes a monster because shes infertile. Don’t be silly, people.

In the end, Natasha is dealt a profound personal blow when she loses her new love to obscurity. There is no doubt that she’ll bounce back, but this is a one time shot at a normal life, and she lost it.

THOR/THOR ODINSON/DR DONALD BLAKE: Thor just finished saving the world a couple of movies ago and he is back on Earth once more to help the Avengers retrieve Lokis sceptre. He believes his brother to be dead and his father to be ruling Asgard-so he has nothing to worry about right now otherwise. Until Scarlet Witch shows him a dream? Illusion? Vision? This experience leads him to believe that something very dangerous is coming. Heimdall warns him that his people are in great danger-so while this may not be directly referring to Infinity War, it is certainly eluding to ‘Thor Ragnarok’.

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We lose Thor midway through ‘Age of Ultron’ after he takes a swim with Dr Selvig in some enchanted cave water- and he sees a very specific unveiling of all of the Infinity Stones that we have witnessed in the MCU. Somewhere in his vision he comes to know that the body inside the cradle-which now houses an infinity stone-is going to become a beacon of hope in the coming fight. He takes no time arguing over morals or politics and brings the body to life- animating the ‘Vision’.  He ends the film by leaving Earth to find out what his skinny dip acid trip was all about.

Guys, Heimdall is totally the soul stone. I mean, what the hell else could this whole thing be about? The white eyes, “I CAN SEE EVERYTHING”, then Thor comes to the conclusion that Infinity stones are involved after seeing a vision involving the guy with the glowing orange eyes that can see billions of souls? I mean…it has to be him!

HAWKEYE/CLINT BARTON: You know what the Avengers really needed more than anything?

A cool dad.

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They also needed a guy who had a hell of a lot to lose by fighting the good fight. Most of his colleagues have a loved one- a girlfriend, a parent, a fellow Avenger- but none of them have children. Turns out, Barton has two children and another on the way- and hes married to Linda Cardellini! Lucky bastard. His family resides in a beautiful farmhouse that is completely off anybodys radar, and he brings the Avengers there to hide out while Ultron causes havoc all over the world. ‘Age of Ultron’ spends its time creating a real intimate sense of how difficult it is on his family to know that he is leaving, and every time might be the last.

A very sweet touch to this storyline is the fact that Natasha is just as close to his family as she is to Clint himself- being very invested in his coming baby and the safety of his loved ones in general. Their relationship continues to be an important one as it is rarely shaken and its stability is one that the rest of team is unlikely to understand. His newfound Dad spirit transcends his home life soon after, and what ensues thereafter are Dad jokes, him calling all younger people “kid” and being annoyed with them, and motivational dad speeches to Wanda.

WAR MACHINE/JAMES RHODES: Colonel Rhodes is living the high life as ‘backup Iron Man’ and tries desperately to get some respect from his friends in the Avengers whenever he can. His role in ‘Age of Ultron’ is quite small, but he joins the fight at the right time and goes all out to get his 15 minutes of superhero fame as a slicker, less bulky ‘War Machine’- no longer ‘Iron Patriot’. It sounds like he has been keeping busy working continuing his work with the military and SHIELD alike- dropping tanks in front of people like “Boom! You looking for this?”. Thats what I hear, anyway.


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There isn’t much to say about Ultron, mainly because hes not a real person and he did not exist before this movie. Literally. The most interesting thing about Ultron, however, is his intimate connection to Tony. While Tony clearly implants himself in one way or another into all of his AI (Jarvis got that sass from somewhere) Ultron is a physical embodiment of the dangerous side of Tony Stark. Sure, he wants to protect Earth- but doesn’t he want to protect science even more? Doesn’t he want to constantly upgrade, manipulate, create- doesn’t he want to play God? Ultron certainly does. His warped view that the only path to peace is by destroying the peacekeepers who attract it is not so far off. He just doesn’t have the humanity to understand that global genocide is not a viable option for a perfect world.

James Spader is perfect as this rather surprising interpretation of Ultron- one who has a lot of Tonys casual and dark humor, but also a lot of his delusions of grandeur. He is sinister and salty and set on world domination, but it remains to be seen what his intentions were past the point of human extinction. He makes contacts with some very dangerous people very quickly, starting with the Maximoff twins and eventually the eccentric Ulysses Klaw- who makes his living off of pirated vibranium. Ultron bestows upon him a massive sum of cash in exchange for helping himself to his stockpile, but manages to remove something rather important in the midst of their encounter. Someone had to sacrifice their hand- those are the rules!

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Presumably, Ultrons end game was always to convert the entire planet from organic matter into some sort of hybrid-like the Vision stemmed from. “When the dust settles- the only thing living in this world will be metal”. He attempts to make quick work of that before the Avengers even have a chance to rise up against him- but JARVIS and the Vision become his greatest threat in the end. Much like Tony, it is his creation that becomes his greatest downfall.


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‘Age of Ultron’ actually gets better for me every time that I watch it. Though it is a film clearly jammed to the rafters with characters, storylines, introductions and follows ups, plot devices, and foreboding- it is well looked after by Joss Whedon and company. This movie is quite depressing as a whole, but there is still a good helping of Whedons signature writing style- funny quips, one liners and very human moments. The house party scene is a favorite, as we get to see how these extraordinary people unwind like the rest of us do. They drink, they compete, they trash talk and they get interrupted by murderous robots trying to kill them. Just like us!

We get to see the community that has been built between all of our favorite heroes in the MCU up to this point and how difficult it can be for them to work together. They come from different backgrounds, different perspectives and they have different visions of the world that they are fighting for. This very much comes to a head when Ultron attempts to tear them apart both physically and emotionally. Much attention is placed on Ultrons stature and the intimidation of the material creations that he is capable of, but his swift rise to power comes only because he has one of the scariest abilities of all- access to everything. The internet, government files, secret areas of the world that few people know exist. Tonys inventions wind up saving them yet again-this time by accident-when JARVIS resurfaces from an underground internet battle and becomes far, far more than Tonys co-pilot.

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Vision is one of my favorite characters of all time and I was immensely excited to see him show up in teaser trailers leading up this movie-and elated to see what he became. Paul Bettany perfectly portrays this mandroid with a quiet grace, a thoughtful presence and the same sassy sense of humor that Tony gifted him from the start. Though he turns out to be far more pink than red, I still love the detail that they put into his makeup and the light touches of CGI added to make him more “robotic” looking. The fact that this character is quite clearly being set up for something huge- being the keeper and now protector of an Infinity stone- gives me a lot of hope that his story is going to be epic. Not only that, but they made a very early and very blatant reference to the fact that Vision and Scarlet Witch are TOTALLY going to get together! Weird or not, these two are going to fall in love just like they did in the comics, and I love it.

Speaking of Scarlet Witch, I can’t say that I’m entirely on board with the Maximoff twins accents, but I am on board with them otherwise. They were introduced as “enhanced” because Marvel can’t say “mutants”- so their origin comes in the form of a familiar tale involving voluntary government experiments instead of being Magnetos children. At the ending of ‘Winter Soldier’ we see them separated and seemingly new with their powers, but by the time that we meet them again in ‘Age of Ultron’ they are walking around the Hydra base like they live there with their parents, rocking Euro-cool fashion and emo kid facial expressions.


‘Age of Ultron’ was probably the first ever Marvel film that was truly built up to be an event in my household. We went to Comic Con for the first time ever in 2014, and that happened to be the year that the cast of the movie was in Hall H to premiere the first trailer. We did not end up seeing that trailer for many months to come, but the hype surrounding the movie was very, very real. We expected something huge, something universe affecting, something catastrophic. Something absolutely epic.

This may be where most of my disappointment in this film came from. The hype, as it can be at times, was far too great. ‘Age of Ultron’ was a grand event and Underarmour commercial for certain, but the majority of its effect took place on another side of the world from where it normally does- in places like New York and….New York. What was promised to be an “Age” wound up being nothing more than a couple of days- and aside from the introduction of Vision, his reign did not leave much effect on the universe to come. Sure, his consciousness did come about partially from an infinity stone- which gave us a little insight into how they work on the inside as a “brain” of sorts. It made me wonder if the aether storyline from ‘The Dark World’ was accurate- that the stones can speak to people- but if so, wouldn’t Wanda and Petrov have a connection to the mind stone? Can they “feel” it when its around?

Perhaps they do!

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There were more than enough moments to count where I felt the seams kind of falling apart under the weight of all this content. Initially, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this movie was doomed by studio interference. There was just far too much to cover. Characters were brought to life, killed, introduced, dismissed, doomed, saved- everyone had to be guided into the coming universe in some capacity. At times it was hard to lose myself because things felt a little bit too forced. Thors quick vacation to take a swim being one, Natasha and Bruces relationship being another- yet there was certainly a reason for everything. The conversation between the Maximoffs and Ultron were bizarre- like, you’re telling an actual robot your life story after you just realized that you’re talking to a gigantic robot. Nah, its cool. The conversations between Natasha and Bruce were all really awkward- and not the usual level of Bruce Banner awkward-just straight up uncomfortable. Even the motivations of the Maximoffs- who were out to destroy Tony Stark and the Avengers because a Stark bomb took down their house- were a little weak, but they worked with what they had. They didn’t seem to realize that they were also working for a tremendous evil. Also, why do Cap and Black Widow need to train Rhodey to be an Avenger after hes had extensive military training and experience fighting with the Avengers several times. Why the hell does VISION need to learn anything from anybody about anything?

You just had to let go of those initial feelings of doubt and enjoy the ride.

Thats what I did.

Up next….ANTMAN!


Road to Infinity War- ‘Thor:The Dark World’ (2013)

It is certainly not an unpopular opinion that ‘Thor: The Dark World’ suffers from a serious case of middle child syndrome. While this piece of the Thor story arch has its fair share of faults- the tremendous cast that they have assembled makes it hard to deny. With strong theatrical actors like Hopkins, Russo, Hemsworth, Hiddleston and Skarsgard in your cast- the only thing that could go wrong is weak writing or weak directing. Unfortunately, I think that a mixture of both may be the case here. However, there is a lot to rave about in ‘The Dark World’- and I’m here to rave about it!

On this edition of ‘Road to Infinity War’ its…’THOR: THE DARK WORLD’

Director Alan Taylor is a first time director for Marvel Studios, and frankly feels like a strange choice. His background in directing is mainly in television-ranging from a couple episodes in shows like ‘The West Wing’ and ‘The Sopranos’ to ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Mad Men’. The screenplay comes from Christopher Yost- writer for several comic book cartoon shows using both Marvel and DC characters, as well as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- as well as Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely- screenplay writers of Captain America: The First Avenger and the Chronicles of Narnia trilogy. The story was written by Don Payne- screenplay writer for both the original ‘Thor’ film and ‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’ as well as Robert Rodat- writer for ‘The Patriot’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’. Composer Brian Tyler returns from ‘Iron Man 3’.

‘Thor: The Dark World did fairly well at the box office, but not nearly as well as mega hits ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Iron Man 3’. It brought in $644,571,402 at the worldwide box office.


Thor has passed over the opportunity to become the new King and ruler of Asgard, instead settling on protecting the nine realms-namely Midgard-after the events of ‘Thor’ and ‘The Avengers’. While his Asgardian friends and family are supportive and proud of his bravery and conviction, there is clearly some opposition to his relationship with Jane Foster and how it is swaying his judgement. Thor has become far more wise and humble about his role in the nine realms, becoming more and more like the King that his people really need. He is realizing than his father is not a perfect King, and that he has to do what he believes is right to protect his people, even if it means defying him. Again. His rag tag group of warriors are fiercely loyal to him, and even Heimdall is willing to risk his position to help Thor do what he believes to be right. It truly shows us what kind of a man and what kind of a god Thor has become. He cares for people, and they care for him in return. 

Chris Hemsworth continues to shine as the commanding presence of Thor, nailing every possible emotional scenario from smug self satisfaction, to love, to pain, to anger. His comedic timing is excellent and he is given countless moments to show it off. He switches seamlessly between theatrical and natural when interacting with his family and his friends. When your dad is Anthony Hopkins and your mom is Rene Russo- you’re destined to be dramatic children.


While Loki still plays the role of a villain in the grand scheme of ‘The Dark World’ he spends far more time than ever before fighting with the good guys. One of my favorite Loki moments actually happens in this film- when Thor comes to the dungeon to ask for Loki’s help avenging his mothers death. He presents his usual narcissistic, holier-than-thou facade, but Thor knows him well enough to see that this is a trick. Instead, he is in a position in which we have never truly seen him-vulnerable. Heartbroken. His mother was the only true love that he felt in the universe and his only real ally-aside from his brother.

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I love the growth in the relationship between Loki and Thor as it becomes more complex and their brotherly connection becomes more evident. Through their tumultuous relationship over the past few years they have learned more about one another and they understand one anothers motivations, making their competitive nature more of a game all the time. They take jabs at one another, they fight, they banter-but underneath it all there is still the occasional olive branch extended with the hope that one day they will see eye to eye. They try to find common ground all the time, but they are just very different people with completely different views of the universe. Despite what I consider to be awkwardly planted scenes between the two (to give Loki more screen time), in ‘The Dark World’ we see how well they can plan and work together using their combined strengths. But of course, Loki ultimately falls to his true nature and shows why he is the God of Mischief. 

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The ACTUAL villain- Malekith- is intimidating and certainly has a ring of evil to him, but this is another case where I simply did not feel a connection to the central villain, and I feel that it weakened the story tremendously. His motivations and his plans are grand in scale and the threat is very real, but it is very evident that there will be little to no lasting effect from his contributions to this story. Much like the frost giants in ‘Thor’, he is out to get his hands on a cosmic power that will benefit the Dark Elves and bring him great power, and he feels that he is entitled to it because of past injustices towards them. I honestly do not understand how or why he and his people have a connection to the aether, and that is one big reason why I find the villains story to be so weak. If my memory serves correctly, there is no evidence in any previous (or future) film that there is such a thing as a having a “bond” with an infinity stone-yet in this film he is able to “feel” it and it wakes him up from his centuries long slumber, as if they have a relationship. I’m also not entirely clear on why this one is fluid and parasitic. This is just one instance where it seems like the film took liberties to just throw together a cohesive story and to work this villain into the mix.


In the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘The Dark World’ is certainly one of my least favorites, but it has its merits. The drama between the Asgardian royal family grows more complicated all the time as we uncover more information about Odin’s past and the way that he rules Asgard. I find it tremendously interesting that Thor and Loki are becoming more distant from their father over time as they realize that he is not perfect and he is not always right in his decisions. Both sons defy their father on a regular basis, but they do so using the lessons that they have learned from him. Both believe that Odin has been doing things all wrong, and that they know of a better way to rule. Loki constantly justifies his most egregious of actions on the basis that his father has a blood soaked past that more than rivals his own. Thor wants to do what is best for his people and the nine realms, but he believes in being proactive, not waiting for a threat to come to them. He is almost living a cursed and charmed life- left to clean up the messes and the wars that his father left behind, while fighting new ones that arise. This may be a contributing factor in his decision to refuse the throne.

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As I mentioned above- the relationship between the brothers in this story strengthens it tremendously as well as their relationship with their parents. These two could not be more different, but their lifelong relationship keeps bringing them back to one another for support, like your typical toxic relationship will do. Loki does not necessarily hate his brother in the way that he does his father, but he has lived for such a long time in his shadow that he lives his entire life obsessed with the idea of becoming who he believes that he was meant to be- a ruler. He will step on absolutely anybody to acheive this, and to rub it in the faces of his father and brother. He is rather disillusioned by the fact that he has no real place in his family, his world, or the universe as whole-while Thor is given everything because he is strong. Odin’s most memorable moment comes when Loki demands acknowledgement that he has been robbed off his birthright, to which he responds in a way that only a pro like Anthony Hopkins could- “Your birthright was to die!”. Being the more intellectual and intuitive of the brothers, he feels that his mental capabilities make him worthy despite his parentage, but he cannot see past his anger. In one of the best lines of the film, Thor says “I wish that I could trust you” to which he responds “Trust my rage”- a perfect summary of exactly what makes Loki so enthralling as a character and as an anti-hero. 

Honorable mention goes to Frigga- who shows us how badass she truly is before her heartwrenching demise (oh Gods its so very sad!) She reaches out to Loki even when he is imprisoned, looking for a shadow of hope for him.  She protects Jane Foster despite knowing her for no more than an hour (knowing that she is important to her son), she gets an awesome combat scene, we see her “powers” and we see her beautiful role as the matriarch of the family. She has a sense of humor, she is gentle but strong, she is compassionate, she is brave, and she is maternal. She is a perfect compliment to her husband and her influence is clear in both of her sons.

I also cannot forget to mention the golden god Heimdall- who plays a very important role in ‘The Dark World’ and who is a very crucial ally to Thor. I mainly wanted to bring him up because I am about 98.6% sure that he is the keeper of the soul stone- and I think that they dropped some pretty obvious hints to that point in his scenes. He specifically tells Thor “From here I can see nine realms and ten trillion souls” with a shot of his luminescent orange eyes fluidly scanning the cosmos. We know already that this is his power, but we never learn why exactly he happens to have this power. While this film suggests that things like Loki’s projections and “tricks” can be learned from your elders- Heimdalls power is not exactly a skill- it is a gift. It is something that he can do that seemingly nobody else in the universe can…except the Watchers? Hm.

Theres also the matter of this orange thing in the middle of his armor… its not really glowing, but…maybe.

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I’m sticking with this theory right now with full confidence. Please don’t die, Heimdall!


As much as I love Jane, Erik and Darcy, I feel like the time spent on them is unnecessarily long. It makes perfect sense that this team of scientists would be the ones to detect the Convergence as it is gearing up to happen, and it is a real treat to see how science can save our world. However, there are far too many instances of coincidence holding together the flow of this story. For example, finding out that the other side of the portal they discover on Earth just happens to be in the cave that Jane and Thor just happen to wander into on the Dark World. Oh, and she has cell service and happens to get a call from Chris O’Dowd. They make their way across the universe and back to Earth in less than 5 minutes from entering the cave. Lucky break! The characters always happen to be standing on the spot where something incredible happens. The TV is always on the right news story when it gets turned on, SHIELD happens to “not be answering their phone” when the entire universe is in jeopardy, Dr Selvig happens to get over his hysteria the moment that Darcy shows up- it all feels very inauthentic. I am still a sucker for Darcy-isms like calling Thors hammer every similar sounding word except for Mjolnir… (myawmyaw? meowmeow?) And of course, Stellan Skarsgard is the best.

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POST CREDITS SCENE: This actually ends up being one of the most exciting post credits scenes in MCU history, because it is the first time that we officially hear that the infinity stones are in play, and that somebody-The Collector, in this case- is trying to gather them. We also know that Thanos is out there, somewhere. I remember specifically gasping when it was over the first time that I saw it. It was something that everybody assumed might be on the horizon, but this solidified it and made the future very, very exciting.

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Road to Infinity War – ‘Iron Man 3’ (2013)

Did anyone else question their sobriety the moment that Eiffel 65 started playing before a movie in the year 2013? I know that I did. Despite its many silly moments such as that- ‘Iron Man 3’ is one movie in particular that divided an awful lot of fans and critics, but ultimately garnered positive reviews. To be fair, this did follow ‘Iron Man and ‘The Avengers’-and the majority of the movies soon to come after this are pretty incredible, so it has a lot to live up to. You wouldn’t know that it was such a controversial film by how much money that it made- a whopping $1,214,811,252 at the worldwide box office-making it one of the most successful movies of all time.

And so, for the next installment of ‘Road to Infinity War’ we have the last piece of the trilogy of Tony Stark (for now)….IRON MAN 3


Director and writer Shane Black may be best known for one thing, and that is Lethal Weapon. It was his first big screenplay back in 1987, and he has been active in the industry ever since. Interestingly enough, he wrote the screenplay for Zak Penns first project ‘Last Action Hero’-who you may remember as the story writer of ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Avengers’. He also wrote the screenplay for and directed ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’- starring Robert Downey Jr. Co-writer Drew Pearce went on to write the script for ‘Mission Impossible 5: Ghost Protocol’. Jon Favreau continues his attachment to the Iron Man franchise both on and off screen, serving as Executive Producer once again.

Composer Brian Tyler is a newcomer to the MCU, but he already had a decade and a half of experience upon working on this project. His credits include everything from ‘Darkness Falls’ to a couple ‘Fast and the Furious’ movies, ‘Eagle Eye’ and video games like ‘Far Cry 3’ ‘Need for Speed: The Run’ and ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’. Needless to say, he has experience scoring for action.


Despite an overall story that feels a bit soulless, ‘Iron Man 3’ is a strong Iron Man story because it focuses on the importance of the separation of Tony Stark from his suit and from his persona-even though they are slowly becoming one and the same. Tony finally cracks under the weight of everything that he has been through as both Iron Man and Tony Stark, and he becomes more reckless than ever before. He stays awake for days working away at his suits while his other half and Stark Industries CEO Pepper Potts is left alone. The resurgence of the 10 Rings-the same terrorist organization that kidnapped him back in ‘Iron Man’- in the form of The Mandarin drives him over the edge to the point of anxiety attacks- something that you don’t often see portrayed correctly on film. They used it to great affect here and created a really touching and emotional climax to Tonys journey. 

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Tony is far more vulnerable than ever before in every way imaginable- his loved ones, his country and both his personal and professional life hanging in the balance. He spends a large portion of the movie either without a suit- or in one that looks ready to fall off at any moment. This leaves him to show off his ingenuity and intelligence under pressure, and gives Robert Downey Jr a hell of a lot of face time on screen to deliver emotional, silly and action packed scenes. He drops his usual volume of sassy quips, with a few extra cruel zingers towards a child to show you just how far he has truly sunk. About 75% of the movie seems dedicated to showing off their CGI budget with several radical upgrades to his armor that wind up working their way into his future MCU appearances, but thats about all that does-besides the removal of his chest piece.


Everything about this villain, his storyline and his henchman just falls completely flat for me. How Aldridge went through such a dramatic transformation from Igor-esque, permanently pubescent mega dweeb to a Guy Pearce-esque brainiac and mega-cult leader is a bit of a marvel in itself, but the nonsense doesn’t stop there. With a vibe that feels strikingly familiar to ‘Iron Man 2’, but with a brain and some CGI- Aldridge employs a team of ex military amputees and turns them into mutated children-of-Balrog soldiers to do his dirty work while he tries to sell legitimate-yet-controversial-technology to prospective buyers. He also heads up an organization so powerful that it kidnapped the president, stole the Iron Patriot armor, bribed the Vice President, took over every channel on American television, and created a fleet of shitty Weapon X wannabees that glow. And spit fire…

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I have read the ‘Extremis’ storyline from which this film was based/inspired, and unfortunately it comes off on both accounts as a very, very cool idea that just didn’t suit this film well. (Suit-get it?) Killian is a one dimensional soundboard of cliches, and although this whole “man behind the curtain” twist was very, very amusing-thanks entirely to Sir Ben Kingsley- it feels like a real failure. They had the opportunity from the very beginning of the MCU to chase the Mandarin storyline, but nobody ever went for it. To continue Tonys battle with the 10 Rings over the course of his arch would be really cool to see. It could show that Tony Stark still truly cares about the wars that are too small to call the Avengers for-the wars that took place in countries like the one in which he was imprisoned so many years back. This just felt like a cop out and it added to the isolation that this movie already suffers from. Aldridge is certainly a genuine threat, but the way that they had to open and close this entire story arch within the allotted two hours just made everything that COULD have happened completely insignificant. The real nail in the coffin is when he officially proclaims “I AM THE MANDARIN” and a million hearts wept and considered the possibility of a double ruse- a theory which was later fueled by a short film surrounding Trevor Slattery in prison and then never spoken of again. I get why you’re mad, haters. I do. 


‘Iron Man 3’ certainly has its charm. Tony and his entire entourage of friends really stand out with great moments-from Happy living his best life with a new promotion, to Pepper donning the Iron suit and shaming everyone alive with her abs, to “warmachinerox”. Unfortunately, this movie feels like a lot of great moments, a lot of great lines and a lot of great performances peppered into a salty sea of mediocrity. Even more so than ‘Iron Man 2’-this installment feels like another excuse to funnel through all of the technological possibilities that Tony could create. Trust me, his drone suits and motion controlled…GPS controlled…self assembling suit are both really, really cool. Too bad that he blows them all up. There is barely anything at all connecting ‘Iron Man 3’ and its events to the past or future of the MCU, aside from Tonys PTSD following the events in New York-but those mostly seem to be brought on by creepy and invasive children.

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Theres no SHIELD to come help him, theres no superhero friends- theres just Tony, and sometimes Rhodes. Tony initiating the “clean slate protocol” for Pepper is a wonderful gesture well suited to the ending of an Iron Man story arch, but this movie technically isn’t the end of his arch at all. If he was truly giving up this life for Pepper, that would be lovely and poetic and romantic- but we know that isn’t how this story ends, so it feels empty. The finality that they convey with the story itself-and especially the closing credits- completely isolates the movie from everything else that has happened and what can happen. It all feels very forced and offers little to no closure or satisfaction that you would hope for at the ending of a trilogy.

Also, how did they just “fix” Pepper? I mean, her immune system is probably incredible and all-but didn’t they rewrite her genetic code and fill an empty hole in her brain? Seems tough to reverse invincibility. Did she also lose her sudden stealth abilities too? I mean, I LOVE Pepper- but this whole thing is a little silly.

POST CREDITS SCENE: We find out after the credits roll that Tony has been telling this long tale of self reflection to a dozing Bruce Banner. These two just met in `The Avengers`and they hit it off right away because of their mutual love for science. However, as we see in this scene, Bruce has a bit of a time tolerating Tonys motor mouth and over the top personality. This scene lets us know that they are spending time together outside of their time avenging-and this will be important to us in the very near future!

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‘Road to Infinity War’- ‘The Avengers’ (2012)

‘The Avengers’ is still incredibly exciting to watch after all that has come after it. The characters are so young, so fresh, so new and so unfamiliar with one another-and like our buddy Bruce Banner says- they are a “chemical mixture that creates chaos”. Though they are cleaning up an overabundance of chaos in this film, from the beginning we are asked one simple question “Does the world need superheroes?”. Yes, yes we do.

And so, on the Road to Infinity War, I am so excited to talk about ‘THE AVENGERS’!

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Writer, director and creator Joss Whedon was a pop culture darling to the nerd community well before he took on ‘The Avengers’ project. His slew of credits include such cult classics as TV shows ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ ‘Angel’ and ‘Firefly’, films like ‘Titan AE’, ‘Alien: Resurrection’ ‘Cabin in the Woods’ ‘Serenity’ and a little indie film called ‘Toy Story’. It seemed only fitting that a man who is so widely known in the community of pop culture loving nerds would be the one given the task of bringing one of its most treasured teams to the big screen. Whedon has some experience with establishing universes utilizing original characters, but a bit less with pre existing ones.

While Whedon wrote the screenplay for ‘The Avengers’, our buddy Zak Penn wrote the story. You may remember my mention of Zak in my entry for ‘The Incredible Hulk’-which he also wrote for Marvel Studios. Penn has a wealth of experience writing specifically for Marvel characters in everything from a Fantastic Four video game, ‘Elektra’ ‘Xmen 2’ and ‘XMen:The Last Stand’. While these credits may be spotty in their quality, there is certainly no contesting that he has the experience to be involved in this project. His experience with Marvel and comic book heroes in general fills in the holes where Joss Whedon may have lacked.

This film was unprecedented in its time- bringing together a canon universe of films that had spanned five years at the point that ‘The Avengers’ was released. This involved lengthy contracts with the actors and a whole lot of planning from the studio. If only we knew at the time what was coming down the pipeline in the future! ‘The Avengers’ proved to be a worthwhile investment in every way imaginable-making a harrowing $1,518,812,988 at the worldwide box office. OVER A BILLION DOLLARS!


I’m going to approach this section a bit differently since we have SO MANY characters to outline. So I am just going to get us caught up on what these characters have been up to before the story begins.

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IRON MAN/TONY STARK: At this point, Tony has been through a hell of a lot of trauma. He was kidnapped by terrorists, there was a hit put on his life by his friend and colleague Obediah Stane, he was cut out of his company, attacked by his own technology FOR his own technology, and became a superhero. THEN, while masquerading around as if he was untouchable, he was attacked by ‘Whiplash’ (ugh) and Hammer Industries tried to take him out. Hes in a relationship now, he gave Pepper the position of CEO at Stark Industries, hes a part of the ‘Avengers Initiative’, he has an Iron sidekick, and he has upgraded his chest piece to prevent a serious case of death.

Tony is an incredibly powerful man and has a shiny new image, albeit one that may still be seen in a negative light-depending who you ask. While he has held onto his cocky confidence and his innovative, entrepreneurial spirit- he has also grown tremendously. His priorities have changed and he is fully focused on utilizing his ‘Iron Man’ persona to make the world a safer place- following in his fathers footsteps and making him proud. His daddy issues still linger heavily in the way that he approaches a challenge to prove that he can do absolutely anything that he tries, but he seems far more open to collaboration and- dare I say- help?

CAPTAIN AMERICA/STEVE ROGERS: Steve is waking up from being involuntarily iced for a few decades, and we saw him waking up in modern day New York City at the very end of ‘The First Avenger’. All that we know for sure is that Steve is an old fashioned guy who is terribly lost in the new world in which he inhabits. Everyone that he knew is either extremely old, or has passed on. He is now living in a world where the war that he fought has ended and another has begun, and one where war is a completely different animal. He has already lived through war, a runin with alien technology and an act of self sacrifice and he now has a second chance to live his life, and to fulfill his destiny as ‘Captain America’.

BLACK WIDOW/NATASHA ROMANOFF: We know a fair amount about Black Widow due to her appearance in ‘Iron Man 2’-namely that she is very skilled at deception, technology and combat. She is the total package, and she works directly under Nick Fury-so needless to say, she will have a big role in the ‘Avengers Initiative’ going forward.

THOR/THOR ODINSON/”DONALD BLAKE”: Thor has seemingly no access to Earth now that the bifrost and the rainbow bridge are destroyed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he has no way out. He has grown a lot since ‘Thor’, and he has taken on the role of “protector of the realms” now that he has seen a different side of the cosmos-and fallen in love with a scientist. Odin is still King of Asgard, but Thor is his right hand because his brother Loki is presumed dead. What they don’t know-and what we do know- is that he is very much alive, and he is already scheming.

HULK/BRUCE BANNER: The last time that we saw Bruce Banner, he was Edward Norton. Also, he was on the run after he and the ‘Abomination’ tore apart an entire neighbourhood. We know that he is on better terms with General Ross after working with him to bring down the beast, but he has inadvertently been forced into exile to prevent any future incidents and contact with the general public. We don’t know for sure if he has cut ties with his previous life or if he is still working on a cure or a way to manage his uh, “condition”. We also don’t know if he has been in contact with anybody from the “real world” or if SHIELD has contacted him personally. We do know that Tony approached General Ross about the Hulk, so he may have provided useful information, or he may have thrown him off the scent.

HAWKEYE/CLINT BARTON: I’ll be honest, I actually forgot that Hawkeye was in Thor. I always forget. So…we know that he is working with SHIELD, and that he observes things from a distance. Oh, and he has a bow and arrow. Sounds about right.

NICK FURY: Nick has been very busy looking badass and bringing together a team that will protect our world. We don’t know what he knows in the grand scheme of things, but we know that he is aware of at least two people who either live or vacation on Earth who have superpowers. He knows that there is life on other planets, and he knows that they have visited our planet for leisure and for business. He is one of the first people to make contact with Steve Rogers when he wakes up, and he is in regular contact with both Black Widow, Iron Man and presumably-Hawkeye. He is aware of Bruce Banner and Thor, but as far as we know, he has had no interaction with them personally.

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Much like we saw in ‘Thor’ there are technically two evils at work in ‘The Avengers’-which we will come to find out almost immediately. But going into the movie, the only inkling that we have about the bad guy is the post credits scene from ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ where we see that Loki has projected his form on Earth in order to eavesdrop on a conversation between Nick Fury and Dr Selvig regarding the tesseract. In a strong bit of foreshadowing, he delivers one simple line of dialogue that is repeated by Selvig, as if he is a ventriloquist dummy for Loki. Little do we know…


Love it or hate it, `The Avengers` is a movie made up of moments. This becomes both the downfall and the strength of it, because while so many of those moments are great- some are a little nonsensical for the sake of fan service.

This movie pulls off the very difficult feat of introducing and integrating a cast of established and beloved characters and turning them into a team-coming together for one common goal. We have a solid backstory for some of the characters, and others we have barely scratched the surface of. They had to bring Thor back to Earth, bring Bruce out of hiding, knock Cap out of his shellshock, and manage Tony well enough that he can play nice with others. They had to create a scenario where SHIELD and The Avengers work hand in hand and a balance also needed to be struck between the screen time for all of those players. To do that, they created a situation so dire, so sudden and so personal that these heroes HAD to come together. They pulled this off with great success.

Not only did the construct of the film come together very well, but it struck a great balance between action, drama, fantasy and comedy. The coming together of all Marvel entities is poetic and exciting, and they capture the spirit of each individual character while giving them all a fair amount of time to shine. The balance of personalities and the way that the actors bounce off of one another in every scene makes it so easy to escape into the world that they have created. Every character has their moment to show both their lighter side and their emotional side, and that contrast perks up the tone of a movie that could easily be drowned in doom and dread. The subject matter gets very dark and morose in scenes like the one where Loki commands a group of civilians to kneel before him, only to be defied by an older man who compares him to one of Earths most famous non-fictional villains. This comes after he steals a mans eyeball, by the way. Though not the most kid friendly of stories- it does its due diligence to keep things light enough that both adults and kids can enjoy the experience.

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Mind you, I find that the clever quips and cheeky one liners can feel out of place. Joss Whedon is very good at delivering quotable lines and memorable shots, and there is a wealth of both in `The Avengers`. However, when a bit doesn’t quite fall into place it leaves an awkward gaze, a deafening silence where there should be a laugh track, or a scene that just confuses the tone entirely. Its one thing for Sam Jackson to spout off a sassy diss, but to listen to the tension between Cap and Tony right from the beginning doesn’t feel overly genuine, considering how much they know about one another at first meeting and what each other has lived through. However, how else will they set the groundwork for Civil War but to show that these two clashed right from the beginning? The entire scene where Thor steals Loki sticks out like a sore thumb and demonstrates my point rather well. Tony takes down Thor, leaving Loki completely unsupervised and alone to sit and wait for someone to come get him. While he happily watches as his brother fights with Iron Man, we are treated to a token superhero moment called the “BUT WHAT IF” fight. It is a fight scene that is set up specifically for the purpose of answering questions like: “But what if Iron Man was hit with Mjolnir?” and “But what if Mjolnir hit Caps shield?”. You see these types of one-off fight scenes all throughout the movie. Thor vs Hulk, Black Widow vs Hawkeye, and I mentioned-Thor vs Iron Man.

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Now, lets talk about our HEROES as they exit `The Avengers` into the next stages of the MCU.

IRON MAN/TONY STARK: Tony has pushed himself to a whole new level of recklessness. He faced a god without reliable armor to make a statement-and almost didn’t make it. He jumped into a massive piece of moving machinery powering a Quinjet-and almost didn’t make it. He carried a missile through a portal into space, and he almost didnt make it. He continues to place himself directly in the line of fire-so although he may argue with Steve that they are “not soldiers”, he certainly behaves like one. He is on a path of self destruction and truly believes that he can fix any problem that comes his way-no matter the consequences. His mental state is more and more questionable as time goes on.

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CAPTAIN AMERICA/STEVE ROGERS: Steve had very little time to come to grips with his new world before he was pulled right back into a fight, but he wasted no time at all establishing himself as a leader. While everyone around him is either idolizing or patronizing him, he keeps a very serious perspective and does not seem interested in letting anyone in. Only he knows exactly what he has survived through and there are few people for him to identify with. Considering the shocking changes that he has already had to absorb, now he has to come to grips with the existence of aliens. He remains very noble, honest and hands on, and much like Tony- he is willing to throw himself right into the mess to do the right thing.

BLACK WIDOW/NATASHA ROMANOFF: Natasha now knows what its like to fight alongside superhumans, Gods and monsters- and she never once showed that she was intimidated. She came face to face with The Hulk and lived to tell the tale, despite how truly afraid she was of him. She met in a battle of wits against Loki, and nearly beat him at his own game. She helped save her best friend, fought alien soldiers in hand to hand combat and eventually had the courage to personally deal with two infinity stones (not that she was aware of that). She proves her worth over and over again with her tenacity and first class combat skills. Though her relationship with people like Tony, Thor and Bruce are still up in the air, she has formed a bit of a kinship with Steve that we will see come into play in future MCU stories, and her friendship with Barton is clearly very important to her as well, so they will likely continue to be a loyal support system for each other. 

THOR/THOR ODINSON/”DONALD BLAKE”: Thor has found his way back to Earth by some method that we have yet to be informed, and he made his way back to Asgard with his brother Loki in tow. So we know that he has access to our realm again-and in turn, he likely has access to others. He has a new sense of disdain for his brother, but he certainly seems to have a soft spot for him nonetheless. Loki is volatile and selfish to no end, but Thor does not want to give up on him. He realizes that he is angry and feeling cast out by everyone that he knows, and I believe that he sympathizes with him and hopes that one day he will grow and learn to listen.

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HULK/BRUCE BANNER: Bruce was happy as a clam, all alone and dedicating his life to helping people who cannot help themselves. However, SHIELD pulled him out of his remote and quiet life to serve a greater purpose. This decision is a very risky one on their part, but they know by now that Bruce has been keeping his demon at bay for nearly a year. What they don’t know for sure is if the Hulk is manageable when he transforms. Even the way that they illustrate his control and intelligence is a little spotty in this film, because one minute he is set off by an explosion and goes after Black Widow, and the next he is able to turn into the Hulk on a moments notice with full control and full ability to “communicate” and understand his comrades. What we can tell for sure is that Bruce has successfully found ways to manage the Hulk-to an extent. He also confides in his new friends that he has attempted to kill himself in a low moment-bringing a whole new layer of tragedy to his story. He has now come to terms with the permanence of his relationship with the Hulk, but he still has not accepted it as a gift, rather than a curse.

HAWKEYE/CLINT BARTON: Hawkeye is desperately outgunned in comparison to his colleagues, but that doesn’t stop him from working his ass off to do his best. Much like Natasha, he is crucial to the team because of his…hawk-like vision and awareness, his agility and his combat skills. If theres one thing that we know about SHIELD agents, its that they can keep secrets and they are trained to be the best. Barton has been the unfortunate recipient of Lokis mind control, which will very likely have a lasting affect on him. He seems really willing and ready to take on Loki and anybody else who stands in his way.

NICK FURY: Nick Fury and SHIELD have been through a hell of a lot through the course of this movie. They were caught utilizing the tesseract to create weapons to defend the Earth from people like Loki-only to be attacked using the tesseract as a method of transport. The SHIELD facility now lays in a hole in the ground while Fury, Coulson, Hill and several other agents are basically stuck on their Quinjet for the duration of the movie. Fury flexes a whole lot of power in ‘The Avengers’ beyond what we have seen from him in the past. He makes most of the major decisions regarding global security-and although the special counsel doesn’t agree with his sentiment that the ‘Avengers Initiative’ is a feasible form of security- they let him get away with it nonetheless. Fury basically has complete command over how the events of ‘The Avengers’ unfold and his involvement is incredibly important, affecting the MCU from here on out.

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COULSON: Coulson gets his 15 minutes of MCU fame in ‘The Avengers’ where we get to see how sharp his wit is and how sentimental he is at heart. For a man that is in charge of some of the worlds biggest and baddest secrets, he has a very soft side-mostly for Captain America. He ends up being the ultimate fanboy on behalf of all of us. Coulson died defending a group of superheroes. RIP you smug son of a bitch. OR MAYBE NOT……? (Spoiler alert…not.)

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Ooooh Loki. You thought that you could make a deal with the devil and all the chips would fall in your favor? Classic villain mistake. Loki deserves a hell of a lot of credit for the amount of destruction and devastation that he able to create without putting himself in harms way, but he is still far too inexperienced and immature to understand how the universe works. He believes that every scheme that he hatches will ultimately bring him out on top-not quite realizing that there are much bigger fish in the sea-namely guys like Thanos and teams like the Avengers. He still believes that he is entitled to be treated as a King, and therefore he is above everyone else. He will not accept the reality that despite how highly he thinks of himself, he is not above anyone unless he proves himself worthy.

Thor has taken Loki back to Asgard as a prisoner, and we don’t know how long this will last.

POST CREDITS SCENE: How could anyone forget the grand reveal at the end of `The Avengers’?  It opens on a member of the Chitauri brooding on a small, dark planet on which we saw Loki speaking to the them last. In that previous scene, the camera panned He is reporting to someone about their failure to take over Earth- claiming that “to challenge them, is to court death”. Then, we see the smirking side profile of none other than the Mad Titan-Thanos.

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This “court death” line makes me think that they are eluding to the infamous Mistress of Death- who is a huge part of the ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ storyline in the comics. So, we have our first official clue that there may be an Infinity Stones story in our future.

What a time to be alive and nerdy!

Oh, and shawarma.

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‘Road to Infinity War’- ‘CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER’ (2011)

Today, on the ‘Road to Infinity War’, I am talking about the movie that officially completed the Avengers. Its about the super serum survivor who went on to be ‘The Incredible Bulk’. Its about the worlds original bromance. Its every guy and gals fictional dream boyfriend. It is none other than…’CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER’


Director Joe Johnston is responsible for many nostalgic pieces of any 90s kids childhood-films like ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’, ‘The Pagemaster’ ‘The Rocketeer’ and ‘Jumanji’. I was also quite elated to learn that he has uncredited roles in the first two Star Wars films. Not only that-but he is credited as final conceptual designer for Yoda, Boba Fett, the Millenium Falcon, X Wing, Y Wing, Star Destroyer, AT-ATs AND the Death Star.

Oh, hello.

The screenplay was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who had written the screenplay for the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ trilogy before this one. Marvel must have been very happy with their work, because they brought the duo back to write the screenplay for the next two Captain America films as well as the Thor sequel. They will go on to create the ‘Agent Carter’ television show as well.

The music of Captain America is brought to us by one of the greatest composers of all time-Alan Silvestri. Silvestri is responsible for the kind of movie music that will give you butterflies and put a smile on your face. Think ‘Back to the Future’, ‘Forrest Gump’ ‘Grumpy Old Men’ and dozens upon dozens of other amazing films. He will go on to become a staple for epic superhero themes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Chris Evans. I didn’t know the name when ‘The First Avenger’ came out-but I definitely knew the face. You know what I knew his face from? Not Another Teen Movie. Full disclosure: I think this movie is hilarious.

After playing an arrogant young Johnny Storm in the lackluster Fantastic Four films, you can imagine my surprise and slight concern when I found out that he was playing one of the biggest and most beloved characters in the Marvel universe. Boy oh boy…was I wrong. Evans not only embodies the optimism and the apple pie and baseball loving New York boy persona, but he dedicates himself physically to this role, and he makes it all his own. He is assertive but gentle, strong but sweet. Like Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr before him-Chris Evans IS Captain America. I can see nobody else in this role.

Steve Rogers is a simple guy. He just wants to do the right thing. From the very beginning of his story, we see a guy who wants to be bigger and better than everyone thinks he is based on his stature. He wants to be a hero in the best way that he knows how at that time in our history- fighting for his country. Steve has a contagious optimism and a humility that is a welcome change of pace from all the heroes that we have seen up to this point. He isn’t a rich genius, he isn’t a brilliant scientist, and he isn’t a God. Hes just a kid from Brooklyn. A kid who doesn’t seem to have a family to go back to, who volunteers without hesitation to be a science experiment. Lucky for him, that happens to go incredibly well. Like, really well.

We get it, Peggy. We really do.

Steve is given the opportunity to be a spokesperson for his military, and despite the fact that he is now more than capable of fighting with the rest of them he continues to be underestimated because he is a bashful kind of lad. Instead of becoming a super soldier, he becomes a superstar. While his stint as a propaganda mascot for the United States military helps greatly with his public persona, it clearly does not satisfy his inherent need to do good in the world. Much as he did before he took the worlds greatest steroid, Steve Rogers believes that his potential is much greater than anyone else believes it to be-that he is meant for something more.

He dares to step on the toes of higher ups like resident grump and sass machine Tommy Lee Jones with such confidence that you can’t help but cheer for him. He sticks so faithfully to his morals and his beliefs, never wavering for a second and never allowing himself to be influenced by his gifts. He is such a remarkable hero because unlike his polar opposite and future colleague/rival Tony Stark, his strength comes from a life of opposition. He has never been given anything. He has to sacrifice everything to eventually become Captain America and that underdog mindset never seems to leave his mind. He is entirely selfless and willing to put himself on the line if it means that others will live, and he does this on several occasions. His character is played beautifully, written well and it truly sets up a Cap that we will undoubtedly know and love.


Red Skull was one of the first official villains in the MCU that I got really excited about. Not only was the casting of Hugo Weaving a seemingly perfect one, but they managed to make him look really authentic without too much digital assistance. My understanding is that the makeup was terribly uncomfortable, but does it ever pay off in the final product! He looks and sounds fantastic, and Weaving has the acting chops to really pull off the menacing, authoritative mastermind that is required to be the Red Skull. He is intelligent and articulate enough to inspire a following and to achieve results, but he is so delusional and misguided that he has to be stopped at all costs.

A villain that is so closely related to real life events is a huge gamble. Johann Schmidt is a faithful and extremist follower of Hitler in a time when Hitler has more power than anyone on that side of the world. Although we never see Hitler himself and they never really reference his goals directly, Schmidt takes this energy and opportunity and twists it in a way that he believes to be correct- washing the world clean of enemies and letting it flourish with whoever he deems to be “right”. Factor in the cosmic power weapon that he manages to acquire and you have something far more terrifying than Hitler. The impact that he will leave behind, even after his defeat, will leave a long and lasting impression of the MCU.


Captain America has so much going for it. It has a solid cast that is absolutely bursting with great heroes, a really effective villain, a wonderful message and a story that is not so far out that we cannot connect to it. It is just as uplifting as it is tragic. It is not only a good superhero film, but a great war and science fiction style film as well. We are introduced to one of the best SHIELD agents of all time (and one my personal lady crushes)- Miss Peggy Carter-and one of the coolest frenemies in the MCU-Bucky Barnes, all together for one time only. We see the origins of both SHIELD and Hydra in this cast of characters. We are introduced to the very first glimpse of ‘Infinity War’ with the inclusion of a “cosmic cube”, which we will see again before we can blink. It introduces a really horrifying villain and then it shoots him through a portal into space….never to be seen again!? But maybe to be seen again!? We didn’t see him die! We saw him disappear into a portal into space. I have faith that we may see him again.

If it falters in any way, it is in its action. We get some great scenes of Cap kicking Hydra ass, but once we reach the point there should be a climax…we get a montage that is fashioned after an old timey war film-which is very cool in one sense, but a montage of action between the main hero and the main villain feels like a real missed opportunity. This portion of the film could have been so much more exciting and it could have given us a lot more insight into how widespread Red Skulls rhetoric has become. There was not a whole lot of interaction between them.

I also cannot get through this review without mentioning the absolutely atrocious imposing of Chris Evans head onto McLovins body. I thought that I could ignore it this time, but it is about as hilarious as it comes. At some points it is well integrated, but at most it is blatantly obvious. I would absolutely love to see a reissue of this film with a more modern take on the CGI. It is really hard for me to fall into the story when all I can see is a weird, warped head floating around.

POST CREDITS SCENE: The scene that they used in the post-credits is a great one, but it is slightly watered down when you realize that they use almost the exact scene in ‘The Avengers’. Nick Fury approaches Steve while he is beating the skin off of a sparring bag to talk about joining a new team…you know the one.

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Up next….holy crap….’THE AVENGERS’!

‘Road to Infinity War’: ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010)

Iron Man 2 has always been a point of contention for me. I hated it. I hated it when I saw it back in 2010 and I hated it up until about two days ago, when I watched it again for the purpose of this piece.

I am happy to report that I have changed my tune (mostly) and that I really enjoyed watching it this time around!

And so, for the third chapter of ‘Road to Infinity War’, lets talk IRON MAN 2!


Jon Favreau returns to direct ‘Iron Man 2’ and to offer his much needed support as Happy Hogan. Reports state that Favreau had been forced to implement changes to the script while the film was already shooting by a then-heavy meddling Marvel Studios-resulting in his departure from the trilogy after the second was completed. Lucky for us, he continued to have a big role as Hogan well after his directorial stint was through. And lucky for himself and the studios- the movie was a big success, making $623,933,331 at the worldwide box office.

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It was written by Justin Theroux- who at the time had only written ‘Tropic Thunder’ after 15 years of acting on film and television. Though an odd choice, I do love ‘Tropic Thunder’ dearly- so I can’t complain. Industry vet John Debney was responsible for the music in the film- and has since gone on to work on such projects as ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘The Greatest Showman’-among many, many others.  


The biggest thing that has always left a bad taste in my mouth about ‘Iron Man 2’ is the obtuse nature of it all. Whether it be Tonys massive ego, his newfound controversial fame or his blatant disregard for anything but his persona- I found the whole experience to be insufferable. The courtroom scene and the ‘Stark Expo’ towards the beginning is about as overdramatic as it gets. He acts as if he is utterly untouchable. However, upon my latest watch of the movie I have come to understand that the purpose of such extravagance was to reflect the journey that Tony Stark is going through. His ego is massive because he is now widely known as a superhero (and one of the only ones that we know exist) and he has overcome incredible odds to reach this peak in his professional and personal life. If he wasn’t larger than life before, he certainly is now.

Despite all that- what continues to make Tony Stark so compelling is the fact that he is such a flawed person. He is incredibly vulnerable by nature, but he is often far too proud to show it. He hides behind jokes, he deflects his problems and uses his money and influence to make things go away.

Or he just gets his beloved assistant and love interest Pepper to take care of it.

In ‘Iron Man 2’ we see far more than Tonys capacity to love and work with Pepper-we see his ever expanding ability to trust her. He gives her the job of CEO to not only take some weight off of his own shoulders while he deals with his life, but to show her how much respect that he has for everything that she does. His company is very important to him, but he is gradually learning that his purpose is about far more than Stark Industries- and that she is far better suited to run one of the biggest companies in the world. He also realizes that his actions are affecting her on a whole new level, and that this would bring her a lot of joy. Its a huge step.

I am still a little confused about how Tony figured out that his fathers old diorama happened to have a piece inside of it that he could turn into a hologram of the answer to creating a new element that could save his life-BUT it was very cool to see Tony working on something, lets say, “sciencey” again. It was also cool to see that he has a connection to his father, despite his constant insistence of the opposite. The design ushers in the new era of Iron Man suits with the triangle symbol and it further proves the capabilities that Tony has to be-or create-a supervillain.


A view that I haven’t budged on much with repeated viewings of this movie is the one where I don’t care about the villain AT ALL. I really love Sam Rockwell and I think that he was an excellent cast choice to play Justin Hammer. But to be honest, Hammer comes off as a bit of a dummy. He seems like a small man who aspires to be Tony Stark, but doesn’t actually have the smarts or the business savvy to pull it off. He puts his trust in maniacs like Ivan Vanko to help him with expensive and very important pieces of his business-and Vanko is so poorly supervised that he pulls the classic trap that Tony Stark himself set for his kidnappers in Iron Man 1. He builds a thing and destroys their stuff.

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I wish that I had seen just a little bit of background about Vanko’s father and Howard Stark working together. Simply hearing an account and some newspaper clippings of the entire reason why Ivan Vanko wants so badly to defame/maim Tony Stark is not enough to effectively establish a connection to a characters story. I wanted to see them building something, discussing something- or the way that their relationship actually ended. Then, we would know if Whiplash was overreacting or if Howard Stark actually did push his father out of the company to the point where revenge was necessary. Instead we got a very short and awkward scene between father and son that ended abruptly with his fathers death and a painfully ridiculous scream. I just didn’t feel it. Vanko is an oddball character with little dialogue and little interaction with any other characters. He turns Justin Hammers “plot”on its head with his own agenda easily after it becomes perfectly clear that he has successfully used the “lost in translation” angle to remove himself from the situation as much as possible. Hammer hasn’t put much thought into Vanko’s employment, so he really deserves whatever he gets. Hammer Industries needs to work on their security, like, yesterday.


Aside from a lackluster threat to the main character, I enjoy a lot of things about Iron Man 2 that I didn’t used to-or that I forget about if I haven’t seen it for long enough. I love the introduction to Black Widow for the most part- considering that half her job seems to be keeping her hair and face in perfect form. Once we get to see her kicking ass and giving sass, I’m sold. With our first official introduction into the SHIELD team and its operations, we get a healthy dose of Nick Fury, Coulson and Natasha and what influence they could have in the future of the MCU. It is also a great introduction to SHIELD before we get to see their origins in ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’. The debut of War Machine (unofficially) was one of the better points of the movie. Bringing in Don Cheadle to be Tonys friend-in-arms was an excellent choice and one that has served them well throughout the franchise. We got to see a solid glimpse of their dynamic when they battled the Hammer Drones at the films climax after exchanging some conflicted words. We also saw the nature of their complicated relationship, as Rhodes must decide between his allegiance to his country and his complicated alliance with Stark.

It was almost comedic-in a way- that Tonys major threat in this movie was someone with such lack of awareness that he sabotaged himself while trying to take down a major competitor over well, a pissing contest. This villain shows us how easily even a freshman enemy can become a threat, and how dangerous Tony can be when he is allowed to speak for his company and his persona. Because of his cockiness, he begins to draw out enemies left and right. Justin Hammer was one of those enemies- but fortunately one who was inexperienced with villainy. His ego was sore and he thought that he could make something happen. The pushback from the United Nations and the United States gives us an interesting window into what it to come for Tony and for the Avengers- namely the involvement of Senator Stern (played brilliantly by Garry Shandling) and Tonys future comradery with the government.  

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In summary, Tony may have been on a whole new level of drama this time around, but there was even better drama hiding behind the scenes. Tony Stark continues to evolve and change his opinions based on new experiences and information, but like many of us, he still has crippling personality traits that complicate even the best of intentions. This is simply who he is. He still jokes, he still pokes the bear, he still instigates, he still thrives off of a challenge.

He is still the Iron Man.

POST CREDITS SCENE: This is actually the very first post credits scene that I can remember seeing in theatres that got me really, REALLY excited. At that time, there was no barrage of teaser trailers, casting gossip and fan theories to become immersed in, and I honestly had no clue what was upcoming in the MCU. Then, this hype machine of a scene hit my eyeballs and there was no going back.

We see a desert being spanned by one single vehicle. Out of it pops our buddy Agent Coulson, looking suave as hell in a pair of aviators. He appears to be looking over a ravine of some kind, but we quickly learn that is a massive crop circle looking indent in the earth. It is surrounded by trucks and people. Coulson picks up his phone and the camera spans to…you already know…

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Up Next….Thor!


Road to Infinity War: Iron Man (2008)

I’m a little behind on this-but I had hoped to make this into my first ever YouTube video in the first few days of January and I have been sick ever since. This will have to do!

This is my first entry in a series about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one movie a week until ‘Infinity War’ drops and my face literally melts under the weight and potency of my happy tears.

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And so we start off our Marvel movie marathon on the Road to Infinity War on a high!

Lets talk….IRON MAN!

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. 2008’s Iron Man is one of the greatest superhero origin films, one of the best superhero films, one of the best action films, hell- one of the best films of all time. It is constantly changing position from my favorite film of all time to my second favorite.

Lets start with some background about the people behind the making of ‘Iron Man’

The film is directed by Jon Favreau- who has also directed films like The Jungle Book, Chef and Elf. He also serves as Tony Starks loyal sidekick and forehead of security, Happy Hogan. Fun fact: Jon Favreau has been a superhero sidekick once before-when he played Foggy in the 2003 Daredevil adaptation. But, you don’t need to watch that movie. I’ve almost wiped it from my memory. Almost.

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The script for Iron Man was written by the team of Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway. Fergus and Marcus have worked together as co-writers on Children of Men and the Expanse, while Marcum and Holloway wrote for Transformers: The Last Knight, Punisher: War Zone, and are signed on for a Highlander movie, a Men in Black spinoff film and two more upcoming Transformers films.

The score is composed by Ramin Djawadi, who has a plethora of credits under his belt, including Pacific Rim, Clash of the Titans, Warcraft, Westworld, The Strain, Prison Break AND Game of Thrones. He reportedly composed the score on heavy guitar under the suggestion of Jon Favreau, later arranging it for an orchestra to get that rock star sound. Apparently, quick cameo Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine contributed to the soundtracks sound as well. And obviously all of my dads favorite bands contributed heavily to the soundtrack.

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About the Hero:

Robert Downey Jr was making a name for himself in the industry on shows like Ally McBeal and in films like Chaplin-when his life went sideways and he began to lose work and his reputation to legal and drug problems. Lucky for everyone, by 2001 he got by with a little help from his friends, like Mel Gibson. He started his Hollywood resurgence by starring in an excellent Elton John music video called ‘I Want Love’, then he starred in some really solid films like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A Scanner Darkly, Zodiac and one of my personal favorites-Tropic Thunder. Iron Man was actually released the same year that Tropic Thunder was- which feels really bizarre to me. We’re all getting old, people!

So when he got the gig to play a superhero with only five months to gain 20 pounds of muscle, RDJ put more than his sharp wit and emotional range into the film. He sweat for it. This career rebirth-and his spot on rendition and creation of Tony Stark- made him a household name, and before we knew it- he was…well…basically real life Tony Stark. It goes down as one of the entertainment industrys greatest comebacks. Good job, Robert Downey Jr!

The Studio:

Marvel Studios first ever self financed film was the sapling that eventually became the epic Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was a gateway drug consisting of a perfect blend of supreme acting, solid storyline and cinematic wonder. It was Jon Favreaus push to get Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark that is quite possibly the catalyst that propelled the MCU to the glory that it is today. Whats more, the commercial success (about $585,174,222 worldwide!) and the high quality of Iron Man was the perfect groundwork for an expansive and rich mosaic of comic book goodness- and its a good thing, because there was a lot at stake for Marvel Studios when they made this film. It was released the same year as The Dark Knight, one year after the Spiderman trilogy completed and only three years after the conclusion of the XMen trilogy. That put it up against some really stiff competition, and with a lot of characters that a large percentage of their potential fan base had never really heard of. It was also one of the first to integrate comedy into the mix!

So lets get into the nitty gritty details of what I believe makes this movie so great


Within 5 minutes, we learn exactly who Tony Stark is-a genius,billionaire, playboy…not yet philanthropist. We know that he is a spoiled brat of sorts-a rich, entitled, elitist genius with daddy issues who was basically a celebrity right from the beginning of his life. We see that Howard Hughes influence in his wit and his candor- we see that his mind works very quickly, like an improv comic, but he rarely breaks that act unless he is in the most extreme of situations.

Well, let me tell ya-

Crawling around in a warzone under attack by your own weapons, being kidnapped by terrorists who work for a bad guy called ‘The Mandarin’, locked in a cave under threat of death to build a nuclear weapon, building a relationship that you’ll never forget with a man that you forgot, all while strapped to a car battery that is connected to the worlds largest dermal piercing in the middle of your chest..well..I guess thats pretty extreme? Shit gets real- really, really quickly.

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PS: how did they patch up that gaping hole in his chest? I’m sure they have some crazy skin grafting tech already at that point but thats a really big hole and the skin is probably growing around it. Yuck.

Tony Stark quickly earns his reputation during his involuntary time at terrorist camp, as his brain immediately goes to work figuring out how to survive and how to outwit their captors. He does not even entertain the idea that this is his fate. His coolness under pressure and his focus, his drive, his intelligence all comes to a head building a badass mini arch reactor and a goddamn Iron monster suit IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!

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This movie, I think, more than any other, was incredibly successful in utilizing the OG look of the character being depicted. The plot that they put together was an absolutely perfect way to work in what Iron Man looked like in the comics since the beginning without it looking silly or nonsensical. It made complete sense with the plot of the film. The first time that you see that tank of a suit shooting fire and shaking the ground-its a beautiful thing.

This first film about Tony Stark also gives us a great insight into where his priorities lie in terms of his work, his company and his personal life. He sleeps with journalists, he dodges hard questions with fairly reasonable-but very detached-answers, and he shows very little regard for a single human being other than himself. Hes a bit of a megalomaniac. Okay, hes an asshole.


The original villain for this movie was reportedly going to be The Mandarin-which makes my mind drift away thinking of a world where we saw a real Mandarin villain in the MCU, but I can’t say that I’m disappointed. Obadiah Stane-played by the fantastic Jeff Bridges-was a great choice of villain for the purpose of this film- in that he is a threat to Tony himself, not necessarily a threat to Iron Man-because Iron Man doesn’t really exist until the end of the film. From the beginning we see Stane as an annoyed colleague, tasked with cleaning up behind Tony in the media, his shareholders and business contacts, but it is not until about midway through Iron Man that we see how truly menacing he is. You start to realize how intimidating that he is- from the way that he is able to live this double life and gain the trust of Tony and his colleagues, to his sheer physical presence. Here is this broad, bald man with a deep voice, a sweet beard and expensive suits- and you just found out that he is your enemy.

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Worst yet-he wants to steal the ground breaking, super heroic technology that you created and turn it into a big, bulky, scary weapon. Oh, and he also tried to have you killed. Dick.


The reason why Tony Stark becomes ‘The Iron Man’ is obvious, but the reason that Tony Stark becomes THE Tony Stark that we know and love is because he is a complex character-and because he played so perfectly by Robert Downey Jr. Tony is not necessarily a good guy when we first meet him. In fact, many people see him as a villain. Then, he becomes a victim. Suddenly, despite what a scoundrel he may be, there are much greater and far more evil forces at work, and he has been ignorantly involved in this evil for quite some time. The impressive thing about Tony is that he finds a way to overcome and defeat that evil using nothing but his brain.

And his money, I guess.

Unlike many characters that we have seen in the past, Tonys journey is mainly an emotional one-or one of personality. He becomes far more involved and more aware of the world and the people around him that he should show more attention to. He transfers all of his energy and his intelligence towards a goal or a mission instead of being a part of a soulless machine.

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He is motivated by his horrific experience, but he is also motivated by the threat to everything that he holds dear- his legacy, his company, his persona, his wealth, his only friends in the world, and most importantly-his work. Those are a lot of spinning plates from a guy who pretends not to care about anything but himself. Stane is a great threat to all of these, being so close to Stark Industries and the man himself. Tony just wants to fix things the best way that he knows how- by building something.


One very unique feature of Tony Starks situation is that all of this is happening to someone who is a very prominent figure in the world-not to an everyman, down on his luck type. His transformation affects a grand circle of people and a grand circle of operations around the world. He can’t just slip away and assume a new identity. Mind you, he did have the opportunity to lay low and a mixture of his conscience and his ego would not allow it. (ie the last 5 seconds of the movie)

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Because of his fame and his notoriety, this film is both a very intimate fight and a very global threat at the same time-and that is what makes it so compelling. The concept of using terrorism was also very topical and relevant at the time that this film was released-and it still is. In fact, it was the perfect time to tell a story like this one. Here is a man who has made his fortune on war, and now he wants nothing more than to prevent it because he did not fully understand his role in it. Now that he does understand, he cannot lay down and die for his own sake, but he goes the extra mile to ensure that he can fix as much as possible for the sake of humanity-and the sake of his fathers legacy.


So the story of Iron Man becomes a classic tale of good vs evil that happens to take place in a pre-superhero world-or so we think. The introduction of everyones favorite SHIELD agent is one of my personal favorite additions to this story. Seeing Coulson pop up every once in awhile, and knowing what it means that he is involved in this situation builds a level of excitement that is hard to ignore even after multiple viewings. Why did he want to know about Tonys suit? Why is he so motivated to get that meeting with Pepper? What is SHIELD up to right now? What else does he know? He knows something!

Lets be honest, he has a terrible poker face. I love it, but he always looks like he knows something that you don’t. Because he probably does.

Pepper Potts also makes her debut in this film, and her character is introduced with an unwavering sense of confidence and power in a prominent position where she is constantly babysitting a grown man and his massive ego. Her first scene with Leslie Bibb is a prime example of just how savage Pepper is. She is sharp, witty, she has conviction, she is professional, but she is a loyal and trusting member of Tonys circle on a personal level. Her role in his story is incredibly important- continuing throughout the MCU- and she serves as much more than just Tonys assistant. Pepper is badass. Although her impact is less prolific than someone like Coulson, she is still a very important piece of the grand puzzle.

I don’t know if the same can be said for Tonys friend and future co-pilot, not-Don Cheadle, but we do get a bit of a War Machine setup near the end of the movie, so, I guess thats something.

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Well this is awkward

So in summary, the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is-in my humble opinion-a triumph for superhero movies and one that truly stands the test of time. It launched an empire, it launched a CINEMATIC UNIVERSE the likes of which we have never seen before, and it lit the hearts of millions of comic books nerds on fire.

POST CREDITS SCENE: Remember when you saw this post credits scene for the first time? I do. I still cry a little when I see it.

This is one of the most blatant scenes to come, but at that time there was nothing BUT this. It had to be direct and it had to be effective. 10 years ago, we heard words that we would not soon forget from a man that we would come to love: “You think that you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark you have become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.”

What could be more tantalizing than this?

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Oh, maybe when Sam Jackson emerges from the shadows wearing an eye patch and all black, states that he is Nick Fury from SHIELD and that he wants to talk to him about the Avengers initiative? Yeah, probably that.


Movie Review: ‘The Last Jedi’


The Last Jedi has been called one word above all others- divisive. It is creating a red sea between all realms of Star Wars fans from the passive to the passionate. I-being more on the passionate side- was quite taken back by the negative response, but I took my time writing this so that I could articulate my takeaway from the film without adrenaline bias.


When I went into this movie, I had that familiar anxiety that I had when I entered The Force Awakens-except this time wasn’t about the anticipation of discovery and wonder-but it was the stress that comes with 2 YEARS of unanswered questions and a very intentionally misleading trailer. It was like waiting for test results. ‘The Force Awakens’ left us with a hell of a lot of big questions-many of which I typed out ahead of my viewing of ‘The Last Jedi’ to keep tabs on the rolodex of galactic quandaries.

The questions included:

Who the hell is Snoke? Why is his face all messed up? Where did he come from? Who trained him in the ways of the force-let alone the dark side? How did he rise to power in the First Order? IS HE DARTH PLAGEIUS!?

Did Captain Phasma actually go down the garbage chute?

Did Maz die?

Does it MATTER who Reys parents are? Is she an immaculate conception? Is she a Skywalker? Is she a Solo? Is she really “no one”?

What the hell happened on Jakku? Why is there wreckage from what looks like a battle involving AT-AT walkers AND A FREAKING STAR DESTROYER!?

Where in actual hell has force ghost Anakin been this whole time!? Why hasn’t he told Ben to stop killing people in his name when he was nearly responsible for ending the Sith himself!? Why hasn’t Ben Kenobi talked to him!? Are the Sith cut off from these entities trying to communicate with them!?

And the list goes on….

Now here lies the the real shocker of The Last Jedi: they answered almost NONE of these questions. At first, this left me with a really sad and unsatisfied taste in my mouth. I waited all this time and you won’t even HINT towards who Snoke is? AND THEN YOU KILL HIM OFF MID-MOVIE!? REALLY!?

Okay, so maybe I haven’t quite let go of some of my negative feelings towards this film. I felt a serious lack of resolution. By the time that the movie ended, I didn’t feel that a complete story had cycled through my system. That is my biggest, overwhelming critique of the film.

I wasn’t a huge fan of all the goofy creature breaks, either. The characters themselves brought a great deal of comedy to the table, so they seemed to push it over the edge.

When it comes to the story, I had many theories going into the movie, and one that I thought would most certainly be realized was about balance. The colors of the posters, the cut up dialogue in the trailers- it all seemed to point in one direction. I assumed that Luke had come to realize-as many of us have-that while the Jedi have spent all this time trying to cleanse the galaxy of the Sith in an attempt to bring balance to the force, that perhaps they were going about it the wrong way. When light rises, dark comes to meet it. So, there will never be a balance when there is always conflict. I thought that Lukes narrative in this film would be the resounding declaration that the Jedi must end in order for those who use the Force to come together in union against evil and war.

There were very clear moments where the story was heading towards this idea, but it was never spelled out in a clear and effective way. It had the potential to be so articulate and powerful, but it was drowned in metaphor and hyperbole. Luke simply said that the Jedi needed to end. They need to end. They just do. Kylo Ren himself knew that he would only find a peace of mind if he could level out his feelings towards both the light and the dark-extending his hand to Rey to join him in this mission-because she was searching for something as well.  She reacted with a blatant opposition that may be revisited in the final film, so I am glad that it was brought up. Perhaps we will see balance in the future, but it could have been streamlined if Luke had only explained to Rey why he felt this way. She is so strong willed and became progressively more and more confident by this point that she was ready for his guidance and vulnerable to Kylo’s influence. This was the perfect opportunity to show her a new way. Now, both the Rebels and the First Order are incredibly vulnerable. This may be the path.

Cool Hand Luke is clearly working through some ‘Castaway’ levels of solitude on his island of creatures and textbooks, but he comes through to flex his Jedi spirit and strength in a most unexpected and poetic way in the end. But was it necessary? It was quite lovely to watch him say goodbye to his beloved sister, but was this display simply for drama, or was it truly the best way to end the film? His appearance and his actions do give the rebels time to escape the barrage by distracting an out of control Kylo Ren, but otherwise it does little to diminish the war that will continue to rage long after he gets comfortable in his robe in Force Ghost Heaven. Perhaps this resolution was valid, considering Lukes mental state and his detachment from the Force for so very long. It did not feel solid to me at that time, and it stills feels a little weak.

It certainly produced a reaction from the audience in my seating of the movie, so although I was wise to what was happening (theres no way that he cut and dyed his hair before he left to save the Rebels!) it did conjure up some intense feelings.

It is also worth pointing out that Luke has gotten increasingly more sassy in his old age. Maybe Han and Luke had more in common that they ever imagined.

And now I’m sad.

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The new generation cast expertly dominates the majority of the narrative in ‘The Last Jedi’ and they are clearly very comfortable in their current stations and ranks of authority-some a little too comfortable (lookin at you, Poe!). Both Leia and Luke receive a generous amount of screentime as well, moving along the storyline with their leadership, wisdom, and quirky charms-but taking a backseat when necessary for their young proteges to take control. A new addition, Vice Admiral Holdo, was a strange dynamic in the mix of this story, because she was domineering and fierce, but the strange and unflappable pushback from Poe in her direction left me thinking that she was working for the other team until her final (EPIC) scene played out. It was a “will they won’t they?” type scenario that didn’t pack as much of a punch as I anticipated. Finns new partner in crime, the delightful Rose Tico, is a source of innocence and purity in a tangled web of darkness and danger. She truly represents the idea that ‘The Last Jedi’ drives home-heroes can come from nowhere, and they can come from anywhere-if they let hope into their hearts.

Leia was one of the biggest pleasant shockers for me-since her role was so large yet went without conclusion. I was happy to see her have the time in the sun that General Leia so deserves to have- and I was especially overjoyed to see her daughter-Billie Lourd- have so much screen time in the film. Whether or not they actually shared the screen for all of those scenes, she will always have that piece of work to commemorate their time together. It was a very touching gesture.

On a related note, I was in such a mess of giddy euphoria watching Leia use the force in a physical sense to save herself. I wanted to see her hold a lightsaber just once, but this was okay too. It was a little bizarre, but very angelic at the same time.


Overall, I was very pleased with my experience watching ‘The Last Jedi’ for the first time. It was action packed right from the start, full of great performances and absolutely boiling over with girl power. From Holdo to Phasma, from Leia to Rose, there were so many wonderfully diverse characters and role models for a new generation of Star Wars fan girls and boys to adore. I feel a great sense of pride and joy seeing such fantastic representation throughout the entire cast.

The film did not allow itself to be weighed down under the expectations of its predecessors, but it paid a lot of homage to all of its influences. It honored the past while setting up the future for greatness. It utilized all of its characters effectively- including the lovable droids- and by separating many of them, it allowed them to shine in their independence. I felt that there were many moments where there was a serious opportunity for significant impact, but that those moments were not always ceased. I felt very few heart pounding moments that I so longed for in this movie experience. There were some pieces that were less than necessary and could have cut down some serious run time-like the ‘Codebreaker’ shenanigans with a very random throwaway cameo from Justin Thoreaux in ANOTHER galactic hive of scum and villainy-and I can’t forget that very, VERY awkward milking scene.

‘The Last Jedi’ left the story wide open for the third film and left it with a lot of material to dig into. I certainly see where viewers are feeling disappointment towards this chapter of the saga, but I hope that we can all come together to appreciate all the wonderful things about it, and that we can remain optimistic for the final installment. In the end, we are one big franchise frantic family.

But seriously, if they don’t tell me who Snoke is…..

Patton Oswalts ‘Annihilation’ is a devastating delight

I’ve been a big fan of Patton Oswalt for a number of years- from his standup career to his many marvelous TV shows cameos (Agents of SHIELD, Parks and Recreation, Reno 911 etc)  and his voice acting (Ratatouille, Archer, etc). He has always struck me as a rare celebrity-one who is painfully planted on earth in a sea of stardom. Not that he isn’t a big star in his own right, with Pixar and Marvel credits under his belt, as well as several standup specials and a lengthy career on television- but there was always something about him. Hes the dude that I wanted to hang out with. Hes the guy who I would love to talk to with no bullshit.

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So when I found out that Patton had suffered a devastating loss in his wife-Michelle McNamara-a renowned crime writer-turned-cold case connoisseur and subject of many of his stand up stories- I was gutted. I don’t know either of these people, but when I see good people doing good things in the world who are hurting, it hurts.

Oswalt bravely took to the stage under the direction and support of friend and comedy vet Bobcat Goldthwait to spill out the contents of his heart in front of millions of people in his new Netflix special ‘Annihilation’. I expected to laugh, I expected to cry, but I did not expect the lasting devastation that I would feel in its aftermath.

He did not just touch on the subject of his wifes passing- he let us all in. The survivors guilt, the burden, the aftermath-all of it. About halfway through the set of witty observations and maturity testing metaphors, you can see a noticeable weight begin to take hold as he prepares to tell the story of the worst day of his life. I was so incredibly touched by the openness and honesty that this entailed, but so grateful to bear witness to it. It was a heavy gift that he offered to his fans, and one that surely was not easy to give. As I fought back the waterfall that was trying to form behind my eyeballs, I found myself suddenly painfully laughing- a combination of emotions that comes so seldom in life. The special as a whole is such a unique experience to give yourself- from its top notch comedy to its open heart confessions, and back again.

He may refer to himself as the guy who talks about dicks in front of thousands of people, but he is so much more. Patton Oswalt is still a big nerdy dad with a heart of gold, through and through.

If you watch one comedy special on Netflix today, this month or this year- make it this one.

To check out the late Michelle McNamaras work go to True Crime Diarys website, or check out her posthumously released novel “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark”