Tuesday, August 13, 2013

'Iron Man' Review -- Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1

(Photo Source: Marvel)
Back in June, I mentioned on Twitter that I was going to be having A Very Marvel Summer--meaning I would be watching all the Avengers-related movies. (From my research since then, I now know the proper term is Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

The whole reason why I decided to do this is because one of the new fall 2013 shows on ABC is Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I saw the trailer for it when it first went online. (In fact, I viewed it for an article I wrote.)

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I was really intrigued after that. I've never seen any of the MCU films; for some reason, they never caught my interest--even The Avengers, if you can believe that! But after watching the S.H.I.E.L.D. trailer, it got me thinking, maybe I should check them out. I know it's been said in articles and interviews online that you don't need to see the films in order to understand or enjoy the show, but I'm the kind of person who wants to get the whole picture going in for something like this.

And so I made a commitment that I would watch all of the movies leading up to the September premiere--well, of them except for Iron Man 3; it's not out on DVD yet so there's reason enough, but even so, S.H.I.E.L.D. from what I've heard takes place after the events of The Avengers, so it really works out perfectly for me because all of the Phase 1 (see, I know my lingo now) films are everything before IM3.

So here's how it's going to go. Every week from now until S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres, I'll have a different review up, in order, starting with today's: Iron Man!

Iron Man
(Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase 1 -- Avengers Assembled)

I'm going to start off this review by saying: Robert Downey, Jr. made this movie. It's his personality, his charisma, the way he carries himself that makes him work as the character of Tony Stark. He as Stark is more endearing and watchable and fascinating in just this first movie than Christian Bale is in all three Batman movies combined. The protagonist, even in a superhero movie, needs some sort of characteristic that makes you want to watch them. I did not find that in Christopher Nolan's trilogy, but I find that here.

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Iron Man is very much a first movie in that it spends a vast majority of the time setting up the story of how Iron Man came to be, and by the time all the good stuff happens with the climax at the end, I find myself wanting more--which is good because it makes me want to watch the sequel now.

Even though I may end up enjoying many or most of these movies, that's not going to stop me from making critiques if necessary. So here's one: I'm not a fan of the whole terrorism storyline--it puts the movie almost too much in the real world, too much in the post 9/11 world. When I'm watching a superhero movie (which is supposed to be fantasy), I want to be transported more into those fantasy/sci-fi elements, even if the movie is still set in the real world.

But I like who ends up being the villain. Jeff Bridges is magnificently unrecognizable--the only way I could tell was listening to his voice.

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As soon as Agent Phil Coulson introduces himself, I perk up because I know from the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. promos what ends up happening to him in The Avengers and the fact that he'll be the main character on the show.

I absolutely love that the final shot of the movie--the final seconds--is Stark revealing he really is Iron Man. Maybe I'm just not as enveloped in the superhero world as some of you may be, but I can't believe the filmmakers made the choice to reveal him right in the first movie. Again, another thing that makes me want to see the sequel is for any repercussions this will have.

And I'm very much intrigued by the post-credits scene, featuring Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who mentions the Avengers Initiative. With this mention of S.H.I.E.L.D. a few times in the movie, I'm hoping that the other MCU films do these sorts of tie-ins with each other to show how they're all in the same world/universe, which I believe does happen if I'm remembering correctly from what I've heard here and there online.

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I can see why Marvel decided to go with Iron Man as the first in the MCU/Avengers franchise. Not only is Stark a character that can carry an entire movie, but the special effects, the plot, the superhero, it all comes together in a strong and well-made film.

Come back next week when my second Marvel review will be The Incredible Hulk.

Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1 Reviews:
Iron Man The Incredible Hulk | Iron Man 2 | Thor | Captain America: The First Avenger | Marvel's The Avengers

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