Six years ago I described The Avengers as “awesomeness squared”; Infinity War strives with all its might for awesomeness cubed and even tesseracted. It wants to leave you texting your friends “MIND. BLOWN.” It might succeed — but there’s a catch.
Officially, Thor: Ragnarok is the third Thor movie, but in spirit it’s closer to being the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie. This is both a mark of the massive success of the Guardians films, with their colorful, whimsical design and self-mocking humor, and of the relative failure of the first two Thor films, especially The Dark World, to find a vibe of their own.
At last, a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that doesn’t come down to destroying a large urban area while saving the city, planet, or universe.
Civil War also demonstrates that the right way to do a “versus” movie pitting heroes against one another is by building relationships — and tensions — over time, then allowing characters to fall out over meaningful practical and personal issues.
We aren’t exactly talking The Matrix here, but it’s been awhile since a Hollywood popcorn action movie elicited such a range of theological and philosophical analysis.
Three years ago, when Marvel first announced that Ant-Man would be getting his own movie, I tweeted, “I don’t care how much money Avengers makes. The world does not need an Ant-Man movie.” Ant-Man, I felt, was too minor a hero, too obscure and inconsequential — in a word, too small — to warrant the big-screen Marvel movie treatment.
The first word of dialogue spoken by an Avenger in Avengers: Age of Ultron, from Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), is a rude expletive. The second word, from Captain America (Chris Evans), is a mild rebuke. In two words of dialogue, writer-director Joss Whedon gives us characterization, conflict and theme.
Less than two months ago, the British Catholic writer Stratford Caldecott died after a lengthy battle with cancer. In the weeks prior to his death, his name became improbably entangled in a viral Twitter storm that made international news in connection with the superhero movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, now available on home video.
I like Lawrence Toppman’s comment on this one: “This sequel is, by design, entirely absorbing and satisfying without being one whit memorable.”
Is Loki a villain or an antihero? Either way, the fan favorite is basically the Marvel Universe’s answer to Catwoman, but he can’t carry the movie if he isn’t the main antagonist.
Iron Man Three in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
Iron Man 2 in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
Iron Man in 60 seconds: my “Reel Faith” review.
It’s a potentially promising setup for a slam-bang finale to what has been, despite its flaws, one of the brightest and most entertaining franchises around. Unfortunately, the slapdash plot is pretty much a disaster. A string of miscalculations hamper the fun. And a late revelation, when you stop and think about it, undermines most of the preceding drama.
If The Avengers isn’t necessarily the best superhero movie ever made, it is unquestionably the most superhero movie ever made — and, in that capacity, it is more than well-made enough to take comic-book entertainment to unprecedented levels.
After a rash of immature, bad-boy cinematic superheroes for whom responsibility is a bigger challenge than taking down supervillains — think Iron Man, Thor and Green Lantern — a hero for whom decency, humility and self-sacrifice come naturally is a breath of fresh air.
It starts pretty promisingly, and it stays pretty promising throughout, and at some point you realize it’s never actually going to deliver on that promise. There’s never a moment where it goes really wrong — it just never really gets started.
His suit may be iron, but he’s still got feet of clay. Tony Stark may not be the same narcissistic jerk he was at the beginning of Iron Man two years ago, but that doesn’t mean he’s someone completely different either. The road to redemption is seldom so straight as that.
Although most viewers will probably find The Incredible Hulk diverting but — after a strong first act — forgettable entertainment, for Hulk fans smarting from the limitations of the Ang film, it may just be balm for the soul.
Smart, sardonic and more than a little silly, Iron Man is a successful super-hero movie that never takes itself too seriously.
Not the best or most exciting of comic-book movies to date, but the most thoughtful and arguably one of the most interesting, Ang Lee’s Hulk offers a new look at Marvel Comics’s green-skinned Jekyll-and-Hyde pulp anti-hero through the director’s poetic, psychologically attuned sensibilities.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.