Road to Infinity War #3 of 18: Iron-Man 2 (2010)

The next film in my “Road to Infinity War” series is Iron-Man 2, from 2010. These posts aren’t a review. Instead, they serve as “cliff notes” to make sure you’re up to speed on what’s happened over the last 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe before Avengers: Infinity War in May.

Be sure to also check out my full viewing guide for the MCU which lays out the complete viewing order for the MCU but also which ones are essential to the upcoming Infinity War, and which ones you can skip.

The links to the previous entries in this series are listed at the bottom of this post.

Alright, let’s get started!

Important Characters

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Howard Stark

We get to see more of Tony’s dad in the form of old video reels Howard made for his Stark Expo back in the 70’s. Howard was not only one of the founding members of SHIELD, but just as much a workaholic as his son.

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Ivan Vanko

Ivan is the son of Anton Vanko, whom we learn worked on several projects with Howard Stark until he defected to the Soviet Union. Ivan blames the Stark family for his misfortunes and is out for revenge.

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Colonel James Rhodes “Rhodey” aka War Machine

Rhodey returns, this time played by Don Cheadle, who has played the character ever since. After a spat with a drunken Tony, Rhodey steals the Mark II armor and turns it into his own suit, called War Machine.

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Justin Hammer

Hammer is the CEO of Hammer Industries, and has been a long time weapons manufacturing competitor of Tony. Stark’s tech is far superior, however after he decided to stop making weapons in the last film, the government gave all of their contracts to Hammer. Justin will do anything to humiliate Stark and prove he’s the best, including partnering with Vanko to design his own version of the Iron-Man suit.

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Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow

Romanoff shows up to Stark Industries as the notary after Tony decides to make Pepper Potts CEO of Stark Industries. Tony, still not completely over his weakness for a pretty face, hires Romanoff as his new personal assistant even after Pepper says no. Turns out Romanoff is actually a SHIELD agent in disguise, sent by Fury to keep tabs on Tony. Romanoff has a dark past, as before defecting to the US, she was a spy/assassin for the Soviet Union.

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Director Nick Fury, SHIELD

Nick Fury is still working Tony to get him onboard with the Avengers Initiative. He also knows that Stark’s body is being poisoned by the palladium in Tony’s chest piece, and that Howard had found an alternative before he died.

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Agent Coulson, SHIELD

Coulson is put in charge, later in the film, of making sure Tony doesn’t leave his house until he discovers a replacement element to use in the engineering of a new chest piece. The picture above is a reference to Captain America’s shield. Coulson pulls it out of the crate of Howard’s belongings, implying that at some point in the past Howard Stark worked with Captain America.

Tony puts on a great show, but is hiding a deadly secret.

  • Tony decides to bring back his dad’s Stark Expo which focuses on the development of new technology for the betterment of the future. Of course he makes a grand entrance in his Iron-Man armor.

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  • In true Tony showmanship, he works the crowd into a frenzy proclaiming that he’s the reason the world is enjoying a more peaceful existence and that there is no one who can go toe-to-toe with him.
  • However, backstage it’s a different story. It’s revealed that Tony is actually slowly dying. Ironically, the chest piece’s Palladium core, designed to keep him alive is also poisoning him. He has so far been unable to find a solution, and is keeping this a secret from everyone.

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  • Stark decides to appoint Pepper as the new CEO of Stark Industries.
  • When the notary, Natasha Romanoff arrives to make the transition official, Tony decides to hire her as his new personal assistant (He was impressed by her resume).

A new challenger appears to hold the Stark family accountable.

  • With Tony inching closer to death, he starts making extremely foolish decisions, such as personally driving the Stark sponsored formula one car at the Monaco Grand Prix.
  • Ivan Vanko makes his way onto the track during the race, wearing a suit he built himself, similar to the Iron-Man armor. However, his version is much more simplistic; all except for the long, electrified whips extending from either hand (He’s called Whiplash in the comics).

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  • Ivan slices Tony’s car in half, sending him crashing upside down.
  • Before Vanko can finish him off, Happy Hogan and Pepper drive onto the course and pin Vanko against the track gate long enough for Happy to throw Tony a portable Iron-Man suit that looks like a red suitcase.

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  • As Iron-Man, Stark easily defeats Vanko in his minimal suit.
  • Stark visits Vanko in lock up and asks about the “cheap knock off.”

  • Vanko cryptically tells him that the Stark family’s weapons empire has destroyed numerous people while posing as American patriots. The Vanko family is among the list of casualties.
    • Vanko says the design is from his father and that he doesn’t need to kill Stark, he only needs to prove that he’s not untouchable. Once the world realizes this, Stark will be overwhelmed with foes until there is no way he can beat them all (this is an extreme paraphrasing of this scene).

The government tries to put Iron-Man in check.

  • Reacting to the events in Monaco, the government calls for a senate hearing in an attempt to strong-arm Tony into giving up his tech to the government.
  • Senator Stern brings one of Stark’s former rivals, Justin Hammer, along with Rhodey (against his wishes) to testify against Tony.
  • Tony, through a big show, proves that the development of any tech that would rival his is still at least a decade off. Tony effectively angers the senator and then arrogantly leaves the hearing.
  • Tony continues to make foolish choices by getting extremely drunk during his birthday celebration at his house. He puts on his suit and shows off to the guests by using household items for target practice.22670870
  • Pepper tries to talk him down, but he only gets worse.
  • Rhodey shows up and decides that enough is enough. He puts on Stark’s Mark II armor and tells Tony to stand down or else. Of course, or else happens and the two have a very destructive fight throughout the house.

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  • Although the fight ends in a draw, Rhodey manages to fly off with the suit.
  • He takes it back to the US Air Force base and calls Justin Hammer in to upgrade it with a ton of weapons, thus becoming the War Machine armor.

Nick Fury steps in to push Tony in the right direction.

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  • The next morning, Nick Fury finds Tony nursing a nasty hangover (still in the suit)and reveals several things:
    • Romanoff is actually an agent of SHIELD, who was assigned to Stark.
    • Howard Stark was a founding member of SHIELD.
    • He was on the verge of a huge discovery, one that among other things could provide a solution to Tony’s illness.
    • Contrary to what Tony thinks, his father loved him and thought of him as the future of his legacy.
    • Vanko’ s father worked with Howard and helped to develop the famous “arc reactor” technology that would later power the Iron-Man suits. When Howard learned he was selling secrets to Russia, he had him deported.
  • Fury places Tony on “house arrest,” with a crate of his father’s belongings, including some old journals and film reels. Fury promises that the solution to Stark’s illness is contained within this crate, Tony just has to figure it out.
  • At first the journals and film footage seem ordinary: Howard recording clips for his Stark Expo back in the 70’s. Multiple takes are on the film and show:
    • A young Tony wanders onto the set, and an angry Howard yells at his wife to take him away…seemingly confirming his dad’s cold nature.
    • Howard drinking during filming, and becoming increasingly intoxicated with each take…confirming that, like his son, Howard also enjoyed some destructive habits.

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  • Eventually, near the end of the film, Tony discovers a secret message his father left for him:

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Tony, you’re too young to understand this right now, so I thought I would put it on film for you. I built this for you [meaning the model table of the Stark Expo]. And some day you’ll realize that it represents a whole lot more than people’s inventions, it represents my life’s work. This is the key to the future. I’m limited by the technology of my time, but one day you’ll figure this out. And when you do, you will change the world. What is, and always will be, my greatest creation… is ‘you’

Tony gets a new heart.

  • Tony realizes then that the model behind his dad is the key. He sneaks out of the house and drives to Stark Industries to take the same table back to his house to study.
  • He also attempts to apologize to Pepper and explain the reason for all his shenanigans lately. However, he mistakenly brings her strawberries…which she’s allergic to…which he should know considering how close they are. This mistake obviously kills the apology attempt.

  • Back at his house, with the help of JARVIS, Stark uses a digital scan of the table to discover the arrangement of the buildings are actually the cellular structure of a new element his father discovered. Howard was unable to synthesize the element with the technology of his time, so he created the model as a blueprint for when technology advances to the point of being able to do so.
  • As it turns out, this new element will serve as the perfect replacement for the palladium core in his chest piece.
  • After a period of time and some demo work to make room for the necessary equipment, Tony successfully synthesizes the element and engineers the updated chest piece.

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A final showdown with “Whiplash” and Hammer.

  • Stark flies to the Stark Expo where Justin Hammer is demonstrating his Hammer Drones and War Machine.
  • Earlier, Hammer had broken Vanko out of prison and enlisted him to help build copies of the Iron-Man suit. Hammer wants to debut the suits at the Stark Expo to humiliate Stark.thT0B883A3
  • Vanko builds drones instead, which he plans to use to kill Stark and his legacy.
  • When Tony arrives at the expo to warn Rhodey about Vanko working with Hammer, Vanko activates the drones remotely to kill Tony.
  • Rhodey is in the new War Machine armor and under Vanko’ s control as well.
  • Tony leads the drones away from the expo and hacks into the War Machine suit, giving full control back to Rhodey.
  • While the drones chase Tony and Rhodey, Pepper realizes what Hammer has been up to and easily subdues him by twisting his arm behind his back until the police can arrive to arrest him.

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  • Tony and Rhodey land in a secluded area and take out all the drones in a fierce battle.
  • The victory is short-lived as Vanko shows up soon after in more advanced version of the whiplash suit.
  • The 2 are able to take him down, however Vanko activates a self destruct option on his suit and all the drones as a last-ditch effort.
  • Both escape the blast, and Tony, having realised that Pepper is in the blast zone, narrowly saves her.

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  • Tony and Pepper share their first kiss as a couple.

Avengers Initiative?

  • A few days later, Tony meets with Nick Fury to discuss the Avengers Initiative.
  • Fury tells Stark he’s not sure he’s a good candidate. He reads a personality assessment agent Romanoff completed during time with Tony. The findings were that Tony’s personality traits: arrogance, self obsessed, not a team player, resulted in her not recommending Tony for the Avengers.

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  • Fury tells Stark that for now, SHIELD only wants Tony as a consultant to essentially help recruit candidates for the Avengers.
  • Tony agrees under one condition: that Nick arrange for Senator Stern from the senate committee earlier, to be the one to present medals to both Tony and Rhodey at an upcoming ceremony.
  • Fury agreed much to Stern’s dismay:

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After credits scene.

  • Agent Coulson arrives at a desert area in New Mexico. There’s a large crater with several vehicles swarming around it.
  • Coulson makes a call, presumably to Fury saying “Sir, we’ve found it.”
  • The last shot is a look at what made the crater: Thor’s hammer.

This is a small teaser for the next movie in the MCU, and the next summary in my Road to Infinity War series:

Thor (2011).

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Check out my previous posts:

  1. Iron-Man (2008)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Black Panther Movie Review

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Florence Kasumba, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown.

Rating: PG-13. Runtime: 2hrs and 15min

Click here to watch the trailer.

Black Panther is the 18th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let that sink in for a moment. There’s only a couple other franchises that can top that (at least for now).

You would think that by this point, it would be difficult to keep the franchise fresh. However, with Black Panther, Marvel continues to bring new and exciting perspectives to its movie universe.

This is a significant entry in the series. It is the first major superhero movie to feature an African hero, as well as an almost entirely African cast of characters with their native country taking center stage.

Story: 8 out of 10

Overall, the plot is very solid. Other than briefly mentioning a couple events that took place during Captain America: Civil War (mostly for background info), Black Panther is its own, self contained story. This was a great way to show the world these characters can stand on their own without the rest of the Marvel crew to hold them up.

Black Panther is an origin story, introducing not just T’Challa, but also Wakanda: it’s people, culture, and traditions. The majority of the film focuses on T’Challa officially take over the mantle of king as well as what ruling the fictitious African nation looks like.

The pacing did feel a bit choppy and disjointed at times, but not enough to hurt the film. I do think Killmonger’s plan (no spoilers) would have carried more weight if it had been saved for the inevitable sequel; giving T’Challa more time as king first. It’s not a major issue though, and still worked well here. There were also a few things that didn’t completely add up, however, nothing that can’t be chalked up to comic book logic.

As with any Marvel movie, there is plenty of humor to be had which is well timed and feels organic. Black Panther knows exactly when it should be funny and when it’s time to be serious; something I still feel derailed Thor: Ragnarok.

There are 2 after credit scenes, so make sure you stay until the end. The first expands on Black Panther, and the second adds a small tease for the upcoming Infinity War. If you were like me and hoping to see the last Infinity Stone revealed, sorry to burst your bubble; no such thing happens (I still think it will be in Wakanda though).

Acting: 10 out of 10

This is one of the areas where Black Panther shines the brightest. Everyone not only gave fantastic performances, but they also all felt vital to the story. Each character had meaningful moments throughout, and no one felt wasted.

Chadwick Boseman reprises his role as T’Challa/Black Panther. He is very charismatic and the perfect choice for the role, however I did leave the theater wanting more. There was plenty of time devoted to T’Challa as king, however I wanted to see more of him as Black Panther. The moments he is in the suit are great though.

Michael B. Jordan was fantastic as villain, Eric Killmonger. A story always stands out more when you can sympathize with the villain and their point of view. You can definitely understand why Eric feels the way he does even if his reaction is wrong. It’s also satisfying to get more than the standard “evil for the sake of being evil” baddie common in the comic book world. This must also feel like a bit of redemption for Jordan as his last go in the genre was the colossal train wreck of a reboot: Fantastic Four in 2015.

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Letitia Wright absolutely stole the show for me as T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri. She was responsible for a large chunk of the humor and her presence lights up every scene she’s in. She deserves as much screen time in future movies as possible.

Shuri is the brilliant techie behind most of the developments in Wakanda technology similar to Q in the Bond films. The car chase scene, specifically was outstanding and really felt like a cool and unique idea for a franchise that’s 18 movies deep and already featured technology experts before.

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Danai Gurira’s Oyoke is a fierce warrior who takes things more seriously than the other characters; which also makes for some great humor. She’s known for playing the badass Michonne in The Walking Dead, however Oyoke’s skills in battle are far superior. Oyoke is passionately commited to Wakanda; so much so that someone in the theater with us yelled out towards the end, “She’s loyal as fuck!” Comments like that, and the audience’s reaction to them, are why I love going to movies opening weekend.

Others, including Angela Bassett, Forest Whitacker, Luputa Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Daniel Kaluuya all were terrific at rounding out the cast. Andy Serkis also proved that he’s not just the king of voicing CGI characters, but can also hold his own in person.

Sound: 9 out of 10

The music in Black Panther also stands out, offering a refreshing change of pace. Composer Ludwig Göransson, actually spent a month in Africa researching the music of the area to ensure the score sounded authentic. That, combined with a soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar, resulted in a music experience that sounds unlike any Marvel movie that’s come before.

Visuals: 8.5 out of 10

The visuals for the movie mesmerize at times, and at others disappoint. Some scenes, especially shots of the city of Wakanda, look fantastic. The mix of futuristic tech and ancient tribal traditions make for serious eye candy. Other sections, like the big fight at the end, showcase CGI that seems below Marvel’s achievments with other movies.

The last fight between T’Challa and Killmonger reminded me of the early days of Marvel movies. Think of some of the special effects in Sam Rami’s Spider-Man. Specifically, Peter in his wrestling outfit, climbing up a building after the death of his uncle. After 15 years, it is painful to watch.

A couple of the landscape shots are also a little too noticeably green screen created. I blame Marvel for these issues. They should have thrown more money and time at it to make the scenes look as good as their other films.

The costume design for the movie is honestly award worthy. There is so much detail to all of the colors and designs that it’s easy to get distracted from the rest of the movie just taking it all in.

Overall Rating

Obviously, this review represents what I feel were the strengths and weaknesses of Black Panther as a movie. At the same time, this movie represents a historic moment for Hollywood that transcends numeric ratings. Box office records are currently being broken and will undoubtedly open the door for more culturally diverse superhero movies, which should have happened a long time ago.

The movie has a much needed message, not just for African Americans, but for everyone. As T’Challa tells the UN; “that which binds us together is stronger than what separates us.” This is a message we need to hear now more than ever.

Black Panther’s final score is 8.9 vibranium panthers out of 10.

The Crocodile Dundee Movie No One Ever Asked For: Starring Danny McBride

It’s not April Fools yet, right? Danny McBride apparently will star as Crocodile Dundee’ s son in a revival of the franchise titled: Dundee: The Son of a Legend Returns Home.

If you’re still not convinced, People Magazine even published an exclusive article, interviewing McBride, as well as Paul Hogan who will be reprising his role as Mick Dundee. According to the article, Mick has gone missing in the Australian Outback and it’s up to his son that no one knew existed to travel back home from the city to find him.

Also, it appears that Chris Hemsworth, who has proved to have fantastic comedic timing will be in the movie as well:

There a scores of people saying this is all fake and is a promotion for something else as this movie announcement literally appeared out of nowhere. I like both actors but really hope this is a joke as this looks painfully bad. If they’re going to do another movie, ironically Chris Hemsworth is probably the best choice to play Dundee’s son possible.

What do you think? Does this have your interest or have you been left shaking your head in disbelief as well?

If true, Dundee releases this summer.

New Black Panther Trailer

Tickets for Black Panther have now gone on sale, and in an effort to help get the word out, Marvel has released a new trailer.

If you have seen previous trailers, nothing more story wise is given away here. However, there a couple new action scenes that look fantastic, as well as a bit more time given to Michael B. Jordan’s character, Eric Killmonger.

Black Panther releases February 15th and will be the final Marvel movie before Avengers: Infinity War in May.

New Trailer: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Disney is making a live action version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1816 novel “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” popularized by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” ballet.

The trailer looks good and seems like there will be some sort of twist with the trailer teasing, “The legend you know has a dark side.”

The cast includes a few big names: Helen Miren as Mother Ginger, Morgan Freeman as the eye patch wearing Drosselmyer and Keira Knightly as the Sugar Plum Fairy

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms releases November 2nd 2018.

All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key, which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.

This is Heavy Doc: New Ready Player One Trailer

An incredible new trailer dropped over the weekend for the upcoming Speilberg movie, Ready Player One.

This trailer sets up more of the story which is essentially: in the year 2044, the Willy Wonka of VR has died, kicking off the world’s most outrageous scavenger hunt to determine an heir to his empire. A nobody, named Wade Watts, is the “Charlie Bucket” of the story. He’s determined to be the one to find the easter egg, and discovers some more sinister plans in play along the way.

The OAISIS looks like the definition of geek heaven. So many references to different games and movies…I can’t lie, the Back to the Future Deloron is my favorite. Also, with Spielberg at the helm, this is promising to be a fun ride.

For those who have read the book: how does this trailer look in comparison? Let me know!

From filmmaker Steven Spielberg comes the science fiction action adventure “Ready Player One,” based on Ernest Cline’s bestseller of the same name, which has become a worldwide phenomenon. The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.

Justice League Review

Directed by: Zach Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Mamoa, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, J. K. Simmons

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

Justice League is now out, and while it does have a few issues, including a rushed story, those issues don’t prevent the movie from being a fun and enjoyable superhero flick. It also does a good job of injecting humor without harming the overall gravity of the story.

While I seem to be in the minority with this opinion, that was Thor: Ragnarock’s biggest weakness: it force-fed so much slap stick comedy that all of the darker elements of the story lost their weight. I was worried that Justice League would try to do the same thing in order to mimic the current trend in Marvel movies and it is a relief they did not.

The Critics got it wrong

Critics are currently having a grand time bashing the movie. Many have been quick to point out how low the Rotten Tomatoes critc score is sitting. However, one thing that is being conveniently overlooked is the audience score:

jl While these numbers are only valid to a certain extent, it shows that overall, movie goers are enjoying the movie, which is a huge win for the DCEU. The audience score for BvS is only 63%. Hopefully, ticket sales will hit close enough to the mark to keep the franchise moving along, as Justice League shows us that there are some great things in store for the DCEU. Right now its on track to hit well below expectations for opening weekend. It will be interesting to see how the movie performs over the next few weeks as more people see the movie and word of mouth, good or bad, spreads. Regardless of how you feel after watching, this is a historic movie that sees DC’s greatest champions come together for the first time on screen.

The story is fairly simple (which isn’t a bad thing): Steppenwolf, one of the New Gods, has come to Earth looking to do something evil. Batman get’s wind of his arrival and realizes he needs to assemble a team to stop him. That’s pretty much it. However, in the studio’s frantic effort to do things differently than the last movie, they hinder Justice League with abridged storytelling to fit a pre-set runtime. The film would have benefitted from more explanation of Steppenwolf: his background, and what his motivations are. We get what we have to have for the story at hand, but unless you’ve read the comics, some of the gravity is lost. More on the movie’s weaknesses in a bit.

It is interesting to note that Justice League essentially has two directors: Zach Snyder worked on the majority of the film and then Joss Whedon was brought in to wrap up the film after the tragic death of Snyder’s daughter. Whedon was even given a credit as a writer for the movie. Ironically, Whedon is the director behind the first two Avengers movies, as well as creator of popular shows including Buffy and Firefly. Many feared that Justice League could feel like two different movies, because of this: Whedon usually being much lighter in his tone than Snyder is. However, this is not the case. Aside from a few scenes that feel like there’s probably an extended version that was cut, everything flows well and the comedic moments that were added, fit.

Justice League, assemble!

The heroes all meshed and played well off of each other, bringing different personalities to the team. There isn’t much to say about Gal Gadot, other than she continues to shine as Wonder Woman. She is without a doubt one of the best things going for the DCEU right now.

Jason Momoa as Aquaman was a fantastic choice. My wife thinks Momoa without a shirt for most of the movie was also a fantastic choice. He does a great job of finally making the character interesting. It would have been nice to know more about his background and personality going into Justice League. This is the overarching feeling the movie leaves you with: wishing there was more.

There’s a lot of talk right now on whether Ben Affleck will be sticking around as Batman. Hopefully, he will, as this is one of the best takes on the character we have seen in a movie. Whenever he moves or fights as Batman it’s like watching the comics in motion. I said it in my BVS review, but it’s clear Zach Snyder understands this character; I would even guess Batman is his favorite. He nails it again here, plus Bruce is back to his rule of no killing…people. Aliens are a different matter.

Ezra Miller is getting rave reviews as Barry Allen/ Flash. He is very funny, and some of the most entertaining moments of the film are when he’s using his super speed. However, I’m still not sold on him overall yet. He is a much younger, inexperienced version of Barry, and is very immature and socially awkward. It was difficult to believe that this Barry is intelligent enough to make his suit or work as a CSI forensic scientist. It’s also hard not to compare him to the CW’s television Barry, Grant Gustin. This Flash does have some great moments, including some screen time with is dad, so maybe Ezra will grow on me after his solo movie.

Ray Fisher was a solid choice for Cyborg, however his character suffers the most from a rushed introduction. The movie hits all of the essential points, but his own solo movie would have been a great way to introduce the least familiar League member to viewers. It was also surprising how bad Cyborg’s CGI is in places. For the most part it’s passable, but there are one or two scenes that make you focus a little too much on how fake it looks.

Spoiler alert, but not really because you already knew it was coming: Superman returns! I wont spoil how that does happen, but it fits in well with the overall DCEU. Henry Cavill is really hitting his stride as Superman. Overall, this is the hope-filled and inspiring Man of Steel that most people have been waiting to see. There are a couple shots of his face that may look…weird as you watch the movie. If you haven’t heard, that is because when Justice League was sent back to do some reshoots, Henry had already started working on his next movie, Mission Impossible, in which his character has a mustache. Paramount Studios refused to let him shave it for the reshoots, so Warner Bros was forced to hide it with CGI. It’s funny to look for once you know about it, but it doesn’t ruin the movie.

For the list of supporting characters: Jeremy Irons is still great as Alfred and J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon is a good fit. I’m ready to see more of Gordon in the solo Batman movie. Amy Adams and Diane Lane are fine, they just aren’t really given time to do anything except be there.

So much backstory, so little time

There are a few external factors that contributed to the movie feeling rushed in places. All of it stems from the long list of behind the scenes drama with studio executives during the production process. Among other things, Warner Bros imposed a runtime restriction on the film in an effort to prevent one of the complaints with BVS from being repeated: that it was too long. However, this was a poor decision as the root of the issue wasn’t the runtime itself, but how much was forced into that runtime. Justice League’s story has the right amount of complexity to it, it just needs to be fleshed out more. A longer runtime would have allowed for this. Hopefully there will be an extended cut of the film released on Blu-ray, as even another 30 mins of well executed plot and character elaboration would improve the film dramatically.

Another decision made that hindered the movie was at the very start of the DCEU. In order to play catch up with Marvel, DC and Warner Bros decided to release only a limited number of solo movies before jumping ahead to the “all in” Justice League movie. One of those movies, Suicide Squad, didn’t even add something substantial to the overall foundation of the universe. This was a mistake Justice League is paying for now as precious amounts of the restricted screen time had to be used to introduce heroes that we haven’t seen before in the DCEU. This abridged story telling does what it needs to but could have been much more meaningful elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if it would be copying Marvel, but a solo Flash and Aquaman movie before Justice League could have added some lead up to Steppenwolf and even Darkseid to lay some foundation ahead of time.

Final Verdict:

8 super-mustache cover ups out of 10

Overall, Justice League is far from perfect, but is a good movie that is well worth your time. Its biggest issue is that you will leave wishing there had been more. Make sure you stay through the credits as well, as there are two scenes and one in particular that will have you even more excited for the future of the DCEU.

Let me know what you thought after you see it!

Justice League: Early Reactions!

Critics have gotten a chance to see Justice League and are now allowed to reveal their opinions via social media.

The general consensus seems to be more positive than expected: while not perfect, the movie was fun and a step in the right direction for the franchise. Which basically means the movie is lighter than Batman v Superman. Most also agree that Flash, Aquaman and Wonder Woman steal the show, while Cyborg is the weakest link.

In the aftermath of movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok, the trend in superhero films right now is that to be good (and for the movie’s flaws to be overlooked), it must be funny and lighthearted. I don’t agree with this view as a one size fits all standard, but understand where it’s coming from. After a decade of success, the superhero genre almost certainly needs to evolve to stay relevant. We’re also living in an incredible time where nerd culture has become mainstream. Naturally, studios are going to make movies that will make them the most money possible.

I might write about this in more detail after I review Justice League. However, for now, I’m excited the movie is enjoyable and can’t wait to see the League finally together on the big screen this Thursday.

https://twitter.com/ConnerWS/status/929030929523154944

Injustic 2: Crossover, Dude!

NetherRealm studios has revealed the next round of DLC characters for their popular DC comic fighting game: Injustice 2…and it has me craving some radical pizza, dude.

That’s right, alongside Enchantress and Atom, you will be able to pit the Ninja Turtles against the roster of DC’s heroes and villains. NetherRealm enjoys throwing in a couple wild cards, and while a lot of fans would rather see more relevant characters like Spawn or even Beast Boy, the heroes in a half shell are definitely a fun edition.

What is especially surprising is how the Turtles look. They don’t look anything like the modern Michael Bay iterations, but seem to be modeled more after the movies from the 90’s. This was a brilliant choice, as this will be sure to please the older Turtle fans (like myself).

This will go down as their most random crossover for the series to be sure, however there was an excellent TMNT/Batman comic cross over not too long ago. I wonder if someone at NetherRealm is a fan…

The DLC drops December 12th. What do you think? Check out the trailer below.

Justice League Soundtrack Now Streaming

You can now stream the soundtrack to Justice League on Spotify. You will need to download the free app if you don’t already have it or you can check out a preview of each track below. Spoilers, beware! The track titles could give minor story point spoilers, but looks like nothing significant. Browse at your own risk!

Danny Elfman scored the film; the composer behind hundreds of movie soundtracks over the years. There are definitely some riffs in a couple tracks reminiscent of the 1989 Batman soundtrack. I can’t say I’m upset over that.

While there are some definite stand out moments here, I can’t help but be reminded of the army of drums in Hans Zimmers score for Man of Steel. The majority of Zimmer’s tracks were by far more interesting to listen to.

Justice League is out next week on the 17th, and I will be here to let you know how it is!