Road to Avengers: Infinity War #1: Iron-Man

I’m starting an ongoing series I’m calling: “The Road to Avengers: Infinity War.” These posts will be for anyone who wants to make sure they are fully caught up for Avengers: Infinity War, but maybe don’t have time to watch 18 movies before May. Think of these posts as cliff notes for Marvel movies. I’m going in chronological order of film release, starting with 2008’s Iron-Man and going all the way through the upcoming Black Panther. With any luck I’ll finish in time.

For my full MCU viewing guide, click here.

Let’s get started!

Iron-Man (2008)

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Tony Stark is the billionaire, genius CEO of Stark Industries; a weapons development and manufacturing company inherited from his dad after both parents died in a car accident. Most of the tech at Stark Industries is developed by Tony himself; having graduated from MIT around age 18 at the top of his class.

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  • Tony lives the playboy lifestyle, and has some very destructive habits including (but not limited to) drinking, gambling, and women.

Important Characters Introduced

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Colonel James Rhodes (“Rhodey”): head of Weapons Development for the US Air Force. Actor Terrence Howard plays him only in the first film before being replaced by Don Cheadle. Rhody will eventually get his own suit called War Machine and join the Avengers.

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Obadiah Stane is a family friend and second in command at Stark Industries. Stane is the closest Tony has to a father figure until he turns against him.

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Pepper Potts is Tony’s loyal personal assistant who handles all of his day-to-day needs. She also becomes Tony’s love-interest.

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Happy Hogan is Tony’s chauffeur and will later become his security detail, or as Tony likes to joke “forehead of security.”

Yinsen is imprisoned along with Stark, from a nearby town. Yinsen has some degree of medical/technical training and is highly intelligent as he speaks several languages and not only saves Tony’s life but also helps him build the first Iron-Man suit.

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JARVIS is the audible AI that runs Tony’s house. Once he has perfected his Iron-Man suit, Tony uploads JARVIS to the interface, who going forward assists Tony in the operation of the suit, especially in combat.

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Agent Coulson works for SHIELD, a secret government group that we learn in later movies, tracks individuals with special abilities and powers.

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Nick Fury (after credits scene): Director of SHIELD. He is the mastermind behind the “Avengers Initiative.”

A Change of Heart

  • During a trip to the Middle East to demonstrate his latest weapons to the military, Tony is captured by a terrorist group known as The Ten Rings.
  • Tony is gravely injured during his capture, when he learns the hard way that the terrorists somehow are using his own weapons. A Stark Industries missile lands and explodes nearby, sending shrapnel tearing into his chest. He passes out and is captured.

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  • When Tony comes to, he’s in a cave with a fellow prisoner, Yinsen who informs Tony that he was the one who worked to keep Tony alive. Despite his efforts, however there was shrapnel that could not be removed without killing him.
  • Yinsen was forced to attach an electro-magnet to his chest to keep the shrapnel from entering his heart and killing him. The two get to know each other during their capture and become friends. Yinsen’s words of wisdom also make Tony realize that with all of his accomplishments in life, he has nothing to show for it.

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  • After learning the terrorists will kill them both unless Tony builds one of his new prototype missiles, he decides instead to build the first crude version of the Iron-Man suit out of the materials available in order to escape.

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  • He also builds a device called a miniaturized “arc reactor:” a smaller version of a power source technology Stark created for his plant. He replaces the magnet on his chest with this device, which will keep the shrapnel from moving without needing to be hooked to a car battery as a power source (often refered to as his “chest piece”).
  • During their escape, Yinsen is mortally wounded. He tells Tony with his last words; “Don’t waste your life.” Tony escapes by revealing his suit is capable of flight, however he doesn’t make it far before the suit stops working and he crashes in the sand. He walks the desert for an amount of time until a military search party led by his friend, Rhodey finds and rescues him.

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Home Again: A New Direction

  • Returning home, Tony has indeed had a change of heart. He decides to stop making weapons and to focus instead on his prototype “arc reactor” technology as a possible source for renewable clean energy. Obadiah Stane is troubled by the decision.
  • Tony also gives up some of his bad habits and grows closer with his assistant Pepper, realizing that she has stood by him for years when most refused. They both begin to have feelings for each other, but are unsure about showing it.
  • Secretly, Stark begins a series of experiments, perfecting his Iron-Man suit idea (which is also powered by his chest piece). iron-man-bootsf658ac656650242638ca09a2890f54ad_MTonyReturnsHome-IM2

A Shocking Discovery

  • Tony attends a fundraiser ball and is informed that Obadiah Stane has been approving the sale of Stark Industries weapons to terrorist groups. Stark decides to use his upgraded suit to find those weapons and destroy them: starting with a group of The Ten Rings who have attacked Yinsen’s hometown with Stark weapons.

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  • Rhodey discovers what Tony has been up to when the Air Force picks up Iron-Man on radar in a no-fly zone and sends in two fighter jets to intercept.

  • Pepper discovers more of Stane’s dirty dealings: that he also paid The Ten Rings to capture and kill Tony in order to gain control of Stark Industries. When she is sent to the office by Tony to retrieve shipping manifests from the company’s database, she stumbles onto the secret files revealing everything.
  • Stane travels to the Middle East to meet with the leader of The Ten Rings, learns how Tony escaped, kills the leader of the group and his men, and steals the remnants of the “Mark I” suit left after Tony crashed. He has Stark Industries scientists build a much larger version (known as Iron Monger in comics).ku-xlarge.jpg
  • After his team is unable to figure out how to miniaturize the arc reactor tech as Tony had, Stane goes to Tony’s home, uses a device on Tony that temporarily causes paralysis and steals Tony’s chest piece, leaving him to die. Stane also admits to paying to have him killed so he could take over Stark Industries.tony-stark
  • Pepper meets with Agent Coulson from the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division (SHIELD), who has been trying to meet with Tony in order to debrief him on the events surrounding his escape. Pepper fills Coulson in on everything and they return to Stark Industries to confront Stane. However, Stane has already activated his suit and rampages out of the building.

The Ultimate Test Run

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  • Tony luckily still has an outdated version of his chest piece. He puts it in and flies over to fight Stane. Tony, who has already told him about his Iron-Man suit, asks Rhodey to keep the skies clear long enough for him to take out Stane.

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  • Tony fights Stane, but is easily outmatched by the much larger suit and his outdated chest piece; quickly running out of power.
  • The fight ends when Tony lures Stane to the top of Stark Industries and has Pepper overload the arc reactor below. This sends a massive energy blast up through the roof. Stane falls through the roof and dies in a massive explosion. Tony barely survives.

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  • A few days later, Tony holds a press conference to try to keep the situation contained. Agent Coulson gives him an alibi to keep it a secret that he was the one in the suit as the press has suspected and even called him the “Iron-Man.”
  • Pepper thanks Agent Coulson who says they will be hearing from SHIELD again.
  • Stark begins the press conference and starts to read the cards, however half way through Tony changes his mind, and the movie ends with Tony telling the audience, “The truth is…I am Iron-Man.”

After Credits Scene

  • (After Credits Scene) Tony returns home after the press conference to discover someone has broken into his house and deactivated JARVIS. The man reveals that he is Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, and that he’s there to talk to him about the “Avengers Initiative.” Cuts to black.nick fury iron man

The next post will be 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. That will be an extremely short post, as it isn’t a great movie and provides very little needed info going forward in the MCU.

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

“A WONDERful movie, and refreshing change of pace for the genre.”

Director: Patty Jenkins

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content

Trailer: Click Here!

Wonder Woman is finally out and has been receiving virtually universal praise. It’s for good reason as having seen the movie, it is excellent. This is good news for DC, as there’s a lot riding on this movie for several reasons. Not only is this the first time the Amazon princess has had her own standalone movie, but the DC movie universe (DCEU) needed to do something to get back into movie goers good graces as the last few films have been polarizing.

There’s also been a ton of girl power buzz for this movie. It is undeniable that the vast majority of superheroes that make it to the big screen are men and there hasn’t been a female superhero movie that I can remember…ever. (well technically there’s been a few, but they were all horrible). Not only do we get an incredible leading female hero here, but one of the villains is female as well: Dr. Poison. In addition to the female cast, Patty Jenkins, the director, is also in a field that is dominated primarily by men. Jenkins excels in only her second big screen movie and does an excellent job giving us a great story with strong female characters without making the male characters appear completely helpless in exchange.

Danny Huston and Elena Anaya as Genral Ludendorff and Dr. Poision.

Gal Gadot is perfect as Diana. She is gorgeous but comes across as classy and not an over sexualized wonder woman that is sometimes depicted. She’s a good balance. Gal also looks capable in the fight scenes, and like she would have no problem kicking anyone’s butt. And while she does great in the action scenes, some of the most enjoyable sections of the movie involve Diana discovering the world outside of her island for the first time. She has a great arc through the movie, as you see her grow from an innocent and naïve warrior, into the strong female hero we first saw in Batman v. Superman.

Chris Pine was a good choice for the american spy Steve Trevor. He and Gal have great on-screen chemistry that works well for the story. The core, multicultural group that ends up joining Diana and Steve on their mission were decent, but at times almost felt like caricatures of their specific ethnic backgrounds…especially the Scottish guy. He was too “cartoony” feeling at times, but fortunately wasn’t bad enough that it hurt the movie.

Group shot! The only two you’ll care about are Diana and Steve.

All of the locations in the movie are brought to life in great detail and there is a noticeable color difference between the green and blue island of Themyscira and the darker greys and browns of London. This was a smart way to emphasis Diana’s journey from her “perfect” world where right and wrong is very clearly laid out, to the world of men, where things are more bleak and the lines of morality are blurred.

In addition to the color differences, it’s also interesting to see the social extremes of both Thymescira and WWI era London contrasted with each other; which are essentially two sides of the same coin. On Thymescira, men are shunned and held in much lower regard, while in London we see the same thing happening to women. There’s one scene in particular where Steve is trying to get his superiors to listen to what he is telling him, but all they can focus on is why Diana is even in the same room. The movie isn’t one sided, and cleverly shows the foolishness of holding either sex in higher regard than the other.

This is our first time seeing Themyscira in the DCEU.  Seeing a magical hidden city on screen has become common place these days but the movie does a great job making it look unique and also believable. All of the amazons looked tough and ready for any battle…I was honestly half expecting Xena to show up somewhere!

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The first half of the movie is essentially Wonder Woman’s origin story, and while it may sound tiring to watch yet another origin story play out in a movie, it’s done in a way that’s refreshing and fun to watch. Seeing Diana grow up and discover the full extent of her abilities is a treat. And even though the first half of the movie is mostly exposition, there are still a couple great action scenes that help to keep things moving along. Once Diana walks out onto the battlefield for the first time, it’s game on from there on out.

Wonder Woman successful steps away from the common tropes of the superhero genre. The villians are more complex than the one dimensional “mustache twirling” fiends that are so common. There are deep philosophical themes that analyzed such as the nature of evil and whether or not mankind deserves to be saved. In the real world there isn’t just one sinister villian at work; people overall arent completely innocent. Watching Diana wrestle with these dilemas give the movie a sophistication that a lot of superhero movies are missing. Of course it wouldn’t be a superhero flick without that final knock down, drag out boss fight, and Wonder Woman is no exception.

The fight scenes are very well done for the most part and fun to watch. The way Diana uses her lasso in battle is very creative and one of my favorite elements of her fight scenes. There are a ton of slow motion shots, and they reminded me of movies like 300 and The Matrix…or even like the finishers in the Arkham video game series (you know what I’m talking about if you’ve played any of those games). It looks awesome, but it’s used a little too much. When the CGI is good, the slow motion looks fantastic, but there’s a couple times when the effects are a little less than stellar and the slow motion only serves to make that stand out like a sore thumb.

Uh oh. You’ve made her angry. You’re screwed.

Wonder Woman is essentially the female equivalent to Superman, and, I’m glad the snuck in some great subtle nods to that similarity. There’s a scene with Diana talking to her mother before leaving the island that gives off some vibes of similar conversations Superman has had with his father, Jor-El. Also, there’s a scene where Steve is trying to help Diana blend in while in London, and she puts on a pair of glasses.

No one will recognize you with these…

A heavy criticism thrown at the DCEU up until this point is that the movies are for the most part “joyless”. While I disagree with that claim to an extent (I’ll save that argument for another post), they are truthfully extremely heavy. Wonder Woman does a much better job at being more tonally balanced. Patty Jenkins has done what Zack Snyder has been unable to do so far in that she’s figured out the right formula for making a movie with darker themes, but also with the right mixture of laughs, fun, and hope that movie goers are looking for. Diana is extremely hopeful throughout the movie, even in the darkest moments. Maybe some of that will rub off on Superman in the future…

Final Verdict:

10 Gal Gadot smiles out of 10!

Wonder Woman is everything you would expect and more, and succeeds in putting the DCEU back on track for many fans. It will be interesting to see which direction Justice League takes later this year.