Countdown to Age of Ultron: Thor: The Dark World Revisited

Holy smokes. We are in the home stretch here, and we have some great ones coming up. As it is written in Asgard, however, They who wish to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier, if they be completists, must first endure Thor: The Dark World.

Cooler than you.  

Cooler than you.  

RG: I only saw this movie once and it was well after it had been released on Blu Ray. Thor: The Dark World is the only one of these Marvel movies that I didn't see in theatres. Why? I have no idea. Regrets? Not really.

DH: I loved it in the theatre, but it really loses something watching it in your living room. The second half picks up with the humour, but the first half is mostly pretty dull. I do like how much it’s basically a Masters Of The Universe movie though, with its crazy mix of science fiction and fantasy! Not to mention its himbo hero, of course.

"S'up?"

"S'up?"

RG: Right off the bat, totally forgot that Malekith was in this movie, so already I am reminded how unmemorable this movie is. I think I basically only remember the Loki parts.

DH: Marvel gets a lot of flack for having underdeveloped villains in these movies (other than Loki), and Christopher Eccleston as Malekith doesn’t do a lot to reverse that trend. He doesn’t leave too much of an impression.

This could be literally anyone.

This could be literally anyone.

DH: That big stone warrior that Thor takes out in Vanaheim at the beginning: is he supposed to be one of the aliens that Donald Blake runs into in Thor’s origin story? Because he sure looks like it.

Nice detective work, Dave!

Nice detective work, Dave!

DH: There seems to be more of an effort here to make Asgard seem like a populated place. I got more a sense of there being a lot of people there, just living their weird space-god lives, as opposed to the first movie, where it just seemed like a few sets with the principal players hanging out on them.

RG: I'm really into the arc of this series of movies. I love the solo movies that led to the team-up adventure of The Avengers, and now we see the very distinct aftermath movies for each of the big three characters. We saw Tony Stark struggling with PTSD and with his new role as superhero, and now we see Thor and family dealing with Loki. Thor is also dealing with some out of control hair in this movie. He has adopted an undergrad Dave Matthews-fan hackey sack look that I do not approve of.

"Son, are you doing marijuana? You can tell me."

"Son, are you doing marijuana? You can tell me."

I do not disagree with Odin's suggestion that Thor might be better off with Sif. I mean, we all would.

"I know I've known you my whole life and fought at your side, Sif, but Jane gave me a ride in her van once and she's a scientist or something. You understand."

"I know I've known you my whole life and fought at your side, Sif, but Jane gave me a ride in her van once and she's a scientist or something. You understand."

DH: Do you get the sense that there was supposed to be more Sif in this movie? LIke a Sif/Jane/Thor love triangle? They sort of hint at it, but it goes nowhere.

RG: Yeah, well that seems to be all Sif does in this movie: pine for Thor.

Hey, Dave was right! Gratuitous shirtless scene! Extremely gratuitous, really. Very Fabio. 

If Fabio didn't wash his hair.

If Fabio didn't wash his hair.

RG: And, look, it’s Chris O'Dowd! The one guy who could possibly charm Jane away from Thor!

I love her.

I love her.

RG: I like that Darcy has a bigger role in this movie than she did in the first one. She's very funny. Unnecessary, but funny.

Is maybe the problem with the Thor movies the science mumbo jumbo? It's all very boring and meaningless. There is no science to Thor. We don't need an astrophysicist trying to figure out his deal. He arrives magically via rainbow bridge. What do you want?

DH: I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure the “science” in this movie is utter gibberish. “If we turn this dial, it’ll warp space right where those bad guys happen to be and they’ll disappear!” It’s kind of like the science in Interstellar in that respect, only that movie is super-serious and this one basically turns into a comedy by the end.

RG: It's pretty romantic when Thor returns to Jane, all standing in the rain. It is not cool how Jane immediately starts whining at him, as if he's not the God of Thunder/an Avenger/an alien/the future king of Asgard/the Sexiest Man Alive/out of her league.

Wet, Hot, Asgardian Thor.

Wet, Hot, Asgardian Thor.

RG: I do love when Darcy asks him "How's space?" I do not like that Thor leaves her behind when he takes Jane to Asgard.

DH: What’s his response? “Space is fine”? Pretty funny. I like how laid back Thor is.

RG: I do too. It’s my favourite thing about this movie version of the character. He’s just up for whatever.

I couldn’t imagine a worse scenario than not enjoying this character, because it’s gonna consume a good 10 years of my life.
— Chris Hemsworth, The Guardian, 2013

RG: Jane Foster is very cute when she's in Asgard. I like when she says "You told your dad about me?" when Odin is all "I know very well who you are, Jane Foster" like she's dirt.

Get in that sandwich, Jane!

Get in that sandwich, Jane!

DH: Odin really is a dick. By the way, is Captain America the only superhero ever made who doesn’t have daddy issues of any kind? It seems that way.

RG: Only because he didn’t have a dad? At least that’s the impression I get. He has best friend issues.

I zone out completely during all the dark elf scenes. No wonder I don't remember Malekith. I would have been fine with those elves just speaking English. Don't need the made-up Elf gobbledegook. It's also kinda racist when everyone speaks English except the bad guys, no matter where they are from.

DH: The Dark Elves with the weird white kabuki masks do look cool, though. And I like their little black hole grenades, and their crazy spaceships. I’m also a big fan of how Algrim/Kurse is a guy in a suit, when he could have just as easily been a CGI effect. I’m always gonna root for the practical effects when we see them.

This movie was originally supposed to be directed by Patty Jenkins (who just last week replaced Michelle McLaren on the in-development Wonder Woman movie!), who dropped out due to creative differences and was replaced by Alan Taylor, a veteran of TV shows like The Sopranos and Game Of Thrones. It doesn’t feel as cinematic as it should, somehow--it looks more like a slightly larger scale episode of the kind of prestige TV show Taylor is known for. I don’t think he had a very happy experience on this movie, so accordingly, I don’t think he brought a lot of energy to the table.

RG: Yeah, Taylor seems kind of unenthusiastic when he talks about this movie. 

I also zone out during all the Odin history lessons. And basically anytime Loki isn’t on screen. And I’m not even a Loki fangirl.

It’s interesting that I’ve had that wide impact in a role that is so unlike me.
— Tom Hiddleston, The New York Times, 2013

RG: There is way too long a stretch in the first half of this movie without Loki. When we see him in the prison cell the movie really picks up.

Checking out some Loki/Thor fanfic.

Checking out some Loki/Thor fanfic.

DH: I remember hearing that they shot additional scenes with Loki late in the production because of Tom Hiddleston’s popularity, which must mean there really wasn’t a lot of Loki in the original version. Probably a good move to reshoot.

RG: There really just isn't a lot of chemistry between Jane and Thor. I wish there were. When you look at the other romantic pairings in these movies: Tony and Pepper, Steve and Peggy, Bruce and Betty, Steve and Bucky, Steve and me...there's just no comparison. And since Natalie Portman makes herself scarce between Thor films in this Marvel Cinematic Universe, there's just no reason to care about these two. Honestly, I would prefer a swinging bachelor Thor.

I don't really like Sif's jealousy of Jane, either. I mean, I get it, I just don't like it.

DH: Definitely not a movie that’s passing the Bechdel test anytime soon.

RG: I do like Heimdall joining the fight. It's nice to see him in some action scenes.

DH: Why is Balder the Brave not in these movies? I haven’t really read a ton of Thor comics, but isn’t he kind of a big deal in them?

RG: Gotta save something for Thor 3. 

There's a lot of cool looking stuff that happens during the battles. Some very Star Warsy stuff. I do like how these Thor movies serve as a bridge between the terrestrial and cosmic Marvel universes. It's a confusing bridge, but a bridge nonetheless.

I loved seeing Frigga kicking ass in this movie, but I did NOT love her getting killed right after. I mean, come on. The funeral scene is very pretty. Sif seems the most broken up about her death.

Total MILF (Mom I'd Like to Fight)

Total MILF (Mom I'd Like to Fight)

DH: I like the relationship between Frigga and Loki that this movie touches on. Thor was Odin’s favourite, while Loki was more of a mama’s boy. Are we to infer that she taught him how to cast those illusions? I forgot about that.

RG: Thor does tell Loki that Loki has their mother’s tricks or whatever. So, yes? I guess Thor didn’t want to learn magic.

Thor seriously looks filthy in this movie. He probably smells terrible, with his unwashed hair and gross poncho. It's like any second now he's going to whip out a guitar and treat us to some "No Woman, No Cry."

"I'm done with this fascist dictatorship, Dad! My buddy Blaze needs help with his juice stand."

"I'm done with this fascist dictatorship, Dad! My buddy Blaze needs help with his juice stand."

RG: Hey! Heimdall takes off his helmet in this movie! Thumbs up!

Heimdall can get it.

Heimdall can get it.

RG: I adore the scene where Thor visits Loki in prison, especially when Loki drops the illusion. Great reveal. This scene is the turning point in the movie, in that it is where the movie is finally interesting. It occurs at just past the one hour mark.

I love Thor and Loki together. And I really love when Loki turns into snarky Captain America. Another thing I forgot about! Delightful!

If you watch the deleted scenes you can see Tom Hiddleston in a Captain America costume doing this scene before they swapped Evans in.

Captain America cameos in every movie, please!

Captain America cameos in every movie, please!

I did an impression of Loki in the Captain America costume. I did the whole performance and then they showed Chris my performance on tape. It’s him doing an impression of me doing an impression of him. And it’s brilliant.
— Tom Hiddleston, MTV News, 2013

RG: Thor and Loki are pure magic in scenes together. When Thor is trying to get that spaceship to work their bickering is so funny.

Fanfic fodder.

Fanfic fodder.

RG: I'm glad Thor switches to his sleeveless costume half way through the movie. Hemsworth's arms are ridiculous in this one. Even with the awful hair he is still so attractive I can barely look at him. I can't believe he is the same species as me. It must be how a right whale feels when they see, like, an orca.

I was at the airport a few weeks ago, and this kid with a little cape on and a hammer was running around smashing into things and his parents looked over at me and said to him, ‘Look, look, it’s Thor!’ And the kid looked up and said: ‘No it’s not.’ And just ran off and continued to be Thor around the airport. And I realised, I ain’t Thor without the costume and the hammer.
— Chris Hemsworth, The Guardian, 2013

RG: Man, Jane has nothing to do in this movie. She's reduced to an object. It sucks.

I love the reveal in the battle when Loki appears to have betrayed Thor but actually they were working together on a secret brother plan. Do not love whatever nonsense is going on with red dust and elves and black holes and whatnot.

DH: They showed that scene where Loki appears to cut Thor’s hand off at Comicon in Hall H the year before this movie came out, so right away I knew it wasn't what it seemed. No way would they reveal a scene like that so early if it was legit. Something similar happened with Winter Soldier, where they really leaned on Fury’s death in the advertising--so much so that I knew he couldn't possibly be dead.

RG: I DO love Loki holding his own against a bunch of bad guys with only a small dagger. Action!Loki!

Loki's "death" is truly heartbreaking. Both actors really give it. And Jane is just there, wondering why she had to visit her new boyfriend the same week that his whole family gets killed. Awkward!

"Avenge...me...Because you're an Avenger..."

"Avenge...me...Because you're an Avenger..."

RG: When Jane's phone starts ringing on that elf planet and Thor says "it isn't me" that is really funny.

So, Dr Selvig is batshit crazy now and blames it on Loki being in his head during The Avengers movie. So can we expect a similar situation for Hawkeye? I just want a heads up if I have to see Renner dancing around naked in Age of Ultron.

I am only mentioning Selvig because I feel that I should, but really I think that character should have been axed from this movie. He really didn't need to be in this one, and it just ate up time that could probably be better spent. 

I love seeing Thor on Earth, but other than that this London shit is BORING. And the science is STUPID.

Boring!

Boring!

So boring!

So boring!

RG: This movie suffers from the same problem as the first Thor movie: too many action scenes in settings that are so dark you can barely see anything.

Exciting action!

Exciting action!

DH: The biggest problem facing this movie is that it doesn’t have much consequence for Thor in the long run. Iron Man 3 has big personal consequences for Tony Stark, and Winter Soldier has big consequences for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This movie is just another Thor adventure. I mean, I guess his mother dies, but we didn’t really get to know her all that well. And his relationship with Jane is more solidified, but it doesn’t look like she shows up in Age Of Ultron or anything. Thor: The Dark World is not a King-Sized Annual or 350th Anniversary Special, it’s just another cranked-out monthly issue, so to speak.

RG: That is an excellent way of putting it.

The idea, in my mind, is that Thor is a character who continues to grow and he’s not just a static superhero and, in the first film, he went from being an impetuous prince to being somebody who is more responsible. And, in our film, he continued to grow up and went through the darker phase of growing up where you start to realize the world is more complicated than you thought and what you wanted might not be what you really want. In my mind, when we started calling it ‘The Dark World,’ it wasn’t just elves — it was adulthood [that] is the Dark World. And that’s what he’s growing into and part of that was losing people he loved.
— Alan Taylor, The Huffington Post, 2013

RG: Thor on the subway is funny, but that lady was lying when she says he can take that train three stops to Greenwich. He would have to switch to the Dockland Light Rail at some point. I know. I stayed in a hostel in Greenwich once. The commute into town was bullshit.

Just think, subway lady, if you had hit Thor with your car YOU'D be the love of his life right now!

Just think, subway lady, if you had hit Thor with your car YOU'D be the love of his life right now!

DH: This movie is so unrealistic, with its Dark Elves and Infinity Stones and imaginary transit routes!

RG: Oh, I just checked. There’s an underground station in Greenwich now. Carry on, movie.

It's fun seeing a little bit of the celebrity status the Avengers now have since the New York attack. Everyone knows Thor now!

And, as usual, it's funny seeing Thor on Earth looking like Thor doing normal human things.

Would that not just make the whole coat rack fall right off the wall?

Would that not just make the whole coat rack fall right off the wall?

I haven’t seen the movie and I’ve forgotten it. It’s hard to follow the story in the script. This is not really my world.
— Anthony Hopkins, The Telegraph, 2013
I knew Ken [Branagh] and he said ‘Would you like to play Odin?’ I said, ‘Yeah, okay.’ At my age if they offer me the phone book to read, I’ll read it, as long as they pay me.
— Anthony Hopkins, The Telegraph, 2013
I think before, my own fear of both success and failure would have stopped me...But I knew Ken [Branagh] knew what I could do, and I remember thinking: ‘I am never going to get closer. I might as well go for it.’ I put on 25 percent more muscle, got down to 7 percent body fat, knew my lines inside out. I was a man possessed.
— Tom Hiddleston, The New York Times, 2013
Just make him an Avenger.

Just make him an Avenger.

RG: The surprise ending is very confusing. Is Odin dead then? Did Loki kill him? Are we going to need to see Anthony Hopkins sleepwalking his way through pretending to be Loki pretending to be Odin in Thor 3?

DH: I would wager that the filmmakers have no idea what happened there either. The real Odin was probably just in the bathroom that whole time or something.

RG: Yeah, maybe. This is how the movie should have gone: Frigga does not get killed and Loki takes her form instead. Wouldn't you love to see Renne Russo as Tom Hiddleston in the next movie? Also, layers and layers of creepy mama’s boy Psycho shit. The best!

The end of credits scene is weeeeeak. Not buying that romance. Jane should just date Chris O’Dowd. Thor can be her semi-annual piece on the side.

I love that they brought in Hemsworth's wife for this kiss. Because kissing Natalie Portman would have been a real chore.

I love that they brought in Hemsworth's wife for this kiss. Because kissing Natalie Portman would have been a real chore.

And thus ends the Thor portion of these recaps. Up next we have the one that Dave and I agree is the very best Marvel movie so far, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I am super excited to watch it again and write and write and write about it and look at screen caps for days afterward.

ODINBATH

I have not seen Thor: The Dark World, so I am eagerly awaiting Dave and Rachelle's review. I am fairly certain, however, that the following scene does not appear in it. This is a crime, as Odin's Imperial Bath ought to be featured in all Thor media, if only as a background feature.

Now bring me the Scrub-Brush of Kings, along with Mr Quackers, Squeaky Duck of the Divine Light

Now bring me the Scrub-Brush of Kings, along with Mr Quackers, Squeaky Duck of the Divine Light

Countdown to Age of Ultron: Iron Man 3 Revisited

Dave and I took a bit of a break to watch Daredevil (Dave finished it, I am less than halfway through). But now we are back to watch the final four movies leading up to Age of Ultron! Just in time for spring, 2013, it's the Iron Man Christmas movie!

Buds.

Buds.

RG: I found it sort of hard to write about Iron Man 3 even though it is fantastic and I love it. I think mostly because it's the third damn Iron Man movie and there are only so many ways I can say Robert Downey Jr is awesome and I love this character.

Quick question, Dave: when you hear the words 'Iron Man' do you think of that kid who came into Strange Adventures years ago and sang "I am Iron Man, killing all the fat kids with my hands" to the tune of Black Sabbath's “Iron Man”? Because I sure do.

DH: I think of that kid and his song often, and fondly. And I think it was “Punchin’ out fat kids with my hands”, which is even funnier somehow.

RG: Either way, it was one of the highlights of my life.

Where I had been suffering from Iron Man fatigue going into The Avengers, I went into this movie full of excitement to see a new Tony Stark story. The Avengers had reignited my love of the character, and I knew within minutes of watching Iron Man 3 that this movie was going to be great. I think the moment was probably when “Blue” by Eiffel 65 played over the flashback scene. That got a huge laugh out of me. Perfect choice to bring us back to 1999/2000.

Tony is kind of rocking a Mia Wallace look too.

Tony is kind of rocking a Mia Wallace look too.

DH: I’m also a big fan of Happy Hogan dressed like Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. And a big fan of Rebecca Hall in general. One of the only false notes in this movie, for me anyway, is our introduction to Aldrich Killian as a nerdy inventor who idolizes Tony and, when rebuffed, turns to supervillainy. It’s a bit too much like the Riddler in Batman Forever (or, to use a later example, Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2).

RG: Just wanna say, though, Guy Pearce was awesome in this movie. Once he’s full villain he is extremely evil. And I love how Miami Vice he looks. Not only because he’s in Miami, but because it kind of fits with what a total nerd who gets rich might think he should dress like.

"I've been waiting for this moment for all my life. Oh lord."

"I've been waiting for this moment for all my life. Oh lord."

DH: There were three years between this movie and Iron Man 2, and that’s worth noting because there were only two years between the first and second film. I think based on how Iron Man 2 turned out, it’s safe to say that three years is the absolute minimum amount of time needed to turn around another film in a series. Or at least, to make sure it’s a good one. Although I just realized Captain America: Civil War is coming out only 2 years after Winter Soldier--fingers crossed that Marvel has got this sequel game figured out by now. They certainly seem to have it down.

After The Avengers, I remember thinking, “This is as good as it’s gonna get. They can’t possibly maintain this momentum, we’ve seen the peak, it’s all downhill from here.” I was happy to be proven wrong. I’ve enjoyed every movie Marvel has cranked out since.

RG: Yes! I actually think it's a toss-up if I like this movie more or less than The Avengers. I really,  really love it. And Winter Soldier is my favourite of the bunch! Although, I am a little concerned about this upcoming Civil War movie. It seems rushed. I dunno.

The phrase “You Know Who I Am” gets repeated a lot throughout this movie, which is fun because there are so many bait-and-switch moments that we don’t really know who anyone is. There are lots of twists and reveals with characters throughout the movie, and there are so many Iron Man suits that the audience, and the characters, often don’t know who, if anyone, is inside them.

DH: This is a movie that genuinely surprised me a number of times, which is not always something that happens in these big tentpole genre movies. I mean, I love them and all, but you can usually figure them out pretty quickly if you’ve seen enough of them.

Totally sane.

Totally sane.

RG: Following the flashback, we see a slightly crazed Tony building robot suit after robot suit. We get to see his robot pal, Dummy, again, much to my delight. Dummy is wearing a dunce cap, because Tony punishes his robots and I love that so much.

So, it's quickly established that Tony is living an isolated, pretty unhealthy life these days with no sleep and talking mostly to robots and to Jarvis. And then we learn why, and that's when I really fell in love with this movie. 

The whole post-traumatic stress disorder plot really impressed me. It just adds a really nice layer to this epic series of films. Aliens can't just show up and destroy New York City without lasting repercussions. At the end of The Avengers we saw Tony Stark, a relatively new superhero, fly a nuclear bomb through a portal to another galaxy. It was expected to be a suicide mission for him. He survived, but he can't just pretend that didn't happen. I love it.

That food they are eating looks really good. When he bolts out of the restaurant I was like "But the food!"

That food they are eating looks really good. When he bolts out of the restaurant I was like "But the food!"

DH: Absolutely. Cap is a soldier, Thor is a warrior god, Black Widow is a superspy, but until fairly recently, Tony was just an inventor and a rich jerk. So to go from that to fighting off an alien army with the fate of the world at stake...there would have to be some fallout.

RG: Tony being on the verge of a nervous breakdown also gives us a great reason for him to build many, many new suits. They are all fun to see. I love the scene where Pepper comes home to what she believes is Tony lounging on the couch in a new suit, but turns out to be a remote controlled suit.

Possibly the funniest image in film history.  

Possibly the funniest image in film history.  

I think this movie does so much work developing Tony Stark. This is the fourth movie that he has played a major role in, but I think this one goes way deeper than the other three combined. He's much more human, but also much more heroic.

We have a new winner for funniest image in film history.  

We have a new winner for funniest image in film history.  

What’s important to me in honoring Favreau and what he’s contributed with the first movies, which I went back and watched again and again, is they’re part-thriller, and there’s also a lot of romantic comedy. The extent to which rom-com figures in the early Iron Man movies is substantial. The relationship stuff — what some people might unkindly call the soap opera stuff — is just as important in some ways as the technology and that was amazing to me. Make them care about the people, make it funny, and then have the mythic stuff that’s sort of dark and powerful and portentous and then take the curse off that, take the piss out of the myth if you can. It’s just juggling.
— Shane Black, Moviefone, 2013

RG: I remember feeling kind of uneasy in the theatre during the first Mandarin TV spot. It just seemed too real to be enjoyable in the context of a silly blockbuster. But, of course, it's one of several things in this movie that isn't what it seems.

DH: Watching it this time, in the context of things like ISIS, those videos were a lot more troubling to me now than they were when the movie was released. But as you say, they’re not what they seem, and I feel like the ISIS videos didn’t really ramp up until after this movie. If Iron Man 3 came out now, it would come across as pretty insensitive. But as it is, it’s just a case of incredibly unfortunate timing.

I wanted a voice that would disconcert a Western audience. I wanted a voice that would sound far more homegrown and familiar — a familiarity like a teacher’s voice or a preacher’s voice. The rhythms and tones of an earnest, almost benign, teacher — trying to educate people for their own good. Therefore, that’s the timbre that I used for him. I think it would be more disconcerting and threatening to hear almost a patriarchal voice rather than a screaming, ‘villainous’ voice.
— Ben Kingsley, The Huffington Post, 2013
My favourite Primitive Radio Gods song.

My favourite Primitive Radio Gods song.

RG: Putting Tony in this small town in Tennessee for a decent chunk of the movie is a pretty neat move. For one thing, it eliminates the mystery of why the Avengers aren't helping Tony out. For another, it places Tony outside his comfort zone. And for another THAT KID!!!

Let's just go ahead and make this kid Rick Jones.

Let's just go ahead and make this kid Rick Jones.

Tony's interaction with the kid in Tennessee is incredible. I laughed so hard when the kid told Tony his dad went to go to the store six years ago and never came back and Tony says "Which happens, dads leave. No need to be a pussy about it." Every conversation they have is so great. "Do you know what this crater reminds me of?" "I don't care."

DH: The scenes with the kid should have been terrible, as many scenes with a wisecracking kid can be, but they are really funny. Props to Ty Simpkins’ performance, but also to Drew Pearce and Shane Black’s script.

Speaking of which, Shane Black was the perfect choice to direct this film. I love that he helped RDJ along the comeback trail by having him star in his last movie, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and it seems like RDJ returned the favour by bringing him on board to direct this movie. I love Black’s 1980s output, like Lethal Weapon and his work on the screenplay for The Monster Squad, and I love how much this movie fits in with his best-known work. It’s kind of a buddy movie (Tony and the kid, Tony and Rhodey, etc), it’s set at Christmas, and like Lethal Weapon, the plot hinges on emotionally-damaged veterans on both sides of the fight.

RG: I think Iron Man 3 might be my favourite Christmas movie now. Shane Black is the master of writing Christmas action flicks, including one of my favourites, The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Festive! 

Festive! 

DH: He also adapts to the style that has been already set down in these movies quite well, while adding his own flourishes. Like having the real-life TV talking heads weigh in on Tony’s latest predicament. Which reminds me, is this Joan Rivers’ last big-screen appearance?

RG: Yes it is! I got real sad when she showed up on screen. Her bit was funny, too!

Adam Pally is delightful in his brief appearance as a Tony Stark superfan. I would have loved to have seen someone like that play Hawkeye.

The glasses and facial hair!!! 

The glasses and facial hair!!! 

DH: He has a line about either his Tony-style hair/goatee combo, or his Tony tattoo, where he says “I had them style it after a doll I made”, that killed me. This scene has a fun companion in Winter Soldier, with D.C. Pierson in the Apple store. I love these little moments of regular folks interacting with superheroes.

RG:  Let's give it up for Ben Kingsley, who is amazing in both roles that he plays in this movie. That twist is so unexpected and so funny.

Ben Kingsley giving the performance of his career.  

Ben Kingsley giving the performance of his career.  

DH: If I were a bigger fan of the Iron Man comics, I would probably be a bit disappointed that we didn’t get an actual Mandarin in this movie. But I think the twist here is so well executed and funny that it’s hard to be upset about it. One of my favourite gags in this movie is when Tony makes Mandarin/Slattery’s girlfriends lock themselves in the bathroom after Slattery has just befouled it. If you listen, you can hear the girls say “Ew!” when they are locked in there.

Just the best.

Just the best.

RG: Yes, that's amazing. His performance as that loser actor is so funny. Especially after his legitimately terrifying performance for the first half of the movie. I think maybe it was smart to avoid putting The Mandarin for real in this movie just because that character is a little problematic. And by that I mean "racist." This was a clever way to play it.

Don Cheadle is great in this movie and I am really looking forward to seeing him in Age of Ultron.

Never thought I'd be on a boat...

Never thought I'd be on a boat...

DH: For sure. “Little knock and talk, makin’ friends in Pakistan…” more great dialogue. And as I said earlier, I love that the third act is like a buddy cop movie with Rhodey and Tony. It occurred to me that Rhodey getting his own suit of armour might be the only major consequence from Iron Man 2, and therefore the only reason to watch it. And even then, I wouldn’t recommend it.

RG: Yeah, well, this movie shows that there are better uses for the suit than to stop Tony from making a drunken fool of himself at his birthday party.

There is a laugh a minute in this movie. The "honestly, I hate working here. They are so weird" henchman is so great.

Best performance by a one-line actor appearing in a Marvel film.

Best performance by a one-line actor appearing in a Marvel film.

DH: I wrote that down too! One of my favourite lines as well. Another minor quibble--Tony is kinda bloodthirsty in this movie. Earlier on, he vows to kill the Mandarin, and in this scene, he talks repeatedly about which henchmen he’s going to kill first, then he does appear to kill (or at least, shoot) several of the bad guys. I think maybe Shane Black forgot it was a superhero movie and thought he was just making another action movie. Oh well. It’s all still fairly bloodless, at least.

RG: True, but Tony totally kills the hell out of everyone in the first movie too. He definitely has no problem killing people who attack him or his loved ones. And I guess the whole situation with Pepper being captured and tortured and possibly killed makes Tony a little murdery.

That Air Force One rescue scene is so great. Another great reveal at the end.

Kind of surprised no one died of a heart attack.

Kind of surprised no one died of a heart attack.

DH: I was a little worried that they had shown us too much of that scene in the trailers, but it is still a thrilling set piece. It nails the thing I love so much about the best superhero stories--the hero being presented with an impossible challenge where it seems inevitable that they can’t save everybody, but they somehow find a way to do it. I am way more interested in seeing that than I am in seeing how they fail, and a bunch of people die, and they have to deal with the consequences. That’s how real life works, sadly, and I don’t necessarily want my superhero stories to reflect real life. They’re supposed to provide an escape from it.

RG: Oh yeah. Absolutely. That mid-air rescue was so thrilling and was something that really only Iron Man could do, as far as the Avengers go. It not only required his suit, it required his genius and ingenuity, and also his charm because he had to get through to those people as they were plummeting to their deaths.

"You've got me? Who's got you?!"

"You've got me? Who's got you?!"

DH: This movie has so much more action than Iron Man 2, and it’s all an improvement. And to get back to the dialogue one more time, it is a movie that is stuffed to bursting with great lines. I love the exchange between him and the Extremis-enhanced lady in the kitchen, where she says “Is that all you’ve got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner”? And he comes back with “Sweetheart, that could be the name of my autobiography.”

It’s weird that both this movie and The Winter Soldier feature the hero running around out of costume for the bulk of the running time. Normally that would stick out as a cost-saving measure, or an attempt to trick people into thinking they’re watching anything but a superhero movie, but Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are so well-defined by this point, and we have so much invested in them, that it doesn’t matter that they’re in civilian clothes for the entire middle act.

Getting too old for this shit.

Getting too old for this shit.

RG: I was 100% fine with Steve Rogers not wearing a costume. Especially fine with him not wearing a mask. He could have been wearing less, even. I can't wait to write about that movie.

I'll say this, too: Tony Stark looked good in this movie. Not a lot of weird tinted glasses or flashy clothes. Plus his facial hair is a little more filled in due to being on the run for most of the film. For real I wish RDJ would stop with the tinted glasses in real life. He's so handsome! His eyes are his best feature! Stop with the weird glasses!

I really like Pepper’s role in this movie too. I like her being both exasperated with, and concerned about, Tony. I like her hanging out on the run with Rebecca Hall. I like her kicking Killian’s ass at the end, and then being kind of horrified about it. I am a fan of Paltrow as Pepper.

Actually just a paparazzi photo of Paltrow.

Actually just a paparazzi photo of Paltrow.

It was important, especially to take the curse off the damsel in distress thing. I have a hankering for empowered females trashing stuff. Especially when that stuff includes this metal suit that’s been impinging on their relationship. Literally showing up in their bedroom at night and driving her to distraction. It’s in essence Tony’s lover. It’s become the other woman. This f—-ing Iron Man. So she, at the end, has a chance to exact some vengeance on it and reclaim her boyfriend.
— Shane Black, Moviefone, 2013
Gwyneth is... to me, the moment that we knew that this was going to be special six years ago was when Gwyneth walked into the Howard Hughes stages down in Playa Vista and we started rehearsing with her. That’s when we knew. The best.
— Robert Downey Jr., Empire, 2013

RG: This movie was supposed to be the last Iron Man movie, although now there are rumours that there will be an Iron Man 4. And why not? Robert Downey Jr makes like a hundred million dollars for each of these movies. May as well! But the ending of this movie was supposed to be a nice finish to the trilogy, and it was great. I will miss the glowing arc reactor on his chest, though. It looked super cool. I love the moment when he finds the little screwdriver in the rubble of his former home. And that he has his robot friends piled into a trailer behind his car.

I’m not stupid. I like to play ball. I love the company, I love the character, and the people I get to work with and then there’s just the business side of things. I’m not too picky about that either. Let’s see what happens. Chances are... I don’t know... I also take the audience very seriously. I feel bad when I see folks doing movies and the audience is like, ‘Don’t do that anymore.’
— Robert Downey Jr., Empire, 2013
Off to build Ultron!

Off to build Ultron!

RG: The credits, as per usual, are rad, and provide a nice look back at all three movies. And, oh God, that scene at the end of the credits is MY FAVOURITE! Yet another fantastic reveal at the end of a movie that has so many. Why was the whole movie narrated by Tony Stark? Because he was telling the whole thing to his long-suffering pal Bruce Banner! For real, Tony, get a real psychiatrist. You definitely need one.

Hey, just be glad you weren't around to listen to the plot of Iron Man 2, Banner.  

Hey, just be glad you weren't around to listen to the plot of Iron Man 2, Banner.  

I'll wrap this up by saying that I love Robert Downey Jr. and I am thrilled the he has signed on for Civil War. He just joined Instagram recently and I would recommend following him, especially during this Age of Ultron press tour. He is truly earning the all-the-money-in-the-world they are paying him.

Up next, we go back to Asgard for Thor 2! I can never remember the subtitle!

Countdown to Age of Ultron: The Avengers Revisited

Hey, put down that Daredevil, it's Avengers time! 

Dave and I assembled at his house to watch The Avengers for what was probably the trillionth time for each of us. There are still things I notice for the first time, though, because this movie is GREAT.

Going back to 2012, the excitement for this movie was obviously high. I would say it had reached a fever pitch after the perfection of Captain America: The First Avenger. I remember sitting in the theatre and each time one of the heroes was introduced I would think "oh yeah, he's in this too!!!" 

This movie was a real gift to super hero fans. Here's what we have to say about it three years later.

I hope you like way too many screen caps of Chris Evans!

All the guys!

All the guys!

DH: I’m always still a little baffled that this movie exists. Avengers comics were some of the first comic books I ever owned, and I read them until they fell apart. I don’t think I ever really thought much about the possibility of a movie, because the only way for it to work would be a bunch of solo movies that led to a team movie. And that really did not seem like a realistic prospect, even ten years ago. Yet here we are. And the fact that it’s really, really good isn’t bad either. I sometimes wish these movies had come out when I was much younger, but if they had, I don’t know that I would have appreciated them the way I do now.

RG: It’s surreal. Everything is surreal. I still can’t believe there is a Winter Soldier movie, or that there is a Daredevil series on Netflix. This Avengers movie is now three years old and I still get giddy whenever Iron Man and Captain America are on screen together.

First thoughts: Loki looks horrible in this movie.

Heartthrob.

Heartthrob.

DH: A lot of people look very gross in this movie. Loki is super sweaty and greasy-looking when he first arrives on Earth, and when he mind-controls Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig, they get progressively more disgusting. They get bags under their eyes, they stop shaving, and we can only assume they stop showering and brushing their teeth. I bet they smell terrible.

Worse than usual.

Worse than usual.

RG: Oh my God. Hawkeye and Selvig look SO TERRIBLE. It makes me laugh every time. Like, what special effects person did they piss off?

I should note that I think Loki is fantastic in this movie, he just looks rough. It’s some pretty terrible hair.

But there are plenty of people in this movie who look anything but terrible. Pour example:

I swear I will post some pics that aren't of Chris Evans.

I swear I will post some pics that aren't of Chris Evans.

DH: I was pretty psyched to see “Project Pegasus” name-checked on the outside of the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. That run of Marvel Two-In-One is an old favourite of mine.

RG: I love Agent Hill. I was really excited to see her included in these movies. Looking forward to more of her in Age of Ultron.

DH: It’s nice that they included at least one more prominent female character. More still would be nice.

RG: Yes, always. Black Widow's first scene is the best. Very Buffy.

I will never be even 1% as cool as this character.

I will never be even 1% as cool as this character.

DH: Like I was saying about Iron Man 2, ScarJo really sells it. I mean, she beats up three dudes while tied to a chair! In a cocktail dress! She really needs her own movie.

RG: There are two Black Widow-centric movies I would love to see: A Black Widow & Hawkeye backstory movie (he was sent to kill her and instead saved her?! I want to see THAT!), and I would love a Winter Soldier sequel where she goes looking for Bucky. I am VERY concerned that this upcoming Civil War movie isn’t going to devote enough time to that story. Also, I love Black Widow and Bucky as a couple.

I love how they establish Black Widow as being tough as shit, but then completely terrified of The Hulk.

Resisting a Jeremy Renner joke.

Resisting a Jeremy Renner joke.

DH: Ruffalo makes the Banner role his own very quickly, which couldn’t have been easy after the musical chairs of casting that preceded him. I like how easygoing he is, but how he’s always kind of fidgeting with his hands. Did you know Joaquin Phoenix almost got this part? I can’t imagine that at all.

RG: Weird. Wasn’t he also rumoured to be Dr. Strange? Maybe he’ll be Spider-Man.

Banner took some time between The Incredible Hulk and this movie to improve his mind, body, face and personality.

Banner took some time between The Incredible Hulk and this movie to improve his mind, body, face and personality.

I basically based my character entirely on my 10-year-old boy, who has all of the force of nature screaming out of his body while at the same time having everyone around him telling him to fucking control himself.
— Mark Ruffalo, Collider, 2012
I have a question: How come it’s only Harry Dean Stanton that got to see Mark Ruffalo naked?
— Robert Downey Jr., Collider, 2012

RG: Mark Ruffalo is everything I want in a Bruce Banner. And in a life partner. Oddly, he is the only hero we get to see shirtless in this movie. OH my GOD. Something just occurred to me: we haven’t seen Captain America or Thor shirtless in any movies after their first ones, have we? That is just a travesty. I don’t expect you to weigh in on this, Dave, so I’ll move on.

DH: I feel like there was a very gratuitous shirtless Thor in The Dark World, but I’ll guess we’ll know when we revisit that.

RG: Ooo! There's something to look forward to!

I was actually kind of over Iron Man at this point and wasn't looking forward to him in this movie, but he completely won me back. So great in this. When he shows up in Germany, blasting “Shoot to Thrill”, to help Cap stop Loki, I was like “Alright. I love this guy.” And when Iron Man and Captain America are standing next to each other at the end of that scene...so great!

"Thanks for saving my life, Mr Stark. You are human garbage and I hate you."

"Thanks for saving my life, Mr Stark. You are human garbage and I hate you."

DH: It’s one of the things Joss Whedon does very well here--introducing all the characters in scenes that feel like their own individual movies, then bringing them together and it starts to feel like its own thing. The Tony and Pepper scene is very banter-heavy, with kind of a His Girl Friday back-and-forth, the Banner scene has him on the run playing good samaritan in an exotic locale like it’s an episode of the old TV show, Thor and Loki have super Shakespeare-by-way-of-Lee-and-Kirby conversation when they’re on screen together...balancing all of these conflicting tones was the key.

RG: Yes, totally. It was really smart the way they gave us a little bit of each of their solo films before mixing things up. I am really looking forward to more character interactions in Age of Ultron. And, again, it wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying to see these characters brought together if they weren’t so well established already. There is so much love and respect for these characters in these movies. So much attention to detail. For example, I love Steve Rogers' old man with a cool jacket wardrobe in this movie.

Dad's going to Red Lobster for his birthday!

Dad's going to Red Lobster for his birthday!

DH: And the fact that he calls Black Widow “ma’am”!

RG: I just love him so much. When he’s like “There’s only one God, ma’am.” Yup, that’s Captain America.

Just want to say real quick: the gym scene with Steve Rogers and Nick Fury at the beginning is one of my favourites. And not just because of the gratuitous Chris Evans ass shots. I mean, Steve’s situation in this movie is extremely messed up, and I like that the movie took as much time as it could afford with that. And we also see a quick shot of Cap being defrosted that really makes me sad.

Sob!

Sob!

Speaking of Chris Evans ass shots, Captain America is almost exclusively shot from behind for this entire movie. Thumbs up, movie!

Doesn't this break, like, the first rule of acting?

Doesn't this break, like, the first rule of acting?

Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh, right. Characterization. The glaring exception to the perfect characterization is Hawkeye. Hawkeye should be a lot more fun than this character. Also, Renner looks so gross when Loki is controlling him. Like, worse than usual.

DH: I really hope Joss Whedon can make you like him in Age Of Ultron! Because, man, you really have it in for him.

RG: I will never agree with that casting choice, but I love Hawkeye as a character in the comics so I will try hard to see past it.

Get in that sandwich, Widow!

Get in that sandwich, Widow!

DH: For whatever reason, the first time I saw this, the scene on the Helicarrier where Black Widow introduces Steve Rogers to Bruce Banner was when it finally sunk in that this movie was happening. All I could think of was those old Hostess Fruit Pie ads with the Marvel heroes, and that those guys were all in a movie together now. It was a weird thing to be thinking about, but I guess my brain was just trying to process that through-line of these characters I had been reading about my whole life all colliding in one awesome movie.

RG: They should have had a scene where they ate fruit pies. It should have been one of the snacks Tony is offering around.

I love everything about that first Helicarrier scene. Bruce being all fidgety and Cap extending a hand to him in a completely non-judgemental and fearless way. And then Cap being all impressed by the fancy tech inside the ship.

Adorable!

Adorable!

DH: We got together to watch this the other night, and you kept remarking that Cap is a real dick to Tony in this movie. I was trying to defend Cap, but not doing a very good job at the time. Now I’ve had a chance to think on it for a bit, and my takeaway is that, for Cap, World War II was probably only like, what, a month ago from his perspective? He comes from a time when he had no reason not to trust his army and his government, so the fact that Tony is instantly mistrustful of them and starts hacking their computers is just unthinkable to him. We know from his first scene that he’s aware that the country has sort of lost its way, but they don’t really go into it. But Tony plants that seed of doubt, and it makes him crazy--especially when he does some digging and sees that Tony was right. In a sense, this movie is kind of about Captain America’s loss of innocence (although maybe not in the way that you were hoping for, Rachelle).

Cap has such a visible wig line in this movie. It's super distracting.

Cap has such a visible wig line in this movie. It's super distracting.

RG: Ha. Yeah, I agree with all of that. It was also pointed out to me that Loki’s sceptre is in the room for most of the arguments, and it seems to have the power to make people angry and paranoid, so that explains some of Cap’s dickishness.

I do think Cap shoots first in this ongoing fight with Iron Man. All Tony did was show up in Germany, save Cap’s ass, and then show everyone that he has a lot of interest and knowledge about what’s going on with the Tesseract. In response Cap is basically just like “You’re a punk who is nothing without your fancy suit.” Fancy suit that he BUILT, Steve. And, again, just saved your ass with. I’m just saying Steve should have done a bit of research into Tony Stark before being such an asshole to him.

Get in that sandwich, Banner!

Get in that sandwich, Banner!

DH: Cap vs. Tony is just one of the great hero vs. hero scenes in this movie, even if it’s the only one that doesn’t turn physical (sorry, Rachelle).

RG: That’s ok. I’m more of a Cap/Bucky shipper.

You don’t get these people together and then have a little duke-‘em-out. You get these people together and then you put them through hell.
— Joss Whedon, GQ, 2012

DH: A classic trope of superhero team-ups in comics is that they fight first, through some wacky misunderstanding or other. And everybody gets to fight everyone else before they team up! Thor vs. Iron Man, Thor vs. Hulk, Black Widow vs. (well, gets chased by) Hulk, Black Widow vs. Hawkeye...and all for good reason, none of the usual “I just wanted to make sure you are who you claim to be” stuff that was often the reason in the comics.

RG: I could watch ScarJo smash Renner’s face in all day.

The fight between Thor, Iron Man and Captain America is one of the greatest things I have ever seen on film. It’s just, so, so exciting to see those characters together on screen. And they all are very much themselves in that fight. I live for that moment at when Cap shows up standing on that tree after hitting both Thor and Iron Man with his shield to stop them from fighting.

I'm Canadian and even I get a little patriotic looking at this.

I'm Canadian and even I get a little patriotic looking at this.

There was a script. There just wasn’t a script I was going to film a word of.
— Joss Whedon, GQ, 2012
What impressed me the most about Joss initially was the incredible screenplay we had to work with on Marvel’s The Avengers . Directing this film was a feat in itself, but his screenplay was phenomenal. I’m sure none of us really knew what to expect, but I take my hat off to Joss for that.
— Tom Hiddleston, GamesRadar, 2012
The biggest thing I worried about was making shitty fucking movies. I don’t want to make shitty movies and be contractually obligated to make garbage.
— Chris Evans, The Huffington Post, 2012

DH: Whedon’s script is so tight, He has such a good handle on the characters. I once read a review of an early episode of Community that praised the character writing, and said that you could read any isolated line of dialogue without it being attributed to any one character, and even by that early point in the series, you would know instantly who was speaking. The characters were so clearly defined already that you would never mistake any one character’s dialogue for another. And I feel like that holds true for this movie as well. Whedon is known for quippy dialogue, and this could have easily turned into a bunch of characters cracking the same kinds of jokes for the whole movie, and it would have been excruciating. But they’re all very different, so it makes sense that it takes a while for them to start pulling together. And it’s that much more satisfying when they do.

You know who else is probably sweating like crazy throughout this movie? Samuel L Jackson.

You know who else is probably sweating like crazy throughout this movie? Samuel L Jackson.

RG: I would love to read the original Zak Penn script for this movie. I'll bet it was just awful. Fun fact: Penn is buddies with Jeremy Renner and is the reason he was cast as Hawkeye! Thanks, Zak!

The most satisfying thing about this movie (and pretty much all of the movies in the series, really) is how much respect the scripts have for the characters. Each character individually is perfectly realized (except Hawkeye) and the way they interact with each other in this movie is perfect. I love skittish, schlubby Bruce Banner. I love cocky, quippy, but good-hearted Tony Stark. I love ice cold, but fiercely protective Black Widow. I love Thor, who is clearly devastated about his brother, but is still remarkably fun and friendly. I love Captain America effortlessly taking on the leadership role, despite trying not to have a complete break-down over the fact that he just woke up 70 years in the future. And even this weird-ass version of Hawkeye has some intriguing elements. He at least hints at an interesting backstory.

At the end of the day, 90% of the movie, I’m not the character I signed on to play. I’m literally in there for two minutes, and then all of a sudden… All I could really work on was the physical part of it all, because that didn’t change. That was just the biggest challenge to overcome in playing the guy.
— Jeremy Renner, LA Times, 2012
She's just ridiculously out of his league.

She's just ridiculously out of his league.

DH: On a related note, the story ties them all together so well, using the individual mythologies from their own movies in the larger story of this movie. They need Banner to track the gamma signature from the Tesseract, which Cap is familiar with from his movie, which Loki is after so Thor is in hot pursuit...and Iron Man’s movies made the most money, so him too. I actually can’t remember why they need him other than the fact that he’s a brainiac.

RG: It is a little unclear why they recruit Tony for this since they also mention that he was rejected for the Avengers Initiative. But he is very smart, and maybe they figured Banner could use a friend.

I would watch a whole movie about these two.

I would watch a whole movie about these two.

I think without Tony, we don’t work. He really is the glue in the family. He is the fire, the thing that keeps you coming back. I think, at least for this movie, Cap’s struggling with finding his footing in this modern day – he’s a fish out of water. He’s a little more uncomfortable in his own skin than he normally might be, and he’s not hitting the ground running without the charisma and the leadership and the character that Tony Stark is.
— Chris Evans, Collider, 2012

DH: I can’t get enough of the Thor/Hulk fight. I love how Hulk is such a dummy, especially when he grabs that pilot’s ejection seat, and then he doesn’t know what to do with it so he just throws it away.

RG: That is one of my favourite parts of the whole movie. That poor pilot!

This pilot probably tells this story a lot.

This pilot probably tells this story a lot.

DH: Watching this time, though, it occurred to me--does anyone ever tell Thor that Banner and Hulk are one and the same? He calls him Banner, but they have no prior familiarity. Other than that stupid TV movie from the 1980s!

RG: That is an excellent point. I feel like Thor doesn’t know anything about anything, but he’s so good-natured he just goes with the flow. Really the only person Thor met before is Agent Coulson.

I like the visceral gut instinct that Thor has. There’s a bit of a childlike quality, in the sense that, if he believes something and wants to do something, he does it and says it.
— Chris Hemsworth, Collider, 2012

Let’s talk costumes! I do not like Thor’s costume in this except the choice to go sleeveless. Excellent move.

A+

A+

I actually like Captain America’s costume. I like that they went with bright colours. I can live with his ears being covered, even if it doesn’t really make sense. I like that it has a zipper up the front with some sort of velcro(?) panel. I will say this: that costume looks uncomfortably warm. In this scene all I can think about is how hot Chris Evans is, and for once I am not talking about his good looks:

Somebody please get him a glass of water.

Somebody please get him a glass of water.

My theory is that the costume being very warm is why we get to see my favourite look in the whole movie later: casual Cap:

I would like a movie where Tony takes Steve shopping for clothes.

I would like a movie where Tony takes Steve shopping for clothes.

Under Armour and ridiculous boots! I love it!

Everybody looks incredibly uncomfortable until the cameras are rolling and then we all look f#@king badass. Then “Cut!” and we’re all like, ‘Aarrrgh… God, this thing, get it off me, it’s awful!!’
— Scarlett Johansson, IGN, 2012
Baller.

Baller.

Iron Man looks perfect, and I like Tony’s designer Black Sabbath shirt. Black Widow’s costume is excellent, and never unzipped too far. I love Bruce Banner’s loose-fitting linen clothes, and The Hulk finally looks the way he should on screen.  

He also looks like Mark Ruffalo!!!

He also looks like Mark Ruffalo!!!

One part of this movie that always makes me laugh is when Captain America asks Hawkeye if he has a suit before they head to NYC. It’s funny because Clint’s “suit” is really not that different from what he’s wearing in the scene. Also, Captain America assumes everyone has a fancy fighting outfit.

DH: I really do wish Hawkeye had some kind of headgear, a helmet or something, to make him look at least a bit more like his comic-book counterpart. It would makes sense after all, what with being just a regular human.

RG: It would also hide his face! Zing!

DH: Remember all the hysteria and speculation about the alien invaders in this movie? How everyone thought they were going to be Skrulls, or the Sons of Muspelheim from Simonson’s Thor run, or the Kree? And then they just end up being the Chitauri from The Ultimates, in name only, really. It didn’t really matter in the end, they just needed a faceless army to beat up on.

RG: Yeah, I had no idea who those aliens were supposed to be. I do not read Ultimates comics.

Too much handsome in one screen

Too much handsome in one screen

DH: The final battle in New York is very satisfying. It could have been a confusing fiasco to watch, like a Transformers movie, but it has a very sensible geography to it. You can actually follow the action, and everything everybody does in it makes sense. All of the various fighting styles of the heroes, and how they all start to work together...I love it. Age Of Ultron really does have a lot to live up to. But I feel like most of this climactic battle was kept out of the advertising, and I also feel that we probably haven’t seen much of the sequel’s climactic battle yet either.

As badass as a person can possibly look.

As badass as a person can possibly look.

RG: The New York battle is amazing. There are so many great parts, and actually Hawkeye has some great moments during it. They definitely try to make up for him being a mindless puppet for the first half of the movie. He’s still not everything I want to see in a Hawkeye, but he has some very cool moves.

It takes guts to go sleeveless when you are in a movie with Chris Hemsworth.

It takes guts to go sleeveless when you are in a movie with Chris Hemsworth.

I laughed forever after Thor and Hulk took out that giant monster and Thor looked at Hulk like “Well done, partner!” then Hulk just punches him so hard! And of course Hulk going to town on Loki. I think my favourite part of the New York battle is when Black Widow gets Cap to give her a boost so she can hijack one of the alien speeder things. I think it’s a great character moment for her, showing her as fearless but also kind of fun. And I think Cap becomes at least a little sexually interested in her at that moment. He’d have to, right?

DH: I assume so! As he says in Winter Soldier, “I’m 95, I’m not dead.”

"How do you feel about 90-year-old virgins?"

"How do you feel about 90-year-old virgins?"

RG: Oh, and Tony sacrificing himself to save everyone? Gets me every time. Especially when everyone is so sad around his lifeless body after he falls back to Earth. When Hulk yells in his face to wake him up, and Tony says “What the hell?”...that is solid gold.

Who's the asshole now, Cap?

Who's the asshole now, Cap?

I also love the scene where they are all parting ways. Tony and Steve shaking hands, Tony and Bruce leaving together to go be science bros, Hawkeye looking terrible, Steve taking off on his motorcycle in his dad clothes, Thor and Loki beaming up to Asgard.

Captain America is supposed to be dressed like a dork. What's this guy's excuse?

Captain America is supposed to be dressed like a dork. What's this guy's excuse?

I feel like Bruce Banner should have been in Iron Man 3. That would have made sense, right?

DH:  Well, spoiler alert I guess, but he is, isn’t he? After the credits? Does that count?

RG: No, that's true. And it's probably my favourite end-of-credits scene of all of them.

DH: I can’t believe I didn’t see that Thanos reveal coming. They really do hint heavily that some cosmic baddie is behind everything earlier in the movie (“You would question him? He who put the sceptre in your hand?”), but I was still caught off guard by that mid-credits scene. That reveal was hugely confusing to non-comics fans--my girlfriend Hillary turned to me and asked, “Is that Hellboy?” I thought there would be some vague tease of something, a name we recognized, or a familiar symbol or something...nope, Thanos himself. A pretty big gauntlet to throw down, if you will.

RG: Yeah, that was hard to explain to non-comic fans. It was ballsy for sure. For the normals they included the very excellent shawarma scene at the end of the credits, which is hilarious and perfect. I had my doubt that a shawarma place in midtown Manhattan would still be open after that fight, but you proved me wrong, movie! Shawarma is an excellent food that we have an abundance of here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, so it was nice to see it get a little recognition.

I would watch a whole movie where the Avengers are just hanging out doing stuff together. I guess that’s what fanfic is for.

I hope they tipped well.

I hope they tipped well.

Whoosh! That was a lot, and we didn't even get into fun details like Agent Coulson being such a Captain America fanboy, or Nick Fury doing anything! Anyway, we are going to take a few days to watch and digest this new Daredevil series and then we'll be back with our thoughts on Iron Man 3!

Countdown to Age of Ultron: Captain America: The First Avenger Revisited

OhmygodOhmygodOhmygod. It's time to watch Captain America: The First Avenger. ANY EXCUSE to watch this movie!  Dave's and my love for this movie runs deep, so this post is lengthy and, frankly, a little gushy on my part. It also took all of my self control to not just put hundreds of screen caps and gifs into this post.

So let's dive into the story of two perfect looking human beings who fall in love.

"Hi, Rachelle!"

"Hi, Rachelle!"

RG: I like to go into these movies as unspoiled as possible. When I went to see this opening night, I had no idea that the whole thing was set during WWII. I was so, so pleased. Dave and I saw this together with a group opening night and afterwards we were all just buzzing with excitement. I don't think any of us could believe how good this movie was. It took care of a lot of my anxiety that the upcoming Avengers movie might be disappointing.

DH: I felt pretty sure we were in good hands, based on the casting, the trailers, and Joe Johnston directing. At this point, after this movie and The Rocketeer, why would you ever get anyone else to direct your WWII superhero adventure?

This movie earned a lot of good will for me right off the bat with that opening scene in the arctic. As I believe I mentioned in my original LBW review back in 2011, it feels like an homage to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The Thing, and Aliens--three of my favourite movies. One of the S.H.I.E.L.D. guys who discovers the crashed airship is even played by an Aliens actor, William Hope (“You always were an asshole, Gorman!”).

You might think this cube isn't going to be all that important...

You might think this cube isn't going to be all that important...

RG: Like Iron Man 2, this movie shows us the villain before it shows us the hero. Unlike Iron Man 2, it's awesome. Hugo Weaving is just great. And his comic book super Nazi technology looks great.

DH: Was it ever confirmed that Weaving based his voice as the Red Skull on Werner Herzog? Either way, he is great. In the last few years, he’s been pretty vocal about the fact that he doesn’t like doing these big special effects blockbusters. It’s a shame, because he does them so well! I really hope Marvel has him locked into at least one more appearance, because I would love to see him come back for the next Cap movie. What I’d really love to see is, in a post-credits scene, to have him show up the way Nick Fury did at the end of Iron Man to start recruiting villains for the Masters Of Evil. But, the villains rarely ever survive these movies, so that’s pretty unlikely.

Also, the scene that introduces him takes place in Tonsberg, Norway, which is where the big battle with the Frost Giants in Thor’s prologue happens. That’s a nice touch. Memo to Odin, though--keep better track of your shit, dude! How did the Tesseract end up on Earth in the first place? If that’s the jewel of your trophy room or whatever, you need to lock that down.

Oh yeah, and the Skull’s line about the Fuhrer digging for trinkets in the desert--am I the only one who heard that as a reference to Raiders Of The Lost Ark?

You know what? I'd still hit it.

You know what? I'd still hit it.

RG: I am still blown away with the movie magic they use to create skinny Steve Rogers. I mean, it's really impressive. As Dave has pointed out on this blog before, in the comics pre-serum Steve is basically a walking skeleton. They do a remarkable job of bringing that to life. I mean, Christian Bale would have just been 90 lbs for the first act and bulked up for the rest, but this works too.

DH: It’s a startling, and convincing, effect. I still can’t believe it works as well as it does.

RG: The scene early on with Steve standing up to the heckler in the movie theatre, and then taking a beating in the alley, is such a fantastic, efficient way to establish his character. Fearless, patriotic, tough, and just generally the best.

I can't even tell you how thrilled I was to see Bucky reimagined as a full-grown, and very attractive, man. His friendship with Steve is just my favourite thing. I love that he is a protective older brother type for Steve, pre-serum, and continues to be protective of him even after Steve becomes a super soldier. Knowing now where Bucky ends up (spoiler alert: Winter Soldier) makes watching this movie so, so heartbreaking. It's somehow sadder than the child version of Bucky falling to his death in the comics.

Seriously every character they chose to put in this movie, and the way they developed those characters, was perfect in this movie. Not one weak link. Steve Rogers, Dr. Erskine, Howard Stark, Bucky, Red Skull, Zola, Peggy Carter, the Howling Commandos, whoever Tommy Lee Jones was playing (Fury not Fury): all perfect. And they use a great blend of big name actors and relative unknowns.

DH: I love Tommy Lee Jones in this. He takes a lot of guff for not having a sense of humour, but I don’t know how you can watch this movie and not see how he’s in on the joke. The Howling Commandoes are rad, too. Neal McDonough looks exactly like Dum Dum Dugan from the comics!

Full disclosure: I started wearing red lipstick a lot after this movie.

Full disclosure: I started wearing red lipstick a lot after this movie.

RG: I could write all day about how much I love Peggy Carter. Agent Carter was the best show ever and I still can't believe they made it. I feel like I have the power to just imagine movies and shows I want to see now and they happen. Fun note: I'm watching this on Hayley Atwell's birthday.

DH: I’ve never seen her in anything where she wasn’t playing Peggy Carter, but she is SO good. I love her scene in Winter Soldier too, and I can’t wait to see how she figures into Age Of Ultron.

Men: throw yourself on a grenade for me or gtfo.

Men: throw yourself on a grenade for me or gtfo.

RG: The scene where Sgt. Not Fury throws the grenade and Steve jumps on it to protect everyone is EVERYTHING. Again, very efficient way to establish character, and make Peggy Carter swoon. This whole movie is basically various characters falling in love with Steve Rogers in one way or another. And that's exactly what Captain America should be: someone who immediately earns admiration and respect.

The problem with Cap’ that I found was that he’s just... he’s such a good guy. There’s nothing that he can’t put on his shoulders. The reason he’s chosen to be Cap’ is because of his ability to say, “I got this. There’s nothing you can throw at me that I can’t handle. I got it.” And as a result it’s hard to find conflict because he’s so good at taking on conflict and handling it as an adult — maturely, rationally, calmly, intelligently — which makes it difficult to find an edge.
— Chris Evans, Moviefone, 2011

DH: One of my least favourite things anyone’s ever done with the Avengers--a property that’s very near and dear to me--is The Ultimates comic series, where everyone, including Cap, has been made into the, er, ultimate badass (or a big joke--those seem to be Mark Millar’s only two answers for how to reimagine a character for a modern audience). But this film really understands how the innate goodness of Steve Rogers, pre-serum, is the key to the character--not how many disarmed opponents he can execute in cold blood or whatever. It’s all in how you present it, and this movie really balances the earnestness of Steve/Cap with a lot of good humour. But of course, he can also still kick everybody’s asses, which is important too.

RG: YES! He really kicks ass, and even more so in Winter Soldier. And, yes, I have always avoided Ultimates comics, but I hate a dark Captain America.

Let me upgrade you.

Let me upgrade you.

Also efficient: the Steve/Erskine exposition scene the night before the procedure. Stanley Tucci is a delight, as usual.

Huge props to the guy that plays the artist painting Skull's portrait. So terrified.

DH: I always want to see that portrait and I’m always disappointed when we don’t, but I love how much red paint that guy is using.

RG: It’s only red paint!!! This movie is seriously really funny.

"Oh my God. He is not talking about dancing."

"Oh my God. He is not talking about dancing."

I'm not crazy, right? In the scene where Steve is in the car with Peggy on the way to the procedure, they are totally talking about how he is still a virgin, right? I mean, really. I think my theory that Captain America is still a virgin, going into Age of Ultron, is solid. Believe me, I have thought a lot about this.

DH: I don’t doubt that you have.

"So, how hot are we talking here...?"

"So, how hot are we talking here...?"

RG: The procedure scene is so well done. Steve trying so hard to mask his fear with bravery and humour. And it's genuinely terrifying. I get stressed out watching it. It was a good choice making Erskine such a sweet, chill dude. Sadly, this is the end of the road for him.

This is what 3D is for.

This is what 3D is for.

Chris Evans looks INSANE when he gets out of that chamber. Like, uncomfortably ripped. I am pretty sure it got an unabashed "damn!" out of me the first time I saw him. And I love that Peggy can barely look at him and almost puts her hand on his chest.

DH: Like his CGI skinniness, it’s pretty startling. It almost blurs the line between reality and special effects--like, is skinny Steve an effect, or bulked-up Steve? Because they’re equally crazy looking.

RG: The first action/chase scene where Steve is getting used to his new body is really awesome. When Steve goes to rescue that kid who is thrown in the water and the kid says "Go get him! I can swim!" I applaud every time.

DH: That kid is the best! And I love that Steve makes it a priority to see that he’s okay before going after the Hydra assassin. Another example of the filmmakers understanding the character’s strengths--saving lives is his top priority, not beating up the bad guys.

RG: And then Steve swims after a submarine, PUNCHES the submarine, and tosses the dude out of the water! And Steve is also wearing a wet, white t-shirt at the end of the scene, so bonus.

He cannot believe how hot he is.

He cannot believe how hot he is.

I ripped off one of my friends — that is what I did. There’s this buddy that I grew up with in Boston named Charlie. The first time I read the character I thought I don’t want to make this guy boring because it seemed on the page that he was someone who is so good, could be boring. Then I thought, you know what? This guy is a lot like my friend Charlie who is just a real good guy. He doesn’t tell a little white lie, he’s just good for the sake of good, he’s not looking for praise or a pat on the back, and he’s just a good man. I think he’s an incredibly complex and dynamic person so I just decided to mirror the character after him.
— Chris Evans, Tribute, 2011

RG: I love Captain America as a character in the comics. But, as you may or may not recall, he fared poorly when I rated him as a super hunk way back when. I was more of a Winter Soldier gal. So why am I so smitten with this screen version? Besides the obvious crazy good looks of Chris Evans, it's the way he plays him, and the way he was written. Movie Cap's sweetness and dry wit do a lot for me. Excellent choice making him so funny. And instead of him being a stoic, righteous grump (love you, comic book Cap, really!), in the movies he's a scrappy kid from Brooklyn who takes no shit. I love him. Really, I will be forever grateful to Chris Evans for this performance. It's immensely satisfying to see a beloved character brought to life so perfectly.

And he draws!!! Thank you, movie, for keeping the character detail of him being an artist!

The character is bigger than any actor. I always saw it as an advantage that Chris Evans wasn’t a household name. When you pick someone not so well known, he’s not bringing a lot of baggage to the role. I cast him in what I seen him do in other projects. He brought a whole other layer to what was on the page, and it’s been great watching him become that character.
— Joe Johnston, Entertainment Weekly, 2011
I love this detail!!!

I love this detail!!!

RG: The USO shows were a BRILLIANT idea. I mean, why else would he have that costume? Fantastic idea. Also, so, so, funny. I love the scene where he's trying to rouse the troops and they just heckle him.

This is the most embarrassed I've ever felt for anyone.

This is the most embarrassed I've ever felt for anyone.

DH: Great song, great montage. One criticism I’ve heard of this movie is that it’s really corny and hokey, and the “Star Spangled Man” musical number is probably a big part of that. But this movie HAS to be corny and hokey! It’s takes place in a simpler time, which is essential to what comes later for the character in The Avengers and the Cap sequels. The whole thing that makes him such a great character is that pathos--he’s a guy trying to do the right thing from a time when good and evil were way more simply defined, thrust into an age that’s defined by a far more murky kind of morality.

RG: (nodding enthusiastically) Yes! Again, they could have set this whole movie in present day. I have nightmares about a version of this movie that is set during the Iraq war or something and he’s not even a man out of time. I am so happy they had the guts to set this whole thing during WWII.

And who are these monsters who criticize this movie? They are clearly Hydra.

I don't think there is a practical reason for him to be wearing this jacket, but I'm glad that didn't stop him.

I don't think there is a practical reason for him to be wearing this jacket, but I'm glad that didn't stop him.

RG: I love how Rocketeer Steve looks in the scene where he's going to rescue Bucky et al.

I don't want to dwell on how damn handsome Evans is in this movie (yes I do), but for real, whoever styled him for this movie really knocked it out of the park.

Men: please use this as your reference point.

Men: please use this as your reference point.

RG: When Steve rescues Bucky from that torture chamber (Bucky!!!), I had my first crazed, hopeful thought that maybe he would become the Winter Soldier in a later movie. Sitting in the theatre back then, it seemed like an insane pipe dream. But between that rescue scene, the establishment of Bucky as an expert sniper, and then when he falls from the train with his arm outstretched...it got me pretty excited, let me tell you. Plus, Sebastian Stan was fantastic as that character, and I really wanted to see more of him.

A lot more.

A lot more.

I have long been...enthusiastic...about Winter Soldier as a character, and I immediately wanted to see Stan as that character. But, again, it seemed like there was no way it would actually happen. I mean, what next, Peggy Carter gets her own show?!

Bucky gets rescued by this new Steve. For all we know, Bucky is on an operating table thinking he might never come out. That he might never again see the light of day. So for him, every time he comes back from war, he’s like, ‘Here’s another chance to think whether it’s worth going back. I’m alive. I’m here for one night. I want to live life.’ I don’t think it’s jealousy so much, but he doesn’t really have much of a choice because I think for him there’s an element of, ‘Okay I’m going to go fight and I will survive this one mission and then I’ll come back and I’ll not go back.’ But the problem is that he has no choice because Steve’s going and he never lets Steve go by himself. So I think the protective nature of a parent or a brother was was always there. It wasn’t like, ‘Steve’s this muscle guy and I want to be him.’ It’s more like, ‘Oh god—he’s grown up and what do I do?’
— Sebastian Stan, BoxOffice, 2011
Peggy is not listening to a word he's saying.

Peggy is not listening to a word he's saying.

When Steve is in his military dress uniform looking at maps with Peggy, and then later at the bar...damn. That guy fills out a uniform.

And then Peggy walks in looking all fantastic in a red dress. And Steve is undressing her with his eyes because he's a super horny virgin.

Get in that sandwich, Peggy!

Get in that sandwich, Peggy!

It is pretty batshit insane that Peggy unloads a gun on Steve when he asks her what she thinks of the new (UNTESTED) shield. I get that she's mad about that Anne Boleyn skank kissing him, but still. That is psychotic.

This is not a man who is experienced with women.

This is not a man who is experienced with women.

I also want to point out that Steve's extremely awkward, stammering conversation with Anne Boleyn lady, followed by an even more awkward kiss, further adds water to my theory that he didn't touch those USO girls and is still a virgin.

DH: Coming in 2017 and 2018: Captain America: The Virgin Soldier and Captain America: Virgin War.

RG: Captain America: Losin’ It!

Huh. Maybe Steve isn't a virgin.

Huh. Maybe Steve isn't a virgin.

RG: So, Bucky's final moments: first of all, he looks so great in that grown-up version of the Bucky costume in the comics. It alludes to his future Winter Soldier costume too. I'm a sucker for those bibbed jackets.

Do you think Chris Evans got cast in Snowpiercer because this scene showed how good he is at walking through train cars?

DH: Well, that and and the fact that he knows what babies taste like.

RG: HA! He is so method.

I am crazy about the prison scene with Tommy Lee Jones and Zola. I am sure Tommy Lee Jones didn't give a shit about this movie but he really rules in every scene. And I love how much his character likes Agent Carter.

A moment that allows all the comic nerds in the audience to make a knowing sound of acknowledgement.

A moment that allows all the comic nerds in the audience to make a knowing sound of acknowledgement.

DH: Toby Jones makes a great toady to the Red Skull in this movie. And his appearance in Winter Soldier is one of my favourite scenes in a movie that is basically all cool scenes.

I love the scene where the Skull is getting in his little gyrocopter and Zola says “Where will I sit?” and there’s a little sad violin on the score, and the Skull gives him his car keys and says, “Not a scratch, Doctor.”

Here's how you can tell this guy is evil...

Here's how you can tell this guy is evil...

RG: I love that too. Real quick: My favourite Skull moment is when, mid-speech, he quietly counts those Nazis he’s about to shoot with his Tesseract laser. So, so funny.

God, when Captain America rolls up to the Hydra base on that motorcycle, wearing the full suit, with the shield in front? SO GREAT! And the fight after really gives you a good feel for the strength of the shield. And that Captain America costume is just spectacular.

DH: Very true. The shield makes a very satisfying BONNGGG! sound when it bounces off a bad guy’s skull. Great sound design.

One of the complaints I’ve heard about this movie is that Cap’s plan at the end doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense, and it’s pretty much true. Why did he need to get caught so that the Howling Commandos could then zipline in afterwards? Couldn’t they all have done that at the same time? Ehh, whatever. At least he doesn’t spin the Earth backwards to reverse time (for the record, Superman: The Movie is still one of my favourite superhero movies, which goes to show if I like everything else about a superhero movie, I’m willing to forgive a dubious third act).

RG: Hey, he JUST became Captain America. Cut him some slack, people. It’s not like he went to college.

I’ve had other offers for movies like this and usually turned them down. To me there’s something less interesting about a guy who can fly, and throw tanks around, and stuff like that. The reason I wanted to do this one is he is so relatable. I can relate to him. Maybe it’s every kid’s dream to go into a pod and come out looking like Captain America.
— Joe Johnston, Entertainment Weekly, 2011
Look at these guys!!!!

Look at these guys!!!!

DH: Another criticism is that the second half of this movie is all montages...which is kind of true, but I don’t know how else they would have gotten across the idea of Cap having this legendary career during the war. I mean, I would have been perfectly happy to sit through a whole series of WWII Cap movies, and I think you would have been too, but most moviegoers probably wouldn’t have had our enthusiasm for it.

RG: Again with complaints? What do you people want?! I remember a rumour back in 2011 that the second Captain America movie was going to be set during WWII again and would fill in that montage part. That would have been a pretty weird move, but I agree that I would have watched that very happily. I would also like to see full versions of the propaganda movies Cap shoots within this movie.

RG: When Captain America is fighting Red Skull one on one, I don't think there had ever been two characters on screen who look more like the comic book characters they are portraying. I can't find a good screen cap of it.

The fun comic book details in this movie kill me. From the labeled missiles on Skull's plane to the Hydra soldiers with the flame throwers, just great.

Ack! When he pulls out Peggy's picture so he can look at it while he's talking to her?! SOB!

Ack! When he pulls out Peggy's picture so he can look at it while he's talking to her?! SOB!

The scene where Cap is crashing the plane while talking to Peggy destroys me. He's so brave! I kind of don't understand why he needed to be in the plane, but whatever. Obviously he needs to get frozen somehow so it may as well be heroically.

Poor, poor Peggy. It was so satisfying to see her story continued on Agent Carter. I think technically we should be watching season one of that as well if we want to be completists about this marathon. But that might put us on a slippery slope that forces us to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and no one wants that.

DH: Plus we still have to slot Daredevil in there somewhere when it drops on Netflix later this week!

RG: It’s true. Man, being a comic book blogger is exhausting these days. It’s not like the good ol’ days where there was just a mediocre movie every couple of years. I sound like Captain America.

One thing I have a hard time swallowing is that Steve would wake up after 70 years on ice and instantly know something was wrong because he recognizes twenty seconds of a baseball game being played on the radio. And that S.H.I.E.L.D. would be holding him in a facility that borders Times Square. Did they want to make sure he was extra terrified if he busted out of there? They couldn't put him out in the country somewhere? But, again, whatever.

"Guy Fieri has a restaurant?"

"Guy Fieri has a restaurant?"

DH: The middle of Times Square does not seem like the ideal place to have a super secret spy headquarters.

RG: Final note: best credits ever. And not a shitty rock song in sight. And they end with the Avengers preview which includes that shot of Steve Rogers working that heavy bag from behind. It's very near and dear to me.

DH: Those credits, with all the propaganda posters, are fantastic, and they looked even better in 3D.

RG: The whole movie looked great in 3D. It stands as one of the only times I really enjoyed 3D. And all it took was having Chris Evans all up in my face.

My favourite flavour of Captain America: battle ravaged.

My favourite flavour of Captain America: battle ravaged.

And with that I reluctantly wrap up the Captain America post. Next Dave and I assemble to watch The Avengers! Because we live in an age where we can just watch a movie that has Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury ANY TIME WE WANT!

Countdown to Age of Ultron: Thor Revisited

We are not even at the halfway point, guys. Seriously, ten years ago, would you have ever thought there would be so many great Marvel movies to watch, with so many more on the horizon? It's crazy!

For whatever reason, I did not see Thor on opening night. I think it had actually been in theatres for awhile when I finally got around to seeing it. I really have no idea why. Even more puzzling is the fact that I didn't bother to see the second one in theatres at all. Weird, considering I love Thor as a character, was looking forward to this movie, and both films heavily feature Chris Hemsworth's arms.

Whosoever has these arms, if he be handsome, shall be cast in the role of Thor

Whosoever has these arms, if he be handsome, shall be cast in the role of Thor

Let's get thunderstruck!

RG: The opening is super Lord of the Rings, but I think that's a good call for this movie because Thor is a weird ass character and it's helpful to give audiences a reference point.

Less is more is not a rule that applies in Asgard.

Less is more is not a rule that applies in Asgard.

DH: I like that in the movies, Asgard and its people are basically space aliens who influenced early human civilizations, rather than having them be the actual Norse Gods. I don’t think that’s from the original comics (in fact, it’s a lot closer to Jack Kirby’s Eternals), but honestly, I’ve never been super into Thor’s solo comic adventures--I mostly knew him as one of the Avengers. So it very well could be an older idea, but either way I think it was the right approach.

RG: Yeah, if you read the very first Lee/Kirby Thor comics they are pretty weak. It definitely feels like they realized there was a perfectly good public domain character they could write comics about in a hurry.

"Many women will be surprisingly into you when you grow up, Loki."

"Many women will be surprisingly into you when you grow up, Loki."

Good casting on kid Thor and kid Loki. Those kids look like their adult counterparts. Really everyone in this movie looks perfect. And I was THRILLED to see Renne Russo.

I love Chris Hemsworth's Thor voice so much. It's perfect. In general the guy has a great voice.

Yup. That guy looks like Thor.

Yup. That guy looks like Thor.

DH: Like with RDJ, the casting of the lead could have made or broken this movie, and Hemsworth is pretty much dead on. He is superhumanly huge. He TOWERS over Natalie Portman. He covers all the facets of Thor very well--lusty brawler, arrogant prince, but basically a good dude. He definitely makes you believe that he’s a super viking from space, which is certainly something that most actors couldn’t pull off.

RG: Thor is remarkably chill, like, one day after he falls to Earth. Just joking and flirting with Jane. I guess he's just being cocky because he figures he'll grab the hammer and head home soon.

I think this movie has too many action scenes are are so dimly lit that you can barely see what's happening, but what you can see is pretty awesome.

Did they win? Is that Thor? What's happening?

Did they win? Is that Thor? What's happening?

DH: Had Kenneth Branagh really done anything like this before? I think that, considering he was primarily known for directing Shakespeare adaptations, he did pretty well with all the action and special effects. One thing is certain, he likes his canted camera angles!

RG: Yes! Like every shot is diagonal! I guess that's the only way you can fit Loki's horns into a frame.

I think the attraction for Natalie to a film like this was Kenneth Branagh’s involvement. At that time in my life, I wasn’t in a position to pick and choose who I wanted to work with. I just needed to pay the rent, and I was excited to be involved with something on this scale. I was signed up either way! This is by far the biggest thing I have ever been involved in and there is more anticipation than anything else.
— Chris Hemsworth, Interview Magazine, 2011

DH: I get the sense that these movies are hard on directors (which we’ll get into in more detail when we talk about the sequel). I don’t know if has to do with trying to maintain a specific tone, while trying to keep the studio happy, or what. But they have the most directorial turnover of any series in the MCU to date. I don’t think the third one even has a director yet.

What I was interested in was the family saga. I think everybody was having trouble arriving at the right way to tell the story, and I was fairly clear about wanting to have a significant proportion of it on contemporary Earth.
— Kenneth Branagh, The Hollywood Reporter, 2011
"No one rocks like Asgard!"

"No one rocks like Asgard!"

RG: You get a really good sense of how powerful the hammer is early on. I think they do a good job of that. Apparently the prop had some weight to it to make it more realistic when it was being swung around.

When Odin is ripping parts of Thor's uniform off saying he's unworthy I'm like "Yeah! He's unworthy of his shirt, too!"

I could write, like, nine or ten paragraphs about the scene where Thor is roaming around with no shirt and very low slung jeans.

Ridiculous.

Ridiculous.

DH: I’m a little surprised you haven’t already.

RG: You can refer to my fanfiction trilogy: Thor and the Low Slung Jeans of Destiny.

I remember skyping with Kenneth (Branagh) when he was already in LA working on the film and I was still in London, and he said he wanted me to have a look at two performances. One was Peter O’Toole in the Lion in Winter, he plays Henry II with a degree of emotional volatility that is unpredictable. He’s capable of being incredibly charming and very dangerous in a second, and the second thing he said to take a look at that might seem left field is Charlize Theron’s performance in Monster.
— Tom Hiddleston, Screen Crave, 2011

Obviously we have to talk about what an amazing breakout role for Tom Hiddleston this movie was. He is just perfect as Loki and I am so glad they used him in The Avengers. They did such a great job bringing that character to the screen and making him so layered and sympathetic. I love a complicated villain.

Surprisingly not silly looking.

Surprisingly not silly looking.

DH: It’s weird--I don’t feel like Hiddleston/Loki’s popularity really exploded until The Avengers. Something about the combination of his performance and Joss Whedon’s writing really seemed to click with people.

RG: I’m not one of those ladies who is nuts for Tom Hiddleston, but he seems like a cool guy and he certainly serves face. I mean, ladies talking like he’s hotter than Hemsworth and that is just plain crazy. I mean...

Seriously, what?!

Seriously, what?!

Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins brought a lot of dignity and quality to this movie. Kenneth Branagh classes things up, too.

DH: Hopkins is fine, but it also feels like he stopped trying back in the ‘90s. He pretty much sleepwalks through the sequel. Although frankly, I don’t think this part required a lot from him.

RG: He just had to look cool and be British.

"Do you have any Norse in you? Would you like some?"

"Do you have any Norse in you? Would you like some?"

I was always pretty hard on Natalie Portman in this movie, but honestly she's very sweet and charming as Jane Foster. I mean, it's a weird version of the character that is nothing like the comic book character, but she's enjoyable enough. I think the bigger problem is how boring most of her scenes are, and how forced the romance is.

DH: True, but at least nobody takes her hostage or anything like that, which I suppose is a kind of progress.

RG: That is an excellent point! They take her research hostage instead. She is a legit smart, cool lady.

RG: The first time I saw this I did not at all notice that Hawkeye was in it. I actually remember that you asked me what I thought of Hawkeye in the movie and I was like "huh?" Like, I didn't even notice that it was Jeremy Renner. I do remember thinking "a bow and arrow. That's a weird detail." I am going to blame all of this on my sleep deprivation at the time.

I'm Hawkeye, I guess?

I'm Hawkeye, I guess?

DH: As character introductions go, it is incredibly half-assed.

RG: Also: ugly, short and boring.

In Thor, I had to just stand in a bucket and hold my bow and arrow. What’s the character? I have no idea.
— Jeremy Renner, Collider, 2011

RG: Is Thor controlling the weather in the scene where he goes to retrieve his hammer, or is that just a coincidence? Can he still bring the thunder?

DH: I don’t think so, but I think Kenneth Branagh just instinctively knew you’d enjoy seeing Thor in a wet t-shirt.

RG: I did! And I also appreciated that the inclement weather set up a long and gratuitous mud wrestling scene!

I would like a mud wrestling scene between Thor and Captain America in Age of Ultron, please.

I would like a mud wrestling scene between Thor and Captain America in Age of Ultron, please.

I think for the first time I am appreciating how well directed this movie is. You know what scene is really cool? When Thor is being held by S.H.I.E.L.D. and Loki shows up. It looks very cool, and I love Loki's dapper Earth clothes.

He should magic himself some better hair, though.

He should magic himself some better hair, though.

DH: That is a popular costume at conventions. Pretty inside baseball, but also kind of lazy.

RG: Ha! I would like to see guys at conventions dressed as Thor in that scene where he's serving everyone breakfast. Adorable!

The dishtowel!

The dishtowel!

RG: I always thought it was weird that Selvig orders a couple of Boilermakers when he's hanging at the bar with Thor, but I think it was just a way to get a giant beer stein into Thor's hand, which is what we all wanted to see. Also, those two getting drunk together is magic. I would have liked another 45 minutes of that.

Or a podcast: Drinkin' with Thor and Selvig.

Or a podcast: Drinkin' with Thor and Selvig.

DH: There’s a weird little Hulk reference with Selvig that I had totally forgotten about, where he mentions that he knew a scientist who specialized in gamma radiation that disappeared when S.H.I.E.L.D. showed up. Does he mean Bruce Banner? Do they even have any scenes together in The Avengers?

RG: Yeah, I noticed that reference, but you are right. I don't think they acknowledge each other in The Avengers at all. But that's something to watch for!

Everything about Heimdall is awesome.

Kind of a waste of Idris Elba's handsome, handsome face, though.

Kind of a waste of Idris Elba's handsome, handsome face, though.

DH: Yeah, he’s great. His matching golden eyes and armour are rad, and I love his spooky voice. I really like Sif and the Warriors Three, too. I think it’s weird that they cast Ray Stevenson as Volstagg instead of an actual big fat guy (imagine John Goodman in that part!), but I like that, since he played Frank Castle in Punisher: War Zone, it’s another bit of Marvel crossover casting to drive fanboys nuts (like Chris Evans being both Johnny Storm AND Steve Rogers). I wish Jamie Alexander had more scenes as Sif because she’s totally badass. I think she had a bigger part in the sequel but it got cut down a lot. I guess she’s occasionally on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., but let’s face it--no one wants to watch that.

Seriously perfect.

Seriously perfect.

RG: Yes, Sif and the Warriors Three look perfect. They are the Howling Commandos of this movie. I love Sif, but not enough to watch Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. And as far as I am concerned they can cast Chris Evans as every other character in the Marvel universe if they want. Although I am sure if you search this blog hard enough you'll find some ancient post where I think it's weird that they cast Johnny Storm as Captain America. I was WRONG.

I'd also like to note that Loki looks so great in the throne room when he's in full Loki mode.

I'm worried about his neck.

I'm worried about his neck.

RG: I guess the campfire scene with Thor and Jane does a lot to build the romance. I mean, it's not at all hard to see why she would fall instantly in love with him. Believe me, Jane, I get it.

How does she not just burst into flames?

How does she not just burst into flames?

But it seems like kind of a stretch that Thor would be so besotted with her. It's just...he's Thor. And they spend like a few hours together total. I think the movie is just missing a scene that would really sell me on why he's so in love with Jane. Like, she needs to do something more than just give him a lift somewhere. I think the excellent Roger Langridge/Chris Samnee comic series, Thor: The Mighty Avenger may have ruined me for this movie. That is some damn good Thor and Jane storytelling.

"So...do you like thunder?"

"So...do you like thunder?"

RG: I think the middle of this movie is just generally a little hollow. It feels a little rushed and there isn't a whole lot of character development. When I think about Captain America: The First Avenger there's such a huge difference between these movies. In Captain America the characters are so well established so quickly and there are so many memorable scenes. Thor is kind of forgettable, which is weird because it's probably the most visually impressive movie, with fantasy worlds and epic battles. And there are definitely some solid emotional moments, mostly from Loki.

Pretty cool, I guess.

Pretty cool, I guess.

DH: The real world/fantasy elements aren’t always balanced very well. I don’t know what the solution would have been. I sometimes think it might have been cooler if they kept the mystery of whether he really is Thor--or just an especially buff mental patient--going for awhile. With all that prologue stuff, we in the audience know he’s the real deal, but we have to sit through more than half the film with the human characters in the movie trying to figure it out.

RG: I love when Coulson shows up at the end of the Destroyer fight, when Thor is looking all Thor, and says "Donald, I don't think you've been completely honest with me." Coulson as a character really comes into his own in this movie.

DH: Yeah, and Thor immediately calls him “Son of Coul”! I forgot that line. Pretty funny.

"Yeah, so it's on Tuesday nights on ABC. You should check it out!"

"Yeah, so it's on Tuesday nights on ABC. You should check it out!"

RG: I think this movie gets better every time I see it. There are a lot of laugh out loud moments. Like when Thor goes into that pet store and demands a horse, and when he learns they only have cats and dogs asks for one big enough to ride.

I hate that Thor's mom gets knocked out immediately when she tried to defend Odin against the frost giants. I love in the second movie when Frigga totally gets to kick some ass.

I love when Thor puts the hammer on Loki after their fight like a paperweight.

Mondays, am I right, Loki?

Mondays, am I right, Loki?

DH: Me too! He must have done something similar to someone in the comics at some point, but I’d never seen it.

RG: Here is something that we REALLY need to talk about: the garbage Foo Fighters song that plays over the credits. Like, what the hell? Took me right out of it. Thank God they stopped doing that shit for these movies. I'm right about that, right? There isn't, like, a Weezer song that plays over the Avengers credits, right?

DH: No, but there is a very mediocre new Soundgarden song, so you’re kind of in the right ballpark. And for this movie, I’m guessing the rights to “God Of Thunder” by Kiss were too expensive? I mean, they did use Black Sabbath in Iron Man, so it should have been a no-brainer!

RG: There is? Seriously? I don't remember the Soundgarden. Also, “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC was used in Iron Man 2 so that's out, too. Maybe “Lightning Strikes”, or “Knock on Wood”?

DH: It’s also very cool that Walt Simonson got to do a cameo in the banquet scene on Asgard at the end.

RG: I swear to God I remember the opening scene of Captain America, where they find him in the ice, being tagged onto the end of this movie. I guess I am crazy.

DH: The heart wants what it wants, I suppose. And what your heart always wants is more Cap.

RG: ‘tis true!

"I'm going to be so rich!"

"I'm going to be so rich!"

At this point I am super excited to watch/finally write about Captain America: The First Avenger. My love for that movie is INTENSE. I know Dave feels the same way, though probably with a little less lust.