Countdown to Age of Ultron: Guardians of the Galaxy Revisited

We have made it through the (infinity?) gauntlet and watched all ten Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which we will be seeing TONIGHT!!!! TONIGHT, GUYS!!!!

This decalogue ends on a weird note with Guardians of the Galaxy. Where the Thor movies gave us a taste of the Marvel cosmic universe, this movie blows it wide open. Fortunately for the audience, and for the bank accounts of everyone involved with the movie, it does so in the funnest way possible. I didn't have time to grab interview quotes for this post, but this movie is so new who cares?

Let’s watch Chris Pratt get ripped!

I can't wait for Captain America to meet this guy.

I can't wait for Captain America to meet this guy.

RG: I always forget what a bummer of an opening scene this movie has. It’s an unexpected beginning to such a fun summer romp. I love how simple and vague it is, though, as far as an origin story goes. And it full-on shows the audience a spaceship, which is nice.

This movie is a lesson in how to do a superhero team movie. It shows that you can effectively bring together a team of characters who have never been on screen before and have the audience invested in all of them very quickly. I’m very glad that Marvel took the time to “assemble” their Avengers before making the team movie, but I think this is a great blueprint for superhero teams where each character maybe isn’t solo film worthy. DC should take notes from Guardians. I think they could create a fantastic Teen Titans movie that has a similar tone if they wanted to. Although, honestly, they would probably just make them all heroin addicts and beat at least one of them to death with a crowbar.

DH: “Damaged” tattoos for everybody!

RG: So the first scene after the sad mom dying scene is just great. It lets the audience know that we are done with the sad stuff and this movie is going to be FUN. We see Chris Pratt in full Starlord get-up, we hear the very excellent song “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone, and we see the Guardians of the Galaxy title card FILL THE WHOLE SCREEN.

Seriously great.

Seriously great.

RG: We get some Indiana Jones style action, a few jokes, and a narrow escape. They let the audience know through Quill’s dialogue with Ronan’s goons that it’s fine that we don’t know who the hell Starlord is because no one in this movie does either.

Hey kids, it's that hero you like!

Hey kids, it's that hero you like!

DH: It’s a little like Up in that regard--they get the downer stuff out of the way in the first few minutes and then get on with the fun. I like how, even when Peter Quill lands on Morag, the tone is very dour and dark, with ominous music and the remnants of a dead civilization all around him...and then he turns on his Walkman and it turns into a dance number.

"Behold! I've lost weight!"

"Behold! I've lost weight!"

DH: Speaking of Up, it occurred to me recently that Marvel right now is very much like Pixar was for a number of years--just a brand that you can pretty much trust. I think the integrity of that brand, combined with a really fun ad campaign, helped make this movie into a giant hit. I was honestly expecting it to be the studio’s first big financial flop. Shows what I know!

RG: My favourite Peter Quill moment is when he introduces himself to Gamora: “If there's one thing I hate, it's a man without integrity. Peter Quill. People call me Star-Lord.”

DH: I also love when John C. Reilly shows up and calls him “Star-Prince”, and then is like, “A lot of people have code-names, it’s not that weird.” Also, I love John C. Reilly.

I would watch a lot more movies with these two in them.

I would watch a lot more movies with these two in them.

RG: Making this movie a comedy, where part of the joke is that no one has heard of these minor league characters, was a brilliant move. Can you imagine if this movie hadn’t been a comedy? I think it would have been boring as hell.

I'll take a bag of Chris Pratt.

I'll take a bag of Chris Pratt.

DH: Yes, for sure. All the non-Guardians stuff is pretty dull. The Ronan scenes feel like something out of The Chronicles Of Riddick--just really pompous and self-important.

RG: It’s interesting that the Marvel movie that seemed like the biggest risk, and had the least accessible and least familiar characters, quickly became the most beloved. I feel like everyone who worked on The Winter Soldier must secretly kind of hate Guardians because it REALLY stole their thunder. Guardians was all over the non-major film awards, leaving Winter Soldier mostly forgotten.

DH: Yeah, but Winter Soldier is still better, in my opinion (and, I’m pretty sure, in yours!).

RG: Uh, yeah. But I think Winter Soldier is better than Citizen Kane.

Sexiest Man Alive.

Sexiest Man Alive.

RG: Rocket is a perfectly realized character that shouldn’t work at all on screen. He looks amazing, and Bradley Cooper voices the hell out of him. So funny. And, of course, everyone fell in love with Groot. It seems nuts to me that Interstellar won the special effects Oscar when this movie had TWO completely CGI characters that audiences loved this much. And besides that, the whole movie was incredible to look at.

This CGI tree gives better face than like 80% of Hollywood actors.

This CGI tree gives better face than like 80% of Hollywood actors.

DH: I always forget that Bradley Cooper provides Rocket’s voice! He really disappears into the character, with his Brooklyn accent. I love his drunken rant midway through the movie--it’s a pretty raw, emotional scene, which is a weird thing to say about a CGI space raccoon having a drunken breakdown.

RG: Watching this movie makes me really bummed that we can’t get a really good Ninja Turtle movie off the ground. You see how great Rocket looks in this and you think about how popular a really high quality Ninja Turtles movie would be with at least two generations and it just seems crazy to be cranking out this Michael Bay nonsense. I was a giant Ninja Turtles fan as a kid, but I am not going to be seeing those movies. Sorry, Stephen Amell. Congrats on the Casey Jones gig! Still love you!

Get in that sandwich, Rocket? I dunno. That's weird. Never mind.

Get in that sandwich, Rocket? I dunno. That's weird. Never mind.

RG: I like Zoe Saldana as Gamora. I feel like she maybe could have had more to do, but it’s an ensemble movie so whatever. I’ll tell you this: I am done with super hero team movies with only one female member.

DH: Yeah, that’s bullshit. There are several female characters they could introduce in the sequel--Moondragon, Quasar (the Phylla-Vell version), Mantis, to name a few--and I hope they go for it. These movies are real sausage fests. There are lots of shirtless dudes, but considering these movies are primarily marketed towards teenaged boys, why aren’t there more ladies for them to crush on (if ladies are what they happen to be into)? Seems a bit weird.

Gamora, you are way too good for him.

Gamora, you are way too good for him.

RG: I think Dave Bautista actually steals the movie for me as Drax. I absolutely love him. His comedic timing is fantastic. In particular, his delivery of the line: “Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are excellent and I would catch it” and in the scene where they are sitting in a circle trying to figure out a plan and he has that “I wasn’t listening. I was thinking of something else” line.

DH: Yes! I know nothing of him beyond this movie--is he a wrestler? A UFC guy?--but he is really, really funny. I love his “Finger to the throat means death!” line, followed by “Metaphor!” to Star-Lord, who shrugs and says, “Eh, sorta.”

RG: He was a wrestler. Is a wrestler? I dunno. Wrestler for sure.

Pratt worked so hard to get in shape and then had to do a whole movie with this shirtless Atlas.

Pratt worked so hard to get in shape and then had to do a whole movie with this shirtless Atlas.

RG: One of the big stories about this movie was the de-fattening of Chris Pratt. Good job, Pratt. You got real hot. And it was all for pretty much one scene where they remove his shirt and just spray him with a hose. Who says these movies aren’t for women?

DH: See my earlier comments re: shirtless dudes.

I hope all of the Avengers end up in a space prison in a future movie. Hose-downs for everyone!

I hope all of the Avengers end up in a space prison in a future movie. Hose-downs for everyone!

There are a few problematic things with Guardians that have been talked about on the internet at length. Here are some of them, and here’s what we think:

1. Quill says to Ronan “You said it yourself, bitch. We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy.”

RG: I’ll be honest, it made me cringe a little. Or at least roll my eyes. I think it’s time for men to stop using that word. That is not a fun insult for men to use anymore. ‘Dick’ would have been better and more appropriate. It was probably ad-libbed. Whatever. There probably is a take where he said ‘dick’ instead. I’ll file this one under ‘unnecessary.’

DH: Especially because--and this is relevant to your next item--this is the first Marvel movie co-written by a woman, Nicole Perlman (who is now hard at work on the screenplay for Captain Marvel!).

2. Drax, who is always literal, refers to Gamora as “this green whore.”

RG: I’ll admit that this line made me laugh. Not as much as “this dumb tree,” but it still made me laugh. It was confusing, though, since Drax can’t understand metaphor and Gamora is not an actual whore. I’ve heard or read James Gunn defend the line, saying that Drax would have heard Gamora being called a whore in the prison. I don’t think I heard any prisoners refer to her as a whore, but whatever. The shock value was funny.

DH: It is confusing! She doesn’t even fall for Quill’s “pelvic sorcery”. How exactly is she a “whore”?

3. Quill’s blacklight joke

RG: I think people didn’t love having this in the movie because it was very much a joke for adults. I’m gonna go ahead and say that very little of this movie is for kids. The joke is funny.

DH: That line probably led to a LOT of very awkward conversations between parents and the kids they brought to see it. Good luck with that in a couple of years, Rachelle! At least Mitchell and Trevor will learn who Jackson Pollock is.

RG: I have a line prepared already: “Pollock was a very messy painter and blacklights highlight messes.” Pretty good, huh? Superman and Captain America have taught me how to lie without lying.

Oh yeah. Thanos is also in this movie.

Oh yeah. Thanos is also in this movie.

RG: Another risk Marvel took with this movie: it contains a LOT of important exposition that relates to what is, and what will, be going down in the Avengers movies. Having this long game that spreads across these twenty-or-so films, starting with the first Thor movie, is pretty ambitious. We know the movies are leading to a big showdown with Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet (I am assuming we’ll see the gauntlet). To pull that off, you have to do a lot of work to get the non-comic-reading audience to both understand and care about the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe. It’s bold.

So using this fun summer sci-fi comedy as a vessel for lots of information about this cosmic event is a genius move by Marvel. Really, I am seriously impressed.

He has a specific tool just for opening orbs full of Infinite Stones.

He has a specific tool just for opening orbs full of Infinite Stones.

DH: If nothing else, it gave us one of Jack Kirby’s Celestials on the big screen. And it looked INCREDIBLE. Definitely not something I expected to see in my lifetime. Now where’s that Devil Dinosaur movie?

RG: Oh man, now THERE’S a movie my son would be excited about.

All of the backstories of the Guardians are kept pretty vague. I like that. We probably learn the most about Gamora. We actually don’t learn much at all about Peter Quill, and that’s mostly because he doesn’t seem to know much about his own origin. Plenty to explore in Guardians 2.

DH: I really hope Adam Warlock is somehow his dad, even though it would be a huge departure from the comics. Mostly I just want to see Adam Warlock in a movie.

"Pay attention! Do not go to the bathroom! This is important!"

"Pay attention! Do not go to the bathroom! This is important!"

DH: I dig Benicio Del Toro’s performance here a lot. It’s a pretty weird performance, but he really goes for it in a way that someone like, say, Anthony Hopkins sure doesn’t. At least he seems to give a shit. And that scene has a lot of cool Easter Eggs in it--Cosmo the spacedog from Abnett and Lanning’s GotG run (a sadly overlooked run that this movie owes an immeasurable debt to!), one of the Dark Elves from Thor: The Dark World, a Chitauri Footsoldier from Avengers...Adam Warlock’s cocoon is even there, so maybe…?

Look, I just think Pratt's arms look good in this picture, ok?

Look, I just think Pratt's arms look good in this picture, ok?

RG: The soundtrack, of course, was a huge hit. I wish they had highlighted a song other than “Hooked on a Feeling” just because it’s already been used pretty iconically in both Reservoir Dogs and Ally McBeal. And in commercials, and everywhere. I am completely sick of that song. And that Pina Colada song is just wretched and not even tolerable as a joke. I always skip that track.

DH: Agreed. As much as I love this soundtrack, most of the songs on it are already associated with other movies for me. “Cherry Bomb” is in Dazed And Confused, “Spirit In The Sky” is in Apollo 13, “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” is in Boogie Nights...it’s almost as though the nostalgia they’re generating isn’t so much for ‘70s hits as it is ‘90s movies that used ‘70s hits! But this movie is easily the best vehicle for “The Pina Colada Song” (which, by the way, was also used in Mars Attacks! See what I mean?).

RG: Yeah, I think “Come and Get Your Love” that wasn’t already used famously in another movie. At least not one that I can think of. Again, great song.

Neat!

Neat!

I love those Nova ships so much, and the way they lock together to form a barrier around Ronan’s ship. I also love Ronan’s ship. I also love Ronan, though it was a real waste of sexy, sexy Lee Pace. Did you know that Lee Pace went to high school with Matt Bomer?! And they were FRIENDS?! Can you IMAGINE?!

DH: I did not, but I barely know who either of those guys are.

RG: DAVE! Do I have to give you Matt Bomer homework?

I seriously love the final showdown with Ronan when Quill starts dancing and singing along to "O-o-h Child" and Ronan says "What are you doing?" in a tone that is both baffled and terrified.

Such a waste of Lee Pace. Seriously.

Such a waste of Lee Pace. Seriously.

RG: It’s going to be very fun to see The Guardians interact with The Avengers in (I assume) the Infinity War movies. I can’t wait to see how that all goes down. But we still have like seventy-five Marvel movies before then.

DH: This movie is such an ‘80s throwback in a lot of ways--it’s been said that it’s not so much Marvel’s Star Wars as it is Marvel’s Battle Beyond The Stars or The Last Starfighter in that it’s much closer to those scruffier knockoffs of SW than the real thing. With that in mind, I would have loved to have seen this movie happen in the ‘80s, with tons of bluescreen and Muppets for Rocket and Groot instead of CGI. Can someone with a fortune to blow just go ahead and make that movie for me? Thanks in advance.

Best on screen moment between a raccoon and a wrestler.

Best on screen moment between a raccoon and a wrestler.

DH: I like this movie a lot, but I don’t know that I love it. I find myself smiling at jokes rather than laughing out loud at them, more often than not. I think it’s a cool, fun movie, but it didn’t blow me away like The Avengers or either Captain America movie did. It really did resonate with a lot of people, though, so that’s cool in a way that it never is when a really popular movie stinks. And this movie doesn’t stink by any stretch. It’s got a really good heart, it’s cool to look at, and it contains a great Footloose gag.

RG: Yes, agreed. Ain’t no Captain America. But I had nothing invested in these characters so I didn’t get that same feeling of satisfaction that I got watching the Avengers movies.

It’s going to be a ways off, but I am really looking forward to watching all of these movies with my sons eventually. I hope they appreciate how lucky they are to have this many great superhero movies available to watch immediately. Maybe I should keep these movies a secret and show them a bunch of shitty old ones for the next ten years. It builds character. “You kids like super heroes? Do you like Shaquille O’Neal? Have I got a movie for you!”

DH: Just make sure you distract them during that black light conversation when you get to this movie.

RG: I'll finish by saying it was weird to hear the theatre go absolutely nuts with excitement when Howard the Duck showed up in the end of credits scene. It's a crazy time to be alive.

Disney will not rest until all of George Lucas's wrongs are righted.

Disney will not rest until all of George Lucas's wrongs are righted.

Alright! Done! We’ll be back with our thoughts on Age of Ultron as soon as we come down from the high we will surely both be riding as we watch it an obscene number of times.

And after that, we can finally get back to writing about actual comic books on this comic book blog! Because comic books are still great!

Countdown to Age of Ultron: Captain America: The Winter Soldier Revisited

Guys, it's been a rough week for Chris Evans fans. I like to believe he fell under the evil influence of Jeremy Renner. What is inexcusable, however, is his love of Cool Ranch flavoured Doritos. Cool Ranch is the worst flavour of anything ever, so I guess it would never work between us. Shame.

This "Countdown to Age of Ultron" project has been immensely satisfying for me because I wasn't really blogging any more while these movies were coming out. Of all the films I didn't get to write about, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the one I regretted the most. As you can imagine, long time readers of this blog, when they announced the full title of the second Captain America movie at Comic Con all those years ago, I was extremely excited. I probably blacked out. I've had a mad crush on Winter Soldier since the character's creation ten years ago.

So I went to the theatres with high expectations for this movie, and they were exceeded. I think I had a smile on my face from the opening seconds of the film when we see Steve lapping Sam Wilson in front of the Washington Monument. It's just a fantastic movie, and Dave feels the exact same way. Get ready for a ton of earnest gushing. 

When an unstoppable sexy force meets an immovable sexy object.

When an unstoppable sexy force meets an immovable sexy object.

DH: Let’s get this out of the way right up front--this is my favourite superhero movie, period. I would probably even go so far as to call it one of my favourite action/adventure movies, even though it’s barely over a year old. When we went to see it on opening night, my girlfriend Hillary turned to me afterwards and remarked that it was as though someone had written the filmmakers a letter asking them to put all my favourite things in a movie--1970s conspiracy thrillers, Arnim Zola, the Falcon, Batroc the Leaper, Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack--and the filmmakers happily complied. This film also captured what I always loved about Captain America as a character--the man out of time wondering if he still has any relevance in the modern world, forced to go up against his own country when it no longer represents the ideals he stands for.

RG: Yes! Where Captain America: The First Avenger was everything I ever wanted in a 1940s Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier is everything I wanted in a modern day Captain America movie. Both movies are incredibly satisfying. I would say the pair of them are my favourite movies of all time. I've thought about it. Sorry, Clueless.

My friend called me and told me that was the title, and I was like, ‘I can’t believe it.’ I had no idea that was going to be the title.
— Sebastian Stan, Screenrant, 2014

RG: Everyone is so great in this one. I just wish we could freeze Chris Evans so he can continue playing Captain America forever.

Mussed up helmet hair Cap is my new favourite Cap.

Mussed up helmet hair Cap is my new favourite Cap.

RG: I was so happy to see this movie deal with Steve Rogers' loneliness and his struggle to find his place in this new world he is living in. Where The Avengers took place maybe a few months after he is defrosted, this movie takes place a couple of years later. In The Avengers he is mostly confused and angry, but trying to put on a brave face. Now he has been adjusting, but doesn't have friends and isn't sure he's even fighting for the right cause any more. Something that I think is interesting about Captain America as a character in both the comics and in these movies is that he has never really had an opportunity to just enjoy his life, and he has been government property since 1942. I don't think it ever occurred to him to not continue to be a soldier after S.H.I.E.L.D. defrosted him.

DH: The opening scene that introduces Steve to Sam Wilson gets everything off to a great start. They instantly have great chemistry together, and you totally believe them hitting it off. Also, I love that Steve inspires Sam to push himself even farther and faster while he’s running--the ability to inspire others to better themselves being, of course, Captain America’s unofficial super-power.

Just a couple of  average-looking humans, enjoying the outdoors.

Just a couple of  average-looking humans, enjoying the outdoors.

RG: I love this movie's interpretation of Sam Wilson. I love that he's a veteran and a counsellor. I love the suit, but we can get into that later. The opening scene is just fantastic. You love Sam right away, and so does Steve! He's just a great guy, and, yes, has a lot of awe and respect for Captain America, but also recognizes that he's lonely and faces the same demons that so many modern day soldiers do.

The moment where Steve is walking away after making a bit of small talk and Sam decides to throw him a follow-up question is really nice. Like Sam recognized that Steve was looking for someone who could relate to his problems. It's a small moment, but I think it's maybe a turning point for Steve, where he can start to realize that he can actually relate to some people in this time. He's not a complete freak.

So I realize with Sam, the one thing I could hold on to and the most important thing I could utilize was his relationship as a soldier, with a soldier. I think that’s why the relationship between the two of them, Sam and Steve, plays so well, because Sam wants nothing from Cap. He realizes the problems that Cap is having adjusting to mainstream society and wants to try to help him as a soldier.
— Anthony Mackie, Crave Online, 2014

DH: That first action scene on the Lemurian Star...man, I love how Cap’s fighting style has evolved over these movies. The fight choreography is wicked--if there’s any CGI shenanigans, they’re tough to spot. The way Cap uses his shield in so many different ways, mixing it in with all these disparate fighting styles, is perfect. I was so happy to see Batroc in here. It would have been a bit much to have him with his mask and his little twirly mustache, but his uniform was a nice compromise between the comic and realism.

RG: I can't get enough of that action scene. This movie, more than any other superhero movie ever, did a phenomenal job of bringing a character's power, speed and strength to life. I am struggling to find the right words to say this, but it's just...I can't remember ever watching a superhero movie before where I felt overwhelmed with happiness because I was witnessing something that I had previously had to imagine. It had been confined to the page. To see how fast he is and how hard he hits, and how expertly he fights and uses that shield...I don't know. It was just a crazy feeling and I still feel it every time I watch this movie. So thank you, movie.

This is literally the only non-blurry screencap I could find of this scene.

This is literally the only non-blurry screencap I could find of this scene.

DH: I’m going to say something here that’s probably a bit controversial, and at first seemingly unrelated, but hear me out. I think Spider-Man 2 is a bit of an overrated movie. There are endless scenes of Peter Parker talking to everyone he knows about how he has a friend who’s all conflicted and he doesn’t know what to think or whatever. It’s the whole middle section of the movie! This film has a similar central conflict for Cap, but they get it all out of the way in the first twenty minutes--and, all these scenes have another point to them, whether it’s catching up viewers who haven’t seen the first film (that Peggy Carter scene is heartbreaking!), or setting things up for later (like establishing that his old uniform is waiting for him at the Smithsonian, or deepening his friendship with Sam). Then we get down to the business of action, action, action!

Now I know what I want on my dining room wall.

Now I know what I want on my dining room wall.

RG: I 100% agree with you on Spider-Man 2. The last time I watched that movie I was stunned by how boring most of it was. So much moping! I had remembered it being one of the best superhero movies ever made (and, let’s face it, at that point it was) but MAN.

The scene with Peggy is even MORE heartbreaking after having watched Agent Carter. It’s just agony. Can you imagine witnessing his FIRST visit to her in that hospice? I’m crying just picturing it. And he still carries the compass with her picture in it around! Sob!

God, he probably proposed to her the first time he visited her. I can't DEAL.

God, he probably proposed to her the first time he visited her. I can't DEAL.

RG: The underlying, extremely sad theme of this movie is Steve’s loneliness. They open on him jogging like a maniac by himself, then immediately getting called in on a mission, then visiting his own museum exhibit to hear about all of his friends being dead, then visiting the love of his life who is now in her nineties and on her deathbed, then going to visit Sam at the VA meeting and admitting to him that he doesn’t know what makes him happy anymore.

I would KILL to have Chris Evans' eyelashes.

I would KILL to have Chris Evans' eyelashes.

RG: Throughout the movie you have Black Widow suggesting women he should be asking on dates (all of which he rejects), and at one point we see Steve make an extremely clumsy (but sweet) pass at his neighbour who TURNS OUT TO BE A SECRET AGENT. And then one of the few familiar faces in his life, Nick Fury, gets shot, and it’s revealed that the organization Steve works for is possibly evil and now he can’t trust anyone. And, of course, there’s the cruel punchline with Bucky later. It’s SAD.

If The Smithsonian wanted to have an exhibit devoted to these fictional characters for real, I would go.

If The Smithsonian wanted to have an exhibit devoted to these fictional characters for real, I would go.

I’ve begun to just put my trust in Kevin Feige and all these guys at Marvel, they’re so good at what they do. Their internal barometer of what is good and bad is pretty on point. Not just from the standpoint of the movie, but everything; the marketing and the trailers and the wardrobe, it’s just got to look right.
— Chris Evans, Collider, 2014

DH: I’m a big fan of An American Werewolf In London, and as such, I’m stoked that Jenny Agutter is in this and The Avengers. Also, that she gets to have a fight scene!

Robert Redford deserves a round of applause for this movie. I kinda figured he would be in maybe one or two scenes, but he has a substantial role and he in no way phones it in (like a certain Anthony Hopkins I could mention over in the Thor films). It might seem like stunt casting to include him, based on his appearance in stuff like Three Days Of The Condor or All The President’s Men, but I think it adds a cool dimension to it. He’s almost like an older, more cynical, more compromised version of Steve Rogers. If they had made a Captain America movie in the 1970s--a good one, mind you, not that two-part TV movie with Reb Brown--he would have made a pretty swell Steve Rogers.

RG: Oh yes. Agreed. Redford was a stone fox in his day. And totally all-American.

Did anyone not think he was the villain, like, immediately?

Did anyone not think he was the villain, like, immediately?

The first day we shot together, we shot a 15-hour day, and at the end of the day … the Russos like their coverage … and at the end of the day, it was a lot of my stuff. He had minimal lines and he really could have left. There are a lot of actors that would have left and been like, ‘Are you cool with doing this with someone else?’ Which I think kind of sucks when actors do that. But he didn’t do that! He stuck around. It’s past midnight and this guy’s here doing off-cameras with me. It’s just classy. Just a classy guy, a talented guy. He classes up this whole project.
— Chris Evans [on Robert Redford], Collider, 2014

DH: I would have liked to have seen Nick Fury’s car fly at some point, but this movie establishes a certain level of realism that would have rendered it out of place. Granted, it goes to some pretty over-the-top places, but not right away. The action scenes in this movie are incredibly fluid and easy to follow. For a couple of guys best known for TV comedy, the Russo Brothers sure did make the transition to big-screen action directors seamlessly. Fury’s “death” was teased so much in the trailers that I never believed it--they obviously wouldn’t give that away so early on. But that’s probably a function of me just watching too many movies and movie ads.

RG: Yeah, I figured Fury was still alive. Goes along with the everyone-you-think-is-dead-isn’t theme of the movie (Fury, Bucky, Steve, Zola).

Just another awesome day in the life of Steve Rogers.

Just another awesome day in the life of Steve Rogers.

DH: I love how disappointed Cap looks when he realizes what’s going on in that elevator. It’s like another piece of his innocence has been chipped away. Everything about that elevator fight, and the bridge escape where he takes out that Quinjet, is 100% badass.

"Looks like everyone on THIS elevator is GOING DOWN!"

"Looks like everyone on THIS elevator is GOING DOWN!"

RG: I like that he notices what's going on in the elevator so quickly! He is so good at reading situations!

The action scenes in this movie somehow manage to keep outdoing themselves. That elevator scene is incredible, and again shows how formidable a threat Captain America is if he needs to be. Hydra had a well thought-out plan for that elevator attack. They brought tools! And he still destroyed them, jumped possibly dozens of stories into a lobby, and took out that Quinjet in the craziest way. Just completely awesome.

Wheeeee!!!

Wheeeee!!!

DH: I love the chemistry between Steve and Natasha in this movie. His naivete and her cynicism make for some great back-and-forth. “We’re borrowing it, take your feet off the dash.”

RG: Yeah, they straight stole that pick-up truck. They never returned it. Cap is a liar and a car thief. I think he’s also lying to Natasha about that not being his first kiss since 1945. Who, Steve? Who? That’s what I thought.

And he is 100% still a virgin.

"So...I heard you were calling me a slut and a whore?"

"So...I heard you were calling me a slut and a whore?"

RG: I am so happy they decided to include Black Widow in this movie. We really got to see a lot of character development for her. She’s very different from Captain America, but, like everyone, respects him and values his respect and trust.

"Hey, Widow, you wanna stop being such a slutty whore?"

"Hey, Widow, you wanna stop being such a slutty whore?"

I love the scene at the mall when they realize there are Hydra agents in there with them. Steve is just terrible at espionage work, so it’s Natasha’s time to shine! I like that his plan is to beat up a bunch of people and like smash their way out of there, and her plan is for him to put his arm around her and pretend to laugh at something she said (also, his fake laugh is hilarious). The whole scene in the mall is very funny, with their undercover mall clothes, and D.C. Pierson’s cameo in the Apple store, and Natasha making Steve kiss her on the escalator. Just great. I’m glad they become such good friends.

DH: Yeah, I love how lousy he is at being undercover. His weird delivery of “We’re getting married…” is great.

I think they are wearing the same shade of lipstick.

I think they are wearing the same shade of lipstick.

It’s just such an odd pairing. We’re such different people. Her moral compass is for sale. Steve is a Boy Scout. It’s interesting what they find in each other. Outside of the movie, Scarlett and I have known each other for a long time. We just constantly make jokes about how many movies we’ve made together. It’s very effortless. We get along very well and I think that shows on screen.
— Chris Evans, Collider, 2014
We didn’t want a traditional expectation to be fulfilled, which is: These two are gonna get together. We wanted to be faithful to their characters. Cap is not a guy who jumps lightly into things. In the compressed timeframe in this movie, he is not suddenly going to fall for Black Widow. But any two single people in a work-husband/work-wife relationship, there’s gonna be sexuality there.
— Joe Russo, Entertainment Weekly, 2014
More than anything, I think that the relationship between Cap and Widow is one that becomes a friendship and that is way more interesting than a romantic relationship. We don’t really know yet if she’s really even capable of that. Black Widow has so many trust issues that the last thing on her mind is like, ‘Man, I wish I had a boyfriend.’ Steve Rogers is an attractive guy but I think she’s learning how to be herself —whoever herself is.
— Scarlett Johansson, Gamesradar, 2014

RG: I've read a lot of interviews where Chris Evans complains about Captain America being a straight man who doesn't get to crack jokes, but I think he, and the writers, bring a great dry wit to the character. I mentioned this when we were talking about the first Captain America movie. He and Black Widow have a real bone dry battle of wits in this movie.

I think it's a real testament to how great a job this movie did establishing Sam Wilson's character right away that Steve and Natasha would show up at his house seeking refuge, and that completely makes sense to the audience. No question, Sam is a guy that Steve can trust. I love the whole scene at Sam's house: the sleeveless conversation between Steve and Natasha, Sam making them breakfast, Sam telling them about the suit and where it's located, and Natasha and Steve just look at each other like "No problem. We'll get it." And I love that they don't even show them getting the suit.

I also love whoever told Steve that this is his correct t-shirt size.

I also love whoever told Steve that this is his correct t-shirt size.

Since I have been very good about not being lecherous at all yet, I'm going to now get totally lecherous. Chris Evans looks fantastic in this movie. Do not love the new hairstyle, but whatever. Do not love that he keeps his shirt on for the whole movie, but at least we get a tank top scene.

The caption-writing part of my brain just short circuited.

The caption-writing part of my brain just short circuited.

I do like that Steve has learned how to dress himself since The Avengers. I like to think Natasha took him shopping.

When in doubt, go with neutrals and a great fitted jacket.

When in doubt, go with neutrals and a great fitted jacket.

I love the new suit. Very, very becoming, Cap. Really emphasizes your perfectly triangular torso.

When in doubt, go with neutrals with metallic accents, and a slamming body.

When in doubt, go with neutrals with metallic accents, and a slamming body.

Sebastian Stan also looks very sexy in this movie, despite also looking pretty haggard. He gets his shirt off, so that's nice. I am looking forward to more of him in the next movie.

Anthony Mackie, also very attractive. Attractive enough to hold his own in scenes with Evans.

Get in that sandwich, Sam!

Get in that sandwich, Sam!

And ScarJo is just cool as shit and I want to be her best friend except she would definitely hate me.

DH: That Arnim Zola scene...I remember seeing that little camera on top of the computer in that bunker and getting really excited because I could tell where it was headed. Like Batroc, they found the perfect compromise between the character’s batshit-crazy comic incarnation and a more grounded reality. Y’know, considering he’s a mad scientist whose brain has been stored in a room full of old-timey computers, if you can call that grounded. And man, what balls this movie has to dismantle S.H.I.E.L.D. the way it does! Right around the time most movie franchises are playing it safe, Winter Soldier goes on ahead and shakes everything up. I can’t imagine this twist was something that Marvel had planned before this movie, but in re-watching them all while knowing about it...there isn’t really anything in any of them that contradicts it, either. Lucky for them, I guess!

This might be my favourite Captain America costume.

This might be my favourite Captain America costume.

RG: That scene was very cool, and, again, a great way to give us some exposition in a non-boring way. I love that Winter Soldier killed Tony Stark’s parents. That might add to the growing tension between Cap and Iron Man later.

Every time I watch this movie I basically forget that Winter Soldier is in it until he shows up. And then I shriek with delight. I LOVE Winter Soldier as a character in the comics and seeing him brought to life in this movie is just crazy. He really looks fantastic, especially when he finally unmasks.

This is a scene from a real movie that really exists!

This is a scene from a real movie that really exists!

The fight scene on the bridge is awesome. You really get to see what a brutal and efficient killing machine the Winter Soldier is. When he grabs that steering wheel and yanks it right out of the car! I think the scene kind of would have been cooler if he had been on his own, instead of having other Hydra agents shooting a million guns, but I did like that they were like his roadies, handing him weapons.

DH: I’ve heard that complaint before, and my take on it is that his targets in this movie aren’t, like, diplomats or politicians or whatever--they’re targets like Nick Fury, Black Widow, and Captain America. He probably wants to have them softened up a bit first.

"You wanna go to Applebee's after this?"

"You wanna go to Applebee's after this?"

RG: That is true. One thing I love about this movie is that most of the action takes place outdoors in broad daylight. 

Thanks to Ed Brubaker, Bucky Barnes is one of the most tragic fictional characters ever. The movies make him more tragic by reimagining him as a grown man during the war, possibly a year or two older than Steve, who was Steve's best friend growing up. Not only his best friend, but his protector when Steve was weak and sickly. He's a character that really appeals to a lot of women, and I have plenty of theories about that besides the obvious (hummina hummina hummina). I don't need to get into them here, but let's just say a character who is forced to do the bidding of powerful, evil men is always going to be someone women can sympathize with.

"Only you can understand me, Rachelle."

"Only you can understand me, Rachelle."

Where Steve bravely sacrificed his own life during WWII, and woke up after a seventy year nap, Bucky plummeted, screaming, to his apparent death. Instead of dying, he lost an arm and was captured and turned into a human weapon. While Steve slept, Bucky was committing horrifying, involuntary acts of violence on behalf of Hydra. In between those acts, he was tortured, experimented on, brainwashed, and frozen. He's barely a person.

I was trying to understand what it is, what it means for someone to be desensitized, to no longer question hurting something. I did as much research on all that stuff as I could in order to kind of know what that was like. And then my stepdad actually has Alzheimer’s, so there were parts about watching and studying that kind of disease, also, observing people like that that kind of helped me a little bit.
— Sebastian Stan, Moviefone, 2014
World War II: the least traumatizing years of Bucky's life.

World War II: the least traumatizing years of Bucky's life.

The scene where Bucky is about to be reprogrammed (with a cameo by Brubaker!) is so, so heartwrenching. Until that point, we only saw the Winter Soldier as a vicious killing machine. Now he's almost childlike, just repeating that the man on the bridge knew him. And then when Pierce orders that they wipe him and start over, Bucky just opens his mouth without hesitation or resistance so they can pop the bite plate in. Ugh! My heart breaks every time.

"I can haz friend?"

"I can haz friend?"

And of course there's the tragic moment to end all tragic moments when Steve sees for the first time who the Winter Soldier really is. I can't even imagine. It's pretty incredible that Cap didn't just have a complete mental breakdown in this movie. Every scene after that one I kept thinking "Cap is in total shock right now while he's doing this."

I have pinpointed the second where you can see his heart rip in half.

I have pinpointed the second where you can see his heart rip in half.

DH: I really like Frank Grillo as Rumlow. I hope he comes back as Crossbones in the next movie, but it’s looking pretty crowded there already.

RG: Oh he’s in it. At least according to IMDB. And he’s listed as Crossbones. Everyone is in that Civil War movie. I’m worried. But they haven’t let me down yet, so I’ll try to relax about it.

Can you believe Grillo is in his fifties? I can’t! Was he frozen for a couple of decades?

I know 25-year-olds that don't look half this good.

I know 25-year-olds that don't look half this good.

DH: Who knew Robert Redford would make such a great villain? Has he ever played a full-on bad guy before? Also, there’s a jar of Newman’s Own salad dressing in his fridge! A nice nod to his old pal.

RG: That’s sweet.

I love Redford in this movie. He’s just perfectly evil in a very real world way. The opposite of the Red Skull, even though they were both Hydra leaders. The scene where the Winter Soldier is hanging out in Pierce’s kitchen and Pierce is drinking milk like a CREEP and then he shoots his poor maid? Stone cold. And I love how creepy the Winter Soldier is just silently sitting at his kitchen table.

Cut off one throw pillow and two more will take its place.

Cut off one throw pillow and two more will take its place.

DH: ScarJo again kicks  a crazy amount of ass in this movie. I have to say it again--why the hell is there no solo Black Widow movie in development yet? Marvel is leaving money on the table there.

RG: I. DON’T. KNOW.

God, who would want to see a whole movie of her? Blech!

God, who would want to see a whole movie of her? Blech!

When you take a character who’s had the past that she’s had, who has seen the darkest places, over time she appreciates what the right thing is in her mind and starts to understand humanity. But because she’s seen the darkest depths of humanity, there’s really such a full spectrum as to where this character could go. It’s been fun to explore that because it’s colorful and it’s not just putting on a cat suit and doing all kinds of smoldering poses.
— Scarlett Johansson, GamesRadar, 2014

DH: The “Captain’s orders” scene gets me every time. Again, he’s inspiring people to do good, even when it might get them killed. Also, I feel really bad for the non-Hydra S.H.I.E.L.D. agents after this movie. Unless you’re Maria Hill, it must be incredibly tough to get a new job when your last employer has been revealed as a secret cabal of super-Nazis.

RG: Yes! I love in superhero movies, and in comic books, when regular people stand up to bad guys. It’s so moving! And I love Captain America’s speech, and Sam’s reaction to it. “Did you write that down first?”

Also, seeing the old Captain America suit is a real treat.

Hey, now he's on his right!

Hey, now he's on his right!

DH: You could argue that movies like this give real world evils, like government corruption and the NSA spying on American citizens, an easy out--it was all the work of supervillains from World War II!--but this movie is doing something that superhero comics have always done well, placing real-world problems in a comic book context. I mean, the 1970s Captain America comics turned Nixon into an off-panel supervillain, and had him commit suicide in the Oval Office! This movie deals with some heavy themes, but it’s never not fun.

RG: Yeah, I think having the evil plan to be launching three giant helicarriers that will triangulate their satellites when they reach a certain altitude and then shoot all the “evil” people in the world at once was over-the-top enough to not feel too heavy and real.

And speaking of those helicarriers, how about that final fight between Cap and Bucky? So, so sad. And awesome. But mostly sad. Cap would literally rather lay down and die than live in a world where Bucky doesn't recognize him. Tell me that isn't the most romantic scene ever.

Look, even if you don't remember his face, what? You're going to NOT make out with it?

Look, even if you don't remember his face, what? You're going to NOT make out with it?

And then Bucky pulls him out of the water! And drags him to shore like a sack of potatoes that his heart won't let him forget.

We need more soaking wet super heroes on film.

We need more soaking wet super heroes on film.

DH: The Falcon looks awesome when he’s flying around, but I wish he looked more like the comic book version (I had both the Mego figure and the Secret Wars figure of the Falcon, so I’m partial to that outfit). I guess it wouldn’t make much sense for him to suddenly change the military colours of his flight suit to red and white before they go to take down S.H.I.E.L.D. Maybe in the next movie?

Why is this guy not a full-on Avenger yet?!

Why is this guy not a full-on Avenger yet?!

RG: I love that the suit makes him more like a human fighter jet than a bird. It’s very cool. I have a feeling that we will see a costume that looks a little more like the comic book one in a future movie. Tony Stark will probably make him something red.

Related to Sam: I love seeing him in the hospital room next to Steve at the end, playing the Trouble Man soundtrack. And Steve wakes up and says "On your left" because they have a little inside joke between them! Steve finally has that friend he's been wanting! This movie is an emotional rollercoaster for me.

"Bucky?"

"Bucky?"

RG: We need to talk about the "Winter Soldier" theme music. You know, that weird Morricone-style scream thing? It kind of cracks me up. Especially when they play it when they reveal his face at the Smithsonian in the end-of-credits scene.

DH: I like it! I love what a scary villain he is (until you know his tragic backstory, of course), and that theme really adds to it.

I love the Pulp Fiction reference on Fury’s tombstone! Nice touch.

RG: I always forget about that and I always laugh at it. I like the ending. It gets me so pumped for the next one!

GOD she's so COOL!

GOD she's so COOL!

RG: I have mentioned before that I am very concerned that the upcoming, very crowded Civil War movie isn't going to devote enough time to the search for, and recovery of, Bucky Barnes. He is such an interesting character, I really do feel that a television series is necessary. Like, an eight-episode one like Agent Carter. It could fill in his backstory and give us a bit of him hiding out, trying to figure out who he is. It would be THE. BEST.

I love that I am now incredibly greedy about my superhero-based entertainment. Like, I'm seriously going to complain about there not being enough Winter Soldier on film.

Also, I'll let you in on a secret, guys: those Civil War comics? Pretty terrible. Not that I think the upcoming movie is going to try to replicate them at all. At least, I sure hope not.

"My name is Bucky? Seriously? That can't be right."

"My name is Bucky? Seriously? That can't be right."

I love the movie-going experience from the popcorn to the previews to the film itself. I like having it stay with me afterwards and thinking about it days later. I love that whole aspect of entertainment, so to be able to be a part of these films that do that consistently well and are a big event for people to look forward to is exciting. It’s like reading a great book and getting the new one coming out; you’re just so excited to see what are these characters are going to give you this time. It’s fun to be a part of that.
— Scarlett Johansson, Gamesradar, 2014

DH: Marvel has been killing it with their end-credits sequences, and Winter Soldier has one of the best. These were designed by Kabuki creator and Daredevil artist David Mack. Crazy! I love the minimalist animation and the black-white-red colour scheme.

RG: They are really awesome. In conclusion, I just want to say, is anything funnier than Garry Shandling whispering "Hail Hydra"?

Holy smokes! Only one movie left and then we get to see Age of Ultron! It's finally Age of Ultron week, guys!

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!