Age of Ultron!!!!!

As you may have guessed, Dave and I were more than a little excited for Age of Ultron. We wanted to take a little time after seeing it on the 30th to allow for everyone to see it before we take them to Spoiler City. Also, we both wanted to see it more than once before we recorded our thoughts. I am pleased to announce that we both LOVED IT.

This is the easiest game of MFK ever.*

This is the easiest game of MFK ever.*

There's a lot to unpack with this movie, so I thought it would be easiest to break it down by character, and then leave room for some general thoughts at the end. I could only use screencaps from the trailers for this post, obviously.

Iron Man

Still lovable!

Still lovable!

RG: We've said a number of times in our reviews of the Marvel movies that Tony Stark was a perfectly realized character pretty much from minute one of the first Iron Man movie. We also noted that Iron Man 3 did a lot to make him more human and more heroic. I was worried that this movie would start to shift Tony into a bit of a villain. That his arrogance would take over and he would do something irredeemable that would be built upon in the upcoming Civil War movie. We knew going into Age of Ultron that Stark is responsible for Ultron's existence, so it wouldn't be surprising to have him be at odds with his teammates for this entire movie. I can't tell you how happy I was that it wasn't the case.

DH: It’s one of my few beefs with this movie that, even though Tony seems to have quit being Iron Man at the end of his last movie, he’s still wearing the armour here with no explanation. I guess you could read the conclusion of that movie as more like, he doesn’t need the armour anymore, but is happy to pitch in if his pals need a hand.

RG: I think maybe he doesn’t do solo Iron Man gigs anymore. But he’s now filling his time building a custom Avengers tower for all his friends to hang out in. Because he’s totally sane.

I like that Tony got help from his science bro, Bruce Banner, creating Ultron. Yes, his teammates were rightfully pissed about those two secretly building an evil robot, but Tony admitted his mistake pretty much immediately. It was clear he knew he screwed up, and the fights and arguments between teammates that we saw in the trailers and preview clips turned out to be a lot less tense than they would lead you to believe. Yay!

Pre-coitus.  

Pre-coitus.  

DH: The ad campaign and the publicity leading up to this movie made me feel like it was going to go a lot darker, and probably end with the team splitting up and Tony and Steve hating each other’s guts or something. And that was not the case. I mean, who knows what the future (and Captain America: Civil War) holds, but I left the theater on a high note when I expected things to be much more bleak.

RG: And of course Banner and Stark’s tight friendship led to a truly awesome fight scene between Hulk and Hulkbuster Iron Man. It was not only fun to watch, but it was full of funny Tony quips. I liked that he was trying to chat with Hulk like he’s still Banner.

Pre-coitus.  

Pre-coitus.  

DH: That Hulkbuster fight is really something. There’s a bit where Iron Man is blasting Hulk with a laser from his hand, and it’s making a really cool laser sound, and...I dunno, it just reverts me to childhood somehow. I mean, Iron Man is inside another giant Iron Man armour and he’s blasting a mind-warped Hulk with a crazy hand laser! Who the hell ever thought we’d see stuff like this in a movie?

Also, this scene is one of many where even though a giant superhero battle is taking place, and entire city blocks are being flattened, the safety of innocent civilians is always priority number one for these guys (well, maybe not for the Hulk in this scene). For me, the primary function of superheroes isn’t just about fighting bad guys, or each other--it’s about saving lives, usually in a way that unfortunately isn’t realistic, but then again, that’s what makes it escapism. And I love that the Marvel movies are reclaiming that.

RG: Yes, that was huge. There was so much attention to protecting civilians.

I really loved Tony’s interactions with Steve Rogers in this movie, starting with him calling Captain America on his objection to Tony's swearing. You could tell that there is still a lot of tension between them, but definitely mutual respect as well. I LOVED the wood chopping scene, obviously. Not only because I loved the conversation between them, and I loved fantasizing about having those two men chop wood for me, but also because Tony Stark is not above pitching in and helping with chores. When would that guy have ever chopped wood before?

It made me really happy at the end when Tony, before driving off, asks Cap if he's alright. It was a really nice moment. Cap probably should have returned the question. But we’ve established in these movies that Cap is a bit of a rude, lying car thief.

Also, sort of obscure, but it made me happy when Cap retrieved his shield using some sort of magnet-based Stark technology. I like that Tony is helping his friend out, and that Cap is letting him.

DH: I was reading some Lee/Kirby Cap stories from Tales Of Suspense, and he totally has that magnetic-retrieval gizmo, so it’s canon! Of course, he ditches it almost immediately, saying it throws off his balance or something, but whatever.

RG: Nice!

Tony was very funny in this movie, as usual, and it would have been a great send-off for the character if RDJ had decided to make this his last Marvel movie. But, of course, we’ll be seeing him in at least one more (probably three more, right?).

I'm pretty into farm-casual Tony Stark.

I'm pretty into farm-casual Tony Stark.

DH: Depends on how many dumptrucks of money Marvel drives up to his door, I guess. But yeah, once again Whedon excels at Tony Stark dialogue. I really hope they don’t turn Tony into a monster dickweed in the next movie, like the one he turns into in the Civil War comic series.

RG: I really don’t think they will. No one wants that.

Quick final thought on Tony: His shitty chill lounge party music is inexcusable. Falcon should make him a mix tape.

 

Thor

Goddammit, Renner. Get out of the shot.

Goddammit, Renner. Get out of the shot.

RG: Thor was really delightful in this movie. As we have said before in these reviews, his chill, laid-back attitude works well in a group situation. He's so friendly! And he also looks very funny in any real world situation, which is why I would have loved to have seen a lot more of him at the farm. But he had to fly off to do something very confusing.

I know much has been said on this matter, but seriously what was that scene with the hot tub time machine? He grabs Selvig for...some reason...strips naked and gets into a pool in a cave for...some other reason that I don't need to know about because fine...and, I dunno, watches a bit of Guardians of the Galaxy? Whatever. 

DH: I think the filmmakers knew that a wet, shirtless Chris Hemsworth was something that a lot of moviegoers were hoping to see, and they didn’t care if how we got there made any sense or not. Just the frame or two of it that we saw in the trailer was probably responsible for at least half of the box office gross.

"Aaaah! 'Tis cold!"

"Aaaah! 'Tis cold!"

RG: Well, yes. I was personally more into the many scenes of Steve Rogers strutting around in ludicrously tight shirts. Under Armour is getting their money's worth from that sponsorship deal!

I couldn't even wait until the Captain America section of this thing to start posting pictures of him.  

I couldn't even wait until the Captain America section of this thing to start posting pictures of him.  

RG: As much as I did not care for that cave scene, I loved seeing undercover hoodie Thor on campus.

Thor leaving the farm so abruptly was kind of like “Farm chores, eh? I’m out!” He would have been so helpful! I guess he wouldn’t have been able to fit into clothes borrowed from Hawkeye. (Aside: were we to believe that Steve Rogers was wearing Clint’s borrowed jeans on the farm? Because they should have been very tight and capri-length on him if that were the case).

I'd believe that's Hawkeye's shirt though.

I'd believe that's Hawkeye's shirt though.

DH: It would have been really funny to see Thor trying to squeeze into Clint’s clothes.

RG: A musical montage of Thor trying to fit into Clint’s clothes!!!

Thor stepping on that Lego and then trying to hide the damage was great. I especially liked that scene because neither Thor nor Captain America would know what Lego is or that it's ok to break it.

I loved Thor at the party, especially trying to one-up Tony when they were talking about their (absent) girlfriends. He ends the conversation by saying “Jane is better,” and that’s just such a Thor thing to say. He doesn’t have much of a filter. Also loved that he brought hardcore Asgardian alcohol to the party so Captain America could get his drink on. I wish I wish I wish we could have seen drunk Steve. Although we saw plenty of drunk Chris Evans on that press tour, so I guess I can imagine how it would have gone.

Thor’s face when Captain America was almost able to lift Mjolnir was so great. And his relief when he couldn’t lift it! Thor actually had a lot of the great comedic moments in this movie.

Looks like Thor took his annual shower before this party. 

Looks like Thor took his annual shower before this party. 

RG: I loved all of Thor’s fight scenes. He and Captain America both had some really amazing fighting moves in this movie, and I loved it when they fought together, especially when he hits Cap's shield like a baseball with his hammer! They've been practicing!  I would love to see a lot more of Thor palling around with Captain America.

"So...Blackhat, huh?" 

"So...Blackhat, huh?" 

DH: “Look, they’re lining up!” “Well, they’re excited.” Holy crap, did I love that opening raid on the Hydra base. I think the way we just jumped right in mid-battle was great, especially how we were sort of following them, trying to keep up, when they were all introduced. The opening action scene really sets the James Bond tone of this thing, what with all the globe-trotting that follows as well.

RG: As you said to me, it makes you kind of sad when they allude to the other raids that we missed. I hate that we can’t see every second of their lives!

Thor bringing Vision to life, Frankenstein-style with lightning, and then vouching for him immediately was awesome. Thor was a pretty cool dude in this movie when he wasn’t abruptly leaving.

DH: I can’t remember if Vision has ever even tried to lift Mjolinir in the comics. But it made for a good storytelling shortcut here--we know we can trust this guy instantly--and it got a HUGE reaction on opening night with all the comic nerds in the audience. That whole scene is really cool, with the little mini-battle amongst the Avengers, then Thor coming in and you don’t know what side he’s on at first--is he trying to destroy the Vision, or bring him to life? We’ll get into it more below when we discuss Vision in greater detail, but he was one of my favourite parts of the movie.


Black Widow

The girl one!

The girl one!

RG: Black Widow was awesome in this movie and I won’t hear otherwise. I think Whedon went out of his way to give her a lot of great scenes, awesome action, and intriguing character elements to encourage Marvel to finally make a Black Widow movie. A lesser director would have reduced her role a lot in this movie, given that she was pregnant during filming.

DH: I remember after the first time we saw it, I was a bit disappointed that she, the only female team member at that point, got taken hostage by Ultron. But then someone we were with--you, maybe?--reminded me that Whedon had to rewrite parts of the script to accommodate her pregnancy, and that made me feel a lot better about it. Also, she was only held captive for, like, five minutes of screen time, and I never felt like she was helpless.

RG: She was never helpless. She didn't even seem worried. And then she did some cool spy shit to get Hawkeye's attention. She's got this.

She jumps out of a plane on a goddamn motorcycle, which rules, and she just generally kicked so much ass. She was funny, she was great with Hawkeye’s kids, she pushed Banner into a pit after kissing him to make him Hulk out...she’s the best.

Not action figure worthy!

Not action figure worthy!

RG: My only beef with Widow in this movie was that the blue glowing lights on her costume made no sense. Not very stealthy.

I liked the romance between her and Banner, but what I really liked was her very close friendship with Hawkeye. Clint's big reveal showed how close he and Natasha really are. So much more interesting than just a romantic or casual sex relationship between them! I liked when she referred to Clint as her best friend.

I also love her close friendship with Captain America. There were a few nice little moments in this movie to show that they have grown closer since Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

DH: Black Widow is so good in these movies, and the fact that she has these non-sexual relationships with her teammates, like Cap and Hawkeye, is pretty awesome. As you said, way more interesting. And I think her and Bruce are a strange fit, one that has no comic precedent, but it works.

Bruce Banner: boyfriend material.

Bruce Banner: boyfriend material.

RG: I think Banner is one of the few characters Widow hasn't hooked up with in the comics. That may have been another reason Whedon wanted to make it happen.

There was something that bothered me about various characters in this movie teasing or commenting on Natasha and Bruce. I just feel like Natasha would be a little more discreet than to invite that much attention. She openly flirts with Bruce at the bar in the party scene, walks away, and instantly creepy Captain America is there to be all “Sooooooo...Natasha is pretty hot for you, huh?” Was he watching the whole thing? Someone should have invited Agent 13 to this party to keep him occupied.

I know people were reading all sorts of anti-feminist things into her reveal to Bruce Banner that she can’t have children, but I really think she was just letting him know that he needs to come up with a better reason than ‘we can never have children’ to deny himself a relationship with her. She almost said it with a shrug. It’s a bleak and upsetting thing that was done to her, but she’s aware that she is among people who all have lots of messed up stuff in their lives. She is reminding Bruce that he is not the only monster among them.

DH: There’s a really good podcast at Empire Online where Whedon talks about that scene in the first movie, where they first meet, when he pushes that crib and says “I don’t every time get what I want”, which of course was written and filmed at a time when they had no idea where their story would go. The crib being there wasn’t even scripted, it was just part of the set decoration. But that detail is going to make revisiting that movie, after the conversation the two of them have about children in this movie, pretty interesting. It sounds like Whedon developed this thread mostly based on the chemistry of the two actors, which was a good impulse to follow.

RG: Well they are the two who are slumming it in these movies.

The movie ends with Black Widow as one of the leaders of the Avengers! She rules!

 

Hulk

"Listen, Hulk thinks you're a great girl, but Hulk is not looking for a committed relationship right now!"

"Listen, Hulk thinks you're a great girl, but Hulk is not looking for a committed relationship right now!"

DH: Once again, these movies get the Hulk right in a way that his solo movies never quite did. Ruffalo is perfect as the haunted, tormented Banner, especially after the fight in Johannesburg. And the effects used to bring Hulk to life just get better and better. I wonder if we’ll ever get to see what Wanda showed him to make him go into an advanced state of Hulkamania (my girlfriend Hillary’s term for it)?

RG: She showed him the Batman vs Superman trailer. Zing!

DH: I also wonder where we’ll next see Hulk--along with Thor, he’s one of the only cast members who doesn’t seem to be popping up in Captain America: Civil War next year. My guess is he’ll get a big moment in Avengers: Infinity War Part II. But I do like the idea of him just flying off and seeing where that Quinjet takes him. Apparently Marvel doesn’t have the rights to do a solo Hulk movie--I imagine the deal is similar to what they have now with Sony and Spider-man--but he works best as a supporting character in these movies anyway.

RG: I’m kind of fine with not having a solo Hulk movie, even though I love Ruffalo as Hulk. I basically don’t want anyone else to get a solo movie until Black Widow gets one.

I’m a big fan of the Science Bros montage when they are working to create Ultron in this movie. I am actually pretty surprised we didn’t hear the words ‘science bros’ spoken at all. I figured they’d throw that shout-out to the fandom in there. I do really like Bruce and Tony’s friendship a lot. And I like that Banner is an expert in...all science?

DH: Was it “bio-organics” that Tony said Banner was a genius at? Just say “science," Tony. Stop making shit up.

"I'm a doctor, dammit! Not a bio-organicist!"

"I'm a doctor, dammit! Not a bio-organicist!"

RG: I thought the ‘lullaby’ thing with Widow was cool, and it establishes that they would have spent a lot of time together building trust while working on that. It adds more weight to the love story. Poor Bruce, though. He goes from ‘It’s fun to flirt with Natasha’ to ‘I can’t possibly be in a relationship with anyone’ to ‘Sure, what the hell? Let’s run away together’ to ‘Scratch that, I’m leaving on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again’ in this movie.

That final jet plane scene with Hulk, by the way? Nice nod to the end of Captain America: The First Avenger.

DH: I didn’t even pick up on that! Good catch.

RG: One problem I did have with the Bruce/Natasha love story was how it ignores Betty Ross. I mean, if Banner could be in a relationship, wouldn’t it be with Betty? As I said in our review of The Incredible Hulk, I think the Bruce/Betty romance was the strongest of any two characters in any of these movies. She crazy loves him! Maybe Banner is going to check up on her in that plane.


 

Captain America

I mean, look at this guy. How am I supposed to write captions here?

I mean, look at this guy. How am I supposed to write captions here?

DH: Cap has really come into his own as the solid foundation for these movies--an unswerving leader, a moral center, and a kick-ass fighting machine. But he’s really funny, too! “I miss the days when the weirdest thing to come out of science was me”, etc.

RG: Cap can really come into MY own as a solid founda...sorry. Continue.

DH: I can’t believe I’m living in a world where I can go to the movies and see one of my favourite comic characters so perfectly realized as a big-screen action hero. It can’t have been easy to make this character not seem totally foolish to a moviegoing audience, but they’ve structured his arc so well. A lot of credit is due to Chris Evans, obviously. This might be my favourite movie translation of a comic hero since Christopher Reeve’s Superman.

Why haven't I seen this in IMAX yet, seriously?

Why haven't I seen this in IMAX yet, seriously?

RG: You know I agree with all of that. I just...I love him so much. I went into this movie like “Ohmygod, he’s going to say things I haven’t heard him say before!!!”

There was some pretty major character stuff for Cap in this movie. He is, as you said, established early on as the team’s fearless leader (loved the Captain America speeches in this movie, by the way), but also as someone who is still an outsider who doesn’t quite know what his place is in this world beyond being a hero. He seemed downright miserable at Hawkeye’s house. He actually looks angry when he sees Hawkeye’s kids. Cap has no poker face.

I love the weird parallel between Cap and Bruce in this shot.  

I love the weird parallel between Cap and Bruce in this shot.  

DH: Yep, great inspirational Cap speeches. “If ya get hurt, hurt ‘em back. If ya get killed...walk it off.” Sean Connery in The Untouchables wishes he had something that badass to say to Kevin Costner.

RG: When Cap angrily busts that log into smithereens during the WOOD CHOPPING SCENE, I’m guessing it probably caused audiences to shriek with delight and awe worldwide. It was a great moment.

Oscar clip.

Oscar clip.

RG: I like these hints of the deep frustration and sadness that Steve is carrying inside him. He never lets it  interfere with his job, but anytime he’s not fighting he is heartbreakingly forlorn.

Forlorn, but with really amazing eyelashes. I mean, really. Just extraordinary.  

Forlorn, but with really amazing eyelashes. I mean, really. Just extraordinary.  

RG: I do think he is happy with where he is at the end of the movie. I think he’s being sincere when he tells Tony that he isn’t the same person he used to be, and no longer dreams of a family and a house. Captain America’s destiny isn’t to get married and have kids. He’s a soldier and a leader and a hero and an icon and the Avengers are his family. He’ll probably get a lot more respect and less teasing from this new crop of Avengers. I think it’s a turning point for him. I hope so, anyway.

He would probably like to get laid, though. His virginity remains intact by the end of this movie, as far as I’m concerned. As far as Chris Evans is concerned, too.

Oh God, I totally predicted that we would see a Scarlet Witch-induced nightmare flashback scenario where Steve would finally have that dance with Peggy, and I also predicted that I would cry and cry and cry. I did not cry, because the flashback was short and weird, but still. Sad! I feel like Bucky should have been in that flashback too, since he’s probably on Steve’s mind a lot these days. I also just think we should slot Sebastian Stan into every movie.

DH: Cap’s costume in this movie is a nice combination of everything that worked about his other uniforms in the previous films And the running gag about his disapproval of Tony’s salty language is very funny.

RG: That was great. Would have loved it if Cap had let out a crazy string of profanity, but “son of a bitch” worked too. Either way, loved that we got to share in one of the Avengers’ inside jokes. I also like that Thor doesn’t make fun of him. Thor’s a good dude.

I love the costume. I feel like the stylists on these movies need to cool it with the sideburns, though. Like, are they trying to see how long they can make them before we object. I object! He looked perfect in the first movie! Has he been spending the past few years watching 90210 reruns?

As I mentioned before, Cap’s fighting moves were awesome in this movie. It’s pretty damn awesome when he throws his motorcycle at that jeep. I will say, though, that I think he has intentionally trashed a motorcycle in at least three of these movies. You’d think a guy who grew up during the Depression wouldn’t treat motorcycles as disposable objects.

 

Hawkeye

This fucking guy.

This fucking guy.

DH: My love of Hawkeye is pretty well-documented at this point, and I was happy to see him finally get a personality and a backstory (even if it isn’t from the comics--I guess it’s sort of from the Ultimate comics, but the less said about those, the better). I did feel like Jeremy Renner was a bit old to play this character, who is much more of a young punk in the comics. But now, with him being a secret family man, it has been back-engineered to make sense. He’s got some great fighting moves in this film, and I love his big inspirational speech to Wanda during the final battle. I’m really into the idea of Hawkeye as just this working-class dude. Everyone else is a hero for these deeply personal reasons, but he’s just a guy doing his job.

RG: I did not see the family man Hawkeye reveal coming at all. I was THRILLED! Somehow Hawkeye became the dreamiest Avenger! Fighting bad guys while making plans to remodel the dining room?! Forget about it!

I loved everything about those farmhouse scenes. I could have used another three hours of farmhouse.

DH: People love to crap on Hawkeye because he’s just a guy with a bow and arrow, but that’s one of the reasons I love him. He’s on a team with super-soldiers, mutants, monsters, and gods, and he is just a guy with a bow and arrow. So what does that tell you? Just how goddamn good does he have to be with a bow and arrow to stand amongst these guys? That, to me, is really cool. And he finally emerged as an interesting guy on the big screen as well.

Fine, here's another picture of Hawkeye.

Fine, here's another picture of Hawkeye.

RG: He deserves to be there every bit as much as Black Widow. She doesn’t have super powers either. Neither does Tony, really. Or Falcon, or War Machine...they all just have weapons that they are good at using. So what is the damn difference? I don’t think the question is whether Hawkeye deserves to be an Avenger, it’s if Jeremy Renner deserves to be an Avenger. And I think the answer to that question is NO. But he was good in this movie. Whatever.

His "family man" reveal makes his comments about Black Widow being a whore even more confusing! What is wrong with this idiot?!

I liked that Hawkeye was questioning his contribution to the team a bit in this movie, and that his wife pointed out how important he is to making them work as a team. All of this self-doubt kind of came together in that rousing speech to Scarlet Witch, which I really loved (“The city is flying...the city is flying”).

His costume was cool in this movie.

DH: Yes, but get that guy some headgear! Preferably with a big “H” on it.

 

And The Rest...

 

Vision

This guy is going to be fun at future Avengers parties.

This guy is going to be fun at future Avengers parties.

DH: I wasn’t really sure how Vision would work out here. His origin is a bit convoluted, and a real departure in some ways from the comic--yes, he’s a creation of Ultron, like in the comic, but he’s also J.A.R.V.I.S., and he’s got the Mind Gem...it’s a lot to take in, but it works incredibly well and I think a lot of the credit must go to Paul Bettany’s performance. He has just a cool, calm, serene attitude that is really interesting. It also helps that it’s Paul Bettany in costume onscreen, and not a CGI effect. I love his final scene with Ultron so much, where Ultron says, “They’re doomed (‘they’ being humanity)”, and Vision responds that yes, they are, but that a thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts, and that he and Ultron are privileged to be among them. And, like everyone else, he has some really funny lines, like when Ultron calls him naive and he says, “Well, I was born yesterday”. I can’t wait to see what else they do with Vision in future movies.

RG: Vision was so, so great. I mean, really. I’m not gonna lie, when I first heard Vision was going to be introduced in this movie, I thought it was a weird choice. Vision is a great character that shouldn’t work at all in a movie like this, but man!

That conversation between Vision and Ultron at the end was THE BEST.

 

The Twins

Live fast, die young.

Live fast, die young.

RG: Loved what a badass Scarlet Witch is. Looking forward to seeing more of her. Loved Quicksilver more than I expected to. Really enjoyed his tracksuit Eurotrash look. Not too sad we won’t see more of him. He had a good death. As much as I dislike Renner, I’m glad Hawkeye wasn’t the one who died.

DH: I thought Quicksilver was well-used--I think I’m the only person on the planet who liked this iteration of him more than the one we saw in X-Men: Days Of Future Past--but his death here meant something, and I wouldn’t want them to cheapen it by bringing him back or saying that he somehow survived.

I also really dug Scarlet Witch. She’s kind of a problematic character in the comics because her powers are so poorly defined--or, at least, defined occasionally, then redefined by the next Avengers scripter--but here they basically just made her into another Phoenix, which is fine. I like her and Pietro’s fakey Russian (I guess?) accents, and I also like how creepy she was in the early scenes. She was sort of skittering around like Samara from The Ring or something, and it was pretty cool.

 

Ultron

Oddly sexy.

Oddly sexy.

RG: The trailers did a good job of concealing how funny Ultron is. Seriously, a lot of the big laughs are Ultron lines. My personal favourite: “I can’t physically throw up in my mouth…” after he describes Captain America. He’s a Whedon villain through and through.

Ultron also looks amazing. And James Spader is so great (and a little sexy? Am I wrong? Sexy Ultron?). When Ultron is first coming to “life,” his dialogue with J.A.R.V.I.S. is so great. Normally a robot villain is sort of meh for me, but he was awesome. The Lil’ Ultrons were super easy to kill, though. I probably could have taken a dozen or so out myself.

DH: Throughout the movie, I was not always feeling Ultron’s motivations. The whole “computer programmed to end war decides he needs to end humanity” idea is pretty played out, but that end scene with Vision really brought it full circle and redeemed it for me. Lots of hilarious one-liners. This wouldn’t be a Joss Whedon movie if he didn’t have a funny villain. My favourite was probably when he ripped off Ulysses Klaw’s arm and was like, “Oh, sorry! I’m sure that’ll be fine.”

Ultron’s lips were kinda weird, though. He looked a bit like Audrey Two from Little Shop Of Horrors.

 

Falcon

RG: We got a little taste of Falcon in this movie. I really can’t wait to see more of him. I was glad he was invited to the party (and that he mentioned Cap and his ‘missing person case’). I liked seeing Steve and Sam playing pool at the party. I just love superheroes hanging out doing friend things!

DH: I was pretty happy to see him on the team at the end, with a lot more red in his costume. I guess they probably had to distinguish his costume’s colour scheme from War Machine’s a bit more? And seeing it again this weekend (your second time, my third!), I noticed just how stoked he looks to be an Avenger. I don’t know if that’s Anthony Mackie or Sam Wilson who’s excited about it, but I suspect it’s a bit of both.

 

War Machine

RG: Don Cheadle stops by to steal every scene he’s in. I’m very excited to see him join the Avengers team. I loved him telling that same story to everyone at the party, and his look of satisfaction when people laughed at it. Also, his reaction to Vision phasing through robots in the final battle was hilarious.

DH: If Tony’s retired, shouldn’t Rhodey just be Iron Man now? I’d be fine with that. Cap is probably pretty happy to have some more army guys on his team now.

 

Nick Fury

I really like Fury's button-up sweater.

I really like Fury's button-up sweater.

RG: I don’t know why Laura Barton was so stealthy when she told Tony that their tractor needed fixing as a way to lure Tony into the barn for a secret Fury meeting. I mean, Cap knows Fury is alive. And then Fury was just hanging out with everyone in the farmhouse later. So why the secret ops? Eh, whatever. It was cute.

I was trying to figure out who would have known that Fury was even still alive. Maybe all of them? Thor probably didn’t even know that he died, or returned, or was on that helicarrier at the end. I don’t feel like Thor gets filled in on a lot of things. He’s probably also like “what’s Hydra?”

DH: “What’s a robot? What are nuclear codes?” Poor dope.

RG: Here’s a question: when did Fury decide to start wearing his eyepatch again? Didn’t he burn it at the end of Winter Soldier? I guess he and Stark had coffee sometime between this movie and that one and decided to go back to their eyepatch and Iron Man suit, respectively.

DH: He probably just realized that his crazy scars and dead eye are not really any less conspicuous than his eyepatch.

 

Agent Hill

RG: I just want to say that Agent Hill has been in three movies now. Time for some character development. I doubt we’ll see it in Civil War, since there are already about 97 heroes in that movie.

Say...Are Agent Hill and Rhodes dating? If so, I am pro THAT!

DH: Yeah, they were kinda hanging out at the party, weren’t they? I like that idea.

 

Random Thoughts:

RG: I was really happy to see our ‘Cap’s orders’ friend from Winter Soldier working for S.H.I.E.L.D. on the helicarrier at the end. He got promoted!

DH: I love that guy!

RG: I loved seeing the vintage Captain America war propaganda posters in the background on the wall in the Avengers Tower. Tony would have put those up to annoy Steve.

Loved the petty debate between Cap, Thor and Iron Man at the end about whether or not Vision being able to lift Thor’s hammer means he’s worthy. “You put the hammer in an elevator, the elevator’s not worthy.” Cap is comparing Vision to an elevator!

DH: It reminded me of the conversation in Gremlins 2 about the rules governing Mogwai/Gremlin transformations, and how the whole not feeding them after midnight would be affected by time-zone changes, etc. What I’m saying is that this and Gremlins 2 are basically the same movie.

RG: Kinda bummed that we didn’t get to see the sleeping arrangements at the Barton farm. Maybe in the director’s cut (which is hopefully nothing but extra farm footage). Did Fury spend the night too? Did they actually sleep there? I’m confused about the farm timeline.

I liked the scene at the party where Tony and Thor are explaining why Jane Foster and Pepper Potts aren’t there. But seriously I wish Jane was played by a lesser movie star so we could see more of that character.

Really excited about the new Avengers facility in upstate New York (away from civilians!). Looking forward to seeing more of it in Civil War.

DH: I love that the movie ends with a significant lineup change--pretty standard Avengers stuff, you gotta shake it up every few adventures. I also think it’s pretty cool that Captain America is now the sole white male Avenger, on the team with two women, two African-American guys, and a robot.

All your favourites! 

All your favourites! 

RG: This movie was a real gift to superhero fans. I have nothing but gratitude for everyone involved with the making of these Marvel movies. The anticipation for this movie kept me buzzing for months before its release, and I was ecstatic when I finally watched it. And they’ve already started filming Captain America: Civil War, which I seriously can’t wait for. As much as I love an Avengers movie, I really love a Cap-centric movie. And a Cap-centric movie that sees the return of Bucky, plus more Falcon and Black Widow? Yes, please.

In conclusion, more movie scenes with the Avengers sitting around drinking and eating Chinese take-out, please!!!

Cap drinks beer just for the taste. That's cute.

Cap drinks beer just for the taste. That's cute.

*Marry Cap, fuck Tony, kill Bruce (put him out of his misery). Alternate: Marry Ruffalo, fuck Evans, kill Downey (he's had a good run).

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!