So with The Avengers upon us in a few days there might be a few of you saying to yourselves. “Why are all these guys together?” Or maybe thinking that it makes zero sense trying to put all these characters from all these other movies into one movie. Well consider yourself lucky, because this post--and the 4 after-- is going to basically explain all the little hints and threads throughout the Marvel movies that has gotten us to this huge, big budget, extravaganza that is The Avengers.
The first film up in the Marvel movieverse is 2008’s Iron Man. For those that haven’t seen it (and that’s hard with it being on FX like every 72 hours) the movie is about billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, head of Stark Industries, a company that is like a really cool Northrop Grumman. While doing a new weapons demo for the U.S. military the site is attacked, soldiers killed and Stark taken prisoner, the terrorists using him to create his wondrous weapons for them, under threat of death. During the attack Stark is injured by shrapnel precariously close to his heart, he’s helped by another captive, Dr.Yinsen, to construct a device, surgically implanted into his chest, to keep the shrapnel from killing him. With that temporarily no longer a distraction, Stark tricks the terrorists hastily constructing a giant suit of armor and making his escape. Thus the Invincible Iron Man is born.
The rest of the film deals with his change of heart about his weaponeering history and fallout from a decision to help the world more than helping to destroy it. Even now, four years, later the first two acts of this film still hold up well. Everything with Tony Stark in the cave, him making the first suit, his escape and return to his old life a changed man is solid gold. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark, it’s his character now to the point that the comic book source material has changed to match his performance. Jon Favreau deserves a lot of credit for keeping the film brisk and to the point and fully embracing a sense of fun and cleverness, with one of the stand out sequences being Tony Stark building and testing his newer forms of armor. The one thing this movie fails at is the third act, much like a student hitting all the right answers on a hard test but blowing the essay question at the end.
To tell the truth there really isn’t much in terms of Easter eggs that lead to The Avengers other than the one scene at the end after the credits. The scene introduces you to Nick Fury, who after Tony reveals his identity to the public, surprises him in his home with an offer. The offer is join to his Avengers Initiative and then the movie is over. Now this scene is small in comparison to some of the other Marvel films after it but with it being the first and basically telling everyone this is the goal it’s the most important. Marvel used this film to start their movie universe the way Stan Lee and Jack Kirby used the Fantastic Four to set up the original comic Marvel Universe. Iron Man is a bombastic start with a great character that people can relate to and a plot with seeds that lay roots for the realization that this world is bigger and more interconnected than both we and the hero know about.
Next up true believers: the secrets of The Incredible Hulk!