MCU rewatch

REVIEW: Iron Man 2 (2010)

With the whole world knowing he’s Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has to deal with problems from all sides – his rapidly declining health, the US Government wanting to take his suit away from him, and vengeful Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) who has connections to his father.

Iron Man 2 is action-packed and a lot of fun. The sequence in Monte Carlo where the suitcase armour is introduced is one of the best moments in the whole film. The fact it speeds along with an action-packed plot means that it’s sometimes easy to miss why Tony is acting the way he is and making some unconventional decisions, until characters explicitly point it out.

Tony is dying and he, in his own chaotic way, is trying to make sure his affairs are in order. That his company will be taken care of if the form of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and that his legacy of the Iron Man suits will continue thanks to his friend Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes (Don Cheadle). Tony is his usual narcissist-self but cranked up to eleven – it’s as if his thought process is, he must protect his company and friends, but if he makes sure no one likes him, they won’t miss him when he’s gone.

Ivan Vanko is not much of a villain, or at least you don’t get to see him that much to become engaged with him. He’s smart like Tony but never really feels like a big threat when they come face to face, especially in the final showdown. Rival businessman, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) on the other hand, is cringey and offers a different kind of threat to Tony. While he may not have the brains of Tony Stark, he has just as many resources and seeing him team up with Vanko offers unexpected though often funny results. Got to give a special mention to Rockwell’s performance as Hammer, he looks like he’s having loads of fun being a weaselly and almost incompetent businessman.

While Iron Man 2 is a fun film, it does feel like a stepping stone to when this universe comes together for the Avengers. There’s more from Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and there’s the introduction of Agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) who, you’ll know if you’re savvy with your comic book knowledge.

Iron Man 2 might not be the best of the MCU, but it’s got some of the most interesting moments when it comes to Tony Stark and the people he cares about. 3/5.

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REVIEW: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

As scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) tries to stay one step ahead of the U.S. Government, he searches for a cure for the monster he turns into, whenever he gets angry.

The Incredible Hulk starts off as more of an action thriller than a typical superhero film. Banner is on the run from the US Government led by General Ross (William Hurt), a man who is single-minded in his determination to capture Banner and cares very little about who may get caught in the crossfire. The scenes where Banner is hiding out in Brazil are a highlight, especially the foot chase through the favela and when you catch your first glimpse of the Hulk.

It’s a pity the film doesn’t keep up that same momentum throughout its runtime. There are some good action set pieces, the confrontation between the Hulk and the Army on a University campus is especially good, but the final battle is not. It’s dull and typical and offers little in terms of character.

The Incredible Hulk’s main problem is that it has a simple yet weak story. Bruce wants to find a cure for the monster inside him, but as anyone who knows this character knows it’s futile. While it’s nice to have a more small-scale journey for the reluctant hero, Banner feels like a cardboard cut out of a character as the Bruce Banner/Hulk story is one that is so well-known it is as if whoever wrote the script didn’t feel they had to try that hard. Actors like Liv Tyler as Dr. Betty Ross are underutilised, and Tim Roth is a weird choice to portray Emil Blonsky and he never really feels as if he settles into the role.

The Incredible Hulk is not a memorable film. This is in part because besides the first act, it never gets that exciting. The Incredible Hulk is a more broody action film, and as Norton isn’t a particularly dynamic lead, it can feel more dull than entertaining. 2/5.

REVIEW: Iron Man (2008)

After escaping from being held captive in Afghanistan, billionaire engineer Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) attempts to right his wrongs by building a high-tech suit of armour.

Iron Man is a fast-paced film that’s a lot of fun, but has its characters at its heart. After quickly showing Tony’s convoy being attacked, it jumps back a few days to show you not only how Tony got into this situation, but gain an insight into his character before he goes through this traumatic event. This snapshot of life gives you brief introductions to his friend Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Terrence Howard), assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and business partner Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges). Seeing Tony’s life before, and after, he’s kidnapped gives you the chance to see not only how much he grows as a person during the course of the film, but also how his relationships may change.

Downey Jr. is so charismatic as Tony Stark that you do don’t mind spending the majority of this film with him out of the suit. Downey Jr. balances Stark’s narcissistic tendencies with his vulnerabilities, making him an unusual and surprisingly layered hero.

The action sequences in Iron Man are great. The film makes you wait a while to see the proper Iron Man suit in action, but it’s worth it. The CGI is top-notch, as are the pyrotechnics which are used in abundance.

Iron Man does offer a commentary on the War on Terror and America’s involvement in the Middle East, but it never delves too deeply into the issue. Instead, it packages into a story that will reach a wider audience and let them make their own opinions if they want to consider it for longer. One of the big themes of Iron Man is accountability. It’s something that Tony Stark struggles with and, knowing what happens in future films in the MCU, is an important part of his character.

Iron Man is a pretty perfect superhero film. It has a good script, that has witty lines but also does a good job at pacing itself with the big reveals, has a great cast, and blends action with suspense. Iron Man is the foundations the Marvel Cinematic Universe is built on, and those foundations are strong. 5/5.

My Marvel Cinematic Universe Rewatch Plans

Before I got a new job and moved out of the family home, me and my mum planned to rewatch one MCU film a week on the run up to the release of Avengers: Infinity War at the end of April (it’s released on 27th April in the UK). That plan has had to change due to us no longer living together, so now the idea is for me to come home for the odd weekend and binge watch at least four MCU films each weekend in time for Avengers: Infinity War.

While we’re doing this binge watching I’ve decided I’m going to “review” each MCU film. I put review in quotation marks as some of the earlier MCU films, definitely Phase One (Iron ManThe Avengers) and potentially Phase Two (Iron Man 3Ant-Man) may be more of a discussion post or have a few spoilers in them. This isn’t definitely how I’m going to write those ones – I mean, I haven’t started writing any of them yet so who knows! – but I thought I should preface this project with a potential spoiler warning.

If I’ve reviewed any of the films already when they were first released, I’ll start my rewatch review with a link to my original review so if you’re interested you can see how my thoughts on the film may or may not have changed over time.

My plan is to post one of these MCU reviews a week, as that will coincide almost perfectly with the release of Avengers: Infinity War, but that will only work if I do manage to get home and watch about four films each weekend. It’s doable, but it’ll just need a bit of forward planning. I’ll still have at least one new-to-me film review posted each week so it won’t be a Marvel overload.

I hope you enjoy me revisiting the MCU. These films mean a lot to me as they and their characters have made up a lot of my formative years. Starting this off I’ll say my favourite MCU films are Iron Man, The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Solider – it’s been a while since I’ve watched them and the rest of the MCU so it’ll be interesting to see if that’s changed over time.

What’s your favourite MCU film?