Avengers Assemble! Netflix Edition – Iron Man & Thor

Epix may have stolen Netflix’s thunder (by showing Thor naturally as well as Captain America). Netflix is definitely no slouch in the Marvel line. They only have one of the five films leading up to The Avengers (Iron Man 2) but they have a ton of animation featuring Iron Man & Thor.

Iron Man 2 (2010) – Rated PG-13

“Wealthy inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) — aka Iron Man — resists calls by the American government to hand over his technology. Meanwhile, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has constructed his own miniaturized arc reactor, causing all kinds of problems for our superhero. Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson co-star in director Jon Favreau’s sequel based on Marvel comic book characters.”

Iron Man Armored Adventures (2009)

“In this action-driven animated series, teen phenom Tony Stark takes to the skies with help from an ingeniously engineered suit of armor, taking down villains to learn the truth about his late father’s mysterious passing.”

Iron Man: Extremis (2010)

“The famed Marvel Comics superhero continues his epic animated adventures in the 21st century by taking on his old foe Mallen, who’s gotten his hands on a nanotechnology serum called Extremis that transforms humans into deadly super-soldiers.”

Iron Man (1994)

“Iron Man is back in this animated series that aired from 1994 to 1996 as part of the “Marvel Action Hour.” There’s action right out of the gate when Iron Man goes up against the Mandarin and a deadly zombie army.”

The Invincible Iron Man (2007)

“In this animated adventure, inventor Tony Stark digs up more than he bargained for when he unearths an evil entity buried for centuries in an ancient Chinese ruin. To protect himself from the destructive force, Tony designs a high-tech suit of armor.”

Thor: Tales of Asgard (2011)

“Marvel comic book character Thor springs to life in this animated feature that explores his earlier adventures with his brother, Loki. That was before Thor discovered his power-wielding hammer and the only weapon he had was his sword.”

Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers (2011)

“With his powerful brother Thor defeated and in chains, resentful Loki takes over the kingdom of Asgard. Focused on his own pain rather than the needs of his subjects, Loki plans to kill his brother to secure his position — unless Thor can prevail.”

 

Avengers Assemble! Epix edition

Okay I was going to do this post closer to next Friday when The Avengers opens but Epix has a special deal right now. This weekend they will be showing three (Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man 2 but not The Incredible Hulk or the first Iron Man) of the five canon films leading up to the Avengers.

April 27-29 is Marvel Heroes Weekend on Epix. If you have a Roku box then Marvel Heroes Weekend is FREE (even if you have used up the FREE trial). Epix can also be viewed on the Xbox 360 or your home computer. If you have never signed up for Epix, a two-week FREE trial is available at www.epixhd.com

Thor (2011) – PG-13

“When the god of thunder angers his father, he is cast out of the fantastical realm of Asgard and banished to a life among the lowly humans on Earth. (Wait, should we be offended?) But Thor soon discovers the 21st century is pretty fantastical, too, from first loves to Facebook. As his newfound home is threatened by Asgard’s most ominous villain, Thor must use his courage – and his mighty hammer – to become the noble warrior he’s destined to be.”

Thor is a lot of fun. Chris Hemsworth is fantastically cut as the title character and is ably supported by Natalie Portman, Stellan Skargard, and especially Kat Dennings on Earth and by Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Com Feore, Rene Russo, Jaimie Alexander and Ray Stevenson in Asgard. The Asgard segments are more serious than the Earth segments but I enjoyed the self-deprecating humor of the Earth segments more.

Look for a cameo by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye (setting up his role in The Avengers) and don’t forget the after-credit sequence (again setting up The Avengers).

Iron Man 2 (2010) – Rated PG-13

“If 2008’s Iron Man rocked your socks off, get ready – because the sequel just might melt your fillings. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark, a billionaire weapons mogul now committed to maintaining world peace as his own mechanically enhanced alter ego. But our hero is definitely up against it this time around: not only does the U.S. government want control of his super suit, but he’ll also go toe to toe with Scarlett Johansson and (gulp) Mickey Rourke. This is rock’em sock’em popcorn fare at its finest.”

Iron Man 2 is not as much fun and nowhere near as tight the first Iron Man but it is still a blast. Black Widow/Natalie/Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) gets a fair amount of screen time to set up her role in The Avengers.

Robert Downey Jr. swaggers his way through this one – he makes a great Tony Stark. Gwyneth Paltrow and Jon Favreau return as Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan but Terence Howard is replaced by Don Cheadle as James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes. It’s a shame but both are fine actors.

Don’t forget the after credits scene that sets up Thor.

Captain America (2011) – Rated PG-13

“Patriotic but frail young man Steve Rogers wants nothing more than to serve his country, so he volunteers for a top-secret experimental military program. One hearty dose of Super Soldier Serum later, and Captain America is born. With his indestructible red-white-and-blue shield and rippling man muscles (wowsa!), Marvel Comics’ first Avenger springs into action to take on the deadly terrorist organization HYDRA, led by evil mastermind Red Skull.”

Captain America is NOT available until Sunday (8 pm I believe) but is a part of Marvel Heroes Weekend. Captain America is a bit slower paced than the other two movies but is still quite enjoyable. Strangely while the thing I most looked forward to in Captain America was Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull, he turned out to be not very impressive. Hugo Weaving was fantastic in The Matrix series, The Lord of the Rings series, and V for Vendetta but his German accent here is very jarring and undercuts his normally powerful delivery. On the other hand, Chris Evans was a lot better than I expected and Captain America’s earnestness is not played tongue-in-cheek.

With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (2012)

“With Great Power explores the life of Stan Lee from the early days of his Depression era upbringing through the Marvel age of comics! The film uncovers original transcripts, illustrations, photographs and stories of Lee’s journey from his early years at Timely Comics, his military service, the comic book industry’s censorship battle of the 1950’s, the dawn of Marvel Comics and the legendary characters Stan co-created, to his current company POW! Entertainment.”

I have not seen this but look forward to catching it sometime this weekend.

Iron Man 2 – Marvel Superhero week

This is Marvel Superhero week – why? Because even though I am almost 50, I still love comic books. Iron Man 2 is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Iron Man 2 (2010) – Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language.

Wealthy inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) — aka Iron Man — resists calls by the American government to hand over his technology. Meanwhile, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has constructed his own miniaturized arc reactor, causing all kinds of problems for our superhero. Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson co-star in director Jon Favreaus sequel based on Marvel comic book characters.

I loved the first Iron Man movie. I loved the handling (and updating) of the origin story as well as leaving enough room for the emergence of a good villain to quickly be trounced but mostly I loved it as a wonderful vehicle for Robert Downey Jr. and his quirky acting style.

Robert Downey Jr. does get to shine here as well but more attention is paid to the other characters (as compared to Iron Man which was basically a one-man show). Gwyneth Paltrow and Jon Favreau return as Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan and are given more substantial roles. Paul Bettany again voices Jarvis.

For some reason Terence Howard was not asked back to play Lt. Col. James Rhodes. Instead he was replaced by Don Cheadle (who I have loved since he played Mouse in The Devil in a Blue Dress). The first line Don utters is “Look I am here, its me, deal with it, lets move on” which is a very humorous response to the whole replacement fiasco.

To more closely tie-in The Avengers event in May 2012, Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury as does Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson. Scarlett Johansson plays a kick-butt Natalie Rushman AKA Natalia Romanoff AKA…

Everyone performs well and it is nice to see so many Marvel heroes onscreen (Iron Man, War Machine, Nick Fury, Black Widow) and allusions to several others (Black Panther, Captain America, Thor). The post-credit sequence remains intact.

Having said that, director Jon Favreau has tried to pack way too much into the movie much like Sam Raimi did on Spider-Man 3 (though it does not experience anywhere near that level of failure). The main plot deals with Whiplash trying to take revenge on Tony Stark but there are separate subplots involving a Senate sub-committee, SHIELD, Rhodey, blood poisoning, Justin Hammer, Natalie Rushman, and more.

I suspect that Marvel pushed Favreau to do too much with this film. The result is that while the film is quite enjoyable, it seems to come across more as a series of requisite scenes than as a whole story. While disjointed, it is still very shiny and fun.

People Watch: Look for the standard Stan Lee cameo as well as Christiane Amanpour, Larry Ellison and DJ AM Adam Goldstein playing themselves.