I still haven’t seen Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance. I do want to watch it while it’s still in theaters. I did take the opportunity to catch up on the films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I hadn’t yet seen.
The Incredible Hulk – This was made as sort of a follow-up, but not quite, to the earlier Ang Lee Hulk film, which I haven’t seen. I’ve been told not to bother with it, but I’d welcome any other opinions. They pretty much figured everyone already knew the basics of the Hulk’s origin story, instead starting Bruce Banner out in Brazil, where he went to discuss being a weird green monster with Blanka from Street Fighter. No, seriously, he’s trying to control his anger issues and hide from General Ross, who’s pursuing him with a fervor much like Captain Ahab. The movie has some fun with previously established incarnations of the character, like Banner’s inaccurate Portuguese translation of his catchphrase, Lou Ferrigno doing the Hulk’s spoken dialogue and appearing in a cameo as a security guard, and Banner’s voice from an animated series showing up as a pizza shop owner. The film did get me wondering how big the Hulk is supposed to be, as he’s easily twice the size of a human here. There’s also a scene where Banner is afraid sexual arousal will make him hulk out (you wouldn’t like him when he’s horny). Does this mean ANY intense emotions, not just anger, could trigger the transformation? I’m not really familiar with the original Hulk comics, but I get the impression that the character’s main struggle is with himself. There’s a supervillain here, the Abomination, who turns out to be the only British guy in the movie, but his role isn’t all that significant to the big picture. SamuraiFrog recently wrote about the deleted scenes from this film, which I went ahead and watched on YouTube. I get that the movie was already pretty long and took some time to get to the action sequences, but having seen what was cut out, it bugs me that they more or less reduced Betty Ross’s new boyfriend Leonard to a nonentity. I’ve read that Edward Norton’s reason for not playing the Hulk in any more films was that he didn’t want to be associated with just one character, which is kind of weird considering that he’s already played a lot of different roles. Have people forgotten about the other work of Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, or Scarlett Johansson after their recurring appearances in Marvel movies?
Iron Man 3 – From what I understand, Iron Man’s main nemesis is the Mandarin. That means he pretty much had to appear in a film, but the filmmakers apparently didn’t want to run with his stereotypical Chinese portrayal. Instead, the Mandarin becomes a character played by a drugged-up English actor working for a scientific think tank that expanded into terrorism. The moral is apparently that, if a billionaire is a jerk to a dorky guy on New Year’s Eve, that same dork will return years later to ruin your life, blow up landmarks, and hijack Air Force One. There are also several terrorist agents with elemental powers and healing abilities who show up to battle the good guys, but none of them receive much development. The main focus here is on the character of Tony Stark, well-meaning jackass with a flying combat suit. At one point, he teams up with a boy who’s a mechanical genius, which Beth said reminded her of how cartoons often had a kid who hung out with the heroes, and was generally not a popular character. Mark Ruffalo’s brief amusing appearance at the end is technically the first time the same actor has played Bruce Banner in two movies.