A look back at the films that brought us to eagerly await this coming Thursday!
In just five days' time, Marvel Avengers Assemble will land in cinemas across the UK, bringing with it a brilliant team of super heroes ready to face the ultimate battle against an army of alien invaders and their corrupted leader. Every legend has its roots, though, so in light of the impending event set to shake up the 2012 film roster permenantly, we thought it would be a good time to do a restropective piece examining briefly each and every one of the Avengers prequel movies. If you missed any of them, there's a brief synopsis summing up the main events of each film that should help you to pick up that hero's storyline within Assemble. So, without further ado, movies- ASSEMBLE!!!
IRON MAN (APRIL 2008)
THE PLOT: Billionare Tony Stark is caught in the middle of a terrorist attack. Escaping with the help of a hastily-constructed super suit, he makes himself into the metallic hero Iron Man, reigning vengeance on the enemies who dared turn the weapons his company manufactured against him. It's eventually revealed that colleague Obadiah Stane was behind Stark's capture, news which prompts an explosive robotic battle between Iron Man and the replica Stane creates of him. Having bested Stane's creation, Tony announces to the world that he is Iron Man, only to find Nick Fury on his doorstep waiting to talk about the Avengers Initiative...
THE VERDICT: Despite the obvious and predictable final confrontation, Iron Man shines in its innovation and ingenuity, with a great lead and Gwyneth Paltrow shining as Stark's assistant and crush Pepper Potts. This one is amongst the better Marvel films out on DVD right now. 8/10
THE INCREDIBLE HULK (JUNE 2008)
THE PLOT: Having been transformed into an anger-susecptible transforming green monster by a gamma ray accident, Bruce Banner has been forced into exile. When the US military discover his whereabouts and inject a colonel with the sama gamma dosage, events spiral out of control, and the Hulk is forced into an all-out rampage in San Francisco to stop the Abomination killing innocents. Once the situation is dealt with, Banner reverts once more from the public eye, while pursuing General Ross stops for a drink in a bar, only to find Tony Stark referring to a team that an organisation is putting together...
THE VERDICT: Although it never quite reaches the lows of Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance or even Eric Bana's 2004 Hulk reboot, this is one heck of a dull film, layered with plot holes and dire portrayals of much-loved comic character. Robert Downey Jr's cameo as Iron Man's alter-ego is amusing, but it can't save this trainwreck of a movie that almost makes Spider-Man 3 look good. 4/10
IRON MAN 2 (MAY 2010)
THE PLOT: A raging scientist whose family was ruined by the Starks emerges onto a Grand Prix race Tony is participating him and brings him close to death, while noting that the iron core attached to Tony's heart is beginning to kill him. With the help of Nick Fury, Black Widow and SHIELD agent Nick Coulson, Tony finds a way to solve his heart problem. Friend and accomplice James Rhodes gets a hold of an Iron Man suit too, becoming the War Machine, and after settling his differences with Tony the two heroes battle to stop a near-invincible army of Iron Men. Mission accomplished, Tony talks to Fury about his viability for the Initiative, where the SHIELD commander tells him that he wants Stark just to be a consultant for now (leading into The Incredible Hulk...yep, the chronology is a little mixed up). Meanwhile, Agent Coulson calls Nick and informs him that they've found a mythical hammer in New Mexico...
THE VERDICT: It's not quite as bad as Hulk, but Iron Man 2 is a disappointing sequel to the original, its overreliance on robot CGI battles easily its most prominent downfall. There are fun moments to be had here, just don't try to watch it as a standalone flick. 6/10
THOR (APRIL 2011)
THE PLOT: Cast down to Earth after enraging his father Odin by trying to bring a truce with the enemies of Asgard, the Frost Giants, to a halt by starting war, Thor meets a budding scientist named Jane Foster. He tries to pick up his Mjolinir hammer from its crashsite in New Mexico, but the God of Thunder realises he cannot due to his exile on our planet. His mischeivous brother Loki (who always wanted to be King, but knew that due to him being half-Frost Giant he never would) tells him that Odin is dead and his mother wants Thor to remain on Earth forever, both lies intended to depress and ground Thor here. Nevertheless, Thor's Nordic friends use an Asgardian travel portal called the Bifrost to join him on Earth, at which point Loki sends a robotic exterminator called the Destroyer to tear his former friends apart. When Thor offers himself up in sacrifice to the Destroyer, the way his arrogance has changed to reverence gives him back his powers and awakens Odin after Loki's temporary attack on him. Thor kills the Destroyer, then promises he will return to Jane as he and his friends use the Bifrost to return to Asgard. Together, they stop Loki, unwittingly casting him off into the depths of space in the process and destroying the Bifrost (and thus Thor's route back to Earth). The keeper of the Bifrost assures Thor that Jane is trying to open a new portal for him to return, while on Earth Nick Fury shows one of her colleagues the Cosmic Cube, a source of unimaginable power that little does he know is seen by Loki, who has possessed Jane's friend...
THE VERDICT: Easily the best of the Avengers prequel films, Thor excels in its interweaving of the supernatural and the realistic to become the most empathetic and compelling entry of the lot. An essential watch both in terms of plot and quality; Chris Hemsworth is the perfect Thor and Natalie Portman the perfect Jane. Only let down by the slightly unresolved feeling of the ending. 9/10
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (JULY 2011)
THE PLOT: Skinny man Steve Rogers is enlisted for a secret project in World War Two to become a Super Soldier. When this succeeds, he emerges as the fabled patriotic hero Captain America, besting arch-foe the Red Skull before he has a chance to use the Cosmic Cube to destroy the world. In order to stop global anarchy in the flaming capital ship he is piloting, the Cap crash landes in an icy lake, where he and the Cube are frozen, only to be discovered in 2011 by miners. Steve is astounded at the modern-day world he finds himself in, only to be told by Nick Fury that a great crisis awaits and he is needed as part of a team...
THE REVIEW: Again, as a standalone piece this does little to buffer up Marvel's superhero roster. Yet the connections to Avengers are sound, and the WW2 period drama is effective if blatantly stereotypical of the conflict and the Nazi regime (pantomime foes, anyone?). 7/10
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE (APRIL 2012)
THE PLOT: As Loki gains ahold of the Cosmic Cube to open a portal to Earth, he allows not only Thor but an army of alien Chitauri to come through. Thor unites with Iron Man, Captain America, Bruce Banner and SHIELD agents Nick Fury, Gregg Coulson, Black Widow and ace archer Hawkeye for the ultimate battle...
THE REVIEW: Coming next Friday!