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  • Lance Mannion
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« On not politicizing tragedies | Main | Ant-Man: I know a guy »


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Jonathan Korman

I read the hammer scene as Cap sparing Thor's feelings, but I like your interpretation better.

I don't think Whedon had other things on his mind; I saw him directly in dialogue with Man of Steel. Not only do we make a point of saving civilians, but there's a scene in which a train is about to crash into a bunch of people and one character says, "I'm faster than a speeding bullet" and another says "I'm more powerful than a locomotive" and they rescue everyone.

And I'm still trying to figure out what's going on with Tony creating a second Frankenstein's Creature to correct the mistakes of his first one. (I mean, Thor shows up to bring the Vision to life with lightning, in case you hadn't caught the allusion!)

Gary Farber

"at his responding to incessant fan complaints on Twitter by closing down his Twitter account"

Oh, dear, oh dear; it's disappointing to see you start off unknowingly passing along the misinformed version, Lance. I'm really sorry you were misled and missed better reporting and thus wound up passing along this untrue version of the facts

Might I suggest a correction? Whedon already has to deal with more than enough near-libel than he should, and credible people passing along the misleading versions just add greatly to that.

:-( :-( :-(

Lance Mannion

Gary, thanks for the links. I revised that part of the paragraph a bit, with a note and hat tip to you. I didn't intend to pass along anything except a reminder of the online noise that I think got in the way of people seeing the movie for what it was. I wasn't mislead by anything, though, but my own faulty memory, and this is another good lesson for my students: even if you think you remember something well enough, look it up, because odds are, you don't.

Jonathan, that would be like Cap, not wanting to show Thor up.

Believe it or not, I missed the twins' Superman references both times I saw the movie!


Excellent review, Lance. Well worth the wait. I don't always agree with your reviews (or every aspect within your reviews) but... and this is going to come off like I'm kissing up or being sarcastic, but I'm honestly doing neither... it feels good to have someone around writing movie reviews, even on a part-time basis, who can write about movies the way Roger Ebert could write about movies. I don't know that there's anyone else (except Matt Zoller Seitz and his erstwhile Newark Star-Ledger colleague Alan Sepinwall, maybe) who can still do that.

As someone who's a huge, trivia-obsessed fan of both the Marvel movies and the Marvel comics, I always have to check myself in conversations about (or when reading reviews of) the movies, because I'm probably a little too eager to chime in with an over-enthusiastic "Well, in the comics, what happened was" or a "You see, Lance, what you don't understand about Character A is." I actually think you understand the characters in the films just fine -- probably better than I do, actually, given my severe Autism Spectrum Disorder-given blindness when it comes to emotional characterization.

That said, I thought it might be fun to note a couple things. You make really excellent points about Ultron and Tony Stark. This is one of the radical departures from the original comics I actually like, because it makes better dramatic sense than poor, tortured Hank (Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Goliath/Yellowjacket/I-could-never-pick-a-name) Pym just happening to create a hugely egotistical self-aware robot who is His Dark Side, not least because Pym's dark side is less about being egotistical and more about suppressing the desire to beat the crap out of anyone who goes around insisting on being wrong at him. (I haven't seen Ant-Man yet, though I understand Pym's in it. I'm not really looking forward to it -- as a fan of the Pym character and his long, complex story arc, I never warmed to Scott Lang, either in his role as Pym's successor as Ant-Man or as the apparently-official Tragic Avenger -- but inasmuch as I think it might've been interesting to tie those two movies together, the way James Spader and RDJ play off each other is too wonderful to wish away -- even if I would have given quite a lot to hear Spader call RDJ "Grandpa" at least once.

One other thing. The "Iron Patriot" handle, you might be interested to know (I certainly hope so, anyway, given that we're talking about my favorite incarnation of a comics character) was originally invented not for Rhodey (who sort of inherited it afterward) but for Norman (Green Goblin) Osborn. Norman's an interesting case, I think -- if I had the time, patience, and writing ability to blog regularly, I think I could probably write a series on how he was a particularly inept and pathetic supervillain, and that's why his engineering the death of Spider-Man's then-girlfriend Gwen Stacy was so brilliant a creative choice -- but where he becomes actually fascinating to me for the first time is in the wake of the comics-verse Civil War plotline, where he and his team of reformed (or are they? That's the question the creators want us to ask at every step) supervillains become the Avengers, literally appropriating several of the old members' identities and aesthetics.

Norman decides that the public desperately needs to see authority and stability, so he designs a suit like Stark's (but better, he insists) and gives it a patriotic paint job, dubbing himself the Iron Patriot. (He looked almost nothing like Rhodey does in the movies.) What I always thought made this plotline fascinating for Norman -- not so much for the rest of his cronies, who never seemed to be genuinely reformed in any way -- was that I always found myself wondering if each thing he did, each decision he made, was because he (a career supervillain who'd once been both a brilliant scientist and a titan of industry) was acting the way he thought a hero was supposed to act in any given situation. Even as his mind is slowly breaking down (either because of demonic possession or ongoing, untreated mental illness; that's another thing we're meant to constantly wonder about) he keeps trying to be a good guy, even when we find ourselves wondering if he even understands what that means.

It seems really unlikely to me that we'll ever see any of this onscreen, which really disappoints me -- although now that Sony and Marvel are co-producing the Spider-Man movies, it's possible. Anyway -- after Norman finally breaks down and is removed from power (fittingly by Captain America), Rhodey takes up first his moniker and original armor and then (goodness me how surprising) the armor from the movies to lead one of the many teams of Avengers that were springing up at the time. (I think his was the Secret Avengers, although how secret they could've been while being led by a guy in a brightly-colored suit of flying armor is an amusing question to me.)

I hope that digression wasn't too boring. Again -- excellent work as always.


Argh. In my note above, I was imagining Paul Bettany -- am I remembering the movie wrong? Isn't The Vision Ultron's project, not Tony's? -- calling Tony 'Grandpa.' Not Ultron.

Incidentally, in the comics, Ultron came back over and over and over again -- I have no idea which iteration they're up to now; when I stopped paying close attention 15 or so years ago, they were up to Ultron 40 -- but one of the storylines I remember most fondly from my childhood was one from West Coast Avengers, the team led by Hawkeye and his wife Mockingbird (she's in the MCU as Bobbi Morse on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which I am going to have to delve into the archives and look up the reasons for your antipathy towards, Lance; my wife, who's a fanatic, got me into it recently and I think the first season's nothing short of brilliant. I'm about halfway through season two and, while I don't like it as much, I still think it's pretty good.)

Anyway, in that storyline, the twelfth version of Ultron develops a conscience and briefly tries to be a hero at the side of his "father" -- Hank Pym, in the comics, as I said above. Ultron 13 eventually catches up to them and kills Ultron 12, but that's something else that I think would be great fun to watch the MCU do, maybe as a short film.


Sorry to nitpick over a fascinating piece like this but my inner nerd cannot let this stand. You write: "Cliff (Hawkeye)", I think you mean "Clint" here, as in Clint Barton. :) And one more comment, some of us prefer the nerdy, rumpled, fluffy-haired but astonishingly cut Mark Ruffalo/Bruce Banner to walking, good-natured side-of-beef Chris Hemsworth/Thor. We were quite delighted to get that lingering dialogue wearing nothing but a towel, though some fans have a problem with the contents of said dialogue. But I can't disagree with the sentiment that Hemsworth was decidedly underused in the film. I do look forward to the Blu-ray release to check out what I hear was a rather significan amount of his story that got left on the cutting room floor.

Lance Mannion

Ebonlock, you mean you didn't catch John Ratzenberger's cameo in the party scene?

Aaagh! That's not a nitpick. That was as an inexcusable goof on my part. Which makes two in this post. In the original version I kept calling Joss Whedon Josh! Thanks for the catch. I fixed it.

As for Ruffalo, I'm a fan and really enjoy what he's been doing with Banner, and the idea that the nearly 50 year old Ruffalo could attract the attention of Scarlett Johannson does this old man's heart good. But I defer to the judgments of Mrs M and Uncle Merlin here. However, they didn't want less Ruffalo, just more Hemsworth, and they'll be glad to know the Blu-ray may provide.

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