Captain Marvel (2019): A Compelling World and Greater Point

     “Captain Marvel” is a film that is draped in controversy. The more I’ve read about it the more I don’t understand it. Brie Larsen talked about diversity in media (https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/movies/brie-larson-calls-more-diversity-film-criticism-following-usc-study-n88314), which is a pretty basic moral good. Having more perspectives at the table is a positive. There has been a reaction to this that has been pretty toxic, all one has to do is look up Brie Larsen and youtube to see just how bad it became. That is all I’m going to say on this as I came for the story and further exploration of Marvel Cosmic, which this film delivered on. Without going into details, I’m all the more pumped for “Avengers: Endgame.”

     The film was directed by Ana Boden and Ryan Fleck who also wrote the screenplay along with Geneva Roberston-Dworet.

The story follows Vers (Brie Larsen) a Kree Warrior who can’t remember her past but is pulled towards it when she is captured by the Kree’s shape-shifting enemies known as the Skrull. Their infiltration of her mind points her to memories of Earth and when she escapes to while Skrull forces arrive as well, seeking what she knows. From here she must work with Fury to discover her past and the truth of who she is.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Marvel Cosmic Universe – This is a movie that has a lot of lore on both the Kree and Skrull. This is Marvel Cosmic in the same way “Thor” films sometimes too and “Guardians of the Galaxy” always has. This film fits comfortably in those and is definitely better than the first 2 “Thor Films,” though for me the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films keep getting better with each rewatch, so it definitely isn’t that level. In this film you learn about the Supreme Intelligence who rules the Kree (in this film appearing as what person matters most to the individual interacting with it). This was my main reason for coming since as a sci. fi. nerd I love a well developed Cosmic Universe, which the MCU have done a good job of doing.

Fury – Samuel L. Jackson is Agent Fury in this and ends up being Vers’s partner as they seek her past. He starts out antagonistic as he’s had no experience with aliens and it is the events that happen in this film that shape his more cynical world view of the Fury we meet later. In this we see him before he became cynical and I appreciated how warm he was. This was a man who had fought as special forces in countless wars but had found a way to live. I hope we see him get more development in later films as this film still leaves so much open in regards to what he was doing before the first “Iron Man” and what he was doing before this film.

Goose – Goose is Mar-Vell’s Flerken, an alien cat capable of consuming anything. Goose is awesome and when our heroes are facing down enemy forces at the end, Goose eats them, saving both Fury and the refugees they are helping. Fury ends up keeping the Flerken too even though it takes out his eye over the course of the movie. I would not mind seeing this cat again, especially if it is taking out enemy soldiers once more.

The Kree-Skrull War – The main conflict is the Kree-Skrull War. This is war where we don’t know who started it (it implies it was probably the Kree) and now has become a one-sided war. The Skrull have largely gone into hiding with only their strong forces taking on the best of the Kree, which leads to their capture of Vers and where we learn however long the war has been going on, what the Kree are doing has become unjust. They have been doing extermination lead by Ronin by this point in the conflict and it is Mar-Vell who is trying to rescue them and help them find a new world before she is taken out by Kree special forces lead by Yon-Rogg. It is only Carol Danvers (Vers true name) who stops the Kree from getting the super-engine she’s crafted from the Tesseract energy and from here Danvers becomes the hammer of the Kree against the Skrull. By the end of the film Carol Danvers, having come into her full power once more returns to face Kree leadership to end the war and help the Skrull’s find a new home safe from the Kree. Where this war is in the modern timeline is up in the air but there is so much history in this film that I found it all fascinating. Kree distrust of the Skrull’s is so great that on their homeworld they have announcements of days since the last Skrull attack and everyone asks questions of each other to make sure they are Skrull infiltrators. The main leaders in the conflict are Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) who leads the refugee Skrull and leads Skrull Intelligence and the Great Intelligence of the Kree whose commanders are Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace).

Vers / Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel – Brie Larsen does a great job as Captain Marvel. She doesn’t know who she is so what she can do is limited at first, but once she arrives on Earth and starts putting her past together she really comes into her own. This is a character dealing with being brainwashed and gaslit by the Kree and her freeing herself from that, and in turn freeing the Skrull refugees who the Kree hunt is a powerful story. Throughout the story her commander Yon-Rogg is telling her not to feel and to repress herself, while his people repress her abilities. It is toxic and we see how her abusive father was the same way. Throughout the movie is her dealing with this, as she discovers the truth of what was done to her and from that what she chooses to fight and to stand-up for herself and others.

Talos – This is my favorite Ben Mendelsohn character. Talos leads Skrull Intelligence based off what we see in the beginning as he was the one responsible for planning the trap that captures Vers. We see that his aims are noble though. He is tired of the war and just wants to protect the Skrull refugees and his family. Seeing this reveal as he goes from enemy to friend is powerful and I’m glad he survives the film. This is a character I’d like to see again as he is morally complicated which gives so much potential for what he may choose to do in the future. I also think he is only one of the Skrull leaders and I want to see his relationship to the others.

The Themes – The main themes of the film are those of gaslighting, feminism and the plight of the refugee. Gaslighting is explored in what the Kree are doing to Vers (having her suppress her power, emotion, etc.) and it is only after she stops, fights it and accepts her own power that she flies and is able to defeat the enemy forces. Feminism is a theme in that women fighting for equality is a huge part of the film. Both Carol Danvers and her friend are pilots and the only ones in their unit besides the Scientist on the base. This is also shown in the gender swap of Mar-Vell who is played by Annette Bening. This fit the theme as much of Kree leadership is male as well and Mar-Vell’s push against it mirrors Carol Danvers’s later fight against the Kree. The final theme is the plight of the refugee as in the end Mar-Vell was trying to invent a super engine in order to help the Skrull refugees she was protecting on her secret base. The refugees aren’t the soldiers and we see the vulnerable people who are affected by wars.

Okay:

The Kree Team – Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg is the most compelling member of the team, sadly we don’t get to know the others all that much. Their dynamic with Vers is good in the beginning. I couldn’t really describe who they are to you beyond Korath’s distrust of Vers. I wish we’d gotten more time with them, ideally not in conflict so we can see their dynamic and how they work as a team.

Cameos – Coulsen makes a cameo, Ronan makes a cameo and Korath is on the Kree Team. This was another time where I wish we’d gotten more time with them. These are all intriguing characters but they aren’t given the time to be developed like they deserved.

The Cons:

Amnesia Story – Rather than amnesia I wish Carol being lied to had been primary story. We see how her memory was played with where a Skrull is put in the place of Yon-Rogg killing Mar-Vell but that is all that really pays off at the end. If there had been a running theme of the lying and her still knowing bits of her history we would have had the chance to know her more as a character. She could have been pushing against the Kree and their ways more, knowing she was being lied to. I wanted to see her make more choices as Carol and as Vers. Amnesia stories are hard to tell and this was one time where it did hurt the story. I wanted to know Carol but I felt the only time I truly did was when she came into her own at the end. She was the character with a mission, which was fine but I wanted more. Still a great character but an origin story mixed with an amnesia story is a hard thing for any writer to pull off.

What are Captain Marvel’s Limits aka the Superman Problem – Captain Marvel is destroying Kree Cruisers at the end. She is so incredibly powerful that no one around her has the chance to even injure her. This was empowering but it also leads me to the Superman problem. Why do we need the Avengers if Captain Marvel is powerful enough to solve the problem on her own? This is something the Justice League constantly runs into by having a character as powerful as Superman on the team. Kevin Feige said they’ll be dealing with this in “Endgame,” so I’m curious about what the solution will be.

I really liked this film and I hope that we see a sequel or at least see more of the Kree an Skrull, as so many stories have been born out of their relationship to our heroes. I also want to see more Captain Marvel. I wanted more time with her having all her memories as the amnesia story was definitely the weakest part of the film. This was a film that is a solid origin story that further expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Cosmic. If you have liked the other MCU films, chances are you will really like this too. I’m really curious to see where they take Carol Danvers from here.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10

The Avengers (2012): Bringing the Team Together

The Avengers

“The Avengers,” is the accumulation of Phase 1, bringing Thor, Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man together…along with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Hawkeye and Black Widow to stand against Loki and his army. It is directed by Joss Whedon, one of my favorite television directors for his work in “Buffy,” “Angel,” “Dollhouse,” and “Firefly.” This is the movie that all past movies in the Disney Marvel Franchise Retrospect were working towards, and it is worth it.

Here is my assessment of the film:

Pros: Introducing Loki – The film begins with S.H.I.E.L.D. doing experiments on the Tesseract, which we saw they had discovered in “Thor.” During the test Loki arrives, kills a bunch of agents, takes control of Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig. This sets bringing the Avengers together. We see Agent Carter protect the tech. and agents as her and Nick Fury try to bring down Loki before he escapes.

Bringing the Avengers Together – We see Bruce Banner hiding out in India who is brought in by Black Widow who was on a mission undercover, we see Tony Stark brought in after he creates an infinite energy source in Stark Tower and Captain America with Agent Coulson who reveals that Captain America is who inspired him to be an agent in the first place.

The Avengers – Mark Ruffalo owns the role as the Hulk and manages to be just as good if not better than Edward Norton. Robert Downey jr. is great once again as Iron Man, Johansson as Black Widow, Renner as Hawkeye, Jackson as Fury, Hemsworth as Thor and Evans as Captain America are fantastic.

Drama – The drama in this is good. From Captain America hating Stark for his arrogance, to Bruce Banner feeling trapped, from Thor feeling like an outsider whose peoples’ wishes aren’t being respected since he came down to bring Loki back to Asgard to be judged. It is great and has some great fight sequences leading to them eventually come together. We see Loki use this when he uses the Joker’s trope of getting caught in order to turn the team on each other. The drama sets off Hulk which leads to Thor knocking him off the ship and later getting captured by Loki and dropped to Earth.

Captain America and Iron versus Thor – This is a great fight and on a visceral level the movie is worth it just for this. We see Iron Man use Thor’s lighting energy against him to power his suit and we see Captain America block the hammer and the fight finally end. It is fantastic and is real to all the characters. From Iron Man calling Thor, “Shakespeare in the park.” etc.

The Battle of New York – First, it isn’t a great plan. Considering a nuke would have stopped the invasion of the Chitauri….though the human cost would have been great. A nuke is what stops them in the end when Stark leads a nuke through the wormhole and it destroys the Mother Ship which shuts them all down. This is a great battle for seeing all the team in action. Every team member is great and does damage. Highlights of the fight are Hulk punching a Chitauri beast bigger than a building to death and slamming Loki to the ground after being mocked and doing a comeback of “Puny God,” and when he punches Thor between fights after Thor had kicked him off the ship when he is set off during their fighting. Loki’s defeat is rewarding, though we are left wondering if that was the plan all along.

Loki – Was a great enemy who was good at playing the long game…Hell he probably is still playing the long game as far as we know. Loki never loses considering all his plans within plans. “Thor 2” implies he probably is playing a long game.

The Reveal of Thanos – This was all a plot by Thanos who was using The Other to control Loki to do the Chitauri invasion in the first place. It is implied he wanted the invasion to fail since it was just to test the strength of Earth’s heroes…and maybe to get Loki back to Asgard too as a bonus given what happens later.

Agent Coulson – Agent Cameo finally becomes a character and is fantastic in his role as the fanboy who can also kick ass. He dies…and it means something, but they bring him back. This is one thing I hate that the Marvelverse does this. Death should be permanent. For what it is worth “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” does a good job exploring him as a person more, which he deserved. I just wish this could have been through prequels.

Thor and Loki – Their dynamic is great…from Loki feeling powerless as Thor tries to reach out to him…to their arrogance and vulnerability trading places as they trade barbs throughout the film.

The Music – Captures the epic feel of everything so well.

The Humor – Joss Whedon’s dialogue is witty and brilliant per usual. Tony Stark has some of the best dialogue besides how Hulk is used (in the scenes mentioned above). If “Age of Ultron,” can keep this and the drama it may be the perfect film.

Okay: Chitauri – They are Space Orcs with a hivemind. They have a great design but aren’t the best enemies. They are about as deep as the Frost Giants when it comes to opponents.

S.H.I.E.L.D. – Could have been great, but this is about the Avengers. S.H.I.E.L.D. really shines in “Winter Solder,” though…which is good. They are okay in this, but they are hurt the most by Loki, making them rather obsolete in the final battle. Agent Carter is fantastic in this in what scenes she is in and I can’ wait for her to get her own show.

“The Avengers,” is almost perfect…the main thing is that we don’t know if it was Loki’s plan to lose all along and the Chitauri just aren’t that amazing as a threat and us not knowing if Loki was supposed to get caught or not makes the final a little less rewarding than it could have been. This is what keeps it from being perfect since the narrative flows really well. I highly recommend this film, everything that was being worked towards in Phase 1 in the MCU really pays off and it is one of my all time favorite films in the Disney Marvel Franchise Adventure.

Final Score for this film is 9.7 / 10. Nearly perfect.

Iron Man 2 (2010): Stark Mortality and time with S.H.I.E.L.D.

iron_man_2_poster

“Iron Man 2,” was better than how I remembered it. It has more problems than the other films, but that doesn’t stop it from being enjoyable. It like the first one is directed by Jon Favreau who also plays Tony’s bodyguard Happy…it also makes S.H.I.E.L.D. a major part of the Universe beyond just references, which “Thor,” continued.

The story picks up with Tony Stark being poisoned by Palladium Core and Ivan Vanko seeing him on television in Russia and deciding to seek revenge for his father being kept out of the money earned by the original Core. From here the story unfolds as Tony comes in conflict with Pepper and Rhody.

Here is the assessment of the film:

Pros: Tony Stark/Iron Man – We see Stark dealing his mortality and acting out after the government brings him in for a hearing…from parties where it takes Rhody taking up the War Machine suit to stop him. He is eventually cut off from everyone after he defeats Vanko/Whiplash in a fight in a arena of Grand Prix. We see his conflict with his distant father who he has been becoming throughout the film…it ends up being his father who cared all along and created a new element that Tony uses to replace the Palladium.

Pepper Pots – Is great in this film. She is the CEO of Stark Industries and the only thing keeping it afloat during Tony’s process of self destruction. Her biggest con is she doesn’t recognize when Tony comes around after everything that she’s been through so Tony dying and what that means in relation to her is never fully addressed. Gwyneth Paltrow does well again.

Black Widow – Is fantastic! We see her defeat H.A.M.M.E.R. thugs and act as a one man army as well as play the role of aid to both Tony and Pepper Pots. There is a reason she is one of the Avengers. Scarlett Johansson is great.

Agent Coulson – Has a small cameo before he goes to New Mexico where Thor’s Hammer landed, but he is done taking Tony Stark’s crap and has a great moment standing up for him.

Nick Fury – Advises Tony, but keeps him from the Avengers at the end. Is a major player in this one and proof of S.H.I.E.L.D’s new hands on approach. He is the one who gets Tony to listen closer to what his father’s videos are telling him and to find a solution to his mortal predicament.

The Music – Is once again fantastic. I must say I like the “Iron Man Trilogy,” soundtracks.

Special Effects – The Special Effects are good and add to the action.

The Reveal – Thor’s Hammer is New Mexico at the end, tying this movie into the one that came next…”Thor.” It is pretty neat reveal.

Why can’t Iron Man have any great villains? This movie captures that problem quite well…

Okay: Justin Hammer – He is an arrogant tool who is nervous and cocky at the same time. He is used by Whiplash for most of the film and doesn’t stand up to him until it is too late. The guy is a tool and not that great of an antagonist, but at least he brought Whiplash on who did a lot of damage…so I won’t put him as a con.

Whiplash – Ivan Vanko had a lot of potential and Mickey Rourke does as much as he can with what he is given…but he just isn’t complex. He is out for revenge against the child of the man he should want revenge against in regards to his father. He also is not able to connect to any human beings and only has his bird as a companion. So much wasted potential, but not a con. His electric whips are actually kind of neat and he is powerful enough that Tony and Rhody are needed to stop him.

Happy – He’s just kind of there and doesn’t get much characterization. He isn’t bad, but he isn’t good either.

The Narrative – So much is going on…Whiplash’s revenge plot, Hammer’s plot, The Government’s plot and Tony’s self destruction as well as S.H.I.E.L.D. Lack of focus is really what brings this story down. It should have been focused on Whiplash and S.H.I.E.L.D. and Tony’s self destruction. Not much else is needed and the rest just clutters it all.

Lack of focus is really what brings this movie down and keeps it from being unforgettable. A lot of interesting ideas and characters are introduced, but most aren’t explored fully. Tony Stark’s mortality get’s handled decently at least…as does Pepper and S.H.I.E.L.D. It is the worst of Phase 1 for sure though.

My final score for this film is 7.3 / 10.

Above average action flick with some great characters and ideas that aren’t fully developed.

Thor (2011): A Sci. Fi. Fantasy Adventure of the Man Who Would be King

Thor (2011)

“Thor,” is better with a second watching. Choosing Kenneth Branagh as a director with his experience acting and directing Shakespeare movies and plays was a smart move. Thor is an interesting character to cover, as well as most of the Norse Characters in this…since the myths were used as a template to create them…but they are still very much their own even though their names come from who inspired each of the characters (Loki, Odin, Thor and the location Asgard as examples). I love mythology and like seeing different pop. culture (Marvel Comics as an example) take on these interesting and fascinating characters and ideas.

Here is the premise of the film. The premise is Odin foolishly sets up a rivalry between his sons when they are younger, telling them one of them will someday be King. When his son Thor says he will destroy the Frost Giants as Odin did (what we see in a flashback narrated by Odin), Odin doesn’t stop this leading to Thor being reckless and put the kingdom at risk by nearly starting a war with the Frost Giants. Odin ashamed of his son’s arrogance and recklessness casts him down to Earth along with the Hammer Mjolnir with the promise of the one worthy to lift it will have the strength of Thor as a God. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Special Effects – This movie is beautiful. Especially Jotunheim the world of the Ice Giants and Asgard, the realm of the Gods. We see a great Ice World with giant beasts and giants and in Asgard we see the marriage of sci. fi. tech and magic.

The Frost Giants – Have a great look. They look like trolls or orcs but are much larger and have ice magic that they use to create weapons to fight with. I really liked their design, and that in this iteration they are the ones who take Odin’s eye. They have red tattoos and eyes on their dark blue bodies and faces.

Pros: Asgard – Asgard is fantastic. It is here that magic is technology and sci. fi. and fantasy mix. We see this in weapons that fire energy and the fact that Mjolnir was made from a dying star. Wish we could have seen more politics, but it is great being introduced to all the characters.

Odin – Hopkins as great as Odin…who is manipulative, angry but well intentioned…he reminds me of a King out of Game of Thrones. He takes in Loki as a child because he wants Loki to be a tool for peace between the Frost Giants and Asgard. This doesn’t go well because he lied to Loki about his origins.

Thor vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. – The fight to get his hammer Mjolner is a great one. We see Hawkeye watching him and sympathizing as he proceeds to beat up all the agents…as well as the failure to get the Hammer when he finally reaches it since he is unworthy.

Thor – Thor is great as a fish out of water and Chris Hemsworth is great as the well intentioned fool who grows up. He is the jock who becomes compassionate and finally becomes the worthy heir to Asgard. We see this in his sacrifice to protect humanity against Loki’s weapon the Destroyer.

Loki – Tom Hiddleson owns this role. We see a character who is conflicted based on being a member of Asgard but not of Asgard, of someone who is a tool of a King but no real power…he is the bastard who hopes to rule. This is done really well since you see his conflicted feelings for the people who are a part of his life but do not know the truth of him being a Frost Giant. This is the reason behind his mind games with Thor and his Gambit to wipe out the Frost Giants.

Heimdell – Idris Elba is one of the greatest actors and one of my favorites. This was the first role I saw him in years ago and he does a wonderful job in this as counselor and friend of Thor and the man outside of space able to see all. His telling Thor about the hope of Jane searching for him is powerful too after the Byfrost is destroyed by Thor in the fight with Loki in order to save the Frost Giants from Loki.

S.H.I.E.L.D. – They manage to capture Thor, build a facility over his Hammer and help in the final fight (as well as take all the science teams tech. and knowledge). They are a great presence in this and Coulson is fantastic as the leader.

The Humor – When the Destroyer arrives one of the agents asks if it is “Tony’s tech?” and Coulson says he doesn’t know because no one tells him anything. Also Thor being the fish out water has some great moments as his arrogance is brought down to level.

The Reveal – We see Nick Fury meeting Dr. Erik and the fact that Loki survives the final fight, setting up the Avengers since he is using Dr. Erik Selvig to research the Tesseract (and now we know he survived being lost floating in space).

Okay: Jane – She is generic love interest. She isn’t bad but Natalie Portman and the writing fail to elevate the role.

The Science Team – Dr. Selvig and the intern Darcy along with Jane just aren’t that interesting. They are there to advance Thor’s plot…all the interesting stuff is related to the Cosmos and Asgard.

Sif and the Warriors Three – They have some good moments on Earth but are pretty generic warriors too. Sif the Warrior Maiden, Hogun the calm warrior, Fandral the swashbuckler and Valstagg…the bearded one who loves to eat. They’d be better if we saw more politics in Asgard or conflict on Earth.

Laufey – The Frost Giant King and secondary antagonist…he is great as a taunter, but he doesn’t do much and is easily used in Loki’s gambit. He isn’t bad, he’s just like a giant orc in a Lord of the Rings movie. Looks impressive, but in the end hardly a threat compared to the Nazgul. He is okay as an enemy.

Thor was a good film and one I’d recommend. It is worth it just for Tom Hiddleson as Loki and Hemsworth as Thor, though Hiddleson does has the superior performance…also worth it to see S.H.I.E.L.D. in action. It shows us more of what they do and ties directly into the “Avengers” and the events that happen there. Not the strongest of the MCU and Disney Marvel Franchise Adventure, but a good one.

Final Score is 8.4 / 10.

 

Iron Man (2008): Changing the Merchant of War

Iron Man

“Iron Man,” is the first of the Disney Marvel Franchise that I ever saw…though technically this does pre-dates Disney buying Marvel Studios but I’m still including it in the Disney Marvel Adventure since it falls under that umbrella even if the first “Iron Man” does pre-date it. At the time it was a favorite and it still stands up to being a favorite to this day. Robert Downey Jr. is the quintessential Tony Stark in temperament and charisma and who really elevates the film further. We now continue the Disney Marvel Franchise Adventure with “Iron Man (2008).”

The premise of “Iron Man,” adds dimension to Tony Stark’s character since when we first meet him he is a selfish playboy obsessed with work. What changes things is when a terrorist group named The Ten Rings kidnaps him and working with Dr. Yinsen and builds the first Iron Man suit to get out. From here the story unfolds as Tony is changed radically by the events of his captivity.

Here is the assessment of the film:

The Pros: The Soundtrack – The music is a lot better than “Captain America: The First Avenger,” it is tense and exciting and captures the tech. feel of Tony Stark.

Pepper Pots – Gwyneth Paltrow does an excellent job as Pepper Pots. She is Tony’s assistant and somewhat love interest in this film but more than either of these she is his friend. We see it in her worry and risking herself to find out about Obadiah Stane’s plot and that he was behind the Ten Rings capture of Tony Stark.

Coloney “Rhodey” Rhodes – “Rhodey” also functions as Tony’s moral compass akin to Pepper Pots at the beginning of the film. Terrance Howard does an excellent job, and i wish there had been some way for him to stay throughout the other two films. He is calm compared to Tony’s erratic energy and anxious adding an interesting character dynamic.

Tony’s Robots/Tech – Tony’s Robots are great comedic relief throughout the film since he gave them personality…such as the one that sprays him with water after every test even when their isn’t a fire. J.A.R.V.I.S. is also something this Tony would make as well his Iron Man suits. There is a conservative sleekness to it all.

J.A.R.V.I.S. – Paul Bettany does a great job as the A.I. that runs Tony’s home and suit. He is calm and witty like the butler who inspired the character.

Dr. Yinsen – Is great as Tony’s moral compass in the cave. He is the one who motivates him to build the suit and do something with his life, as well as see what his weapons are being used for. His death actually means something…

Tony Stark/Iron Man – Tony Stark is the main character in this film, though Iron Man makes appearances from about halfway through onward…not including the early Iron Man suit. We see a narcissist who takes everyone for granted and doesn’t care about the damage his industry did…to a man trying to bring down the evils of his company. It is a great arc represented in his creation of an ARC reactor heart…he is the metaphorical Tin Man. His chemistry with others both before and after his change is fantastic and Robert Downey Jr. owns this role.

Obadiah Stane – Jeff Bridges does a good job of being the two-faced partner of Tony Stark. He is Jeff Bridges so even when he is being evil he still has charisma. The film is really a reveal of how he is putting money from weapons over people and disregards his partnership. We don’t have enough time with him as the Iron Monger and his Iron Monger is big and stupid…wish they’d gone with a different design and made it more Stane like…it is Tony’s stolen tech…it isn’t really Obadiah’s. He at least does a good job at the end though with stealing Tony’s heart to power his machine and causing Tony to be at much weaker power. Stane’s destruction is rewarding.

The Message – You can’t ethically sell in the weapons industry seems to be the help. It is like “Apocalypse Now,” that way…but in reverse. Tony is the one defending weapons to destroying his weapons as he sees the villages and people destroyed. This become a metaphor for the individual as Tony seeks to reform himself in how heartless he has been towards others. Ending with him coming forward as Iron Man.

The Reveal – We meet Nick Fury at the end who mentions the Avengers Initiative to Tony which ties into Agent Coulson’s presence throughout the film. Coulson is alright, it is more what he represents and means later that makes his cameo in this (as well as Nick Fury’s) a pro.

Okay: The Cinematography – There are some scenes that aren’t that good due to scatter shot. The shots don’t elevate or have a unique feel to them. They feel generic.

Raza – Played by Faran Tahir…I wish this guy had gotten an Iron Man suit. He is the one who kills Yinsen and the reason Tony needs the ARC reactor to live. The problem is he has very little agency and in the end is a less than impressive Dragon since Stane kills him.

The 3rd Act – The 3rd act is pretty weak. Obadiah isn’t even trying to be nice anymore and goes outright bad, which hurts what character was there. The final battle elevates it so it isn’t a con, as does S.H.E.I.L.D.’s presence. At this point Tony’s arc is done so it is just a big villain fight with no lead-up or investment in the Iron Monger. Which is a pretty common pattern in the Iron Man films in regards to the baddies.

“Iron Man,” is a solidly good film, with a good moral point that I would recommend. It is worth it to see Robert Downey Jr. play a role he owns so well alone. His character arc also feels real and you see him change so radically in his escape from the cave. There is a reason he probably the most memorable of the Avengers…and I can’t wait to get to his other films.

Final score is 9.3 / 10. A solidly great film.