Iron Man

In honor of the Fourth of July, we are republishing this article from January 2011, as we feel it to be an appropriate act of patriotism. We will now allow you to return to watching Independence Day for the third time. We know that you’re doing it… Aleric, one of our favorite comment providers on the site, tossed out an interesting theory the other day regarding the state of auspiciously pro-American movies being put out by Hollywood over the past ten years. Specifically, that there was a noticeable lack of them in the face of films that criticize. It’s an interesting idea, and like most trends, it’s unclear exactly how bold a trend it is. It’s true that those looking for the World War II levels of Americana from Hollywood are out in the cold. There are probably a dozen reasons for that. Levels of pro-American movie production have never been higher than that era, but it was also a wildly different time for movie making in general (no matter what the subject matter). Still, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius were charged with the seemingly difficult task of finding movies that celebrated the United States that came out of Hollywood in the past ten years. It’s an oddly specific list, but it’s also a very good list of movies that demand to be seen (whether you agree they’re patriotic or not). Plus, they don’t celebrate any particular political party. They celebrate the highest ideals of the country. Overt flag waving […]

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The release of The Amazing Spider-Man this week has left some people scratching their heads. How can a movie that is billed as “The Untold Story” be so achingly repetitive? With the first hour of the film an alternate take on the first hour of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man from 2002, people have questioned the need to rehash essentially the same origin story of such a widely-known superhero. As reported in Latino Review, director Marc Webb insists the reboot was necessary. (Spoiler: it wasn’t.) He continues to say it was to introduce the world to a new Spider-Man and, more importantly, a new Peter Parker. (Spoiler: It really doesn’t.) Whether Webb was pressured by the studio for the redux origin or if he just wanted to not have to follow any of the Raimi canon, it seems silly to tread such familiar ground so soon. In 2002, Spider-Man continued the trend that X-Men started two years before, making superhero films profitable and possible in the big studio system. Since then, we’ve seen quite a few origin stories – from full-blown reboots of known characters as in Batman Begins to introduction of heroes who aren’t known much outside of comic book fans as in Iron Man. However, with The Man of Steel coming up next year and an obvious Batman reboot once The Dark Knight Rises finishes its run, who knows what Hollywood is going to do next?

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Last week, the utterly shocking news broke that not only was Warner Bros. pursuing a Justice League movie, but it also was in no way at all ever influenced by the unbridled financial success of Marvel’s The Avengers. We can all believe that, can’t we? After all, we read it on the internet. With Man of Steel coming out next year and a no-brainer Batman reboot coming now that Christopher Nolan’s movies are wrapping up this summer, this is an opportunity for Warner Bros. and DC to set a new stage. Plus, with adaptations of The Flash and Lobo, and the potential for a Green Lantern reboot, Warner Bros. and DC have things laid out for them to work out very similar to the pre-Avengers line of films. But this is Hollywood, and so many things can go potentially wrong with a project like this. Here are seven ways Warner Bros. can avoid a potential disaster as they develop this film series.

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Shaun of the Dead

We all know what it feels like when a film touches on events yet to come. Usually it’s the best when it’s something that you could only pick up on after already watching the film once before – it’s like a little inside joke you get to have with the filmmakers, a reward for sitting through the movie more than once. At times it’s not even the fact that it foreshadows event in the films, but rather that it’s so subtle that it takes a few goes to even pick up on. Other times are less subtle, but just as fun. This is probably going to have spoilers in it. Just to be clear.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? The Avengers parodies were inevitable, but animator Junaid Chundrigar just won with a fantastic exploration of The Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man and other Marvel heroes on their bad days. Instead of a story, Chundrigar relies on quick, slap-stick style comic moments. Venom struggles with an ice cream cone, Spidey meets a helicopter head on, and a city burns when a meatball gets dropped. It’s funny, and the animation has an adorable Saturday Morning Cartoon vibe that makes this short even more agreeable. No surprise that the fine folks at Short of the Week sent it along – they know quality when they see it. I can’t help but think Joss Whedon would love this. What will it cost? Only 2 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve got Time For More Short Films

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What is Movie News After Dark? This week it’s a series of second stringer fill-ins trying not to run things into the ground while regular columnist Neil Miller disappears for a while due to reasons both glamorous and mysterious (in true Lohan fashion, he’s cited both “exhaustion” and “being dehydrated”). And today it’s a laundry list of Internet people still crushing on Joss Whedon’s superhero extravaganza, The Avengers, because Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows shit the bed this weekend and we haven’t had anything shiny to come along to steal away our fickle attentions yet. Let’s get to it. The above image comes from an artist named Hannah, who has proven that her finger is firmly on the pulse of the Internet by paying tribute both to the death of beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak as well as the work of beloved nerd-God Joss Whedon by mashing up Sendak’s artistic style with the cast of The Avengers. Is cute, no?

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Culture Warrior

Crowding a movie with talent often seems like a good idea only in the abstract sense. In practice, such films can easily feel overstuffed. For example, the basic conceits for both The Expendables and Grown Ups sound like products of wishful thinking held during a drunk conversation between a group of 19-year-olds at 3am. Yes, in theory a movie featuring all of the action stars of the 80s or the most successful SNL cast since the late-70s would be great – however, a bunch of famous people do not a seminal action film or great comedy make. What’s most surprising about Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is that the whole somehow proved greater than its parts. A movie with this quantity of iconic superheroes runs the incredible risk of being overstuffed and only half-cooked. The standards created by previous Hollywood films indicate that studios would be happy enough allowing the conflagration of bankable characters stand in for (or, more accurately, distract from the lack of) actual entertainment value; mammoth opening weekends, after all, are always more a sign of effective marketing than good filmmaking. But The Avengers not only stands as an equal to some of the stronger entries in Marvel’s 4-year, 5-film multiverse-building, but is arguably superior. Some of these characters came across more fully-fleshed and three-dimensional as part of an ensemble than in their respective standalone films.

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Now that The Avengers is a Hulk-sized hit on North American shores as well as overseas, the big question is what will Joss Whedon do next. As seen in this interview with Collider, the man appears to be pretty damn tired from this monster film that officially wrapped only a couple weeks ago. But Hollywood moves fast, and Marvel Studios moves even faster. Acolytes of Whedon are sounding the charge as if a revolution has occurred that makes the later seasons of his shows pale in comparison. The question is will Whedon be courted by the inevitable Avengers 2? Will he resurrect his TV series onto the big screen? Will Neil Patrick Harris be involved in any way? Here are the main options Whedon has before him.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column dedicated to movie news and links, written hastily this evening because its author is due to get in line and see The Avengers at a midnight show. Please excuse errors in spelling, grammar, logic and common sense — beyond the usual, of course. We begin with a new shot of The Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man. He’s holding Peter Parker’s camera, which he will likely crush in a sign of his abject disrespect for the young spiderkund. He’s quite scaly.

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The Avengers want you to see The Avengers in theaters.

It’s been open overseas for a week, already raking in more than $200m, and now The Avengers is landing on U.S. soil with one of the biggest summer openings in history. But does that mean you should see it now? Or do you wait for home video? Sure, there’s plenty of arguments as to why you can wait, including obnoxious crowds, high ticket prices, and the general hassle of getting your butt off the couch and driving to your local multiplex. However, here are seven ultimate reasons should convince you to, paraphrasing Shakespeare, “Get thee to a theater!” and witness Marvel’s greatest achievement in superhero movies.

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The Avengers the film needs no introduction, and that’s mainly because The Avengers themselves need no introduction. A dream team of superheroes and superallies, The Avengers first appeared in the Marvel universe in 1963, so for fans of the mighty band of heroes, a big screen cinematic adaptation that would do justice to the justice-doers has been a long-held wish. With Marvel Studios churning out blockbusters for eventual Avengers like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Hulk in recent years, it was only a matter of time before that wish was granted and the heroes united for one massive film outing. It goes without saying that Joss Whedon‘s The Avengers is already a big hit here at FSR (our own Cole Abaius called it “Marvel’s mightiest movie” in his review), and we’re all anxious to see what movie-going audiences think of it. To whet your palate for the inevitable Avengers bonanza, here are 12 things that we learned at The Avengers press conference (spoiler-free if you’ve seen a trailer or two!). The event featured a massive gathering of Avengers and pals, including Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man/Tony Stark), Chris Hemwsorth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America/Steve Rogers), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk/Bruce Banner), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Kevin Feige (Marvel President), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye/Clint Barton),Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), and Joss Whedon (writer and director). Check it out after the break!

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Drinking Games

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new superhero movie kicking off the summer movie season. Joss Whedon’s The Avengers assembles Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain American (along with Hawkeye and Black Widow, neither of whom got their own movie). Many superhero fans are preparing for this release by watching the first five films from Marvel Studios, which lead up to this blockbuster: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America. Or, they’re planning on seeing them in a long-form marathon leading up to the midnight release of The Avengers. Both are good ideas. Whether you watch these films on video at home or are doing so at a theater that serves alcohol, assemble some adult beverages for yourself and play along.

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In a New York living room, sometime in the early 1970s, a young boy is sitting in front of his television (possibly watching an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus) and playing with plastic toy figures of Earth’s mightiest heroes. He smashes The Hulk into Thor, zooms Iron Man around at incredible speed and makes Captain America leap over an H.R. Pufnstuf doll. Because, you know, he’s got one of those too. Forty some odd years later, that same little boy named Joss Whedon got a chance to slam those toys together again, and he achieved something that’s made up equally of the magic of childhood and the craftsmanship of a seasoned filmmaker. It was an impossible dream, a crazy call-out to the far left field bleachers, but The Avengers is the best movie that Marvel has made.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s something that happens nightly, provides you with good feelings, is easy to clean up and doesn’t require anyone else to be in the room. What else in your life is like that? We begin tonight with a completely badass image from Brave in which Princess Merida jumps from the clutches of what seems to be an evil bear into the grasp of a nice bear. The difference is in the claws. Also, The Art of Brave book is available for pre-order. Get it.

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Now that The Avengers is wrapped and ready to premiere, work is moving full speed ahead on the next installment of the Marvel heroes’ saga, Iron Man 3. Though the first two Iron Man movies were made under the watch of Jon Favreau, this one is being put together by director Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), and if there was ever any doubt that he would be able to live up to what Favreau did with the property, the casting he’s been doing is starting to erase it. First off, Black needed a villain, so he went out and got one of the most experienced and acclaimed actors working today, Ben Kingsley, and signed him up. Now he’s in need of someone who looks good in a lab coat, so he’s gone out and gotten one of the most underrated and underutilized actors in Hollywood. According to Variety, Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential, Memento) will be joining the likes of Kingsley, Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle in the Iron Man 3 cast, and he’ll be playing the role of geneticist Aldrich Killian.

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In 2010, Jon Favreau wasn’t out of the Iron Man business yet when he announced that Iron Man 3 had to have The Mandarin. It made sense. After all, it’s the most formidable opponent Tony Stark ever went up against. Plus, there have been small hints and references to the Chinese baddie since the opening of the first film. There hasn’t been an official announcement, but all news has been leading to the obvious: that The Mandarin will be the villain in Shane Black‘s movie. First, it was rumored that Sir Ben Kingsley might be on board to fight Robert Downey Jr.,  according to Variety, The Walt Disney Company China will co-produce alongside Marvel and DMG Entertainment. DMG will oversee the production in China as well as distribution in the country. Is there any doubt at this point that The Mandarin will be the villain? There were some unconfirmed “insider” reports that the production wasn’t looking to The Mandarin, but with China in play, Kingsley as a clear (albeit non-Chinese) choice for a role like this, and the earlier nods within the storyline, either it’s definitely him, or this is a massive head fake from Marvel. Shoe money is on the former.

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Look, Battleship will probably end up proving that it has at least a few original ideas in its head. Someone out there has to have shoved in one or two scenes that don’t look exactly like other movies, but the trailers certainly aren’t out to prove that. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop ragging on this flick for being a moronic idea and time to start ragging on it as a clear patchwork of other movies. Somehow, Universal has bypassed the need to do Hollywood math by simply copying and pasting directly from other films that have been successful. Why make something like Iron Man or like Transformers when you can go ahead and just make them again under a different name. Watch this new trailer and try to say with a straight face that the alien design isn’t Iron Man with a paint job. Watch the giant building collapse and try not to think up 5 other movies within the past 2 years where it’s happened (and try extra hard not to imagine the exact same scene in Dark of the Moon). No one says much of anything. Probably a good thing. But, whew, the action sure does look eye-popping.

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Say what you will about AMC theaters being one of the central powers in the heartless, corporate multiplex system that currently controls film exhibition in this country; over the past couple years they’ve really made an effort to put together some cool events that cater to film fans. Whether it’s their yearly marathons of the Best Picture Nominees, or special re-releases for classic films hitting anniversaries, or themed marathons promoting a big release, AMC proves that, even in the multiplex, love for the movies isn’t dead. And, you know, they have to be making profits off of these things or they wouldn’t keep doing them, but let’s focus on the love right now. Their latest marathon will be taking place on Thursday, May 3rd, in conjunction with the release of Marvel’s big tentpole feature The Avengers. Starting at 11:30 a.m. participating theaters will be running through all of the Marvel Studios movies that have become the build to The Avengers, all culminating with the midnight premiere of the new film. Keeping track of these superhero movies is hard though, and it feels like Samuel L. Jackson has showed up after the credits of half the movies released over the last few years, so exactly which movies will AMC be screening?

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These items would have no doubt made Simon’s list this week, but they all come with a hefty price tag. Marvel is auctioning off several pieces of screen-used props, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, they’re expected to go for anywhere between $100 – $30,000. So what’s up for grabs? You can check out the full Captain America catalog preview for yourself, but they’ve got everything from director’s chair backs from the production to Captain America’s shield in an ice resin. From concept art to Red Skull’s SS costume to Iron Man‘s Mark II “Autopsy” Suit to a full-scale motorcycle from Captain America to Thor‘s stunt hammer. Profiles in History, the auction house in charge, has got a lot to work with. It’s almost as if they’re selling everything they used to make the movies. The whole thing will be done online, but some of the bigger items will only be available at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo on April 14th. If you’re feeling generous, this Captain America War Bonds Poster would be perfect for my office.  

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The Gift Guide: Collectibles

It’s the final countdown. Dunuh na naaaa. Less than two weeks to go until Christmas, so naturally now’s the time to start buying things. Who needs organizational skills when you can imbue that action-film frenzied spirit into your final rounds of festive gift buying? Since I’m the collectible fiend around these parts, I’ve been tasked with listing the essential holiday gifts from that world for every film fan. It hasn’t been easy, and I’ve mentally spent way too much money in compiling the list myself. But hey, occupational hazard. Anyway, here follows 15 of the must-have collectibles for this holiday season, some regulars of the Merch Hunter column will recognize, and some will be brand new. Either way, they’re what movie lovers want. As this is my handiwork, you can expect a general mix of the uber-expensive and ultra-collectible as well as the affordable and accessible, more charming options. No snob am I….

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