Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Marvel's Expanding Universe, Pt. II

What a guy.
The film that started this whole thing off was Iron Man, starring Tony Sta-Robert Downey Jr as the charismatic, egocentric genius that is Tony Stark.  I think we can easily say that the main reason why Marvel has had the success they've had so far with this adventure is largely thanks to Mr. Downey Jr.  It's impossible to imagine anyone else in the role.  Like, say, Tom Cruise...? or something ridiculous like that.  Which definitely didn't almost happen for 9 years... Iron Man enjoyed great box office, as will as critical success.  It raked in over $90,000,000 opening weekend, and currently has grossed over $500,000,000 worldwide. The critics favored it as much as the audiences did, as well. gives it a rating of 94% on the tomatometer.  For comparison and contrast, The Dark Knight (seemingly the benchmark for superhero films) also has a 94% rating.  The difference between the two lies in the audience review section, where Iron Man has a nice 91%, whereas The Dark Knight has a 96%.  

...stop staring at me like that...
I'm not insulting your movie... promise........
Personally (and also because I'm a crazy Marvel fan) I do think Iron Man is a better movie than the The Dark Knight, although I believe Batman Begins to be superior to both (I believe that some of my fellow writers here disagree with me...).  Rottentomatoes disagrees and Marvel fanboys reading this (if ever such a thing happens on this site) have zero respect for me now, but you have to admit Nolan does one hell of a job.  Back to what we're here to talk about.  

The "button" at the end of Iron Man was the real start of the Avengers story-line.  When that shadowy figure came out of the dark and was in fact Samuel L. Jac-Nick Fury, and then uttered those wonderful words that had those fanboys (that hate me now) screaming all over the world: "I'd like to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative."  CHILLS.  Plus other things.  

Come at me, Terrorists.
Let's just say that I would tell the screaming fanboys (in my best Archer impression) "I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of my giant--" you get the point...Tony was also featured in the first non-Iron Man "button", which was actually before the credits of The Incredible Hulk.  So like, a "zipper"?  Tony was shown walking into a bar where General "Thunderbolt" Ross was trying to drink his pain away after quite the epic fail in his career.  We learn later in the Marvel one-shots released with the Thor DVD that Tony was sent by Agent Coulson to annoy Ross, in an attempt to say one thing and accomplish another.  The Abomination from the Hulk movie was currently in Ross's custody, and SHIELD was going to ask if Blonsky (AKA The A-Bom) could be handed into their care to join the Avengers Initiative.  They didn't really want him though, so they sent in "The Consultant" (Stark) to piss off Ross so that he wouldn't actually give SHIELD Blonsky.  Basically it's like when a girl pretends to like you when you're really young and naive just so that she can get close to you and then when you feel like it's a wonderful mutual thing you ask her to the Christmas dance and then she says no in front of all your friends just to embarass you and you go home feeling horrible because she ripped your heart out and cut it into tiny pieces, then put it in a plastic bag and mushed it up til it was just a paste, and then put it down the garbage disposal until you had nothing left to work with and were a heartless wretched being! But... I wouldn’t know that from personal experience...

Tony wouldn't make another appearance until Iron Man 2, which followed the events of The Incredible Hulk, and took place partially during the same time Thor was in New Mexico doing stuff with Natalie Portman (or whatever her character’s name was).  He also apparently played an Asgardian drinking game.  Iron Man wouldn't appear again until The Avengers, where he seems to be fully instated now as a member of the team, rather than just SHIELD's "Consultant."  

The point to this article isn't to just summarize his story up to now, and is even less about my childhood struggles......  It's about what happens next?  The installment of the Iron Man franchise begins principal photography in May this year, and is scheduled to open May 3, 2012.  Jon Favreau has backed out of the directors chair, although he is very happy to reprise his role as Happy (see what I did there?).  Instead the threequel will be directed, as well as written by, Shane Black.  Shane isn't incredibly well known, however when he's been involved with anything, it's been a pretty good anything.  His only other time in the director's seat was for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which starred Robert Downey Jr as well as Val Kilmer.  I like to call it "The movie that should have rebooted Downey", but sadly it did not.  Black has also written for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and all the Lethal Weapon movies.  His comedic writing is witty and dark (not to mention his actual screenwriting style...), and he's no stranger to action.  If an issue will arise with Black it will be that his writing is generally aimed at a much more mature audience, so he may need to be a little more tame with Iron Man 3.  I'm not worried though.  He's mentioned before that this movie will be darker than previous installments, and will play out a bit like a Tom Clancy novel.  He's mentioned very recently that *mild spoiler alert for the rest of the article* the first half of the movie is going to include Tony "back in the cave from Iron Man."  This means we'll be seeing Tony struggling for his life, and hopefully doing a lot of soul-searching.  

The great part of that is one: we see a more exposed Tony Stark, and two: the last time he was in a cave he came out with an awesome suit of armor, featuring napalm.  What might we see this time?  I'm thinking awesome.  Oh wait a minute, what's this?  The latest rumors are circulating around the very likely possibility of the Extremis storyline.  Apparently Shane Black and Drew Pearce have a screenplay that adopts this story arc.  

For those of you who don't read comics, the Extremis story-line involves a terrorist, Mallen, who is infused with the Extremis serum.  This serum gives Mallen enhanced physical powers, amongst other things, and also makes him go completely bonkers.  Iron Man fights him, and Mallen kicks his butt to within an inch of his life.  Stark is rescued, and in an incredibly risky move decides to manipulate the Extremis serum a bit, and use it on himself.  He runs the risk of dying, going nuts, or being saved.  He lives through it, and gets much more than he bargained a good way.  Tony is now a cyborg.  The Iron Man armor is linked with Tony's mind, and along with this and physical strength much greater than before, he can connect mentally with any of his Stark tech or any computer.  In a crazy final showdown re-match, Iron Man savagely takes on Mallen. 

Anyone unfamiliar with Iron Man and the Mandarin need only know this: Mandarin is to Iron Man like the Green Goblin is to Spiderman, the Red Skull is to Captain America, and the Joker is to Batman.  The Mandarin is a super-genius in science and martial arts.  His martial arts skills are so incredibly ridiculous, he is basically superhuman.  On multiple occasions the Mandarin has actually broken Tony's armor with his bare hands.  He's got to have some nasty calluses...  Recently, Sir Ben Kingsley was in talks to play the main villain in Iron Man 3.  

The summary of said villain goes like this: a man who is behind the "spread of a virus through nanobots."  I didn't want to make it too easy for you to put two and two together earlier, so I left this little tidbit out.  The Extremis serum is basically a virus, and it involves lots of nanobots.  The latest news is that Sir Kingsley will not be playing the main villain, but whether that means that people lie (never....), or that he'll be playing a different role, or there will be a different main bad guy to take center stage while Mandarin plays in the pit, remains to be seen.  He's not in the movie for sure, but not quite out of it.  He's sort of in limbo.  As much as I can easily see Ben Kingsley in the role of the Mandarin, part of me is dying a little inside, because I really was hoping I'd see Ken Watanabe in the role... oh well, dreams die (notice the dying inside/dreams references, and also the transition from "limbo"?  Ken Watanabe---->Inception?Very cool, no? BRAAAAAAHMMMM).  

Iron Man 3 is the first scheduled Marvel movie to come out after the Avengers, so what do you think?  Will the post-credits clip feature a segue into the Extremis story arc?  Will we see an Iron Man villain?  Or will it feature a different hero?  Maybe a new hero altogether?  Post comments below.  

UPDATE: Iron Man 3 will be filming in China, which gives even more credibility to the possibility of The Mandarin making an appearance! 

UPDATE 2: Guy Pearce (!!!!!!!!!!!) has been cast as Aldrich Killian! Killian is one of the scientists who develop the Extremis serum in the comics. Look to see if Maya Hansen, the other geneticist, will be cast as well. Also the villain Mallen may be cast as well! Though, presumabley, that information will be under lock-and-key. Still no word on Kingsley's character (The Mandarin? Or perhaps another character not directly adapted from the comics?)
Let's hear what you think!  

Check out Part 1 Here!
Part 3 coming soon, featuring the mighty THOR!

Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman,

...because a still image wasn't creepy enough...


  1. UPDATE:  Ironman III will be filming in China, giving a lot more credibility to the Mandarin rumor!

  2. UPDATE:  Guy Pearce has been cast as Aldrich Killian!  Killian is one of the scientists who developed the Extremis serum in the Extremis comics!  Look to see casting now for Maya Hansen as the other geneticist.  Also the villain Mallen may be cast as well!  Still no more word on Ben Kingsley's character.


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