Hello, Weirdos! I decided to take a break from the Director Selective Series and switch things up with a new series called Franchise Fever . Similar in idea to DSS, but the focus will be on specific franchises. With Avengers: Infinity War around the corner, the first entry in this series is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 18 films in order of release. Let's get started!
First up is Iron Man:
Director: Jon Favreau
What's Weird: For starters, Terrance Howard as Rhodey. Also, Tony had a Wii.
What’s Cool: Tony listening to Suicidal Tendencies. And the birth of this massive, history making franchise.
What Holds: The CGI looked great. Sure, there were noticeable parts, but mostly it looked legit for being over 10 years old.
What’s Weak: The villain was bland. He was basically who Tony would have become had he never been abducted. Also, I kept asking myself what was the point of Pepper? I felt like Jarvis could do everything she could. She was like Vanna White–nice to look at, but kinda pointless.
Where’s Stan: Stan Lee popped up on the red carpet disguised as Hugh Hefner.
After The Credits: Nick Fury broke into Tony’s house to name drop the Avengers.
Final Thoughts: Iron Man was solid. The story was grounded, and Tony’s redemption was genuine and earned. He didn't suddenly become the greatest guy. He went from a money hungry narcissist to a globally conscience narcissist. His ideals changed without losing who he was at his core.
Next is The Incredible Hulk:
Director: Louis Leterrier
What’s Weird: Well initially, Edward Norton as Bruce Banner since he got the boot after this. Tim Roth’s accent. Oh and Martin Starr popped up. A case could be made that he was in college and became a teacher in New York.
What’s Cool: The opening was great. When Banner first turned it was dark and creepy, and we only got a tease of the Hulk. Had a monster movie feel. Built my anticipation. In fact, the entire movie resembled a Universal monster movie, but with Mavel wrapped around it. There was a scientist, a brooding creature, a woman in love with the monster, and several characters dealt with the duality of human and monster.
What Holds: Marvel before Disney. As with Iron Man, this film felt grounded with character (at least the first half). The performances were good throughout. When Betty first screamed for her dad at the college her emotion was palpable.
What’s Weak: Same as with Iron Man, the showdown was a CG hero fighting a CG villain who was a bigger version of him. Also some of the writing. I wasn’t a fan of the unsubtle name drops of Hulk and Abomination. Abomination all around didn’t do much for me.
Where’s Stan: He showed up as a guy drinking a soda which had Banner’s blood
After The Credits: Nothing
Final Thoughts: In recent years this film became Mavel’s stepchild. I’m not sure why. Maybe because they disregarded most of it. Betty, Abomination, and Mr. Blue never show up again, but Ross and Martin Star do. Hulk/Banner had substance and depth, which made them relatable and likesble. Hulk/Banner became more of a prop than a character in later films. But the movie got bogged down by the typical, epic ,city destroying battle in the end.
In Comparison: Less at stake than Iron Man, and less character development–there was basically none. A decent companion which began to push the franchise into its patterns.
Next Iron Man 2:
Director: Jon Favreau
What’s Weird: Tony had this high tech, transparent, mult-device integrated hologram system, that he didn't mainstream. But that seemed like a solid and safe pivot for the company if they weren't doing weapons anymore. Even if it were only a phone, or in the medical field.
What’s Cool: The first glimps of Supers fighting together with Iron Man and War Machine.
What Holds: Rockwell as a vindictive wannabe Stark
What’s Weak: Villains again. This time Iron Man fought two bigger Iron Men in another battle destroying a city.
Where’s Stan: He popped up briefly in the crowd at the Stark Expo in the beginning.
After The Credits: Agent Coulsen arrived in New Mexico and saw Thor’s hammer.
Final Thoughts: Light on story, but furthered Tony Stark's character development established in Iron Man. This film was fine.
In Comparison: It didn't hold up. Felt like a less successful rehash of Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk.
Last this week is Thor:
Director: Kenneth Branagh
What's Weird: Stellan Skarsgard wasn't a villain. Thor's eyebrows.
What's Cool: Asgard looked fantastic.
What Holds: Branagh's Shakespearean background helped bring Asgard to life. Loki as a villain. He was the first villain in the first 4 movies worth talking about. He was so good the studios kept him around.
What's Weak: At this point things were getting formulaic. Character, something bad happened to him, there was a love interest, redemption, big battle with CG monster, hero seemingly in dire danger, and the hero prevailed.
Where's Stan: Drove a pick-up truck attempted to pull Thor's hammer out of a crater.
After The Credits: Selvig went to an underground SHEILD facility to see the Tesseract and Loki stopped by.
Final Thoughts: As with the last two films Thor was fine. Nothing new, but entertaining enough. Mostly for Avengers set-up.
In Comparison: On par with Iron Man 2. Thor's redemption didn't feel earned. He went to Earth and chilled with a woman then got hit by his brother and suddenly he was redeemed. Felt contrived.
More Franchise Fever: MCU coming soon. And if you haven't already, check out the poem Zora 1937. Keep on Creepin'.