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After a lacklustre (lacklustre, disappointing but not bad!) Iron Man 2 there wouldn’t normally be much hype around another sequel but since a little film called The Avengers came out excitement for Iron Man 3 spiked again. Today it has hit an all time high! Nick Fury in The Avengers said that he “still believed in heroes” and now with the first official trailer from Iron Man 3 having been released we have The Mandarin teaching us “lesson number one: heroes, there are no such thing”. Iron Man 3 looks set to be the biggest Iron Man film to date with huge set pieces and massive blockbuster moments, but it also is set to become the most personal and give an insight into how much Tony Stark has changed since we first met him back in 2008.

The official synopsis for Iron Man 3 is thus: “Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

Here’s the trailer:

There are a lot of things to pick up on from the trailer, to question and to get excited about. There’s the first look at The Mandarin, there’s the return of Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine, Pepper Potts in great danger, the Iron Patriot armour, the new look golden Iron Man armour, Happy Hogan defeated on the floor, Stark’s clifftop home being destroyed, Tony Stark bruised and battered, Stark and Potts both seemingly attacked by Iron Man armour. It’s action packed!

The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, is Iron Man’s greatest foe from the comic books. It will be a real pleasure for fans to see Iron Man taking on someone that is more than just a man in a machine (Iron Monger and Whiplash in the previous two instalments both had armour). The Mandarin has different qualities, he is the most powerful enemy that Iron Man will ever come up against and his appearance was previously hinted at in Iron Man with the Ten Rings terrorist group that Stark helped put an end to originally.

Anyone who knows anything about Iron Man and Tony Stark (a role made his own by the fantastic Robert Downey Jr) is that he does love to massage his ego so it should come as no surprise that the latest Iron Man suit comes with a splash more of gold than his recent suits. Everyone loves Tony Stark for his quick wit and his cool remarks and this is something that is set to come to precedence with Shane Black writing and directing (the man who previously gave Robert Downey Jr a second chance at fame in the brilliant Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Black’s incredible dialogue and character arcs will see Tony Stark thrive as a character and will no doubt be a hit with audiences all over the globe.

As for the suits attacking Tony and Pepper in the trailer there are different theories on this one. Perhaps The Mandarin has somehow got control over the suits? However, the theory I am most drawn to at the minute is that which brings the Extremis technology into the story (Extremis is the comic book storyline this film has been inspired by). The Extremis technology allows Stark to control his suits with his mind, this is why we see him being able to bring his Iron Man glove towards him earlier on in the trailer. Anyway, with this Extremis technology it could be programmed so that whenever Tony sensed any danger or fear that the suit would spring into action and protect him and Pepper. Again, this is only a theory and nothing will be proven until we see the end product.

Even though the Iron Man films are known to be big blockbusters I don’t think I can remember any particularly large set pieces from either of the first two films (the break out in Iron Man just after building the first suit and the race track fight with Whiplash in Iron Man 2 being the ones that immediately come to mind) but Iron Man 3 looks set to change all that. With Stark’s home being blown to pieces and the President’s aeroplane coming under attack there are sure to be plenty of edge of your seat moments and this will show that Iron Man is the best Avenger.

Obviously, cameos from other Marvel characters have not been hinted at yet and the one you are most likely to see will be Mark Ruffalo (probably as Bruce Banner, not the Hulk) but I don’t think we’ll know that until the film is released. Iron Man 3 hits cinemas on April 26th 2013.

The countdown to Phase 2 starts now.

 

With Joss Whedon now appointed for definite to helm Marvel’s Avengers 2 and have a hand in writing the sequels, a release date announced for possibly the most anticipated film of all time (May 1st 2015) and a whole host of ‘Phase 2′ films in the pipeline including Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and ill-fated Ant-Man Marvel is really pushing through with their billion dollar making movie projects. After such a huge success with The Avengersthough, how can Marvel move forward and improve?

I suggest that Joss Whedon and Marvel kill off one of the main Avengers characters. Yes, they killed off Agent Coulson in the first film but I think everyone expects him to turn up again in some form or capacity. I am talking about completely killing off one of the main heroes, never seeing them again, cutting a limb from the Marvel cinematic universe for one character. It would be a bold, brave and maybe a little bit crazy but surely worth the risk? I think that killing off a central character would surely add to character development and team development as we saw the Avengers become a team and, whether they liked it or not, friends and one of them dying could have huge repercussions. With so many new characters going to be added to the Marvel cinematic universe they can’t all stay as one team forever so maybe they will have to consider killing characters off in order to move forward… but who would they kill?
Let’s look at the nominees:

IRON MAN – Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. Iron Man is the money maker for Marvel. He was the one that started it all off and the character that is probably most popular with fans due to his quick wit that the other characters lack. However since he was the first character to kick off The Avengers maybe he will be the first to be kicked out as well. This is probably the least likely to happen I would say though because Stark Industries is such a huge player in the world and with his technological advancements he is the only one of the core heroes who can’t call upon his power at any time he needs which also gives him something different to Thor or Captain America. Iron Man is my favourite character so I’m definitely hoping he won’t be killed off.

THOR - Killing off Thor means severing all ties to other universes as Thor is the Avengers’ connection to the fantasy genre of other universes and dimensions being available to travel to. Losing Thor also means losing Loki who has become one of the greatest villains of all time and losing him as well would be a huge shame. However, with Guardians of the Galaxy also being introduced, if they come into the Marvel cinematic universe, they offer another route to the cosmic worlds that exist beyond Earth which means we could lose Thor without losing Asgard or any other realms. Chris Hemsworth also seems to have been the breakout star of Marvel’s films so far and he has quite a busy schedule to continue on. Killing Thor off would free up Hemsworth to take advantage of the praise and attention he has been getting.

THE HULK - On paper it seems as though killing of Bruce Banner/Hulk would be the most likely option. Although a very successful character of the comic books The Incredible Hulk was the worst performer of Marvel’s films at the box office and there are no plans for another sole film for the big green monster so it wouldn’t be that much of a loss. However, after Mark Ruffalo’s incarnation of the Hulk it was proven that this conflicted character could be brought to life brilliantly on the big screen and it was Hulk who many people believe to have been the best character in The Avengers. It would upset a huge fan base if Hulk was killed but it makes smart business sense and would also offer a new dimension to Tony Stark after their new found friendship was formed in the ultimate team up movie.

CAPTAIN AMERICA - Captain America is the leader of the Avengers in the comics and this came to fruition towards the end of The Avengers also so it seems highly unlikely that the leader of the team would be killed off. This did happen in X-Men: The Last Stand though with both Professor X and Cyclops ‘dying’ and we all know how that film turned out so maybe killing off the leader isn’t the right way to go. I think that Captain America has fewer stories to tell though than the others and he doesn’t really bring anything to the table with his character because, yes, he is a very moral and very good guy and he probably keeps The Avengers on the right side of the line but I’m not sure how far they can explore his character in the modern day. Once he has adjusted to his new life, what can they do? Although in the comics they seem to have done a good job of keeping him fresh and ultimately popular so I could be wrong.

SHIELD AGENTS - This includes Nick Fury, Black Widow and Hawkeye. Nick Fury should be safe, he is the glue that brought the characters together and he is the head of SHIELD therefore making him necessary to the film franchise but if he only has cameos here and there then nobody will miss him really, although his loss of life would drastically affect the films. Black Widow is the only female character on the team and it seems as though there are no plans whatsoever to change that with ‘Phase 2′ unless Wasp is introduced in Ant-Man previous to Avengers 2. This makes Black Widow pretty much immortal for a fear of backlash from female fans. Couple this with the fact that Joss Whedon is famous for his strong female characters and Black Widow is pretty much the only safe character. Hawkeye was criminally underused and treated poorly in the original film and as a fan favourite character this was pretty hard on him. I hope that his part will grow in future films but he could just as easily be removed from the universe as, at the end of the day, he is just a man with a bow and arrow. Hawkeye is one of my favourite characters and it would be a shame to see him killed off. However, the point of killing a character off would be to develop more story and I’m not really sure how killing Hawkeye would have any impact on any characters other than Black Widow.

Of course, this is purely speculation and there have been no official statements of rumours saying that one of the central characters in The Avengers will be killed off. This is just one way they could go and the way that I would do it, but I didn’t just write and direct the third highest grossing film of all time so I doubt Joss Whedon will listen to me (even though he should).

But if it was up to me I would kill off Hulk or Captain America (cue uproar).

Mark Ruffalo is hitting headlines everywhere at the moment. Most recently, he has become the latest victim to the twitter hackers of the internet but that’s not what everyone is bothered about right now. The other reason you might be hearing Mark Ruffalo’s name everywhere you go right now is because he is currently starring in Marvel’s The Avengers and is the outstanding performer of the ensemble. Up until a few years ago, though, Ruffalo was not widely known by audiences, so just where has he come from?

Ruffalo began acting in 1989 (yes he really has been around that long) but he only appeared in one off television episodes, short films or very very minor roles in films. It was not until 1998 that Ruffalo started making waves in the acting world. He managed, by chance, to meet Kenneth Lonergan, a very successful playwright and screenwriter and the two began collaborating on stage productions. For appearing in Lonergan’s play This Is Our Youth Mark Ruffalo was cast in Lonergan’s film You Can Count On Me; Ruffalo gained a lot of positive reviews and was even likened to a young Marlon Brando, for an actor trying to get his break that is not a bad comparison to have.

Ruffalo sporting a whole new look for Collateral

This led to more work in the early noughties for Ruffalo and his film career finally began to take off with some haste. He experimented with genres going from romance with XX/XY to war with Windtalkers; from drama Life About Me to comedy View From The Top working with esteemed actors like Nicolas Cage and Gwyneth Paltrow along the way. Mark Ruffalo also had a part in the critically acclaimed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind alongside the brilliant Jim Carey and he certainly should be used to praise after appearing in another critical hit Collateral with Tom Cruise.

All actors like to prove they are versatile just to improve their CV, make them more preferable for roles, but even so you don’t have to do them all. Unfortunately for Mark Ruffalo he tried and even decided to step into rom-com. If you’re a male established actor usually rom-coms aren’t the way to go, but anyway Ruffalo appeared in 13 Going on 30, Just Like Heaven and Rumor Has It before returning to a more serious side of things in 2007 with Zodiac, a crime drama directed by the amazing David Fincher.

It doesn’t get much better than working with DiCaprio AND Scorsese

In 2010 Ruffalo appeared in four films. Date Night and Sympathy For Delicious can be forgotten about because with the other two he certainly makes up for them. First, there was Shutter Island, a fantastic thriller where Ruffalo played second fiddle to Leonardo DiCaprio and did a terrific job, no doubt about that. Then there was The Kids Are All Right for which his performance saw him nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.

In 2011 Ruffalo starred in Margaret which, despite its cast featuring Ruffalo, Matt Damon and Anna Paquin, only had a limited release. But now, here we are, the year is 2012 and Ruffalo becomes the third person to portray the Incredible Hulk in as many films. A lot of Marvel fans had enjoyed Ruffalo’s close friend Ed Norton’s performance as Bruce Banner and were wary of Ruffalo taking on the part. How delighted fans are now that he did just that though, becoming without a doubt the best Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk on the big screen.

After the huge blockbuster that is The Avengers, Ruffalo is returning to more dramatic roles in Thanks For Sharing, Foxcatcher and Now You See Me but it is highly likely that Ruffalo has a clause in his contract with Marvel tying him down to several more projects as Bruce Banner so this will definitely not be the last you hear of the brilliant Mark Ruffalo.

Ruffalo became the first person to portray the Hulk on the big screen thanks to the use of motion capture technology.

What Next For The Avengers?

With The Avengers now released in the UK and several other countries, and around a week away from the release in the US I decided to speculate on what would happen after this amazing event; where will the Avengers go next?

 

Iron Man 3 is set for a 2013 release.

Iron Man

There is a lot of casting news and fan buzz around Iron Man 3 at the minute and this is the project that we, as fans, know the most about at the minute. It will be loosely adapted from the comic book storyline of Extremis and will be directed and written by Shane Black. It will be interesting to see how Tony goes back to his own life after working as part of a team, to see if he has learnt anything new in his time with The Avengers but according to Kevin Feige Iron Man 3 will isolate Tony Stark.

 

 Thor

Thor 2 slated for 2013 release but this seems unlikely.

With Thor being back on Earth for The Avengers it is clearly possible for Thor to return to Earth, despite going back to Asgard at the end of the team up event. It’s unlikely that Loki will be the villain in Thor 2 after being the main villain in Thor and The Avengers; the villain that I would like to see would be Enchantress and possibly Executioner. The only thing is, Thor clearly still cares about Jane and asks about her in The Avengers but will Thor 2 be set on Earth or in one of the other nine realms. I would like to see more of the fantasy world and another realm but I would like the love story of Thor and Jane to relight as well.

 

Captain America

Captain America 2 has a realistic release date of 2014.

With Captain America now in the modern day it seems likely that Captain America 2 will be about getting Steve Rogers back into the world, which I think would be a great road to go down. I think that Cap’s story should be a character building story in the next instalment and how he copes with the changes to everything he once knew and believed. I would like to see a scene with Peggy Carter (which was cut from The Avengers) and it would be interesting to see if Nick Fury helps get Cap back into the world as well.

 

Hulk

The Hulk is the real star of The Avengers.

After Ang Lee’s version of the Hulk and Ed Norton’s version (which was largely outshone by every other Marvel feature to date really) it seems unlikely that The Hulk will receive another solo film, which is a shame because Mark Ruffalo’s interpretation of the character is really enjoyable in The Avengers. I would love to see Bruce Banner, not necessarily the Hulk, in the next Iron Man film with Banner and Stark striking up quite a nice friendship, although it is just as likely that Banner will continue to work with SHIELD.

 

Black Widow & Hawkeye

A backstory is hinted at and would be interesting to explore.

There have been rumours that both of these characters are in line for their own solo films following The Avengers but I find this highly unlikely. Hawkeye is not really given enough screen time to become an important character in the eyes of the movie audience (which is a shame because he is one of my favourite characters in the comics) and Black Widow, in my opinion, does not warrant a film for herself either, and with the drastic failures of female led super hero movies so far it would be quite the risk. Putting them both in a movie together and exploring their backstory and relationship would be interesting but I can’t see it happening. I expect we shall just be seeing them in terms of SHIELD agents from here on out.

 

Nick Fury & SHIELD

A Nick Fury film is on the cards.

A script is in the works for a Nick Fury solo film and there are plans for a SHIELD film as well. Personally I think that making the two would be a waste of time and money for Marvel. I think if a Nick Fury film is to be made with Samuel L Jackson it needs to combine the SHIELD movie as well. The film could still focus on Nick Fury but it would also be backed up by Hawkeye, Black Widow, Maria Hill and maybe even Bruce Banner if he works for them. This would be the best way to promote all of the ‘secondary characters’ of The Avengers.

 

But before all this, I urge everyone to go and see The Avengers! What a film!

Casting is a vital part of the film; if you get the wrong actor to play a character it can go horribly wrong and the whole movie could fail because of it. Never is this more true than in the world of comic book movies. Millions of fans all over the world are already in love with the characters before they are brought to the big screen and if you cast someone that the fans are not happy about they will not hold back, you shall know about it! But when casting goes right, it brings out some of the best performances and best characters in the world. Here are my top eight perfectly cast comic book movie characters.

8. Chris Evans as The Human Torch

Known to many comic book fans now as Captain America, Evans made his first appearance in comic book movies in the awful Fantastic Four films. Despite both films being criticised heavily by almost everyone, fans and critics alike, nobody could criticise Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. He outperformed the rest of the cast by a country mile and bought a much needed charm and sense of humour to the role.

7. Ed Norton as Bruce Banner

When it was announced that Ed Norton would not return for The Avengers as Bruce Banner fans were outraged and with good reason. Norton’s performance as the troubled scientist who turns into the Incredible Hulk was brilliant. Norton had a lot of hard work to do because of the negative fan reaction to Ang Lee’s 2003 interpretation of the character but the casting of Norton and his incredible performance won the hearts of many Hulk fans.

6. J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson

The original Spider-man trilogy, directed by Sam Raimi, may not have been the most perfectly cast Spider-man film in the world but J.K Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson was a masterpiece. He looked identical to the comic book portrayal of the character and fans loved his performance. A highlight of the, soon to be rebooted, Spider-man franchise.

5. Christopher Reeve as Superman

Does this really need explaining? The man IS Superman. There has never been a better Superman before or since on neither the big screen or small screen. Reeve was an excellent casting as the Man of Steel and is still celebrated among comic book fans.

4. Heath Ledger as The Joker

Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his appearance as the Joker and rightfully so. Ledger managed to bring this psychotic vision of The Dark Knight’s arch nemesis to the screen and make him genuinely scary. It was a sad loss when he passed away but he will always be remembered as the Joker and one of comic book movie’s finest castings.

3. Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl

Many people don’t think of Kick-Ass when they think of comic book adaptations but this is where the origins of the story lie. Chloe Moretz is great as the ‘hero’ Hit Girl. She is a small girl who packs a powerful performance and is the star of Kick Ass without a doubt. She has a huge career ahead of her built on this performance.

2. Patrick Stewart as Professor X

Straight off, Patrick Stewart looks the part, down to a tee. But his performance further proves why he was the perfect choice to play the mentor to the X-men, Professor X. His calm and cool demeanour brought a lot of character to the role and then in the second instalment, X2 (one of the best comic book movies ever made) he was able to show off the emotional side to his character even more. And as well as that, his chemistry with Ian McKellen’s Magneto was a joy to behold. A fine casting decision.

And finally…

1. Robert Downey Jnr. as Tony Stark

Perfection!

The perfect casting of a comic book character if ever there was one. Downey Jnr doesn’t just play the character, he actually is Tony Stark. He has the look sorted; he has the charm, the wit, the charisma and you believe his intelligence. Iron Man was the beginning of the whole Marvel Universe which comes together this summer with The Avengers so a lot was riding on this first film and Robert Downey Jnr drew the plaudits right from the offset. Tony Stark came to life in the Iron Man films and made Downey Jnr a household name again; his performance was a joy to behold and I sincerely hope he is Tony Stark for a long time to come.

Honourable mentions

Ian McKellen – Magneto

Kelsey Grammer – Beast

Ron Perlman – Hellboy

Jackie Earl Haley – Rorschach

Anthony Hopkins – Odin

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