We continue the countdown to The Avengers with some looks at the five movies that lead up to the big kahuna on May 4. Nerd Lunch will carry some of these reviews and so will Cavalcade of Awesome and To the Escape Hatch. Collect them all!

Mini Review
As I’ve heard more about the internal strife that existed on set and the lack of a true script, I am only more and more impressed and how this actually turned out to be quite possibly the best super hero movie ever made. My opinion on that varies, but it’s strength as one of the best cannot be argued.

It is a true Marvel story in that a flawed human with extraordinary abilities (in this case, Tony Stark with incredible smarts) is forced to use those great abilities for the betterment of society. This movie doesn’t make the mistake other comic book movies seem to often make in that the focus of the movie remains on Tony Stark almost the entire film. The villain is not the star. The whacky sidekick is not the star. And there is not an over-abundance of characters that naturally take away from Iron Man (a problem that would creep up in the sequel…but that’s another blog post).

Avengers Connections

This is the first of the “Avengers Initiative” movies and does a decent job of laying the groundwork for what was to come. In watching the movie again after having seen the others (except Avengers at this point), I took notes on every reference that deals with another movie in the franchise.

Quite a bit is said about Howard Stark. Since he showed up as a character in Captain America and ultimately was revealed to be connected to S.H.I.E.L.D., I will mention a few things we learn about him in this movie even if they do seem somewhat trivial:

  • It was mentioned that Howard Stark helped fight the Nazis and develop the atomic bomb.
  • He and his wife died in a car accident, something that seemed less than fitting for this great innovator.
  • Obadiah Stane knew Howard Stark and mentioned to Tony that his father would be proud of Tony and his invention of the Iron Man armor.

There is an appearance of Captain America’s shield very briefly in the background of one of the scenes. Having seen Cap now, it will be interesting to see if this is referred to again in Avengers.

In the comics, Jarvis was the butler and aid to the Avengers. In Iron Man, he is an AI who is a part of Tony’s suit. I believe that Paul Bettany will be reprising this role in Avengers, but whether he will only interact with Tony or the entire team remains to be seen.

I don’t believe it will play a part in the Avengers, but in this movie, they begin laying the groundwork for the Mandarin by referring to the terrorist group known as “The Ten Rings.” In the comics, Mandarin was known for his ten rings that gave him powers.

Finally, the most obvious, Agent Coulson and Colonel Fury appear in this movie both referring to a past of dealing with this type of stuff. Coulson says, “this is not my first rodeo” and Fury says, “You think you’re the only super hero in the world?” Both are agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it is S.H.I.E.L.D. that will tie all of the heroes together. This is truly kicked of with the post-credits sequence when Fury says, “Mr. Stark, I’d like to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative.”

How will Iron Man fit into the Avengers

Tony is a genius who uses people early in the movie, but in losing his heart, finds it. He barely gives Pepper the respect she deserves and is very secretive and not entirely trusting of those around him (see Rhodey). This movie doesn’t paint a great picture for how Tony will be on the Avengers team, but he’ll likely be cocky and do his own thing a time or two without consulting the others. He will likely come off as disrespectful of his teammates and leadership in particular, but that is probably not his intent, he is just calculating how to improve 17 different features on his armor at the same time he’s being forced to stand around for a team meeting.

Iron Man 2 actually offers some additional insight into how he works with others so more on that to come.

Some thoughts from Robert over at To the Escape the Hatch

“Not really being into comics growing up, I didn’t know much about Iron Man, other than he had a drinking problem and his suit fell in love with him once. I really enjoyed this film, however – Robert Downey Jr., Jon Favreau’s directing sensibilities, and a great first act tied together to tell a rousing story. And the fact that this film was the first in a series that would ultimately deliver The Avengers? Icing on the cake. Little things about this film are what made it memorable for me. Stark’s initial experimentations with flight. IronMan swiftly kicking ass and saving lives in Afghanistan. And Nick Fury popping up at the end of course.

I mentioned that I wasn’t much for comics growing up, but this film obviously doesn’t appeal to just fans of the comics. I don’t think anything like these films had ever been tried before, and I can really appreciate that as simply a film lover. A lot of passion and attention to detail went into this film and I believe that set the tone for the whole series. This first film had a lot riding on it, whether the filmmakers knew it at the time or not. A lot of energy was invested to make what some thought was impossible – a fresh superhero movie. With The Avengers due later this year, I think it’s safe to say that investment paid off.”