Guardian of Star Wars

2014 was the year of superhero team movies. After Captain America, Black Widow and Falcon team-up in Captain America: Winter Soldier and X-Men team up in Days of Future Past, it was time for a new superhero team up.

This is where Guardian of Galaxy came in the scene. With old superhero returning, it was time for something fresh. And in the summer which was dark and serious, it was time for something colorful and funny.

It had not only the starcast of established Hollywood actors like Vin Diseal, Zoe Saldana and Bradley Cooper but WWE wrestler Batista and TV star Chris Pratt playing superhero. Chris Pratt had to turn from fit to fat.

Best thing about the film was it’s character. Each character was funny in it’s own way. While the lead character or leader of the group Star Lord ( played by Chris Pratt) was kind of new Han Solo, the show was stolen by Racoon(voiced by Bradley Cooper) , an animal with human voice and brain who is too smart and sarcastic and Drax the Destroyer ( played by Batista in heavy makeup) who takes everything too literally.

Of course everyone remembers Groot (voiced by Vin Diseal), a human like tree who only speaks three words – “I am Groot” and in last scene says “We are Groot”. Vin Diseal took lot of dollars for saying five words – “I”, ”We”, ”Are”, ”Am”  and “Groot” in many language. Right now it must be his most popular character after Dominic Toretto. Only Marvel currently can make me care for the tree.

Gamora(played by Zoe Saldana) a green skinned alien is basically straight guy. Or in this case, a straight gal.

Another memorable character was Yondu (played by Michael Rooker) who is a blue skinned alien with red mohawk and a sharp pen which flies with his whistle.

Even though this movie had villain but less we talk about villain better it is since villain was too bland and clichéd. And yes this movie teased Thanos but that’s it. There was no further development.

Not only the action and humor was good, but movie was very colorful which was good Amazing Spiderman 2 was ending Amazing Spiderman series and there was going to be dearth of colorful superhero movies. Plus there was lot of reference to 1970s and 1980s songs including Ooga Shaka as heard in Reservoir Dogs.

Days of whitewashing movie past?

(Warning: Spoilers for those who have not seen X-Men 3: Last Stand)

X-Men and X-Men 2 were commercially and critically successful, while X-Men 3 was just commercial successful. The movie was criticized for it’s plot and death of some major characters like Charles Xavier(even though at the end of movie, it is revealed that Charles Xavier particles have collaborated again and he is alive).  20th Century Fox saw no future in continuing the story and instead of making sequels, they started making prequels. First one was X-Men Origins: Wolverine released in 2009. It was critically panned for its special effects, acting, storyline, characters and direction.  Due to it’s commercial success, 20th Century Fox still saw potential in X-Men series and released X-Men: First Class in 2011. Unlike X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where the protagonist Wolverine was played by same actor as original i.e., Hugh Jackman, here the protagonist characters, Magneto and Charles Xavier were played by different actor since it was about young age of these two characters. Now you would be surprised when you read Magneto and protagonist in same sentence, for he was the main antagonist of X-Men trilogy, but this movie was about the time when Charles Xavier and Magneto were friends and had not turn against each other.

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While the old Magneto and Professor Xavier were played by Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart respectively, the younger ones were played by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. The movie was set in 1960s during Cuban Missile Crisis and was both commercially and critically successful. This gave confidence to 20th Century Fox to make sequel instead of prequel only. 20th Century Fox thus made Wolverine in 2013 with a planning to make a movie on Uncanny X-Men comic book storyline “Days of Future Past”. That planned movie was released as “Days of Future Past” in 2014.

In the movie, Days of Future Past, Charles Xavier is a full fledged character as before. The movie has Kitty Pryde having power to send Wolverine back to 1973 as enemy of mutants called Sentinels are killing mutants in present with the help of the DNA of Mystique they possessed in 1973 and Wolverine will not let this happen.

Plot wise this had most layers than any other X-Men movie. Even more layers than X-Men : First Class. This movie was biggest cinematic moment for X-Men fans. Not only it was based on most well known story of X-Men but it was directed by Bryan Singer, the guy who directed X-Men and X:Men 2, which were till then most loved X-Men movies.

It was loved for it’s plot, action , acting and direction. However personally I liked X-Men Last Stand more entertaining and X-Men First Class better. But that ‘s just me.

Captain Anti-America?

Since 2010 ‘s Iron Man 2 , Marvel Cinematic Universe chose to be apolitical until Captain America:Winter Soldier(2014). While Captain America: First Avenger (2011) was set in World War 2 and featured Nazis, the movie did not comment on social issues like racism. The movie ended with Captain America almost dying in ice field and freezing until he is defrozen 70 years later. He is able to stay alive because of the chemicals that turned him from skinny Steve Rogers into superhuman Captain America. In his next movie, Avengers(2012) , he fights alongside superheroes like Iron Man in modern world. In this movie , he is trying to adjust in modern world. He also realizes that modern world is quite different from 1940s. In 1940s, for him, the biggest enemy of USA is Axis Power. In 21st century, biggest enemy of USA is…well…USA itself.

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At first, previous line might sound surprising but this is what happens in the movie. And the directors and scriptwriter intentionally did this to comment upon how present generation views USA in comparison to how Steve Rogers generation viewed USA during World War 2.

After it was exposed that there were no nuclear weapon in Iraq in 2006 , Chealsea Manning’s leak on Iraq War on  Wikileaks in 2010 and Edward Snowden’s expose on NSA surveillance system in 2011 , Americans became cynical towards their government over their actions in War On Terror. For them War on Terror was just an excuse to violate fundamental rights like right to privacy in the name of security through 2001’s controversial PATRIOT ACT. NSA leak had confirmed their worst dream come true.

While the movie did not have CIA as villain like Bourne series did, it did have S.H.I.E.L.D. portraying the same role. In the movie there is a dialogue that goes on something like “We are holding gun on everyone ‘s head and calling it security”. It was supposed to comment on current security paranoia.

Not only S.H.I.E.L.D. is shown as surveillance body but also exposed to be in bed with Hydra since the defeat of Axis Power in World War 2, where it is shown many senior leaders of Hydra co-operated with S.H.I.E.L.D. This was similar to how Nazi scientists were later used by Soviet Union and USA after World War 2 for scientific purpose. While the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. , Nick Fury is shown to be totally unaware about this dirty secret. He helps Captain America along with Black Widow and Falcon to expose this secret to world. Christopher Pierce, senior leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. vows to protect the secret from being leaked. Kind of like how US government locked up Chelsea Manning after his/her leak on wikileaks. What ‘s interesting about Christopher is that he is played by Robert Redford, the guy who acted in anti-establishment films like All the President Men(1976) and conspiracy fiction like Three Days of Condors (1973). Table had turned this time.

Captain America also has to fight Bucky who was his best friend during 1940s but now has become a super villain called Winter Soldier. He however had small role for a villain and was kind of disappointing. One of the best things I found about this movie was not only new Captain America costume but the fact that I found Captain America entertaining unlike his portrayal in Avengers and First Avengers. Captain America was now cool and rootable. Zack Snyder can learn a thing or two on how to make Superman cool from this movie.Overall I found the film nicely shot, strongly scripted and well directed. It was the only solo MCU movie I found good beside Iron Man.

It’s Spi..Spi..Spi..DerMan

Even though I found Spiderman (2002) and Spiderman 2 (2004) better than Amazing Spiderman (2012), I still found Amazing Spiderman entertaining due to it’s clear cinematography, colorful visuals and original action scenes, I cannot say the same for Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014). It did have good elements like action , slow – mo and visuals. But it had lot of weakness too. For me it was good in bits and pieces. I can watch some again. Avoid others. First let me talk about positive things

Action and slow-mo

I have to admit that this had better action scenes than Amazing Spiderman. I can say that because unlike Amazing Spiderman, I actually remember action scenes of this movie. I still remember the slo-mo and visual used in the scene where Electro uses his power on Spiderman, especially the shot, where the camera shows us the electrical waves launched by Electro on railing.

Another memorable scene for me was when Spiderman is swinging webs on pole and electro is throwing electrical waves on him and we hear “Itsy-Bitsy-Spider”. This brings me to second point.

Sound

I don’t remember most of the sound, but I remember use of the sound was pretty good in action scene were good as exemplified above.  Another was type of voice used by Electro.

Color

Most of the action movies either have orange-blue-yellow light as in Michael Bay/J.J. Abraham movies or dark visuals as in Dark Knight or Man of Steel. Amazing Spiderman avoid this trap by utilizing blue color in brightest way possible. Also red in suit of Spiderman looked good.

Camera Work

Nowadays, most of action movies have shaky cam as in Transformers, due to which it is difficult to understand who is punching whom on-screen. Cinematographer in Amazing Spiderman was competent as camera stays on one place without shaking and show us who is punching whom.

These good stuff were present in previous Amazing Spiderman. Now let’s look at negatives

Peter Parker

These movie are less plot based and more character based. While Spiderman was as good as in previous movie since he was funny , same cannot be said for Peter Parker. While previous Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker was not nerdy like Tobey McGuire‘s Peter Parker, he was still sympathetic due to his likeability and coolness.  Not so much can be said for Amazing Spiderman 2 ‘s Peter Parker. For some strange reason, creator decided to make this Peter Parker nerdy even though he did not look like one, by increasing his stammering to the level of 11. Stammering was not so noticeable in previous movie as it looked natural. However here it was not only noticeable but irritating too. And it was too frequent.

Harry Osborn

The portrayal of Dane DeHaan‘s Harry Osborn was total 180 of James Franco‘s Harry Osborn. While James Franco was normal teenager who saved Peter Parker from bullies and enjoyed his life until his dad’s death, this Harry Osborn not only looked like emo Pater Parker of Spiderman 3 but was a total crybaby from beginning with daddy issues whose face looked as if he was angry because he was not allowed to black make up his eyes and not someone who was going to terrorize the city. Even though Dave DeHaan was brilliant in Chronicle, he almost made Harry Osborn punchable in this movie. Plus his action scene was not as memorable as Electro. Talking about Electro…

Max Dilon

While Electro as villain was good during action scene, but before Electro was Electro in movie, he was Max Dilon. And Max Dilon ‘s character was pathetic. It is not clear whether he is a comic sidekick or a mental patient. His “comedy” is unfunny. His hairstyle looks like cheap hired wig not wore properly. His reasons for anger with Spiderman are not really logical. Overall his character is trainwreck.

Rhino

This should not even require more than one line. They take good actor like Paul Giamatti and use him like punching bag. Enough said!

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This movie foreshadowed the villains like Sinister Six and Black Cat for planned sequel, the sequel was later scrapped due to fallout of Andrew Garfield with studio and series got cancelled. Sad for Andrew Garfield and this series fan.

It’s a bird…It’s a plane…It’s Batman!

After the Christopher Nolan ‘s Dark Knight Trilogy got over in 2012 with The Dark Knight Rises and Christian Bale promising never to don the cape again, Marvel pretty much had monopoly on superhero genre in Hollywood. With Watchmen being a one movie story and Green Lantern being not enough commercially successful to guarantee a sequel, it looked like Marvel had no competition from DC comics in film industry (until and unless you count direct-to-video animated films like Under The Red Hood and TV series like Young Justice). DC fans were worried over the future of their favorite comic book characters on-screen. Adding fuel to fire was that after the success of The Avengers , one of the most successful crossover films of all time, it looked like Marvel films had become more strong due to Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a result, DC decided to launch it’s own Cinematic Universe. DC fans who were tensed in 2012 with Batman series getting over were now relaxed with the release of Man of Steel. Man of Steel was second reboot of Superman series. First one was Superman Returns. Okay, I admit Superman Returns of more of quasi-sequel than a reboot, as the story followed Superman 4 : Quest for Peace ( 1987) , but with every star cast changed it felt less like a sequel and more like a reboot.  I have not Christopher Reeve starrer Superman series till now, but I saw Superman Returns in theatre when it was released in 2006. At that time I had not seen any superhero movie beside Spiderman and Batman and Robin, so the expectation were not really high. Despite this fact, I was not that impressed with movie. Yes it had bullet hitting eye scene and airplane rescue was good, but I felt the movie was incomplete. As if it had beginning or end, only middle. Since then I have not seen that movie ever again. So again, when I saw Man of Steel in theatre in 2013, I again had low expectations. There was no good previous Superman movie to compare to for me.

Even though I saw Christopher Nolan‘s name on trailer as producer, I knew that Christopher Nolan was not going to be the creative head but the director Zack Snyder. Christopher Nolan’s name was there for publicity purpose only. Even though I found 300 entertaining and Sucker Punch original, I was still not confidant about Zack Snyder due to his direction of Watchmen. Trailer was not also very promising for me. Quick editing and dark colors did not excite much. So the expectations were really low.

So did my head blow off excitement of sheer awesomeness that is Man of Steel. Well…Nope. I would say quite opposite happened. Not only the story was above average (to be fair I don’t really watch superhero movies for story except in case of The Dark Knight trilogy) and action scenes uninspiring ( which is case for most action movies today),  I found movie boring.

I agree that this is very vague criticism. What may be boring for me may be entertaining for other. Had I find movie entertaining, I would have overlooked the faults like plot holes and logic gap in storyline. I would have even not mind shaky cam in action scene as long as they were entertaining. But main problem for me were characters. General Zod had no personality beyond evil. It was only saved by Michael Shannon‘s acting.

But main problem was Kal El. I would only use Kal El as in this Kal El is just Superman who wears normal clothes when he is not fighting. He is not truly a Clark Kent as Clark Kent is a nerdy journalist and here Clark Kent is neither nerdy nor journalist only angry and jobless. This Clark Kent…I mean Kal El had issues. Big issues. Even bigger issues than Bruce Wayne. What to do with his powers? Should he hide them or use it for good? By the end of movie he neither hides nor use it for good. The latter might sound surprising as he did save the day from Zod.  But he also did lot of destruction in city to protect it from three aliens (Zod and his two goons). Some people had problem with Superman’s portrayal as he was no longer optimistic kind of guy he is supposed to be and was instead made into Batman by turning him into humorless and bit pessimistic just because of success of The Dark Knight trilogy which had made everything dark , gritty and realistic. I agree that Nolanisation was unnecessary and counterproductive as Batman and Superman are two different types of characters. Batman represents fear, Superman represents fear. Batman can be possible in real life, Superman being an alien, not so much. Thus it made sense to make Batman realistic. Not so for Superman. Realistic Superman would not have been a problem has it been likeable. He wasn’t. He was too emotional and loud. Only good thing about new Superman was his costume as his underwear was finally inside his pant. Plus he revealed that “S” on his chest was not alphabetic “S” but a sign in his home planet Krypton that meant hope. This is ironic for this movie, as Superman by end of this movie does install hope.

Other characters like Lois Lane and Jor El did not fare well. Whole relationship of Lois Lane and Superman seemed force. Especially the scene, in which one of Zod’s goon ask Lois Lane to come with Superman in space ship without any reason for her to be there. Only reason this scene was added so that Lois Lane and Superman can develop relationship in middle of all action. In many action scenes, the presence of Lois Lane seemed illogical. Her screen time needed to be increased or else feminist would have complained. That is why she is sometimes shown to be helping Superman (despite being just a journalist) just to satisfy feminist viewers. In this movie, she is not just love interest and damsel in distress. But she is also not a well written character.

Jor El , father of Kal El was no better. While in usual Superman storyline, Jor El gave enough video information on a chip type of thing in space shuttle through which Kal El came to Earth, which would just tell how Krypton was destroyed and what are his power, in this Jor El not only gave message but also supervised Superman whenever he was fighting General Zod. It was difficult to know whether Jor El was alive, ghost or just giving recorded message. It is ironic for a movie that was supposed to be realistic; it had lot of logic gaps.

The movie proved itself to be dark by not only breaking necks, but by being literally dark in sunlight. This was unlike any mainstream Superhero movie that came in summer.

While the movie was critically mixed, it was commercially successful enough to guarantee a sequel and start the era of DCU. It almost looked like that the monopoly of MCU was going to broken.

I am Tony Stark…I mean Iron Man

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People had high expectation from Iron Man 3 which was coming one year after Avengers: Assemble (2012). Not only previous Tony Stark featuring movies like Iron Man 1, 2 and Avengers were a critical and commercial success and Tony Stark itself was a fan favorite(remember that this was Robert Downey Jr. at height of popularity with series like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes), but the trailer itself looked promising. I was sold the moment trailer showed Iron Man suits being blasted. But the trailer did not stop at that. It had Ben Kingsley portraying Iron Man’s deadliest foe as Mandarin with beard and pony tail. Whenever Ben Kingsley said “You…want…see…me…coming” in the trailer, it gave literal chills. The reason I was excited was not because it was Mandarin or Ben Kingsley, but because it looked like Marvel Cinematic Universe finally had a good antagonist in their movie. You see ever since Marvel Cinematic Universe debuted in 2008 with Iron Man, a lot of Marvel Fan boys preferred Marvel Cinematic Universe because unlike The Dark Knight trilogy, Marvel movies did not take itself seriously. Their argument was that why take yourself seriously if you 40-plus wearing spandex and jumping? However no one could deny that while The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012) had well written character especially the Joker portrayed by Heath Ledger, MCU rather had one-dimensional character who were rather punching bags for Superheroes  ( except Loki of course) . The punching bag statement holds true for Whiplash in Iron Man 2 especially.  This time, Mandarin looked like a villain threatening enough for death of Tony Stark or his loved ones. When you have a living legend like Ben Kingsley portraying a villain, you really expect something like level of Heath Leadger portrayal of Joker.

Another thing which was exciting about movie was the fact that it was first movie after the events of Avengers. Which meant that Iron Man along with Thor and Captain were full-fledged part of S.H.I.E.L.D.( Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division)(a secret organization lead by Nick Fury, who is played by Samuel Jackson) now. Which meant Tony Stark was no longer lone-wolf anti-government guy of Iron Man but a team member who worked for government now. It was interesting to see if supervillains were now more afraid of superheroes joining together or not? Will citizens feel safer or not? Will superheroes call each other for backup or not? Those were few of the questions at that time?

Since the director of the movie was different (previous one had Jon Favreau of Elf fame as director, this one had Shane Black, veteran screen writer of Lethal Weapon and Predator as director), the storytelling was different too. For some reason Shane Black made Iron Man 3 serious in tone in comparison to previous ones(even though Tony Stark was still at his funniest best). Also the movie was very experimental in storytelling, not just for a superhero movie, but for action movie in general. It took risk you would not imagine. In that way it was gem to watch. If I talk more I would spoil the movie. Just remember to look at similarity with The Incredibles(2004) and The Dark Knight Rises(2012)

Amazing Spiderman

In 2002, Spiderman was a grand hit and changed the superhero into a sustainable genre that was going to rule Hollywood for decades to come.  Spiderman was followed by two sequels, one in 2004 and other in 2007. After the success of Spiderman 3 (2007), there was a plan of Spiderman 4 with John Malkovich  portraying Vulture. However Sam Raimi backed down from directing as he thought it would not be over by 2011 and the plan was scrapped. Instead Sony planned to reboot it into “Amazing Spiderman”. Andrew Garfield of ‘The Social Network’ and Emma Stone of ‘Easy A’ fame were casted as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey respectively.

This time the treatment of Spiderman was loyal to comic book i.e. instead of secreting web from body, Spiderman now secreted web from a gadget attached on his wrist. Not only the Spiderman was different, but Peter Parker too. Instead of nerdy Tobey McGuire , we had skateboarding Andrew Garfield. This Peter Parker was perfect representation of gadget obsessed generation.

Even the tone was different. Instead of focusing on something called emotions and story, there was focus on colorful style and well shot action scenes. Even the New York looked better.

Even though it was better technically, it lacked originality. Overall previous series was better.

Avengers and Marvel Cinematic Universe

Till 2007, Marvel was not as respected in Hollywood as it is in 2016. Movies based on Marvel Comics like Ghost Rider, Hulk, Punisher & Daredevil were either critical or commercial failure. While Fantastic Four was success, its sequel had less than impressive performance.  Only movies which were based on Marvel comic book that were usually both critical and commercial success were Spiderman series and X-Men series. However Marvel had licensed Spiderman to Sony in 2002 and X Men to 20th Century FOX in 2000 which is why Marvel Entertainment Company (Entertainment Company owned by Marvel) could not have control on both series. Also Marvel itself got little portion of profit in the movies.

In 2005, Marvel Entertainment decided to produce its own movie and distribute them through Paramount Pictures. Till 2007, Marvel Studio (Production house owned by Marvel) was owned by it’s founder Avi Arad. Avi Arad liked Spiderman movies but not other movies based on Marvel Comics. Avi Arad ‘s second-in-chief Kevin Feige devised a master plan.  He said that unlike Spiderman and X-Men , Marvel still held the license of characters of Avengers and could make a movie on them. Thus he thought that Marvel Studio should create an interconnected movie universe named “Marvel Cinematic Universe” in which all superhero movies based on Avengers member like Iron Man would be set and one day they will crossover and collaborate in a movie based on superhero group named “Avengers”. Even though idea sounded brilliant, Avi Arad thought the idea was risky due to which he resigned and Kevin Feige became new Studio chief. Writers and directors like Joss Whedon , Russo Brothers, Kenneth Branagh and Jon Favreau were hired to make “Marvel Cinematic Universe” a reality.

In 2008 Iron man became first movie that belonged to Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie was directed by Jon Favreau who also starred as Happy and the lead role was played by Robert Downey Jr.. The movie was critical and commercial success. The movie ended with Tony Stark meeting with employee of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) named Agent Phil Coulson. Agent Phil Coulson would appear in future movies and TV show set in Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man started the tradition of post-credit scene in Marvel Cinematic Universe by having a post-credit scene where Tony Stark meets with Nick Fury , head of S.H.I.E.L.D. . In this post-credit scene, Nick Fury would give a proposal to Tony Stark in which he ask him to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. and join with other supeheroes of the world in order to form a superhero team called “Avengers”.

In 2008, Marvel Cinematic Universe would release Incredible Hulk. Instead of being sequel to 2003 Hulk, this movie was a reboot and starred Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. The movie was success but due to fallout with Edward Norton , Marvel Studios decided to not hire Edward Norton in future. The Incredible Hulk ended with a guest appearance by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. This move signified that the future Marvel movies would be actually interconnected and interdependent.

In 2009 , Marvel entertainment was acquired by The Walt Disney Company for $4.24 billion.

In 2010, Iron Man 2 would be released in which Nick Fury would try to pursue Tony Stark to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. despite Tony Stark’s hesitance. The movie also introduced Black Widow, a spy that works for S.H.I.E.L.D. , who would be played by Scarlett Johansson. In the post end credit scene, viewers can see Agent Coulson finding Thor‘s hammer. This scene would make everyone sure that Thor would eventually have crossover with Tony Stark in future. Even though the movie itself was not as critically acclaimed as previous movie, Robert Downey Jr. by now was very popular with teens and preteens. Success of Iron Man‘s movies and Robert Downey Jr.’s popularity lead to resurgence of interest in Avengers among people who usually do not read comic books. However success of Iron Man 1 and 2 was not only reason for non-comic book reading people’s interest in Avengers. Progress in internet, video gaming and animation would also lead to more awareness about Marvel superheroes other than Spiderman.

In 2011 , Marvel would release standalone movies based on Thor and Captain America as part of Marvel Cinematic Universe so that audience could know more about both the characters before Avengers was released.

Captain America: First Avenger would be directed by Joe Johnston and star Chris Evans (who also acted as Human Torch in Fantastic Four series before series was cancelled) as a skinny poor youngster named Steve Rogers. The movie would be set in 1940s when USA was fighting Nazis on battlefield. In the movie , Steve Rogers is rejected by US Army due to fact he is underweight. But later in the movie he would join super-soldier program in which he would be injected and turned into a man with superpower. In order to increase morale among citizens to join military, Steve Rogers would be given special costume and be named Captain America. During climax Captain America would face a monster created by Nazi called Red Skull and eventually Captain America would sacrifice himself in the ocean for the country. However later it would be revealed that Captain America‘s body has been found 70 years later and that his body is alive and functioning.

Thor would be directed by director of Shakespearean film such as Hamlet, Kenneth Branagh and star Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Anthony Hopkins as Thor’s dad and Tom Hiddleton as Thor’s evil brother Loki. The movie would be more important movie than Captain America movie as the movie would contain a plotline that would involve rivalry between Thor and Loki and some important magical rock called Tesseract, which would serve as basis of plotline of Avengers. The movie would also introduce Hawkeye played by Jeremy Reiner in one scene. Loki would become fan favorite character. Chris Hemsowrth would be introduced to American audience

By end of 2011 , movie going audience would be introduced to characters like Tony Stark/ Iron Man, Steve Rogers/ Captain America , Thor , Nick Fury , Agent Phil Coulson and Black Widow.

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In 2012 , Marvel Studios would finally release crossover movie named AVENGERS. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemmeswoth , Chris Evans, Scarlett Johanson, Samuel Jackson and Clark Gregg would return to their respective roles : – Tony Stark, Thor , Steve Rogers, Black Widow , Nick Fury and Agent Phil Coulson. Jeremy Reiner as Hawkeye would have more screen time in comparison to his screen time in Thor movie. Bruce Banner would now be played by Mark Ruffalo. The antagonist of film would be Loki, played again by Tom Hiddleton. In the movie, S.H.I.E.L.D would ask all the superheroes to unite together as a group named “Avengers” in order to catch Loki as Loki wants to rule the world with the help of Tesseract . Due to major ego clashes and lack of trust, the superheroes are unable to work together. Worst of the rivalry would be between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark due to ideological difference as Steve Rogers believes that unlike him Tony Stark does not fight out of patriotism but due to selfish reasons. This ego-clash would be good for movie viewers as there would be a fight scene between Thor, Captain America and Iron Man in which thankfully no one dies. In later scenes, Hulk would have fight with Thor and Black Widow when he is unable to control anger. However when Loki escapes from prison, Hulk starts controlling anger and Steve Rogers stop hating Tony Stark and they unite together to defeat bad guy.

The movie was both critical and commercial success. ”. Fans of the movie would quote “We got hulk” and “Take out the suit and what are you?” scene after the movie would be over. It has gone to become 4th highest grossing movie of all time. The movie was released in IMAX, 2D and 3D.  Before the release of the movie, anticipation for movie was high especially among fans of both comic book and movies. Before this movie, I saw this much anticipation with Avatar and Expendables. Even The Dark Knight and 2012 did not have this much anticipation among blockbuster movie lovers. I still remember that before release of Avengers, I was watching the trailer of it and I saw one person in comment section saying “Please don’t suck. Please don’t suck. Please don’t suck”. Though the comment may seem funny, I was able to relate to his feelings. When Expendables was going to be released in 2010, I had high expectations from it. As someone who was fan of Die Hard, Terminator 2 and Rambo 2 , I thought it would be interesting to see three biggest action heroes of 1980s and 1990s i.e. Sylvester Stallone , Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Wills work together in a Hard-R non-special effects old-school action movie, especially if it is directed by Sylvester Stallone himself. However I was very disappointed by the movie. I thought it was a waste of brilliant cast. So when I got to know that in Avengers movie , Thor , Captain America, Hulk  and  Iron Man would come together , I was excited but at the same time doubtful about the movie . I thought to myself whether Avengers would be Expendables of superhero or not. The fact I had not seen any work by Joss Whedon did not help. However when I finally saw the movie, my doubts were clear. I found the movie to be great. I became a fan of Joss Whedon that day. It was a great movie watching experience for me. I remember that after watching the movie, I was surfing on internet to see if critics agree with my view or not. I remember one of the critic saying “Michael Bay, this is how one makes a blockbuster”. Now let me confess that I am a Michael Bay fan. I saw Tranformers: Dark of Moon in theatre. However it was nice to see that instead of having explosion every 5 minutes like Michael Bay does, Joss Whedon chose to have hand to hand combat, which are sadly less in Transformer movies. Even if there is a hand to hand combat scene between robots in Transformers, due to too much shaky cam, one cannot make out who is punching whom. In Avengers, Joss Whedon decided to have stable camera movement during action scenes, which was a nice change from the shaky cams and lens flare which makes it difficult to view action scenes.

After the success of Avengers, Marvel announced that all the movies made from 2008’s Iron Man to 2012 ‘s Avengers were part of “Marvel Phase One”. All the movies made after Avengers that would be set in Marvel Cinematic Universe would be part of “Marvel Phase Two

Personally I think it was good that Avengers was released. There was a necessity for Avengers to be released in 2012 because 2012 would be the year when the fans of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy would bid farewell to Batman trilogy as Christopher Nolan would announce that The Dark Knight Rises would be last of Batman’s trilogy and Christian Bale would announce he would announce not play Batman anymore. At this point of time, it was relaxing to know that Marvel would make at least one superhero movie every year in Marvel Phase Two. The fact that Avengers itself was brilliant made everything good. Till now, I think Marvel Phase Two has been somehow able to fill the vacuum left by The Dark Knight Rises in a Post-Christopher Nolan Batman world but is not entirely successful. However if there is one thing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been completely successful, it is the fact that it has given the Hollywood producers to do crossover. One of the example is that DC is making Justice League.

 

The Dark Knight Rises and Occupy Wall Street

(Warning: Spoiler for those who have not seen 2008 The Dark Knight)

On 17 September , 2011, a group of people protested against the influence of corporates on government at Zuccotti Park, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district .  This lead to a movement called “Occupy Wall Street” in 2011 where people protested against banks which were responsible for 2008 recession which lead to increase in wealth gap in USA.

This movement both got support and criticism from comic book world. Frank Miller called the protester “thieves and rapists” while Alan Moore said that protester were fighting for “what is rightfully theirs”.

Next year,Warner Bros would release The Dark Knight Rises. Sequel to 2008 ‘s superhero movie The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises would be set 8 years after Harvey Dent has taken his own life and Batman has not only  taken blame for death of Harvey Dent but also for people killed by Harvey Dent. In this world , Batman has stopped fighting crime since he has been blamed for Harvey Dent’s murder and Bruce Wayne has also been out of public eye since then.

In the movie there would be a scene where the antagonist Bane would provoke crowd against rich and powerful. That scene would seem to be inspired a bit by Occupy Wall Street  movement. To be fair comparison with Bane’s movement in movie is unfair to Occupy Wall Street. Bane ‘s movement is violent and something like Mao-Lenin’s communist movement while Occupy Wall Street is peaceful and against crony capitalism. However during 2011 some people thought Occupy Wall Street is “October Revolution” of USA. For those people , Bane ‘s movement may look like what will happen if Occupy Wall Street win their objective.

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However Bane is not just symbolic representation of nightmare-version of Occupy Wall Street. In the movie, Bale tells the crowd that when Commissioner Jim Gordon  was supposed to retire, he planned to reveal in his farewell speech that Harvey Dent murdered 8 innocent people and died by his hand. However Batman wanted people to remember Harvey Dent as a tough crime-fighter, which is why he told Jim to blame the murder committed by Harvey Dent on Batman and Jim exactly did that.

Bane also tells the crowd that  Dent Act, one of the toughest anti-crime law passed by Gotham City , should be revoked since the law is based on the name of a person who was himself a criminal.

In the real world, US citizens were questioning whether their government were defending them or not on the basis of the way they were handling War On Terror, especially the Iraq War.

The Dark Knight shows how people have lost trust on those who were supposed to defend them as people now think Batman is a villain and not the protector of Gotham City.Even Bruce Wayne has started to question whether he can protect people as Batman or not.

Bruce Wayne starts to believe in himself only when he is told to do so by a policeman named John Blake.

However the movie is not just about allegory of Occupy Wall Street and Patriot Act. Besides the fact , that Bruce Wayne spends half of the movie getting back in shape after he gets his back broken in a fight with Bane, the movie also looks at what has happened ever since Batman has taken blame for Harvey Dent. The movie shows Bruce Wayne as man whose spirit has been broken by death of his long time lover Rachel and the guilt he has for not saving Harvey Dent either from becoming a bad guy or finally dying. The Bruce Wayne of this movie is not same as Bruce Wayne of previous movie. While Bruce Wayne of previous movie was not a very cheerful guy, in this movie, Bruce Wayne has pretty much lost confidence in himself both physically and mentally. This is why Bruce Wayne has been out of public eye and stopped working in his company. This is why Bruce Wayne has stopped being Batman.It is only when Bane starts becoming in Gotham City that he forces himself to get back and start crime fighting.

Bane is not the only character introduced in the movie. This movie introduces Selina Kyle, who is played by Anne Hathaway. Selina Kyle is a cat burglar. At first she works against Bruce Wayne , as she disguise herself as maid and steals diamonds  from safe in Bruce Wayne . However later she joins Batman to fight Bane. In order to fight Bane , she becomes a superhero called Catwoman. Pretty much like Batman , she has not superpower and thus she relies on her athletic ability and gadgets to fight criminals. The costume of Catwoman was decent. It was necessary  thing to do , since Halle Berry pretty much destroyed image of Catwoman with her portrayal in the standalone Catwoman (which was not at all loyal to comic book storyline) with bad acting and terrible costume.

However Selina Kyle is not the only female companion of Bruce Wayne. The movie also introduce Miranda Tate, played by Marion Cotillard, who is a businesswoman who buys most of the shares of Wayne Enterprises (company owned by Bruce Wayne) and later becomes love partner of Bruce Wayne. She fills the vaccum left by Rachel.

The tone of the movie is even less cheerful than The Dark Knight considering movie is set after tragedies that happened in the life of Bruce Wayne by end of The Dark Knight. In this movie, Bruce Wayne focuses less on fighting crime and more on his personal and emotional struggle. Alfred Pennyworth , his family butler, mentor and father figure helps him in fighting emotional battle.

Even though the movie is emotional , focus on action is not lost. This movie has more action than The Dark Knight. Especially more hand to hand combat. This is due to fact that Bane relies more on his strength and less on intelligence unlike Joker in order to bully people. This movie has two scenes which involves hand to hand combat  scene between Bruce Wayne and Bane. I found the first Batman vs. Bane fight scene better and memorable due to dialog delivery , brutal sounds, cinematography , tone, color, production design and fight moves.

I think hardest thing for Christopher Nolan to do was to make Bane awesome. Not only the image of Bane was destroyed due to 1997 Batman and Robin, but also because antagonist of previous movie , Joker was highly praised due to acting of Heath Ledger and how well the character was written. For any character to live upto expectation of Joker was going to be tough. However , I found Bane to be worthy successor of Joker. I liked the minimalist approach of Christopher Nolan towards the character as they focused largely on brute of Bane. Tom Hardy was a good choice for the role. He had already become fan favorite due to his acting in Inception. People had some issues with voice of Bane, as they found it hard to understand . Personally I had no problem with voice. For me , it gave the effect of Darth Vader.

The ending and twist confused some people, but overall the movie was worthy successor to The Dark Knight. It would have been hard to be as good as The Dark Knight. That movie has been compared to The Godfather and Pulp Fiction. For much of 2008 , it was no.1 on IMDB Top 250. However the movie itself a good movie watching experience. Christopher Nolan had announced that this would be last of Batman movie he would direct and Christian Bale also refused to act as Batman again, so this movie was pretty much a farewell to The Dark Knight Trilogy. While the series is over, it’s influence has not not gone. Producers even now are trying to make serious and dark blockbusters inspired by the series success. One of the examples is Man of Steel. However none of them can come close to The Dark Knight trilogy.