REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

CAST

Tom Holland  (How I Live Now)
Michael Keaton (Batman)
Jon Favreau (Swingers)
Zendaya (The greatest Snowman)
Donald Glover (The Martian)
Tyne Daly (Mothers and Sons)
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)
Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Shallow Hal)
Kerry Condon (Better Call Saul)
Chris Evans (Captain Ameirca: The First Avenger)
Jacob Batalon (Every Day)
Michael Chernus (The Bourne Legacy)
Laura Harrier (The Last Five years)
Tony Revolori (The Perfect Game)
Garcelle Beauvais (White House Down)
Jennifer Connelly (Inkheart)
Hemky Madera (The Lost City)
Michael Mando (Orphan Black)
Kenenth Choi (The Last Man on Earth)
Hannibal Buress (Baywatch)
Martin Starr (Adventureland)
Stan Lee (The Avengers)

Following the Battle of New York, Adrian Toomes and his salvage company are contracted to clean up the city, but their operation is taken over by the Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.), a partnership between Tony Stark and the U.S. government. Enraged at being driven out of business, Toomes persuades his employees to keep the Chitauri technology they have already scavenged and use it to create and sell advanced weapons. Eight years later, Peter Parker is drafted into the Avengers by Stark to help with an internal dispute, but resumes his studies at the Midtown School of Science and Technology when Stark tells him he is not yet ready to become a full Avenger.Parker quits his school’s academic decathlon team to spend more time focusing on his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man. One night, after preventing criminals from robbing an ATM with their advanced weapons from Toomes, Parker returns to his Queens apartment where his best friend Ned discovers his secret identity. On another night, Parker comes across Toomes’ associates Jackson Brice / Shocker and Herman Schultz selling weapons to local criminal Aaron Davis. Parker nearly drowns intervening, and is rescued by Stark, who is monitoring the Spider-Man suit he gave Parker and warns him against involvement with the dangerous criminals. Toomes accidentally kills Brice with one of their weapons, and Schultz becomes the new Shocker.Parker and Ned study a weapon left behind by Brice, removing its power core. When a tracking device on Schultz leads to Maryland, Parker rejoins the decathlon team and accompanies them to Washington, D.C. for their national tournament. Ned and Parker disable the tracker Stark implanted in the Spider-Man suit, and unlock its advanced features. Parker tries to stop Toomes from stealing weapons from a D.O.D.C. truck, but is overpowered and trapped inside the truck, causing him to miss the decathlon tournament. When he discovers that the power core is an unstable Chitauri grenade, Parker races to the Washington Monument where the core explodes and traps Ned and their friends in an elevator. Evading local authorities, Parker saves his friends, including his fellow classmate and crush Liz. Returning to New York City, Parker persuades Davis to reveal Toomes’ whereabouts. Aboard the Staten Island Ferry, Parker captures Toomes’ new buyer Mac Gargan, but Toomes escapes and a malfunctioning weapon tears the ferry in half. Stark helps Parker save the passengers before admonishing him for his recklessness and taking away his suit.Parker returns to his high school life, and eventually asks Liz to go to the homecoming dance with him. On the night of the dance, Parker learns that Liz is Toomes’ daughter. Deducing Parker’s secret identity, Toomes threatens retaliation if he interferes with his plans. During the dance, Parker realizes Toomes is planning to hijack a D.O.D.C. plane transporting weapons from Avengers Tower to the team’s new headquarters. He dons his old homemade Spider-Man suit and races to Toomes’ lair. He is first ambushed by Schultz, but defeats him with the help of Ned. At the lair, Toomes destroys the building’s support beams and leaves Parker to die. Parker escapes the rubble and intercepts the plane, steering it to crash on the beach near Coney Island. He and Toomes engage in an open confrontation that ends with Parker saving Toomes’ life from his own unstable equipment, and leaving him for the police along with the plane’s cargo. After her father’s arrest, Liz moves away, and Parker declines an invitation from Stark to join the Avengers full time. Stark returns Parker’s suit, which he puts on at his apartment just as his Aunt May walks in. In a mid-credits scene, an incarcerated Gargan approaches Toomes in prison. Gargan has heard that Toomes knows Spider-Man’s real identity, but Toomes denies this.Spider-Man is literally the most loved Marvel hero of all time! At last, this reboot perfectly captured the balance between Peter Parker and Spider-Man in the comics! Peter’s awkward nature in high school and his attempts at being a cool superhero are both relatable and funny. Tom Holland played a good Peter Parker with the nerdy, awkward way and he manifested one of Spider-Man’s significant traits: his sense of humor. The movie is full of Easter eggs and references to the comics, the previous Spidey movies, and the MCU as a whole. Not only does this movie look really good, but the villain (Vulture) looks menacing as a great villain should

 

 

 

Advertisements

REVIEW: LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES: MAXIMUM OVERLOAD

CAST

Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Laura Bailey (Justice League vs Teen Titans)
Barry Dennen (Titanic)
Steve Blum (Wolverine & The X-Men)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Troy Baker (Justice League Action)
Drake Bell (Superhero Movie)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Robin Atkins Downes (Babylon 5)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
Tom Kenny (Superhero Squad)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Roger Craig Smith (Batman Unlimited)
Travis Willingham (Sonic Boom)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

lego-marvel-super-heroes-maximum-overload-post-6The mischievous Loki challenges the Marvel Super Heroes yet again. But this time, he’s cast a snowball-themed spell that has Norn Frost in it to “Overload” various villains. At a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base in New Jersey, Doctor Octopus raids it in order to obtain the Beta Burst Missile. Using the Norn Frost obtained by his Chitauri minion, Loki “overloads” Doctor Octopus. In Manhattan, Nick Fury calls upon Spider-Man to help defeat Doctor Octopus. Before Doctor Octopus can use the Beta Burst Missile on the trapped S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents, Spider-Man arrives and tricks Doctor Octopus into shocking himself on a nearby power generator. The next morning, Spider-Man brings a bound Doctor Octopus back to Manhattan in a truck upon running out of web fluid on the Garden State Parkway. Nick Fury takes Doctor Octopus to be locked up as Spider-Man is left walking back to Queens, New York. Loki is not pleased that his Doctor Octopus “Overload” was defeated and vows that it’s not over.
maxresdefault
Some time later, news articles are shown about the “Overloads” like the rise of the Red Skull “Overload,” the Wizard “Overload” forming the Frightful Sixteen which outnumbers the Fantastic Four, and the Green Goblin “Overload.” J. Jonah Jameson reports on the “Overloads” and claims that Spider-Man is behind this. Loki then uses the Norn Frost on Venom since he is a creature worth overloading. Appearing near the stand of the Hot Dog Vendor, Venom is overloaded as Loki commands Venom to attack Spider-Man. Their fight takes them through the Daily Bugle much to the dismay of J. Jonah Jameson. Spider-Man manages to defeat Venom by getting one of Venom’s tendrils into the Linotype machine where Venom ends up flattened onto a bunch of newspapers. Venom’s body is taken away by Nick Fury, Captain America, and Wolverine. As Spider-Man swings away from the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson rants about his newsroom getting trashed as he vows to get Spider-Man for this. Spider-Man runs out of web fluid and falls into a dumpster leaving him to walk back to Queens again.
image_f627905f
While reprimanding his Chitauri henchman for sitting in his chair, Loki sees a helicopter carrying Mandarin flying to Tony Stark’s Malibu mansion to attack it. Loki then throws the Norn Frost at Mandarin who then prepares to attack. Iron Man saves Pepper Potts by getting her into an Iron Man armor. Iron Man then begins to fight Mandarin. As Loki plans to overload Mandarin further, his Chitauri minion slips and causes the Norn Frosts to fall into the nearby crevices. Iron Man uses his left glove to knock Mandarin out of his helicopter as he is grabbed by Falcon who takes Mandarin to the Helicarrier. Iron Man is then helped out of the rubble by his left glove before leaving with Pepper to eat out somewhere. Spider-Man suddenly finds himself at an offshore oil platform wondering how he got there. While his Scrying Mirror is getting fixed, Loki reaches out with his mind where he finds Iron Man and Iron Fist looking for Abomination. Loki finds Abomination on top of a passing airplane as he overloads Abomination. Upon Abomination breaking the airplane, Iron Man and Iron Fist rescue the passengers and land them safely on the offshore oil platform while Hulk arrives to fight Abomination. With help from Iron Fist, Hulk knocks Abomination into the ocean. When Loki plans to overload Hulk to serve him, Hulk notices his floating eyes and punches it as Loki feels the pain while getting a black eye.
ukukukukukuk
Loki declares that his plans are almost complete as his Chitauri minions sweep the floor. On the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Wolverine, Captain America, and Black Widow do a roll-call on the captive supervillains Doctor Octopus, Venom, Abomination, Mandarin, Red Skull, and Wizard. Loki then commands the supervillains to arise as they all end up overloaded again while being ordered to hop. The constant hopping causes the Helicarrier to fall onto Tony Stark’s rebuilt mansion. The supervillains then go on a rampage as Iron Man, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Captain America, Wolverine, and Hulk fight them. Thor arrives with Spider-Man upon finding him whining outside Avengers Tower. Spider-Man claims that he was angsting. Upon taking down Doctor Octopus, Thor traces the Norn Frost back to Loki. Thor brings Iron Man and Spider-Man to Asgard to confront Loki while the others fight the supervillains.
image_49cfc114
Upon the Chitauri minions fixing the Scrying Mirror, Loki views it and sees Thor, Iron Man, and Spider-Man approaching his lair. Upon the arrival of Thor, Iron Man, and Spider-Man, Loki eats all the Norn Frost in the possession of one of his Chitauri minions and fights them. After throwing Spider-Man into a wall, Loki states to Iron Man and Thor that he is meddling in the affairs of Earth and take the throne of Asgard (Loki whispered that part which the Chitauri minion said out loud). Upon Loki slipping, Thor throws Mjolnir at Loki as he hangs over the crevasse. Thor then demands that Loki removes his enchantment and vow to never disturb the peace of Midgard under the threat of the hammer noogie. Loki surrenders where the Norn Frost’s enchantment wears off enabling the supervillains to be defeated. Thor then plans to tell Odin what Loki was doing. Loki begs for Thor not to tell their father or to tell him that he was watching the Scrying Mirror since Odin took away his scrying privelages 3 centuries ago. After Thor, Iron Man, and Spider-Man leave, Loki changes the channel on the Scrying Mirror before Hulk can do another attack on him.
image_39e1ade4
On the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, the supervillains are locked up as they plan their revenge. On the deck of the Helicarrier, it was mentioned that Iron Man’s mansion has been repaired and the Helicarrier is back on the air. To get the angst out of Spider-Man, Nick Fury gives Spider-Man a S.H.I.E.L.D. Security Card and a Spider-Bike. As Spider-Man rides the web line off the Helicarrier, the superheroes celebrate their victory. As the Helicarrier takes off, the web line breaks causing Spider-Man and the Spider-Bike to fall. In the post-credits, J. Jonah Jameson is visiting the Hot Dog Vendor’s cart ordering a hot dog from him. Spider-Man lands safely on the nearby streets as his Spider-Bike falls on the Hot Dog Vendor’s cart. Getting mustard on him from the resulting incident, J. Jonah Jameson states that Spider-Man must be responsible as Spider-Man sneaks away.image_39e1ade4The animation is pretty amazing and one of the best Lego films I have seen with great attention to detail the effects are pretty good as well it just nice that they took the time to make the animation work and it’s better when you watch it in High Definition to better enjoy the attention of the art work It just a good film that I think the family would enjoy and fans of Lego and Marvel

REVIEW: MARVEL ANIME – IRON MAN

 

CAST (VOICES)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Ben Diskin (Robot Chicken)
Eden rigel (American Pie)
Laura Bailey (JLA Adventures)
Kyle Hebert (Dragon Ball Z)
Neil Kaplan (Digimon)
Travis Willingham (Shelf Life)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Troy Baker (Lego Justice League: Cosmic Clash)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
This series has what you would expect from an Anime of Iron Man, lots of Mache action, great animation but this one even had an interesting story line. In this series Tony Stark is portrayed older, he has completely left the arms business to follow his ARC reactor project and bring clean efficient and free energy to the world. He still trying to use his playboy charms as much as possible, not having quite the same results in Japan as he would in America.

With the Iron Man type technology much more available and Tony’s focusing more of his energy on the ARC reactor, his own amour is for lack of a better term yesterday’s new. He designs a new amour called Iron Man Duo, he claims he is going to retire being Iron Man and let the next generation take over the role. Knowing he needs the right person inside so he short lists 3 candidates. However in the day of the test flight he cannot resist getting into the new Amour one last time. During the test flight the operating system flashes out and Tony crashes everyone puts it down to it being “too much machine for the old man”, but it is the first step of the system being hacked. With his more advanced amour in enemy hands Tony must once again don his Iron Man amour to try and reclaim Due and stop the terrorist organisation Zodiac how have their own plans from the amour technology, Tony and Japan. Another element to the story is that Tony is taken away from his usual allies being in Japan and away from his usual cast of characters only makes brief Skype appearances. With the exception of Anime Wolverine who is actually makes a cameo appearance for half and episode.

 

REVIEW: IRON MAN: ARMORED ADVENTURES – SEASON 1 & 2

Image result for iron man armored adventures LOGO

MAIN CAST

Adrian Petriw (Edgemont)
Daniel Bacon (50/50)
Vincent Tong (Death Note)
Anna Cummer (Aliens In America)
Mackenzie Gray (Man of Steel)Image result for iron man armored adventures LOGO

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Catherine Lough Haggquist (Godzilla)
Fred Henderson (This Means War)
Alistair Abell (Freddy vs Jason)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Glactica)
Christopher Britton (Thor: Tales of Asgard)
Venus Terzo (X-Men Evolution)
Lee Tockar (George of The Jungle)

When his industrialist father Howard Stark who disappears in a plane crash after refusing to weaponize the Earth Mover at Obadiah Stane’s behest, 16-year-old genius Tony uses a high-tech suit of armor he has constructed and investigates a charge that Stane may have been involved in his father’s death. As Iron Man, Tony spends his time stopping Stane’s plans and saving the world from other villains such as Mandarin, Mr. Fix, Whiplash, A.I.M., Living Laser, the Maggia, Controller, Crimson Dynamo, Blizzard, Killer Shrike, Unicorn, M.O.D.O.K., Ghost, Black Knight, and Technovore. He is assisted in his crime fighting efforts with help from James Rhodes and Pepper Potts. Tony’s activities as Iron Man usually result in his needing to make up excuses as to why he is constantly late or missing from school and other activities. Dependent on his phenomenal technology for survival, Tony must balance the pressures of teenage life with the duties of being a super hero.

The first season of Iron Man: Armored Adventures has a total of 26 episodes. Tony Stark, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Pepper Potts, Gene Khan, Happy Hogan, Nick Fury, Whitney Stane, Black Panther, The Hulk, and S.H.I.E.L.D. all appear in this season.

The first season focuses on the Makluan Rings saga as Tony, Pepper, Rhodey, and Gene Khan work together to get the 5 rings. Upon overthrowing his stepfather Xin Zhang, Gene secretly works undercover to steal the rings from his friends, and ends up betraying them (which upsets Pepper). The season also features the Madame Masque Saga, which comes to a conclusion in the episode “Best Served Cold”. Tony’s feud with Obadiah Stane comes to a partial conclusion in that episode as well. The season ends with two primary cliffhangers in the episode “Tales of Suspense”. The now-friendless Gene discovers that the original Mandarin had 5 other rings besides the original 5. Tony finds out that his father, Howard, survived the plane crash and is being held prisoner, while the armory is destroyed during Xin Zhang’s attack limiting Tony’s resources to find and rescue his father.This season featured Makluan Guardian versions of Dreadknight, Ultimo, Firebrand, and Fin Fang Foom who guard the rings the Mandarin hasn’t obtained yet.

The second season of Iron Man: Armored Adventures has a total of 26 episodes, just like the first season. Black Widow / Natalie Romanoff, Hawkeye, Doctor Doom, Magneto and Justin Hammer appear in this season. General Nick Fury, Black Panther, Mr. Fix, Whiplash and Obadiah Stane return.

The second season covers the Armor Wars saga and Stane International storylines. The first half of Season Two reflecting the Armor Wars has Tony and Rhodey as his definite partner War Machine fighting many people who have stolen Stark’s armor tech and seek to exploit the stolen Iron Man specs for their own purposes.

The enemies young Stark fights during this version of the Armor Wars include the Ghost who steals Iron Man specs and knows that Tony Stark is Iron Man. Ghost sells the specs to both Justin Hammer and Obadiah Stane but says he will not reveal Iron Man’s true identity until Tony turns 18. Justin Hammer makes an armor with the Iron Man specs with the armor being called Titanium Man. Doctor Doom joins forces with Stane to attain the Iron Man armor operating system. Stane builds the Iron Monger armor which is revealed actually to be a direct upgrade from Crimson Dynamo armor (version 3) and is much larger than in the comic book and live action movie realities. The Armor Wars conclude as Obadiah Stane discovers the identity of Iron Man. Stane steals Iron Monger and is intent on destroying Tony once and for all.

While Tony is fighting the Armor Wars, Howard Stark is shown to be alive and forced by Gene to find the other 5 Makluan Rings. Gene continues to find and secured the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth rings for himself during this time. This part of the season also included Makluan Guardian versions of Melter, Sunturion, Grim Reaper, and Grey Gargoyle who guard the remaining Makluan Rings. The second half of season two is loosely based on the “Stane International” story arc. Justin Hammer (instead of Obadiah Stane) successfully buys control of Stark International. Stark, Rhodey and Potts all agree to fight against Hammer and his weaponization of Stark International’s projects. Unlike the printed page version, Stark and Rhodes reject the title of Circuits Maximus for the new start-up and settle on “Stark Solutions” . By the end of the second season, Pepper has assumed the armored identity of Rescue.

The show is well written. The characters are three dimensional. And the story is very intriguing. But you have to watch all the episodes in order. It’s almost a serial type of show. If you miss an episode it’ll be harder to understand what’s going on.

REVIEW: IRON MAN (1966)

untitled

CAST (VOICES)

John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Bernard Cowan (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea)
Peg Dixon (Strange Paradise)

Thirteen episodes of the animated Marvel Comics’ tough-as-steel superhero – Iron Man. In ‘The Mandarin’s Revenge’ when military missiles begin disappearing, Iron Man allows himself to be captures by the Mandarin. He fights the Mandarin and stops missile from exploding.

In ‘The Moleman Strikes’ the Mole Man captures Iron Man and steals an earth digging device. Iron Man frees himself and must face a fire-breathing Dragon. He defeats the monster and tricks the Mole Man into destroying the digging device. In ‘The Death of Tony Stark’ Happy Hogan and Pepper think that the Mandarin killed Tony Stark, but the Iron Man is alive and facing a series of death traps.

The Mandarin tells Iron Man his origin, battles him and Iron Man escapes, returning as Stark to his relieved friends. In ‘If I Die, Let It Be With Honor’ Iron Man faces death if Happy doesn’t bring him a needed component in time. Happy is wounded but saves Iron Man’s life. In ‘The Crimson Dynamo’ when the Crimson Dynamo battles Iron Man and defects, the Black Widow’s partner dons the Dynamo armour. The original Dynamo sacrifices his life so that Iron Man can defeat his evil counterpart.

In ‘Double Disaster’ Tony Stark discovers that a trusted employee is stealing from him and fires him. The ex-employee becomes Jack Frost and vows revenge, but Iron Man heats him up before he can do more damage. In ‘Enter Hawkeye’ Hawkeye decides to become a super hero but falls prey to the Black Widow. Hawkeye and Widow fight Iron Man but flee before Iron Man can stop them. In ‘Ultimo’ Tony Stark is captured by the Mandarin and the giant Ultimo. He must stop them before getting back to a congressional hearing or the Senate will cancel all of Stark’s industry contracts.

In ‘The Dream Master’ Count Nefaria causes Iron Man to believe he is fighting the Unicorn and the Crimson Dynamo in his nightmares. Iron Man must defeat Aliens from outer space to stop Nefaria. In ‘My Life For Yours’ Iron Man loses power when trying to rescue Happy from the Black Knight’s mysterious castle. Happy is turned into a monster and Iron Man must save his own life and that of his friend. In ‘Beauty And The Armour’ the evil Countess is behind the Mad Thinker, who kidnaps Tony Stark.

The Countess steals Iron Man’s armour to defeat Titanium Man. In ‘The Other Iron Man’ Hogan takes on the Guise of Iron Man when Stark collapses and is captured by the Mandarin. Tony builds a new suit of armour and comes to Happy’s aid. In ‘Cliffs Of Doom’ The Chameleon and Kraven the Hunter battle Iron Man to get a new laser gun. The Chameleon convinces Iron Man that he is the real Captain America. The two heroes do battle until they realize the dupe. Crude animation, but a fun show, out of all the 66 animated shows this one has to one of my favorites.

REVIEW: THE AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Brian Bloom (Vampirella)
Chris Cox (All Star Superman)
Jennifer Hale (The Rick)
Peter Jessop (Jla Adventures)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Eric Loomis (Shin Chan)
James C. Mathis III (Undercover Brother)
Colleen Villard (Duel Masters)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Rick D. Wasserman (Planet Hulk)
Wally Wingert (American Dad)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST COICES

Gabriel Mann (Cherry Falls)
Drake Bell (The Reef 2)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and Teh X-men)
Alex Desert (The Flash 90s)
Vanessa Marshall (Duck Dodgers)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
Elizabeth Daily (Valley Girl)
Troy Baker (Lego Batman)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Crispin Freeman (Hellsing)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Grey DeLisle (Danny Phantom)
Cam Clarke (He-Man)
Lance Reddick (Lost)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Nika Futterman (Hey Arnold!)
Lance Henriksen (The Terminator)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)

Both Marvel and DC have to an astonishing degree started to pick up these last few years, with several well-appreciated shows that I really enjoy: Young Justice, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Green Lantern TAS, and now this; The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

It’s very rare indeed for a superhero cartoon of this magnitude to be  great from start-to-finish, but that’s what Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is, right from Episode 1 `Iron Man is Born’ to the finale `Avengers Assemble!’. There are literally no dud episodes whatsoever! The whole series is infused with tremendous intrigue, exceptional plotting and some of the tightest continuity I’ve ever seen in a TV series. The number of sub-plots and story-arcs that are juggled here is staggering, but the creative team handled it all with such precision. The coherency, intricacies and pacing is nothing short of exemplary overall. This isn’t just essential for kids; adult Marvel fans will get bags of satisfaction from watching this cartoon!

So what exactly can folk expect? Well, as I said, the choicest pieces of Marvel history (be it in comics or on film) have been successfully adapted and utilized here. From how the Avengers banded together to life-changing events like the Civil War threat and the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion (adapted beautifully here!). Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man/Yellowjacket, the Wasp and Black Panther are all superbly established before `Assembling’ for the first time, members come-and-go, characters undergo changes, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel and the Vision join the ranks, and all-manner of superb guests join the party, such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Fantastic Four and even those Guardians of the Galaxy!

And on the villains-front, you can be subjected to a cracking-bunch of dastardly rogues, such as Loki, the Red Skull, Hydra, A.I.M., Baron Zemo, the Enchantress, the Masters of Evil, Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Doom and (of course!) chief arch-nemesis Ultron. And it’s not all just for window-dressing. The depictions of all these characters (hero, villain and otherwise) and their worlds is just pure gold. It’s perhaps the most faithful animated portrayal of the Marvel Universe.
Really, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes could (and should) have gone on for more seasons. Instead, Marvel pulled the plug in favor of the replacement show Avengers Assemble. Thus in the last batch episodes, you DO get the feel that the writers were trying to wrap things up and give the show a grand swansong to make way for the next-cartoon-in-line. Admittedly, there are a few loose ends left over, but the series is mostly wrapped-up in winning style with a very acceptable conclusion. And in an age where too many shows are cancelled prematurely/end on a sour note, it makes that final moment of `Avengers Assemble!’ all the more of a triumph, just like the entire series itself.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: IRON MAN 3

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Gwyneth Paltrow (A Perfect Murder)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Rebecca Hall (Town)
Jon Favreau (Daredevil)
Ben Kingsley (Lucky Number Sleven)
James Badge Dale (World War Z)
Stephanie Szostak (R.I.P.D.)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
William Sadler (Roswell)
Dale Dickey (My Name Is Earl)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World)
Shaun Toub (Lois & Clark)
Mark Ruffalo (Just Like Heaven)
Joan Rivers (Spaceballs)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Rebecca Mader (Lost)

As the start of “Phase Two” of Marvel’s ever-expanding film lore, Iron Man 3 picks up shortly after the events of The Avengers, where Tony Stark (RDJ) played a crucial role in stopping an other-worldly invasion in New York City. Shaken by the experience to a point of acute panic attacks, Stark finds himself obsessed with his mechanical tinkering, creating and modifying suits in the hours where he can’t sleep or spend time with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), now CEO of Stark Industries. During that time, a bearded fanatic known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) claims responsibility for curiously evidence-free terrorist activities through hacked television broadcasts, backed up by cryptic “lessons” about American indulgence, artifice, and claim to territory. In a fragile state of mind and dealing with the reemergence of a momentary colleague from his past, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), whose radical plans for human advancement (and his attractiveness) draw Pepper’s attention, Tony flexes his Iron Man muscle by publicly provoking The Mandarin.

Before that, Iron Man 3 offers a glimpse nearly fifteen years into the past as a quasi-preamble, before Stark made his reputation as a public hero. Outside of Black and co-writer Drew Pearce’s evident character reasons for doing so — namely introducing Killian at a younger age, as well as the beautiful, brilliant scientist Maya Hansen (played by Rebecca Hall) and her invaluable yet unstable work in organic regeneration — this also serves as a reminder of a Tony Stark before he stumbled into the duties of a narcissistic hero in a near-impervious suit of his design. Thus begins a personal journey for Stark: complete with voiceover directed at an unspecified listener (you find out who in the post-credit sequence) that transitions to the present era, the strain on his persona created by a near-death sacrificial decision in New York flirts with the comic-book’s famous “Demon in a Bottle” story arc … without ever mentioning alcohol.

The script from Black and Pearce expands on that internal crisis by finding a way to leave Stark without his gear, his girl, and his support structure at a pivotal point, where he’s abandoned in the middle of nowhere with only his wits and scientific knowledge (and a boy essentially embodying a young engineering-savvy version of Tony Stark) to guide him. Some will find this change of pace refreshing, a return to those moments in the Afghanistan cave where he constructed the first rudimentary suit; once again, he’s using only his inventiveness to weave in and out of tricky situations and get Iron Man in fighting shape. Others will find the lack of higher-octane action and similarities to other recent “fallen, morale-damaged hero” storylines frustrating, and that’s partially due to circumstances that are wobbly even for comic-book logic. The pressure rests on Downey Jr. to convince those watching of his fraught situation, and his charisma — now with the added touch of Shane Black’s humorous edge — keeps the attitude upbeat, hectic, and faintly mythic, bolstered by scenes such as Tony literally dragging the weight of his armor over his shoulder across a snowy field.

As  the film approaches a climax full of Iron Men, fireworks, and plenty of Hail Mary leaps within a dangerous shipyard, backed by a reliably fierce performance from Guy Pearce as his role in the Extremis program comes to fruition. What surprised me the most about the ending, once the smoke clears, is how final and cathartic it ends up feeling, as if it very well could be the bookend to Iron Man himself if they decided not to move the series forward. Giving closure to Stark’s tribulations as a self-focused hero and his rocky relationship with Pepper Potts, it’ll make the eminent day when the Avengers come knocking on his door again all the more intriguing.