Despite Thor, The God of Thunder being one of Marvel’s most iconic characters and virtual co-founder of The Avengers, making him a compelling action hero has been a tough task. Even with some great directors and sleek scripting, “Thor” hasn’t quite been as exciting as Iron Man or Captain America. He’s barely risen to the Hulk who, so far, has only had one movie and a hand full of appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With “Thor: Ragnarok,” Marvel has reached the point where audiences are familiar enough with the character that they can begin to change his identity a bit. In the end, he’s still Thor, the God of Thunder, but he also comes in touch with his god like abilities when he allows himself to embrace humility once and for all.
You can’t get anymore Halloween than teaming up Marvel’s monstrous Hulk alongside the Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange. On Halloween Night, demons begin wreaking havoc in New York City, prompting Doctor Strange to do everything he can to slay them and bring them in to his holding cell in his temple. Thankfully he calls upon the Incredible Hulk to help him, and Hulk is more than happy to oblige in stomping some demons. Little does Hulk know that the demons are manifestations of human victims that are being held hostage by the villainous Nightmare who has kept them held in their own dream plains. Strange ventures in to the dream dimension to save Bruce Banner when Nightmare begins using the Hulk to hurt Strange.
With “Age of Ultron,” Marvel and Joss Whedon essentially pave the way for a series of films that will make “The Avengers” the enduring franchise that fans have always wanted. It’s made abundantly clear that not only is the movie series here to stay, but we can expect a roster of rotating superheroes in the future that will create new conflicts and brand new dynamics. While “Age of Ultron” sags in certain places, it’s a superior follow up to “The Avengers” which was much more simplistic and aimed more to establish the crossover. “Age of Ultron” garners higher aspirations, constructing new story lines and setting up foreshadowing for future films. It also greatly raises the stakes for our team of flawed superheroes, all of whom are still learning to work as a unit. Set almost immediately after “Iron Man 3,” and “Winter Soldier,” we meet the Avengers, all of whom are back in combat fighting Hydra and taking on the elusive corporation’s hideout.
Disney and Marvel presents “Hulk and the Agents of Merchandising Possibilities”! Demonstrating the same business model as their rivals at the Cartoon Network, Disney and Marvel’s fusion has guaranteed all the former Marvel shows scrapped in favor of more juvenile and louder action shows. ‘”Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” was taken off in favor of the less complex and more action friendly “Avengers Assemble,” and now Marvel has given Hulk his own vehicle.
I guess with the not so stellar ratings of the fantastic “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” Disney figured it’d be a good idea to lay the ground work for another “Avengers” vehicle. This time, “The Avengers” are much closer to their cinematic counterparts, taking off from the first movie, and including superhero The Falcon, who is slated to appear in the upcoming sequel. What’s sad is, when you think about it, “Avengers Assemble” is actually a spin off of “Ultimate Spider-Man.” Marvel has laid the ground work for this new series with guest spots from the movie versions of the Avengers since the show started, with appearances from Iron Man, Thor, and the sun glasses donning Hawkeye.
Being a pure comic book geek I was most surprised to discover that not only did The Incredible Hulk steal one of the biggest movies of 2012, “The Avengers,” but that the man who played him, Mark Ruffalo, has been the best Bruce Banner so far. The Hulk has been in two movies prior to “The Avengers,” and the limited screen time of The Hulk has warranted renewed interest in the character.
The Hulk is now going to have yet another new movie series in the work and is set to debut on television once again as Hollywood misses the point. Once again. The Hulk is excellent. In limited doses. In either case, while the first two cinematic efforts to give the Hulk a series have failed, I do have to admit one thing about the prior films.
What Joss Whedon has done is quite spectacular. He’s managed to take what could have been a complete clusterfuck of a movie and compacted every single hero and their mythos within two and a half hours, while also being able to introduce new heroes we can root for in the process. “The Avengers” is a true accomplishment of not only studio ambition but comic book cinema, a true masterpiece of the fantasy genre that piles together Marvel’s greatest heroes for a film many comic book fans have dreamed of having for decades. “The Avengers” incidentally is one of the many variations of Akira Kurosawa’s unparalleled masterpiece “Seven Samurai.” In “The Avengers” much like Kurosawa’s masterpiece, a thuggish villain rears his ugly head prepared to take down a land of innocent people for their own selfish purposes. Only when seven mismatched and unique heroes join forces and put aside their egos to defend the land does the villain meet his match. Ultimately while “The Avengers” is in fact an ambitious project that’s been planned from the get go, the film feels very meticulously crafted.
Whether we like it or not, from here on in Marvel Comics and Marvel Entertainment is officially owned by Disney Studios. What effect this will have on the comics and characters as a whole has yet to be fully realized, but many can agree one of the positive outcomes of this new ownership has been “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” a full fledged action adventure series starring all of the heroes we know and love fighting as one super team against Earth’s most impossible foes.
After a very disastrous animated attempt in the late nineties many fans recall with disgust, Disney has rebooted the animated franchise including all of our favorite heroes the aforementioned series failed to include and have considerably gone all out creatively and artistically. While the series will satisfy fans of the actual title, the intent of the series is to garner brand new fans of the titles and characters being pushed on a kids channel geared toward boys and will undoubtedly win over a brand new generation of true believers.