This is what we have watched so far:
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Captain Marvel
- Iron Man
- The Incredible Hulk
- Iron Man 2
- Marvel’s The Avengers
I left off with the last movie we had completed, Iron Man.
The teenager had to rent The Incredible Hulk as it is not available on Disney Plus, Netflix or Hulu. And she made a good point that if we were going to commit to watching the whole franchise, we had to watch the whole franchise.
The teenager has the very strong opinion that the actor portraying the Hulk in The Avengers is physically better suited to the role. (Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk vs. Mark Ruffalo in the later films). I realized that I had never seen The Incredible Hulk but instead I had seen Ang Lee’s Hulk. (I have also seen the TV Hulk as, after all, I am Gen X.)
I enjoyed both men, but Mark Ruffalo, to me, had the right demeanor in the role to seem intelligent, mild, and also funny. To me, Ed Norton always seems a little awkward and a little cocky.
But the movie was fun.
I, of course, enjoyed Iron Man 2 because Iron Man is an eternal wild card. I like that Pepper takes control of Stark Enterprises, and I also like that Tony Stark has to both fight and work with his friend Rhodes in this installment.
This push-pull of situations that force friends/family into enemies and enemies into friends resurfaces everywhere in the Marvel Universe. In Avengers, we see Natasha Romanoff have to fight Clint Barton, Thor have to detain Loki, and the whole damn Avengers team resort to bickering amongst themselves.
Is it a theme of “watch your back?” Or merely a reminder than humans are creatures that respond to their circumstances? We will turn on one another — sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for selfish ones.
Speaking of The Avengers, from the original Iron Man to The Avengers, Tony Stark has experienced the largest transformation. He, more than anyone in the group, transitions from a typical human to a hero.
I have a very large problem with my willing suspension of disbelief with Tony Stark. In Iron Man, he receives an oversized magnet in his chest to prevent a piece of shrapnel from entering his heart. In Afghanistan. In a cave.
The person who tended to Tony in this environment could rig up a massive magnet, somehow make a hole in Tony’s chest and find a way for it to heal into a nice little chamber, and power it with a car battery… but he was incapable of finding the shrapnel and removing it?
But that aside, and ignoring the subplots created by that device, Tony Stark is the one in the group who choses, as Bruce Wayne similarly choses in the D.C. Universe, to arm himself. Except Bruce has motivation to become a vigilante. And Tony just wants to build cool toys as a thrill.
So, Tony progresses from a thrill-seeker, to a weapon, to a hero. He voluntarily carries a nuclear bomb into outer space.
Tony Stark controls every change in his character arc and actively choses where to go.
Captain America? Drafted by the army and chosen to be transformed by super serum.
Captain Marvel? Military accident then kidnapped and brainwashed by aliens.
Hulk? Radiation accident.
Let’s take a minute to talk about the movie Thor. Chris Hemsworth— he’s easy on the eyes, especially when he takes his shirt off. I love the speech patterns of the Asgardians. I also love the humor in the alien-arrives-on-earth scenarios. And I respect Jane Foster’s physics research.
That brings us to The Avengers. I remember being ridiculously tickled by Joss Whedon’s script when I saw this in the theaters. (Has Joss Whedon been officially canceled for his bad behavior on the Buffy set?)
The humor stands the test of time.
I also remember being confused by the plot. There was a great deal of character soup and the enemies came out of nowhere.
Watching the series in this order certainly solves those particular problems. The movie is still funny, but also ridiculously long. It took three days for us to get through it.
The movie made so much more sense now, and I look forward to the next on the list, Iron Man 3.
As for my title, at the end of The Avengers, Tony asks the team if they can go for shawarma. The very last scene, after the traditional teaser for the next movie, is the group eating silently at a table at a restaurant called Shawarma Palace as the owners clean up after the big end fight.