I’m sure by now that everyone is aware of what MARVEL studios are doing with their most recent string of superhero films, but in case you aren’t here’s a quick run-down.
Starting in 2008 with the surprise hit Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr., MARVEL studios have embarked upon a journey no comic book franchise has dared to do so far. It’s a ploy that has become known as ‘The Avengers Initiative’ and its simple aim is to create a series of intertwining superhero films which will all meet up at the end for one epic super picture starring all of the films’ respective superhero stars and supporting characters. The films so far have included the aforementioned Iron Man as well as its sequel Iron Man 2 (2010), The Incredible Hulk (2008) starring Ed Norton, Thor (2011) and the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Each film has been linked by recurring characters that weave in and out of each film (namely Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury and Clark Gregg’s S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Phil Colson), references to other superheroes (look out for Captain America’s Shield in Iron Man), and short, post-credit scenes which tend to lead into the next upcoming feature film. But it doesn’t stop there. If all goes according to plan and The Avengers is a hit, there will be more spin-offs featuring superheroes who do not have their own films yet but appear in the super-film (Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, who has a short cameo in Thor and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, who previously appeared in Iron Man 2.)
So in preparation for the upcoming Captain America, which is due out in cinemas this July, and of course, the mega Avengers film which will be released in April of next year, the Astor Theatre offers you the opportunity to catch up with the latest Avengers outing, Thor as well as seeing where it all began with Iron Man in this very special Avengers Superhero Double.
Thor stars Aussie Chris Hemsworth as the title character, a Viking Warrior from the otherworldly realm of Asgard, who has super human abilities, providing he has his almighty hammer by his side. However, after erupting a war on his planet he is banished to Earth to live amongst the humans as punishment. When Thor arrives on earth, he misplaces his hammer and is soon enough held captive by S.H.I.E.L.D, the division of the American Government responsible for putting together the Avengers team. With the help of scientist and love interest Jane (Natalie Portman) and her mentor Erik (Stellan Skarsgård) he vies to escape in order to put things to rest in his own home world, where not only is a war about to begin, but where his brother Loki is trying to take over the crown of their father –King Odin, played by the wonderful Anthony Hopkins.
Thor is an extremely enjoyable film filled with excellent action sequences that are well complimented with amazingly beautiful special visual effects. Hemsworth is brilliant as Thor and Natalie Portman is on form and still gleaming since her Oscar winning effort in Black Swan (2010). Hopkins is brilliant as always, but don’t expect to see a whole lot of him as he is only in a relatively small supporting role. Thor is a great addition to the Avengers franchise and there’s no doubt we’ll see more of his own films in the future. And remember, just before you leave your seat for refreshments during the interval, stick around to check out the post-credits scene that is sure to lead into The Avengers movie.
After interval however, we head straight back to the beginning of the series to see where it all began with the brilliant action epic Iron Man.
Iron Man sure enough marked the single biggest Hollywood comeback of recent times: Robert Downey Jr. Following his attempt to clean-up his image and get away from his life of substance abuse, Downey Jr successfully skyrockets (literally) himself back into the movie world playing none other than the alcoholic, arrogant and care-free Tony Stark. Regardless of his personal attitude and playboy lifestyle, Stark is a brilliant engineering genius who became head of Stark Industries after the death of his scientist father (a character said to appear in Captain America). Whilst in Afghanistan demonstrating his newly invented missile something goes extremely wrong: he is captured by a group of terrorists who hold him captive with another scientist and force him to build his new missile for their own use. With no other option Stark goes to work – but what the terrorists don’t know is that he isn’t making what they want. Stark and his prison inmate build an iron super-suit that Stark then uses to escape the compound. When he arrives back in America he shuts down the weapons division of his company after discovering enemies using them against his own people. He begins to re-develop the suit in a more lightweight model, which has many extra perks such as a jetpack and missile launchers. Soon enough, Stark’s plans are stolen and when they are used against him in the form of the evil Iron Mongor Stark must don his suit and become the great superhero: Iron Man.
Iron Man is one of the best superhero franchises of the last decade. Downey Jr. is absolutely outstanding as Tony Stark and delivers a slick, hilarious performance that is one of his career bests. His supporting cast are fantastic too; Jeff Bridges is Obadiah Stane, the second in command at Stark Industries and Gwyneth Paltrow returns to the world of the successful Hollywood epic after years of being a recluse as Stark’s secretary Pepper Potts.
With such Hollywood Blockbusters as these superhero films there is truly no other way to experience their full glory and feel the full punch that they throw out of the screen than at the cinema. The Astor Theatre is proud to present these two films in a double-bill and if you’re a fan of the Avengers series, superhero movies, or simply want to get into them and see what all the buzz is about then you have no excuse not to check them out on our big screen!
Reviewed by Dave Lee, one of our awesome and regular E-news contributors.
The Thor / Iron Man double bill screens at the Astor Theatre on Thursday June 09, 7.30pm.