The Centurions

Destruction in Metropolis
Kryptonian World Engine Destroys much of downtown Metropolis


Kryptonian soldier Zod attempts to use Kryptonian World Engine to terraform Earth into a new Krypton.

Man of Steel

Copyright 14 June 2013 Warner Brothers Studios

The story opens on the Planet Krypton, wherein Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer), has just given birth to a son. She and her husband Jor-El (Russell Crowe) have birthed their son naturally and in violation of the basic laws of the planet, where babies are to be bred through genetic engineering with a planetary ‘Codex’ that imprints what a person’s place in life is to be (leader, scientist, general, etc).

Jor-El and his wife have chosen this path as their planet is on the brink of destruction. Harvesting their planet’s core for resources has made it unstable and it will destroy itself. After the birth of his son, Jor-El appears before the Kryptonian Leaders, pleading with them to allow him to save the planet’s Codex, and to search for a habitable world beyond Krypton. However, even with destruction imminent, the council will not abandon its ways.

The council is set upon by General Zod (Michael Shannon) and numerous followers, intending to take control of the planet. Though Jor-El does disagree with Council, he refuses to join Zod’s coup. Zod orders Jor-El to be arrested, but Jor-El escapes and flees to an area nearby, wherein the planet’s birthing chamber resides. Right before he leaves, he tells Lara to prepare the small spacecraft he has built to transport his son from Krypton and to find a suitable world to send him to.

Stealing the Codex from the chamber, Jor-El races back to his home where his wife Lara has found a planet to send their baby to: Earth. Though Lara is sad at the loss of their child, Jor-El claims he will live his life in a new way: free of the limitations imposed by Kryptonian society. Their son, Kal-El, will be able to choose his way in life. Lara worries about their son’s ability to survive on his new planet; Jor-El assures her he will be stronger, faster, invulnerable and possess powers that will make him a super-being there because of Earth’s yellow sun. Jor-El places the Codex into a device that bonds it to his son’s living cells.

As they prepare to launch the pod containing their son, Zod and his followers force their way into the Els residence, demanding that Jor-El hand over the Codex. Jor-El claims it is in the pod with his son. Zod becomes enraged and attacks Jor-El, eventually stabbing him to death. During the fight, Lara engages the pod’s engines and it shoots into the sky.

Angered that Jor-El and his wife have doomed the Kryptonian race with the removal of the Codex, Zod orders his followers to shoot down the pod. However, his orders are suddenly cancelled when Kryptonian security ships appear, destroying the attacking vessel and arresting Zod and his minions. In the confusion, a Phantom Drive engages on the pod, rocketing the baby away in the blink of an eye.

Zod and his followers are banished to The Phantom Zone. In a fury, Zod lashes out, declaring the leaders will not grant him and his followers a quick death. He also swears to Lara (who is present), that he will find her son. Zod and his followers are placed in a giant craft, the Black Zero, that is sent into the Phantom Zone.

Shortly after, Krypton’s core collapses as Lara passively watches the planet breaking apart. Many worlds away, the pod carrying Kal-El rockets into Earth’s atmosphere, touching down somewhere in the Great Plains of the United States.

The scene then shifts to ocean waters, where we see a bearded man (Henry Cavill) working aboard a fishing vessel and having trouble concentrating on his duties.The crew are soon alerted to a distress call for help from a flaming oil rig. The bearded man quickly disappears from the ship but is on the rig moments later, rescuing the crew and getting them to board a Coast Guard chopper. He is unable to join them, as he rushes to keep a part of the rig from collapsing on the landing pad. As the chopper flies away with the rig’s crew, the rig collapses down on him and he ends up floating in the water.

We soon learn that this is Clark Kent, as in a deep mental state, he recalls when he was younger, and manifested X-Ray vision, and super-hearing. Scared at what he was seeing and hearing, Clark runs from his classroom and locks himself in a closet. His Mother Martha Kent comes to the school, and manages to coax him out, helping him to focus his powers, quelling the myriad sounds he hears.

Back in the present-day, Clark has managed to return to land and steals some clothes. As he attempts to figure out where he is, he sees a school bus nearby. Clark has another flashback to when he was 13. He recalls being picked on by a boy named Pete Ross (Jack Foley), before the school bus they were on suddenly blows a tire, and careens off a bridge into a river. Thinking quickly, Clark escapes out the rear emergency door, and pushes the bus to shore. Clark jumps back into the water and pulls the very boy who harassed him to safety.

Though Pete’s mother claims that Clark miraculously saved the occupants of the bus, Clark’s father Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) tries to convince her otherwise. Needless to say, Clark feels even more conflicted, as his father has tried to tell him to suppress his powers, but Clark was torn by a need to help others.

When Clark demands to know what’s wrong with him, Jonathan shows his son the pod he came to Earth in, along with a strange metallic item that was found with him. Jonathan claims he had a metallurgist examine it, but it is comprised of elements not found on Earth. Imprinted on the small fragment of metal is a shield-like shape containing an “S”.

The scene then returns to the present day, where Clark has a job at a truck stop in Canada. As he works, he hears some military men talking quietly about some object found in the ice a ways north of the stop. When a trucker comes in and starts harassing one of the waitresses, Clark attempts to stop him, but afraid others will see his powers, stands there and takes the trucker’s taunts. Without saying a word, Clark takes off his apron and leaves the stop. Later, as the trucker leaves, he is shocked to find his rig impaled on several of the tree logs he was hauling.

The scene then cuts to Lois Lane (Amy Adams), landing at the base in Canada, where she is met by Professor Emil Hamilton (Richard Schiff), and Colonel Nathan Hardy (Christopher Meloni). Drilling is still commencing within the ice to get to uncover the craft, but ice drilling tests have at least confirmed that the ice surrounding the object is thousands of years old.

Going out in the evening to shoot some pictures, Lois is shocked when she checks them to see a man walking on a ridge near the drilling site without cold-weather clothing. She sneaks up to where he was, and finds a tunnel bored into the ice. The tunnel is Clark’s doing, as he had followed the word of the military men, and made his way to the site, using his heat vision to tunnel into the ice. He then finds a strange spacecraft, and going inside, finds a panel that opens up. It contains a hole that seems to match the shape of the object his father found with him in the pod. Inserting the object the hole causes a person to suddenly appear nearby. He doesn’t say a word, simply walking off. Clark attempts to catch up to this person, but he always seems to be several steps ahead of him.

Meanwhile, Lois has found her way onto the ship, but is attacked by a sentry. Her screams cause Clark to come running. After dismantling the sentry by crushing it with his bare hands, he sees that the sentry has wounded Lois in her lower abdomen. He tells her she’s bleeding internally and uses his heat vision to cauterize the wound. Shortly after, military forces nearby are all amazed when the ice starts to crack and a giant ship emerges, flying off.

Lois is found the next day and shortly thereafter she writes up an article about what she experienced. However, her editor at the Daily Planet, Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), refuses to publish it. Even the Pentagon has denied her ‘aliens and spaceships’ story. Lois then attempts to play hard ball. Going to a contact of hers named Glen Woodburn (Chad Krowchuk), she allows him to publish her story. Though he cautions that she could get in trouble for leaking the story, she claims she wants to do this, in hopes that it will catch the attention of the person she met.

Meanwhile, Clark has piloted the spaceship to another remote location in the Arctic. It turns out the figure he was following is a hologram of his father Jor-El, who is appearing via the ‘key’ Clark inserted into the ship. Jor-El explains the history of the planet Krypton and that the ship Clark found was a sentry ship sent out many years before, when the the council of Krypton had attempted to colonize other planets.

Jor-El shows Clark a dark blue and red suit bearing the shielded “S”. Jor-El explains that it is the emblem of the House of El and a symbol of hope. Jor-El also explains that the Earth’s sun has made Clark stronger, and has been helping him manifest powers for some time. Jor-El tells Clark that the suit will symbolize his mission: to help the people of Earth and act as their guardian. Stepping outside the ship, Clark begins to push his powers: first taking flying leaps, before eventually being able to fly at great speeds, breaking the sound barrier and flying great distances around the world.

Back in Metropolis, Perry White is furious that Lois leaked her story to the internet, and suspends her for three weeks. Lois uses this time to begin tracking down leads to her mystery man. Her sleuthing leads her to Smallville, and eventually, Martha Kent.

Visiting the grave of Jonathan Kent, she is surprised when her mystery man appears (albeit in nondescript clothing). Lois claims she wants to tell Clark’s story, but he tells her of how he abides by his father’s request to not reveal himself until the world ‘was ready.’

Clark then relates how Jonathan died. After the two have an argument during a drive, which mostly concerns Clark frustration over his true ancestry and how he is forbidden to reveal his powers to anyone but his parents, they stop when a tornado forms, threatening everyone on the road nearby. Clark gets his mother and several others to safety, with Jonathan attempting to get the family dog free of their vehicle. The dog makes it out safely, but Jonathan ends up injuring himself, unable to make it to the overpass where everyone has taken shelter. Clark had wanted to help his father, but a gesture from Jonathan cautioned him to not reveal himself, leaving Jonathan to be swept away by the tornado. Hearing his story, Lois respects Clark’s wish for privacy, and stops trying to pursue a story from him.

Clark returns to his mother, and happily tells her that he has found where he came from, and who his true parents are. Though Martha fears that her son will now be taken from her, Clark assures her it won’t happen.

Meanwhile, the military has received word of a strange ship in geosynchronous orbit around the planet. Soon, others report the strange sighting, but are surprised when power is cut off to all parts of the world, and a message is broadcast from General Zod. Zod demands that the people of Earth hand over Kal-El within 24 hours or there will be consequences. A worldwide manhunt is initiated to find this “Kal-El”. Glenn Woodburn is interviewed about the aliens and drops Lois’ name, which soon results in numerous FBI agents being sent to take her into custody. Lois tries to flee from them, but she’s quickly intercepted and turned over to the US Army.

Back in Smallville, Clark goes to a local church, and confesses to the pastor there that he is the one the aliens want. Though he admits he is conflicted: he doesn’t trust that Zod will leave Earth in peace, but he is also wondering if he should trust humanity. His decision is made when the Pastor tells him that sometimes one must take a leap of faith.

Clark then appears before the Army in his Kryptonian suit, willing to surrender on condition that he can meet with Lois and that she be freed. Clark is handcuffed (he allows them to, as a gesture of trust and to help them feel more secure), and he and Lois have a short conversation. She asks him about the “S” on his chest which he tells her is not an S as Earthlings know it, but a symbol of hope. When she suggests a new moniker, her voice is cut off by feedback from the audio system observers are using behind a 2-way mirror — but Clark shows he is easily able see through it and identify the people standing behind it. Clark stands up and effortlessly breaks his handcuffs and tells the observers he’ll allow them to turn him over to Zod and that he’ll protect the planet from whatever danger Zod presents.

In a remote desert, a black craft appears to bring him to Zod’s ship. The craft is commanded by Faora-Ul (Antje Traue), who also demands of General Swanwick (Harry Lennix), that Lois also be taken with them. Though Swanwick points out that the deal was originally for only Kal-El to be handed over, Lois goes along. Before they reach Zod’s ship, Lois is fitted with a breathing apparatus, as the atmosphere on the ship will be toxic to humans. When Faora is distracted, Clark slips Lois the key he used to restart the Arctic ship.

On board the ship Zod welcomes Clark, who a few moments later collapses to the floor of the ship, seemingly unable to breathe. Though Lois is worried for him, Zod assures her that Clark’s body is simply adjusting to the Kryptonian atmosphere aboard the ship.

Clark passes out, and finds himself in a dreamlike vision of his family’s farm. Zod explains to Clark that after the destruction of Krypton, the portal to the Phantom Zone where they were trapped was opened again. After modifying the portal’s Phantom Drive, they were able to transport themselves all across the galaxy in the Black Zero. Visiting the various planets which colonizing ships were sent, their searches for a new planet proved unfruitful, as each of the colonists sent to these various planets were found to have perished. However, Zod and his followers took what they could from the remnants of their civilization, including a terraforming machine called a “World Engine”.

When Clark activated the ship in the Arctic, it sent out a signal, which lead Zod to Earth. Zod claims that he intends to turn Earth into a New Krypton, but Clark is unwilling to go along with this plan since it will mean Earth’s annihilation and the deaths of all humans.

Awakening from the vision, Zod tells Clark that with or without him, he will revive their civilization. As well, Clark’s adjustments to the ship have made him no stronger than the other Kryptonians on it. This allows one of Zod’s men, Jax-Ur (Mackenzie Gray), to obtain a blood sample from Clark.

Meanwhile, Lois is thrown into a holding cell, where she comes across a panel with a small hole. Lois notes it is the same shape as the key she has. Inserting it allows the information from Jor-El to appear before her. The key causes the ship’s atmosphere to alter towards more suitable conditions for Clark and Lois, and Jor-El gives Lois valuable information for stopping Zod, along with leading her to an escape pod. As she activates the pod a guard suddenly shoots at her, damaging the pod. The change in the atmosphere returns Clark’s strength, allowing him to break his bonds, and Jor-El appears before him, pointing out that Lois needs to be saved because of the damage to the pod.

Clark saves Lois from the pod, but his attention is soon drawn to his mother, who is set upon by Zod and Faora. Zod goes to the Kent farm, looking for the Codex. Faora finds Clark’s pod, but no sign of the Codex. When Zod threatens Martha, Clark races to save her, hitting Zod with such force that the two end up thrown into the heart of downtown Smallville.

Upon recovering, Zod’s face-mask malfunctions and his body begins to adapt to the Earthen environment, as he suddenly gains X-Ray vision, and his hearing begins to take in everything at once (just like Clark did when he gained these powers long ago). The effect is debilitating to Zod as his senses overload and he is forced to retreat.

Clark claims that his parents helped him hone his skills to control the sensory overload, but his assurance is thrown aside when a ship recovers the stunned Zod, and Faora and a larger Kryptonian (Nam-Ek) attempt to bring Clark down. A battle erupts between Clark and his enemies, causing huge amounts of destruction.

Word of the alien presence in Smallville has reached the Army, and Col. Hardy approaches with helicopters and planes. Hardy claims that all three of the aliens (including Clark) are hostile, and all forms of weaponry are thrown at them. Though Faora and Nam-Ek escape, Clark is able to change Hardy’s mind when he saves the Colonel along with several other soldiers.

Clark returns to his mother, but also encounters Lois, who explains to him what Jor-El told her on the ship.

Back on his ship, Zod is informed what happened to the Codex. Jor-El had diffused it into Clark’s cells, making him the source to create new Kryptonian life. When Zod is informed that Clark does not need to be taken alive to retrieve the Codex, he puts his plan into effect.

Zod separates the World Engine from the Black Zero. As it touches down in the South Indian Ocean, the Black Zero hovers over Metropolis. Using the Phantom Drive, Zod activates the World Engine, which creates a link with the Black Zero through the Earth’s core, beginning the process of terraforming Earth into a planet more like Krypton. Dr. Emil Hamilton determines that the process is creating a stronger gravitational pull and making the planet more dense. The effect causes massive destruction, flattening cars and shaking skyscrapers apart. The force of the machine also causes objects to repeatedly rise and plummet to Earth.

As Swanwick contemplates what to do, he receives word that Clark (now being called “Superman” by some of the soldiers), has a plan. Using the information that Lois obtained, Clark reasons that if the pod that brought him to Earth is activated by the key he has it will start up the Phantom Drive inside. If the pod collides with Zod’s ship which also has its drive activated, a black hole will warp the Black Zero and it’s occupants back into the Phantom Zone.

Meanwhile, Zod leaves his ship, and heads for the ship Clark found in the Arctic. On board the ship is a gestation chamber with many unborn Kryptonian fetuses. The projection of Jor-El speaks to Zod, telling him to halt his operation. Zod refuses to listen to the words of a ghost. and will stop at nothing to revive Krypton and it’s people. Zod’s key eventually overrides Jor-El’s, and the ship now responds to Zod, causing Jor-El’s hologram to disappear.

Col Hardy, Dr Hamilton, and Lois board a plane to take the pod to Metropolis, while Superman flies around the world to try and stop the World Engine. However, he is assailed by a Kryptonian defense mechanism within the machine that attempts to fend him off with long tentacles.

The situation over Metropolis grows more desperate as none of the planes sent by the Air Force are able to get close to the Black Zero. Zod’s ship and the World Engine have created a gravitational vacuum that keeps the transport unable to properly launch Clark’s pod. Realizing there’s no way he can fight off the tentacles, Clark goes deep under the World Engine and punches his way through it, causing the connection to sever and the machine to explode. With the gravitational disruption gone, Hardy flies the transport closer to Zod’s ship but it is intercepted by Faora, who attempts to stop them.

As well, Zod has arrived in Metropolis with the ship. As he attempts to destroy the Air Force plane, Clark swoops in and crashes into the ship’s control panel. Zod yells for Clark to once again let him complete his plan to revive Krypton. “Krypton had its chance,” yells Clark, who then uses his heat-vision to tear apart the ship, causing it to crash and the gestation chamber to fracture.

Faora’s attempts fail as well as Hardy steers the plane into the ship. As Lois was on the rear of the plane as it tilted down towards the ship, she loses her balance and falls to Earth. The collision of the two Phantom Drives causes the military aircraft and the Black Zero (along with the people on the vessels) to disappear.

Clark manages to save Lois again and puts her safely on the ground. Nearby, the sound of moving metal is heard, and Clark finds Zod, thoroughly enraged. Zod tells Clark that he was engineered to be a General of Krypton and to protect it and its people. With nothing left to revive the planet, Zod seethes that Clark has taken his soul and promises to kill the humans one at a time in retribution for what Clark has done.

The two then battle across Metropolis, smashing through buildings. During the fight, Zod adapts further to Earth’s atmosphere, spawning heat-vision and the ability for flight. The battle soon ends with them in a train station, where Zod blasts his heat vision at a nearby family. “If you love these people so much, then you can mourn for them,” he shouts. Clark begs Zod to stop but when Zod claims he will never stop, Clark snaps the General’s neck, killing him. It is clear that Clark did not want to exact such a terrible judgement, and he agonizes over having not only killed another person, but one of the last of his race. Lois appears and comforts him.

Some time later, Swanwick and Black Ops Mercenary (Christina Wren) find Superman downing an Air Force drone. Superman claims that he knows they had sent it to find his home on Earth but he wants the search to stop. He vows that he will continue to fight for what is right and the security of Earth. The General questions Superman’s commitment to which Clark replies that he’s from Kansas and can be trusted. As he flies away, the General’s adjutant smiles, clearly won over by how handsome and forthright he appears to be.

Clark then returns to Smallville, where he and Martha visit Jonathan’s grave. Clark claims he wishes his father could have seen what he accomplished, but Martha Kent says he did. When she asks what Clark intends to do now, he claims he’ll get a job where he can be updated on what is going on with the world, where he won’t be questioned about visiting dangerous places, and where he will be able to ask questions if needed.

We then see him in the Daily Planet building, being introduced to Lois Lane. Though he is now sporting a pair of black-rimmed glasses, it is apparent that Lois knows just who this new employee is.

’Nuff said.

The Invicinble Ironman
Introducing The Mandarin

Copyright 3 May 2013 Marvel Studios

The movie opens with Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) narrating a story about how we create our own demons. In a flashback to New Year’s Eve 1999, Tony, meets a botanical scientist named Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) in Bern, Switzerland, and arrogantly avoids crippled scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who wants Tony’s backing in his endeavor, Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM). Maya has an experimental plant. Maya has been working on experimental (and in some cases unethical) biological research in plants that causes their DNA to change drastically and has the power to cure incurable diseases and paralysis.

In December 2012, it has been quite some time after the events of New York City and the Avengers Initiative. A haunted Tony Stark has obsessively built several Iron Man suits in his mansion. Tony works on a new model, the Mark 42, which is modular; all the suit pieces fly to him and recombine. The first attempt at making the MK42 work is met with a funk version of “Jingle Bells” with Tony dancing while the pieces are coming at him. As per the course, Tony of course completely ignores any safety measures that JARVIS takes. It ends rather poorly when Tony is thrown across the room attempting flight with the MK42 and it shatters into pieces. JARVIS of course gloats with an “I told you so” moment.

Tony then continues his story about creating demons. He then talks about how he turned on the TV to find a new terrorist at work called “The Mandarin” (Ben Kingsley). The Mandarin hijacks American airwaves and makes his American debut by taking credit for the bombing of a US military station in Kuwait that killed the wives and children of soldiers out on maneuvers. President Ellis’s initial response to the Mandarin however makes him the butt of the jokes of late night talk show hosts: It seems the only thing that he’s able to come up with is to take the MK8, the suit worn by Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and formerly known as “War Machine” and have it repainted, rebranded, and reintroduced as “The Iron Patriot”.

Tony later asks Rhodes in a restaurant what’s really going on with the Mandarin. Rhodes tells Tony that while the media and the press only know of three bombings attributed to the Mandarin, there have been at least six more that have taken place off the books. Rhodes explains that he’s now operating MK8 as the “Iron Patriot” (formerly known as War Machine). While the two are coming to an agreement that the name chosen was horrible, Tony is confronted by a group of kids who want his autograph. Tony jokes that the boy looks very much like Ralphie from A Christmas Story. The girl asks how Tony was able to escape the worm hole in New York, causing him to freak out. Tony makes a B-line for his Iron Man suit and enters, JARVIS explains that Tony is suffering a massive anxiety attack.

Back at Stark Industries, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) goes to meet her 4:00 appointment. The appointment is Aldrich Killian, who has cleaned himself up since 1999. Aldrich wants Stark Industries’ backing in his think tank called “Advanced Idea Mechanics”. AIM’s goal is a biological experiment called “Extremis” which harnesses’ the brain’s power to alter human DNA. He then shows Pepper a massive hologram reconstructing of his brain and how Extremis can utilize parts of the brain that would otherwise go unused. Pepper tells Aldrich that Stark Industries isn’t interested in funding AIM because the ideas could be translate into human weapons.

Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) has found a new career as the head of security at Stark Industries although he’s annoying nearly 99% of the company’s personnel and visitors with his penchant for requiring everybody to wear badges, and Pepper explains that complaints against him have risen nearly 200% since he started working there (which Happy takes as a compliment).

Pepper drives home and Tony has a huge stuffed bunny for her as her Christmas gift. However, he is busy working and Pepper isn’t greeted by Tony, but by another remote-controlled prototype of the Iron Man suit, and that has her rather upset. Tony has developed a heads-up-display (HUD) and is using it as a remote control. That night while asleep, Tony is having some bad PTSD induced trauma about what happened in New York. They’re then startled when one of the new prototype Iron Man suits is awakened and has made its’ way into the bedroom. Tony then immediately dismantles it. A frustrated Pepper tells Tony that she’s going to sleep downstairs and has him “tinker with that” after he explains to Pepper that he’s been a complete mess since the events in New York and has been unable to sleep.

The next day Happy follows one of Killian’s men, Eric Savin (James Badge Dale), to the Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Savin gives another man, Jack Taggart, a briefcase. Happy tries to intercede but is beaten senseless by Savin, and seconds later, Taggart overheats and explodes, leaving behind only his old dog tags. Happy is left severely injured, while Savin walks away. Hours later, the Mandarin hijacks the TV airwaves to take responsibility for the blast.

Tony is now furious over Happy, who has been knocked into a coma by the bombing.. After visiting the hospital to check on Happy, and to make sure that all of the hospital employees were wearing badges while in Happy’s room (not to mention make sure that the TV is playing Downton Abbey as it’s Happy’s favorite show), Tony is mobbed by reporters. One of them blatantly asks if Tony is going to kill this guy. A frustrated Tony then asks the reporters if that’s what they really want, then issues his threat to the Mandarin saying that he just died and gives his home address on TV, egging on the Mandarin to carry out an attack on his home and that he’ll be ready. Tony then angrily destroys the reporter’s tape recorder and tells the mob of reporters to bill him.

While at home, Tony has JARVIS bring up a hologram diagram of the destruction at Graumann’s Chinese Theater. While JARVIS is analyzing the attack, Tony discovers that Happy is pointing to a curious oddity of military dog tags with the name “Jack Taggart” etched onto them. Since there was no active military personnel at the blast, Tony wonders exactly what the dog tags are doing there. JARVIS then analyzes the latest Mandarin attack and compares with past incidents. This blast at the theater bears resemblance to an incident that happened four years ago in Rose Hill, Tennessee, and predates any known Mandarin attack, where an ex-army soldier named Chad Davis blew himself up, taking five people with him. Tony asks JARVIS if he’s ever been to Tennessee. JARVIS then creates a flight path for the Iron Man suit.

He’s interrupted when the doorbell rings. A paranoid Tony wonders why he’s getting visitors since he told JARVIS that the house is on complete and total lock down. The visitor turns out not to be the Mandarin, but Dr. Maya Hansen, who believes Tony is in danger. A freaked out Pepper is arguing with Maya and just as that’s happening, the house is attacked by three gunships disguised as news choppers. Tony commands the MK42 suit to cover and protect Pepper. Pepper and Maya survive the attack. Tony gets the MK42 back but down on power he cannot fly. The house crumbles into the sea, taking Tony with it. The suit regains some power and flies off, unseen. Tony passes out.

Sometime later, Tony awakens in the suit when JARVIS sets off the low battery alarm. He then sees he’s plummeting towards the ground and crashes into a snowy forest at full speed. Initially, he thinks he’s in Northern California, but JARVIS informs him that he’s actually five miles outside of Rose Hill, Tennessee. Tony is exasperated, but JARVIS reminds him that he asked for a flight plan to be made. With no more power, JARVIS shuts itself down.

Tony trudges through the snow, dragging the MK42 along with him. He stops at a gas station, where he uses a payphone to call Pepper, then steals a Poncho off a cigar store mannequin.

Tony then drags the MK42 to a seemingly empty house nearby. Inside, he immediately begins work on repairing the MK42. But the house isn’t empty. It’s occupied by a lonely 10 year old kid named Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins), who is stunned to find Tony working in his garage. Tony asks Harley for some help and promises that he’ll be rewarded later on if he gets the help he needs. Harley tells Tony that the world thinks he’s dead after the attack on his mansion. Tony calls himself “The Mechanic” and Harley asks Tony one question too many about the events in New York City, causing Tony to have another anxiety attack.

Back at the remains of Tony’s now completely destroyed Malibu mansion, Pepper is searching for any clues to find out whether or not Tony’s still alive. Thankfully she is able to retrieve a voice message left from Tony recorded after the attack that proves that he is alive. A relieved Pepper then seeks answers. Tony, working with Harley, assumes that Harley is being bullied at school because Harley keeps making harmless weapons to defend himself with, like a potato gun. Tony finally manages to get JARVIS back online thanks to a HUD display that he developed several months prior to the bombing.

Teaming with Harley, Tony investigates the remains of the Mandarin-esque suicide bombing. Harley tells Tony about all the rumors surrounding the attack and the “soldier” in question. Tony notices that there are five shadows on a concrete wall, from the five victims who were killed along with Chad Davis.

Tony then meets with Davis’s mother at a bar, where he notices she’s expecting someone and has a file on hand. He is about to ask her more questions when one of Killian’s agents, Ellen Brandt, shows up and suddenly cuffs Tony. She poses as a Homeland Security agent to explain her actions to the sheriff, but when he starts asking her for identification, she shoots him. Tony manages to escape the bar, only to be cornered by Savin. He manages to defeat Brandt by luring her into a room where he’s opened a gas line, and heats up Davis’s dog tags in a microwave. The explosion throws Brandt into a telephone line and electrocutes her. Savin tries to take Harley hostage, but Harley overpowers him, allowing Tony to grab his car keys and escape.

Tony drives off in Savin’s car. While he drives, the Mandarin hijacks the airwaves once more and explains that he’s going to brutally murder the CEO of a major oil company on live television if the president doesn’t contact them within a specific time frame. Despite the President making the phone call, the Mandarin carries out the shooting, warning that the President is his next target.

Tony calls Rhodes, who has managed to locate what they think is the Mandarin. Rhodes takes his suit to the Middle East. There, he is shocked to find nothing but an abandoned warehouse which doesn’t have a single trace of the Mandarin. He also finds that the file he got in Rose Hill is a document from Advanced Idea Mechanics, Killian’s company.

Tony drives to a nearby beauty pageant, and sneaks into one of the camera crew vans so he can research the data on the documents he’s found. Fortunately for Tony, the van is being operated by one of Tony’s biggest fans, who even goes so far as to have Iron Man’s likeness tattooed on his arm – though rather unrecognizable. Tony hacks into AIM’s servers and finds video footage that sheds new light on what is going on: the bombs are the work of soldiers from the Extremis program, an experimental treatment intended to allow its users to recover from crippling injuries like amputations. However, if a user’s body cannot properly metabolize Extremis, the user’s body heats to an extreme temperature and explodes. After veterans started growing unstable and exploding, their deaths were used to cover up Extremis’ flaws by manufacturing a terrorist plot. The test footage shows that a number of early subjects were killed because of Extremis’s flaws.

Rhodes tracks the Mandarin’s IP address and is led to a sweat shop in the Middle East. But it turns out to be a trap, for one of Killian’s agents disarms him and knocks him unconscious. Then Killian’s men steal Rhodes’s suit.

Tony uses the IP addreses that the Mandarin has been using to hijack American airwaves and traces him to Miami. Tony infiltrates the estate headquarters using a variety of home-made weapons fashioned from stuff bought at a hardware store, Harley’s trade mark potato gun, and a limited edition Dora the Explorer watch belonging to Harley’s unseen sister.

Inside he discovers the Mandarin is actually a flighty British actor named Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley), who is oblivious to the acts the Mandarin has carried out. When confronted, Slattery manages to tell both Tony and Rhodes that he’s the Mandarin, and manages to completely annoy them both, and Tony goes to confront Killian, while Rhodes stays behind and tries to get any information he can out of the completely clueless Slattery. Tony is captured by some of Killian’s henchmen – who are also Extremis experiments, and Maya reveals she was working with Killain all along. She thinks Tony can help perfect the Extremis DNA. Aldrich arrives and reveals he has kidnapped Pepper and subjected her to Extremis, intending to infuse her with superhuman abilities and turn her against Tony as leverage to gain Tony’s aid in fixing Extremis’ flaws. Aldrich then shoots Maya.

Tony escapes his captivity by summoning the MK42 suit from Tennessee, and reunites with Rhodes on the estate, discovering that Aldrich intends to attack President Ellis aboard Air Force One. Unfortunately as time is critical, the MK42 has yet to regain full flight power. Savin boards the President’s plane wearing the Iron Patriot suit, shoots the Secret Service agents aboard and takes the President. Savin then blows holes in the airliner body and survivors fall out. Iron Man kills Savin and manages to rescue the falling people, Tony had been controlling the unit by remote control. Meanwhile the Iron Patriot suit flies away with the President on board. Tony and Rhodes trace Aldrich to an impounded oil drilling platform where Aldrich intends to kill Ellis on live television. The Vice President will become a puppet leader, following Aldrich’s orders in exchange for Extremis to cure a little girl’s disability.

Rhodes manages to locate the President in a massive ship yard at Miami’s port. Tony enacts a new strategy, and has JARVIS enact the “House Party Protocol” which unleashes a massive army of Iron Man suits – each one different from the next. On the platform, Tony goes to save Pepper, and Rhodes saves the President. Tony summons a fleet of his various Iron Man suits, controlled remotely by JARVIS, to provide air support and attack the many other Extremis infected guards. Rhodes secures the President and leads him to safety, while Tony discovers Pepper has survived the Extremis procedure. However, before he can save her, a container crane rig collapses around them and she falls 200 feet to her apparent death. Tony is forced into confronting Aldrich using several suits and finally traps him in the 42 suit that self-destructs. But, a glowing Aldrich survives and staggers toward a defenseless Stark. Killian tells Tony that the Mandarin was made up, that he is the Mandarin and that all attacks were taken out by Extremis experiments. Pepper shows up with Extremis powers and finishes off the weakened Aldrich.

After the battle, Tony orders JARVIS to implement “Clean Slate Protocol” which destroys each remaining Iron Man suit remotely, as a sign of his intention to devote more time to Pepper. The Vice President and Slattery are arrested. In a voiceover Tony mentions he cures Pepper, and Tony himself undergoes surgery to remove the shrapnel embedded near his heart. He pitches his obsolete chest arc reactor into the sea, musing he will always be Iron Man, even without his armor. He gathers some scrap parts from his house wreckage and drives off in his Audi eTron. He then leaves Harley with a rebuilt lab and new version of Harley’s trademark potato gun, telling him that Iron Man will be back and leaves a thank you note from “The Mechanic”.

In a post-credits scene, it is revealed that Stark has been recounting his experiences to Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo, uncredited), who awakens, having fallen asleep at the beginning of Tony’s story, followed by the words “Tony Stark will return”.

’Nuff said.

The Amazing Spider Man
Introducing The Lizard

Copyright 3 July 2012 Sony Pictures

Scientist Richard Parker (Campbell Scott) is playing hide-and-seek with his young son Peter (Max Charles) when he discovers that his study has been broken into. After quickly gathering some hidden documents, Richard and his wife Mary (Embeth Davidtz) leave Peter with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), then mysteriously depart without telling Peter where they are going.

Years later, the teenage Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has become an alienated social outcast. He attends Midtown Science High School, where he pines over his crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), while frequently getting bullied by the obnoxious Flash Thompson (Chris Zylka).

At home, Peter finds a briefcase containing some of his father’s old documents and learns that his father worked with fellow scientist Dr. Curtis Connors (Rhys Ifans) at a pharmaceutical company named Oscorp. Faking his way into the Oscorp building by pretending to be an intern, Peter sneaks into a laboratory where extremely strong “biocable” is being created from genetically-modified spiders. One of the spiders escapes from its container and bites Peter. On the subway ride home, Peter scuffles with a gang of thugs and discovers that he suddenly has increased agility and strength. Upon returning home, he finds the spider hiding in his jacket and stores it away.

The next day, Peter goes to Dr. Connors’s house and gives him Richard Parker’s documents. Dr. Connors explains that he and Richard were researching cross-species genetics in order to find a way to re-grow lost limbs, Dr. Connors being motivated by the loss of his own right arm. Dr. Connors is frustrated because his superior, Dr. Rajit Ratha (Irrfan Khan), is pressuring him to devise a cure for Oscorp’s CEO Norman Osborn, who is terminally ill.

Back at school, Peter gets in trouble after accidentally breaking a basketball hoop during a game with Flash. Uncle Ben is forced to switch a work shift to meet with the principal about the situation. Afterward, Uncle Ben asks Peter to pick up Aunt May, but Peter instead practices his new-found powers and meets with Dr. Connors at Oscorp, who shows him how the limb-regeneration formula works on a laboratory mouse.

When Peter returns home, Uncle Ben scolds him for having forgotten to pick up Aunt May, reminding him that Richard believed that people should always make their responsibilities their priority. A distraught Peter storms off. He goes to a store to buy milk, but falls two cents cents short and is refused service by the store clerk. Suddenly, a man robs the store and Peter doesn’t do anything to stop him. Uncle Ben, who was searching for Peter, sees the thief running away and wrestles with him over a gun. The thief shoots Uncle Ben right in front of Peter and runs off.

Shortly after the attack, Peter acquires a police sketch of the killer and uses his abilities to hunt criminals matching the killer’s description. After attacking a man who fits the description, he is chased by a gang and falls inside an abandoned gym, and a luchador wrestling poster inspires him to create a mask.

Later on, he adds a spandex suit for mobility and suddenly becomes a folk hero who the public refers to as ‘Spider-Man.’ The police, led by Gwen’s father, Captain George Stacy (Denis Leary), soon start a man-hunt for the masked vigilante.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ratha fires Dr. Connors for refusing to immediately start human trials of the limb-regeneration formula. He takes a sample of the drug and plans to test it at a Veterans Administration hospital under the guise of flu shots. Growing desperate, Dr. Connors injects himself with the formula, and passes out. Upon awakening, he finds his lost arm has fully regenerated. However, he then mutates into a large, reptilian monster and chases Dr. Ratha at the Williamsburg Bridge, throwing cars over the side as he rampages. Spider-Man saves each fallen car with the biocable web, which he deploys from wrist-mounted shooters of his own invention. With a great deal of difficulty, he also manages to save the life of a young boy trapped in a car that has fallen from the bridge and that Spider-Man is holding suspended in midair through the biocable webbing. Spider-Man then confronts the Lizard in the sewers, barely escaping alive.

Unfortunately, Peter leaves behind a camera he used to expose the Lizard’s intentions — a camera inscribed with his name. The Lizard finds it and learns Spider-Man’s real identity. He attacks Peter at school and plans to unleash the drug all over Manhattan to mutate all humans into lizards using a cloud-generating device at Oscorp Tower, unaware that Gwen is there making an antidote for the condition at Peter’s request. The police mobilize to stop both him and Spider-Man, but are delayed when the Lizard infects officers with small doses of the chemical.

Captain Stacy learns Spider-Man’s real identity and allows him to go stop Connors while proceeding to the tower himself after Peter mentions that Gwen is there making the antidote. However, during the manhunt, Spider-Man was wounded by a police bullet and is having difficulty swinging from building to building to reach Oscorp Tower. The father of the young boy whose life Spider-Man saved works in construction, and hears about what’s going on through the radio and TV while working an evening shift. He calls all of his construction worker friends who are also working, and they all maneuver large cranes into proper formation so that Spider-Man can use them to reach Oscorp Tower.

After Captain Stacy retrieves the antidote from Gwen and arrives to save Spider-Man, who was being overpowered, both of them fight together to delay the Lizard while Spider-Man modifies the machine to disperse the antidote instead, restoring the humanity of Connors and the infected officers, and allowing him to save Peter from a fatal fall from the tower.

Unfortunately, the Lizard mortally wounded Captain Stacy. Before he dies of his wounds, Stacy makes Peter promise to keep Gwen safe by staying away from her. Peter initially does so, staying out of sight at Captain Stacy’s funeral, which offends Gwen. She confronts him at his house, and he doesn’t talk about it, but Gwen is no fool; she realizes his reasons. Arriving late to class back in school, Peter is told by a teacher to “not make promises he can’t keep.” Peter leans forward and whispers to Gwen, “but those are the best kind.” She smiles, and it is implied that the two resume their relationship. With his first challenge surmounted, Peter officially takes to the streets as a proper hero.

In a post-credits scene, Dr. Connors is sitting in a prison cell speaking with a mysterious man (presumably Norman Osborn). The man inquires about Dr. Connors divulging information about Peter’s father, but Dr. Connors tells the man to leave Peter alone, and the scene abruptly ends with a flash of lightning.

’Nuff said.

The Avengers
Battle of New York

Copyright 4 May 2012 Marvel Studios

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division), arrives at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, during an evacuation. The Tesseract, an energy source of unknown potential, has activated. It opens a portal through space and the exiled Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) steps through, carrying a strange spear with a blue glowing tip. Loki takes the Tesseract and uses the spear to take control of the minds of several SHIELD personnel, including Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) , and Agent Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (Jeremy Renner), to aid him in his getaway. SHIELD personnel pull out of their base when an energy surge from the Tesseract causes the ground beneath the base to collapse and destroying it. A short pursuit of Loki fails to capture him.

In response to the attack, Nick Fury issues a state of emergency, telling his top agents Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), that they are completely out of options. Fury pulls Romanoff and Coulson out of their respective assignments and sends them to find the heroes he needs to oppose Loki. Romanoff is found in Eastern Europe interrogating suspects, and Coulson pulls her off the assignment and sends her to find “the big guy”: Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), aka The Incredible Hulk. Banner has been living in exile in India working for a hospital in Calcutta helping sick people, and has found inner peace doing so. Romanoff tells Banner about the Tesseract and its’ destructive capabilities. As the world’s expert on gamma rays, Banner is their best chance to find the cube’s location.

During a video chat with the World Security Council, the superiors who run S.H.I.E.L.D., Fury is grilled about his plan to bring about the Avengers Initiative. The WSC are furious, saying that it’s the wrong thing to do and these people will never work together as a group. Fury says they have no other option and this is their only hope of defeating Loki. The superiors reluctantly agree.

Steve Rogers, (Chris Evans) on the other hand, is relatively easy to find. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been keeping tabs on him since he was found in the ice and still alive. Fury goes to greet Rogers at his gymnasium where he finds he doesn’t sleep. Fury tells Rogers that he will find a briefing packet about what’s going on back at his apartment. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is seen in a new Iron Man armor that has underwater capabilities. He is installing a new electrical connection that will take his office building completely off the electrical grid allowing it to become self sustaining. He’s greeted at his office by Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) who tells him that it’s date night. Tony wants Pepper to know how it feels to be a genius and after an argument about how much credit she should get for coming up with the Stark Tower idea, date night is off. Coulson arrives, and Tony quickly and repeatedly tries to cut him off. Coulson hands Tony a laptop with all the data on it about everything that’s going on. Pepper decides instead to go to Washington DC to get the zoning permits for the next two buildings for Stark Tower as it seems Tony has homework to do, and a lot of it.

On the airplane to the secured location – an aircraft carrier that can convert to a flying aircraft carrier, Coulson is telling Rogers about how it’s such an honor that they found him and tells him about his Captain America trading card collection. They then head to the helicarrier and Rogers is introduced to Dr. Bruce Banner. The two then wonder what kind of ride they’re in for. Rogers thinks it’s a submarine but the last thing Dr. Banner should be riding in is a submerged, pressurized metal container. The carrier takes off. On board, they are briefed that Dr. Selvig and Loki have been traced to Stuttgart, Germany.

Rogers’ first assignment is to go to Stuttgart to arrest Loki and bring him on board the helicarrier. Loki is at a formal black tie gala at an art museum where he is kidnapping a doctor who harbors the element they need to make the Tesseract work. While Dr. Selvig creates a distraction and Hawkeye kills the men guarding the building, Loki carries out his plan. Outside, he is instructing the civilians present that they need to kneel before him – or else, and that freedom is life’s great lie. He’s then confronted by Rogers in Captain America regalia, and later Tony makes his entrance to the tune of AC/DC’s “Shoot To Kill” with full Iron Man weapons drawn and daring Loki to make a move.

Loki quickly surrenders when the two heroes arrive, and while being flown to the high tech prison on board the helicarrier, the plane encounters a lighting storm. Rogers asks Loki if he’s afraid of lighting but Loki tells him it’s not the lightning that he’s afraid of. It’s what follows. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki’s half-brother and the Norse God of thunder, arrives and attempts to capture Loki so Loki can face Asguardian justice for his crimes (which will be more effective than Earth’s), but Thor gets into a fight with Rogers and Tony. The fight ends in a stalemate. Eventually, Loki is taken to the helicarrier and placed in a glass cell designed to hold the Hulk. Fury explains that if Loki attempts to escape, even by merely cracking the glass, a shaft will open below him and he’ll plummet to Earth and possibly be killed.

On board the aircraft carrier, the fully assembled Avengers squad is being briefed by Fury about what they think will possibly happen next. Loki is in prison and is interrogated by Agent Romanoff. Tony Stark arrives and it seems the only one of the group he really gets along with is Bruce Banner. While conducting experiments on Loki’s scepter, Stark tries to get a rise out of Banner so he can witness Banner’s famous party trick (read: turning into the Incredible Hulk). Banner flinches and then begins telling about how he’s been unable to fully harness his abilities and that he suffered depression after the accident. That’s why he moved to Calcutta, as helping people is what gives his life meaning.

The Avengers, now brought together, argue and deliberate over how to approach Loki and the revelation that SHIELD plans to harness the Tesseract’s power to develop weapons, a discovery made by Rogers. Fury admits that the events in New Mexico a year before (recounted in Thor) made SHIELD aware of other races on other worlds, some of whom may see Earth as an easy target. Thor is seen asking agent Coulson about what happened to Jane Foster. Coulson tells him that S.H.I.E.L.D. has placed her in their witness protection program and that she’s in a safe zone in London.

The decision was made to produce weapons with the Tesseract as a means of deterrence. As the group argues, Clint Barton and Loki’s possessed agents attack the helicarrier, disabling one of its engines in flight. While Stark and Rogers attempt to restart the damaged engine, Romanoff tries to prevent Dr. Banner from turning into the Hulk and destroying the ship from inside. Her attempt fails and she’s chased through the ship until Thor takes up the battle to pacify the beast and manages to fell him briefly with a hit from his hammer, Mjolnir. While fighting Barton, Romanoff slams him into a guard rail, and the blow to the head breaks Loki’s mind control. After the Hulk falls from the ship, Thor is tricked into Loki’s holding cell by Loki himself, who has recovered his scepter and releases the cell and allows Thor to plummet. Loki is held at bay briefly by Agent Coulson but is also tricked by one of Loki’s holographic projections – Coulson is stabbed in the back by the real Loki. Coulson later shoots Loki with a blast from an unidentified weapon, one that harnesses the power of the Destroyer. Coulson dies while Fury tries to save his life. Thor escapes from the cell a split second before it hits the ground. Banner wakes up in his human form after crashing into an abandoned factory.

Fury uses Coulson’s apparent death to motivate the Avengers to work as a team. Stark and Rogers realize that simply defeating them will not be enough for Loki. He needs to overpower them in a very public way so as to validate himself as ruler of Earth. Using a device built by Dr. Selvig, Loki opens a portal to the Chitauri home world over Manhattan, summoning a Chitauri invasion. Once again the group’s petty differences overshadow their ability to communicate as a team, especially with Banner now missing. While in an argument with Rogers, Tony finally figures out that Loki is a full tilt diva, and that he’s obviously set up shop at the top of Stark’s office.

Natasha, unfortunately arrives too late just as Dr. Selvig has opened the portal. This unleashes Loki’s army and all hell breaks loose. The army is massive and they can’t all fight them off as much as they are entering the earth’s atmosphere. Tony Stark thankfully shows up, as does Bruce Banner. While fighting, Rogers dispatches NYPD cops to direct citizens into the underground tunnels and sewers. Meanwhile, the Hulk smashes, and Tony arrives at Stark Tower where he attempts to stall Loki with a drink which is used to threaten and intimidate him. As that’s going on, Tony has JARVIS prepare an under development version of Iron Man called MK18 which is contained in a giant box coded specifically for Tony and has advanced weapons capabilities. Loki refuses to cooperate, saying the destruction will continue as long as the citizens of earth don’t get that they need to be ruled by him. Loki attempts to take control of Stark by using his scepter on his heart to control his mind, but it fails thanks to Tony’s somewhat trusty Arc Reactor that keeps him alive.

The Avengers rally in defense of New York, but quickly come to the conclusion that they will be overwhelmed as wave after wave of Chitauri descend upon Earth. With help from the reformed Barton, Rogers and Thor evacuate civilians while Dr. Banner transforms into the Hulk and goes after Loki, beating him into submission in Tony Stark’s penthouse. Romanoff makes her way, with a little help from the Chitauri, to the device that holds the portal open (conveniently located on the roof of the Stark Building) and hits Dr. Selvig over the head, freeing him of Loki’s control. Dr. Selvig reveals that Loki’s staff can be used to close the portal.

As that’s happening, Hulk confronts Loki, who refuses to be intimidated by such a beast. As Rogers instructed, Hulk smashes Loki into near oblivion. That allows Romanoff to grab the scepter and head to the roof to shut down the portal. While Romanoff is securing the portal, Stark is securing the perimeter. Meanwhile, with Fury on a conference call to the council, Fury berates the council’s decision to launch a nuclear missile at Manhattan. Fury tries everything possible to stop the council from launching nukes, even destroying two jets that are taking off from the helicarrier. Unfortunately as he’s about to fire on a third, it gets away and launches a nuclear weapon.

Tony intercepts the missile and he knows exactly where to put it – he flies it into the portal. While in the portal, Stark instructs JARVIS to try Pepper one last time. Unfortunately the call fails as Pepper is on a plane and glued to the TV with other Stark Industries executives. Tony launches the nuke at the Chitauri mothership, completely destroying the invasion. All the invading aliens collapse and are rendered useless. Stark sees the nuke go just as he runs out of oxygen and falls to what appears to be certain doom. Thankfully he manages to escape the portal just as Romanoff is able to successfully close it. Once back in the atmosphere it looks like Tony isn’t going to make it, but is saved by the Hulk thanks to incredible timing. A dazed Stark, awakened by the Hulk’s roar, offers to take the team out for shawarma, but they decide to apprehend Loki first. The Avengers go their separate ways. Romanoff, Rogers, and Hawkeye return to working for S.H.I.E.L.D., Tony and Pepper are seen rebuilding Stark Tower and are working on the next phase of the project. Thor escorts Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard where Loki will stand multiple trials for war crimes from both Asgard and the Chitauri. Meanwhile, multiple TV news reports recap the events surrounding the Avengers, and while they’ve become worldwide heroes for to some for their efforts in New York, others are fearful and want to know who will take responsibility for the devastation.

On another video conference call with the World Security Council, Fury is being congratulated, but they also grill him that now their secret’s out, this group is too dangerous for the world to handle. And Fury is glad – what happened in New York is a warning. A warning to all galaxies that if they try to attack earth, S.H.I.E.L.D. is there to defend it. And they have just the team. Fury also tells the S.H.I.E.L.D. board that the Avengers’ whereabouts are no longer being tracked. They’ve earned a leave of absence, but will be called back when needed. He also tells the council that the Tesseract is where no one on earth will ever be able to find it.

In a mid-credits scene, the Chitauri leader the Other tells his master that it is futile to attack Earth, as fighting the Avengers is like courting death. His master turns, revealing himself to be Thanos.

After further credits, the Avengers are shown eating together in a shawarma joint; the team looks worn out and no one speaks.

’Nuff said.

Captain America
The First Avenger

Copyright 22 July 2011 Marvel Studios

Bright headlights cut through a thick sheet of snow-flakes. A scientist, bundled as warmly as possible, treks through the sleet. Two other men, in matching black cold-weather uniforms, approach the scientist. He leads them to an excavation site which is easily the size of a football field; at the center of the site appears to be a giant wing and fuselage. The black-suited men cut through the fuselage of the mystery craft and enter. Inside they find the remains of a massive, frozen ship. One of the men brushes away at the snow and sees a shimmering red, white, and blue shield encased in ice.

Tonsberg, Norway, 1942:

Two caretakers for an ancient Viking ruin listen as their town is overrun by Nazis. Suddenly the front door blasts open and in flood multiple Nazi agents. One of the caretakers is killed in the blast and the other frantically begs that the soldiers leave him in peace. They pay no attention to the old man and instead open the building’s crypts one-by-one. They come to one sarcophagus whose lid is too heavy to lift. A dark figure appears in the exploded entryway. Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), a high-ranking Nazi and leader of the HYDRA sect, nonchalantly enters. He crosses the room, comes to the difficult-to-open sarcophagus and easily pushes the lid free. Within he finds the skeletal remains of an old Viking clutching a glass cube (the Tesseract). The caretaker pleads for Schmidt to leave it. Schmidt scoffs and tells how this cube would be the jewel of Odin’s treasury if it weren’t a fake. He smashes it on the floor and goes to the caretaker, asking where the real cube reposes. The caretaker initially refuses but under threat of harm to his family, he relents, gesturing to a hidden drawer across the room. Schmidt pries the drawer open and finds the real, glowing cube concealed within. Schmidt orders his men to shell the city and then shoots the luckless caretaker.

At a recruiting station in Brooklyn, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a 20-something, 90 lb, 5-foot tall asthmatic eagerly awaits the opportunity to enlist in the United States Army. The army doctor gives a once-over to Steve’s medical file, which reads like that of a 90 year old man, and rejects Steve’s application as the military 4-F, as this is his fourth failed attempt to enlist.

Distraught Steve heads to the movies. He envies the enlisted men featured in the pre-show newsreel, and watches as other audience members tear up. A loud-mouthed, impatient movie-goer begins yelling at the screen “Start the movie! I didn’t pay to see this crap!” Steve tells the man to shut up, and is surprised as the man turns around, stands up and towers above him. In the alley behind the theater the bully savagely beats little Steve. Skinny Steve bravely fights back, but is easily overpowered. James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Steve’s best friend, comes running to the alley. He swiftly kicks the bully away and tends to Steve, who is annoyed that Bucky showed up and got rid of the bully right as Steve got his second wind. “Bucky” is now an enlisted-man. His application was accepted and he’s been assigned to the 107th infantry.

In a celebratory mood, Bucky invites Steve to go dancing with a pair of girls on a double date. Bashfully, Steve tags along. The four head to the World’s Fair in Queens. While Bucky canoodles with his dates, Steve watches as playboy inventor Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) unsuccessfully demonstrates a flying car. Steve breaks away from the group and goes to another recruiting station. Bucky catches up with him and asks how Steve intends to forge his application this time. Unbeknownst to them both, Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) while passing by, eavesdrops on their conversation. He is fascinated by the gumption of Steve. Bucky wishes Steve good luck on his latest application and Steve heads in to the recruiting station for his fifth physical. Inside Steve sits on an examination table and grows nervous when an MP enters the room, and is soon followed by Dr. Erskine. Dr. Erskine has all of Steve’s prior applications, and recognizing Steve’s strong will and unwavering conviction, he accepts his latest application.

In a secret military installation high in the Alps, Johann Schmidt brings the glowing cube to Dr. Arnim Zola, his Hydra weapon specialist. The cube’s seemingly limitless power enables Schmidt and Dr. Zola to power unstoppable energy guns and cannons.

Meanwhile, Steve has been enlisted into basic training under the careful watch of Dr. Erskine and Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones). He and his platoon are told that they are candidates for the government’s latest Super Soldier program. Phillips is unimpressed with Steve and is vexed by Dr. Erskine’s interest in him. During basic training Steve meets a beautiful, but serious British officer, Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell), who seems to pity Steve. Despite being the smallest and weakest of the platoon, Steve demonstrates the greatest spirit and selflessness. Phillips, still unconvinced, tosses a grenade into the group, and is surprised when Steve alone leaps on top of it, willing to sacrifice himself to save the others, before discovering that the grenade was a dummy. Phillips concedes to Erskine’s decision.

That evening Dr. Erskine speaks with Steve. The two bond over a bottle of Schnapps and Dr. Erskine reveals that this is not his first time performing this experiment. He tells a story of how as a scientist in Germany, he was ordered by Johann Schmidt to create a serum that would give a man god-like strength. Dr. Erskine created an early version of the serum he intends to use on Steve, only when Schmidt injected himself his body’s skin corroded away, leaving him as a sinewy red skeleton. Undeterred by the risk, Steve agrees to follow through with the procedure.

The following morning Steve and Peggy wind their way through Brooklyn and come to a stop in front of an old antique shop. Along the way Steve points out various parts in Brooklyn where he’s been beaten up. She asks him why he never ran away. He responds that running away, in his mind, was an invitation for further abuse.

The two enter the antique shop, exchange pass-codes with an old woman manning the register and descend into a secret military bunker concealed within. Peggy leads Steve to the heart of the bunker where they find Dr. Erskine preparing a medical capsule along with Howard Stark, and Colonel Phillips rubbing elbows with senators and dignitaries. Steve is told to remove his shirt and sit in the capsule. Stark describes that the procedure will first mean injecting muscle re-generators into Rogers’ major muscle groups which will then be bombarded with “vita rays.” Carter bids Steve good luck and joins Phillips in the overhead viewing chamber. Erskine’s serum is injected into Steve’s muscles and Steve is enclosed within the vita ray capsule. The capsule glows brightly, Steve yells in pain but also tells them to continue and the procedure is quickly completed. Steve exits the capsule a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier with solid muscle.

Everybody, including Phillips, celebrates the success of the procedure, and descends from the viewing chamber to congratulate Erskine. A lone dignitary, in actuality a German spy named Heinz Kruger (Richard Armitage), stays behind, placing a small satchel on a chair. Moments later the viewing gallery explodes. Kruger descends the stairs and fatally shoots Dr. Erskine twice. He swiftly kills the guards and flees onto the streets with Peggy in hot pursuit. Steve tends to a dying Dr. Erskine, who has just enough energy to point to Steve’s heart; Erskine passes. Steve bolts out of the bunker, in pursuit of Kruger.

In the street Peggy pursues Kruger, and easily kills his getaway driver. Kruger steals a taxi and aims to run over Peggy. Steve arrives in the nick of time, saving her from being killed by the on-coming taxi. Steve pursues the taxi on foot, running faster than a normal human can (and not suffering the fatigue even a healthy man would). He leaps onto the roof of the taxi, dodges Kruger’s gunfire and the two come to a crashing stop at the Brooklyn docks. Kruger shoots at Steve, who holds the star-imprinted door of the wrecked cab in front of him as a shield. Kruger flees to his Hydra sub, which dives underwater just as Steve arrives. Steve dives after the sub, punches a hole through the cockpit’s glass and yanks Kruger to the surface. Kruger tells Steve that he is the first of many, that Rogers can “cut off one head,” but two more take it’s place." He then kills himself with a cyanide capsule hidden in a fake tooth, letting out one last “Heil HYDRA!” before dying.

Meanwhile, Schmidt and Dr. Zola are visited by a trio of Hitler’s top commanders, tasked with inspecting Schmidt’s operation. They ridicule Schmidt, saying that the Nazi party no longer takes him and HYDRA seriously due to his obsession with magic and the occult and playfully refer to him as “The Red Skull”, a name that infuriates Schmidt. Schmidt takes the three to his weapons lab where they are shown his unstoppable energy weapons and a strategic map of Europe dotted with targets. One of the three notices a target hovering over Berlin and confronts Schmidt. Schmidt quickly vaporizes the three Nazi officers. Schmidt announces that HYDRA has disbanded from the Nazi party and is now enemies with the world.

The following day Phillips and Carter pick up the remains of Dr. Erskine’s lab. Both are despondent because the only man able to produce the super soldier serum was Dr. Erskine. Steve is eager to go the front lines of the European Theatre but Phillips would rather he be a lab-rat than a soldier in his army. Steve is approached by a senator holding a newspaper of the prior day’s events, emblazoned with a front-page photo of Steve chasing down Heinz Kruger. Steve has become an overnight celebrity and the Senator has an idea that will be mutually beneficial.

Steve is enlisted in the USO (United Service Organizations), and travels around the Midwest performing musical numbers in a shoddy red, white and blue costume while carrying a triangle-shaped shield bearing the stars-and-stripes. He takes on the name “Captain America” and the show includes a theme song written specifically for him, features dancing girls and a short segment where he punches out Hitler, played by an actor. Captain America becomes an overnight success, spawning comic books and black and white movies. His antics drum up revenue for the USO.

Steve is soon taken overseas, to Italy, where he is to continue entertaining the troops. Upon his arrival the surly and war-torn men tease him and tell him to get lost. He is soon met by Carter, who along with Phillips, is overseeing European Theatre of the war. She tells him that the men are unhappy because many men from their division, the 107th Infantry, have been killed in battle. Steve realizes that this is Bucky’s division, and quickly runs to see Phillips. Phillips is unable to find Bucky’s name on his casualty list and tells Steve to go back to his job as a movie star and a cheerleader. Steve asks Carter where the men, and Bucky, are being held. She shows him a map, and a known HYDRA weapons factory 30-40 miles behind enemy lines. Steve hastily pulls on a pair of army trousers and leather jacket over his Captain America costume, and a blue helmet with a white ‘A’ stamped on the front. He aims to steal a jeep and drive into HYDRA’s back yard, but she has a better idea.

Howard Stark flies them both over the battlefield in his private propeller plane. Steve surmises that Stark and Carter have a relationship and bashfully withholds his feelings for her. Just as AAA guns from HYDRA begin firing on Stark’s plane, Steve parachutes in, while the other two escape back to safety. Steve stealthily makes his way into the HYDRA base, taking out numerous guards in the process.

Inside, Schmidt and Arnim Zola are manufacturing enough weapons to wipe out every capital in the world. Steve makes his way to the holding cells where he sees hundreds of imprisoned men from the 107th. He frees the men and tells them to make a “messy” exit. Under the leadership of the “Howling Commandos” the prisoners manage to overpower their captors, steal guns and tanks, and escape from the facility, destroying much of it. Schmidt watches Steve by CCTV, and quickly realizes that he must be Erskine’s man. He quickly activates several explosive charges that will level the base.

Steve makes his way through the facility and happens across Bucky, who is tied down to an operating table. There, he also notices an oversized tactical map mounted on the wall, with various marked installations. Steve frees Bucky, who is surprised to see that Steve is taller than him, and commits the map to memory.

The two head up the catwalks and find themselves face-to-face with Schmidt on a retractable bridge. Rogers punches Schmidt in the face who surprisingly stands his ground. Schmidt plays with his face, as it has apparently come free from his skull and quickly peels it away as a mask. The Red Skull stares back at Rogers and Bucky and swiftly enters an elevator. In the elevator The Red Skull tells Arnim Zola to meet him at another one of Hydra’s bases and to take his car. The Red Skull escapes the exploding facility in a private plane while Zola sneaks away in Schmidt’s roadster. Inside Steve and Bucky have a huge divide to cross to their freedom. Bucky crosses a trembling, buckling support beam and manages to cross to safety moments before the beam plummets into the fire below. Left with no other option, Steve backs up as far as he can and leaps over the burning chasm.

Back at the 107th base camp, Phillips dictates a letter to his typist, telling how Rogers disappeared the prior night and likely perished during the battle. Just then Rogers arrives, with nearly 400 survivors of the 107th, leaving the base in a fervor. Rogers submits himself to Phillips for disciplinary action for going out in direct violation of orders, but is forgiven.

The news of “Captain America’s” success on the battlefield is swept over the world. In London, Steve gives Phillips and Carter his best recollection of the HYDRA base map and tells them that he intends to go to those bases and destroy them one-by-one and wishes to recruit a team of men made up of those he liberated in Italy. Steve meets the Howling Commandos in a bar and they eagerly accept the offer. While there all the men are surprised as Peggy enters dressed in a form-fitting cocktail dress. She ignores all the men, including Bucky, and flirts with Steve, telling him that she’d love to have a dance with him some day.

The next day Steve is summoned to the Brooklyn bunker to see Phillips and Stark. Steve is approached by a beautiful female officer who wishes to thank him for his service the best way she knows how. Peggy walks in on Steve kissing the enlisted-woman and angrily storms away. Steve apologetically follows her to Stark’s lab, insisting that he gets nervous around women and asks why he should apologize if Carter and Stark have a thing going. Stark quickly shoots down the rumored relationship and takes Steve to his weapons engineering lab. He remarks that Rogers has become attached to the triangular shield, which Steve says is a handy tool in the field. On a table are several prototype shields with sophisticated components, however Steve finds a plain, circular shield. Stark explains that the shield is made of a metal called “vibranium”, which is lighter than steel and is vibration resistant and will absorb heavy impacts. He holds the shield in front of him and asks Peggy for his opinion. She playfully/scornfully fires a clip at the shield, which Steve ducks behind. The shield passes the improvised test admirably. As she walks off, Steve passes a sketch of a uniform to Stark.

Steve dresses in red, white and blue fatigues, dons a blue form-fitting helmet and stows the newly-colored shield onto his back. Captain America and his soldiers, including Bucky, make their way across Europe, flattening Hydra’s bases one-by-one, with Rogers becoming quite skilled at using the shield as a projectile weapon. News of his exploits reach the Red Skull and Zola.

High in the Alps, Steve and his men have a mission to capture Zola in his personal train. Three member of the team: Cap, Bucky and Gabe Jones (Derek Luke) zip-line across a massive chasm and storm the train car-by-car. Soon Cap and Bucky are cornered by heavily armed Hydra soldiers. They narrowly defeat the soldiers, however Bucky is tossed from the train and plummets into an icy river below. Zola is apprehended.

Zola sits in a prison cell and is visited by Colonel Phillips, who carries with him a steak dinner for Zola. Zola rejects the meal, impressed with the idea that it must be poisoned. Phillips shrugs and eats the meal. He tells Zola that he broadcast an easily decodable message, which has certainly been intercepted by HYDRA, saying that Zola had defected. He also knows that Zola is easy to bargain with since he’s the sole HYDRA agent they’ve captured who hasn’t taken his cyanide capsule to avoid disclosing information. Zola, fearing that the lie will result in his death by the Red Skull, concedes to Phillips and tells him information of the Red Skull’s only remaining HYDRA base.

Rogers sulks in a war-ravaged bar. Carter arrives and comforts Steve, after losing his best friend. Steve realizes that Dr. Erskine’s serum rapidly regrows dead cells, rendering it impossible for Steve to get drunk. The two flirt a bit and talk about having a dance, once again.

Rogers and his team prepare a battle plan to take down Red Skull at his headquarters. Rogers, dressed in a new uniform, mounts a Harley and charges the base. He easily dodges HYDRA soldiers and tanks and finds himself within the base, surrounded by a HYDRA army. He is taken into custody and led to the Red Skull’s private weapons lab. Red Skull asks what makes Steve so special. Steve says “Nothing. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.” moments before members of his team zipline into Red Skull’s office.

A climatic firefight ensues as hundreds of soldiers, under the direction of Phillips and Carter storm the base, killing many HYDRA soldiers. Red Skull flees to his private hangar, in which a gigantic flying wing is preparing for take off. Steve attempt to catch up with the plane on foot, but is unable. Phillips and Carter arrive, behind the wheel of Skull’s roadster, and the three take off after the plane. Just as Steve is about to leap onto the plane Peggy stops him and kisses him. Steve leaps from the roadster onto one of the plane’s massive wheels. He sneaks into the craft where he finds dozens of kamikaze planes/missiles, each labeled with a different major American city. Hydra soldiers soon enter the room and Steve battles them, taking out numerous men and tiny planes. One of the planes, labeled New York, drops free. Steve takes off after it and manages to commandeer the craft and crashes it back into the flying wing.

Inside the large cockpit, Captain America and Red Skull have a fisticuffs battle. Red Skull fires his cube-energy pistol at Steve who easily deflects the shots using his shield. A shot is deflected into one of the cockpit’s center consoles which contains the glowing blue cube. The console is damaged and Skull lifts the cube into the air. Suddenly a portal opens above him, showing starry space. The Red Skull glows brightly and is seemingly disintegrated. His remains are swept up into the cosmos. The cube, still glowing brightly, drops to the ground and burns its way down through the plane’s hull before plummeting into the ocean below. Steve mans the plane’s controls and radios Carter. He tells her that the plane is on a flight-path that will take them to the Eastern Seaboard. He tells her that their dance will have to wait. He pushes the plane into a dive and crashes it into a glacier below. Peggy can only hear static.

Steve awakens in a 1940’s hospital. An old-fashioned radio transmits the play-by-play of a Brooklyn Dodgers game. He gets up, looks out the windows and watches as the hospital door opens. A young nurse (Amanda Righetti) who bares a striking resemblance to Peggy enters. She waits for a response from Steve, who suspiciously looks at her. He asks why the radio is playing a game from May 1941… specifically, a game that he knows he attended. She reaches into her pocket and withdraws a two-way radio. Two tall soldiers in black uniforms enter the room, and Steve easily tosses them through a wall. Steve steps through the hole and is surprised to see that the ‘hospital’ is in fact a movie-set. He runs through the dark corridors, pushes a door open and appears in a modern skyscraper, bustling with people in business suits. He flees the building and finds himself in Times Square, circa 2011. He peers around, shocked by his surroundings, and watches as numerous matching black SUVs encircle him.

Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) steps out and carefully speaks to Steve. He tells him that he’s been asleep, in ice, for 70 years, in a state of suspended animation. The hospital set was meant to gradually introduce him to modern society. Still perplexed, Steve breathes heavily and sadly tells Fury that he had a date, since everyone else he used to know in the 1940s, is long dead or very old now.

In a post credit scene, Steve is in an old-fashioned gym. He pummels a punching bag so hard that he knocks it off it’s chain and sends it flying across the room. Fury enters the gym, and asks Steve if he’s had trouble sleeping. Steve cynically asks if Fury has come with another mission. Fury replies to the positive.

Suddenly we see images of all the superheroes, whom include Steve/Captain America, Thor (from the movie of the same name), Tony Stark (from the ‘Ironman’ movies), Hawkeye, Black Widow, Bruce Banner (from ‘The Incredible Hulk’) and other Shield agents preparing for battle. Fury, tells him that “They’re up.” His personal mission to build an army of superheroes is complete, previewing The Avengers.

’Nuff said.

First Class

Copyright 3 June 2011 20th Century Fox

At a German concentration camp in occupied Poland during 1944, young Erik Lensherr is separated from his parents by Nazi guards. The child’s desperate mind remarkably bends a metal gate until a guard knocks Lensherr unconscious (a recreation of the opening scene of the first X-Men movie). Scientist Sebastian Shaw, who has observed this incident through a window, calls Lensherr up to see him. Placing a metal coin on a desk, he orders Lensherr to use his power to move it. When Lensherr cannot, despite his best efforts, Shaw shoots and kills Lensherr’s mother in front of him. In his rage, Lensherr’s out-of-control magnetic power kills the two guards and destroys two rooms, to Shaw’s delight. Shaw tells Lensherr that they will “have fun” developing the boy’s power.

Around this same time, in a Westchester County, New York, mansion, young Charles Xavier is awoken when he thinks he hears a burglar break in. He heads down to the kitchen and finds a young, shape-shifting girl named Raven Darkhölme, disguised as his mother, who is looking through the fridge for food. Using his mind to talk to Raven, Xavier accuses his “mother” of being an imposter, and asks what it has done with his real mother, as she would not make him a sandwich or hot chocolate. Raven shifts back to her normal, blue-skinned form. Overjoyed to meet someone else “different” like him, Xavier invites her in.

In 1962, Lensherr goes to Switzerland and forces a banker (by ripping out one of the metal fillings in his mouth) to trace a bar of Nazi gold to Shaw’s address in Argentina. In a tavern there patronized by former German soldiers, Lensherr kills three men as he learns that Shaw owns a yacht in Florida. Meanwhile, in England, Xavier has graduated from Oxford and is publishing his thesis on mutation; Raven is now his foster sister and works as a waitress. Simultaneously in Las Vegas, Nevada, CIA agent Moira MacTaggart follows U.S. Army Colonel Hendry into the Hellfire Club, where she sees Shaw, Emma Frost, Riptide and Azazel. Shaw calmly threatens Hendry, telling him that the Colonel should reverse his position on advocating that the U.S. install nuclear missiles in Turkey, a move the government had previously avoided so as not to provoke war with the Soviet Union. When Hendry refuses, Shaw has Riptide demonstrate his power to conjure tornadoes from thin air and hurls Hendry into a wall. Convinced, Shaw has Azazel teleport Hendry to the President’s War Room, where he supports the missile placement in Turkey.

Shaw later meets with Colonel Hendry on his yacht, and refuses to give Hendry his money, at which point Hendry pulls out a grenade and threatens to pull the pin and kill himself and everyone on the boat’s deck. Shaw takes the grenade and pulls the pin himself, and absorbs the blast — Shaw is a mutant, and absorbs energy, which also keeps him young, then taps Hendry, expelling the grenade’s energy into the Colonel, destroying him.

MacTaggart seeks Xavier’s advice on mutation, and takes Xavier and Raven to the CIA to convince the chief that Shaw is a threat. After convincing them that mutants exist, they are to be taken to a covert facility, but first Xavier insists they track down Shaw. Shaw is aboard his yacht relaxing with Frost and Riptide when Lensherr appears. Frost uses her telepathy to pacify Erik and pushes him overboard.

Lensherr attacks Shaw, using the anchors and chains of the yacht to tear the boat apart. When Shaw escapes in a submarine hidden below the upper decks of the boat, Lensherr tries to stop him, his ability to control metal pulling him along in the water. Xavier stops him so that he does not drown, speaking to him telepathically and telling him it’s useless to follow Shaw. Lensherr joins Xavier and Raven at the CIA facility, where they meet Hank McCoy, another mutant that Xavier accidentally outs. McCoy and Xavier use a prototype Cerebro to locate mutants and recruit several of them to train to stop Shaw. During the recruiting process, we also see Xavier and Lensherr trying to talk to Logan (Wolverine) in a bar. He promptly tells them to go to hell, and they walk off.

Shaw plans to meet with a Russian general, but sends Frost instead, who is then captured by Xavier and Lensherr. Lensherr tortures her briefly and Xavier taps into Frost’s mind and finds out that Shaw plans to start a nuclear war between the US and Russia in order to wipe out all normal humans. Back in the US, the CIA facility is attacked by Azazel, Riptide and Shaw, who kill all the guards and agents present. Shaw offers the new mutants to a place on his side, but most of them refuse. He recruits Angel and kills Darwin by forcing him to ingest a massive amount of energy when he tries to fight back. When Lensherr and Xavier return they all go to Xavier’s mansion and begin to train, though Raven is conflicted about hiding her natural form. Hank creates a vaccine that is supposed to turn his and Raven’s appearance normal, however, when Hank takes it there are unexpected side effects: his mutant physical features are enhanced; he now has blue skin, blue fur and is several times stronger. The newly assembled X-Men team boards a specialized SR-71 Blackbird jet modified by Hank and fly out to the Caribbean.

President Kennedy institutes a blockade of a Russian fleet in the Caribbean Sea. Shaw travels with the Russian fleet to ensure that the missiles get to Cuba. Xavier, MacTaggart and Lensherr fly to the blockade to stop the fleets from engaging. Wearing a special helmet given him by the Soviets that blocks out telepathic interference, Shaw uses the sub’s nuclear core to charge himself up. While Azazel kills the crew of the Russian missile ship, Xavier uses his powers to make a Russian officer on one of the escort ships fire a missile and destroy the cargo ship carrying the Soviet weapons before it crosses the demarcation line established by the United States.

With Xavier’s help, Lensherr pulls Shaw’s submarine from the water, but an attack by Riptide forces the X-jet and submarine to crash on a nearby beach. Xavier desperately tries to locate Shaw with his telepathic ability but is unable while Shaw is in the reactor room of the sub and wears his helmet. Lensherr goes after Shaw and finds him in the sub’s reactor room. The two battle furiously and the shielding around the chamber cracks, allowing Xavier to locate Shaw. Lensherr tries to overcome Shaw with the metal in the room but Shaw counters with his own telekinesis and pins Lensherr to the wall. Suddenly, Lensherr plucks Shaw’s helmet from his head with a length of cable and Xavier is able to freeze Shaw in place. Lensherr puts on the helmet to block out Xavier’s telepathy and admits that he agrees with everything Shaw believes about mutants and humans and how he never would have developed his power if Shaw hadn’t forced him to. Eric, however, is still vengeful about Shaw’s murder of his mother and kills Shaw by slowly forcing the coin that Shaw taunted him with as a child through his brain while Xavier screams, experiencing the act himself. Eric exits the wrecked submarine with Shaw’s body and announces to his fellow mutants that the humans in both fleets are their real enemies and that the mutants should band together to fight them. Xavier pleads with Eric to end the campaign but he fails.

The two fleets fire their missiles and shells at the mutants on the beach, but Lensherr, now fully in control of his abilities, stops the projectiles in mid-flight and then turns them on the fleet. In the ensuing fight Xavier manages to distract Lensherr, but when MacTaggart fires at Lensherr he deflects the bullets, with one striking Xavier in the lower spine. The missiles and shells all fall into the ocean or explode. Lensherr removes the bullet from Charles’ back but, more furious than before, begins to choke MacTaggart with the chain holding her ID tags, blaming her for Xavier’s injury. Xavier tells Erik that Moira is not the one responsible and Erik relents, realizing he injured his friend. Erik releases Moira, who rushes to Xavier’s side.

Lensherr takes Raven, Angel, Riptide and Azazel and leaves, having convinced them that humans are their enemies. Xavier, now confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and his fellow mutants return to the mansion, where he will open a school. He wipes MacTaggart’s memory. MacTaggart reports to her superiors but has nothing to tell them, knowing that Charles had erased her memory of all recent events.

At CIA headquarters, Emma Frost sits alone in a specialized holding cell. The door is suddenly ripped from it’s frame and Erik walks in, his new recruits waiting just outside. He is wearing a new uniform and a newer version of the helmet he’d stolen from Shaw. He tells Frost to call him “Magneto.”

’Nuff said.

Introducing Valhalla

Copyright 6 May 2011 Marvel Studios

Three scientists, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), are in the New Mexico desert in a four-wheel drive van studying an aurora-borealis-type phenomenon. Suddenly a large tornado/lightning storm develops and they drive towards it. The van hits a man inside the maelstrom and they stop. The man, a well-built & handsome blond, is semi-conscious.

A voice-over describes a battle in 900 AD between the Jötuns, the frost giants of Jötunheim, and Asgardians; the Asgardians win, seize the power casket, and return to their realm. The speaker is Odin (Anthony Hopkins) talking to his two sons, one the energetic blond Thor, the other a more thoughtful dark-haired boy named Loki. Odin says both of them are worthy but only one can be king.

Years later Asgard is having an elaborate ceremony. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is now being formally recognized as the crown prince of Asgard. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) looks on enviously. Before Odin can make the proclamation, alarms go off; there are intruders in the secure rooms that hold the Jotens’ power casket. A large Destroyer robot kills the intruders and saves the power casket. Examining the remains, Odin seems unperturbed, yet Thor is angry and wants to attack. Odin forbids him.

Thor gathers Loki and his close friends, Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Josh Dallas), Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), and Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and they ride out to the Bifrost Bridge portal. The guardian, Heimdall (Idris Elba), allows them to pass and the six are transported to the frost giant planet, Jötunheim, a frozen, crumbling wasteland. Suddenly they are confronted by King Laufey (Colm Feore), who taunts the Asgardian heroes. More frost giants surround the six and a battle starts. Loki survives with some magic and has an unusual reaction when he is touched by a frost giant. Laufey releases a huge beast and the Asgardians run for their lives. Thor kills the beast but once again the team are surrounded and things look desperate. Odin arrives to save the day; he apologizes to Laufey for the intrusion and attempts to reinstate peace, but Laufey states that they are beyond diplomacy, that the Frost Giants are now at war with Asgard. He attempts to stab Odin, who blasts Laufey back and takes the young group home.

Back at the Asgard side of the portal, Odin lets the four friends go and confronts Thor and Loki. Odin is furious that Thor has dragged Asgard back into war, and tells Thor he is not fit to be king. He strips him of his power, banishes him to Earth and sends his hammer, Mjolnir, after him a few seconds later, saying that whosoever wields the hammer, and is worthy of it, shall have the power of Thor.

Earth: Thor gets a little aggressive and Darcy tazes him, knocking him out. The three scientists load him into their van and take him to the hospital. Once again he starts fighting as he wakes up and he’s eventually tranquilized. Erik tries to get Jane to leave him be, saying he is some kind of nut, but she is curious, and attracted to him. They go back to the hospital but Thor has escaped. As they drive off in the van, they hit the Asgardian man again and knock him out but this time they take him with them. Jane gives him civilian clothes that belonged to her ex-boyfriend. After overhearing locals discussing a satellite crash 50 miles due west, Thor decides to go there and once again Erik tries to get Jane to leave him alone. Thor walks about the town and tries to get a horse in a pet store. Jane appears and gives him a ride; the two head west in the van.

At the satellite crash site — actually the place where Thor’s hammer came to earth — a crowd has gathered; people are partying and trying to lift the hammer from the crater. Stan Lee cameos as one of the locals trying to pull the hammer out with his pickup truck. Government agents from SHIELD take over the site and confiscate Jane’s research notes and computers. After dark, Jane and Thor arrive on the scene. Now the crater is surrounded by guards and tenting. Thor attacks and Jane huddles in safety. After beating up several agents, Thor finally reaches the hammer, but is unable to lift it. He howls at his powerlessness and slumps to the ground, putting up no fight as SHIELD agents close in and take him.

Asgard: Thor’s four friends begin to suspect Loki had something to do with Thor’s banishment. Loki realizes he is not a pure Asgardian and Odin admits Loki was taken from Jötunheim as an infant and raised as his own. Loki is confused and angry as Odin falls into a coma (“Odinsleep”). Loki becomes acting king.

Earth: Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) questions Thor, and when he leaves him alone briefly, Loki appears in the room. Loki tells Thor that Odin is dead and he cannot come back to Asgard. Thor is distraught. Erik arrives to tell the SHIELD agents Thor is Jane’s ex-husband and is under the influence of steroids. Somehow he has faked a driver’s license. Coulson lets Erik take Thor, who surreptitiously grabs Jane’s notebook on the way out. Back in town Erik takes Thor out for a drink; the two chug boilermakers and bond. Thor brings the drunk Erik to Jane’s trailer. Thor and Jane go to a rooftop to gaze at the stars, and Thor explains the nine realms and the Bifrost Bridge to Jane. Jane figures the bridge is the theoretical Einstein-Rosen Bridge wormhole.

Asgard: Loki freezes Heimdall, then meets Laufey. It was Loki who let the frost giants into Asgard to try to retrieve the power casket earlier. He makes a deal with Laufey that he will let them into Asgard again to kill Odin and have their casket, and in return they will go home in peace. Loki commands the Destroyer to go to Earth and kill Thor.

Earth: The Destroyer arrives in the New Mexico desert and starts blasting everything with a heat ray. Thor and the three scientists attempt to get everyone away safely. Thor confronts the Destroyer and asks Loki to leave the humans alone in return for himself. Loki can see and hear what is going on from Asgard. The Destroyer gives Thor a vicious backhand slap and sends him tumbling, apparently dead. Jane runs to the body in tears. However, Thor’s selfless act of protecting his friends proves him worthy to once again wield Mjolnir, which frees itself from the crater and returns to Thor’s hand. He is restored to full life and vigor and once again fitted in his red cape and armor. He easily defeats the Destroyer and tries to return to Asgard, promising Jane he will return.

Asgard: the frost giants invade through the portal, walking past the frozen Heimdall. Laufey goes to Odin’s bed chamber and, as he prepares to kill the Norse god, Loki kills Laufey to appear to be the hero. Although frozen, Heimdall is conscious and manages to break free. He brings Thor back to Asgard. Thor flies quickly to fight the frost giants.

Loki goes to the Bifrost Portal and sets it up to destroy the ice planet Jötunheim. Thor tries to stop him and the two engage in combat. Thor immobilizes Loki with Mjolnir and starts to destroy the portal to stop the process, smashing away at the bridge itself. As everything crumbles, the two brothers fall into space but Odin is there to hold Thor, who holds Loki’s staff. Loki admits defeat and allows himself to fall off the disappearing Bifrost Bridge, into the abyss of no return.

All seems back to normal on Asgard, although Odin is sad about how it turned out. Thor pines for Jane but Heimdall assures him that she is looking for him. Back on Earth Jane is in a new lab with new equipment.

Post-credits, Selvig has been taken to a SHIELD facility where he meets Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Fury shows him an object in a briefcase, which he says could be a source of unlimited power. Loki appears then, invisible to Selvig and Fury, and says “Well, I guess that’s worth a look,” which Selvig repeats.

’Nuff said.

The Fantastic Four
Rise of the Silver Surfer

Copyright 20th Century Fox – June 15, 2007

The movie opens out in space as a strange alien planet slowly fades away and implodes. A mysterious blue entity leaves the planet prior to its destruction, and is next seen flying through the atmosphere over Earth. At the same time, a number of strange circumstances unfold (the China Sea freezes over and the Sphinx is covered with snow).

A news reporter states that the FAA was forced to ground all flights as a result of these events. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffud) watches the news from the airport and is disgusted because the news is more focused on his upcoming wedding to Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) than the strange events.

The Fantastic Four board the plane now cleared for flight. Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) is obviously uncomfortable crammed into a Coach seat. Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) suggests that the team get an endorsement and form their own private airline. He then leaves to fly himself back home as the Human Torch.

Back at the Baxter Building (the team’s headquarters), Sue and Reed discuss the details for their upcoming wedding. Johnny shows off his prototype new uniforms to the team (they are loaded with company logos and product placement). Johnny tries to snoop on Reed’s latest product while Reed explains that the global disturbances are being caused by a similar tyoeof cosmic radiation that originally gave the Fantastic Four their powers.

Johnny insists on throwing Reed a bachelor party. Reed is opposed to the idea, until Johnny blackmails him with the threat of telling Sue that Reed is spending more time researching disturbances than taking care of his end of the planning.

The mysterious entity passes over the nation of Latveria, and its residual energy frees Dr. Victor Von Doom (Julain McMahon) from his imprisonment.

Johnny takes Reed and Ben to a nightclub for Reed’s bachelor party. Reed and Ben are obviously uncomfortable (Reed because of his shyness, Ben because of his Thing powers).

A military force led by General Hagar (Andre Braugher) arrives at the Baxter Building to see Reed. Sue takes them to the club where they see Reed dancing (making full use of his Mr. Fantastic abilities) and Reed is embarassed.

Ben explains to Sue the history Reed has with General Hagar: Hagar had designed a new defense system several years ago, while Reed testified that the technology it called for was unreliable. General Hagar is concerned about the anomolies occurring worldwide, and shows the team sattelite photos of the mysterious entity. The generals’ assistant, Captain Frankie Raye shows the team photos of craters that have been appearing in the same spots as the entities appearance. Hagar asks for a way to track the mysterious entity, but Reed turns him down because his wedding is in a few days. Johnny flirts with Captain Raye as they leave, but she shoots him down.

Later on, Ben finds out that Reed has decided to build the tracking system for the general anyway. Ben (and Johnny, who flies in when Reed is building) both agree to keep quiet.

The next day is the date of Sue and Reed’s wedding! Hundreds of guests file in (including a cameo by Fantastic Four creator Stan Lee).

Sue discusses her future with Alicia Masters (Kerry Washington), Ben’s blind girlfriend. Susan realizes that she has a zit on her forehead, but is able to conceal it with her Invisible Woman abilities.

Reed finishes the satellite tracking system less than an hour before the wedding begins. He is happy to have finished the project, but once Ben points out that he is about to be married, Reed goes limp with shock.

Johnny comes in and has a brief discussion with Ben about his relationship with Alicia, at which point Ben almost breaks Johnny’s skull out of anger and embaressment.

Victor Von Doom begins to track the mysterious entity, trying to figure out the power that brought him back to life.

As Reed & Sue stand before the minister, Reed’s Palm Pilot goes off telling him that the sattelite tracker has come online. Sue is outraged that he lied to her. The entity then passes through New York City, causing a massive power outage and sending one of the news choppers covering the wedding flying towards the rooftop.

Sue uses her force field ability to block the chopper from hitting the guests. Ben jumps in and rips off the tail of the helicopter to prevent anyone from getting cut to pieces by the blades. As the entity passes overhead, Johnny shouts “Flame ON!” and gives chase.

The Human Torch follows the mysterious thing through the city and watches it pass through a building- thus getting his first look at The Silver Surfer (Doug Jones). Torch and Surfer begin an Ariel chase across half the country, but the Surfer ends it by grabbing Johnny by the throat and levitating him to the stratosphere, then sending Johnny flying back down to earth. Johnny is barely able to re-ignite his flame in time to stop crashing.

In space, the Silver Surfer contacts his master and awaits further orders.

Johnny describes the Silver Surfer to the team, who are skeptical at first. General Hagar orders Reed to find another way to track the Surfer.

Sue confronts Reed, worried that the two of them can never have a normal life if they continue to act as part-time superheroes. Sue is unsure if they can ever actually raise a family together.

Johnny, still dazed from his encounter with the Surfer, tries to fly but ends up falling off the building. Sue runs outside to check on him but when she touches his forehead Sue suddenly bursts into flames! Johnny shouts “Flame ON” but he only succeeds in turning invisible. Reed sees what has happened and runs outside. He suggests that Sue touch Johnny again, and they revert to their normal powers- though Sue is now naked after burning off her clothes.

Reed does a physical on them both and sees that Johnny’s molecules are in a state of flux, and that he may switch powers with any of them just by touch. Ben immediately takes advantage of this and grabs Johnny’s shoulder, turning him into the Thing! Johnny is appalled by his new appearance and grabs Ben, changing them both back.

Sue is still watching the news when she is joined by Reed. Reed announces that he has decided to give up being a hero once they are married. She is ecstatic, but Johnny overhears them and is angered.

Victor Von Doom calculates the next appearance of the Silver Surfer. He confronts the cosmic entity, suggesting a partnership between the two of them. The Surfer ignores Doom’s idea and blasts him with a burst of cosmic energy. Doom is angry, but then notices that the energy is restoring his normal organic appearance.

Johnny tells Ben about Reed & Sue’s plan to leave. Ben is mad but decides that something like this is something that they can’t argue with.

Reed points out that the Silver Surfer’s energy has been tracked to several other planets, which are now lifeless husks. They realize that 8 days after the Surfer’s appearance on any world, that planet dies. Reed gets the idea to track the Surfer using the coordinates of the craters he leaves behind.

En route the the newest spot (in London), Johnny confronts Reed & Sue about their decision and they argue.

The Surfer’s passing through causes The London Eye (London’s famous Ferris wheel) to be damaged, and many civilians are in danger. The Fantastic Four quickly rush to save them, with Johnny trying to chase the Surfer again. But Johnny accidentally collides with Reed and they switch powers. Ben & Sue almost let the Ferris wheel collapse before Reed gets the idea to use Human Torch’s power to weld it back into place. Reed sets back down and quickly reclaims his rightful power from Johnny, angry that Johnny’s recklessness almost killed a lot of people-including Sue.

General Hagar is outraged at the Fantastic Four’s failure. He has decided to get extra help: Victor Von Doom. Ben, outraged that their old foe is still alive, attacks. Reed convinces Ben to back off, and asks what Victor has to contribute.

Victor shows a recording of his previous encounter with the Silver Surfer. They observe that the Surfer’s energy attack originated from his board, and theorize that if they can divide him from the board the Surfer will be vulnerable.

Johnny and Ben spend the night at a bar, discussing the turn of events. Johnny asks Ben what he wants to do if the world is indeed coming to an end. Ben admits that part of him would want to go down fighting, but he mostly would want to spend his last moments with Alicia. Johnny agrees, apparently jealous that Ben has someone so special to him.

Reed has surrounded himself with databases, working around the clock to find the solution without Victor’s help. Sue comes in and reassures him, ordering Reed to relax. Sue mentions that Reed’s pulse must be overexerted, and the word “pulse” inspires Reed: he can create an energy pulse generated by a power field to divide the Surfer from his board. Reed requests some equipment from General Hagar to build the power field.

Sue confronts Victor about his intentions and his return. Meanwhile, Johnny flirts with Frankie again but she blows him off as a reckless jokester.

The Fantastic Four arrive at the newest coordinates and begin to set up the pulse generators. Ben has a humorous confrontation with a bear when setting up his section of the generator.

Susan is setting up her generator when the Silver Surfer appears in front of her. Sue approaches the Surfer, asking him why he is working to destroy the planet. The Surfer claims that he has no choice; that he is not the destroyer but merely a beacon.

General Harding spots the Surfer and opens fire. Silver Surfer merely swats down the missiles with his cosmic powers. Reed activates the pulse system, knocking the Surfer off his board (and in the process turning his body from bright silver to a dull, tarnished gray).

General Harding brings the Surfer and the board to a hideout in Siberia for further study. He places the Fantastic Four under “house arrest” until they are finished studying. Sue decides to go out and confront the Surfer. She asks him who the real destroyer is, and the Surfer responds (showing her an image) that the true destroyer is his master, a vast cosmic entity known by many names and forms which his people refer to as Galactus. The Silver Surfer explains that his service spares his homeworld from the destroyer. Surfer explains that he is compassionate towards Sue because she reminds him of his beloved.

Out in space, a vast cloud is shown moving towards Earth. The destroyer is drawing closer.

Victor is permitted to do tests on the board. He uses a special device to free the board from its confinement and bond with it. General Hager tries to stop him, but Doom blasts him with his new cosmic energy and vaporises the general.

The Fantastic Four escape from confinement, also freeing the Silver Surfer. Frankie is reluctant to let them leave, but Johnny pleads with her and he manages to convince her.

As they get outside, Reed summons his new invention- the FantastiCar, a flying hovercraft for the team. Reed, Sue, Ben and the Surfer climb in (Johnny flies along beside them). The Silver Surfer confesses his real name- Norrin Radd. He agrees to try and help them.

The Fantastic Four track Victor to Southeast China, and attack. They are able to lure him over the land, but must abandon the FantastiCar after he attacks it. Norrin confronts Doom, who fashions a javelin from the board’s energy and hurls it at him. Sue steps in front of Norrin, conjuring up a force field to protect them both, but the javelin passes right through the force field and impales Sue, mortally wounding her. Seeing no other option, Johnny suggests that all of the other team members transfer their powers to him. They argue, but Norrin points out that they have no other choice- Galactus has arrived, and is extending its tendrils into the planet to devour it.

Reed tells Johnny to aim for the remote emitter Doom is using to connect himself to the board. Ben, remembering his thought of going down fighting, takes control of a giant crane and uses it to attack Doom. The combined efforts of the team’s powers is successful and Doom crashes into the ocean, sinking out of sight.

Norrin re-connects with his board, and infuses Sue with a small part of his cosmic energy, restoring her to life. The Silver Surfer tells Reed to treasure every moment with Sue, and flies off to face the cosmic entity. He is joined midway by Johnny, who uses the last of his combined powers to give the Silver Surfer a boost into the cosmic storm.

In the heart of the cloud, Silver Surfer tells Galactus that he will no longer be a servent. Norrin Radd charges up a massive amount of cosmic energy and then releases a huge blast, stopping the cosmic entity by apparently destroying them both.

The Fantastic Four, including the revived Sue, are thrilled to see that the destruction of the planet has stopped but saddened by the loss of the Surfer. Johnny accidentally comes into contact with Ben, but is shocked to see that nothing happened. To everyone’s relief, Johnny’s second encounter with the Surfer has restored his powers to normal.

Sue reveals that she has decided against her past ideas and does not want to break up the team, since they just saved the world together. Reed agrees that they cannot run away from their responsibilities and that people do not have to be “Normal” to have a family. Reed also has an idea regarding the prospect of a wedding.

Sue and Reed decide to hold a Shinto-style wedding while they are still in China. They must rush through the ceremony when Reed’s pager alerts them of new danger. Sue tosses the bouquet to the women in the audience (including Frankie, who apparently has decided to pursue a relationship with Johnny). When it looks as if Frankie might catch the bouquet, Johnny “accidentally” sneezes and burns up the flowers.

The Fantastic Four boards their newly restored Fantasticar and speeds off to another adventure!!!

In a bonus scene partway through the credits, the Surfer and his board are seen floating through space. The Surfer appears to be dead after his encounter with Galactus. But suddenly the Surfer’s board turns and begins to move toward him.

’Nuff said.

The Invincible Ironman
Introducing Whiplash

Copyright Marvel Studios – 7 May 2010

The movie opens several months after the events in the first Iron Man movie. We are introduced to a man named Ivan Vanko. Ivan’s father Anton is slowly dying and telling Ivan his final wishes. Ivan thinks he should have the fame that Tony Stark is enjoying but Anton tells him to “ignore that garbage.” All Anton can give Ivan is his knowledge. Ivan takes a blueprint that has his father’s name on it, and also the name of Howard Stark, Tony Stark’s father. Ivan then sets about recreating the Arc reactor and begins building his own weaponized suit. Tony Stark has become a champion for world peace thanks to the Iron Man suit, and has practically solved the issue of world peace, or so he claims.

Six months after the end of the first movie, Tony Stark has used his Iron Man armor to bring about a negotiated peace treaty between the major super powers of the world, and his immense popularity with the general public is only furthered when he fulfills his father’s dream by reopening the “Stark Expo” in Queens, NY, to showcase all the latest inventions that will benefit the world. Tony fulfills this dream by flying into the expo in full Iron Man regalia, and making a flamboyant entrance to become the new symbol of world peace. Backstage, following his address, Tony does a quick test of his blood: the palladium he uses to power his chest arc reactor is slowly poisoning his body. After the event, Tony and Happy are leaving when they are approached by a woman who hands Tony a subpoena, summoning him to a Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing. Tony and Happy decide to take a road trip to Washington DC in Tony’s new Audi R8.

The next morning, during the Senate hearing, Tony’s usual brand of humor becomes the center of attention while completely ignoring the fact that the government has classified the Iron Man armor as a weapon. Colonel Rhodes presents the investigation into the events surrounding Iron Man’s creation, but Senator Stern, the committee chairman, takes his remarks out of context. Tony gives a rebuttal showing that he is Iron Man and will not part with his armor (likening handing himself over as being tantamount to indentured servitude), and proceeds to hack the committees computers to show that various “attempts” at copying Tony’s suit – from Iran, North Korea, and even Hammer Industries itself – are complete failures: North Korea’s is top heavy and collapses easily, Iran’s crashes into the ground and explodes, while Hammer’s suit turns around 180 degrees at the torso and severs its pilot’s spine. Tony still refuses to turn over the Iron Man armor to the government and walks out of the hearing.

Back at home, Tony is on JARVIS analyzing the latest prototypes and developments for the Iron Man suit, and Pepper enters and the two start having arguments about the future of Stark Industries. Tony is telling Pepper that he’s making more money off the company’s common stock than he ever did as CEO. He decides he’s had enough of being the CEO and wants to focus solely on developing Iron Man. He decides to appoint Pepper as the new CEO and she is stunned. The next day a lovely notary public enters to have Tony officially sign the company over to Pepper. Tony is undergoing fighting training with Happy and performs an illegal move on him, getting it confused with MMA. The notary’s name is Natalie Rushman, and he has Happy give her a boxing lesson, and while looking up her bio, Natalie performs a TKO on Happy, using a takedown that shows there’s a great deal more to her than there appears.

Tony heads to Monaco for some much needed R&R. At a pre-reception before the Monaco 500, where Stark Industries is sponsoring a driver, Tony’s greeted by his favorite “Vanity Fair” reporter Christine Everheart, who wants Pepper for the cover of the next issue which will introduce her as the new Stark Industries C.E.O. Justin Hammer also happens to be there. They also greet Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, who wants a panel at the Stark Expo to showcase his latest invention. In the bathroom, it’s learned that the palladium in Tony’s chest is slowly spreading, and his arc reactor can barely take the punishment. Tony decides that he’s going to be driving the Stark Industries car instead of the driver that was pre-selected.

Stark starts the race, but unbeknownst to him, Ivan Vanko has joined one of the race’s pit crews. Under his jump suit, Vanko wears a harness with two large energy whips powered by the arc reactor he’d built after his father died. Vanko uses the whips to stage a massive wreck and ambushes Tony. As Vanko is wrecking havoc on the track, Happy and Pepper rush to deliver the briefcase Happy carries with him to Tony. Vanko uses his electric whips to completely destroy the Rolls Royce Phantom that Happy and Pepper are in, and after repeated ramming attempts, Pepper finally manages to give Tony the briefcase. Tony activates the case which is a portable version of the Iron Man armor. After a furious battle, Tony is able to defeat Vanko by manually pulling out the Arc Reactor battery that powers his whips, crushing it after he has JARVIS analyze it. The police grab Vanko and take him into custody. The entire crowd is stunned at what they’ve just witnessed. Justin Hammer, however, believes that Vanko can be put to better use.

Stark confronts Vanko in prison and Vanko asks Tony what it feels like to be a dead man and that palladium in the chest is a very painful way to die. Stark tells Vanko that makes two of them.

Later, Hammer breaks Vanko out. He slips Vanko a meal consisting of chicken and mashed potatoes along with a note telling him to “enjoy the potatoes.” Vanko and another prisoner are given uniforms with the same identification. Vanko immediately kills the prisoner as well as a guard on his way out the door, and sets the explosive device contained in the potatoes and as he makes his escape, he’s bagged by two Hammer operatives and taken away. Hammer knows Vanko needs his resources to outdo Tony, and Vanko obliges. Hammer then hires Vanko to build armored suits based on existing designs. Vanko tells Hammer they are doing everything wrong.

On the plane back home, Tony and Pepper are watching the aftermath of the events that took place and are watching a rather angry Senator Stern unload his frustrations with Tony on The O’Reilly Factor. Stern is saying that Tony Stark lied to the Senate Armed Forces Committee, and that he’s in danger of being arrested on felony perjury charges: Stark had told the Senate that other countries, as well as Hammer Industries, were 20 years away from having anything that remotely resembled Iron Man, however Vanko surprised everyone by making an working copy of the Arc Reactor. Tony presents Pepper with a gourmet meal and is going to tell her the truth, but they have an awkward moment as Pepper knows that something is up and that Tony isn’t telling her the whole truth.

Back home, Tony is using JARVIS to conduct investigations into Ivan Vanko. He finds that Vanko’s father Anton Vanko was Howard Stark’s partner and one of the co founders of Stark Industries. Howard Stark found out that Vanko was conspiring to sell weapons to the Soviet Empire and had him arrested for treason and deported to Russia, where he was imprisoned. His son had been seeking revenge against the Stark empire ever since. While sitting in one of his hot rods in his basement, Tony nearly collapses and is discovered by Rhodes who tells him that this isn’t a good look for him. He shows Rhodey how the palladium is slowly poisoning him. Rhodes also tells him that he’s been battling with the Pentagon by stopping them from coming to his Malibu house and taking his suits to be used for weaponized purposes.

Tony is then preparing for what he believes will be his last birthday party. He asks Natalie what she would do if this were her last birthday party. Natalie responds that she’d do whatever she wanted with whoever she wanted to do it with. While at the party, Tony is extremely drunk and wearing the Iron Man suit and behaving recklessly with its weaponry. In the background, Pepper and Rhodes are discussing that he’s gone way off the deep end. Rhodes tells Pepper that he’s tired of dealing with the Pentagon and the Senate Armed Forces Committee. Rhodes, finally having enough of Tony’s antics, goes and dons one of the in-development Iron Man suits. He then challenges Tony to a fight, where Tony has the in-house DJ play some good background tunes. The battle ends in a stalemate and Rhodey flies off in the Mark II armor, delivering it to military authorities at Edwards Air Force Base. Justin Hammer is later invited to study the suit himself and provides them with advanced weapons to arm it with.

The next day, Tony is at the famous Los Angeles landmark doughnut shop Randy’s Doughnuts, sitting in the Iron Man suit atop the famous giant plastered doughnut. Disgraced and hungover, Tony is approached by SHIELD director Nick Fury, who tells Stark that despite the problems he’s having with the government and his drunken Iron Man antics, which are the least of his worries; Fury has an issue to deal with in the Southwest United States. Tony wonders if Fury and the “Avengers Initiative” is real, and Fury reassures Tony that it’s real, and that he knew Howard Stark very well, in fact Howard was one of the founding members of S.H.I.E.L.D., the agency he works for. They are joined by agent Phil Coulson and Natalie Rushman, whose real name is Natasha Romanoff, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent planted in Stark Industries to monitor Tony himself. A hungover Tony is stunned at this revelation and fires Natalie/Natasha, but she then tells Tony that it’s none of his business and that he’s under investigation from S.H.I.E.L.D. , and she and agent Coulson are there to make sure Tony follows orders and doesn’t screw up. Fury and Natasha both mention Tony’s palladium poisoning; Tony replies that he’s investigated and tested every know element and every permutation of them with no success. Natasha injects Tony with a serum that slows the symptoms of his palladium poisoning significantly, giving him the time to find an alternate element to keep him alive.

Fury tells Tony some more detail about Anton Vanko’s relationship with Howard Stark and provides Tony with a chest of his father’s old artifacts that can hopefully be used to find a cure for his condition. Tony resists further attempts from S.H.I.E.L.D. interference, but Agent Coulson reassures Tony that he’s not going anywhere until Tony finds the answers that he’s seeking about his condition. Reviewing the film reels in the chest, Stark discovers a message from his father that leads him to the original 1974 diorama of the Stark Expo. He retrieves the diorama from his old office, now occupied by Pepper, and tries to reconcile with her. In reality, the diorama is a disguised diagram for the atomic structure of a new element that Howard couldn’t produce in his time but Tony may be able to with his advanced knowledge.

Stark performs a radical alteration of his home workshop and hand-builds a particle accelerator with the aid of his computer system, J.A.R.V.I.S. Stark synthesizes this new element, creating a new triangular chest arc reactor that cures his poisoning and is much more powerful than Stark’s earlier versions. Just before Tony completes the particle acceleration, Coulson tells him that he’s free to go and that S.H.I.E.L.D. has reassigned him to another case in New Mexico.

At Hammer Industries, Vanko has radically changed the design of Hammer’s suits: they are now automated drones. Despite what Vanko considers improvements, Hammer is displeased and imprisons Vanko in a small room with two guards while he takes the drones to the Stark Expo.

Hammer unveils his new military drones, captained by Rhodes in a heavily-weaponized version of the confiscated Mark II armor. Unfortunately, it is soon discovered that Vanko has programmed the drones, giving himself complete control. He also has control of Rhodes’ new armor, and Stark arrives just as they go on the attack. As Stark battles these remote-controlled enemies and tries to evade Rhodes, Happy Hogan and Romanoff race to Hammer’s Queens facility to stop Vanko. By the time they arrive, Vanko has already departed for the Expo in a new armored suit, an updated version of the harness he used when he attacked Tony in Monaco. Back at the Stark Expo, just as Hammer has finished his presentation, the drones attack the standing-room-only crowd and they begin to flee. Stark and Rhodes chase after the drones and destroy each and every one of them, while Agent Romanoff and Pepper have Justin Hammer arrested for harboring the fugitive Vanko.

Natasha is able to give Rhodes control of his armor again so that he and Stark can fight Vanko together. The two armored allies combine their powers and successfully destroy all the drones. Vanko then lands in the area, wearing a greatly updated armored suit with improved plasma energy whips. After a grueling battle, Stark has an idea for he and Rhodes to use a trick from their earlier battle during Stark’s birthday party, firing their energy repulsors to collide and create the same explosion with Vanko caught in the middle. The maneuver takes Vanko down, but Vanko’s armor and drones are revealed to have been equipped with self-destruct charges. As they begin to explode, Stark races to save Pepper, rescuing her at the last moment. After landing on a roof she quits her CEO position, and she finally gives Tony a kiss, to which they both find Rhodes sitting a few meters away. Tony finally tells Pepper the truth about his heart, upsetting her greatly. Stark tells Rhodes to leave, but Rhodes then claims he was there first, so they should get their “own roof” after Stark tries to defend himself.

At a debriefing, Fury informs Stark that while Stark is “unsuitable” for the “Avengers Initiative,” SHIELD wants Stark as a consultant. Stark agrees on the condition that Senator Stern personally present him and Col. Rhodes with their medals for bravery, however Senator Stern is less than amused when he presents Tony with his medal.

In a post-credits scene, SHIELD agent Coulson is seen driving to a remote impact crater in the New Mexico desert. He informs Fury over the phone that they’ve “found it”; in the crater is Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor.

’Nuff said.


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