Category: Superhero Movies
Thousands of years ago, a race of beings known as Dark Elves tried to send the universe into darkness by using a weapon known as the Aether. Warriors from Asgard stop them but their leader Malekith escapes to wait for another opportunity. The warriors find the Aether and since it cannot be destroyed, they try to hide it. In the present day, Jane Foster awaits the return of Thor although it has been two years since they last saw once another.
In the meantime, Thor has been trying to bring peace to the nine realms. Jane discovers an anomaly similar to the one that brought Thor to Earth. She goes to investigate, finds a wormhole, and is sucked into it. Back on Asgard, Thor wishes to return to Earth but his father, Odin refuses to let him. Thor learns from Heimdall, who can see into all of the realms, that Jane disappeared. Thor then returns to Earth just as Jane reappears. However, when some policemen try to arrest her, an unknown energy repulses them.
Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s Thor and Marvel’s The Avengers, Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos… but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.
About the Story
Eons ago, Bor, father of Odin, clashes with the Dark Elf Malekith, who seeks to destroy the universe using a weapon known as the Aether. After conquering Malekith’s forces, including enhanced warriors called the Kursed, on their home world of Svartalfheim, Bor safeguards the Aether within a stone column. Unbeknownst to Bor, Malekith, his lieutenant Algrim, and a handful of Dark Elves escape into suspended animation.
In present-day Asgard, Loki stands imprisoned for his war crimes on Earth. Meanwhile, Thor, alongside warriors Fandral, Volstagg, and Sif repel marauders on Vanaheim, home of their comrade Hogun; it is the final battle in a war to pacify the Nine Realms following the reconstruction of Bifröst, the “Rainbow Bridge” between realms, which had been destroyed two years earlier. The Asgardians soon learn that the Convergence, a rare alignment of the Nine Realms, is imminent; as the event approaches, portals linking the worlds appear at random.
In London, astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster and her intern Darcy Lewis travel to an abandoned factory where such portals have appeared, disrupting the laws of physics around them. Separating from the group, Jane is teleported to another world, where she is infected by the Aether. Heimdall alerts Thor that Jane has moved beyond his near omniscient sight, leading Thor to Earth. When Thor finds Jane, she inadvertently releases an unearthly force, and Thor returns with her to Asgard. Odin, recognizing the Aether, warns that the Aether will not only kill Jane, but that its return heralds a catastrophic prophecy.
Malekith, awakened by the Aether’s release, turns Algrim into a Kursed and attacks Asgard. During the battle, Malekith and Algrim search for Jane, sensing that she contains the Aether. Thor’s mother Frigga is killed protecting Jane, and Malekith and Algrim are forced to flee without Jane. Despite Odin’s orders not to leave Asgard, Thor reluctantly enlists the help of Loki, who knows of a secret portal to Svartalfheim, where they will use Jane to lure and confront Malekith, away from Asgard. In return, Thor promises Loki vengeance on Malekith for killing their mother. With Volstagg and Sif stalling Asgardian soldiers and Fandral assisting their escape, Thor, Loki, and Jane head to Svartalfheim.
There, Loki tricks Malekith into drawing the Aether out of Jane, but Thor’s attempt to destroy the exposed substance fails. Malekith merges with the Aether and leaves in his ship as Loki is fatally wounded while killing Algrim. Thor, cradling Loki in his arms, promises to tell their father of his sacrifice. Afterwards, Thor and Jane discover another portal in a nearby cave and reunite in London with Darcy and Jane’s mentor Dr. Erik Selvig — who was briefly institutionalized due to the mental trauma he suffered during Loki’s attack on Earth. They learn that Malekith plans to destroy the universe and restore the Dark Elves to dominance by unleashing the Aether at the center of the Convergence in Greenwich. Thor battles Malekith through various portals and across multiple worlds until one portal separates them, leaving Malekith unopposed on Earth. Thor returns in time to help his mortal comrades use their scientific equipment to transport Malekith to Svartalfheim, where he is crushed by his own damaged ship.
Thor returns to Asgard, where he declines Odin’s offer to take the throne and tells Odin of Loki’s sacrifice. As he leaves, Odin’s form transforms to that of a grinning Loki.
In a mid-credits scene, Volstagg and Sif visit the Collector and entrust the Aether to his care, commenting that, with the Tesseract already in Asgard, having two Infinity Stones so close together would be dangerous. As they leave, the Collector remarks, “One down, five to go.” In a post-credits scene, Jane and Thor reunite on Earth while somewhere in London a frost monster from Jotunheim, accidentally transported to Earth during the final battle, continues to run amok.
Thor: The Dark World
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Ray Stevenson, Kat Dennings, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård
Screenplay by: Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus
Production Design by: Charles Wood
Cinematography by: Kramer Morgenthau
Film Editing by: Dan Lebental, Wyatt Smith
Costume Design by: Wendy Partridge
Set Decoration by: John Bush
Music by: Brian Tyler
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some suggestive content.
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: November 8, 2013
Based on the celebrated comic book arc, this epic action-adventure takes Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world, he will face a host of unexpected and deadly opponents in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality.
The most iconic character in the X-Men universe embarks upon on an epic journey in modern-day Japan in The Wolverine. Inspired by the celebrated Marvel comic book arc, Logan (Hugh Jackman), the century-old mutant known to the world as Wolverine, is lured to a Japan he hasn’t seen since World War II – and into a shadowy realm of Yakuza and Samurai.
Suddenly finding himself on the run with a mysterious, beautiful heiress and confronted for the first time with the prospect of true mortality, Logan will be pushed to the physical and emotional edge – further than he’s ever been. On a perilous journey to rediscover the hero inside, Logan will be forced to grapple not only with powerful foes, mutant and human alike, but with the ghosts of his own haunted past, as well. As The Wolverine crosses his adamantium claws with Samurai swords, striking out through a maze of love, betrayal and honor, he will truly come to know the price of a life without end.
“This story takes The Wolverine into a world that is vastly different from any seen before in the X-Men series,” says Hugh Jackman, who also serves as a producer on the film. “It’s visually different and the tone is different. There are a lot of battles in this story, but the greatest battle of all is the one within Logan between being a monster and a becoming a human being.”
The Wolverine first emerged in 1974, when the character made his premiere appearance in the very last panel of an issue of The Incredible Hulk — one that foreshadowed his joining the band of mutant heroes known as The X-Men. He would soon be world-renowned for his adamantium claws, his powers of self-healing and his primal “berserker” rages – all of which would serve to forge The Wolverine into a superstar of the superhero realm.
In the 1980s, The Wolverine truly came into his own – in a four-issue miniseries created by “X-Men” writer Chris Claremont and the legendary graphic artist Frank Miller (“The Dark Knight,” “Sin City”). In the series, the character makes a solo journey to Japan, only to be lured into a maelstrom of crime, betrayal and honor, in the midst of which he is forced to confront both his terrifying strengths and his undiscovered vulnerability. Trying to maneuver in a world he can barely understand, The Wolverine, for the first time, finds his inner sense of justice.
Long a favorite of fans of Wolverine, the arc had also been an inspiration for Oscar®-nominated actor Hugh Jackman, who has embodied the character in six blockbuster X-Men movies (and is currently before the cameras in a seventh film). Jackman saw in this untold part of the character’s history a rare chance to dive even deeper beneath The Wolverine’s indestructibility, and to illuminate his darkest aspects in a new way.
That desire got a boost when Jackman teamed up with James Mangold, who had previously turned the story of Johnny Cash into a riveting account of love and rebellion in Walk the Line, and re-jiggered the classic Western 3:10 to Yuma into a contemporary cat-and-mouse game set around mythic themes of friendship, duty and destiny. He was the right choice to bring a new view to The Wolverine, and to take the character outside the usual conventions of the X-Men storylines.
“Jim Mangold knows how to make a movie that is fun, has incredible action, and yet also delivers all the finer elements of character and storytelling,” says Jackman. “He pushed me to go deeper, angrier, heavier, more berserk in every way and in every take.”
From the start, Mangold wanted to break the mold of the comic book-based film. Explains the director: “What interested me about The Wolverine was doing something quite different from the standard superhero movie, where it’s about stopping a villain’s diabolical plot. In this story, the action and suspense are built more on character, and are woven into a world that makes for a completely different kind of experience, one that you haven’t seen before.”
Though characters from Wolverine’s past are brought into the mix and there are allusions to what he has gone through in his previous adventures, the focus is on an alternate track from the X-Men movies.
“When you’re making a movie about a team of people like The X-Men, there’s only so much you can get inside their heads,” notes Mangold. “But this film is able to really get inside Logan, to explore who he is and the sources of his rage. He’s someone who has been used by the Defense Department, by the government, by enemies, by villains, even by loved ones. And over time his anger at that has grown, only to be multiplied by his natural, preexisting feral quality. Yet, within this story, he begins to he learn how this rage might be able to fuel and empower him.”
Ultimately, Mangold began to see the story more as an unflinching thriller about a man with a dark past searching for his future identity, than as something from a fantasy comic-book universe. “I think one the things that will most surprise people about this film is how real it is, how much you completely lose yourself in this world, in the action, the drama and the romance,” he comments.
Mangold was especially drawn to the uncertain junction where Logan finds himself at the beginning of this story: he’s been down many dark roads, feels he has lost or damaged nearly everything he loved, and is unsure if there is any path left to redemption. The one thing he has going for him is his immortality. But even that may be more of a curse than a blessing.
“One thing I find particularly interesting about Wolverine is his immortality, the fact that with his healing factor he can go on forever like a god, and because of that he also experiences the loneliness of a god. Even when Logan loses those he loves, he knows that he will keep going on,” Mangold observes. “He’s been going on for a century now, through wars and battles and deaths of his loved ones and he’s come to a point of great weariness. It’s a classic theme – the man who can live forever but suffers because of it. Logan is a damaged hero, and this story is very much about him looking to reclaim something he’s lost in himself.”
Mangold embraced the opportunity to take Logan directly into the heart of present-day Japan, which is as full of sleek, high-tech modernity as it is rife with deep traditions and hidden codes of honor. “This story takes Logan into a kind of fever dream of today’s Japan, full of Yakuza, Ninja, Samurai, Industrialist crime, mystery and mysticism,” the director explains.
The Japanese setting allowed Mangold and Jackman to re-imagine Logan in a fresh guise: as aRōnin. “In feudal Japan, the Samurai belonged to a master, and a Rōnin is a Samurai who no longer has a master to serve. So, he is a kind of a warrior without a purpose, without a cause,” Mangold explains. “Many of the people who made Logan feel part of a cause are now gone. So, he’s essentially a lost man, capable of doing anything, with no mandate. That’s an iconography that American Westerns and Samurai films share and now we’re bringing a comic book character into it.”
Juxtaposed with the beauty of Japan are intense action sequences, ranging from accelerating bullet trains to the towering menace of The Silver Samurai. But here, too, Mangold wanted to explore beyond the usual boundaries. “We were always thinking about pushing the envelope with the action and the visuals,” he says, “but doing so in a way that you never lose the sense that what is happening is very real.”
The entire production team was excited to be doing something unusual with a character that has become so beloved. Joining Jackman as producers on the film are Lauren Shuler Donner, who has been a vital part of X-men movie history from the very beginning, and Hutch Parker, who worked together with Donner to support Mangold’s vision.
“This really is the quintessential Wolverine story,” sums up Parker. “It takes him on a deep journey. It mines the essential conflicts within him. It challenges him, both physically and emotionally, in ways that we have never seen. It takes us into a Japan that is very real yet alien to us.”
Parker sees Mangold’s approach as a strong fit with the material. “Jim has built on what has come before in his own way,” he concludes. “He wanted to make this world viscerally real and was willing to not just show Wolverine’s rage but to answer the questions of why.”
Logan in Limbo
Though this marks the sixth time that Hugh Jackman has donned the persona of Logan – the most times a single actor has ever played a comic book hero — The Wolverine is like nothing that had come before. For one thing, as the film starts, Logan is unsure of what direction to turn as he heads to Japan.
“He’s someone who has always marched to beat of his own drum but at the beginning of our movie he’s probably more isolated than you’ve ever seen Wolverine,” explains Jackman. “He’s disaffected with the world, because he was created as a weapon and he’s rebelling against that – and he feels that he is a danger to society.”
Jackman goes on: “You will see Logan more vulnerable, more at risk, and more of a monster than you’ve ever seen him before. He’s struggling with identity, he’s struggling with his reason to exist, and now he faces the choice of whether to embrace his true nature or not.”
Jackman especially enjoyed taking Logan into Japan, which he notes “is like nowhere else on the planet,” a place that both haunts and changes Wolverine the more he engages with it.
“The atmosphere of Japan seeps through the movie,” Jackman observes. “For Logan it has the effect of wiping clean all his normal ways of interacting with people and reading situations. He has to start fresh. Japan is a fairly insular society with a very strong sense of its own culture and history, so Logan is really a stranger in this strange new world. He learns about the Samurai code, the training and the honor system. But he’s immediately distrustful of it, not dissimilar to when he first entered the world of X-Men. Yet, he watches and he adapts. He starts to gain respect for the idea of being a warrior, for the sense of service that they have. And he starts to become the better version of himself.”
From the start, Jackman was committed to taking Wolverine to new levels of physicality. The meant throwing himself into the most intensive and disciplined preparation regime he has undergone yet, combining rigorous diet, hardcore physical training, and intensive martial arts instruction.
“I’ve always loved playing this character but I have always had this thing of ‘I wish I had gone a little bit further physically with him,’” Jackman confesses. “This script gave me an opportunity to go further emotionally than I’ve been and I wanted to do the same physically. I started training and started a very strict diet far in advance since we had the preparation time. And I think the results have paid off because when I look at the screen, I see Wolverine there. I think it’s important for him to be lean, to see veins, to be vascular yet very strong obviously. I’ve always wanted people to look at the screen and go, whoa.”
Learning new fighting styles was also paramount to the performance. “I have always portrayed Wolverine as a street fighter and a pub brawler. His style is not pretty, he doesn’t want to hang around and jab at you, he just wants to take your head off in three seconds and move on. His fighting style is not studied in any way. But one of the great things about this story is that when he comes to Japan, he starts to really take that kind of discipline and training to heart.”
Jackman did the same, working closely with the leading stunt team 87Eleven to hone a variety of ninjitsu and other Japanese martial skills. “The team at 87Eleven were fantastic,” he says. “I was training every day and let me tell you, I thought the gym work was hard but training on the martial arts floor is ten times harder.”
Directed by: James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova
Screenplay by: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank, Christopher McQuarrie
Production Design by: François Audouy
Cinematography by: Ross Emery
Film Editing by: Michael McCusker
Costume Design by: Isis Mussenden
Set Decoration by: Rebecca Cohen
Music by: Marco Beltrami
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: July 26, 2013
From Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures comes “Man of Steel,” starring Henry Cavill in the role of Clark Kent / Kal-El under the direction of Zack Snyder.
A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
The film also stars four-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams (“The Master”), Oscar® nominee Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road”), Academy Award® winner Kevin Costner (“Dances with Wolves”), Oscar nominee Diane Lane (“Unfaithful”), Oscar® nominee Laurence Fishburne (“What’s Love Got to Do with It”), Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, and Academy Award winner Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”).
The Evolution of a Modern Super Hero
You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They’ll race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.
Born Kal-El of Krypton, raised Clark Kent on Earth. What world does he belong to? What world does he fight for? Those are the questions confronting Superman, and the choices he makes will determine the fate of the planet he has always called home.
“In the world of Super Heroes, Superman is the completely uncompromising figure who exists to represent the best that all of us can be,” director Zack Snyder states. “He is the ideal; he’s what we strive for, that magical, golden god, the kind of icon that has extended beyond the comics world and into all of popular culture.”
Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster and first appearing in the comic book Action Comics #1, published on April 18, 1938, Superman quickly became a cultural phenomenon, winning fans around the world in live-action and animated form in nearly every known entertainment medium. In feature films, TV shows, radio, video games, social media and literature, he has battled some of the greatest villains of all time.
Given the character’s iconic status, Henry Cavill, who soars through the skies in Snyder’s action adventure, was both excited and humbled to play the titular character in “Man of Steel.” “Superman is one of the truly special figures man has created throughout history,” he relates. “He stands for hope, for the ability to conquer adversity against all odds. That’s something we can always hold onto, no matter where we are in life or what’s going on in the world. We will always face hardships in one way or another, and therefore hope will always play a significant part in our lives. To take on that mantle of hope as Superman was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Though known for his ability to bring high energy action to his films, and create fantastical worlds on screen, Snyder was initially hesitant to take on the responsibility of bringing one of the first comic book Super Heroes back to the silver screen. “I was pretty into comics when I was growing up, and Superman was a favorite of mine, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it,” he acknowledges. “I wasn’t sure where I could take the character that he hadn’t gone before.”
Then he read the screenplay David S. Goyer had written, based on a story Goyer devised with one of the film’s producers, Christopher Nolan. “Without breaking the canon, without taking away the things that make him Superman, they were able to make him totally relatable,” Snyder says. “They took me on a journey that was interesting to me, and that was the reason to do it.”
Nolan offers, “Audiences will be very familiar with ‘Man of Steel’s’ portrayal of Superman as the ultimate superhero, but where he was an impenetrable, god-like figure in previous iterations of his story, we show him as a rather more relatable figure who deals with very human issues of love, divided loyalties and family, even as he is anything but human himself.”
The story also captured the imagination of producer Charles Roven. “I really liked the script from the very beginning, because I found that it had enough of what I grew up with, but was still completely fresh, a different take on a very revered subject. He’s a very aspirational character; I think that every kid grows up thinking that, one day, I could be like Superman. What I loved about this story is that he’s still a character you want to be like, but he’s a lot more complex than we’ve ever seen him before. It’s a much more emotional road that he travels.”
To take the character down that road throughout the production process, Snyder instinctually knew it would be a departure for him as a filmmaker, despite having worked in the genre before.
“We were thrilled when Zack agreed to take on ‘Man of Steel,’” producer Emma Thomas states. “He had amply demonstrated an extraordinary grasp of the technical complexities and heightened storytelling demanded by this genre with his previous work, and those qualities, combined with his love for the character, made him the perfect man for the job of bringing this contemporary take on Superman to the big screen.”
Producer Deborah Snyder recalls, “One of the first things Zack said to me was, ‘This is going to be the most realistic film I’ve ever done. How ironic is that?’ But that was our goal: to make Superman relevant for today’s audiences, to make him fit into our world.”
In capturing that realism, the director chose to shoot on film and in 2D instead of native 3D, to be converted into 3D in post. Snyder continues, “Zack felt that an intimate filmmaking style, including handheld cameras, would help us connect with Clark who, when we first meet him, is kind of lost, trying to find his place but feeling very out of place, which is something we’ve all felt at some point in our lives.”
In scripting the story he and Nolan wrote, screenwriter David Goyer determined that “the film is very much about choices. It’s about a man with two fathers: Jor-El, Kal’s Kryptonian father, and Jonathan Kent, Clark’s dad on Earth. Clark/Kal has grown up with two sets of histories, though only one was known to him until now. And now he needs to reconcile those teachings if he is to become the man that, arguably, both fathers would want him to be, in their own ways.”
These two very influential role models in his life are portrayed by two highly regarded actors: Kevin Costner stars as Jonathan Kent, and Russell Crowe as Jor-El. Diane Lane also stars, as Jonathan’s wife and Clark’s mother, Martha Kent, who serves as a steady, calming presence throughout her son’s life. And, just as Clark is beginning to discover the secrets of his birth and decide which course he must follow, he meets a woman who could have a good deal of influence over the choices he makes, and who has the power to turn his world upside down: investigative journalist Lois Lane.
Amy Adams stars as the comic book world’s most famous newspaper reporter. “Part of Clark’s journey is finding acceptance,” Adams notes. “He’s running from it, hiding from it, because he hasn’t come to terms with who he is, and that makes for a lonely existence. He’s had to work hard not to expose his abilities, but he’s made some mistakes there, and that has made him extremely intriguing to someone like Lois, whose job, whose very nature, is about uncovering—and exposing—the truth.”
In today’s über-technological world, very little information is withheld from public notice and what is, is often uncovered and exposed, whether at the hands of the media, by self-appointed wiki watchdogs, or via viral video. Thus, it’s difficult to imagine that an alien from another planet could live among us, undetected, for any length of time. And, of course, once discovered, that individual would likely never find peace again.
“We knew that to tell Superman’s story in a modern context meant addressing the trappings of ourmodern times,” Snyder remarks. “And the character inherently comes with a lot of expectations as well, having been around and idolized for 75 years. So, it was important that we vetted the ramifications of every decision we made in updating him and his environment, from Smallville to the Sshield.” Cavill relates, “Everything grows and evolves at some stage, and I think this contemporized version is another stage of that evolution. If you read the DC comic books, like the New 52 from a couple years back, they’ve been doing it as well—in a different way than Zack and Chris and David have, perhaps—but the new Superman’s suit is entirely different, and his attitude has changed a bit, while his core characteristics are still there. It’s growth for a modern reader, and our film does that for a modern audience.”
Even as the filmmakers explored the genesis of the legendary character, Snyder offers, “We knew the action had to be bigger than big, with heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat thrills. We never lost sight of the fact that we were making a Superman movie.”
Superman: Man of Steel
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Ayelet Zurer, Laurence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni
Screenplay by: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan
Production Design by: Alex McDowell
Cinematography by: Amir Mokri
Film Editing by: David Brenner
Costume Design by: James Acheson, Michael Wilkinson
Set Decoration by: Anne Kuljian
Art Direction by: Chris Farmer, Kim Sinclair
Music by: Hans Zimmer
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: June 14, 2013
Taglines: Even heroes fall.
Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle.
With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
“The exciting thing about ‘Iron Man 3,’ is that it’s not only the culmination of the first two films, but it’s also a follow up to ‘Marvel’s The Avengers,’” says producer Kevin Feige. “It’s one of the first situations where you have a movie that is the sequel to two different films and in a way that liberates it to be more unique than anything that has come before it, which is what we’re most excited about.”
In the Marvel cinematic universe, all events that happen within each film have a direct influence and consequence in future films and franchises. For Tony Stark the events and encounters he faced in “Marvel’s The Avengers” may be behind him, but he is still working hard to balance the demands of his own personal life.
For the storyline of Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” the filmmakers decided on a “back-to-basics” tone where they could explore what Tony Stark would do if all of his money and toys were stripped away from him and he was forced to find a way back to being a Super Hero.
“Early on in the development, we talked about this notion of taking Tony Stark back to basics because we wanted to see him just use his brain,” explains executive producer Louis D’ Esposito. “You want to see what he can do when the odds are against him and it makes you wonder, ‘How is he going to get out of this one?’”
Executive producer Stephen Broussard explains the filmmakers’ decision to blend two different storylines together for the film. “There are two classic stories that have appeared in the ‘Iron Man’ comics–one is older and the other is more modern,” explains Broussard. “The older is the character called The Mandarin, and he is one of the most famous villains in the franchise. The character dates back to the 1960s and we wanted Shane [Black] and Drew [Pearce] to take that idea and contemporize it for present-day audiences.”
Broussard adds, “We also wanted to combine that with another storyline in the comic called Extremis, which came out not too long before the first ‘Iron Man’ film in 2008. It deals with the biological enhancement of humans and Tony must face super-powered humans in that. So we just thought, wouldn’t that be interesting if we tried to combine these two stories into one for ‘Iron Man 3′?”
An early believer in the Extremis story line, Downey Jr. says, “I remember when we were getting ready to shoot ‘Iron Man,’ I started reading ‘Iron Man’ comics and there was this one called ‘Extremis,’ and I thought it was really interesting and cool.”
“The thing about the Extremis storyline that always interested me in the comic books was that you had a sense that Tony Stark puts on an iron suit and hides inside it in a way,” says director Shane Black. “The character wouldn’t call it that, but that’s kind of the case. With the Extremis people, you always got a sense that they’re burning up from the inside. So one of them could actually say to Tony for instance, ‘you drive a car, I am the car.’”
There is plenty of angst from “Marvel’s The Avengers” to fuel Tony Stark’s arc too. Before “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Tony Stark thought he was the only Super Hero in the world, and in “Iron Man 3″ he must deal with the revelation that he is not the only one out there. As Kevin Feige explains, “In ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ he faces a world-changing event that not only includes seeing the powers of other Super Heroes, but also having a portal to another world opened above his head.”
For Robert Downey Jr. the journey of Tony Stark in the “Iron Man” franchise is one that is very relatable to audiences. “The great thing about ‘Iron Man 3′ is that we really are going back to kind of an extension and continuation of some of the things that made the franchise fly to begin with,” says Downey. “With the execution and incredible success of ‘Marvel’s The Avengers,’ we’re afforded the opportunity to not have to set up another film and can really explore the character of Tony Stark in ways that are very organic and connectable and play to the strength of the franchise.”
Director on Board
While Downey and Marvel were both on board for the third installment of the franchise, one of the big questions that needed to be answered was who was going to take over the directorial reigns from Jon Favreau, the director who put the “Iron Man” franchise on the map and delivered two worldwide blockbuster hits.
“All of our films are defined by the filmmakers we collaborate with to bring these stories to the big screen,” says producer Feige. “What Jon Favreau was able to do on the first two films was groundbreaking and astounding. So, when we realized we needed to bring in a new director, it was a daunting task. We needed somebody who had the experience, taste and ability to make a big action movie, but was grounded at the same time.”
The filmmakers turned to Shane Black, who serendipitously directed Robert Downey Jr. in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” the film that was a big factor in propelling the actor into the running for the role of Tony Stark in “Iron Man.”
For Downey, hiring Black to write and direct the film brought the franchise full circle and was a little bit of karmic payback for the director’s behind-the-scenes help on “Iron Man.” “During the preproduction of ‘Iron Man,’ Jon Favreau and I used to call Shane and ask him for advice about scenes and he would give us these metaphors and sometimes direct comments, but it was always great advice and he would never take a penny for it –although he did once asked for a piece of well-done salmon and some blueberries,” laughs Robert Downey Jr. “Shane has been so instrumental in shaping the buddy comedy/action genre and I was delighted when Marvel brought his name up and obviously very much in favor of him directing ‘Iron Man 3.’”
For director Shane Black, a lifelong “Iron Man” fan and self-proclaimed fan boy, reteaming with Robert Downey Jr. was one opportunity that he couldn’t pass up. “Having the opportunity to direct and write ‘Iron Man 3,’ was just the greatest opportunity, and Robert always seems to elevate the material–that’s what’s great about him,” says Black.
“We wanted ‘Iron Man 3′ to have a fresh tone and Shane Black has an incredibly unique style to his writing,” concludes producer Louis D’ Esposito. “He does action very well, but he also does twisted black comedy with heart and emotion very well too. What’s amazing about Shane is he finds ways to do all that in one scene. It’s always been his trademark that his scripts are kind of quirky and off-kilter, but with big emotion and a lot of heart.”
The “Iron Man 3″ Experience
Reflecting on the journey of making Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” Gwyneth Paltrow says, “I think this movie ends in a really unexpected way and there’s so much heart to it. It’s about discovering yourself and what’s really important. And, of course, it’s done with all the fireworks and action and excitement, but there’s real heart underneath it.”
“The most gratifying part of the journey thus far at Marvel Studios is seeing the way worldwide global movie audiences respond to these films,” says Kevin Feige. “I think people like the notion of going to see a film that fits into a broader mythological framework and ‘Iron Man 3′ continues that tradition. I think audiences will be satisfied when they see what Tony Stark has been up to.”
Sums up Robert Downey Jr., “In a way, this is the holiday season for us all as far as the ‘Iron Man’ of it all. If it never gets any better than this, I think we’ll be satisfied because this might be our best effort yet.”
Iron Man 3
Directed by: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley
Screenplay by: Drew Pearce, Shane Black, Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Production Design by: Bill Brzeski
Cinematography by: John Toll
Film Editing by: Peter S. Elliot, Jeffrey Ford
Costume Design by: Louise Frogley
Set Decoration by: Danielle Berman
Music by: Brian Tyler
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content.
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: May 3, 2013
The G.I. Joes are not only fighting their mortal enemy Cobra; they are forced to contend with threats from within the government that jeopardize their very existence. Framed for crimes against the country, the G.I. Joe team is terminated by the President’s order, and the surviving team members face off against Zartan, his accomplices, and the world leaders he has under his influence.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation is an American military science fiction action film directed by Jon M. Chu, based on Hasbro’s G.I. Joe toy, comic and media franchises. It was written by Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and serves as both a sequel to 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and as a soft reboot of the franchise. G.I. Joe: Retaliation features an ensemble cast, with Channing Tatum, Arnold Vosloo, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce and Byung-hun Lee reprising their roles from the first film. Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, D. J. Cotrona, and Bruce Willis as General Joseph Colton round out the principal cast.
About the Film
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who has had a hand in some of the most successful film franchises to date, including the billion dollar franchise TRANSFORMERS, felt that the first film’s conclusion left the door open to explore more within the G.I. JOE world.
“I thought that ending the first film with the suggestion that there was an imposter in the oval office was something that was completely unique and would be an interesting thing to examine… It was important to find a director who would really own it completely and be able to take all the multi-layered characters and treat them with gravity,” says di Bonaventura.
When considering directors to helm the sequel, Adam Goodman, President of Paramount’s Film Group, surprised di Bonaventura by suggesting director on-the-rise Jon M. Chu, who had just come off of the hugely-successful Justin Bieber movie NEVER SAY NEVER. “Jon and I had a funny first meeting because his experiences are pretty far away from mine and vice versa, but I discovered that he grew up with the G.I. JOE vs. COBRA mythology and understood the internal aesthetics of what G.I. JOE is and that is something that’s invaluable,” recalls di Bonaventura. “After talking, we found out that we were both trying to make the same movie and it’s been a great partnership.”
In Chu, producers saw a fresh set of eyes with genuine enthusiasm and love for the brand. “He has a shorthand with these characters and he brings a great sense of experimentation to his films,” says executive producer Erik Howsam.
Recalls Chu, “I grew up with G.I. JOE and was familiar back before the cartoon and comic books, and felt that that we could tie in the brand to various generations. My version would be what any fan boy would want to see.”
The G.I. JOE mythology runs deep and has a pantheon of characters to draw from, each with their own back-story, nuances and characteristics. When approaching the sequel, the filmmakers wanted to build on the best elements and storylines from the first film and carry those through to the second installment while simultaneously creating a new identity and feel. This offered the opportunity to introduce new characters from the mythology to the franchise.
Stunts and Fights
Summer tent pole movies are known for action sequences that defy reality and thrill audiences, and the filmmakers set out to make G.I. JOE: RETALIATION a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Director Jon M. Chu had the benefit of working with a double-punch combination of stunt coordinator Steve Ritzi and fight coordinator Thomas Dupont, who created and choreographed elaborate sequences sure to wow action fans. “The most creative ideas happened in the collaboration between the stuntmen, actors, director, producers and the writers to create a couple of the sequences that are utterly unique in this movie,” explains di Bonaventura. “What audiences are going to find is that when they get into the action it will be intense as hell and something they’ve never seen before.”
Stunt coordinator Steve Ritzi loved the opportunity to create sequences for both the military and ninja storylines and all that each aesthetic had to offer. “It was challenging having two different elements that are so different,” recalls Ritzi. “The G.I. JOE style was much more straight-forward and then we had the ninjas with very specific choreography and other fun unexpected elements like slinging and flying them through the mountains. The combination was really fun.”
In the first act, audiences are introduced to the G.I. JOE team and their level of physical intensity illustrated by two grandiose action sequences that set the bar for the level of action the audience can anticipate. On a mission to neutralize Pakistan’s’ nuclear arsenal, the teams perform a dangerous and high-risk extraction with great precision and skill. The sequence is an action smorgasbord that involves high-height rappelling, hand-to-hand combat, parkour, gunplay and a great deal of weaponry and ammunition. The sequence showcases each of the G.I. JOE team members’ special skill set and their undeniable proficiency and domination as a team.
Shot in NASA’s VAB, short for the Vertical Assembly Building, the production team utilized the 220 foot tall ceilings and never-before-seen rocket boosters to push the limits of the action coverage. “The production value is amazing and we had Roadblock and two other JOE’S repel down the face of this 200-foot rocket into battle,” explains stunt coordinator Steve Ritzi. “There are G.I. JOE’S literally raining from the sky firing at insurgents the whole way down. We had people shooting, falling and fighting at every level and each character has their own moment within the fight. It was pretty elaborate.”
“The scene in the nuclear weapons depot illustrated the units’ cohesiveness and efficiency and showcases their talents as soldiers,” explains Dwayne Johnson.
While celebrating the successful completion of the complicated and dangerous mission with no G.I. JOE lives lost, the team is ambushed and blindsided by a powerful force that essentially wipes out the majority of the unit. The stunts and special effects team orchestrated a powerful and explosive portrayal of a military force under siege. The sequence involved Humvee’s blown 30 feet into the air, numerous rocket-charges staged all over the set and vehicles on fire all within a carefully choreographed sequence that implicated the extensive unit of core G.I. JOE’s, additional Navy Seals, over 30 stuntmen and roughly 40 extras. Doing the stunts practically with little plans for CGI enhancement meant real explosions and the amount of charges and ammunition on the set left little to no error for margin. “Most of the hits and explosions are all very real. We’re not enhancing a lot,” explains Ritzi. “We’re doing charges right next to our actors and stuntmen and wanted to experience them taking the hits and showing the action in a very realistic manner.”
Although the sequence was incredibly complicated, the filmmakers worked as a team to map out the action to create a seamless portrayal of the unfolding devastation. “The special effects guys were amazing and had it designed to where we had these large special effect pods built into the set and Jon M. Chu, Steve Windon, our 1st AD Phil Patterson and I designed the layout where the actors should move to and from with our stunt team filling in the holes,” recounts Ritzi. “It’s a very elaborate sequence that could have gone either way, but everyone really came together and it worked out really well.”
The centerpiece action sequence that is sure to be a much talked about crowd pleaser is a sequence that involves a high-altitude zipline chase and Ninja fight on the mountaintops of the Himalayas. After discovering that Storm Shadow was healing and seeking refuge with the red Ninjas in a Nepalese monastery, Snake Eyes and Jinx set out to retrieve him and bring him back to the Blind Master for judgment. After an epic fight between the two adversaries that leads to having Storm Shadow’s unconscious body in tow, the duo are forced to take the only route of escape. The most dangerous sequence follows them down the majestic snow-covered mountainside on a zip line while being chased by hordes of red ninjas.
“When we first read that sequence we had to ask ourselves if we could actually pull it off,” recalls di Bonaventura. “It took its shape along the way and, with a little bit of luck, an incredible stunt team to do some seriously crazy things on ropes and a few key visual effects, it will have an excitement level and scale I don’t think audiences have seen before.”
The sequence entailed several months of rigging, huge high-speed winches that were flown up to the mountaintops and anchored down into big tents and thousands and thousands of feet of line that strung between peaks. Expert mountain climbing expert Paul Borne was brought in and with the help of key rigger Dave Lane, Ritzi and the team pulled off the extraordinary sequence. “It’s very elaborate and I think when people see it they’ll assume it was done completely with CGI, when we actually did the majority of it,” says Ritzi. “We had huge 100-foot repels down the sides of mountains, a lot of shuttling back and forth with helicopters and Snowcats carrying equipment back and forth. It was extraordinary.”
G.I. Joe Retaliation 3D
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Stevenson, Elodie Yung, Luke Bracey
Screenplay by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Production Design by: Andrew Menzies
Cinematography by: Stephen F. Windon
Film Editing by: Roger Barton, Jim May
Costume Design by: Louise Mingenbach
Set Decoration by: Cynthia La Jeunesse
Music by: Henry Jackman
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality and language.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: March 29, 2013