Marvel character highlight #16: War Machine

Name: James Rupert “Rhodey” RhodesWar Machine

Affiliation: United States Marine Corps, Stark Enterprises, Avengers, West Coast Avengers, Iron Legion, Secret Defenders, Sentinel Squad O*N*E, The Initiative, Team War Machine, Secret Avengers, United States Department of Defense

Special abilities: Rhodes wears an advanced suit capable of becoming the ultimate weapon. Much like Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor, Rhodes’ suit grants flight, advanced warfare weaponry and protection against varying levels of attack. Rhodes is a capable and skilled Marine and aircraft pilot.

Background: James Rhodes was a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, participating in battles in Southeast Asia. His plane was shot down over a jungle by the Viet Cong, and he meets Tony Stark for the first time.The duo escapes after making it back to an American installation. Stark offers Rhodes a job as his personal pilot, something that Rhodes accepts after the Vietnam War. Rhodes dons the alternate suit of War Machine for the first time to defeat the villain known as Magma as a way to save Stark, who was defeated during his relapse into alcoholism. Rhodes has since used the War Machine armor and battled under the Iron Man banner in various capacities since, despite retiring several times.

Relationships: Tony Stark (Iron Man), best friend and employer; Roberta Rhodes, mother; Joshua Rhodes, uncle; Jeanette Rhodes, sister (deceased)

First Versus game appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom

Appearances in other media: Iron Man (animated TV show), X-Men the Animated Series (animated), Spider-Man (animated TV show, 1994), The Incredible Hulk (animated TV show), Iron Man: Animated Adventures, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Avengers Assemble, Ultimate Avengers 2, The Invincible Iron Man, Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore, Iron Man (2008 film), Iron Man 2 (2010 film), Iron Man 3 (2013 film), Marvel vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Iron Man (2008 video game), Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Iron Man 2 (2010 video game), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

Property review: The Avengers (2012)

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Avengers assemble into a satisfying package

When GI first heard there was going to be an Avengers film made, we scoffed. “Seriously, who didn’t see that coming? And who’s going to be in it?” is literally what we proffered when we were told the news. We were initially skeptical in that we’d seen the offerings from the Marvel camp with regard to Spider-Man 3 and we weren’t buying. No way, no how. But slowly, things changed. The surrounding films were introduced and received warm reviews. The devil was in the details, as they say, and it seems the casting made the movies. Well, as luck would have it, The Avengers turned out pretty nicely. So nice, in fact, that we regret our early pronouncement and embraced the film with open arms. We even paid good money to see it twice.

Our love affair with the good folks at Marvel starts within the first five minutes as Samuel L. Jackson practically chews scenery with every move and line of dialogue. It doesn’t hurt that we are huge fans of Jackson, and thought he was the only choice for Ultimate Nick Fury. Throw in the subtlety that is Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and the glorious deviousness that is Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and we would have been satisfied with everything that had transpired in that first few minutes.

But then, just as we thought we couldn’t be more amazed than Captain America stepping onto the deck of the S.H.E.I.L.D. Hellicarrier, in stepped the rest of the cast: Scarlett Johansson literally steaming up with the screen; Mark Ruffalo showing the tortured and vulnerable side of the Hulk and Bruce Banner; Chris Evans’ duty to his men, country and self as Captain America; Chris Hemsworth’s pained fight as Thor to redeem or stop Loki at any costs; and finally Robert Downey Jr.’s scene-stealing billionaire philanthropist playboy act as Iron Man. The parts, in this case, were strong on their own, but when combined hit every note and played every beat to perfection.

Of particular note were Ruffalo and Downey. It would take an entire review to point out the subtleties and nuance of Ruffalo’s portrayal of the Hulk, who had the character down to a fine science. Watching the two interact was like watching good poetry on screen. Though Downey has now had two movies to showcase his great timing and wit, it was on display here in all its glory and it was clear that he was the star from the beginning. We especially liked how both characters were dialed up when necessary but dialed down enough to share the space with everyone else. That’s a challenge for writers and directors, and Joss Whedon — who deserves just as much praise as the cast — made it work brilliantly.

Also that which deserves mention is the special effects. The Hulk looked believable, and it was accepted that Hawkeye lived up to his name. All of the characters looked and acted in character with their surroundings. Someone at Marvel must have taken notes from the Spider-Man 3 debacle, because the effects were outstanding.

If you’re among the three people on Earth that hasn’t seen The Avengers, it’s time to rectify the situation. Great casting, believable plot threads and superlative attention to detail and character history? You get that and more with The Avengers. Assemble some time to see one of the best comic book movies ever made.

Plot: 10

Like the comics?: 10

Casting: 10

Total: 30 out of 30 or 10

HOW WE GRADE

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

Top 5 on The Strip: Quotes from the Avengers

1. Tony Stark: You should come by Stark Tower sometime. Top 10 floors all R&D, you’d love it … it’s candyland.

Bruce Banner: Thanks, but the last time I was in New York I kind of broke … Harlem.

 

2. Tony Stark: That man is playing Galaga! Thought we wouldn’t notice. But we did.

*later in scene, a quick cut to an employee playing Galaga is shown.*

 

3. [Captain America puts on a parachute to go follow after Thor, Loki and Iron Man]

Natasha Romanoff: I’d sit this one out, Cap.

Steve Rogers: I don’t see how I can.

Natasha Romanoff: These guys come from legend, Captain. They’re basically gods.

Steve Rogers: There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.

[Captain America leaps out of the Quinjet]

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Tony Stark: [toThor] No hard feelings, Point Break; you’ve got a mean swing.

5. Steve Rogers: Doctor Banner, I think now might be a good time for you to get angry.

Bruce Banner: That’s my secret, Cap: I’m always angry.

[Banner hulks out and punches the Leviathan]

Marvel character highlight #11: The Incredible Hulk

Name: Dr. Robert Bruce Banner

Affiliation: Incredible Hulks, the Avengers, Worthy, Warbound, Defenders, New Hulkbusters, Pantheon, Titans Three, The Order, Hulkbusters of Counter-Earth, New Fantastic Four, Secret Defenders, Horsemen of Apocalypse

Special abilities: Radically altered molecular structure through gamma radiation exposure allows for Banner to transform into a hulking beast of virtually infinite strength when stressed, angered or massive amounts of adrenalin are released in his body. Originally, the transformations were limited to nightfall, and he returned to normal at dawn. Also, his intelligence and memories as Bruce Banner, of meta-genius-level intellect, were reduced or gone completely until Banner learned to control it. The Hulk is immune to all Earth-based diseases, has a regenerative healing factor far beyond Wolverine’s greatest level, omega-level mutant durability, stamina, speed and self-sustenance.

Background: Dr. Robert Bruce Banner was raised by his aunt after his severely abusive father, Dr. Brian Banner, killed his mother and was institutionalized. Because Brian Banner had been exposed to gamma radiation during work as a nuclear physicist, Bruce Banner was born mutated. The mutation did not show up until Bruce was caught in a gamma radiation bomb while attempting to save Rick Jones. Banner then began changing into the Hulk. In the beginning, Banner attempted to control his transformations using a Gamma Ray Force Projector; however, this didn’t sit well with the Hulk side of him, and he eventually had to explore other avenues to control the Hulk. Banner, as the Hulk, began working with The Avengers though in-fighting and mistrust led the Hulk to quit the group.

When not on the run from worldwide military forces, the Hulk has since worked with the X-Men and other individual superheroes, though he prefers to remain neutral in most fights.

Relationships: Dr. Brian Banner, father; Rebecca Banner, mother (deceased); Susan Drake-Banner, paternal aunt (possibly deceased); Elaine Banner-Walters, paternal aunt (deceased); Morris Walters, uncle; Thaddeus Ross (Red Hulk), father-in-law; Karen Lee, mother-in-law (deceased); Betty Ross (Red She-Hulk), first wife (estranged); Jarella, second wife (deceased); Caiera, third wife (deceased); Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk), cousin; Carmilla Black (Scorpion), possible daughter; Skaar, son; Hiro-Kala, son; Lyra (She-Hulk), daughter from alternate reality; Behemoth, clone

First Versus game appearance: Marvel Super Heroes

Appearances in other media: The Marvel Super Heroes (animated); The Incredible Hulk (television); The Incredible Hulk (animated); Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (animated); Fantastic Four (animated); Iron Man (animated); The Incredible Hulk and She-Hulk (animated); Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes (animated); Wolverine and the X-Men (animated); Iron Man Armored: Adventures (animated); The Super Hero Squad Show (animated); The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (animated); Ultimate Spider-Man (animated); Hulk (film); The Incredible Hulk (film); The Avengers (film), Ultimate Avengers (animated film); Ultimate Avengers 2 (animated film); The Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (animated film); Hulk Vs. (animated film); Planet Hulk (animated film); Questprobe featuring The Hulk (video game); The Incredible Hulk (video game); The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga (video game); Hulk (video game); and The Incredible Hulk (video game, Game Boy Advance); The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (video game, multiplatform); Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems (video game, SNES); Marvel Super Heroes (video game, PSOne, Arcade); Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter (video game, multiplatform); Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (video game, multiplatform); Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (video game, multiplatform); Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (video game, multiplatform); Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (video game, multiplatform); Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (video game, multiplatform); Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (video game, multiplatform); Marvel Super Hero Squad (video game, multiplatform); Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet (video game, multiplatform); Marvel Super Hero Squad Online (video game, PC); Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat (video game, multiplatform)

Marvel character highlight #10: Dr. Strange

NAME: Stephen Vincent Strange

AFFILIATION: Avengers, Squadron Supreme, Defenders

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Overall, the most Supreme mastery of magic and mystical energies than anyone else on Earth. Astral projection, telepathic communication and possession of mystical objects that enable flight as well as invisibility.

BACKGROUND: Stephen Strange was a master surgeon who was brilliant yet arrogant. Strange injured his hands, depriving him of his livelihood. Using all of his money and resources, Strange went broke and became an alcoholic. Seeking a cure to restore the use of his hands, Strange journeyed to Tibet and met with the Ancient One. Strange stayed for years, training alongside Baron Mordo in a competition to succeed the Ancient One as sorcerer supreme of Earth. When Mordo revealed himself as a traitor, Strange took the position as apprentice. After the Ancient One died, Strange took on the full title and position.

RELATIONSHIPS: Ancient One, mentor; Clea, lover

FIRST VERSUS GAME APPEARANCE: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

APPEARANCES IN OTHER MEDIA: Marvel Ultimate Alliance (multiplatform), The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin (Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear), Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems (SNES), Marvel Super Hero Squad Online (PC), X-Men the Animated Series (television), Spider-Man the Animated Series (television), Dr. Strange (film), Dr. Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme (animated film)

Property review: Dr. Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme

Photo courtesy of the Marvel wikia

Dr. Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme

Lionsgate, 2007

Dr. Strange DVD conjures fine story

Dr. Strange is strange, indeed. He’s got the potential to be a top-tier character, yet he’s not out there for Marvel that much. However, he has received the animated movie treatment like most of the peripheral Avengers so he has some prominence. And his film isn’t that bad.

Dr. Strange takes some time getting into. Starting off slow, the film handles Strange’s backstory with care, mixing in different parts from the mainstream and Ultimates incarnations. We see how Strange is at the top of his game, loses everything and hits rock bottom and finally becomes Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. In his journey, Strange learns to care about others and that money and position in life aren’t everything. Even though Strange has one of the most cliché tales, especially involving a friend-turned-foe, the story isn’t bad and it’s paced pretty well. The addition of the backstory involving his sister’s death is slightly weird, since it’s not in the actual comics. While it gives Strange some emotional depth and makes him more relatable than his comic counterpart, it’s not actually necessary.

What really makes the film worth watching is its voice acting cast. The voices chosen are perfect. With Kevin Michael Richardson among them, the cast is pitch perfect and almost could have been considered for the same roles in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (ed’s note: Richardson does make an appearance in MvC3, not as Baron Mordo but as Galactus). Bryce Johnson, as the voice of Strange, is also excellent. There are a few more well-known names such as Phil LaMarr, Marvel stalwart Fred Tatasciore and Tara Strong that round out the strong cast.

Also standout is the quality of the animation. The characters animate beautifully and the lines and style are clean. It’s in the same vein as The Avengers movies, but look better than Hulk Versus.

Dr. Strange is an interesting character, and his animated feature provides a decent-if-not-cliché look at his memorable background and struggle to become something greater than himself. Give it a go if Strange’s tale of might and magic will intrigue you.

HOW WE GRADE

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

Like the comics?: 6

Casting: 9.5

Plot: 8

Overall: 23.5/30 or 7.8