MovieBob - Intermission
The Spoiler That Changed the World

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 7 May 2010 16:00
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As anyone who's seen it can deduce, the above creative-writing exercise handily describes the teaser scene that comes after the ending credits of Iron Man 2. Except that we're in the desert and instead of Tom Hagen our familiar face is that of Agent Coulson, an operative of S.H.I.E.L.D. - the covert government group that's been hounding Iron Man to join its mysterious "Avenger Initiative." And instead of a lightsaber the crater contains an ancient, medieval-looking hammer.

That hammer, as any superhero devotee or student of Norse mythology can tell you, is Mjolnir - the enchanted weapon of The Mighty Thor. As in "The Norse God of Thunder." That Thor.

Of course, anyone who'd know the Marvel Universe model of Mjolnir on sight already knew that A.) Thor is the next Marvel Films movie after Iron Man 2, and B.) That the Marvel Films movies exist in a shared universe building toward a character-uniting Avengers feature. So to them, the hammer is a welcome but not entirely unexpected treat. To those for whom the hammer holds no immediate significance, it probably didn't mean much of anything ... and probably won't unless they also go see Thor next year. Thus, in both cases the real impact won't be felt until later - if at all.

But right now, I'm looking at that hammer and realizing that the whole world just changed.

Think about it. At the beginning of Iron Man 2, there's a lot we know about what the rules of "reality" are in this series. Mainly, we know that it takes place in something fairly close to the real world as we'd recognize it - just with significantly more-advanced technology in the fields of mechanical-prosthetics (read: weaponized armor) and, at least according to Tony Stark's presence in The Incredible Hulk, bio-engineering.

In other words, the world of Iron Man - and, by extension, the world of the Marvel Movieverse - is a world of contemporary science-fiction; it remains as such right up until that last tag after the credits ... when the Hammer of the Gods seemingly falls from heaven to obliterate everything we thought we knew.

A quick primer for the non-comic-literate - and, let's face it, Thor was never exactly Superman-popular: In the shared world of Marvel, the Norse Gods (and most of the other ancient pre-Christian pantheons of deities at one point or another) were both real and still around. Asgard (look it up) still hovers at the fringe of the universe (or, occasionally, over major American cities) and the various good and evil Gods (and trolls, and giants, and ... you get the idea) are still sneaking about the modern world causing mischief and engaging in acts of heroism. That's the scenario - apparently with heavy emphasis on the mythic fantasy - currently being brought to life in director Kenneth Brannagh's Thor movie... and that's what seems to have crash-landed in Iron Man's back yard.

Semi-realistic contemporary-scifi? Not anymore. A big-ass crater and an oddly-anachronistic Viking Hammer say otherwise. In fact, they say that Iron Man (and The Hulk, let's not leave him out) are living in a world that also includes the mystical presence of the Viking Gods of Olde. The entire genre ... the entire context of three films has been completely rewritten by a single shot.

What other strange and otherworldly things are creeping at the edges of Iron Man's world that we've not seen yet? The Iron Man of the comics has been to outer-space, encountered extra-terrestrials, done battle with dinosaurs and dragons. He's traveled back in time to become a knight of Camelot. His arch-nemesis is an immortal Chinese sorcerer wielding weaponry stolen from aliens. At the beginning of Iron Man 2, all of those things seemed entirely out-of-reach, far too odd to plausibly appear onscreen.

But not anymore. Now, damn near anything looks possible. The Hammer said so.

And who am I to argue with the God of Thunder?

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

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