Saturday, May 17, 2014

Recap: Avengers EMH "Iron Man is Born"

This episode originally aired online as four Micro-Episodes. "Iron Man is Born!", "HYDRA Lives", "Behold, the Mandroids!", and "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D."

The events take place before the 2-part premiere, though this episode was aired afterwards. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey? Sure, why not.

Just the one Avenger, really. And Nick Fury, for some of it.
The episode opens from the point of view of someone’s camcorder on a New York pier. He ogles a woman for a second before lasers suddenly happen, courtesy of a giant robot causing havoc in the water. The camera goes all Cloverfield as the guy runs to get away (passing a Stan Lee cameo briefly fleeing the scene).

As a large bit of debris form an explosion threatens to fall on him, something suddenly flies out of the sky and catches it.

Camcorder Guy: “I-I-I…”
Iron Man:Iron Man.”

Then we see that this amateur footage was being used as part of a news broadcast, watched by Tony Stark’s buddy, James Rhodes, while he rides shotgun in Tony’s car.
Tony Stark: “I don’t like to brag, but that footage really didn’t capture how big the thing really was. I mean, huge.”

Rhodey tells Tony off for rushing in, risking his life while America has organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D. to take care of things like this. Tony rebuts with his new outlook on life, coupled with a need to redeem himself after having been a weapons manufacturer. Rhodey raises a good point about working with S.H.I.E.L.D. to do good, but…

Tony Stark: “I am not listening to Rhodey anymore, la la la la….”

Our hero.

Meanwhile, at Stark Tower (the interior of which looks suspiciously like Tony’s garage from the Iron Man films), Tony’s secretary, Pepper Potts, waits for him to arrive. When he does, she tells him that there’s been a problem: the terrorist group known as Hydra just attacked the United Nations building (while every world leader is there). With a gigantic skull-faced robo-squid! And S.H.I.E.L.D can’t get there in time.
Tony tells Pepper to reschedule lunch and suits up in a fairly epic sequence before flying off.

Rhodey (over radio): “Be careful, man.”
Iron Man: “Why would I start now?”

It's not the same without AC/DC blaring.
Over at the UN, the military’s getting its butt kicked by the Hydra-bot. Suddenly, Iron Man blasts it with his chest-beam, and it falls right over, reducing his power level to 40%. Iron Man tells JARVIS (his suit’s AI) to activate the external speakers, and, surprisingly, delivers an ultimatum to the Hydra goons instead of cranking up Black Sabbath.

Iron Man: “Attention Hydra goons: You’ve been trying to take over the world for sixty years? It’s not happening.”

One of the goons responds with a rocket launcher, and Iron Man counters with smart mini-missiles that latch onto the goons’ weapons before detonating. Iron Man blasts the rest of the goons into unconsciousness, and is subsequently attacked by ten-foot robotic weaponized suits (called Dreadnoughts).

Dreadnought: Target acquired. Designation: Iron Man. Destroy."
Dun dun dunnnnn!
Meanwhile, over at the en route S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, Director Nick Fury (not the director for the episode, that’s Vinton Heuck; Fury’s the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is epically standing on the bridge. Notably, he’s black, like Ultimate Nick Fury, but has but a soul patch and a crew cut; a far cry from Samuel L. Jackson’s portrayal of what is essentially himself. Anyway, he tells his second-in-command, Deputy Maria Hill, to give him an update. She tells him that they’re five minutes away from the HYDRA conflict.

Nick Fury: “That’s five minutes too long, Hill.”

Can you say something that’s not a cliché, Nick?

Maria then reports that Iron Man is on the scene, causing Nick to glare at the camera. With his single eye.

Nick "Grumpy Cat" Fury
When then cut to Iron Man, who is indeed on the scene, but is also getting his butt kicked by the Dreadnoughts. After some nifty-looking fighting, Iron Man gets tackled into the ground and a Dreadnought attempts to drill through Iron Man’s head. As this happens, JARVIS speaks up. As it turns out, he’d been analyzing the energy pattern of the Dreadnoughts’ weapons, and it seems that the robots have been upgraded with repulsor-blasters, one of Iron Man’s signature weapons.

Iron Man: “That’s my tech!”

Yeah, I just said that, Tony.

Iron Man: “HYDRA’s using my tech… against me?!”

Yeah. Welcome to the conversation; glad you could make it.

Iron Man knocks away the Dreadnought’s drill arm, and attempts an EMP. Unfortunately, there’s not enough power left in his batteries. So instead, he starts blasting away with his own repulsors. Unfortunately… again, the Dreadnoughts are equipped with Stark-tech shields as well. Quickly running out of power, he demands  anywaythat JARVIS reboot his shields while he takes on the robots.

Iron Man: “Come on, you pieces of junk; show me what else you got! ‘Cause you probably stole IT from me, too!”

Meanwhile, back at Stark Tower, Pepper’s worried about Tony.

Pepper: “He’s all alone out there against the people who stole his technology.”

Welcome to the conversation Pepper; everyone else left already.

Iron Man, meanwhile, manages to fend off the Dreadnoughts and their fire-breath, and rips out some Stark Industries technology out of one, before the last one standing attacks him some more. On a nearby building, a HYDRA goon wakes up, grabs a weapon, and takes aim at Iron Man… only for the HYDRA goon to be shot by another HYDRA goon.

2nd Goon: “Not yet…”

After more fighting, Iron Man takes out the final Dreadnought with a rocket boot to the face, and gets hit by the missiles from yet another Dreadnought. Thankfully, I don’t need to type yet another sentence about continued fighting, because S.H.I.E.L.D’s lasers rain down from the sky and blast it. The helicarrier arrives overhead, and they deploy their own armor-suited agents, known as “Mandroids.”

Mandroid: “Iron Man: By the authority of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division, you are hereby ordered to stand down.”

"Stop resisting! Stop resisting!"
Back on the helicarrier, Hill asks Fury what his orders are. He raises an eyebrow…. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if that was misinterpreted, and Hill gave the order for the Mandroids to raise their eyebrows?

Iron Man: “JARVIS, make a note. Remind me not to wake up in the morning ever again.”

I hear ya. I’ve been waking up past noon nearly every day since this year started.

Iron Man checks with JARVIS about his weapon options, but his unibeam needs recharging.

Iron Man: “Unless you guys are here to thank me for doing your job for you, I’m not in the mood for this.”

Tony has JARVIS scan the Mandroids, and JARVIS reveals that seven different parts of the armor are based on Stark-Tech. Well, that just rivets Tony’s armor. Back on the helicarrier, Hill informs Fury that Iron Man scanned the Mandroids, and Fury quickly tells her to give the order for the Mandroids to stand down. Unfortunately, one of the Dreadnoughts stands up behind the S.H.I.E.L.D. Mandroids. Iron Man aims his repulsors to protect them, but they interpret this as an attack, and open fire on Iron Man. He manages to shield himself, no pun intended, and takes out the robot with his unibeam, exhausting his systems. After his armor reboots, he goes over to one of the Mandroids that got taken out in the shockwave and flies up to the helicarrier bridge, demanding an explanation.

Well, it seems that breaking into a government aircraft carrier and angrily confronting the guy in charge is not looked kindly upon, so hill aims a laser gun at him and informs him he’s under arrest. Nick orders them to stand down, and they do, after he reminds them that he saved the UN.

Tony and Fury debate for a bit. Tony doesn’t want the government to use his technology for their weapons, and Fury counters with the fact that Tony was selling them the same weapons not too long ago. They just “modified” what he made. (I’ll be honest, I’m not completely up on how patent law would apply in this situation, but I think it’s still illegal when the government does that.)

Iron Man tells Fury that now HYDRA has their hands on Stark-tech, and blames S.H.I.E.L.D. for letting the technology leak out. They debate some more about escalation, arms racing, constant vigilance, etc. with Fury ending on the best reason for Stark to keep giving them weapons.

Nick Fury: “You can’t do this alone; you’re only one man.”
Iron Man: “One of me is more than enough.”

Iron Man leaves.

Iron Man: “By the way, there’s about three-dozen unconscious HYDRA agents waiting for you down there. No need to thank me.”

Fury orders Hill to find out how HYDRA got into their systems and fix the problem, and demands to see… the Black Widow! Dun dun dunnn!

Back on the ground, the HYDRA goons are taken into custody, including the one who shot his buddy. A nearby S.H.I.E.L.D. agent tells them they’re going to… the Vault. Also dun dun dunnn!

Over at Stark Tower, Tony de-armors as Rhodey offers his help. But Tony insists that only he and he alone can fight the rising tide. Not the Rising Tide, that’s from a different show.

Tony, you better hope Rhodey doesn't pull an Iron Man 2.
We then cut to a S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft transporting prisoners to the Vault, which is a subterranean prison connected to a high up aircraft-docking tower. The only way to escape is either on a S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft, or falling to your death. The craft lands, and the HYDRA goon drop off is overseen by Nick Fury, which doesn’t go unnoticed by the agent who asks him why he’s here.

Nick Fury: “Thought I’d check in on our ‘mutual friend,” see what he knows.”

As he and Hill enter the elevator, he tells Hill to explain some important background information to the audience. I mean, tell him what she knows about the Vault.

Hill: “The Vault is the first of the supervillain prisons, specifically built to hold tech-based criminals and their gear. Designed by Tony Stark, until he decided to stop working on S.H.I.E.L.D. projects. Current high-profile occupant include Crimson Dynamo, Technovore, MODOK, and…”
Nick Fury: “And HYDRA’s boss. Baron Wolfgang vonStrucker.”

As he says this, they’ve arrived at his cylindrical glass cell where the one-armed geezer sits, reading a book.

vonStrucker: “Herr Direktor….”

"'He pulls at my binding, checking it’s secure. I’m not going anywhere. I’m tied, literally, to my bed, and I’m so aroused. He slides off m...' Scheiße, don't you knock, Fury?"
Meanwhile, all the HYDRA goons are getting scanned by security. Everything goes fine, until the creepy guy who shot his buddy goes through.

Agent: “Look at his arm; he’s got an implant!”
Agent Woo: “Cyborg! Down on the ground now!”
???: “No need to panic, everyone. I’ve got a note from my doctor.”

A scythe pops out of his right arm, which should immediately inform you (assuming you’re a Marvel fan, or you saw that Redesign I did) that this is secretly the Grim Reaper! …the villain, not the actual grim reaper.

Though he ends up doing a good impression.
He makes quick work of the agents before grabbing a strange metal gauntlet that was beign examined by security. Back with Fury, he’s finished asking his questions, which vonStrucker has declined to answer. Fury walks away with Hill.

Hill: “Did you really think he was gonna tell you anything?”
Nick Fury: “Got a lot to learn, Maria. He told me plenty. Something’s going down, and soon. The question is: what?”

Suddenly, the red alert goes off. That soon enough for you, Nick?

The elevator descends, and Grim Reaper gets out. Nick Fury figures out that the UN attack was just a setup, and HYDRA’s real goal was to get a disguised Grim Reaper into the Vault to break out Baron vonStrucker. The two fight, gun against scythe, and the scythe manages to crush Fury under some ceiling. Reaper breaks further in and gives vonStrucker back his metal hand, which youthifies him a small bit.

Grim Reaper: “Hail HYDRA.”

Yes, yes, I know that’s apparently a meme of sorts since the Captain America sequel came out. Please bear with me, I haven’t seen it yet as of this writing. PLEASE NO SPOILERS. (Yeah, like that didn’t immediately date this Recap.)

Anyway, they begin their escape, with vonStrucker draining the youth of agents along the way with his metal hand. They enter an aircar and begin to fly away, but Fury jumps on the hood, only to get a faceful of youth-drain. He manages to knock vonStrucker out of the vehicle, where he gets re-apprehended by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. He then blows up the vehicle with Grim Reaper still inside, while he glide-suits down to safety. Later, Nick Fury (now with the comic Fury’s signature grey hair on the sides and back) looks over the imprisoned Grim Reaper. He smugly walks away with Hill after taunting Reaper a bit, but she’s worried.

Hill: “Director Fury… this place. The Cube. The Big House. Are all the supervillain prisons like this?”
Nick Fury: “No. All four are different.”
Hill: “Four? I thought there were only three….”

Welcome to Level Five.

Way to stare at his hair, Hill.
Also, foreshadowing!
Let's review this first installment of a series that already had a premiere episode.

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