Can’t get enough Iron Man and Captain America? Have a son or daughter who’s just cuckoo for comic book heroes? Got a man cave or fan-boy basement you’re looking to decorate with high-resolution images of your favorite Marvel celluloid saviors? Or maybe you’re one of those low-key cartoon connoisseurs who’d settle for a simple, low-budget, ready-made album of choice Marvel movie stills at the ready for when the urge to fetish over Hollywood cos-play hits you like Thor’s enchanted sledge?
Never fear, true believers.
Published to coincide with the release of Marvel’s Iron Man 3 (available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-Ray), Insight Editions offers Marvel Heroes and Villains—a simple but elegant compendium of forty full-color 12 x 16s taken from the six Marvel films representing “Phase 1” and “Phase 2” of the Avengers saga (“Phase 3” arrives in 2015 with Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron).
The Avengers—the emergency response team comprised of “Earth’s mightiest heroes”—thwarted the planet’s hostile takeover by alien Chitauri (and Thor’s Machiavellian stepbrother, Loki) in the 2012 blockbuster of the same name. Thawed after 70 years in deep-freeze, super-serum war vet Captain America is stronger and faster than ordinary soldiers. There’s billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, who fights evil in a flight-powered suit of armor. Dr. Bruce Banner transforms into the raging, nearly unstoppable green Hulk when he’s angry. Russian expatriate Black Widow is a sexy, skilled assassin, and Hawkeye her arrow-flitting partner agent in SHIELD.
Key sequences of the film’s climactic battle were shot in downtown Cleveland (doubling for New York). And Ohio’s North Coast natives welcomed Captain America return this past summer, enduring mass road closings and traffic jams so Marvel’s star-spangled Avenger could make his sequel (Winter Soldier is slated for April 2014).
Renowned for their movie and music-themed coffee table art books, the folks at Insight have assembled some terrific Avengers-related action shots and publicity photos into a single slim volume. Trick is, they’re double-sided, forcing fans to choose which side (if either) of each sturdy paperboard sheet to display. They’re suitable for framing, but hardcore geeks may want to invest in two copies—one for keeping, one for sharing and showing off.
The eye-candy is current, covering every Marvel picture from 2008’s Iron Man through 2012’s Iron Man 3. Here’s what you get for your greenbacks:
1) Iron Man 3’s Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), faceplate up to reveal the bloody, shell-shocked hero / Iron Man 3’s Tony at home in casual attire, the blue light of his arc reactor visible through his black shirt;
2) Battle-damaged armor Iron Man 3 / Iron Man 3’s exasperated Tony sitting on a couch beside the inoperable husk of the Mark 42 suit;
3) A close-up of Iron Man 3’s Iron Patriot / A close-up of drunken Tony in Mark IV armor squaring off against Rhodey in the silver Mark II;
4) Captain America’s Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) close up in the heat of battle / Cap surrounded by Hydra’s flame-throwing troops;
5) Cap in World War II attire, seen from the rear with his old shield slung over his back / The Avengers’ “heroes walk” on the SHIELD helicarrier;
6) The Avengers’ Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Cap poised in battle amidst the rubble of NYC (Cleveland) / Thor’s titular hero on bended knee;
7) The Avengers’ Thor from the “Shakespeare in the Park” scene / The Avengers’ Thor summoning his hammer while facing down an enraged Hulk (unseen);
8) Thor’s villain, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) / The Avengers’ Loki just after transporting himself to Earth;
9) Thor’s Odin (an eye-patched Anthony Hopkins) / The Avengers’ Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner);
10) The Avengers’ Hawkeye smiles for the camera / Thor’s Sif (Jaime Alexander) in action;
11) Thor’s Heimdall (Idris Elba), gatekeeper of Bifrost Bridge / Iron Man 2’s Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson);
12) Iron Man 2’s Black Widow crouching after taking out Justin Hammer’s baddies / The Avengers’ Black Widow brandishing handguns;
13) The Avengers’ Black Widow up close / The Avengers’ Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) consulting “The Committee;”
14) The Avengers’ Nick Fury firing a shot / The Avengers’ CGI-hero, Hulk;
15) Another computer image of The Avengers’ Hulk / Iron Man 3’s Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) seated with aviator shades;
16) Iron Man 2’s Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) / The Avengers’ SHIELD Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders);
17) The Iron Man theatrical poster / Iron Man 2 theatrical poster;
18) Iron Man 3 theatrical poster (Tony kneeling in his armor) / Iron Man 2 theatrical poster (Tony and Pepper’s Gwyneth Paltrow embracing);
19) Iron Man 3’s teaser poster of Tony falling out of the sky / Captain America theatrical poster; and
20) Thor theatrical poster / The Avengers theatrical poster.
The collection doesn’t include Spider-Man; the web-head isn’t an Avenger (not an original member, anyway), and his first three films preceded Iron Man. Likewise, neither of the Hulk “solo” films is represented. The only heroes missing, really, are Bruce Banner (Hulk’s alter-ego, played by Mark Ruffalo) and SHIELD Agent Phil Coulsen (Clark Gregg)—who heads his own television series on ABC this fall. Plus, we would’ve liked a shot of Thor’s gluttonous but lovable pal, Volstagg (Ray Stevenson).
My nine-year old son confiscated our copy of Marvel Heroes and Villains faster than Loki absconding with the Tesseract. The images Insight offers here are sharp enough to provoke such family feuds (hello, Thor). Of course, we’re happy to share the book.
We’re just not that fond of what comes next: Riiiip!