Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2

Marvel Comics seem to be the most popular place to find movie material these days as the whole of Hollywood keeps jumping on the lets create a franchise band wagon.

In recent year we have seen Marvel Comic characters: Spiderman, Ghost Rider, Iron Man and Fantastic Four all hit the big screen.

And with Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, a second Wolverine project and possibly Ant Man all in the pipeline it looks like this trend isn't set to end just yet.

Marvel Comics itself was founded in 1939 and launched characters such as the Human Torch, the Sub Mariner and the first patriotically themed hero Captain America.

Captain America became a very popular comic with circulation hitting one million. But the three founding characters for the comic only lasted until the mid 1950s as sales began to decline.

But with editor/writer Stan Lee at the helm the 1960s brought revival to the comic and most of the characters that are now seen on the big screen were created in this period.

The Fantastic Four led the way and were created to rival DC Comics' The Justice League of America. Before long Marvel began publishing further titles including X-Men, Iron Man, Daredevil, and Spiderman.

The comics and characters grew in popularity and Stan Lee became one of the biggest names in comics.

Since 1944 these characters have been adapted for the television but it wasn't until 1998 that a story was finally adapted for the big screen.

And this came in the form of one of Marvel's lesser know characters Blade - played by Wesley Snipes.

Despite this lack of familiarity Blade, who is half human and half vampire, went on to gross $130 million at the worldwide box office.

It also spawned two sequels 2002's Blade II which grossed $150 million and 2004's Blade Trinity which grossed $130 million.

From this point the floodgates opened and comic character after comic character has been developed and given the silver screen treatment, but with varying success.

Columbia Pictures' Spiderman is often regarded as the jewel in Marvel's crown. Over the three movies they have produced an impressive cast list including Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina and Willam Defoe.

And all three films have grossed more than $700 million with the third film, despite performing the worst with the critics, grossed $890 million.

The X-Men trilogy was also another box office hit boasting one of the greatest ensemble casts which included Patrick Stewart, Ian mcKellen, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry.

Like Spiderman the third was also the most successful grossing $459 million.

However not all have performed well at the box office Elektra did poorly commercially and critically and this years highly anticipated Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage was panned by critics despite doing fairly well at the box office.

But unfortunately, like with animation movies, studios have found a winning formula that is enticing people back to the cinema and are sticking to it.

While this is good for the movie industry it's the cinema go-er that is losing out as the market becomes overcrowded and saturated leading to a drop in the standard of movie that we are watching, Elektra and  Ghost Rider being prime examples, which will leave movie fans short changed.

But did not deter the big studios investing million of dollars to produce more of the same with The incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton, Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr, and Wolverine, the X-Men spin off starring Hugh Jackman, all being released over the last couple of years.

And it's Iron Man that is back on the big screen this week with the rather originally titled Iron Man 2.

Robert Downey Jr is back in the role as Tony Stark, the role that propelled him to worldwide stardom and resurrected his career.

After confessing his identity as Iron Man to the world, Tony Stark comes under fire from the United States Government who demand he hand over the powerful weapon that is the Iron Man suit.

As the Government attempts to create a duplicate suit with the assistance of Stark's rival, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), Tony's long time friend Jim Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is put centre stage in the conflict.

Meanwhile, a mysterious and dangerous foe emerges in Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), who creates an alternate and powerful persona known as Whiplash in order to exact revenge on the Stark family once and for all... it isn't long before he unites with Hammer in an effort to destroy Iron Man.

With the arrival of his shady new assistant (Scarlett Johansson), and persistent recruitment attempts from S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Stark needs all the help he can get in order to overcome the obstacles.

Jon Favreau is back in the director's chair and brings together an exciting cast as the movie looks to improve on it's $585 million box office gross back in 2008.

And despite the film only hitting cinemas this week it seems that plans for a third movie are already in the pipeline for after The Avengers movie.

And it's going to be a busy year for marvel with Thor filming coming to a close and Captain America, which sees Chris Evans in the lead role, going into production anytime soon.

Marvel then intend to pull all of these characters together to finally bring The Avengers to the big screen, not that is going to be a movie worth watching!

Iron Man 2 is out now.

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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