Man, what a Tuesday: ‘Iron Man 3,’ Batman box arrive

By Rich Heldenfels Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures action thriller The Dark Knight Rises, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo by Ron Phillips)

It’s a big week for costumed crime fighters — and their fans.

Tuesday brings two major releases: Iron Man 3 in various formats, and a Blu-ray box of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises).

Fan interest in such adventurers seems limitless. Iron Man 3 is the most popular film of the year, with more than $400 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo, and a total worldwide take of $1.2 billion. And it is a piece of the larger Marvel comics-and-movies mythology that included the big-screen The Avengers and on Tuesday adds a new ABC TV series, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Conveniently, Marvel and ABC are both part of the Walt Disney Co.

The Nolan films, meanwhile, were not only hits, they also added to audience enthusiasm when Warner Bros. announced that the second Man of Steel film would have Superman and Batman together. (The first Man of Steel comes to DVD and Blu-ray on Nov. 12.)

And both are impressive creative achievements. The Dark Knight alone is one of the best films in recent years. Iron Man 3, though not in the Dark Knight league, was a nice rebound in that series from the disjointed Iron Man 2. And it raises a lot of intriguing questions about identity — particularly who Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) fundamentally is, especially after the battles in The Avengers — much the way the Batman films do.

Of course, you may already have seen and bought the Batman movies. How then, does Warner Bros. Home Entertainment get you to buy The Dark Night Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition? And would you want to shell out as much as $99.97 to get it?

Well, there are toys.

The set includes the previously released two-disc sets of each movie along with the code for high-definition digital versions, and the previous extras. It then adds more special features: IMAX sequences from The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, a conversation between Nolan and Richard Donner (the influential director of the Christopher Reeve Superman and much of Superman II) and a segment on “the creation and impact” of the three films.

The black-and-white-boxed package also has a letter to fans from Nolan, a booklet of photos from the films, a photo-album-like case for the discs, excellent new portraits of the movies’ villains (Scarecrow, Joker, Bane, Harvey Two-Face and Ra’s Al Ghul) from the Mondo art gallery and poster-design firm, and miniature reproductions of three vehicles: the Tumbler, Bat-Pod and Flying Bat. I have fought very hard the urge to take out the vehicles and move them around while making loud engine noises.

I’ve resisted, of course, because I don’t want to take them out of the package. Yet. And this set is obviously aimed at collectors, as the title indicates. But if you have not bought the movies before, this is a lavish way to do it.

Iron Man 3, meanwhile, is being released in several packages by Marvel and Disney, including a set with the 3-D Blu-ray, standard Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy ($49.99); a Blu-ray/DVD/digital set ($44.99), a DVD/digital pack ($29.99) and an online digital download ($19.99).

Extras vary. The basic DVD set includes a making-of piece and a closer look at the scene of an attack on Air Force One. The Blu-ray adds bloopers, deleted and extended scenes, a featurette on the upcoming Marvel movie Thor: The Dark World and a much-discussed “Marvel One Shot” short, Agent Carter. In it, Hayley Atwell reprises her role from Captain America: The First Avenger in a tale that leads into the new, Cleveland-shot Captain America: Winter Soldier. The short has prompted talk that Carter may get her own TV series. Agent Carter is also part of the digital release.

Also of note: Room 237 (IFC, $27.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray), a documentary about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and the intense and complicated theories that have been developed about it. It arrives the same day as Stephen King’s novel Doctor Sleep, the sequel to the Shining novel Kubrick adapted (see book review on Page E7).

If you think the years are flying by, consider that Tuesday brings the 35th anniversary release of another horror classic, John Carpenter’s Halloween (Anchor Bay, $34.99 Blu-ray) with a new audio commentary by Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis.

Down video road: The Conjuring arrives in all formats Oct. 22. The first season of family series Gentle Ben will be on DVD on Oct. 15. Danny Kaye’s On the Riviera comes to Blu-ray on Oct. 8.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com. including the HeldenFiles Online, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.


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