Posted on April 9th, 2021
Last night I stayed up until midnight to watch the latest episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier but ended up going to bed instead. The middle part of a story is usually the lull in the storm before the build-up to the finale, and I figured I'd be better off catching up on my sleep.
This morning I woke up early to watch it and was not shocked by anything in the episode. I was happy with the way that it filled in the blanks as to the philosophical differences between Sam Wilson and John Walker. And I want to reiterate again that Wyatt Russell is absolutely killing it as the "new" Captain America. People have been unloading a lot of hate towards the actor and I just don't get it. As I've said all along, the character of John Walker has a specific purpose in the story. And watching Russell build out that purpose is thrilling to watch. He knows exactly where New Cap needs to go and is taking him there perfectly...
I sure hope that fanboys start to understand this so they stop sending death threats(!) to Wyatt Russell. I mean... holy shit. The guy is a very good actor just doing his damn job.
It's been interesting to see Marvel Studios actually treating the show like they billed the show: as a six-hour movie. Now instead of 30 minutes of build-up and world-building followed by 30 minutes of development followed by a 30 minute race to the finale, we get more time to better flesh-out the story and characters while still having all the action beats of a big-budget film. All the subtleties that make The Falcon and The Winter Soldier such a good television show are the first things that would be cut when making it into a theatrical motion picture.
tl;dr... I like what's happing with this series because it's different. It's not just "made for television movies of the same old things.
But enough about super-hero television.
Back in The Real World, Prince Phillip has died at 99 and DMX has died at 50.
Prince Phillip, husband to the longest ruling monarch to ever exist, was a dutiful public servant who was also highly problematic. His history of saying abusive, misogynistic, racist, and bigoted crap is legendary. But of course the tabloids are already blaming Meghan Markle. Never mind that he was 99 years old and in declining health, it was an interview with Oprah that did him in. I swear... people will find a way to blame Black women for anything, no matter how absurd, because that's the default of a society built on systemic racism and misogyny.
DMX, a celebrated rapper and actor, was a hugely successful and talented musician that was also highly problematic. Some of his music was shockingly homophobic... often violently so. And then there were his lyrics promoting misogyny and rape which were roundly (and rightly) condemned. And yet... some of his tracks were brilliantly honest and raw, changing the course of music history in their wake. I practically wore out my CD for his debut album It's Dark and Hell is Hot when it was unleashed upon the world in 1998. It was a great album to listen to when you were mad at the world and wanted to vicariously unleash through DMX's rage. And I was a mad at the world quite a lot back in those heady pre-politically-correct days. In more recent times, I've been reading story after story of what an incredible human being he was. Stories of kindness towards total strangers. Stories of him just being a decent person to all he met. It's as if the PERSON he strived to be was the best of humanity... while the PERSONA he portrayed in some of his music was the worst of humanity. It makes him difficult to figure out, but also makes me happy to know that he was a genuinely decent guy beneath it all.
And now I'm headed for a nap in the hopes that the raging headache I've been battling all day will give me a break. It's tough to blog when it feels as though your eyeballs are being pushed out of your skull.
Posted on March 28th, 2021
Feeling a little less than heroic today? Then I've got you covered... because a Very Special All-Comic-Book Edition Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Comic-Con? Welp. Comic-Con International just announced that the new date for Comic-Con San Diego is... Thanksgiving Weekend?!? It seems weird to think that a day reserved for giving thanks with your family would be commandeered after a year of pandemic that's kept families apart, but okay. Maybe that's the point though? They new attendance would be down over a holiday, which is what they need to keep crowds low just as everybody is getting vaccinated? I dunno. Still seems a weird... and borderline heartless... thing to do. "Sorry, grandma, we've got Comic-Con that weekend! Hope you can make it until next year!"
• Invincible. Amazon Prime Streaming has just released the first three episodes of their occasionally-violent-and-gory adaptation of the Invincible comic book...
I was pleasantly surprised that they didn't drag everything out so they could have one of the most shocking twists in comic book history saved for the second season. Nope. They've got it right up front.
• The Suicide Squad. It's interesting to see how Zack Snyder was given millions upon millions of dollars to release his "director's cut" of Justice League, but the same courtesy is not being extended to David Ayer for his Suicide Squad film, which was apprently taken far away from his intended story by the studio. Truth to tell, I would rather Ayer have been given the cash, because the stuff he originally shot sounds far more interesting. I mean, sure, his version of the Joker was shit, but a lot of other things were pretty well done. The reason he's probably not being given the opportunity is that DC doesn't want to overshadow the upcoming The Suicide Squad movie by James Gunn (of Guardians of the Galaxy fame). An R-rated trailer, of which, was just released...
Promising! SO many characters from the comics! The whole idea behind the Squad is that members die because the missions they take on are so dangerous. Apparently James Gunn is taking this to heart, because his entire motto for the film is "Don't Get Attached." How can you say no to that?
• New Cap. Steve Rogers, Captain America, has lost his shield! In a new series called The United States of Captain America, he embarks on a road trip across the country to find it... teaming up with other "Captain Americas" from over the years. Along the way he finds other people who have taken up his mantle, including a gay teenager named Aaron Fischer...
So naturally people are losing their fucking minds. Which is just the most bizarre phenomenon to me. It's comic book characters. The original Captain America is still here. Nothing is being taken away. But the idea that a gay American can't be Captain America when so many other Americans have been Captain America over the years is just bonkers. Gay people exist. Representation matters. Get the fuck over it.
• Old Cap. I had written up my thoughts on the second episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, but then decided to hold onto them because I worry that anybody who hasn't read the comics driving this story will get the series spoiled for them. I will say that I am absolutely fascinated that they mined Truth: Red, White, and Black for this installment. The story of the actual first "Captain America" was pretty groundbreaking... even though it was published in 2003. It was here that we learned that 300 Black men were used as test subjects for the "Super Soldier Serum" before it was given to Steve Rogers. Of the 300, only Isaiah Bradley survived, and we got to meet him on Friday...
After serving his country with honor, he was imprisoned for his trouble. Now he's trying to live a quiet life of seclusion, as explained by his grandson, Eli Bradley. If you read the comics, Eli ends up being the hero Patriot...
Could it be that we're assembling the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Because the Young Avengers are almost all accounted for now! Eli Bradley as Patriot, Kate Bishop as Hawkeye (from the upcoming Hawkeye series), Billy and Tommy as Wiccan and Speed (from WandaVision), Cassie Lang as Stature (from the Ant-Man movies), and America Chavez as Miss America (from the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness). And if they want to toss in Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel (from the upcoming Ms. Marvel series), and Riri Williams as Ironheart (from the upcoming Ironheart series)... PLUS debut Hulkling out of the upcoming Secret Invasion series... well... there you have it. It would seem that Marvel Studios is intent on keeping the current MCU moving forward as opposed to rebooting everything with new actors in the existing roles. Which is pretty smart. Because until the gravy train stops rolling, they might as well, right?
• The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. But back to the second episode... the Captain America comic books are at their best when they are saying something. When they tackle the big issues that face this country. And that's the niche that the source material takes quite often in modern times. It's only right that the Disney+ series spin-off follow suit. So when Sam Wilson was not able to get a bank loan last episode, on the surface it was because Thanos snapped him out of existence for 5 years. But you quickly got the idea that him being a Black man was definitely a factor. Didn't matter that he's one of the most famous people on the planet, no consideration was offered. And then in this episode, an argument with Bucky in public results in the police showing up to ask Bucky "if this man was bothering him"...
So kudos to Marvel Studios for making this series actually try to say something... in-between some great action sequences. It's exactly what Cap would want to see happen.
Stay frosty, True Believer!
Posted on July 31st, 2019
But when it was released on digital earlier this week, I decided to give it another look... then another look... so I could comment on it in a bit more linear fashion.
I still feel it's an amazing movie.... and even more amazing accomplishment...
Obviously there's going to be an abumndance of spoilers, so you've been warned...
The opening of the movie acts as a good recap of where we left off in Infinity War but, thankfully, isn't repetitive. Then Captain Marvel shows up, you realize that the Avengers she met in the Captain Marvel mid-credits scene ("Where's Fury?") must have sent her to find any off-planet Avengers survivors, and we're off to the races. The idea that the Earth Avengers and Space Avengers have no idea which of their teammates survived "The Snap" is pretty gutting. Especially when you get to Rocket comforting Nebula. And watching Rocket in these opening scenes just boggles my mind. You simply do not question that he's an actual character on-par with everybody else in the film. And he's a raccoon! Talk about movie magic.
Right from the start of Endgame you can tell that the entire purpose of the film is to wrap up everything which came before it. There's never-ending echos to past movies, and true fans are constantly being rewarded. This is pretty wild when you consider that Captain Marvel, easily the most powerful character in the entire film and the lynchpin for dealing with Thanos, hadn't even shot her solo movie when Endgame was being made. How everybody collaborated to make her appearance here sync up power-wise, visual-wise, and tone-wise with the Captain Marvel movie is the true marvel of Marvel Studios. There are single films which lack this kind of consistency. But here's Marvel making it look (relatively) effortless across 22 films (23 if you count Spider-Man: Far From Home).
Nowhere is Marvel's cohesiveness more visible than when Nebula is on-screen. She is a bit-part villain from a D-List comic book which has now become a central figure in the biggest super-hero team-up in cinematic history. It's so jaw-dropping amazing that I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. Yes, Marvel had a master plan to use Infinity Gems as MacGuffins in all their films from very early on with the intent of somehow tying them all together in the end, but the fact that they managed to pull it all of this well? Thank you Kevin Feige.
Back to Captain Marvel... it's fairly easy to see how her off-the-charts power level is going to be challenging going forward. The current solution seems to be to have her be "off-planet and unavailable" but that's going to get really tired really fast. I mean, come on... just look at her when they're off to attack Thanos! How many problems couldn't she solve in five minutes? Sure it's cool how totally confident she is, how kick-ass she is, how powerful she is... and her glowing aura is giddy-inducing wonderful... but I'm more than a little curious to see how she's going to play out in the future of the MCU.
Killing Thanos in the first twenty minutes is pretty ballsy, but it definitely leaves you wondering where they're going to go from here if the main villain of the movie is gone. And little did we suspect...
And lo did a rat activate the Quantum Tunnel which freed Ant-Man from being trapped in The Quantum Realm! It's funny to think about how Ant-Man ends up being the key to absolutely everything, but that's how Marvel rolls. They find surprising ways to make small characters have big impact in the grand scheme of things. Fortunately, they've got the ample acting chops of Paul Rudd behind the character or these scenes of "life after The Snap" would have rang hollow (ditto for Scarlett Johansson, who has a handle on somebody being haunted like nobody's business).
At the 30-minute-mark, Scott Lang shows up at Avengers Compound and the movie starts for real.
It also shows its hand.
Because the minute that I saw how much time they were devoting to Tony Stark's happy post-Snap life, I knew... knew... he was a goner. Luckily, Robert Downey Jr. gives the performance of a lifetime and totally sells it. Watching him interact with his daughter... with Pepper... with his former teammates... it's all so... beautiful?... I guess is the word I'm looking for? Tony's character arc over the past decade has totally come full-circle, and it's everything you could hope for. And speaking of story arcs...
Here we are introduced to Smart Hulk... the merging of The Hulk and Bruce Banner. It's a wonderful coda to Bruce Banner's arc through all the Marvel Studios films. Finally, at long last, Banner and Hulk are at peace and living in harmony. It's also a terrific starting point for new Hulk stories (should we be lucky enough to get them). What's even more remarkable than Smart Hulk is the absolutely mind-blowing computer graphics which brought him to life. Flawless. His every facial expression is realized to such a degree that the whole "Uncanny Valley Effect" is minimized. At no point did he take me out of the story. It's just... all Mark Ruffalo all the time.
If there's a scene which illustrates just how deftly Marvel manages to work humor into their stories, it's the time travel experiments with Scott. It's funny, but it's not just being injected at random for the sake of being funny (like the horrific Joss Whedon "humor" that was shoe-horned into DC's Justice League after the fact). Marvel's humor feels like it has purpose and is there to advance and serve the story. And that's why it succeeds. Plus we get Smart Hulk handing out tacos!
If you didn't think that Tony Stark was going to die after watching his family scenes, you definitely knew it when he handed Cap his shield back.
The reunion between Hulk and Valkyrie, completely cementing Thor: Ragnarok even further into the MCU grand narrative, is one of the rare moments in the film that had me scrambling for an explanation. In Ragnarok, Bruce didn't remember anything about his 5 years as The Grandmaster's "beloved champion." But here he does. Which means that when Banner and Hulk merged, the result has memory experience of both? That's gotta be the stuff of nightmares.
I read more than a few comments about how Thor's weight gain was just a way to make fun of heavier people. I didn't see this at all. The result of Thor's PTSD actually seemed like it was handled with great thought and care... even if there were some comments made by other characters which were pretty mean and played for laughs. What did bother me was the whole "shake it off and move on" attitude that was leveled at poor Thor. That seems deliberately cruel and unjust. After what he's been through, you'd expect a bit more empathy from his friends. On the bright side, this is yet another remarkable performance by Chris Hemsworth which has me dying to see more Thor.
Clint Barton's descent into a murdering vengeance-seeking bastard seems a bit forced but, seeing as how the guy lost his entire family, perhaps it's not such a stretch. This "Ronin" persona is kinda-sorta from the comics, but it makes even less sense in this film. Why in the hell would Hawkeye give up the bow and arrow with which he reigns supreme? Obviously the ramifications of Endgame will be explored in the Hawkeye series on Disney+, so I guess they can afford to short-change his character here... but it still seems wild how his character could change so much with so little explanation.
And here's where we get to how time travel works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I'm saving my thoughts on how it works for further down the page, but suffice to say I really like what they've done here. It makes perfect sense. Regardless, we get current Avengers going back into earlier Marvel Studios movies, and how cool is that?
And here's where the fun begins...
ANT MAN, IRON MAN, & CAPTAIN AMERICA: The "behind the scenes" of what happened after the Battle of New York was kinda cool... but hands-down the best moment was how Cap managed to secure the scepter from Hydra. Right before Robert Redford makes a guest appearance! I was even more surprised by this than I was at seeing The Ancient One! And of course this is where Loki from the past becomes the new Loki, allowing him to appear in his Disney+ series while not negating his death in Avengers: Infinity War. Clever that. Almost as clever as "America's Ass."
SMART HULK: The amount I died when Smart Hulk was "smashing" to impersonate his more rage-fueled earlier self was pretty huge. Then he goes to retrieve the Time Stone and the first of many guest-appearance bombshells is dropped... The Ancient One is back! Mainly as a way to explain how time works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Again. Which, again, I will comment on further down the page.
THOR & ROCKET: Frigga coming back to help Thor in the way only a mother can was exceedingly sweet. Finally, here's somebody not making fun of Thor for being traumatized by what he's experienced and genuinely trying to help. At least until she told him to eat a salad. We also get the tiniest of appearances by Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, which was nice. And was probably due to her coming back for Thor: Love and Thunder.
NEBULA & RHODEY: They could have easily come up with a way to remove the Power Stone without stripping the shell off of Nebula's robotic arm, but it's actually a genius move because it will be an easy visual cue for distinguishing "good" Nebula from her "bad" past-self. Out of all the teams, this is the one that gets a lot complex in a little amount of time thanks to Thanos of the time finding out what The Avengers are up to.
IRON MAN, & CAPTAIN AMERICA: Well this was an added bonus. We get guest appearances not only by 1970's hippie Stan Lee and Farrah-hair Hank Pym... but Howard Stark and Peggy Carter as well! Seeing as how Tony dies and Steve ends up retired, I suppose it's only fitting that they get to reconcile the relationships which most haunt them.
BLACK WIDOW & HAWKEYE: I realize that the only way to make victory ring true would be for some sacrifices to be made along the way... but Black Widow? Like Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, she's the glue that holds all the movies together. Unlike Nick Fury, Natasha has been pretty much shafted over the years. She exists only to forward other characters' stories without getting much of story of her own. Sure they are remedying that by finally giving her her own film, but she's forever stuck in the past now, and that's lame. She deserved a future in the MCU after how she's been there for literally everybody else, and now she ain't got one. Still, given how The Soul Stone works, I guess somebody had to die. I don't know that Hawkeye would be a better choice, so maybe this was the right choice. I certainly feel it more than if it had been Clint. But I'm still bitter about it.
I'll try to ignore the question of how The Milano (ship to The Guardians of the Galaxy) has evaporated only to appear again at the end of the film... let's just assume that Clint shrunk it again before he went forward in time. And it seems weird it is that The Infinity Gauntlet conveniently courses with gamma radiation just like The Hulk, giving him the ability to wield it... whatever. What I'd like to focus on is how Ant-Man has the ability to shrink... then grow into Giant-Man... when it was made abundantly clear that he was out of Pym particles? This gaping plot hole is ridiculously easy to see, and yet it was totally ignored. And Janet VanDyne was absolutely not wearing The Wasp suit when she was dusted (I checked) so where did she get her Pym Particles?
The final battle was pretty phenomenal, all things considered.
Even when you give a pass to Captain America being able to lift Thor's hammer. There's plenty of comic book history precedent for Steve being able to wield Mjölnir. Heck, the MCU hinted that it was possible back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was a smart way to give Captain America the ability to take on Thanos which was believable. What I don't understand is how he got to control lightning with it. As explained by Odin in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor himself is where the lightning comes from, and Mjölnir merely allows him to focus it more easily. Perhaps Mjölnir has some kind of residual lightning charge which makes this possible, but it still seems an odd thing to have happen. How does Cap even know how to make the lightning work? How does he know how to summon Mjölnir in the first place?
No other point in the movie hit more of an emotional note with me than when Cap is facing horrific odds all alone against Thanos and his entire army... than when he hears Sam say "On your left" through his earpiece. That's yet another nod to a past MCU film (Winter Soldier). It's the turning point of the entire movie, and any fan of the past decade will be cheering.
Back in Civil War when Hawkeye is facing off against Black Panther, an opponent for which he's badly outmatched, he buys time by saying "We haven't been introduced. My name is Clint." Black Panter says "I don't care." and proceeds to start pummeling his ass. During the Endgame final battle, Black Panther wants the Infinity Gauntlet and says "Clint, give it to me," at which point I got the warm fuzzies. Awwwwwww. T'Challa remembered his name! He must care a little bit after all!
Poor Wanda. She has to deliver the same line to Thanos that she gave to Ultron. Lucky for her, she's definitely got the power to back up any threat she makes, and having her battle Thanos was pretty sweet.
Spider-Man bringing back "instant-kill" from Homecoming was an LOL moment for me.
Captain Marvel gets the entrance to beat all entrances, and watching her decimate Thanos's ship all by her lonesome was pretty epic. Though not quite as epic as it would have been had we not already seen her so that in Captain Marvel. Still, having her be the only one who can truly go toe-to-toe with Thanos via brute force was more than enough.
The "Ladies of the MCU" moment may have been artificial and manufactured, but I just don't care. We've come a long way from when Black Widow was the sole female super-hero in the MCU.
And then we reach the end of the battle when Doctor Strange tells Tony that this is the moment.
I really, really, wish somebody had laughed at Thanos as his shit faded away.
Rumor has it that Tony originally had dialogue as he lay dying. Robert Downey Jr. felt it would be more powerful if there was nothing left for him to say... his actions and sacrifice speaking more than words ever could... and he's absolutely right. Watching as the beginning of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe from the very first film has his life fade away was about as powerful way to close out The first decade as we could have hoped for.
The reactions from the characters at Tony's service are interesting... as is the order which they appear. His family is first, of course. Followed by his closest friends. Followed by Captain America, who has seen many, many soldiers die in battle, and you kind of get that perspective on his face... stoic, but showing loss. Since Peter Parker is just a kid, I'm glad they had Aunt May there for him. Thor has experienced loss that nobody else here could possibly fathom, so Hemsworth gave him an unease that is perfectly fitting. Smart Hulk's more emotional response was exactly what was needed to drive home that this Hulk is very different from the early days of the character. Doctor Strange is in the unique position of knowing that he essentially sent Tony to his death, but also knows there was literally no other possible way to win this. The Ant-Man "family" had little to do with Tony Stark, so they appear a bit more detached, as they should be. The Guardians of the Galaxy have the most interesting response. All but Quill are aliens, and their perspectives on death are undoubtedly far removed from ours, which is smartly reflected. Note that Gamora is gone, her character having reverted back to a more raw state (something confirmed in the deleted scenes). Also note that Nebula gets a longer shot than most, which is apt considering how she is closest to the entire Infinity Saga and crucial to how it played out. Black Panther, Okoye, and Shuri's presence representing Wakanda is appropriately stately and reserved. Clint and his family here are a bit more affected than you'd expect... until you realize that this goodbye is more about Natasha to them than Tony Stark. Sam and Bucky, who have done nothing but fight since they met, have common ground here, leading directly into their upcoming Disney+ series, I'm sure. Wanda, likewise, is probably thinking more about losing Vision than Tony, but that too is leading into a Disney+ series. The young guy standing alone confused some people, but I recognized him immediately as Harley, the kid from Iron Man 3, and I'm glad they thought to add him here. I completely missed Maria Hill and General Ross when I saw the film in theaters, but it makes sense they're here. Captain Marvel is the one character who feels a bit out of place, yet it would be strange if she weren't here given her impact on the final battle. And then there's Nick Fury, the glue that holds the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe together saved for last. Perfect.
It was nice at the end to acknowledge that Tony wasn't the only one who sacrificed his life. Black Widow and Vision are gone as well. Though Black Widow has a movie coming up, and Vision is assumably a part of the WandaVision Disney+ series.
Valkyrie becoming queen of New Asgard is absolutely fitting, and sure to be explored in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. Having Thor rejoin the "Asguardians of the Galaxy" should have interesting consequences going forward for both these franchises.
And... here's the end-end-end of the movie. Cap heads back with the Infinity Stones to prevent new realities from ever forming, Hulk acknowledges that he misses Natasha, and Falcon is given Old Cap's shield (from an alternate reality, see below) so he can become the new Captain America. Of course Bucky is there, which is a jumping off point for the new Falcon and Winter Soldier Disney+ series. Neat!
After the movie debuted, fanboys immediately got their panties in a bunch because of Steve Rogers' decision to go back in time and lives a life with Peggy Carter that he would have had if he hadn't been frozen in ice for decades. "THIS CONFLICTS WITH PEGGY SAYING THAT SHE MARRYING SOMEBODY STEVE RESCUED IN THE FIRST MOVIE!" and "STEVE ERASED PEGGY'S LIFE WITH HER HUSBAND AND KIDS! WHAT AN ASSHOLE!" Except... he didn't. As the movie went into meticulous detail explaining, that's not what happens with time travel disruptions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As explained by Hulk and Nebula to Ant-Man and Rhodey before they experiment on Clint... any change to the past creates an alternate reality...
This was such an important point for the story that they had The Ancient One re-explain it to The Hulk. The writers literally provided visuals to make it crystal clear...
Which is why I go crazy every time I hear a new diatribe on Captain America's time travel being a plot-hole. Let's break this down one more time, shall we? If you go to the past, the future becomes your past, so the future can't be changed. So when you change something in the past (like take an Infinity Stone), a new reality is created where that Infinity Stone has disappeared from existence. In order to fix this, Captain America went back in time and returned the stones to a point before any changes would create a new reality. Namely, he returned them to immediately after they were taken in the first place. This closed the loop and the new reality which was created then fades away because it never existed...
It's an incredibly simple concept.
And it applies to Steve Rogers' journey back in time as well.
At the end of Endgame, Steve returns the Infinity Stones and all the new realities created by their removal no longer exist. He then goes back in time to the late 40's or early 50's... before Peggy Carter got married and had kids... to live out his life with her. As clearly stated, this change creates a new reality where Steve is the one who marries Peggy. His original reality... the reality of all the Marvel Studios movies... where Peggy got married to some other guy, had kids, got dementia, then died... still exists because, to Steve, it's the past. And after Peggy died and Steve was ready to return to his original reality, he traveled back into the past BEFORE the new reality was created... then traveled into the future of the original reality as an old man (which is what we see at the end of the movie)...
So does this mean that other reality where he married Peggy was erased? NO! because now that is in Steve's past! That reality is still there too. An alternate reality which may or may not be revisited in future Marvel films.
It all makes perfect sense, and everything works exactly as it was spelled out in the movie. If there's a plot-hole here, it's that the objects which the stones were encased were forgotten...
I love that YouTube Channel. And, no, I have no clue as to what happened in the new reality which was created when Loki escaped with the Space Stone. Perhaps that will be addressed in his Disney+ series? Because unless he crosses back over into the primary reality, that's where he is now. Our Loki is still dead. I guess I'll just ignore it all until we actually get the series.
WHERE DID OLD CAP'S SHIELD COME FROM?!? If he brought it from the new reality he created when he went back to be with Peggy... if he found his other-dimensional-self in the ice there, then dug up the shield, but left himself frozen... does that Captain America not get a shield when he is rescued from the ice in the future? Or maybe Old Cap waits until New Reality Cap wakes up, then asks himself for the shield so he can take it back to his original reality, leaving New Reality Cap with nothing? Or did he go to New Reality Wakanda and convince them to make him a second shield so he had one to take back with him? That would have been interesting to see. Or... best theory... New Reality Captain America dies, and Old Cap retrieves the shield? Who the heck know? Regardless, it's incredibly lame that this gaping plot hole was left dangling. One can only hope that the New Reality Steve created will be revisited in future MCU films so we can have an answer... or ten.
Given the nature of comic books, there's nothing to say that Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Natasha Romanoff can't return in future movies, even though somebody new will undoubtedly be taking up their super-hero mantles (ala Sam becoming Captain America). They could come back in dream sequences... flashbacks... resurrections... alternate reality versions... whatever. Black Widow's movie takes place entirely in the past, so that's yet another way to have them come back. Though, to be honest, it's probably more powerful if their characters aren't brought back. That kinda cheapens their sacrifice and will diminish their legacies.
So... good flick. Impossible flick given the complexities of juggling so many Marvel Studios franchises, a decade of history, and dealing with the astronomically high expectations of Marvel fans. For the most part, it feels like they succeeded. I certainly had no complaints walking out of the movie theater... or turning off my AppleTV.
As for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Well, if Spider-Man: Far From Home is any indication, it's going to be just fine. Hopefully Kevin Feige will find a way to pull another rabbit out of the battered old hat with weak series like The Eternals and Shang-Chi in the pipeline. Hey, he sure managed it with Guardians of the Galaxy!
Here's hoping the next decade is even half as exciting as the first.
Posted on August 14th, 2018
Today I headed over to Seattle to see Erasure with my long-time internet friends Matt and Scott. It was my third time seeing the band, and Andy and Vince were amazing as ever.
If I had a complaint, it was The Moore Theater Seattle has no air conditioning. I was in the front row and had (relatively) few people next to me and I was dying. Poor Andy Bell was dancing and singing his guts out and I thought he was literally going to die. But he was a total trooper...
The set list was as follows...
They skipped tracks from Erasure (their seventh album), Cowboy (their eighth, and probably my favorite, album), Loveboat (their ninth album), Other People's Songs (their tenth album), Union Street (their twelfth album), Light at the End of the World (their thirteenth album), Tomorrow's World (their fourteenth album), Snow Globe (their fifteenth... a Christmas album), and The Violet Flame (their sixteenth album).
Songs I would have liked to have heard? Heavenly Action, Weight of the World, just about anything from Cowboy plus Don't Say You Love Me, and I Broke It All in Two.
Not that I can really complain though... nineteen awesome songs was above and beyond!
If you ever have a chance to see them live, Erasure is worth the ticket of admission.
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 13: Captain America: Civil War
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
Holy crap... what if Robert Downey Jr. had said no? What would this movie have been then? Chris Evans has made no secret of the fact that he never really wanted to sign on for Captain America because he had his fill of super-hero movies with the two awful Fantastic Four flicks. But he was talked into it, and signed a contract for a set number of appearances as Cap. And that was smart. Get the big money while he could, then move on to the directing career he wanted which would pay a lot less. He later extended his contract to include Avengers 4 when Avengers: Infinity War was split, but it's assumed that's the end of it. What's so cool is that Evans is such a stand-up guy that he agreed to cameo appearances in Thor: The Dark World and Spider-Man: Homecoming outside of his contract. Marvel Studios, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make the most of the original Captain America while they had him, and essentially created another Avengers movie instead of a Cap solo film. Taking the general idea from the comic book event of the same name, Civil War was a way to tear everything apart before bringing it back together again. And they pulled out all the stops doing it. In addition to getting the first appearances of Spider-Man and Black Panther, we also get Iron Man, Winter Soldier, Black Widow, The Falcon, Agent 13, Ant-Man, War Machine, Hawkeye, The Vision, and Scarlet Witch. When you consider that this could have easily been a movie with Cap as its only hero battling some random villain, that's beyond incredible. It was, of course, just a warm-up. I don't know that this was a better film than Winter Soldier, but it was a comic book fan's ultimate dream movie at the time. It was certainly mine. Kinda still is.
SCENE TO BEAT: Wow does Marvel Studios have the whole de-aging thing down! Seeing young Robert Downey Jr. at the front-end of the film was so cool. And it wasn't just for kicks... it actually had real relevance to the story being told. But, of course, the scene to beat would have to be the airport battle. Finally. Finally! After spending most my life waiting for a live-action super-hero battle that wasn't a pile of shit (I'm looking at you, X-Men 3) we got it. It didn't hurt that Spider-Man and Black Panther were in the mix, and absolutely everybody was used to their full potential. Including... Giant Man!
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Wanda accidentally blew up part of a building when she levitated an exploding Crossbones who was in the middle of exploding. Sure some people got killed because of her inexperience. But the alternative was a lot more people on the ground getting wiped out? Including Captain America? I don't get how that pertinent fact was never raised in the entirety of the film. It bothers me because it's the whole turning point for The Accords being enacted, and it doesn't really make much sense.
SIDENOTE: Still hilarious to see Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei in a movie together again (I'm a big fan of Only You). Red Wing, which was a real-live falcon pal to The Falcon in the comics was made a drone in the movies. Once again we have Marvel being faithful to the source material... just updating it in a way that makes perfect sense! The Incredible Hulk is a movie largely ignored from the Marvel Studios canon, even though it was firmly established to be a part of it. And every once in a while, they drag out General Thunderbolt Ross to remind people of that. This actually makes me happy, because though Mark Ruffalo is better-suited to the role, the hulk movie was not a bad film at all. I expected that there would be a good reason for Thor and The Hulk being left out of Civil War, I just didn't expect it to be as good a reason as we were handed in Thor: Ragnarok. Once again, Marvel Studios knows exactly what they are doing.
Posted on August 10th, 2018
This was one of those days.
I compensated by hiding in my bedroom and reading through all the of "Art of the Movie" books from the first eight Marvel Studios films. Except... it's actually nine books because I bought the art book for the Peggy Carter series that was on ABC, which I love (there's also books for the Agents of SHIELD series, but I don't love that show even a little bit). It made me want to watch Agent Carter all over again, but that will have to wait...
The only book I'm missing is the one for Agent Carter: Season Two, which was an okay-not-great-series, but I'd still like to have it because the production design was fantastic for it. But... $48. Yeesh. That's a chunk of money considering I wasn't a big fan of the show.
And now It's time to re-watch one of the best movies ever so I can finish up this entry!
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 9: Captain America: Winter Soldier
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
There's a part of me that wants to call this my favorite Marvel Studios film. It gives us a flawless portrayal of Captain America, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Nick Fury, Agent 13, and also? Robert Redford(!) as Alexander Pierce! But the real beauty of this movie is that it defines Captain America in a way that makes his 1940's mentality painfully relevant to the modern world, and positions him as the definitive conscience of the entire MCU. And speaking of relevant... how cool is it that a film set in 2014 managed to continue story elements of the first movie set in 1942 so amazingly well. Bucky, Zola, and Hydra were old ideas made fresh. And not in a way that rang hollow or was contrived. Even Cap's original uniform (which is far superior to what he got in The Avengers) was dusted off and came back. Genius.
SCENE TO BEAT: Pick one. There are no wasted moments in this entire film. The action sequences are all brilliant. But that scene where Steve goes to visit a dying Peggy Carter... yargh... a lump in my throat every time.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Not a damn thing. If a perfect comic book movie exists, this is a contender.
SIDENOTE: The way they updated Falcon is, as with everything else in this movie, perfect. By the way... that's Jenny Agutter as the lone woman on The World Security Council and the one that Black Widow impersonates to infiltrate SHIELD. Many Americans probably won't know who she is, but anybody familiar with British Television knows that this is just as cool casting as Robert Redford!
Posted on August 6th, 2018
I've been in two fires.
The first one was at a friend's house. He asked for help packing up he and his family's stuff because they were in the path of a wildfire that was out of control and advancing too quickly for them to evacuate on their own. I drove a rental truck up to their place, helped them pack it up, then drove it to his parent's house. By the time I had retrieved my car and headed back, they were told to leave and had evacuated. They ended up losing their garage and a chunk of their roof.
The second fire was at my home (well, the one before last) and it was terrifying. I spent eleven hours on the roof of my apartment building keeping the roof wet and putting out so many small fires that I lost count. Once I climbed down to go to the bathroom because I couldn't hold it any more. When I finally got back on the roof everything had caught fire. Fire on the bushes. Fire on the lawn. Fire on the shed. Fire on the roof. From then on I peed off the roof. Not that it mattered... everybody else had left. When the police came to force me to evacuate, both buildings to the side of me had caught fire. I had no idea if I would ever see my home again as I left.
Luckily, thanks to an amazing group of firefighters, my home was spared while everything around my apartment was burned to the ground or badly damaged. I was told that it was because I stayed behind when everybody else had left that the firefighters decided to hold the line at my building and save it. I was... and still am... incredibly grateful. Everything I owned was in there except the clothes on my back, my car, my hard drive, and the two photo albums I managed to grab as I evacuated.
The price being that I still wake up from time to time in a blind panic because I think I smell smoke.
And on days like today where there are wildfires burning and I smell actual smoke, I have a tough time of it. Apparently that's all it can take to send my head back to the roof of my old apartment when the whole world was burning around me.
The difference being that if I were caught in another fire, I wouldn't worry about losing everything I own as much as I used to. All my photos are stored in the cloud and backed up on a hard drive I keep at work. Everything else is just "stuff" and can (mostly) be replaced.
All I need out of life is underwear and my cats.
And the underwear are optional, as always.
Continuing on with my revisiting of every Marvel Studios movie...
MARVEL STUDIOS MOVIE OF THE DAY, No. 5: Captain America: The Last Avenger
Original Grade: A+ • Today's Grade: A+
Even as Marvel Studios was pulling all the pieces together to assemble The Avengers I had no idea how Captain America was going to fit into it. Developed in 1940 as a pro-America response to the rise of the Nazis, Cap was kept relevant in the comic books by constantly reinventing him in the face of modern times. But that's in comics. How would they translate a star-spangled antique to the movies and not have him look ridiculous? Well, this movie is how. An origin film through and through The First Avenger stripped away decades of jingoistic baggage to create an every-man hero who wanted to fight for the little guy by standing up to the bullies of the world. Taking place almost entirely during World War II, the story was everything you could hope for in a super-hero movie, and there were zero missteps in how it was laid out. Steve Rogers desperately wants to save people by joining the war effort but he's physically incapable of doing so, and branded 4F for service. But his heart and courage land him in the US Super Soldier Program where science turns him into the most celebrated hero of the war. Along the way he battles classic Cap villain The Red Skull, and absolutely everything about it was flawless.
SCENE TO BEAT: When Cap is leading back all the soldiers he rescued after his first outing, you get to see exactly who he is and how he will work in the MCU.
COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Seriously. Nothing. There's nothing that could have made this a more perfect introduction of Captain Rogers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
SIDENOTE: At the end of the movie Cap sacrifices himself to save New York and ends up frozen in the Arctic ice shelf. Fast forward to modern times and he's dug up from the ice to become a founding member of The Avengers and one of the most famous comic book super-heroes of all time. That tracks pretty closely to what we got in the comics, and the movie is painstakingly faithful to the source material. What's interesting is just how closely the events of this film lead into The Avengers. Black Widow came from Iron Man 2, Loki and Hawkeye came from Thor, and The Tesseract came from Captain America: The First Avenger. Everything up until now has been moving the football forward, all in preparation for the home run which was to come. The patience and planning it took to have such a plan in place is absolutely mind-boggling, and Marvel producer Kevin Feige was: The One in charge of keeping it all together. That he's still in charge just goes to show how successful he's been at his job.
Posted on May 17th, 2018
You would think that when you pay for a movie in iTunes that the poster art would remain the same as when you bought it. But that's not the case. A while back Marvel started changing all the artwork in their store, which ended up changing the artwork on all the movies I bought.
And it all sucks.
Not that I'd be thrilled if it were better than the originals... I want the art that I recognize so I can recognize the movies I own. I want what I originally purchased.
Take for example the poster for Guardians of the Galaxy...
They hacked up pieces of the original poster, rearranged them, then slapped them on a boring-ass background. It looks worse than shitty, because there's no composition or context. Can you tell what in the hell Star-Lord is doing? Holding on to a handle? Who the hell knows?
The sequel poster is even worse. The cool and colorful art with all kinds of cool movie imagery in the background. It's been replaced with something so boring as to be sedate by comparison...
Thor: The Dark World is especially horrific in that he no longer looks like the god of thunder, but somebody in a red cape and bad hair...
Since most Marvel movies take place in New York City, Ant-Man was a breath of fresh air since it switched it up to the West Coast and San Francisco. To be sure there was no mistaking this, they put it right there on the poster...
When they remade it, they simply stripped away all the cool supporting elements and slapped some ugly-ass faux-metallic effect. Lame.
Group films like Avengers have posters that are carefully crafted to show the dynamic of the team. But now all we get is a grotesque cut-and-paste hack-job that has no interplay between characters and no dynamic. Somebody with a box of Colorforms could do the same damn thing... and probably better, since people wouldn't have their legs cut off and be suspended in air...
Another great example of this... Captain America: Civil War. What was the most incredible part of the film? The fact that there was a massive battle which pits hero against hero. But the new poster rips this away, completely confusing the story. For all we know from looking at the shitty art, this is a Captain America and Iron Man buddy picture. Or an Iron Man movie with a guest-spot by Cap, since the figures have been reversed and Stark is in the #1 spot...
Doctor Strange is a mind-bending film which introduces magic and other dimensional planes to the Marvel Universe. But now? Some guy in a red cape with a tall collar? Shitty. Utterly shitty...
I think my most hated poster remake is for Iron Man 3...
The original poster was SO cool. Foreboding atmosphere, Tony's house exploding, and The Iron Legion are all there... along with a ravaged but determined Iron Man. But the remake? You can barely even tell that's Iron Man. Looks like the cover to some kind of Harlequin Romance or a shitty, low-budget crapfest. And can somebody please explain why the characters are fading into a star-field?
I understand the thinking in redoing the posters. They are trying to create something that will be easily understood at the smaller thumbnail sizes that you'll find in iTunes or other movie streaming services. But when they come up with something this shitty, does it really matter if you more easily understand them? If anything, I'd argue that the original posters are more distinct and interesting... even if you can't fully tell what's going on when reduced to tiny sizes.
At the very least, they could leave it up to the buyer which poster to display in their iTunes library.
Because the new crop is more than just ugly and boring... they're offensively bad design.
Posted on May 2nd, 2018
And lo, Marvel Studios absolutely wasn't kidding when they taunted that Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of the past ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is not idle hype. Though Comic Book Reality being what it is, you have to wonder just how much of what happens in this truly epic film will have lasting effects on where we are going forward.
Something tells me not all of it is going to all be washed away. What ends up sticking is anybody's guess.
Except not really...
If you've ever read comics before... if you've ever been left hanging in the middle of a two-part comic book story before... then there's nothing much in Infinity War that could be all that shocking to you. Likewise, anticipating the thrust of the story in next year's still-untitled-conclusion-movie also doesn't take much effort.
Infinity War actually did redefine the word "epic" when it comes to super-hero movies... or movies in general, really.
Obviously, my thoughts on the film are going into a spoiler-laden extended entry, which you absolutely do not want to read if you haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War yet.
You've been warned.
And also... another warning? Skip any trailers you haven't watched yet. One pretty major spoiler was dropped in one of the trailers I saw, and I'm still pretty raw about it.
And now? This is your last chance. Do not proceed unless having a movie ruined is something you enjoy.
Spoilers await in an extended entry...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on May 13th, 2016
As a huge, huge, massively huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, you would think that I'd have seen Captain America: Civil War on opening day. And heaven only knows I wanted to so as to avoid spoilers that plague the internet... but work got in the way. Today I had to run an errand for work, and decided to see the film on the way back home.
And it. Was. Spectacular...
I'm putting my full comment in an extended entry so people who haven't seen it yet can do so... but, suffice to say, it's absolutely everything you want in a comic book movie. Go see it immediately.
For everybody else? Continue at your own risk...→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on March 12th, 2016
My brain is melting.
Marvel continues to blow past my expectations with each new film.
Cannot wait for this.