Posted on June 19th, 2023
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is unraveling, and it started with their Phase Four slate.
I liked Black Widow quite a bit. It wasn't a perfect film, but it was good entertainment. I loved Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It added a new layer to super-heroics and made things feel fresh. Eternals was a big convoluted mess of a film, but I grew to appreciate it after a couple more viewings. Had they just focused on a smaller set of the more interesting characters (and killed off Sprite in the opening five minutes) it could have been a really good flick. Spider-Man: No Way Home was fan service from start to finish, but it was darn good fan service and a step up from the previous Spider film. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was just okay. It did Wanda dirty and kinda spun its wheels in ways that were tedious, but Doctor Strange is one of my favorite Marvel characters, so I made allowances. Thor: Love and Thunder got panned, but I actually liked it well enough. Yes, it went off-the-rails silly and Taika should have been reigned in, but it was still fun to watch. Then we get to the only movie in Phase Four that completely knocked it out of the park: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. As impossible as it was to imagine a Black Panther movie without Black Panther, Ryan Coogler just completely nailed why we are invested in Wakanda and the characters who inhabit it.
And then we got to Phase Five.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania was a barely good movie that squandered the characters in a way that I don't understand at all. What made the first two so great is the fact that Ant-Man is a tiny hero in a big world is exploited for fantastic action, cool scenarios, and genuine laughs. By shoving him to "The Quantum Realm," every bit of that is lost. There's no scale for anything. Laughs are driven by just being weird instead of being funny. The action went wider in scope, which actually felt more confined. It was C+ entertainment that had me mad at the missed opportunity of a much, much better film.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 was a complete 180° (mostly in a good way, though it definitely had some major problems) and, when paired with Shang-Chi and Wakanda Forever, was what Phase Four should have been. Films which were orchestrated with, intent, purpose, and quality that made Phases One through Three the benchmark for comic book movies. But instead Marvel did was Marvel used to never do... make films which are only good because of their context within a bigger universe. They don't really stand on their own and aren't really all that entertaining on their own. Quantumania was a vehicle to introduce Kang, and they didn't care how they had to force the movie to go to do that.
And don't get me started on the Marvel Shows for Disney+. With the sole exception of Hawkeye, which was better than many Marvel movies as of late, everything had its problems and is pretty forgettable to me. Secret Invasion starts Wednesday and looks promising. After that it's Loki 2 and, heaven help us, Echo. From there it's more static until Daredevil: Born Again arrives next year.
I understand what Marvel/Disney was trying to do with their Disney+ shows... extend the franchise with stories which need more room than a movie or wouldn't work as a movie... provide content for the streaming service... and give people something Marvel to watch in-between the films. But most importantly, it introduced us to characters like Moon Knight, She-Hulk, and (soon to be) Wonder Man who can pop up in the next Big Thing: Secret Wars (now delayed until... 2026?!?).
Industry pundits are saying that the decline in attention to Marvel's films is due to "super-hero fatigue." And while that's certainly a part of it... the simple fact is that Marvel isn't churning out as good as content as they used to. Which is a shame, because these are among my favorite films of all time.
Fortunately I can always go back and revisit those incredible early flicks any time I want.
Posted on April 11th, 2023
We have to wait until NOVEMBER to get to see The Marvels, which is many months too long.
Especially when you look at this incredible new trailer that just dropped...
They came up with a great way to make this crossover happen, and Kamala Khan is adorable.
But it's seven+ months away.
An even bigger bummer is that Disney is dictating that Marvel slow down its output. "Quality over Quantity." And yet... in my mind it's not the movies that are suffering. Granted, I haven't seen Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania yet, but there hasn't been many missteps (only Eternals comes to mind, because it was a bit of a mess... but it's also a fun watch). No, for me it's the television shows that aren't up to the quality they should be.
But I haven't hated any of them.
I thought WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier were okay. Loki was good. Hawkeye was fantastic. Moon Knight was a disappointment. Ms. Marvel didn't live up to its potential. And I thought She-Hulk was good, but the ending leaned too hard into the whole fourth-wall-breaking stuff and short-changed the emotional stakes of the show.
Of the upcoming shows... Secret Invasion looks fantastic. Loki will likely be good. Ironheart could be great... if the story is worth watching. Echo I don't care about... unless it is guest-star heavy. Agatha: Coven of Chaos will likely not be my cup of tea (although I will absolutely watch it). And then there's Daredevil: Born Again... holy crap am I excited for this series. Charlie Cox's Netflix show was amazing, and his guest spot in She-Hulk was as good as it gets. I love the idea that he might be a little more upbeat and fun rather than the never-ending gloom of the Netflix show. She-Hulk shows that he can be serious... but also fun and exciting to watch. I hope they give him an overwhelming villain to really show off his abilities.
Marvel has done a great job bringing their comic book characters to live action. I seriously hope that their "stepping back" doesn't kill the momentum they've been building. Because we've got Secret Wars coming up, and that has such exciting possibilities that the potential for success is extremely high (assuming they really take advantage of what Secret Wars was and could be).
Posted on October 26th, 2022
Now that I've been cutting streaming services left and right to save money for fixing all the stuff going wrong in my home, I'm confining myself to the few streaming services that I still have left. Which is Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Discovery+, and YouTube. Some of these were pre-paid for a year... but Netflix will be rotated with with Hulu and Paramount+ and Peacock so I can keep up with all the shows I watch.
Since I missed a week blogging, I thought I'd list out some of the stuff that I've been watching.
I've watched the Season Finale of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law three times, but have held off talking about it because I wanted to make sure that everybody had a chance to see it. There's a lot to love about this series (starting with Tatiana Maslany), but if I had to pick one thing that absolutely thrilled me... it would be seeing Matt Murdock happy. Unlike the dark, dour, depressing Daredevil in the Netflix Universe, which was amazing... the MCU version is the complete opposite and amazing too. Hats off to Charlie Cox... only an actor with some real talent has the chops to pull off both versions of the character. What's so hilarious to me are all the people going on and on about how She-Hulk RUINED THE CHARACTER! No... they didn't. That version is still available to watch if that's what you want. If nothing else, the action was on-point...
In all honesty, I think that the reason people are pouring so much hate on She-Hulk is because it confronts toxic masculinity head-on. Oh well. Stay mad about it, I guess. I thought the series was entertaining as hell and really want a second season.
I'm not done raving about Andor yet. That show is remarkably well thought-out and realized. And the acting is just beyond. Diego Luna is incredible (as expected) but there's nobody falling short of his example, and it's amazing to watch. The eighth episode is fantastic in that you can see they are actually building towards something, and nothing that's come before was by accident. Four more episodes of the first season to go, and I am betting they will just keep amping up as we hurl towards the finish line. Must watch television.
I've been heavily invested in the Netflix series From Scratch with Zoe Saldana. I am fully aware how the show ends (it's based on a true story), but I didn't realize just how heartbreaking they would make it out to be. It's one thing to know something... it's quite another to see it play out with such nuance. After the fourth episode, I only have the heart to watch them one at a time. The problem is that I thought there were six episodes... there are actually eight, and I still have the last two to go. Well worth your time if you're in the mindset for it...
Just have a box of Kleenex ready.
And speaking of knowing how the show ends... I finished the first season of House of the Dragon. Since I've read the book on which it's based, I know exactly what it's all leading to, but that hasn't dampened my appreciation for the show. It reminds me of the early seasons of Game of Thrones. But since the showrunners won't have to make up their own ending, I think Dragon has a much better chance of having a good ending (unlike Thrones which was a complete shit-show)...
Apparently they have the book broken down into four seasons. So three more to go to find out if it actually lived up to its potential, I suppose.
And I'm going to end with this YouTube video of Wayne Brady talking about one of the most hilarious sketches ever to appear on television. This is a deep dive that peels back the curtain in a very interesting and important way...