Friday, May 25, 2018

What a year in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

Image via https://movieweb.com/marvel-studios-10-years-mcu-fandom-video/
NOTE - If the spacing in this post seems a little wonky, we had tech issues. Obviously tech issues that are not easily corrected. Hey, cut us some slack... we're rusty!

Karen: Since Doug and I are popping back into the blog-o-sphere briefly, we want to take the opportunity to discuss a few of the Marvel films that have come out recently. Since these have been out a while now, this discussion will be SPOILER-FILLED, so stop reading now if you haven't seen them yet and still want to be surprised! OK? Ready? You can't blame us now if your little hearts are broken by anything you read!

Karen: I had the luck to see Avengers: Infinity War on a huge screen at the Alamo Drafthouse in Kansas City, MO while visiting friends, and what an experience. The film is a visual powerhouse, a true spectacle -this is essentially the culmination of all of the preceding films, well, certainly the Avengers films, and it moves at a good clip. It was ideal to see it with a packed house that was completely engaged. Lots of folks applauding, laughing, gasping -but when the movie ended, it was completely silent. This was not your typical Marvel film (I think they tipped their hand somewhat at the beginning, when the opening credits rolled and there was no Marvel fanfare music). "Gut-punched" is the best way I can describe it. I have seen it again, and the impact is lessened somewhat, but it's still pretty wrenching. Of course, the original Avengers are left alive, and I am sure that in Avengers 4, they will find a way to bring the missing half of the population back -and I'm betting they pay a price to do so.


Doug: I saw A:IW on the best Saturday ever! My oldest son was able to come home for the weekend and we saw Avengers at a noon showing at the Paramount Theater in Kankakee, IL. After a late lunch, we headed to the Venue at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, IN to take in Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles. I don't know if any two human being should be allowed to have that much fun in one day.

Karen: Wow, I don't know if you could get much further apart in tone - at least you ended your day with the more upbeat entertainment!


Doug: Rain was great. We've seen them twice. Each time, the showstopper is "George Harrison's" rendition of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Standing ovation each time.

Doug: We also had a pretty interactive crowd during our screening of Infinity War. Of note was the entrance of Captain America, which brought about quite a commotion. Very well done. The Guardians of the Galaxy of course stole the show whenever they hit the screen, and I thought The Spinners' Rubberband Man was a great way to announce their arrival. I agree with you, though, that the film opened on a dark note - picking right up from the conclusion of Thor: Ragnarok, but without any of that film's humor. After years of glimpses here and there, we finally got to see Thanos in all his incredibleness. He didn't disappoint. And from there it was "buckle your seatbelts", because we indeed got a tour of the galaxy that was enough to make one's head spin. I have not seen the movie a second time, but would like to.

Karen: I think the second (or third...) viewing helps to dial in the details, and also bring the characters more into focus. I guess that's where I felt a bit let down. Beyond the spectacle of it all, which admittedly is amazing, I was a little disappointed that we didn't get more character development, or key moments with some characters. I will say Thor had a fantastic story within the film. He has been so utterly devastated, but returns in the final act so heroically... although  his ultimate attack on Thanos ends in failure. Tony Stark sees his fears realized, and Robert Downey Jr does a terrific job. I really enjoyed his exchanges with Benedict Cumberbatch as the equally-arrogant Dr. Strange. But I was completely surprised by Hulk losing his nerve -and a little disappointed too. For Avengers 4, I suspect we may see him emerge as some version of "Smart Hulk," with Banner more in control. I would have liked more Cap too, but I imagine he'll get more time in the next film. It was sweet seeing the Vision/Wanda romance on the big screen, although it is suddenly in full bloom - obviously a lot has happened since Civil War. And depending on what happens in the next film, this might be all we see of that relationship.

 

Doug: I also felt like a ball had been dropped with the Hulk/Banner character(s). The aforementioned Thor: Ragnarok had finally given us a Hulk that fans of the Bronze Age Defenders have been awaiting - funny, crude, and just plain incredible. But after his sudden appearance as the apparent savior of the Asgardians' ship, that was all.
So while seeing Banner in the Hulkbuster armor was kind of cool, that he never broke out of it and unleashed a berserker rage was disappointing.

Karen: Agreed, we had a full-on, talking, smashing Hulk, almost as if a Sal Buscema drawing had come to life! All we got was that fake trailer with him running with the rest of the Avengers in Wakanda. Bummer!


Doug: I loved that the Vision had somehow gotten his hands on Nightcrawler's "image inducer" (sheesh... second time that's come up this week) and we saw him as a sort of Victor Shade. However, although he and Wanda got quite a bit of screen time, their powers felt really off. She was suddenly the strongest Avenger (until Thor arrived), and whereas I'd hoped to see the Vision we'd seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, we instead got a character who spent most of the picture as a victim. So despite really, really liking the film, I'm starting to sound bitter with my Hulk comments ahead of this negativity. But I really did like it!

Karen: I hear you - I don't want to complain either, considering how much Marvel had done! It's just, well, I want more! There were so many deaths. I think the ones caused by Thanos' use of the stones will get reversed, but the earlier ones?

Hard to say. I wonder if Loki is truly dead. He essentially pulled a knife on Thanos, which didn't seem very clever of him. Given his capability with illusion, could he have fooled the Titan and removed himself so he could plot against him and  strike at the right time? Tom Hiddleston has done such a wonderful job with Loki that I'd hate to see him go out so pointlessly. Let him have a moment of sheer ruthless calculation and trickery.

Doug: Rumors are running hot and heavy in the past few weeks that Avengers 4 is going to look an awful lot like Avengers Forever. And if you recall, Captain Mar-Vell's son Genis-Vell had a large role there. Could our newly arriving Captain Marvel fit into that part? It's pretty obvious that time travel is going to have to be a component of Avengers 4, and I'm wondering if the assumed rescue of Janet van Dyne from the microverse in Ant-Man and the Wasp this summer will play into what's to come. And seriously - if somehow out of this we get to see Hawkeye in the Old West, my life will about be complete!
 


Karen: Funny -my husband and I were trying to figure out how they will right things, and getting the Gauntlet back and just reversing time would be too simple. We wondered if Ant-Man's "quantum realm" or whatever it is might be the key to traveling through time -or to an alternate reality -to somehow fix things. Now, I would think the odds are unlikely we'll get Hawkeye running around with the Two-Gun Kid, but I'd love to see Kang show up!



Karen: Thanos was very well done -I never felt taken out of the movie by the CGI. Very convincing. Even though they changed his motivation, it worked. It's probably easier for a general audience to accept a genocidal desire to balance the population than a love for the physical manifestation of Death. I mentioned to my husband that he came off like a dark Jor-El -he saw a threat to his planet, and the universe, and when no one listened, rather than trying to save people or at least save his loved ones, he decides to kill half the population. He's also sort of the opposite of Cap. When Cap was on Sokovia and they were talking about blowing it up, he refused until everyone was off. Cap is unwilling to trade in lives. Thanos sees it as essential to saving other lives. I suppose you can justify anything if you try hard enough.



Doug: Thanos was pretty convincing in his logic. His logic. Isn't Cap great? I do have another minor disappointment in A:IW, and that's when Cap and Thanos went mano a mano we didn't get to hear Cap say, "I could do this all day." You mentioned above some of the great interactions between the various characters. The directors did a wonderful job of balancing all of these actors and egos and really moving the story forward in a concise manner.
And also as you said, some of the characters really played wonderfully off each other. Also worth mentioning is the chemistry between Thor and Quill, and of course between Stark and young Parker. And how about that scene where our two resident psychos - Winter Soldier and Rocket Raccoon - teamed up to blast any and all alien baddies? Loved it! 


Karen: There were so many great team-ups. Didn't you think that Stark was really missing his old, reliable, professional Avengers team-mates when he was stuck with the idiotic Guardians on Titan? The exasperation was just pouring out of him! And I still crack up thinking about this exchange: "I am Groot!" "I am Steve Rogers!"



Doug: There's probably one other major thing from Infinity War that bears discussion, and that would be the appearance of the Red Skull. What did you think of that? I know for my son and I it was literally jaw-dropping. For me, it fit perfectly and was a nicely wrapped surprise. I will also say that I was able to see Infinity War spoiler-free. Even the trailers and pre-release publicity kept everything to the guessing/anticipation stage.


Karen: At first when I saw that hooded figure I thought, "Wow, are they going to bring in Mistress Death?" But honestly, the Red Skull was just as good -maybe better, because it was so cool to discover what had become of him. And I agree about seeing it spoiler-free: I have to commend my fellow fans, because it seemed like no one was letting anything out this time. It was wonderful to experience this film cold, basically.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Doug: We're going to interrupt today's post for an intermission. For those among us of a certain age - and if you are, you know what I mean - there was one aspect of Avengers: Infinity War that was especially affecting. Longtime commenter and resident cartoonist PF Gavigan contacted us ahead of our return and offered to do a strip specifically for today's post. We are thrilled to display it below, and then we'll be back to our MCU thoughts.





________________________________________________________________________________
Karen: I'm really excited about the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp movie -it will be like a refreshing, light breeze after this heavy affair. And it was such a thrill to see Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster in the trailer, directly referencing being Goliath! I'm assuming the film takes place before Infinity War. But I wonder if the end credits scenes may lead us into Avengers 4.


Doug: Which makes me wonder... if there's a time travel element to Avengers 4, are we going to find out that the Avengers Initiative was not a project invented upon Thor's arrival, as Nick Fury has suggested? Sure seems like there were heroes running around before Iron Man - three size-changers that we now know of, and that Easter egg with the Original Human Torch has been on my back burner since first seeing Captain America: The First Avenger.


Karen: Well, I've kind of wondered if it was something Nick Fury, Peggy Carter, and Howard Stark cooked up, since he told Tony about it at the end of Iron Man. But who knows -was there a proto-Avengers team? Did Hank Pym know Carol Danvers?


Doug: If this Ant-Man film is anything like its predecessor, we're in for a light-hearted, popcorn movie treat. And I think I really appreciate that about Marvel, as compared to their Distinguished Competition. Marvel gets it - they know that there were comics before and after the Dark Ages of the late 1980s-early 2000s. DC seems to have forgotten that they were the light-hearted company through the 1940s-mid-1980s. It's a shame; hopefully they find their identity a bit with the upcoming Shazam! film.


Karen: Of course, Black Panther was also a huge hit for Marvel, and is already out on blu-ray/DVD. I still can't get over how fast these movies are available to stream/buy after they hit the theaters. This was also a spectacular-looking film - I have to say the movie version of Wakanda was far grander than any version I recall from the comics. It was so perfectly envisioned -and it was cool to see it in Infinity War again. Panther had one of the best casts of any Marvel movie, and a very strong story. Chadwick Boseman has completely won me over as T'Challa.





Doug: I made the trek to Indiana the Thursday before Veterans' Day to see BP with my sons. We had a great time. We really liked it. Yes - the spectacle of it was incredible. I was pleasantly surprised that M'Baka the Man-Ape was in the film and how well he was portrayed. Erik Killmonger raised some important philosophical issues, giving us that Dr. King/Malcolm X dichotomy. I have read numerous comments online and have had some meaningful conversations with some of my students of color after this film came out. In addition to being a grand superhero film, Marvel has opened some dialogue that (unfortunately) still needs to take place.



Karen: The impact of Black Panther has been amazing to see. I have to admit I was not prepared for just how big it would be. How many young people will see this and it will be their Star Wars - that movie that forever changed everything for them? Who knows what crop of film-makers or writers or artists or even scientists and engineers may spring up after being inspired by this movie? It might sound like hyperbole, but films and TV shows can really affect people.

Doug: You know, we could go on and on here - we haven't really touched Guardians of the Galaxy, volume 2. And shoot - even though not an MCU film, I was going to bring up War for the Planet of the Apes! But maybe we'll just see what direction this takes in the comments - that's right, now it's reader's write time!



10 comments:

Martinex1 said...

Great rundown of the films today! I like you have been pretty amazed by the overall quality of the films recently. I just want to live long enough to see a Disney Marvel-Land in Florida!

Interesting thoughts around an Avengers Forever type resolution. The new Captain Marvel movie is supposed to take place in the 1990s so perhaps that will be part of the mix. I’d like to see some of the weaker heroes taking on Thanos and I’d love to see Hawkeye in a game of wits and trickery with the Grandmaster and Thanos - cheating his way to victory.

Who knows? The filmmakers have done a pretty nice job of surprising the audience thus far so I hope they keep it up. Someday I’d like to see Wonder Man and the Beast, Tigra, Subby, the Invaders, and a real Defenders film too.

Doug said...

I can echo that wish list, Martinex! I think that if they indeed establish time travel as a convention in the MCU, the doors swing open to all sorts of adventures.

Once the FF are up and running, can you see a scene ripped from FF #5, with Ben as Blackbeard the Pirate??

Ant-Man and the Wasp should be light and breezy, similar to Thor: Ragnarok. I'm looking forward to it.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

LALALALALALALALALALA!
Didn't hear anything, didn't see anything!
Ignoring this post and conversation until I (finally) see Infinity War tonight, my time. I'll be back afterward or tomorrow to share my thoughts.

Mike Wilson said...

Yeah, I think Carol Danvers will play a big part in the next Avengers movie. As you said, her movie is set in the 90s, but I have a feeling it might take a time jump and lead directly into Avengers 4 ... I think Captain Marvel is scheduled to come out the month before Avengers. I'm curious to see where Carol's been all this time, and why she wasn't called in for the crises in the first two Avengers movies. (I know, I know, it's because they hadn't committed to making a Captain Marvel movie at that point ... but I wanna see the in-universe explanation.)

Doug said...

As I said in the post, Mike, I think at some point there is going to be a revelation that the Avengers Initiative has been going on longer than we suspect. Jimmy Woo is to be in the Captain Marvel film, and he's definitely tied to that earlier Marvel era (at least in the comics). But for Scott Lang and Bill Foster to be casually comparing the heights they've reached, Foster had to at some point have used that. We already know the Pyms were active.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

O.k. Saw it. But it's late at night here and I'm going to hit the sack soon. Probably be back tomorrow with more thoughts. I'll just say this, though: really liked it, as I did pretty much every other Marvel movie - I actually managed to avoid spoilers, but even so, I wasn't too surprised by the ending, because I remember reading an article about the MCU a few years ago in which it was mentioned that the Infinity War/Thanos Avengers showdown would have two parts.
One thing I just loved, and have to mention now: Thor calling Rocket "Rabbit."
Also, the Capt. Marvel movie, and her role in the unfolding Avengers saga, was teased in the post credits scene.
Anyway, nighty-night everyone.

The Prowler said...

I had a great week guys!!! (Exclamation marks!!!) Enjoyed the posts. Yesterday will take a few readings to fully digest. (Side note to Doug: I downloaded some of the images and ran them through my tablet. I posted them on my little blog if you want to see what it does. I can't find what the program is but it came preloaded on my Dell tablet.)

I have overall enjoyed the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think overall, they are bringing "the comics" to life. One scene that I think captures that is the airport fight in Civil War. When suddenly a giant appears and it's just overwhelming to the assembled (yes, I used that word) heroes. AND THEN, THE VISION PHASES THROUGH HIM!!! Too cool...

Two downbeats, if I might throw them out. What the heck happened to Lady Sif? I mean, come on, you could have recast her and tied a bow in that string, just saying...

I did not like how they handled the Hulk!!! You could have had him fight Thanos, which they did, and lose, which he does but done it a bit differently. Have the Hulk keep coming back and coming back because he can't quit. Thanos is starting to cause serious damage, to the point where the Hulk could be killed. In desperation, Heimdahl spirits Hulk away to save Hulk's life and allow him to warn Earth. A frustrated Thanos kills Heimdahl for robbing him of his victory. Banner appears on Earth, warns everyone. When the space ship appears, he changes to the Hulk but the Hulk is still battered, near death even. Dr Strange has to quickly change him back and warn him not to change into the Hulk. Work for me...

(As I sit in this smokey room
The night about to end
I pass my time with strangers
But this bottle's my only friend

Remember when we used to park
Out on Butler Street out in the dark
Remember when we lost the keys
And you lost more than that in my backseat baby

Remember how we used to talk
About busting out
We'd break their hearts
Together forever

Never say goodbye
Never say goodbye
You and me and my old friends
Hoping it would never end
Say goodbye
Never say goodbye
Holdin' on we gotta try
Holdin' on to never say goodbye

Remember days of skipping school
Racing cars and being cool
With a six pack and the radio
We didn't need no place to go

Remember at the prom that night
You and me we had a fight
But the band they played our favorite song
And I held you in my arms so strong

We danced so close
We danced so slow
And I swore I'd never let you go
Together forever

Never say goodbye
Never say goodbye
You and me and my old friends
Hoping it would never end
Say goodbye
Never say goodbye
Holdin' on we gotta try
Holdin' on to never say goodbye

I guess you'd say we used to talk
About busting out
We'd break their hearts
Together forever

Never say goodbye
Never say goodbye
You and me and my old friends
Hoping it would never end
Say goodbye
Never say goodbye
Holdin' on we gotta try
Holdin' on to never say goodbye).

Anonymous said...

Yeah great discussion here guys. I too am curious about the direction in which the Hulk is going in these films. While it was great to see Banner in a Hulkbuster suit, the reluctance of the Hulk persona to emerge was a letdown to me. Prowler, you and me are in the same boat when it comes to the Hulk buddy! It'll be interesting to see how they resolve this in Avengers 4.

Edo, Thor's constant reference to Rocket Raccoon as 'rabbit' was funny to me as well. I loved Josh Brolin's portrayal of Thanos - I could actually sympathize with this villain in a twisted kind of way. I'm kind of ambivalent about the appearance of the Red Skull. It was great to see the character again, but I'm not too sold on his role as the Keeper of the Soul stone.

Loved Scarlet Witch and Vision too, even though the Vision as Doug pointed out spent most of this movie as a victim. To me, the interactions between the characters were the best part for me; Vision/Scarlet Witch, Tony Stark/Peter Parker, Tony Stark/Doctor Strange, Thor/Starlord, Thanos/Gamora, heck even Rocket/Bucky!

I'm definitely looking forward to Captain Marvel.



- Mike 'he should change his name to Rocket Rabbit' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Redartz said...

Late checking in, but greatly enjoyed your takes on the movies and the subsequent discussion. These last two Marvel films have left me breathless. Better than I could have ever imagined , our comics truly come to life. Am also anticipating Ant Man and the Wasp; a breath of levity would be welcome. As for what would be great to see onscreen: some of Steve Gerber's Defenders craziness. Headmen, and maybe an elf?

Edo Bosnar said...

All right, back now, it's morning, and I've just re-read this post, and the spoilerific post at BitBA, and a few other posts about the movie.
Like I said above, I liked it very, very much. It was like a big summer annual or treasury edition with tons of heroes, and it's to the credit of the film's creative team, i.e. directors and writers, that given the busload of characters, it never felt crowded. And it was wonderfully paced, with great action scenes interspersed with quieter, character bits and, of course, the trademark MCU humor.
The buddy I saw it with, who's not really a comics reader but absolutely loves the super-hero movies, noted that the last part and the end were really dark - noting that he found that similar to the recent DC movies - and I can't disagree. However, in this case, given everything that came before in the MCU, i.e., the build-up, this one really earned it. It wasn't dark and gritty just because, but rather in the service of the story. And as others have noted, Thanos was a really well-developed, fleshed out character with a clear, logical (in his own mind) motivation. And yes, even though he was CGI, there was never a moment when he appeared on screen that he didn't seem 'real.'
I'm curious as to how this will be wrapped up in the next Avengers movie, and how Ant Man & Wasp and Captain Marvel will deal with, or relate to, the events in this one. I found myself thinking a lot about this last night while driving home, and I found myself mulling over Dr. Strange's role in particular, and his cryptic "It had to be this way" before he turned to dust. The important thing here, I think, is that Thanos had to use the time stone to restore the destroyed mind stone - that's the key plot point that will in some way be his undoing, and probably undo a lot of the heavy stuff that happened right at the end.
(By the way, there's an interesting post about Infinity War at the Atomic Junk Shop that I just read this morning before coming here. It's a real deep dive and I didn't necessarily agree with all of the conclusions, or speculation about future films, but I found it interesting that he also came to a similar conclusion about Thanos using the time stone.)
By the way, someone in the BitBA comments mentioned Adam Warlock - I think even after this Thanos situation is handled, the infinity stones will remain in play, or at least some of them, like the soul stone. That's because of the teaser post-credits scene in the last Guardians of the Galaxy movie, in which the leader of the Sovereign mentions that they're making a perfect, and golden I assume, man called "Adam."

As to the other Marvel films that preceded this one - loved them as well. Black Panther was all kinds of awesome, and Ragnarok, despite it's often dark subject matter, was just a rollicking fun movie. Also, I now want a film dedicated to Okoye, guest-starring Valkyrie.

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