Tag Archives: MCU

Thor: Ragnarok

The problem with reviewing a new Marvel movie is the same as the problem with reviewing a new Dresden Files or Vlad Taltos book: too much accumulated past knowledge is required.That is, the only way to come close to getting a coherent thought out of me is if I assume you are aware of everything that has come before. Otherwise, I’m bound to spoil for previous movies.

For example, Thor: Ragnarok, which is not only the third Thor movie, it’s in the high teens for total Marvel Cinematic Universe movies overall. And okay, they don’t all of them interweave so tightly that you would need all the movies under your belt, but it’s still something like five or six, just to cover all the returning characters.

So, screw it, I’m doing that spoil for previous movies thing. See, the first Thor movie was about learning how to be worthy. Thor starts off as a bro, and needs to be a hero instead. Cool. The second one was about family (and also a little bit about the eventual Infinity War that we’re not quite to, yet, but that’s plot, and I’m talking theme here). Like, Loki is still a bad guy, or at least a mischief guy, but the brothers are brothers again and don’t have to spend so much energy on hating each other. It was nice!

This third movie is about becoming an adult. Training wheels are off, the end of the world Asgard is at hand, and Thor (and whoever else is willing to side with him; telling you in advance would be, well, telling) has to figure everything out for himself. Which, not bad for a dude who was a bro like six years ago. I mean, assuming he succeeds. But trying is also pretty cool. Bro Thor from 2011 would not have even tried to do anything except maybe tug on Odin’s arm, unless it was to charge forward blindly and get himself killed in the first thirty seconds.

So, that’s what the movie is. Remaining things to know are that it was almost more comedy  than action movie; that it has my personal favorite use of a Led Zeppelin song; that of course it was good, although at the same time it’s hard to know how to trust my opinion here anymore[1]; and that… no, I take it back, anything else I could possibly say would definitely be spoilers. Go see it!

[1] I mean, I didn’t like the Inhumans series, so at least I know there’s a bottom to this well of good faith.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

I saw the MCU[1] version of Spider-Man nearly a week ago, which is becoming an uncomfortably common trend. I kind of have my job to blame, but maybe the ability to write and post from work (thanks, wifi hotspot!) will put a kibosh on all this. Then again, considering the degree to which my workload is about to increase, maybe it won’t.

Almost everything I want to say about it is along the lines of “How cool was it when…” or “Did you notice the easter egg about…”, which is problematic mainly because all of those things are spoilers. What’s not bad is that it means the movie was extremely cool and fun for me, and probably would be for you as well.

In any event, this borrowed as heavily and as obviously from Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man as most of the rest of the MCU has done from respective other branches of the Ultimate Marvel series, which as you will know from years of my reviews of Bendis’ work, I strongly approve of. Peter is a good kid who’s in over his head but who has the potential to be forged into the moral center of the superheroing world. Not yet, though; for now he really is a kid, and it will be fun letting him do that for a little while.

Also: Michael Keaton hit it out of the park.

Also also: the title is kind of… like, yes there was a Homecoming Dance, and I suppose it featured heavily in the high school life of one Peter Parker and his various friends, but seriously, they named a movie after the fact that they finally negotiated the rights to bring Spider-Man back under the Marvel umbrella instead of where it has languished in Sonyland for decades. And that’s just silly insider baseball stuff. Come on, guys, give me a real title for the next one.

Also also also: Spider-Man is straight up my favorite superhero, so it’s possible I’m biased on the praise I have provided today. Do with this knowledge what you will.

[1] Marvel Cinematic Universe, ie all the stuff under the Marvel Studios brand, ie Iron Man, The Avengers, Agents of SHIELD, etc.

The Avengers (2012)

It’s been I suppose weeks since I actually saw The Avengers, which is as personally frustrating as it is lame. But the larger problem (even though I’ve seen it twice) is that it makes it hard to remember any specific discussion I may have wanted to engage. So, obviously it was good. You already know that because I saw it twice. (Savvy viewers may also have known it because of what a good job has been done with the various properties leading up to this moment, or because they’ve watched Joss Whedon’s writing/direction in other formats.)

But let’s say you’ve done none of those things, and now you’re wondering if you want to go see a movie in which the Norse god of mischief acts as a catspaw for an invading alien army bent on conquering the earth and also stealing a head-sized white cube filled with limitless cosmic power, and then a bunch of Marvel superheroes attempt to quip aside their differences and prevent this clearly bad outcome? The answer is yes, and here’s the reason why: even though it may not be the best plot you’ve ever seen, it is very probably the most comic-booky plot you’ve ever seen, and not only is the dialogue consistently great, but practically every moment (and 100% of the moments in the third act) were among the most fun I’ve had at the movies.

Put another way: would definitely watch a third time.

Iron Man (2008)

mv5bmtcznti2oduwof5bml5banbnxkftztcwmtu0ntizmw-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Going to a sneak preview is a thing that… well, okay, I’ve done it pretty damn recently, but I haven’t been to an advance preview for a blockbuster that everyone in the world is going to see, at least not in a while. However, I have an awesome friend named Kara who has that skill where she knows every single person on the planet, and can therefore get into clubs or crowded restaurants sans reservation, that kind of thing. As a result, she received an astonishing number of passes to Iron Man last night. Enough to fill more than an entire middle row with people that she knows (many of them people I know as well, and not incidentally including me). And this is just not an unusual event around her. So, yay Kara!

And then, on top of being surrounded by awesome, there was the whole ‘crowd of people who all love this idea too’ that I’ve mentioned liking from time to time. The energy of a theater full of real fans, in a big event movie like this, is something I really dig. (Even though, sometimes, I felt a little like our row was appreciating everything on a more visceral level than the rest of the crowd. I don’t know if this is factual or just proximity to what I could hear best, and if it is true, I don’t how much to blame on the huge press section just below us in the middle.) The downside of crowds is that, even in shorts and a t-shirt, I was dying of heat by the final act. Too many people and lack of air-conditioning spells consequences, my friends. But they did sell me a milkshake, so that was pleasant.

The careful readers among you may be noticing that I haven’t said very much about the actual movie yet. There’s a good reason for this, which is that I don’t wish to set anyone’s expectations at an unfortunate level. Realize that my Iron Man experience essentially consists of the first couple of years of him in the comics, plus the first many years of his time with the Avengers, and whatever odds and ends I’ve heard about his doings in the Civil War thing that just happened, but my feeling is that the latter has no real bearing on anything for these purposes. But, with the amount of Iron Man experience I have, I’m prepared to say that this is the best Marvel movie that wasn’t Spider-Man.

Contributing factors to this claim include the awesomeness of Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark, more special effects than you can shake a pointed stick at, the tastefully understated but always clear and heartfelt interactions[1] between Tony and his friends (which casts a wider net than you may initially think), the ease with which origin story and Iron Man versus a bad guy were shoehorned into the same two hours, and I’ll have to reiterate how great Robert Downey Jr. was. Even though I’m only familiar with the 1960s versions of the characters, it’s instantly apparent that at least Tony Stark and Pepper Potts were meant to grow into these two characters when adjusted for modernity. There’s no way to ask for more than pitch perfect characterization in a comic book adaptation; if you have that, the rest is guaranteed to work, says me. And this? Did.

[1] Later, you’re going to realize that this is hilarious.