Category Archives: Movies

My thoughts on movies

Will Superhero Movies Go The Way of Westerns.

desktop-1441735070Steven Spielberg told the associated press  “There will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western,” That is quite the statement in the current climate of big budget movies filling seats and filling the coffers of the movie Execs. First gut reaction was “What he must be crazy.” I do how ever want to take a more in depth look at the statement.

First of all I live in the town of Kanab also know as Little Hollywood. Why is it called that you ask? Well a good portion of western movies and TV shows were filmed here and their sets still can be seen today. So westerns are a big part of this towns culture and also a lot of the residence still are Cowboys and Gals. The town enjoys the history of the boom of Western movies and we celebrate it every year with the western legends round up.

Westerns did diminish in production that is a fact. Hollywood decided to move on and focus on other genres. They did not how ever stop releasing good western movies here is a list of movies over the past few years and these are just of the top of my head.

  1. Cowboys and Aliens
  2. Django
  3. True Grit
  4. Appaloosa
  5. Priest
  6. 3-10 to Yuma

So is the the genre dead. No It has never been dead. People still want to be that cowboy or out law fighting to survive.

I now come to Superhero movies. We have seen an explosion of good, no great movies that have enthralled the audiences with a chance to step in the shoes of their favorite hero of their childhood. Children are gaining a new respect for these characters too.

Both DC & Marvel have slated movies clear into 2020. Are they going to fill the seats up til then and into the future. I truly think they will because these types of movies are not new to us. Superman debuted in film and TV in the 1950s close to 65 years ago he alone has gone through many an TV show and Movie with huge followings. Many still believe Christopher Reeves is the Best Superman and not too mention the Smallville cult following is immense. I could go through many other comic book heroes and point out all there TV appearance and Movies they have been in but that could take me some time.

Will these movies slow down in popularity. Well more than likely nothing can sustain the growth it is currently enjoying. But will the disappear or become unpopular I say no. People always want to get away from their lives even if it is for two fantastical hours with their hero. Also look at the content available for Hollywood producer to draw on. content that already has a following a base to start from. Hollywood execs know that if they place the right project in the right hands they will be able to fill seats.

Not to say that all Superhero movies are made equal. We currently have had the opportunity to see two franchises that point out that it is all about who is at the helm on whether we receive a movie worth watching.

Guardians of the Galaxy stands out as a story line that had little following and was very obscure content that know one knew. I recall taking to a good friend of mine saying Marvel has done it wrong now. Oh how I was wrong. I went to go and see the movie and I was blown away by how I was drawn into the characters who I knew little about and enjoyed every minute of it.

Then there is Fantastic Four. This franchise was well known and people were excited for the reboot to see if it can live up to their expectation. Unfortunately it fell flat. Disjointed and a confusing plot showed that just putting on the title a famous franchise will not make it money.

So back to Spielberg’s statement to the press “Will they go the way of the western.”  No I do not think so. I think the momentum will slow down but myself and so many others are excited to see where the genre takes us.


Bad Super Hero Movies that are Better than The Fantastic Four

In honor of the release of The Fantastic Four last weekend, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some really bad superhero movies. Actually, what made me think of this was seeing that Batman & Robin was available on Netflix. I saw that and thought it would be fun to go over a list of bad superhero movies, maybe a list of the 5 worst superhero movies. Then FF came out and the whole mindset of this list changed. I have put together a list of really bad superhero movies that are better than FF. Better according to whom? Rotten Tomatoes, of course. If you haven’t heard, Fantastic Four is sporting a not so fantastic (yes, I went there) Rotten Tomatoes score of 9%. That is so horrendous that I felt like we needed to give some context. I went through a quick list of really bad comic book flicks and found that quite a few of the ones that are generally considered just awful actually scored better than FF. The only one that I thought of that didn’t was Catwoman, which tied  at 9%, so it wasn’t worse. Let’s begin the list and you’ll get the idea as we go along.

Amazing Spider-Man 2



My first thought was to include Spider-Man 3, the original killer of the franchise, but it turns out this sequel was lower on the tomato scale, coming in at 53%, less that Spider-Man 3’s 63% (really?! 63%?  Wow.). Both films suffer from way too many bad guys and not enough good story or character development. Amazing 2, however, was the one that finally forced Sony to consider working with Marvel, instead of against them. This film was bewildering for me. Was Electro the bad guy, or was it the Goblin, and why was Rhino even in it at all? I give them credit for “going there” with Gwen Stacey’s death, but it wasn’t enough to cover up everything else that was wrong with the film. It was too bad, because I thought the franchise had so much potential. As bad as it was, though, it almost 6 times better than Fantastic Four. Honorable Mention: Spider-Man 3 63%




I really wanted Daredevil to be on this list, but as I went through these movies, I remembered that there was this quasi-sequel that probably belonged more. Daredevil was a bad movie, scoring only 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. You know what makes an even worse movie? When you make a kind of sequel to a horrible movie starring one of the side characters. This was a bad idea from the start, and when I look at the reviews and the images from the film, I am just thankful that Daredevil and all the characters that go along with him are back in the Marvel fold. The score for this movie is 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s still 1% better than Fantastic Four. Honorable Mention: Daredevil 44%

X-Men Origins: Wolverine



There was a time in the late 00’s when Fox was just done with the X-Men. First they made X-Men: The Last Stand, which was almost laughably bad, then they decided to take it even further by trying to ruin all the coolest X-Men characters and one of the better origin stories, all with the same movie. That Masterpiece of disaster was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I don’t know how this movie gets made. The pitch had to be “We want to take Wolverine’s awesome origin story and just ruin it completely. Then we want to take Gambit, who everyone has been waiting to see on film, and just make him totally lame. Then we are going to throw in Deadpool, you know, the Merc with a Mouth? Get this, we are going to take aways his mouth. In the end , we are going to have a big pile of garbage, but it will make lots of money.” I figure they must have had something pretty good on Hugh Jackman to blackmail him into coming on board for this film. Despite all that, it was 4 times better than Fantastic Four with a score of 38%. Honorable Mention: X-Men: The Last Stand 58%

Superman IV- The Quest for Peace



It’s a bad sign when a sequel is given a subtitle and none of the other films in the series has one, that is typically a bad sign. Run away from that movie. That was the case for the needlessly named Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. It is the worst of the four Superman films and the reason why we didn’t see another Superman movie until he returned in 2006. Now, I have gone on record as saying that I have a soft spot for this movie because I remember seeing it in the theaters. I was 5 at the time, and all I cared about was being my favorite superhero, Superman, and I saw him so the movie was great. I can fully recognize, now, that this is a wretched film that should be avoided. Just trust me on that. Despite all of that, the film scored 12%, which is still higher than Fantastic Four. Honorable Mention: Superman III 26%

Batman & Robin



Batman fanboys seem to believe that Batman can do anything. Well, apparently the one thing Batman couldn’t do was save this film. It is so painful to watch, yet you can’t seem to turn away. It is probably one the most universally disliked films ever, unless you are Arnold Schwarzenegger. Pretty much everyone agrees that the performances in this film were just awful, unless, again, you are Arnold Schwarzenegger. This took everything that was wrong with Batman Forever and magnified it and made it worse. And then there’s the issue of bat-nipples. Why? This nightmare, however, beats Fantastic Four by 2%, coming in at 11%. Honorable Mention: Batman Forever 41%

Finally, a film that most people probably didn’t know existed. A film that at first glance looks like the worst one on this list. A film that proves that this latest Fantastic Four movie may be the worst Fantastic Four film of all time. I am talking, of course, about 1994’s unbelievably bad Fantastic Four, which scored 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. In other words, this is better than the high budget, “blockbuster” that was just released last weekend:

Even Doctor Doom looked better in that one. What do you think? Are all of these movies really better than the new Fantastic Four? Has the new FF  set the new low for superhero movies? Let me know in the comments, or contact me directly at

Avengers: Age of Ultron Spoiler Free Review



Last night I had the opportunity to go see Avengers: Age of Ultron, an event that I have been leading up to on the blog over the last two months by reviewing each of the previous 10 Marvel films. Age of Ultron has been incredibly hyped and promoted, to the point that one would think there is now way it could live up to all of it. Well, after being it, I can say it did live up to the hype, at least in my opinion, for the most part. Today, I am going to attempt to review the movie without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it. To do this I am going to break this review into my 5 categories and talk about how it fared in each category without going into detail. Hopefully this works out okay for everyone.


If I had anything to nitpick about this movie, it would be the plot. Not because the story wasn’t entertaining, but because it seems like it followed a lot of the same plot lines as the first Avengers. In the film we see the same stages of team formation that we saw in the first film. We see some forming, then storming, norming and performing. Without going into detail, it seems like at one point in the film, the team is right back where they started in the first Avengers film, despite the fact that they have been working together for a couple of years now. That being said, I don’t know how else you could make a great super hero team movie without finding a way to tell this kind of story. That’s what makes sequels like this so hard. Like I said at the beginning of this section, that’s nitpicking. My brother and i noticed the similarities, but we were also thoroughly entertained. Obviously, while the overall plot may be similar deep down, on the surface it also feels very different because we have a different villain, so in the end it works just fine. Overall, for the plot, I would give this a 4 out 5 stars.


This is one area where the Avengers’ time together shines through. This cast obviously has some great chemistry, and you can tell on screen. There are some great one liners, and while tempting to share a few of them here, I am going to refrain. This has become a trademark of the MCU films, the witty back and forth and snappy dialogue. Age of Ultron is no exception. The main cast is great in their delivery and it is everything you would expect. Throwing in a master of wit, like James Spader, as the main antagonist, and it only helps your cause. He was incredible as Ulton. The way he delivered his lines was classic James Spader. His performance is a highlight of this film. Only die-hard fangirls will be sad that Loki is not involved in this film at all. No one else will miss the god of mischief because of James Spader’s performance. Overall, for the whole film, for dialogue, I would rank this 4.5 stars.

Character Development

I was assuming we would see a little bit of the conflict between Cap and Iron Man begin to emerge in this film, leading into Civil War.  There is a little bit of it there, and you begin to see how the two of them view the world differently and how they view their roles differently. The most interesting thing is that as you begin to see those differences that could lead to that conflict, you also see their friendship develop more as well. I think Civil War  is going to be a great film, and I can’t wait to see how they get to that point. As far as the other characters in this film, there is some great development throughout the team, but none of the characters grow as much as Hawkeye does. We see his character in a whole new light after this film. And that is all I am going to say about that. Overall character development gets 4.5 stars.


There was nothing that blew me away about the acting in this film. It was exactly what you expect from an MCU movie. It didn’t disappoint at all, but no one is going to win any awards for their performance. That’s fine. No one expects that from an action film. At the very least, like all MCU films, the acting is not so horrible that it ruins what could have been a decent film. Instead, it is a strong performance from everyone involved. RDJ and Chris Evans turn in some great work, and continue to establish themselves as the leading men of the MCU. Mark Ruffalo is a highlight as always, and I think James Spader was wonderful. Overall, the acting is a 4 out of 5 stars.

Entertainment Value

This one is easily a 5 out of 5 stars. When I went to the film, was I entertained? Absolutely! Whedon packs this film with almost nonstop action from start to finish. There is hardly a moment to catch your breath, and that’s what i want from a big, blockbuster picture like this one. The action does not disappoint, but the story never gets lost in the action either. The battles in this movie are some of the best ever put in a superhero movie. They take what we saw in Avengers  to the next level, and set a new standard. A lot of times these movies will have one or two smaller battles and then the really big one at the end. This one has way more, and each one makes sense and looks incredible. That mixed with the dialogue and humor and everything makes this category a 5 out of 5.


This is a great addition to the MCU family. It will make a ton of money, and it earns every penny. Go see this film, although I’ll bet most of you already have. It is incredible and fun. I can’t wait to find a babysitter and take my wife, and then maybe take my oldest some time, because he’ll want to watch it, and then maybe I’ll have to find an excuse to see it a couple more times before it leaves theaters. Great film.

As a side note, we saw it in IMX- do that if you can- and one of the previews at the beginning was Dawn of Justice. It looked much better on the big screen, so it restored my hope that the movie is going to be ok.

Loved this movie. Those of you who have seen it, what did you think? Please try to avoid posting any spoilers on this review, to keep it spoiler free.


Revisiting the MCU: Guardians of the Galaxy



Well, here we are. The final movie in the MCU before Avengers: Age of Ultron. This is our last stop in our trip through Marvel’s world, and just in time as Age of Ultron is opening in the U.S. on Friday. It has been a lot of fun to go back and re-watch each of the Marvel films, but few of them have been as much fun as this one. Guardians of the Galaxy was a real good time at the movies. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it the first time I saw it, and I continue to enjoy each time I see it again.

When I heard that Marvel was making a GOTG movie, I thought that they would finally have a flop on their hands. These characters are not like Captain America or Iron Man or Thor. They are not as well-known to the mainstream public, so I figured most people would not be interested in seeing a film about a bunch of characters they didn’t know anything about. Especially when one of those characters is a walking tree and another one is a talking raccoon. Then, when they announced Chris Pratt as the lead, I was sure this was going to be a disaster. This is the guy who played dorky Andy on Parks and Rec. No way could we take him seriously as an action star. Then they added Dave Bautista as Drax, and I figured that was the nail in the coffin. Other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, most professional wrestlers who make the jump to acting fail miserably. Marvel had a good run, but this was the end. Not the end, the end, I mean, for sure they would bounce back, but this film was just going to be awful.

Then I saw the trailers for the movie, and I was almost ready to eat my words. Almost. I had also seen the trailer to Green Lantern and thought it looked pretty amazing. It wasn’t. There was still a chance that Guardians of the Galaxy  was going to be really bad. Then I saw the film, and it wasn’t really bad. It was pretty amazing. Marvel seemed to do everything right with this movie, and knocked another one out of the park. It was just surprisingly good in almost every way.

I think one of the most refreshing things about this movie was that I didn’t know the characters that well, so it was all really new to me. It felt fresh and different. I know Captain America, I know Spider-Man and I know Superman, so when those films come out, and it’s another origin story, or a well-known storyline, it’s still good, and fun to see it on the big screen, but it’s also predictable. GOTG was not as predictable. It was really outside of everything that Marvel had done up to this point, and opened up a much broader universe. Now we are getting some of the cosmic Marvel stuff. We have met Thanos before, but now we get to see more of the world he lives in. We meet the Guardians of the Galaxy, but we also meet the Kree and the Nova Corps, staples in the Marvel Cosmos. Hopefully, the success of this film will lead to a Nova stand alone film or maybe Adam Warlock. It would be cool to see some of these other cosmic characters start appearing.

Chris Pratt is absolutely an action star. When it was first announced that he would be playing Star Lord, I really didn’t get it. I really only knew him from Parks and Rec. He was incredible as Peter Quill. He was a modern-day Han Solo. I’m not saying he was as cool as Han Solo, but he came a lot closer than anyone else has lately. (Would Firefly be considered lately?) In fact, he was so successful as Quill, that it was rumored a few months back that he was being considered for the lead in a new Indiana Jones movie, i thought to myself, “Duh! Who else would they get?” What a difference one film can make.

The rest of the cast was great as well. I don’t know that Dave Bautista will have a long career in acting, but he was a great Drax. He was my wife’s favorite character. She really appreciated his grasp of concepts like metaphors and humor. His one liners were some of her favorites throughout the film. Bradley Cooper does some amazing voice work as Rocket. Women everywhere were probably confused that they would put Bradley in a role that kept him off camera, but it worked really well. Vin Diesel had one line. They gave him one line, three words to repeat over and over throughout the film. And he nailed it. Hey Disney and Marvel, any time you want to pay me millions to repeat three words over and over again, let me know. I am available.

This was such a classic example of catching lightning in a bottle. Everything just seemed to fall into place. Plus, Marvel was smart they had already well established their brand before this movie came out, so it didn’t matter that most people had never heard of it before. They went just because it was Marvel. This was the film that showed that Marvel could make a hit out of any of its properties. Marvel can really do no wrong.

Now that I have made it through all 10 MCU films leading up to Age of Ultron, there is nothing left for me to do but wait until Friday, when I will be seeing the new Avengers flick. It is going to be a long couple of days. Guardians of the Galaxy was a great way to end my trip back through the MCU. I really enjoyed this film quite a bit. What were your thoughts on this movie? Let me know in the comments.

Revisiting the MCU: Captain America The Winter Soldier



Well, we are less than a week away from Age of Ultron opening in the United States, which means I should be getting close to the end of my trip back through the MCU. Today, it’s Captain America The Winter Soldier, and then there is just one more film left, Guardians of the Galaxy.  I really feel like the best have been saved for last. These last two films are two of my favorite films in the MCU. The Winter Soldier  is not just one of my favorite MCU films, but it might make my overall top ten of all time (which would make an interesting post…hmmm…). This movie has it all. Action, intrigue, comedy, story, really a little bit of everything. It is a solid storyline that stays true to the original source material, without being too married to it that it loses out on being a great film. This is a hard balance for movies to hit sometimes, but his one pulls it off.

One of the best things about this movie is the continuing evolution of Captain America. In First Avenger,  we get his origin story see how he becomes a legend during World War II, and how he ends up in our modern-day. In Avengers,  we see that Cap has not fully adjusted to his role in this new world, in fact, by the end of Avengers, he has barely figured out what his role should be. He is still sticking out like a sore thumb in the modern world. We really see that adjustment in The Winter Soldier, as Captain America realizes how he can fit in, how he can make the world a better place. It’s not just joining in and blindly following orders. He realizes he can make SHIELD better, even if it means starting over like Peggy suggests. At the beginning of the film, Cap is somewhat content with the idea of Fury sending him on missions, and him completing those missions. He is bothered by the fact that Fury seems to keep secrets from him, like giving Black Widow a separate assignment on one of their missions, without telling Cap, but he is still somewhat on board. After everything really starts going down with SHIELD, IE Fury gets “killed,” Cap begins really questioning his role, and SHIELD’s role and how different is SHIELD than HYDRA? There begins to be a shift, as Cap begins to settle into his natural role as a leader. You can see this happening with Sam Wilson, The Falcon, who is simply there to follow Cap. The big scene where the full shift finally occurs is when Cap and Black Widow and Sam and Agent Hill are meeting with Fury (who is not really dead), and they are discussing what they are going to do to take HYDRA out. Fury wants to keep the three helicarriers, but just get rid of HYDRA. Cap says no, they are going to take them out, take out SHIELD as well as HYDRA. Fury protests, but Hill speaks up and is with Cap, and then Black Widow says she is too, and Sam says he only does what Cap does, only slower. Fury then says it looks like Captain America is calling the shots now. That’s the moment when Cap is in charge, where he takes his place as the leader in this new world, and not just a soldier.

The supporting cast in this movie are fantastic. In the middle of everything that is going on, we have the appearance of the Winter Soldier, who we find out is really Bucky with a metal arm. His memory has been wiped (numerous times it looks like), so he doesn’t remember Cap or his previous life during World War II. The role is played very well by Sebastian Stan. He doesn’t have a lot of lines, to make his character dark and mysterious, but that can sometimes be harder to play a role with no lines. He does it well, playing the part of not recognizing Cap, and wanting to kill him. He also plays the part well at the end of the movie when he saves Cap, and then goes off to find himself, as it were. He is supposedly locked into a contract for multiple future films, so I assume we will be seeing the Winter Soldier again.

The highlight of the film, however, is Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/The Falcon. He was fantastic from his first scene where Cap keeps lapping him as their jogging, to when he puts on the wings and becomes Falcon. Mackie has great timing throughout the film, and offers a lot of heart when Cap is trying to figure out his place in the world. In fact, he is the moral compass in the film, which is one of the most important roles of any sidekick, or partner as the case might be. I am hoping he is in Age of Ultron (that’s the rumor) and in Civil War, and in any number of future MCU films. He was just so good, I came out of the film thinking he was one of my favorite characters in the MCU now.

Overall, Captain America The Winter Soldier is one heck of a film. Marvel’s best to date, in my opinion. Age of Ultron  looks good, but it will be tough for it to top this movie. When I sat down to watch it earlier today, I was thinking that I remembered it being really good, but as I watched it again, I was surprised by how good it was. That’s the sign of a good movie, I think. If it surprises you with how good it is each time you watch it. It’s rare for me to give a movie 5 stars across the board, but this is a rare movie.

What did you all think of The Winter Soldier?  Did it live up to the hype? Is it one of the better MCU films, or are there others you would rank above it? Let me know in the comments.

Revisiting the MCU: Thor: The Dark World



We are getting pretty close to the end of April, which means we are getting pretty close to Age of Ultron. I already have my ticket to see it on Friday evening in IMAX 3D. I’ll be going with my brother, J. Leonard Dietz, also known as The 90s Kid. I can’t wait to see it. This also means I need to wrap up my Revisiting the MCU series here pretty quickly. The good news is today I am reviewing Thor: The Dark World,  which means I only have a couple more left. In fact, this has been the stretch of films I have been waiting for while doing this project. Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy may just be my three favorite MCU films.

Thor: TDW is just a lot of fun. It was everything the first Thor film should have been. Full of action and great, massive battles, while maintaining its wit and charm. I loved it. The story was great, and it introduces us to another Thor bad guy not named Loki. The dark elves are a staple in the Thor comics, so it was great to see them on film. Male kith, the leader of the dark elves, was just masterfully played by Christopher Eccleston, even though I couldn’t help but hope he might sneak a “fantastic” in there somewhere. It was also fun to see the relationship between Thor and Loki continue to develop. It is a complex relationship, where Thor continuously tries to trust and forgive Loki, while Loki continues to give him every reason not to. Loki sitting on the throne of Asgard, I’m sure, will have something to do with Ragnarok coming.

We also get to see our favorite misfit band of scientists as they continue to study whatever it is that happens whenever the Rainbow Bridge connects to Earth. Dr. Selvig has apparently all but lost his mind, or more accurately, maybe he never got it all back after the New York incident. Jane is still looking for Thor, and is quite upset when she finds him, slapping him in the face twice! Not too upset, though, that she won’t let him take her back to his place. Of course, part of that has to do with the Aether being in her body, selecting her as its host. The Aether, course, is one of the Infinity gems or stones, or whatever, except it is neither a stone nor a gem. It’s a liquid. This is our first glimpse of one of the 6 Infinity stones not called the Tesseract. This is where we find out that Marvel’s powers that be are really taking us down a path leading to the Infinity War.

Overall, I felt like this film was well written, and well performed. The actors all did a great job, and the whole thing really came together. I feel like Thor’s character progresses, realizing that he doesn’t want to be king, instead he just wants to be with Jane, regardless of how short his time with her will be. We also see Loki continue to develop more and more into a man who is obsessed with gaining power any way he can get it. Loki will stop at nothing until he has a kingdom to rule over, and then he probably still won’t stop. The story of Thor is moving closer to Ragnarok. Odin, we assume, is dead. Fridge is dead. Loki is left in power, and Thor is busy fleeing to Earth to be with Jane. All of this will add up to trouble back in Asgard, and I have a feeling it will spill over into Midgard. Just call it a hunch.

One of the best parts of watching Thor this last weekend has to do with this photo:



This is my middle daughter, Lucy. And what I did not know prior to this screening of Thor: The Dark World, is that my two older girls, Eliza and Lucy, love Thor. I knew Thor was Eliza’s favorite, and when we said we were watching Thor after dinner, she got very excited about it, even a little red in the cheeks. My wife and I joked about it being her first crush, as much a 6-year-old can have a crush. We had no idea, though, that Lucy was so attached to Thor. When she saw what movie we were watching, she went into our toys and found a 12″ Thor figure that we have and brought it over and sat with me in my chair to watch the movie. She was pretty proud of herself and excited as she sat there with Thor in her hand and Thor on the screen. This photo was taken just after Eliza stole Thor from Lucy. She was devastated. As you can see, i am not exaggerating. It got to the point where we had to have the two of them taking turns with the figure so they wouldn’t fight, and even that didn’t work. It would appear that two of Chris Hemsworth’s biggest fans happen to live at my house, and they may be two of his youngest. As a fan of the comics and the superhero movies, part of me was pleased with their choice for a crush. As a father, I am nowhere near ready for this kind of behavior. This is why the grey in my beard has been increasing lately.

What did you think of Thor: The Dark World?  Did it live up to your expectations, or was it not one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments. We love to hear from you. Check back later this week as we revisit Captain America: The Winter Soldier.


Revisiting the MCU: Iron Man 3


Here we are at the beginning of Phase 2, which is all leading up to the conclusion of Phase 2, which is Avengers: Age of Ultron. Iron Man 3 kicks off Phase2, which is fitting since Iron Man started Phase 1. There is definitely a feeling of anticipation for Iron Man 3. We have just seen Avengers, which was what Phase 1 was building toward, and now there is a feeling of “So…What happens now?” How are all of these characters different as a result of what happened in New York (what the Daredevil series refers to as “the incident”)? We get to see it first with Tony Stark, and we get to see a totally different Tony Stark. Apparently that trip through the worm hole messed him up pretty bad. Throughout the film we see him struggling with massive anxiety attacks anytime anyone mentions New York. We also get to see how the regulars are doing post- Avengers, like Pepper, Happy, and Rhodey.

We also get to see how Tony influenced the formation of AIM, a scientific terrorist group in the Marvel Universe. Basically, it was the result of his old lifestyle, which continues to come back and haunt him years after he has become Iron Man. Basically, Aldrich Killian approached Tony on New Year’s Eve in 1999 about getting in on the ground floor of his research. He does this by cornering Tony in an elevator while Stark is trying to get up to a girl’s room. Tony lies to Aldrich and tells him he is interested in the research and to meet him on the roof in a few minutes. Of course, Tony never shows, and Aldrich realizes this and is devastated. Now, 13 years later, he has continued his research, and is quite well off, and is back for more.

Tied in with all of this is The Mandarin. This was probably the most disappointing aspect of this film. He was basically a patsy. A front, a fraud. There never really was a “Mandarin.” Basically, this intimidating terrorist, The Mandarin, shows up on all the TV screens taking credit for a bombing. And then there are more bombings and he takes credit for those. In one of the attacks, Happy is caught in the explosion and ends up in the hospital. In that attack is when we learn that the “bombs” are actually human beings who are giving huge amounts of thermal energy in the explosions. We also learn that these people are tied to Killian and AIM, so we begin to think that AIM is working for the Mandarin.

Tony Stark being Tony Stark, he challenges the Mandarin after Happy got hurt. He calls the Mandarin out and even gives out his home address. The Mandarin replies by sending 3 helicopter equipped with missiles and machine guns and they basically destroy Tony’s Malibu house, and Tony is caught in the wreckage after saving Pepper and a scientist he had a one night stand with on the same New year’s he met Killian. Stark is presumed dead, but  he is really stuck in Tennessee (coordinates he had set prior to the attack, but was not able to fly to). He investigates a bombing that happened in the town prior to the Mandarin and he tries to repair his suit. He also meets a kid there who helps him out. The interactions between Tony and the kid are probably the best character interactions in the whole movie. They have great chemistry and play their parts very well. It was one of the highlights of the film.

Tony gets to where the Mandarin is broadcasting from, which happens to be Miami, and here we discover that the Mandarin is a fraud. He is really some actor hired to play the role. This really sucked. This was one of Iron Man’s greatest foes in the comics, and here they just make him a total joke. A lot of fans got pretty upset about it, and it is still hot topic today. In fact, Marvel released a one shot on Thor 2, just to explain that the real Mandarin is still out there, it wasn’t Killian or Trevor, but the real Mandarin is out there at the head of the 10 Rings. It will be interesting to see if the Mandarin ever shows up as a real villain in a later MCU film.

Overall, Iron Man 3 was pretty good. Not as good as the first Iron Man film, but better than Iron Man 2. We see the characters develop and grow as a result of what happened in New York. Tony is scared because he can’t lose Pepper, the on e thing in this world that means anything to him, that he can’t lose. I can see how it spins from here to the point where he is creating Ultron to protect the world, just to keep Pepper safe. His anxiety and fear grew throughout the film. He is able to control at one point when the kid tells him to just build something, but it will always be there, so I can see Ultron being the next step for him.

The Mandarin was a big disappointment, one of the biggest in the whole MCU. I hope someday they rectify it, beyond just a one shot special feature. I understand taking risks, but don’t just totally disrespect the source material either. I also hope that if the Iron Patriot shows up in Age of Ultron,  that he shows up as War Machine instead of Iron Patriot. War Machine is a way better name. I would imagine we will see more of Col. Rhodes in AoU and in Civil War, as he is being set up, I would imagine, to step in and become Iron Man in Tony’s place when RDJ is done playing the role.

Overall, this is a good start to Phase 2, but it’s not my favorite movie in Phase 2. The next 3 are 3 of my favorite movies in the MCU, so I am really excited to get to them. Thor 2, Cap 2, and GOTG are just 3 really great movies, and as I watch each of these and they lead more and more into Age of Ultron, I am getting more and more anxious to see the film. I can’t believe we are only 2 weeks away. Can’t wait.

What about you? What did you think of Iron Man 3?  Let me know in the comments. I love to hear from you.


Revisiting the MCU: The Avengers



It was a movie event years in the making. This was the culmination of everything we had seen up to this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There were so many expectations riding on it, so much for it to live up to. And more than almost any other film it lived up to all those expectations. With The Avengers, Marvel rewrote what people expected from super hero movies and completely changed the landscape. DC, previously on the fence about the idea of a Justice League movie, now realized that they had to do it in order to keep up. If they were smart, they would copy Marvel’s formula. Forget about people accusing them of ripping Marvel off, they need to do it exactly how Marvel did it. They’re not, and that is a post for another day, but let’s hope they have enough of the formula there to make it work. Don’t worry, though, it all comes full circle since The Avengers in the comics were a direct response to the Justice League comics, so there you go.

I loved this movie, from start to finish, and watching it again made me really excited for Age of Ultron. There is just something special about the Avengers films, having all the heroes together in one movie is just so much more amazing than their individual movies, in my opinion. There is just more excitement, more fun. Plus, the chemistry that they all had together was incredible. Part of why it all worked, a really big part is that we knew all of these characters already, including the main villain. The story wasn’t bogged down with any back story of the characters. We just saw how they were all finally brought together. Plus it was cool that they were somewhat true to the source material. The Avengers originally came together in t a story in which Loki tried to put Hulk against Thor, and the result was the Avengers forming. Of course, Cap wasn’t part of the team, but still, it was cool that they went that direction.

The action in this film is nonstop. It starts right at the beginning with the appearance of Loki (explained as a result of the teseract) and him stealing the teseract, as well as Hawkeye and Doctor Selvig. It doesn’t slow down from there. This made for an exciting and enjoyable movie, and you don’t really notice the length. It gets heavy in some parts, but not overly heavy, like when they are all arguing on the carrier. It starts to get heavy, but it’s followed up with a great action sequence, that leads into about 5 minutes of rest, before going right into the climax and the final battle.

Overall, this film has a great story, showing how the team is formed. It follows all the classic stages of team building-Forming (happens at the beginning as well as the films leading up to it), Storming (Starts basically when Black Widow goes to get Banner, continues when Cap meets Stark, and hits its peak in the research room on the carrier), Norming (the team comes together a little bit when Hawkeye attacks and Loki is freed, it continues through when they find out about Coulson’s “death”), and finally Performing (the final battle, as Cap takes charge, and they are finally the Avengers). This is classic story telling, and really how team building works in real life. Minus the super powers and alien invaders.

Watching this movie again made me really excited for Age of Ultron.  I can’t wait to see where Whedon will be taking the team next. I have a feeling they won’t be ending on a high note, since this next movie leads into Civil War. We’ll see. In any case, The Avengers  is one of my all time favorite superhero movies and has everything I want. Good team chemistry, a good story, great action, and very entertaining. You almost don’t notice little inconsistencies, like how did Thor get down to Earth? It’s never really explained.

This was a great conclusion to what Marvel called “Phase 1.” It was a very satisfying ending to the Phase 1 story line, and led us well into Phase 2, which will now be wrapping up with Age of Ultron. It also does a great job of setting up Phase 3, where we are ultimately going with all of this, the Infinity War. We see Thanos for the first time, as well as seeing shawarma for the first time. I wonder if there were little shawarma shops through out the country that saw a huge boost in business after this film came out…

What did you think of Marvel’s conclusion to Phase 1? Was it as good as the hype, or did it not really live up to it? Let me know in the comments. We are just over half way there now as we get closer and closer to the May 1 release of Age of Ultron.

Revisiting the MCU: Captain America: The First Avenger



As we move through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, our next film is Captain America: The First Avenger. As I sat down to watch this movie, I was going to try to be as unbiased as possible, but it’s hard because Cap is my favorite of the Avengers, and there is a lot I like about this movie, even if there is a lot that I don’t. The hard part is that the stuff I like I really like, and it can out weigh the stuff I don’t like and maybe I don’t notice it as much.

I really like Chris Evans as Captain America. I wasn’t sure at first, because I couldn’t get past him as the Human Torch in Fantastic Four, and Johnny Storm and Steve Rogers are two totally different personalities. Once I saw the movie, though, it’s hard for me to remember him as the Human Torch at all. He does a great job pulling off the clean-cut, always do the right character of Steve Rogers, and equally as Captain America.

I also like how they built up the character of Steve Rogers as he is becoming Captain America. The scenes during his boot camp are some of my favorites in the movie. Particularly when he brings down the flag pole to give the flag to his drill sergeant so he doesn’t have to keep running, and when they throw in the dummy grenade and he throws himself on it. Those are moments that define who Captain America is before he is Captain America. It shows that there is more to him than his powers that come from the super serum. I also chuckle when he is trying to enlist and he meets Dr. Erskine for the first time, and he thinks he has been caught lying to enlist. And of course, another defining statement is when he is asked by Dr. Erskine if he wants to go over to Germany to kill some Nazis. He responds by saying he doesn’t want to kill anyone, but he doesn’t like a bully. That’s Captain America in a nutshell.

Overall, I always enjoy this movie, it is fun, it is exciting in parts, and I love Captain America, so mostly it’s a win. However, there are a few plot details that drive me nuts. The US government, and especially a US government that later has an organization like SHIELD, would never spend that much money and time and resources to create a super soldier, have it be successful and then not use him for combat. It’s just kind of silly. I struggle with that every time. When Tommy Lee Jones says he was promised an army, and all he got was Rogers, and he wasn’t enough, it’s almost laughable. So, basically, you didn’t get your army, so your still going to go and try to win the fight against Hydra without the one weapon you did get. Seems reasonable. No, the reality is that Rogers would have been on the first boat to Germany and sent to the front lines. Of course he only gets there after spending time as a glorified dancing Uncle Sam, and then going awol to find his missing friend. That’s when the army realizes, “Hey, you know this super powered guy we have that can do almost anything? Maybe we should use him to do stuff.”

Other than that, the film is pretty watchable. It runs a little cheesy and over the top at times, but Captain America was originally cheesy and over the top. This isn’t really our introduction to the modern Cap, it’s our introduction to who Cap was during World War II, and it gets him to our time with the whole freezing thing. Really, it’s a 2 hour set up for later jokes, like in the Avengers when he gets excited because he got a reference to Wizard of Oz. We laugh because we know he just barely got thawed and was stepping out go 1945. It is a film to establish frame of mind, so we understand who Cap was and who he is. In Winter Soldier, we get the modern Cap, and he is awesome, but that is a review for another day.

What did you think of First Avenger? How does it stack up tot he preceding Marvel films like Iron Man and Thor? Let me know in the comments. Always love hearing from you.

Revisiting the MCU: Thor

Thor (2011) Wallpaper 1


The next stop on our tour through the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Thor. For me, this is where I feel like the MCU is really expanding. Up to this point, we have only seen two Iron Man movies and a Hulk re-boot. With Thor, we are getting something new and really different. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Thor because of my Danish ancestry, so I was really excited about this movie when it came out. I was also really nervous. With all the fantasy elements to Thor, there was always a possibility that it could be really cheesy and lame.

Fortunately, Thor was neither cheesy nor lame. Or at least not overly cheesy and lame. I mean, when Thor talks in his normal fancy speak, it can come across as pretty lame, but Hemsworth does it just right. This film was a great addition to the MCU and a great expansion into bigger things. I think they nailed the casting with Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and of course Tom Hiddleston as Loki. I had never heard of Hiddleston before this film, but afterward, he was a household name, and with good reason. He played the role to a T. Just an excellent job.

This movie was interesting because it was an origin story, but it was different from most origin stories. Usually, the main protagonist gets his powers and there is a period of time where he or she is getting used to their powers and how to use them and all of that. There is none of that in this movie. Thor is born a god, and has his powers from birth, so he doesn’t have to get used to them. The real origin story here is how he becomes fond of Midgard, or Earth. In the beginning we see a reckless young god who makes poor decisions and doesn’t value the lives of his enemies or his friends. He is immortal, and he knows it.

This story follows what happens when he is banished to Midgard by Odin to be taught a lesson. He doesn’t really get what’s happening at first, and along the way he meets Jane Foster and her team and befriends them. They are there for him when he discovers that he doesn’t have his powers anymore, and he decides to stay with them when Loki visits him and tells him he can never come home. We see Thor grow as he begins to care about these people and develops a new perspective about what it takes to be a leader. Before, battle was all about glory and things like that. Now he is beginning to count the costs and value life. It’s not all about glory. It’s important for him to get to this point before Loki sends the destroyer down to kill him and everybody else.  Because he is at this point, he is willing to face off against the giant himself with no powers. It is at this moment that he becomes the hero. He becomes worthy of his hammer, Mjolnir.

This was a fun movie in typical MCU fashion. It’s full of humor and wit. It also has great shout outs to fans of the comics. For example, when he puts on the shirt that Jane gives him and the name tag say Donald Blake, MD. This was the identity he used to assume in the comics. Of course he continues to assume it in the movie. That was cool. The best line or humorous moment was when he refers to Agent Coulson as “Son of Coul.”  That was great.  Overall, in the beginning of the movie we have a hard time with Thor and his reckless character, but part way through, we find ourselves agreeing with Hawkeye when he says he’s going to start rooting for this guy. And of course, I can still remember how excited I was when at the very end of the credits it says that Thor would be returning in The Avengers. It was only a year away at that point.

What were your thoughts on Thor? Did it hold up against Iron Man and Incredible Hulk? Or was it a disappointment? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.