Tag Archives: Marvel

Strong Female Heroines and Why They’re Awesome

I’m the new blogger for the Geeky Mormon.  My name is Elizabeth but you may call me Lizy. I will answer to Liz.  Some people are picky about being classified as either a geek or a nerd, but I will answer to either.

Female characters, especially strong ones, are definitely a reason that I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy.  I don’t mind identifying myself with the girl who needs to get rescued, but I have always been interested in heroines who take care of themselves, fight their own battles alongside the boys, and sometimes even get to do a bit of the rescuing.  The heroines who really catch my attention are a little of both. Below are just some of my observations and thoughts on what makes a strong female heroine, based on about a year’s worth of writing, research, and observation.

The point of fantasy is that you can identify with the character in some way and because of that experience what the character is going through.The first Marvel movie I ever saw and enjoyed was Captain America: The First Avenger.  While I primarily liked the film because I could relate to the underdog Steve Rogers, I was in awe of Agent Peggy Carter.  She was smart, beautiful and absolutely fearless. She took absolutely no nonsense from any of the other guys, but she not only liked Steve but she believed in him.  (As a side note, I have not been able to watch the Agent Carter TV show yet but I want to very badly). That is the kind of person I felt like I could emulate.

Is it too much to say that I think Agent Carter is the reason I'm a Marvel fan?  Via boingboing.net

Is it too much to say that I think Agent Carter is the reason I’m a Marvel fan?
Via boingboing.net

Sometimes I am less interested in the female leads and more in the fantasy elements or the story.  But that being said I am still excited for Captain Marvel, because we will get all of that and a female lead too.

One of the first Star Wars characters I loved was Queen Amidala.  As a little girl I loved her wardrobe in The Phantom Menace and I spent many happy hours pouring over the pictures of her dresses in the visual dictionary.  And in addition to that, she fought for the freedom of her people. When I got older, I discovered the original trilogy.  I liked Princess Leia a lot, and I still like her a lot.  She didn’t have the visual glitter of the Queen, but she spoke her mind and carried a blaster. I wanted to be tough like that when I was a kid.  It was when I was older that I came to appreciate her tender side as well.

This is one of my first real heroines Via digitalspy.co.uk

This is one of my first real heroines
Via digitalspy.co.uk

Years later, I found out that a lot of people didn’t like Padme Amidala because it was clearly a bad idea for her to pursue a relationship with Anakin Skywalker, and then it didn’t make sense for her to die in Revenge of the Sith. I liked Padme too much as a character to let these things get in the way of liking her.  But I have thought about these issues a lot.  People don’t like having to identify with female characters who make decisions differently from the way they would, especially when it comes to love.  But Padme’s failure, to me, makes her all the more human and relatable.  As far as Anakin is concerned, she had a fatal blind spot, but his decisions were not her fault.  And when a heroine fails, sometimes something good comes out of it.  Usually this means she is able to get up again and confront the problem, but in Padme’s case it meant that her love for Anakin lived on through Luke.

And then there are the people who think falling in love is absolutely demeaning for a female character to experience.  I could not disagree with this more. If the love story is relevant to the plot and it strengthens both characters, then it can be a good thing. It is natural and human to fall in love. In all honesty, I was not thrilled that Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow tried to pursue a romance with Bruce Banner/the Hulk in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. But the online backlash against the love plot was ridiculous. I do not think that having Natasha fall in love was completely demeaning. I make missteps in my love life too sometimes. And it made sense in context of the larger theme that Joss Whedon was trying to get across.

The fact that Natasha was sterilized in the Red Room is a symptom of her much bigger problem: she was created to be an assassin in both mind and body, to the exclusion of all else. She has her worst fears, and she has a dark side I can scarcely begin to imagine. What makes her more interesting is the way she copes with her darkness, by being the auntie to Clint Barton’s kids, by being compassionate to people in need, by protecting those who are weaker than herself, and by relying on her quiet, inner strength.  I like Natasha a lot more now than I did three years ago. And while I’m upset about her pursuing Bruce I can at least forgive her for that.  What matters is that he is a well-rounded character.

Via theworkprint.com

I like Natasha because she has a very human side. Via theworkprint.com

The matter of the strong female heroine is only an issue of gender to a point: it is about the development of character and how that influences how gender is represented.  This is important because the media has a huge influence on individuals as well as cultures.  But all heroines are not alike and should not be expected to conform to some invisible standard. We can allow our heroines to be human just as much as the men.  Isn’t that what makes these stories great, by seeing the characters we sympathize with have human experiences?

Read More:

A Fandom of Her Own: Women of Today’s Sci-fi/Fantasy Franchises (Capstone paper)

Women of Science Fiction and Fantasy : Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 Panel

The Strong Feminism behind Black Widow, and why the critiques don’t stand up by Alyssa Rosenburg for the Washington Post

 

With Chris Evans, Salt Lake Comic Con is Legit

To be fair, the title of this post is a bit misleading. Salt Lake Comic Con (no dash) has always been legit. From their very first show, up through their most recent FanX, SLCC has done an incredible job listening to fans and bringing them the experiences they want. As of yesterday, though, Salt Lake Comic Con is more legit, maybe even 2 Legit, 2 Legit 2 Quit (I’m sorry, I know that was lame). I’ll be honest, the guest lineup this year was pretty good for some folks, but I wasn’t really feeling it as much as previous years. There were a few guests I was excited about, but it just didn’t seem like there were as many as for me as previous cons. Of course, part of that may be that anything short of a David Tennant or Peter Capaldi feels like a let down after Matt Smith came in January.

Then this happened:

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Yesterday, Salt Lake Comic Con announced that Chris Evans would be attending the convention on the Saturday of the event. This is huge. You know where Chris Evans wasn’t? San Diego Comic-Con (with a dash). You know what he has never done at other conventions, that he’s doing at SLCC? Photo ops and autographs. Do you know how awesome that is? Epic. Oh, and to add to the awesomeness, there was this little bit of information, leaked from Hayley Atwell’s twitter account:

Hayley was asked if she might be joining Chris for the con in Salt Lake, and she said yes. Which would be pretty cool. These are two huge names who are currently in the MCU. I think the fans in Salt Lake would love to see these two together. I know I would.

What is even cooler about Chris Evans coming is the story about how the booking went down. According to an article written by a local reporter for USA Today, Dan Farr made contact with Chris Evans agent in Houston at Comicpalooza (apparently the agent was there with Hayley Atwell, so that might explain why she is also coming to SLCC). He was talking to them about coming to Salt Lake, when Marina Sirtis (aka Deanna Troi), a SLCC alum, came up and told the age that they had to come to Salt Lake Comic Con. She said it was the best event around, and that the fans were the best. That’s pretty high praise. Now, the result is that we are getting these two mega stars here in Salt Lake.

I am so excited about this and how it all went down. We are building a reputation for being a premier spot for celebrities to come and meet their fans. We are building a reputation for being an awesome geeky fan base, and that is pretty cool. The fact that our fans played a role in why this happened seems to just fit. SLCC has always been about the fans and what we want.

I think the other thing that makes me so excited about Chris Evans coming here is that this will open the door for other huge, epic names to come here. Assuming Chris will have a great experience here (how could he not?), he’ll go back and tell his friends that this is the place to come, and then when they get contacted, they’ll want to come because they will have heard how awesome we all are. This is huge, Chris Evans coming, but I have a feeling that this is only the beginning. I can’t wait to see where we go from here. Salt Lake Comic Con is legit.

What did you think of the big announcement yesterday? Was it as epic as advertised, or are you still holding your breath, maybe a little, for someone else? (David Tennant) Let me know in the comments below. Or on my Facebook page or Google +, or send it to my email directly at thegeekymormon@yahoo.com.

 

Is Marvel Losing Steam?

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I am trying, true believers. I am really trying. I really want to be excited about Ant-Man opening this weekend, but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get there. I don’t know why. This isn’t like when Guardians of the Galaxy came out, where I initially thought I would have zero interest in the film, and then I saw the trailers, and my whole mindset changed, and I loved the movie. Somehow, Ant-Man just doesn’t excite, no matter how many times I watch the multiple trailers. I never cared much about the character in the comics, in any of the incarnations. That, at least is similar to Guardians. The big difference is that I saw something in the hype leading up to GOTG that made me want to see it. So far, all I’ve seen from Ant-Man is a toy train crash scene. I am just not sold. I don’t think I am the only one, either. For the first time, I am hearing mixed feelings about a Marvel film. For the first time, I am hearing from casual fans that they really don’t want to see this film. I may have even heard it from some not so casual fans. I have always thought Ant-Man the character does better as part of a team, than as the main character in a solo series or film. Plus, this isn’t even the real, original Ant-Man. To be brutally honest, though, I think my lack of excitement for the Ant-Man film may be a symptom of a bigger issue. I know this might sound crazy, and may even lead to some mean comments or letters, and that’s ok. Just know, that right now I am phrasing this as a question, not as a fact. I am simply wondering: Is Marvel losing steam?

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Before you get all upset, let’s just take a look at what’s happening with Marvel right now. Let’s start with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Now, I know that someone out there is going to shut me out at this point because they feel like AOU was the greatest movie ever made. I get it. I was pretty pumped about the film after I saw it when it first came out. Looking back, after having some time to think about it, it may not have been as good as I originally thought. I think I may have fell victim to all the hype that came before the film, and I wanted it to be good. The point, though, isn’t whether the film was awesome or not. The point is what happened at the box office. When Avengers came out in 2012, it was a huge success, almost like an unstoppable juggernaut, destroying all sorts of box office records. Plus, it was good. Really good. The Disney/Marvel machine immediately went into action promoting the sequel. It seemed like 2015 would never get here. There were so many promotions leading up to the film release. I mean, go to any local grocery store and you can find Avengers fruit snacks, cereal and even Dr. Pepper. There was no way the public was going to forget about this film. It looked poised to crush all the records the original film set. And then it didn’t. To date, it has pulled in $455 million at the box office. That is not a bad number, until you compare it to Jurassic World, which is sitting at $590 million, and it was the film that broke Avengers’ opening weekend box office record. Or compare it to the original Avengers, which brought in $623 million. By all accounts, I think it is fair to say that it was at the very least a small disappointment.

Why? I don’t know exactly, but I am beginning to wonder if audiences are starting to want more than the formulaic films that marvel has produced up to this point. Avengers was special because it had never been done before, and it was really good. AOU wasn’t. It had been done before. Even the story felt stale, looking back on it. Wasn’t it really just the same story as Avengers, repackaged with a new villain and updated costumes? What was really new and innovative and different about AOU? “But, Jake,” you might be saying,”Ant-Man is new and different.” My response would be: “Is it? Is it really different?” Guy with a not so great past gets super powers through new tech, and then through the course of the story decides to turn his life completely around and become a hero. Like Tony Stark. The only difference is that Hank Pym is the inventor of the tech, while Scott Lang is the titular character. Tony Stark was both. That’s a small detail, but the bones of the story seem to be the same. I mean, it seems like the turning point for Ant-Man is facing Yellow Jacket who has stolen Pym’s technology to use it to do bad stuff. What was Tony Stark’s turning point? Are you beginning to see? This is basically a not as good version of Iron Man. We have seen it before. I would not be surprised if this film does not do well. I think Marvel is banking on it. I think after Edgar Wright left, they just pushed this one through and just want to walk away with marginal profits and begin focusing on Cap 3, hoping the Civil War storyline and Spider-Man will right the ship. They didn’t even show up at SDCC to promote Ant-Man, a week before the film hits theaters.

Maybe this isn’t the beginning of a permanent disinterest in Marvel. Maybe Civil War will get it all back on track. All I know is that marvel was not at SDCC, more and more people are less and less interested in Ant-Man and the extended Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice looked pretty awesome. Maybe this little slow down from Marvel is exactly what DC needed to get back in the game. Honestly, did you see the new Dawn of Justice trailer? It looked amazing. Here, check it out:

I don’t know what will happen. I have a feeling that Marvel still has quite a few monster hits coming, but I think we are going to begin to see a mix between their massive hits and some mediocre box office returns. Ant-Man could just be the beginning. Of course, I could be sitting here after this weekend and be eating my words.

What do you think? Is the big Marvel machine finally slowing down? Or is this just a hiccup and they’ll continue to dominate indefinitely? Let me know in the comments. Or you can email me directly at thegeekymormon@yahoo.com. I love hearing from you.

 

Captain America in 8-Bit Glory

Have a couple of minutes today? Take that time to lay your eyes on this 8 bit masterpiece from Cinefix. It is Captain America The Winter Soldier in 8bit. So much awesome in one video should be illegal, but it’s not. Enjoy!

This Week in Geek: Civil War

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It’s old news by now that Captain America 3 will be loosely based on the Civil War Story line from Marvel Comics. It has become one of the more highly anticipated non-Avengers movie in the MCU lineup. It is a story line that should see Captain America and his supporters facing off against Iron Man and his supporters. For those that are unfamiliar with the comics story line let me summarize it for you. It starts out with a young superhero group known as The New Warriors. They are superheroes and reality TV stars. On one particular adventure near Stamford, Connecticut, one of the bad guys-Nitro- goes off causing an explosion that destroys miles of the area they are in, killing a bunch of people. Included in that area was a school and 60 kids die. This leads to congress passing the Super Human Registration act, requiring all super humans to register so the government can more closely monitor/control their actions. This also means that their secret identities would become public. At this time, Tony Stark is running SHIELD, and he ends up supporting the act. He believes that someone should be regulating all the super beings and their powers and what they do with them. He is obviously not concerned with his own secret identity (secret identities, with a few exceptions, are not as big a deal in Marvel as they are in DC). Cap opposes the act. He feels like it is taking away the rights of the super powered beings, and even though he has no secret identity, he understands how that is a protection to some of the other heroes. Cap and Iron Man become the de facto leaders of each side and the whole Marvel Universe is split on the issue of super human registration.

Those familiar with this story line in the comics had some idea of how the Civil War movie was going to play out. Obviously, the film was not going to follow the story line exactly, but the broader story could work out. This last week Marvel announced that Captain America: Civil War was beginning principal photography in preparation for its May 2016 release. Along with its announcement that the shooting was beginning, Marvel also announced who was going to be in the film and how the basic story line would play out. You can find all those details here.

If you look at the list, at first glance, it looks like the whole MCU will be in this movie, but there are a few notable names left off the list. Nick Fury, Maria Hill, The Hulk, and Thor are all missing from the list of cast members. Some have called this film “Avengers 2.5,” but it will be a very different Avengers team if these characters will in fact be missing from the film. It looks like Daredevil will also not be making his debut on the big screen with Civil War. Also missing is Spider-Man. The final decision on who will be the MCU’s Spider-Man has not been made, so just because he is not listed here does not mean he won’t be in the film. They are probably waiting to make that announcement separately.

There were also some interesting names on the list. Most intriguing is General Ross. We haven’t seen him since he was hunting after Edward Norton as the Hulk. It’s been a while. What makes his inclusion even more interesting is that Hulk is not on the list. So why is ol’ Thunderbolt going to show up? Maybe we will be seeing a Hulk in the film, he just won’t be green. Martin Freeman is also listed, but not who he is playing. I honestly have no idea who he will be playing in the film. I don’t even know where to begin to guess, but I do wonder if it will be similar to Robert Redford’s character- someone we have never heard of before. Black Panther and Ant-Man are both listed in the film, so it will be interesting to see where they fit in. The other really interesting character is the Winter Soldier. What will his role be in the movie? In any case, it is a very impressive list of characters.

We also get an idea of how the actual story will play out. Instead of the New Warriors being involved in the incident that leads to the Super Human Registration act, it will be the new Avengers team. This makes sense, since we have never seen the New Warriors in the MCU. Plus, from a lot of the rumors we are hearing, the new Avengers will be the primary team in the Infinity War Part 1, so it makes sense to have them working together before that, and this movie is a perfect opportunity to play that out. It will also be interesting to see which of the characters will end up on which side.  It will be interesting to see how it all plays out leading into Phase 3, how it will set the phase up and what the after effects will be.

What do you think of the cast and story announced for Civil War? Are you excited to see how it all comes together, or are you afraid it may be too many characters to cram into one movie? Let me know in the comments.

Avengers: Age of Ultron Spoiler Free Review

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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.

Plot

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.

Dialogue

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.

Acting

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.

Overall

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

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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

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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

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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:

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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

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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.