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Tag: MCU

Editorials

MCU Storylines That Are Still Unresolved

November 12, 2020

After a mammoth 23 films and 11 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe wrapped up the long-running “Infinity Saga”, the main story that the franchise had been building towards. Characters like Iron Man and Captain America reached the end of their arcs. The Infinity Stones were dealt with, and big bad Thanos was defeated. Phase 3 ended with “Spider-Man: Far From Home” as it’s epilogue.

Although the main characters and big plotlines were resolved, the story isn’t over. After all, heroes like Thor, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange all have films coming, continuing their adventures. However, there are some threads that seem to have been forgotten. Will Phase 4 resolve them?

Samuel Sterns – The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk
The last time we saw Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) he was transforming into The Leader (The Incredible Hulk, 2008)

While not remembered as fondly as some of the other films, The Incredible Hulk is one of the most interesting. Acting as a psuedo-sequel/reboot, the film finds Banner on the run from the military and trying to cure his “condition”. He enlists the help of Samuel Sterns to help him, who later starts to mutate into his alter ego “The Leader”.

We haven’t seen him again since, and there hasn’t been a small reference to the character. The Incredible Hulk occupies a strange place in the franchise’s history, with the character tied up in a rights issue and Banner being recast for subsequent appearances. General Ross reappeared in Civil War, and the events have been referenced, but no mention of Sterns as yet. Interestingly the actor was contracted for 3 appearances, so he could still return one day. Kevin Fiege himself has ruled it out, it’s just a matter of finding the right place for him, with no sequel in sight, that isn’t the easiest task.

The Mandarin – Iron Man 3

This Mandarin was revealed to be a fake (Iron Man 3, 2013)

The controversial Iron Man 3 saw Tony deal with PTSD after the battle of New York. While a new terrorist group led by the Mandarin attacks. Tony discovers that the Mandarin is actually a character, played by an out of work actor. Aldrich Killian then claims to be the villain in the finale, but the one-shot “All Hail the King” reveals that another, more comic accurate version, is the true one.

Tony Leung has been cast as the Mandarin in “Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings” which should hopefully connect some of the dots. “All Hail The King” ends with Trevor being taken to see the real Mandarin, which is presumbly the one who will appear in Shang-Chi. Whether the Iron Man 3 versions were inspired by or just using his name remains to be seen

Ultron Lives? – Avengers: Age Of Ultron

In Spider-Man: Homecoming, when peter is trapped inside the crate he finds  an Ultron bot made by Tony Stark : MovieDetails
The red eyes imply the head is still active (Spider-Man: Homecoming, 2017)

The second Avengers film sees the team reunite to defeat Tony’s rogue A.I protector. Ultron quickly hacks the internet, makes thousands of copies of himself and plans humanity’s extinction. The Avengers defeat him with the help of Vision, an android Ultron intends to use as a new body. Vision removes Ultron from the internet and is left alone with the last drone.

It’s made clear in Age of Ultron that if one drone survives then he could return at full strength. The final exchange between Ultron and Vision is left ambiguous, but it’s fair to assume Vision destroyed him. Where it gets murkier is the apperance of an Ultron head in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. The final battle with Ultron took place in Sokovia, so why is there a head in New York? Further, it’s in the posession of Adrian Toomes and crew, so it’s not on it’s way to be destroyed. While this could be little more than an easter egg, it would be interesting to know where it ended up.

Time Travel – Avengers: Endgame

Avengers Endgame
Once you’ve introduced time travel, it makes everything compicated (Avengers: Endgame, 2019)

After their devastating defeat at the hands of Thanos, The Avengers are lost. Half of all life in the universe has been extinguished, and the world mourns. After 5 years, with some helo from Ant-Man, Tony Stark discovers time travel, allowing them a second chance. The Avengers perform a “time heist” to gather The Infinity Stones, to bring everyone back. After, Captain America returns the stones to their proper place in the timeline.

It’s unclear if the Avengers tell the public about their time travel adventure. But it’s possible that some people like Nick Fury are aware. Bruce Banner is still a public figure and time travel is a huge scientific breakthrough, so what are they going to do with it? It’s hard to believe the Avengers are just going to let it sit in their base gathering dust, but they can’t exactly use it for guided tours. It’s established that they can’t affect the future with time travel, but that wouldn’t stop them from looking at events in the past to solve mysteries or crimes. It’s likely this one won’t be resolved for a while until they need it again.

Also Read: Has The Marvel Cinematic Universe Reached It’s Peaked


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Editorials

The Difficult Road Of The New Mutants

February 21, 2020

Apparently, it’s really hard to release a film. And I don’t mean all the actual work of filming, acting, costumes etc, I just mean to get it out there. Any number of brilliant scripts fail to make it. Talented directors sit waiting for someone from a studio to like their idea. I have heard of this described as “development hell”. And even then when it’s filmed things don’t always go smoothly as such with the latest instalment in the X-Men series: The New Mutants.

A Sure-fire Hit

The New Mutants
The New Mutants (horrornewsnetwork.net)

The film The New Mutants is based on comic book series of the same name, essentially taking place in the same universe as the X-Men films and comics but with a different sensibility and focusing on teenaged characters. The director is Josh Boone who is probably best known for directing The Fault In Our Stars and the film stars Maisie Williams (Arya Stark from Game of Thrones) and Anya Taylor-Joy (from The Witch and Emma). This is a pretty good formula for success – a hugely successful franchise, a talented director and some popular, likeable and skilled actors. But despite being finished filming years ago the film is currently scheduled for release in April 2020. I remember seeing the trailer for it and being quite excited, it seemed to have a darker tone than the X-Men films, perhaps even something closer to horror than sci-fi.

What exactly is this film about? Well, imagine you’re an unlucky mutant who instead of ending up in Charles Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters – a place of nurturing and education, you found yourself trapped in a very sinister and isolated hospital. The handful of mutants seem to have a very dark past with their powers – of harm and violence and are told they need to get better and they can do that in this hospital. This very sinister hospital.

What Happened?

The comic book version of The New Mutants (source: denofgeek.com)
The comic book version of The New Mutants (source: denofgeek.com)

I watched the trailer quite some time ago, in fact, a suspiciously long time ago. A lot of work goes into deciding when a film is released. Should it be late December/early January for an Oscar push? Or a summer blockbuster? Do you want to counter-programme against blockbuster with something completely different? And timing it badly can be disastrous to the success to the film. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has this planned out for years and every other film has to work out how best not to get crushed by the latest MCU movie. In the case of The New Mutants it was originally scheduled for release April 13 2018, however, after realising this clashed with Deadpool 2 it was pushed back to February 2019, which then clashed with Dark Phoenix so it was pushed back to August 2019. So a summer 2019 release then, well, no, Disney bought 20th Century Fox and rumour is were not impressed by the film and had raised the idea of not having a cinema release and putting it straight onto Disney+. Obviously, being released on a streaming service is no longer the sign of a bad film anymore with Netflix boasting a number of great films that never saw the inside of a cinema, but still, it could be seen as something of a demotion. There seems to have been a lot of reshoots, never a good sign with a film, with the idea to further lean towards the horror genre.

An Addition To The MCU?

Avengers: Endgame
Avengers Endgame (source: forbes.com)

Then comes the inevitable question, the dilemma that stalks every new X-Men film, where will it fit into the MCU? I’ve written on this site before that I don’t think every Marvel film needs to be part of the MCU and with the acquisition of 20th Century Fox and X-Men that the X-Men especially should be kept free from it. My basic feeling is that a world full of mutants doesn’t mix well with a world of superheroes, compared to Wolverine, Captain America is not terribly impressive. Concerning The New Mutants…part of this rests on where The New Mutants fits in with X-Men, will other Professor X or Cyclops show up? Keeping the timeline of the X-Men films clear is already far too complicated, will adding The New Mutants push things too far?

Without any additional problems getting in the way, the film is due for a UK release of 10th April and so we’ll all be able to see whether it has been worth the wait.

The New Mutants (Official Trailer)

Also Read: When Great Video Games Become Lacklustre Movies

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Editorials

Has The Marvel Cinematic Universe Reached Its Peak?

July 3, 2019
Marvel Cinematic Universe - First 10 Years Banner

With Avengers: Endgame sitting just behind Avatar as the second highest grossing film of all time, the franchise has constantly reached new heights, especially with the team-ups. But with Endgame being the final appearance from some of the characters that made it the juggernaut it is, is it all downhill from here?

No one could’ve predicted just how big the MCU would become when it started back in 2008, Iron Man wasn’t as popular as characters like Spider-Man, so there was very little chance the film would be a success, let alone that it would give birth to the highest grossing franchise ever. It not only catapulted “cult” comic book characters into household names but also inspired several other studios to adopt the “shared universe” model.

“Become part of a larger world…’

2008’s “Iron Man” officially started the universe, but “The Avengers” took things to a whole new level. (Marvel/Disney, 2012)

The first “Avengers” film is still to date the 6th Highest grossing film worldwide and is when people really started to pick up and take notice of the franchise after all the planning and easter eggs had paid off. “Iron Man 3” kicked off “Phase Two” a year later, which included “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”, the former being the first film directed by the Russo Brothers, who would go on to direct “Infinity War” and “Endgame”, while the latter proved Marvel could experiment with the more outlandish elements of their canon, leading to films like “Doctor Strange” and “Thor: Ragnarok”

“Phase Three” saw Marvel get even more ambitious, with everything leading towards the massive crossover events of the final two “Avengers” films as well as putting their own spin on familiar characters, when they struck a deal to use Spider-Man in their shared universe, who now gets to share the screen with the Avengers just like in the comics, as well as have a film directly deal with the fallout of Avengers: Endgame, the film that broke box office records almost instantly.

“We’re in the endgame now”

“Avengers: Infinity War” features a huge cast of characters (Disney/Marvel, 2018)

The MCU won’t be stopping anytime soon, although Marvel has yet to officially announce any of the films in Phase 4, there are several rumours about what could come next. And the recent Disney/Fox merge means that they now have access to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, so expect to see them appear alongside (or even against) the Avengers before long. While this crossover would likely not feature the cast of the previous X-Men films, it would still be exciting to see versions of them with characters we are familiar with, such as a Spider-man and Wolverine team up.

However due to the scale of “Avengers: Endgame”, it is likely that the MCU will slow down and tell smaller stories for a time, focusing on more standalone stories with occasional team-ups, like Falcon’s cameo in “Ant-Man” or the Hulk’s role in “Thor: Ragnarok”. While the solo films are popular, they never quite reach the heights of the Avengers films, although several have grossed over $1 billion dollars, like “Black Panther” so a sequel would likely do very well.

“Avengers Assemble”

Could Avengers 5 give us even more heroes in one battle? (Marvel/Disney, 2019)

But the appeal of a shared universe is the team-ups and connections, otherwise, they may as well be standalone franchises (which is no bad thing). As of Endgame, there are over 20 superheroes, that either have their own franchise (Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther etc) or are major players in another (Falcon and Winter Soldier have huge roles in the Captain America films) and that cast is only likely to expand as the films go on. In addition to the feature-length outings, several established characters are getting spin-off series on the upcoming Disney+. These will crossover with the films “in a big way” (although previous Marvel shows, such as Agents of SHIELD and The Defenders, had tenuous connections at best).

Given all of this, it’s likely “Endgame”, as a conclusion to “The Infinity Saga” will be the last official Avengers film for a while, but the characters will crossover with each other at every opportunity. Given the success of some solo outings like “Black Panther” that are guaranteed sequels, it is possible that one of them could break even more records. However, the likely option is that Marvel will once again try to replicate their success several years down the line. With several newer characters, the old guard can call in for back up. So while Endgame might be the end for the foreseeable future, don’t expect this to be the last time the Avengers assemble…

Also Read: Spoiler Etiquette: To Spoil Or Not to Spoil…

Editorials

The Newest Additions To The MCU: X-Men & Fantastic Four

April 9, 2019

As the unstoppable Disney juggernaut buys 21st Century Fox the long-awaited consolidation of the Marvel Universe is at hand.

Selling Priceless Treasures

Back in the late 1990s, no one knew how big superhero films were going to be. After all, it wasn’t that long after the trainwreck of Batman and Robin. So it made sense to sell the rights to some properties and let film studios take all the risk while Marvel still got a big pile of cash. Then X-Men was a huge hit and this started a slew of superhero films – some great, some not so great and Marvel came to regret giving up cinematic control to some of their most valuable superheroes.

The 2000s and 2010s saw an explosion of superhero films – a seemingly never-ending parade of CGI fight scenes, origins stories and heroic struggles. A bright spark had had the idea of making all of Marvel’s superhero films exist in one universe, a huge sprawling world full of heroes and villains and it was all connected. Each film would build on the shared success meaning that people would need to watch each one if they wanted to fully appreciate the whole. I have reservations about this idea but undeniably it has been hugely successful and there is definitely a feeling that you need to see them all. It was very cool to see Iron Man making fun of Captain America in Avengers Assemble, or Thor and the Incredible Hulk fighting in Thor: Ragnorak or seeing Spider-Man team up with Wolverine and Reid Richards in…well, that one hasn’t happened yet and that’s because 21st Century Fox used to own the rights to X-Men and The Fantastic Four.

There is, of course, something that has to be pointed out. While the X-Men films have been commercially and sometimes even critically successful launching a nearly twenty year ascendancy none of the three Fantastic Four films has made much of an impact. And I’m not sure how many people, outside of hardened comic books fans, have been calling for Fantastic Four to be incorporated into the MCU. But there is good stuff there to work with and they could be a useful addition and will satisfy completists out there.

X Men OriginsL Wolverine (www.nitwitty.net)

Lessons To Be Learned & Problems To Avoid Rebooting X-Men and Fantastic Four:

  • X-Men – if you have run out of ideas for interesting powers stop making characters. I’d rather characters have similar powers than the barrel-scraping powers that have popped up in the X-Men films.
  • Fantastic Four – Sue Storm has the power of invisibility (as well as being able to create force-fields) and while such a power could lead to dozens of interesting ideas it falls flat on screen and there has to be an interesting way to use that power in a film.
  • X-Men – The role of Wolverine made Hugh Jackman a huge star and is probably the lead character of those films so don’t try and repeat that trick when it’s rebooted, do something different. Wolverine isn’t the be-all and end-all, they’re a team, let some of the other X-Men shine.
  • Fantastic Four – this may be controversial – find a way to make Doctor Doom and Silver Surfer into interesting cinematic characters or let them go – it’s okay to make new stuff up.
  • X-Men – Too powerful – Stop making people all-powerful. Wolverine is practically indestructible and immortal and every so often Jean Grey becomes all-powerful and, Professor X can do everything from mind control to stopping time

But it’s not just going to be problems and things going wrong and it has the potential to do some really interesting stuff.

Infinity War (superherohype.com)

What Fans Want (or at least what this fan wants)

  • Deadpool with the X-Men – Deadpool was a great film and while not exactly an X-Man he’s X-Man adjacent and in the graphic novels he is definitely part of that world. The terrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine already had one go at this and completely wasted their opportunity so maybe finally the MCU can give us the insanely over-the-top fight that a Deadpool Vs Wolverine Battle of the Indestructible Mutants deathmatch that we all desperately want.
  • Who’d Win In A Fight Between….every playground’s favourite argument is who’d win in a fight between two people who should have no reason to fight. A popular one is who would win in a fight between The Hulk and The Thing (my money is on The Thing as The Hulk is driven by impulses whereas The Thing very much remains Ben Grimm). Reid Richards is a genius who could perhaps knock some of the smug out of Tony Stark while Magneto is perhaps the best villain in any of the Marvel films to date.
  • Making Up For Past Mistakes – The Fantastic Four films were a disaster from start to finish and the X-Men franchise has not always struck gold so maybe this time they can take two decades of experience and get it right. The MCU has a had a go with the odder and wackier superheroes with Doctor Strange, Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy and I don’t see why they can’t apply the same skill to a new Fantastic Four film. As for the X-Men, putting Gambit in the regular line-up as I feel his presence has been sorely missed in the films. They could also have another go with Rogue, again making her a regular X-Man from the start, bring in Jubilee, and Cyclops doesn’t just have to be the boring guy going out with Jean Grey.

So there we have it what the MCU rebooted films of X-Men and Fantastic should avoid and what they should do. Getting these films right is trickier than it might appear and it can be a fine line between enjoyable superhero film and ridiculous folly that cost $300,000,000.

Reviews

Review: Captain Marvel [spoiler free]

March 16, 2019

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is winding down (well, until everything gets rebooted, anyway). The final Avengers movie hits the big screen next month, and soon we’ll discover just what exactly Steve Rogers and his depleted team of heroes plan on doing to resolve their little predicament.

With time running out for Disney to milk Marvel for all it’s worth (which is a lot, by the way), they’ve churned out one last origin story for us to feed on until Endgame is unleashed. The final piece in Stan Lee’s complex and colourful jigsaw.

Let’s talk about Captain Marvel.

Why now?

Captain Marvel was released on 27 February and is in cinemas in the UK.

In a nutshell

Captain Marvel is a Kree warrior caught up in an intergalactic battle between her people and the Skrulls, a race of shape-shifters aiming for universal conquest. She finds herself on Earth in the mid-90s 1995 and quickly discovers that she was once U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers. Teaming up with a two-eyed Nick Fury, she sets about defeating the Skrulls and uncovering how she came to gain her incredible superpowers.

Who’s it for?

The movie is rated 12a, so some children may need an adult along. But apart from some mild Marvel-style violence, this one’s pretty tame.

Who’s in it?

Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel

Brie Larson played Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, and unsurprisingly, she’s very good. Danvers is actually not the easiest role to bring to life – her past is a bit complicated, and you’re not really sure if you’re supposed to be watching a human pilot with a penchant for karaoke or a battle-hardened alien being just trying to fulfil a mission. Either way, Larson pulls it off, and I’m really looking forward to seeing her in Endgame.

Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury, but with a twist or two. He’s considerably younger here (via some clever CGI), still retains both eyes, and isn’t quite as cynical as we find him later in the MCU. It was a nice change seeing Fury being somewhat less furious than usual.

The film also stars Ben “bad-guy voice” Mendelsohn as the leader of the Skrulls, Jude Law as Danvers’ Kree mentor and Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson (again, de-aged marvellously). It’s a relatively small but strong cast.

The good stuff

The good aspects of this film are obvious from the get-go, as are its negative qualities.

The cast is great, especially Larson. As I said, I’m looking forward to seeing how she integrates into the final Avengers movie, particularly under the direction of the Russo brothers. I imagine there’ll be some nice banter between her and the other super-powered heroes we’ve come to love.

Technically, the film looks and sounds good. It’s competently directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck with some great action sequences and stunning visuals. When Danvers comes to realise the full extent of her power later in the film, you genuinely get the sense that she’s fairly unstoppable.

And as with all Marvel movies, there’s a great deal of humour interspersed with the more serious moments throughout. It’s a fun movie, and most Marvel fans will enjoy it well enough.

However…

The not so good stuff

Maybe it’s the onset of Marvel fatigue, but I felt like I’d seen this movie already. While the narrative starts off with Danvers already in possession of her powers, it quickly rolls back into the usual MCU origin story formula: gets powers, learns more about powers, beats the Big Bad in the final act with said powers. This has all been done before, and better in some cases, unfortunately.

Secondly, the writing is often sub-standard for a Marvel movie. Some of the lines spouted by characters felt lazy and too by-the-book, especially in the case of Nicky Fury, who swung too far towards Hollywood cliché at times.

The filmmakers’ desire to empower women with this film and its lead character, while definitely admirable, becomes more of a distraction at times from the actual plot. It felt like some lines had been shoehorned in just to give the audience and critics a few sound-bites to take home. Yes, this is a film that gives younger viewers a great female role-model to emulate, but a blatantly-obvious pointed line like “I have nothing to prove to you” (addressed to a man) actually detracts from the flow of the narrative, like a big diversion sign by the side of the road.

Captain Marvel shouldn’t be deemed an excellent MCU film simply because it has a strong female lead, in the same way Black Panther shouldn’t be elevated just because it debunks racial stereotypes in its genre. Those plaudits should be gained on the merits of good film-making, which I believe Black Panther achieved more successfully, though not as successfully as many others suggested (I’m one of the few Marvel fans who wouldn’t rank it in my top five MCU movies).

My own gripes aside, Captain Marvel is a bit of an ‘almost’ movie: the writing is almost good, the humour is almost funny, the plot is almost engaging. But I felt like I’d seen it all before, and the filmmakers were in too much of a hurry to bang out one more quick origin story before it all wraps up next month.   

The bottom line

Captain Marvel is another enjoyable instalment in the MCU. Brie Larson grabs the lead role by the horns and is well-supported by a strong cast. It’s a solid enough movie, but it suffers from an overbearing need for its agenda to be pushed – had it been handled with a little more care, it could have been fantastic.

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)