Avengers: Infinity War Trailer Thoughts

Yesterday I wasn’t that excited for Infinity War. Perhaps it was due to a case of MCU fatigue, or maybe the decision to change a doomsday story into a comedy left a bad taste in my mouth. One of my friends advised that I would enjoy Thor: Ragnarok if I treated it as a comedy, instead of a Thor movie. Hence my decision not to see it.

After seeing the trailer for May 2018’s biggest release, I am now firmly aboard the hype train. Simply seeing all of these Marvel characters on screen is its own treat. Captain America is back, with the beard that has been teased via concept art for quite some time now. Along with Cap comes the return of the Winter Soldier, with a new metal arm. I remember watching the Infinity War promo many months ago and hearing Kevin Fiege say that it was important to break the Avengers apart before introducing a threat like Thanos.

“Get this man a shield,” says T’Challa. It could be clever editing but I am sure that this line is directed to Captain America and this makes it likely that Cap and his fellow anti-registration heroes are still in Wakanda when Thanos invades.As a result, it looks like Black Panther and Wakanda will have a central role in the film.  This would make sense since they would still be fugitives of the American government and still at odds with Iron Man. Even though the relationship appeared to be healing at the very end of Civil War it was clear that Cap and Stark weren’t going to reunite as drinking buddies just yet.

Speaking of Iron Man, his gift to Spider-Man looks glorious.

I have been stalling on watching Spider-Man Homecoming, mainly because I was put off by the Iron Man 3.5 vibe. From what I understand Tony Stark has relatively little screen time but I didn’t like the fact that Spider-Man was now tied to Iron Man because of the latter’s rushed introduction and exit from Civil War e.g. “We just got the rights to Spider-Man so we’ve got to add him to the movie somehow.”

The special effects for some shots could use some work but we still have some time for post-production so I’ll reserve my judgment until then.

Despite all the eye candy on display one of my favourite parts of the trailer is actually right near the beginning, with the different members of the Avengers saying “There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if we could become something more. So when they needed us, we could fight the battles that they never could.” This brings us back to a similar phrase being uttered by Nick Fury in the Avengers trailer in 2012.

Thanos’s few lines in this trailer leave me thinking that he can hopefully be a memorable villain for the MCU, in addition to Kilgrave and Loki. I have to say that Thanos looks better with the helmet. In my humble opinion, he simply looks incomplete without it. The lack of the helmet stands out more since we already saw the helmet in Guardians of the Galaxy.

In the comic, the conflict was focused on the heroes vs Thanos himself. The trailer shows the heroes also facing an army of minions and I am hoping that Thanos still has room to stand out and that this doesn’t end up as another situation where a sub-villain detracts from the main one e..g X-24 stealing Donald Pierce’s thunder in Logan.

I hate the Marvel/DC talk but I will say that Marvel’s format of having solo or even multiple solo films prior to a team up film can make the final product much more satisfying for fans. I was excited for Justice League as a fan of the comic books and tv shows, but Infinity War is now anticipated by the casual fans who probably still make fun of comic book readers. Additionally, we don’t have to worry as much about characters lacking development since they already got the bulk of their development from their solo films.  The majority of characters are not being introduced here. They are only being developed further as they adapt to a new situation. With that said, the film still runs the risk of having some characters fall by the wayside since there are simply so many. Another risk is handling the switch of tones between characters who are coming off of different storylines. The cast of Civil War had a relatively dark storyline, while Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Thor: Ragnarok  were full on comedies.

Despite these worries, I am a believer again. The Winter Soldier is my favourite MCU film and I am hoping the Russo Brothers can bring all of these characters together for something that has the “fun” so many people crave these days, while also giving us something that is truly epic.

Spider-Man Homecoming Trailer Thoughts

I initially avoided watching this trailer because I was worried it would give too much away. Overall, my wariness appears to be justified.

Tom Holland was a highlight of Captain America: Civil War, even though the character was clearly rushed into the film after Marvel obtained the rights (or technically leased them from Sony). Although I have previously ranted about the MCU obsession with light-heartedness and fun, I wasn’t as worried about that obsession ruining a Spider-Man film. Peter Parker’s wisecracking is a key part of the character and Holland mastered that element, as well as capturing a more serious moment when he referenced Uncle Ben’s death with Tony Stark.

Although plenty of people saw The Amazing Spider-Man series as being too dark, the tone wasn’t an issue for me. With that said, the second film was bogged down with too many villains and some pretty hammy performances from the likes of Paul Giamatti and Dane Dehaan.

Since Spider-Man is one of my favourite comic book characters, probably just behind Batman, Wolverine and The Punisher, I was excited for Homecoming.

Now…this trailer. The YouTube comments make it clear a lot of people disagree, but I think I have Tony Stark fatigue.  However, there is a silver lining. It looks like Stark steps back from supporting Peter after the incident on the ship, leaving the film to hopefully focus on our favourite wall crawler.

I am just worried the film might reach this point halfway through, which is too late in my opinion. The character of Peter Parker got anchored to Stark due to his rushed introduction in Civil War, and now the writers are doing their best to keep that thread alive and also find a coherent reason to cut it. Meanwhile, marketers are also pimping Tony Stark out to the audience.

The high school setting for Spider-Man worked surprisingly well in The Spectacular Spider-Man, since the show avoided becoming 90210 featuring Spider-Man. I am hoping this film has a good balance as well. Zendaya’s one line in this trailer already leaves me worried about her acting skills. She says “my friends are up there” with the same enthusiasm she would say “I broke a nail”.

On a positive note, the trailer doesn’t spoil too much of Michael Keaton as The Vulture. So far, he seems the best kept secret and also seems like he may be a highlight of the film. The new costume is awesome and I have renewed faith in Keaton after watching Birdman and Spotlight.

Additionally, a lot of the humour in this trailer was actually good. My favourite parts were the interactions between Peter and his friend. My least favourite ones, you guessed it, anything with Tony Stark.

What are your thoughts on the new Spider-Man Homecoming trailer?

My Top Five MCU Films

With the Captain America: Civil War review up I thought I would do a brief ranking of my top five Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films.

 

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

 

I know many people put Civil War at the top of their list, but The Winter Soldier was able to tell a smaller story with more developed players. It was great seeing Chris Evans further develop as Captain America and this was one of the first good performances I have seen from Samuel L Jackson recently (outside of a Tarantino flick).
Although the set pieces may not be as big as Civil War or some other mcu films the hand-to-hand fight scenes are the best in the mcu. The Winter Soldier made his name as one of the MCU’s few memorable villains, alongside Loki, although he is more of a hero or anti-hero now.

 

The humour was handled well, and there was a budding love interest that did not detract from the plot.

 

The Thor films are not on this list due to these main two criticisms. The humour we get from Kat Dennings and Natalie Portman is awful, and the love story between Thor and Jane lacks chemistry but also takes up a decent portion of screen time.

 

 

  • Captain America: Civil War

 

Overall, great performances, great action and it was awesome seeing one of my favourite story arcs on the big screen (albeit in a more condensed and heavily altered version). Chris Evans cements himself as one of my favourite actors in the mcu.

Obviously, Civil War’s format was going to make it difficult to develop every character well. Some additions were handled very well in my opinion, such as The Black Panther. Spider-Man’s felt more tacked on, and that is coming from a huge Spider-Man fanboy. I also felt that Scarlet Witch could have been developed more since her character plays an important role in the story. If it wasn’t for these complaints, Civil War would be #1 on the list.

 

  • Ant-Man

 

I always thought Paul Rudd was a great actor, even though he was best known for comedic roles. He did a great job as Scott Lang and had great support from Michael Douglas. Evangeline Lilly was a bit weak at times but overall she was great too. Let’s not forget Michael Pena as Luis. That is how you do comic relief. Can’t wait to see him in the MCU again.

 

The film did a great job of displaying Ant-Man’s power and making me care about a character I knew very little about. The special effects were amazing and so were the action sequences.

 

Yellow Jacket wasn’t amazing but was still more memorable than what we got in GOTG or the Iron Man films.

 

 

 

  • Guardians of The Galaxy

 

Chris Pratt nailed it as the lead, but Bradley Cooper steals the show as Rocket. These two leads power the film, with Vin Diesel’s Groot also being a memorable piece. Even Dave Bautista, who was horrible in previous roles, does a great job as Drax.

 

The special effects, the action and the soundtrack all create a ridiculously entertaining film.

 

The villain did come across as one-note and was pretty forgettable, but he isn’t poor enough to ruin the film completely. If he was better, this film would probably have the number 2 spot.

 

  • Iron Man

 

The sequels might make people forget the original, but this film birthed the MCU. Of course, it doesn’t have the fifth spot only because of its importance. Robert Downey Jr. was perfect casting and his chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow was amazing. To be fair, RDJ could probably have chemistry with anyone or anything.

 

Although I felt like the sequels might have relied on his ad-libbing too much, it was executed perfectly here and allowed him to transition from an arrogant playboy to a slightly less arrogant, but nobler, playboy.

 

The villain, yet again, wasn’t that memorable but Jeff Bridges did a pretty job as Obadiah Stane. The special effects were weak at times but overall they were dazzling. Although there wasn’t that much action, in terms of fight scenes, the film still did a great job of making Stark’s suit tests interesting. With a less charismatic actor and weaker writing, the film could have dragged at these parts, but these scenes actually stick out as the most memorable ones.

Captain America Civil War Review

Entertainment Value: 10/10

Critical Value: 7.5/10

 

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This film is off to a great start at the box office and with critics, which is no surprise. I may be a little tardy to the party but here is my review of one of 2016’s most anticipated films.

 

As a brief overview, Civil War revolved around a new set of laws known as the Sokovia Accords, which are a proposed measure to monitor and register all superheroes. These accords are proposed after numerous incidents of collateral damage, from New York in Avengers 1 to Sokovia in Avengers 2.

 

The Avengers and superheroes as a whole, are then split on whether to support or propose the act. While Tony Stark believes the laws will help people feel safer and make heroes more accountable, Steve Rogers believes that governmental control of superheroes will ultimately lead to superheroes being puppets to government agendas. The conflict between these two eventually escalates into all out war between Team Cap and Team Iron Man.

 

I will say that reading the comic does affect my perception of this film. I know some people may say that is unfair, but we must realize that any adaptation will get compared to its source material. I will not tear the film apart simply because it didn’t follow the comics page by page but there are some things the comics touched on that I would have loved to see in the film. However, Civil War is still a great film. I have heard many people say it is the best MCU film or even the best superhero film ever. I would disagree with the assertion that it is the best superhero film ever, and in terms of the MCU it is still beat by The Winter Soldier.

 

Firstly, the film is ridiculously entertaining. The running time flew by and the action sequences continue to get better with the Captain America films. I felt that every character truly got a chance to shine, whether they were older characters like The Falcon and Bucky, or newer ones such as The Black Panther.

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The film does a great job of seamlessly integrating the different characters and bringing them together. This was one of my biggest worries and it was good to see that for the most part, character introductions didn’t seem rushed. The one exception is Spider-Man. Spider-Man is my second favourite comic book character so I wanted to make sure I was objective about his appearance in the film. His intro and the wrap up of his storyline did strike me as a bit tacked on. From what I have heard, the Russos said they always planned on Spider-Man being a part of the film. However, Spider-Man’s scenes could have been cut out and the film would still pretty much be the same. A character that is integrated better is The Black Panther. Boseman plays the character with an African accent, and I am probably not suited to judge how well he pulls it off. The accent did seem to make his dialogue more stilted when the script required him to speak in longer sentences. Despite those criticisms, I will say that Spider-Man and The Black Panther were both amazing additions to the universe and I look forward to seeing their solo films.

 

The performances are good for the most part, which was something I wasn’t worried about. While I did criticize Boseman’s accent and delivery, Elizabeth Olsen takes the cake for worst accent. Her character’s Sokovian accent comes and goes at will, just like it did in Avengers: Age of Ultron. One criticism I do have for the film is that I felt certain plot threads could have been developed more. Scarlet Witch’s character is one that I felt could have been fleshed out more, especially since her character does play an important role, arguably being the main impetus for the conflict between Iron Man and Captain America. Obviously that is expected when a film incorporates this many characters but I can’t dismiss underdeveloped plot threads simply because the film has a lot of characters. This will always be a concern for any ensemble cast. Overall, Civil War handles it well but Winter Soldier still beats it due to the cohesiveness of its story.

 

While the humor in some Marvel film falls flat, I always thought the Captain America films did a better job balancing it with seriousness. Generally, the Cap movies also had better written jokes. That holds true here as well but there are times when the humor fell flat. One example (very minor spoiler)- Stan Lee’s mailman character delivers a package for Tony Stark but says “Tony Stank” instead. That is the joke, that his name was spelt as Tony Stank. While my audience was dying with laughter, I sat there thinking that the joke was the definition of kiddy humour. Fortunately, jokes like that are pretty far and few in between. Spider-Man and the other characters help to add more enjoyable comic relief that fits their characters.

 

The end is somewhat open ended but gives a satisfying conclusion to the film, while also raising questions about the future of the Avengers. I did have an issue with the ending fight scene. Not due to the fight itself, but the impetus for the fight. As a minor spoiler, the last fight scene relies on two different characters being at the same location at the same time. However, it brings up the question of how the villain knew that the two characters would appear at the same time.

 

However, that did not ruin my enjoyment of the film and I still give Captain America: Civil War a 7.5/10 for critical value and a 10/10 for entertainment value.

 

Full Circle -From Comic Book to Film and Film to Comic Book

I originally wrote this piece for comicommand

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With the plethora of comic book films currently gracing the big screen, it is obvious that comic books have greatly affected film and mainstream entertainment as a whole. However, a less obvious feature of this golden age of comic book films, is the impact that comic book adaptations have on their own source material. Comic book Superman didn’t fight for “The American Way” until after 1940s radio broadcasts said he did. Superman also didn’t fly until the radio series added that feature. Additionally, characters such as Harley Quinn and Terry McGinnis made their first appearances in animated television shows such as Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond before entering the comics. These events bring up the point that it is unavoidable for adaptations to influence their properties to some extent. I originally considered writing this piece as a pros and cons article, but I realized that the list of benefits would be counteracted by only one very obvious con.

When films begin affecting films more, then financial motives can quickly overpower the values of storytelling and creativity. Characters such as Star-Lord now have new solo titles (Legendary Star Lord). It seems unlikely that the series is not somehow related to the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Film can allow more obscure characters to shine, breaking through the monotony of superhero films. However, this can also help to usher in monotony. Each “phase” of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is pre-scheduled to focus on certain characters and certain stories.  Marvel currently has all its filmsmapped out until 2019. Marvel also has general plans for phase 4, which begins in 2020. Of the next ten films, five are introducing new characters into the MCU. One will be the first solo film for the MCU’s Spider-Man, the rest will introduce Captain Marvel, The Inhumans, Black Panther and Doctor Strange.

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With four new characters being introduced, the spread between new characters and old seems fairly even. Since Black Panther comics are currently struggling, according to Marvel’s editor-in-chief, a boost in sales from a movie could do the franchise wonders. However, what happens if Marvel comics start to focus on the comics that have had popular films, or are about to? I doubt this would be the first time this has happened, but with the MCU’s prevalence, the impact could be much more drastic. Marvel could devote more resources and better writers to comics that have a movie coming soon. Meanwhile, other properties could be left to either stagnate or remain doomed to relative obscurity, until Marvel Studios decides to adapt them to film. This could potentially create a system where comic book publishing is essentially dictated by film-making. This suggestion may seem drastic at the moment, but it is important to consider that the MCU is only eight years old. The MCU did not invent comic book adaptations and older ones such as Blade (1998) and X-Men (2000) are just as vital to the success of comic book films. However, as I’ve discussed before, the MCU is the most saturated and popular engine for comic book films.

Steven Spielberg predicted comic book movies will reach a saturation point and go the way of the western, dying out and making way for a new hierarchy for tent pole films. It’s possible that Spielberg is right since it seems obvious that people will become fatigued from superhero films and desire less of them at some point. However, it is important to realize that Westerns thrived in mainstream Hollywood for decades before they became the anomaly they are now. For all we know, the MCU could thrive for twenty years before unsatisfactory box-office totals start to necessitate a change in Hollywood. In eight years we have already seen some of the effects of films on Marvel comics, what could twelve, twenty or even thirty more years of box-office domination lead to?

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