I have previously discussed my refusal to see Thor: Ragnarok due to Marvel’s insistence on bringing a comedy writer onboard to rework the film only because they worried the film was too dark.
Of course, I wouldn’t want a film to be dark if the tone doesn’t fit the characters or story. This argument can be a can of worms since many characters have stories that are uncharacteristically dark or light (e.g. The Flash with Flashpoint Paradox). The Barry Allen version of The Flash isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but Flashpoint Paradox still took the darkness to a whole other level.
But I digress.
The previous Thor films had plenty of comic relief, or attempts at it. These included one painful line after another from the likes of Kat Dennings and Natalie Portman. One of the few good things to come out of the Thor series has been Loki. Ragnarok refers to Asgardian doomsday, so a dark tone seemed appropriate. Even if the film wasn’t going to adapt the mythical Ragnarok events, a title referencing doomsday still implies some level of darkness. Darkness would fit the story, and it could therefore fit the character. If a film is overhauled only to lighten the tone, regardless of whether the tone fits the character or story, that is a travesty. People complain about film’s being “dark” for no reason, but very few people have a problem with more “fun”.
What bothers me the most about the decision to change the film is that this demonstrates how the need for “fun” overrides other artistic considerations. The previous Thor films have other issues, such as a love story lacking chemistry, and some weak villains (looking at you dark elves). All those issues were overlooked previously, but bring on some darkness, and it’s all hands on deck to make another film.
I still refuse to see the film in theatres but I must say that this first trailer has some great moments. More Loki is always a good thing, and I love the new look, which is partially inspired by his look in the Young Avengers.
Hela looks like she might give us another good villain. Her helmet has drawn a lot of comparisons to Aku, but since the helmet originates from the older comics, seems like Aku was inspired by Hela.
The Hulk doesn’t look as convincing (CGI wise) as he did in The Avengers film but the film still has more post-production to go. I actually didn’t mind the “he’s a friend from work” line since it actually seems in character for Thor. However, it still sucks that just about every epic moment is likely to be undercut by a one-liner that the fun-addled masses will eat up.
I’ve been told my writing is quite depressing, so perhaps I hate the Marvel “fun mania” since it clashes with my own creative proclivities. As Jeremy Jahns said sometimes I would prefer an epic moment, to a funny one. Likewise, sometimes I would prefer an epic movie to a “fun” one.
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?
Entertainment Value: 10.10
Critical Value: 7.5/10
It is the end of an era. After 17 years, Hugh Jackman presents us with his last outing as Wolverine. After the first two Wolverine films many fans, myself included, initially approached another one with a healthy dose of skepticism. Then the first trailer dropped and skepticism gave way to hype for many people.
Then the second trailer dropped, confirming that Dafne Keen would be playing X-23. The film was flooded with good reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and one of my favourite YouTube reviewers also gave the film his highest rating. Needless to say, I expected a lot from this film, and for the most part, it delivered. I won’t say that the film is on the same level as The Dark Knight (it got a lot of comparisons to it) but it is undoubtedly the best Wolverine film and one of the best films in the X-Men Universe.
Logan introduces us to a bleak(er) future where most mutants are now dead. Twenty five years have passed without a mutant birth, most of the X-Men are dead, and Logan is slowly dying as his healing factor burns out. He is aging more noticeably, healing slower and the adamantium in his body is now poisoning him. Meanwhile, Charles Xavier is suffering from a mental disorder. Early plot summaries said the disease was Alzheimer’s but it is never actually confirmed in the film. Either way, he is prone to fits of dementia and seizures, which have devastating effects on the people around him.
Logan now works as a chauffeur and is content to save money so that he and Charles can buy a boat and live on the sea. Logan is tracked by a Mexican nurse who eventually convinces him to escort Laura Kinney (X23) to a mutant safe haven and evade The Reavers, cycber-netically enhanced soldiers tasked with bringing X23 back. Firstly, I have to say that X23 was insanely badass in this film, showcasing an agile fighting style that is in contrast to the brute force on display from Wolverine. Although Wolverine is feral in his own way, Laura shows us what could have become of him if he was raised as a weapon. Dafne Keen doesn’t have many lines for most of the film, relying on facial expressions and body language to create the character.
The makeup department did a great job in creating a weathered Logan, whose body tells it own story. Jackman is able to exude anger, coldness,sensitivity, love and caring seamlessly. Although his character seems to shy from caring or helping others, it is easy to see that he is only putting up a wall to protect himself from the pain of losing more people he cares about.
Charles Stewart brings us a different version of Charles Xavier. Although Charles still houses some of the wisdom we associate with the character, his disease has resulted in forced isolation. We see a Charles who knows his time is coming and is eager to enjoy the rest of his time, coming across as more carefree than any other version of Xavier we’ve seen on screen. The closest comparison is to his younger, broken self in Days of Future Past.
Jackman, Stewart and Keene are the film’s center and their scenes stand out as my favourite emotional moments. At its core, the film is about family and it great to see the family grow stronger as the film progresses. Although he is not necessarily a part of the family, Caliban (Stephen Merchant) assists Wolverine in taking care of Xavier and his performance is another stand out in the film. He has a relatively small role but succeeds in picking away at Logan to reveal his mindset as they try to navigate the dangerous world they live in.
Needless to say, the action is amazing, giving us the R-Rated glory we’ve been waiting to see for a while. People don’t just fall down when Wolverine swings his arms, they die in spectacular, gory fashion. There were many scenes that genuinely gave me chills. The film does feature some spotty CGI in parts. Fortunately, most of the effects are practical.
One of the weakest parts of the films, in my opinion, are the villains. Don’t get me wrong, Boyd Holbrook was enthralling as Donald Pierce. The issue is that it felt like he had little screen time. He and the man he answers to, were not developed very well in contrast to the other characters. There is one interesting goon that adds a new level of threat to the film, and the goon’s introduction is one of the most memorable in the film. However, I feel as if this mute goon could have been substituted for a stronger Donald Pierce.
While the film was not perfect, or as even as I would have liked, it was a solid end to Wolverine’s story. The ending, for lack of a better world, is poetic. Jackman has implied that he would be open to playing the role again if it existed in a different universe e.g. the MCU. However, he has also said that “This is it. This is the last one.
It is sad to see Hugh Jackman end the role, but I am happy that this is the film he did it with.
Edit: After more thought, had to bump up my ranking of Logan.
X Men Universe Film Rankings
Days of Future Past
With Iron Fist and The Defenders coming out later this year it can be easy to forget about the Netflix series that follows.
After seeing him in The Walking Dead and Fury (2014) I thought Bernthal’s casting as Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher was perfect. He went on to become the best thing about Daredevil’s second season, providing a deadly foil to Matt Murdock. After watching the season and reading The Punisher Max and War Journal, the Punisher quickly became one of my favourite comic book characters.
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is (MCU) is sometimes hampered by the desire to remain family-friendly, the Netflix shows capture a more adult world that is also not afraid to embrace the more fantastical elements of the comics. Many people didn’t like the mystical aspects of Daredevil’s second season, probably due to the contrast with the gritty first season. However, I didn’t mind these additions. My biggest gripe was the love story between Matt and Karen, which wasn’t foreshadowed at all with the previous season. This season began and they were suddenly in love.
With that said, The Punisher is a series that might work better (at least for the first season) with more grounded villains. Most of the villains in the aforementioned comics were figures involved in crime syndicates such as the mafia or IRA. While The Punisher obviously lives in the same universe as Thor and The Hulk, and has fought some of these figures in the comics, I hope the solo series starts with his work on the streets. Daredevil ended with Castle donning his costume as he continued his personal war on crime. I want to see that story expanded, as Castle continues to target criminal enterprises.
While Daredevil emphasized Castle’s pursuit by law enforcement, the Max comics frequently imply that the police tolerate his presence. There is a story arc where corrupt policemen frame him for the murder of one of their own, but for the most part the police realize he makes their jobs easier and scares some people off the streets. It would be interesting to see this dynamic in the series as well. I have heard the series will be inspired by the Max run, and I am especially hoping that the “Slavers” arc is adapted.
Set pictures have revealed that Karen Page will appear in the series. She tried to act as Castle’s voice of reason in Daredevil, creating a character dynamic that had far more chemistry than her and Murdock’s. It is likely she will be trying to steer him away from vigilantism, or a less violent alternative. If the character’s written properly he won’t be changing his mind, but their conversations could lead to more interesting insights about how Castle views the world e.g. the rooftop conversation in Daredevil.
One of my main worries is the length of the seasons. Every Marvel Netflix show is thirteen episodes, which feels like too much at times. Luke Cage was a good show, but I feel like it was hampered by the length. Shortening the series by an episode or two could have led to some more concise storytelling. Since the series needed to be padded to 13 episodes I feel like all of the legal wrangling in the last few episodes was added to get the series to the necessary length. Since The Punisher kills his enemies there will be definitely be less police and courtroom proceedings to worry about. However, some other plot twists could be utilized to pad the series unnecessarily. Until the thirteen episode rule changes we’ll have to hope the writers adapt to give us 13 episodes that don’t feel bloated or stretched out.
Besides that concern, this series has a lot to offer. The few comics I’ve read present a swath of interesting supporting characters and villains that will help to support one of my favourite anti-heroes as he makes his solo tv debut. What is your most anticipated Marvel Netflix show of 2017?
Below is my latest past for comicommand
The popularity of Marvel and DC Comics almost leads to word association. Superhero comics are often tied to one of the two behemoths, since they are the oldest producers of superhero comics. However, it is this longevity that leads to one of the biggest issues of the big publishers. The plethora of comic book titles, events, authors and timelines for each character can make jumping in seem overwhelming for prospective readers. Not to mention relaunches such as the ultimate comics for Marvel, and rebirth for DC. These relaunches can serve the practical purpose of giving newcomers a fresh start, but that impact quickly fades once the new series reaches a certain point. In the case of the ultimate universe, catching up with sixteen years of comics is better than fifty, but can still be daunting. In the case of DC, I have heard great things about Rebirth, but it appears some of the most poignant moments I have heard of would not be as effective without some prior knowledge of certain story-lines. Entries on this site, such as the lists by the Commander, acknowledge this problem and are meant to provide recommendations for tackling the medium. However, the fact that lists like these are necessary attests to the issue. Before readers get their pitchforks, I want to clarify that I am not trying to criticize the format of superhero comics or their rich history and diversity. I am only saying that, objectively, it does lead to of the strengths (in my opinion) that smaller imprints such as Vertigo and Image Comics have.
The last comic series I read was Vertigo’s Y The Last Man, a post-apocalyptic story where all male mammals spontaneously die, except for Yorick Brown and his pet monkey. I heard about the comic, it sounded interesting, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take another series on. What convinced me was seeing that it was only sixty issues. One weekend later, I binge read the entire series. It wasn’t only sixty issues because it got cancelled, but because that was the end of the story. Yorick’s journey ended, and the series ended with it.
I am also currently reading Image Comics’, The Walking Dead. Although the series is longer, currently on issue 155, it is likely to be a more straightforward read than decades of comics from other characters.
Marvel and DC titles do of course have graphic novels, or certain series for each character, like The Dark Knight Returns and the ongoing Injustice series. These stories can either be an alternate version of a character or simply an isolated story arc. These can provide a great introduction to characters but can also lose some impact for new readers. In the case of Injustice, the set up to the story is rooted in references to Doomsday and Scarecrow. If someone reading the series didn’t know the characters, then the story could lose its effectiveness. Some of these self-contained stories, do not really function as self-contained ones, still requiring some level of knowledge from other comics. Of course, this is typically only an issue for more popular characters like the Justice League, with (relatively) smaller titles such as Transmetropolitan being truly self-contained.
With The Walking Dead and Y The Last Man, all of the world building is done within the series. There are no related tie-ins, background info or even general comic knowledge that needs to be consulted. The story can simply be followed with one issue after another, with no need to switch between events. I do not have a problem with burying myself in the history of DC and Marvel. I know that for many people, the sheer variety is what draws them to comics. They look forward to seeing how a new writer handles their favourite characters. They don’t dread having to catch up, they look forward to it. The success of Marvel and DC Comics makes it clear that many people may not even see the limited stories of Vertigo and Image as a strength. I do look forward to reading more DC and Marvel comics, and getting more caught up with the stable of writers and stories available. This viewpoint is very subjective, I only hope that readers may be able to understand my point of view.
I saw Captain America: Civil War recently and I currently rank it as my second favourite MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) film, with The Winter Soldier still being #1 for me. Despite the love I have for some of the MCU, I can’t help but notice the criticism people always levy at DC films. I am no DC “fanboy”, I recognize that they don’t have as solid a film universe, since they got a later start on it. However, I have previously discusses my disdain for people who say that DC movies have a problem with their tone. Many negative reviews will at least mention the darker tone of the DC universe films as being a problem, as if darker=worse.I realize that Marvel has dark properties on Netflix, like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but I made this post specifically to discuss the MCU on the big screen. Reading comprehension is a dying art, so let me break this down a little further. I am not saying that BvS or Man of Steel are amazing. MOS was a 7.5 for me and BvS a 6.5. I am not saying these films have no flaws. I am saying that I don’t think their tone is one of their flaws.
Obviously BvS had issues aside from its tone (I’m looking at you Eisenberg) but I can’t stand this relatively
new idea that darkness is a bad thing in itself, and that “dark” and “good” are mutually exclusive. Of course, there have been dark comic book films that have been relatively well received, like The Dark Knight and the more recent example of X-Men: Days of Future Past. However, times are changing. Go to Rotten Tomatoes and see how many negative reviews of Apocalypse mention the “dark”, “grim”, “joyless” tone as being an issue. I’ll wait.
There is a pervasive mentality that a comic book movie must be “fun”. It shouldn’t take itself too seriously and should have plenty of comic relief, otherwise it has failed as a film. The MCU is now held up as the standard of comic relief and as the benchmark for the tone that a comic book film should have. It is easy to see why people latched onto them since they have had the most prolific comic book film output of any studio.
What I find ironic, is that the “fun” mentality is what held comic book films back for so long. Many critics and members of the general public who flock to see MCU films now would have once scoffed at the idea of a critically revered comic book film. Of course there are classics like Superman (1978) but Superman did not usher in an era of consistent comic book films and box-office domination by comic book films. This era started slowly with films like Blade, then X-Men and then Spider-Man. Then came Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and then the birth of the MCU with Iron Man.
Many critics once thought comic book films would never have the success they do now. They might be silly fun, but no one would take such films seriously. The idea of Oscar winners or nominees regularly starring in comic book films would have been deemed preposterous. Marlon Brando’s appearance in Superman was such a big deal due to the pedigree that he brought to the film. The first big successes of the modern era (Blade and X-Men) used a tone that many would now view as overly dramatic, “dark”, “pretentious” etc. but that is what allowed comic book films to gain more popularity and critic recognition. If it weren’t for these films we might not have the MCU. Yet everyone now forgets the stigma comic book films had to overcome and wants everything to be “fun” and “colourful”. There was a time when people thought that was all comic book films would have to offer, and it seems like fans now want history to repeat itself.
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.
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.
This marks the third day of my commitment to blog everyday, so far so good, but there are still plenty of days to go.
Although my novels are science-fiction, my blog has always explored a range of subjects. I write about movies and comics, but I also write about race and politics. I know that may dissuade some people but it is who I am. I am not diluting my interests for the people who may feel threatened by the views that I try to express in a rational manner.
When it comes to my daily post, I often write about what is on my mind. An article, a comment by a friend, anything can end up being the inspiration for an article. Since it is Friday now, I figured that a lighter blog post was in order. I’m checking out Captain America: Civil War tomorrow and I am excited. As I expected, the film has already been met with near critical acclaim. Although I love Marvel and DC I can’t help but feel somewhat apprehensive since I know the Marvel brainwashing is very powerful.
However, I’m still excited. I have dbox seats for tomorrow and will be putting up a review tomorrow night or Sunday at the latest. I am planning to do a written review as well as a YouTube video. I’ve been avoiding any promotional videos since the first trailer came out because I don’t want too much spoiled. I hear Tom Holland is amazing as Spider-Man so we’ll see what he brings to the table. I haven’t heard much about Chadwick Boseman as The Black Panther but I think he’ll kill it and hopefully build some hype for the Black Panther film.
Here is a link to an article I wrote for comicommand.com
As a quick summary, this short article (about 900 words) explores some of the backlash that Miles Morales received when he was introduced as the new Spider-Man in the Ultimate Marvel comics.
My argument is that many of the people criticizing this reveal with terms such as “PC” fail to see the context that led to the creation of iconic white characters like Peter Parker, Batman or Superman.