Potential spoilers ahead for all Marvel Neflix shows: Daredevil (1 and 2), Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist
The Avengers of netflix are arriving later this year, and Marvel recently released the first trailer for the team up series.
Firstly, I have to say that my excitement for the series was somewhat dimmed after watching Iron Fist. Although the show wasn’t as bad as critics made it out to be, it still fell short of the other series’ in my opinion. The acting ranged from great to hammy, with some actors struggling with some scenes more than others. Since Iron Fist is supposed to be one of the best fighters in the Marvel universe, the fight scenes were also a huge disappointment, with the best one trumped by almost any fight from Daredevil. The writing could also have been greatly improved to provide better villains and better plotting. Next to Mike Colter, Finn Jones is definitely the weakest actor out of the defenders. At least with The Defenders, Jones and Colter won’t be carrying the show. They’ll be supported by Charlie Cox and Krysten Ritter.
When the series was scheduled to arrive before another season of Luke Cage I assumed that Cage would be broken out of prison. From this trailer it appears like that isn’t the case. We see Cage in public, riding a bus and still being referred to as Harlem’s hero. Perhaps he received some legal assistance from Matt too.
The first scene in the trailer remains my favourite. It isn’t action packed, but it is the perfect introduction for Matt Murdock’s character. It is also the first shot we get of two defenders together. Like the after-credits scene in Iron Man, where we first see Nick Fury, this shot of Matt and Jessica could be the start of an era.
The other character meetings appear to happen by chance, such as Rand and Cage. Since the characters all live in the same city, this bothers me less than it normally would but hopefully they’re not just bumping into each other on the street. One thing (among many) that bothered me about Iron Fist, was that Claire just happened to train at the dojo where Colleen worked, leading to her meeting Rand. Yes, same city, but Manhattan is a pretty big place and the characters don’t all live in the same area of Manhattan. It would make more sense for them to meet as they pursue leads on a new threat, such as Sigourney Weaver’s character, Alexandra.
Not much has been revealed about Alexandra yet, but she is likely involved with The Hand. Elektra died at the end of Daredevil’s second season, but her body was retrieved by The Hand afterwards. Now we know that Elektra will return, serving as The Black Sky, The Hand’s weapon. Unless the show will have two different villains, it looks like The Hand will be the main one for The Defenders.
We don’t see too much of the fight scenes so far, which is fine by me. Hopefully the fights are better than the ones we got in Iron Fist. While Jessica Jones and Luke Cage aren’t great martial artists, DD and IF are supposed to be some of the world’s best. I want to see that portrayed convincingly. If the actors get more than fifteen minutes to practice choreography, we should be good to go.
I was happy to see the interaction between Cage and Rand, since they have their own Heroes for Hires series in the comics. The moment Rand punches Cage is also a throwback to Cage’s own series, where a thug punches him and breaks his hand. It looks like Rand’s punch affects him a lot more than the thug’s did.
Many cast members from previous shows are confirmed to return for this series as well. We know Misty Knight is back, but Colleen Wing, Karen Page, Jerri Hogarth, Foggy Nelson, Trish Walker and of course, Stick are all returning. Even if their roles are relatively small, it does bring up the question of pacing. The previous Netflix shows were all thirteen episodes, but could have been shortened. Luke Cage in particular felt like it was dragged out via legal wrangling. We already know the main characters, so maybe The Defenders doesn’t need to be as long. However, we still have to deal with introducing the characters to one another and setting up their villain. I am hoping that the show doesn’t feel rushed or bloated between the team introductions, the conflict itself, plus appearances from other characters.
With all that said, I am excited for the show. I am hoping that it represents all the best things about the Marvel netflix shows. The great acting and action from DD and JJ. The great villains, with the exception of Diamondback any villain introduced in Iron Fist. The great supporting characters and the writing that isn’t afraid to eschew mindless “fun” in order to tell a good story.
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?
I know I haven’t been too active on the blog over this past week but I’m back to it now, and plan to keep uploading new content at least three times a week.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead.
I finished watching Iron Fist earlier in the week and while it isn’t as bad as some of the critics make out, it is definitely one of the weaker Marvel Netflix shows. Overall, the acting is some of the weakest we’ve seen. Luke Cage was also hampered by Mike Colter’s abilities, but fortunately he was the only real weak link in terms of the acting. Shades was a cheesy character but I believe Theo Rossi did the best he could with the role. With Iron Fist, we get some weak or inconsistent performances from the main character, and supporting cast such as David Wenham and Sacha Dhawan.
There is one issue that is the elephant in the room, so I guess I’ll get into that issue too. When the first promotional material aired many people complained about Danny Rand being white, even though he is also white in the comics. Rand was seen as another example of cultural appropriation or the white savour dynamic that we see in The Great Wall and earlier works like The Forbidden Kingdom (2008). I was quick to defend Rand’s race since the show was being true to the comics but I’ve also tried to be open-minded and see where detractors are coming from.
Some may view it as a stereotype if we get another martial artist who is Asian or Asian-American, but some people have pointed out that Rand could be different. He could have been a three-dimensional, wealthy, main character with martial art prowess. Instead we get another story where the white lead takes on scores of foreign Asian enemies. Of course we have Colleen as well, but she can basically be the one “Asian friend” that detracts from all the other problematic issues in the show. I am not saying you all have to buy this narrative, but it is something to think about. Of course, you can also feel free to just throw out right-wing buzzwords like “social justice warrior’ instead, talking about how you’re colour-blind and then support the whitewashing of movies like Ghost in the Shell.
Speaking of martial arts, the fight scenes in this show were underwhelming to say the least. I started watching Into The Badlands and I immediately saw what Iron Fist should have given us.
After Daredevil I was hoping to see amazing choreography and fluid action. Especially since Iron Fist, like Daredevil, is supposed to be one of the best fighters in the Marvel universe. Instead we get actors awkwardly working their way through their choreographed steps, giving no impression of real experience and training (for the most part). The Into The Badlands stars underwent three months of training prior to filming. In comparison, Finn Jones underwent three weeks. Then he only got to practice the choreography for specific fight scenes 15 minutes before they were filmed. Since the show’s writing is weaker, I was at least hoping to see some of the best action to date.
The “White Saviour” argument did pop back in my head after seeing Zhou Cheng (Lewis Tan) fight Danny. Tan, a martial artist in his own right, is also able to give us an interesting character with his few minutes of screen time. I can’t fault people for saying he should have received the role of Iron Fist instead.
Another issue with the show is that the most interesting parts of Danny’s backstory are only shown in very brief flashbacks, or are recited to us. I suspect that the show’s budget is the main culprit for this. Instead of a few more minutes of Danny’s training in K’un-Lun, we get more corporate espionage.
I thought the show was strongest mid-season, building up the mystique of the Hand and Madame Goa, demonstrating their hold over Harold Meachum. Speaking of Harold Meachum, Wenham’s performance went from great to hammy scene by scene. Don’t even get me started on his return from the dead (after Ward murders him), where he’s apparently brain-damaged and stumbles around New York like a crackhead. I blame that one on the writers though.
There is another issue I blame on the writers as well. It seems like a small one but almost ends up causing a plot hole. We see Gao use some sort of power on Danny when he confronts her after completing his challenges in the warehouse. Then she never uses this power again. It is never explained why she can’t use it again either.
I love Claire Temple but I felt like this show could have used less of her. Obviously she is the bridge between all four Defenders characters, but did she really have to go to China with Danny and Colleen? Actually, I can understand her going to China. Did she have to specifically go to Gao’s hideout? She is the weakest fighter and if the writing was consistent, probably would have been killed. Finn Jones filmed Iron Fist back to back with The Defenders so that answers the question of why Jones got less time to prepare for his fights and why Claire was in most of the episodes.
Aside from Claire, references to other characters were handled more smoothly. Claire is still reading Luke Cage’s letters from prison. Hogarth’s involvement makes more sense and her introduction into the show doesn’t rely on coincidence (like Claire training at Colleen’s dojo). Joy Meachum references hiring Jessica Jones as a private investigator; at least that is who I assume she referred to when talking about PI who’s good “when they’re sober”. As always, there are also references to “the incident”, which is the name used to refer to Loki’s attack on Manhattan and the Avengers subsequent defence of the city.
Jones and Colter are definitely the weaker actors from the Defenders troupe, with Charlie Cox and Krysten Ritter providing strong performances as Daredevil and Jessica Jones. I am excited to see the characters together and am hoping that their collective strength can make up for the deficiencies that each actor and show had.
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?
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.
I originally wrote this piece for comicommand
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.
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?
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.
For those who do frequent the site you may have noticed I haven’t posted in a little while. I’ll be getting back to it but I do have two previous blog posts now uploaded on http://comicommand.com/
The creators of the site reached out to me through instagram and they were gracious enough to allow me to submit two previously published pieces to the site so far. I am trying to write a new one each week, so on top of writing for this site, I may have to simply link to the comicommand articles. It is a great feeling to be part of a small but growing website and community. I am very excited about what the site could become.
On top of the blog itself I also have a new instagram account specifically for my writing –https://www.instagram.com/wmoviegrapevine/
This is in addition to https://www.instagram.com/moviegrapevine/ – which is dedicated to film, tv and comics.
I try to post to wmoviegrapevine at least once a day and moviegrapevine at least three times a day.
On top of that, I also recently made some progress with the search for an agent for my science fiction novel. One agent asked to see the first three chapters of the novel, and if she likes it then I will be sending the rest of the book to her for consideration. If she likes the book, then she will try to get it published.
There are still a lot of “ifs” at this point so I don’t want to get ahead of myself yet. However, the request for the three chapters is better than a rejection and is a step in the right direction. Editing the manuscript will be taking up more of my time if the agent decides to take it on (no complaints about that), so that may also cut into the time I have to write for the site. That is not to say I will be forgetting about it completely.
I have been writing a second novel, The Visitor. I am about a fifth, maybe even a third of the way through. However, I have put that on hold for the moment to focus on “Elseworld”.
Overall, I feel hopeful about the future and want to thank anyone who’s checked out the site for your support.