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To Infinity and Beyond: The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
Oh, Kang, that's neat, I guess if they're not doing Doom he's the next best--

WAIT he's the villain in Ant-Man 3?! Holy shit!
Ant-Man...? Oh dear. Now you've got me worried that they're just going to take Kang and give him Psycho-Man's backstory.

Wikipedia said:
Psycho-Man [is] the leader of a technocracy that governs a microscopic system of worlds in the Microverse. Due to overpopulation on these worlds, the character decides that the macroscopic world will be an ideal new base. Using technology from the mainstream Marvel universe, Psycho-Man remains microscopic in size but is able to function by controlling a suit of advanced human-sized armor.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I love that about Psycho Man. He built what is, to him, a Gurren Lagan sized gigantic super robot and to everyone else, he’s just this green guy.

And he decided that the most interesting thing about him is that he can manipulate peoples emotions.
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
See, that's why they should save Psycho-Man for the first MCU Fantastic Four movie. He's not as outright silly as The Mole Man and he's not as grandiose as Doctor Doom. A good journeyman supervillain.
 

Issun

Could be a fren
Can't figure out where else to post this so it's going here.

The other day Chris Evans dumped a camera roll on Instagram, forgetting that one of the pictures was... illicit in nature. Of course it was taken down quickly, but it's also too bad because who doesn't want to know what America's dick looks like?
 
Everyone is making this joke but I think it would be better not to.

(If you want to j/o to a leaked celebrity nude or whatever, whether that's by a malicious 3rd party or a slip up on social media like this that they they've already made clear they're embarrassed by, no one can stop you because it's never actually going away and so it's going to come down to everyone's personal moral judgement, but we don't need to publicly revel in it.)
 
I hold way too much skepticism towards Disney/Marvel stuff to have the faith that this "looks incredible", but it definitely shows promise and my interests are nominally piqued.

I have now finished going through rewatching Phase 3 of the MCU. To my surprise, I'd actually seen most of these already? I though I skipped more of these. Phase 3 is on average, way better than anything in Phase 1 or 2. The films at least manage to be enjoyable on average, and none of them really made me want to pull my eyes out of their sockets. Well... most of them at least. I have one big glaring exception.

Doctor Strange - I'm kind of surprised how much I enjoyed this movie? I originally skipped it because it just sounded bad. And instead, it ended up being something I didn't hate. The titular Doctor Strange's journey of humiliation and humility was pretty good, where his ego was broken down, but not enough so that he would become completely boring. Having some cockiness works pretty well for the character. He's like a more fun Zatara. I think the film's visuals could have stood to be a little trippier though. Most of the reality bending was just things spinning and fractaling in ways that felt more mechanical than oops I'm having a bad acid trip, which was a little disappointing when you watched the film on edibles and wanted it to be more extra.

My big complaint with the film is just the typical Hollywood problem of whitewashing/appropriating Asian culture, which isn't the worst thing in the world but is also just kinda tiring that it's still a default given in [current year]. The film wants to play around with the visual motifs of Asian culture and spirituality, but doesn't actually care about being authentic or respectful. The main character, the love interest, the primary mentor, and the primary villain are all white people, despite the setting being primarily Nepal and Hong Kong? Is that really the best you can do, Disney?

5/10 - entertaining film; score dinged for Disney being Disney

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - This was my exception. I'm honestly kinda shocked how much I disliked this film, when the first one was so good. The first movie was so well balanced, and this one felt like they stripped out everything I liked about GotG and flanderized everything I was lukewarm on until it wasn't fun at all. One of the bigger strengths of the first film was the planet hopping and all the colorful locales, and in this movie it feels like it almost exclusively takes place on boring dad-planet. The Nova Corps are reduced to being a disposable reference line, and instead we get some Goldmemberish people that have no personality. All of the character development everyone experienced in the first film got reset for no real reason. And suddenly the plot is completely revolving around daddy issues which is just no, stop please. Oh, and now the Guardians have a new member whose sole purpose is to be a lazy token Asian character who is so boring and forgetful that nobody remembers her name. There are a lot of decent/amusing moments in the film, but the movie as a whole is less than the sum of its parts. Even the soundtrack is just... not as good! Very disappointing.

2/10 - oh nooooo

Spider-Man: Homecoming - I still really like this movie! Iron Man as a substitute Uncle Ben still feels weird as all hell, but it mostly works as long as you don't think too hard about how Tony Stark is kind of a terrible person. Batman as Vulture works really well. The tenor of this version of Peter was nailed perfectly. Aunt Mae as not an old maid makes soooo much more sense. And Ned is just a delightful character, as is this version of Flash Thompson. All-in-all, a pretty strong, competent integration of Spider-Man into the MCU, and would have made for an excellent origin story if Civil War didn't insist on being before this. I also like that Peter getting his powers was largely glossed over because c'mon, we don't need to see that again. I just can't help but wish to see what this movie would have looked like divorced from all the MCU baggage, because all that stuff is the weakest part of the movie and Spider-Man works best in his own world. Also, Tom Holland does this thing with his lips where he has just the best face to express dorky bewilderment -- absolutely inspired casting.

8/10 pictures of Spider-Man

Thor: Ragnarok - I guess third time's the charm, because Ragnarok finally nails how a Thor movie ought to be. Thor is a gigantic dweeb, man-baby, so it's nice to see him just unleashed and allowed to be as stupid and delightful as he is. And it's also nice that he's allowed in this movie to just cut loose and demonstrate the full breadth of his powers in weird/exotic alien locales. That's what Thor should be about, not being sad and angsty in black and white. Also, how did it take so long to get some Led Zeppelin music in these movies!?!? Thor is the Most Metal Avenger, my man desperately needed some shredding happening in his soundtracks. The moment where Immigrant Song kicks in is literally just perfect in every single way. This really was the perfect Thor movie, right down to destroying this boring version of Asgard and ejecting all the non-characters from the first two films. My only real complaint is... it's secretly also a Hulk movie, and Hulk deserved better here. It gets realllyyyy close, because this is also the best Hulk ever was in the MCU, and is also Hulk at his most unleashed. But I can't help but feel that it's a shame that an idea as great as Planet Hulk got chopped up and made into a supporting role for Thor. Oh, also, Hela deserved better. But those are both kinda small quibbles, and it's just nice to get to see characters like Loki, Thor, and Hulk unleashed and allowed to be their best selves.

9/10 - WE COME FROM THE LAND OF THE ICE AND SNOW

Black Panther - I liked this movie when it first came out, but a few years later it just kinda hits different. Especially with the extra two and a half years of *waves hands* this we live in, and in the wake of Chadwick's passing. The world should look more like Wakanda, and we could desperately use a Black Panther to lead us out of the hellscape we're in. That aside, it's still a really good film. It's probably the MCU film with the most realized setting, and it's so refreshing to see that in these movies. Most Marvel movies, you could swap out the location for anywhere else on Earth, and it would have almost no baring on the plot. I've always long maintained that a truly good story makes its setting an indispensable character in and of itself. And Wakanda looks and feels lived in, and is integrated into the plot in ways that no other Marvel movie can really contest with. Like, if you changed Spider-Man's home to Chicago or San Francisco in Homecoming, it really wouldn't have changed much of anything for the actual story besides maybe the Stark Tower business. You can't really remove Wakanda from BP. It also helps the movie that again, the casting was just so good too. In retrospect, it's too bad they couldn't redeem Killmonger in that movie because of current events. But that arc was very satisfying in the film itself. And just in general, it's wild that a movie like this could even get made at a place like Disney that is more apt to put out garbage like Mulan (2020).

9/10 - Wakanda forever!

Avengers: Infinity War - I love this movie, but it's such a train wreck. In the very beginning, it starts by rolling back several character development arcs. After coming into his own and graduating from his Mjolnir training wheels in Ragnarok, he immediately turns around and goes to find himself a new one. Hulk gets PTSD for... reasons?? In order to nerf him in the plot. Tony after basically retiring from being Iron Man is back because Tony Stark is Tony Stark. Vision and Wanda are knocking boots for reasons I guess. Spider-Man vowed to scale back his endeavors to being a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and is now flying through space. And after just beginning to tap into his powers, Doctor Strange is now an omniscient sorcerer now I guess. It's a mess! And it's glorious. It always bothers me the lengths that these films go to creating reasons for why all powerful characters like Hulk and Thor don't just immediately crush whatever is in front of them instantly. There's still zingers and whitty remarks, but they're not as obnoxious as the previous Avengers' Whedonisms. I still can't forgive Quill for being such a cosmic dipshit in this movie. As bad of a hero Iron Man is, he still tries his best even if he's a giant fuckup. Star Lord is just a piece of shit though. The movie ends perfectly too. It's no small feat that this film managed to make such a bland and boring villain like Thanos into something special and iconic.

8/10 - Good shit, just don't think too hard about it.

Ant-Man and the Wasp - Saw this one in theaters without having seen the first. Now that I have the context of the original film... I can't say that it's better. Which isn't a slight btw, it's a solid movie that stands on its own two feet. Again, surprised how much I like these low-stakes hero-ish movies. The introduction of Wasp is a big step for this movie. And inverting the heist movie formula into what is essentially a jailbreak is semi-inspired. All of the supporting characters are still fun. The only bummer in this film is that the antagonists are fairly disposable, but they do their job of moving the plot forward. Also, Ant-Man's relationship with his daughter is easily the most wholesome thing in the whole MCU. And it's nice that the film de-emphasizes all the ant-controlling business because that's boring and also ants are gross vile creatures.

8/10 - :D

Captain Marvel - This movie was mostly what I remember it being, which was an ok superhero film. The film lays on the GRRL PWR in really thick ways that could border on the obnoxious/pandering side, but it mostly dodges that bullet. Mostly because Brie Larson's smug demeanor is well earned since she's a badass and also generally right when the world keeps trying to gaslight her. It's a competent origin story, but it's also an origin story which feels beholden to the normal origin story problems of nerfing the main character and having bland/boring enemies. Digging up Ronan again was just boring. The 90s nostalgia wasn't as bad as it could have been, and while it was distracting to see Sam Jackson's poorly CGI de-aged face, the movie in general lived and breathed on the chemistry of him and Larson, which worked really well. The big problem with Captain Marvel is the same issue that has plagued Superman for 80 years - where it's hard to write interesting stories with meaningful conflict when your main character is basically an invincible god. Not as big of a problem for this movie, but definitely going to be a problem going forward.

6/10 - satisfying deckings of Jude Law

Avengers: Endgame - I both adore and loathe this film. As a bookend to the nonsense that is the MCU, it's perfect. But it's so full of plotholes that it's maddening to watch with any semblance of a critical eye. And as a super hero film, it's actually infuriating. On a certain level, it's very charming and hilarious that this film's nerfing of Thor and Hulk were to basically character assassinate both. And both characters have very satisfying arcs in the movie. But if you're deeply invested in either as a fan of the characters, it's hard not to see the film as humiliating both for laughs which is frustrating. And that's before you get to what the movie did to both Hawkeye and Black Widow. The former of which I could personally care less about because he's ass, but it's really criminal what Endgame did to the only female Avenger of the original group. It's honestly insulting that the movie would have the gall to do that, while at the same time having a patronizing GRRL PWR lineup at the end. Especially when I thought Widow's arc in the film was excellent up until the very end.

It's weird being a Cap fan and seeing how much love he finally got in this film when it felt like he was under appreciated and under utilized in all of his previous films. Giving him the big AVENGERS ASSEMBLE moment, and having him dual wield Mjolnir and Storm Breaker was the absolute apex moment of the film, and worth all the other bullshit in the MCU. I don't like the film retiring my favorite character, but they gave him a noble, well earned, and fitting exit. And I thought his more sedate, contemplative scenes with the other heroes, and him leading a snap-support group was just perfect. It really spoke to the grace and fundamental goodness of the character with how they showed he personally dealt with defeat versus everyone else.

And then there's Tony. Which I've gone off on before, so I won't pontificate on too long here. When you think about it for more than two seconds, the way he went out was bullshit. But it was still a great moment and the proper culmination of the decade plus of films that RDJ has made. Tony Stark is a hot mess, so going out as a hot mess was very fitting. It was kind of the only way this all could have ended; they just didn't quite connect A to B to C to make it work perfectly. And I still can't quite believe how wild it is that this entire franchise is built on the back of RDJ. He's such a crazy talented actor to make turn the lumps of coal that is the MCU into diamonds that shine as brightly as his final moments in this film. I've said it before but it bares repeating. RDJ turned a C-List hero like Iron Man into one of the all-time A-Listers, and that's crazy impressive.

The time heist was great, ingenious really, and honestly could have just ended there. The big throwdown at the end was a mess but a glorious one. It's more fun to pause and slowly go through frames to see what everyone is doing during any given scene and who is being crammed into frame, versus the mediocre action choreography and poor plotting. And as I said before, Captain Marvel's existence just straight up breaks the setting. Why exactly didn't she just immediately snap the glove when she had it? Or why didn't she just immediately toss Thanos into the sun? Who knows! Well, we know. It doesn't take a Pulitzer Prize winner to figure that one out.

7/10 - It's the endgame, but you'll never be able to get off of Mr. Feige's Wild Ride



Spider-Man: Far From Home - I still really enjoyed this movie, but hoh boy is it hot nonsense. Spider-Man on a class trip is great. This version of Mysterio is fantastic. Peter dealing with the death of his father figure, and being constantly haunted by his memory is intriguing. Him spending most of the movie instead being horny and lusting after MJ is totally in-character and totally inappropriate for the MCU-setting of the film. Tony leaving the planetary drone defense system in the hands of an unqualified teenager is both super stupid and also totally in character for the blithering idiot that is MCU Tony Stark. Ned is still bae. The Avengers being in complete disarray post-Endgame makes sense. I hope that Night Monkey will thrive for years to come. The entire MCU setting though strangles the fun out of this film, when it spends more energy dealing with post-blip consequences rather than focusing on its own story. I look forward to where they'll go next however. As much as Iron-Spider-Man is a very weird and suboptimal way to explore Spider-Man, I want to see where they'll take this dumbass plot thread to next. Because as much as you would normally expect the reveal of Spider-Man's secret identity to be walked back, if they're following the Iron Man analog, he's gotta go public and deal with the fallout of that. And that could be a lot of fun to explore; dunno when I've ever seen a story done about Spider-Man's identity being outted, especially having to deal with that loss of privacy/identity while in school. Which would fit thematically very well with being a teenager in today's world where nobody has privacy anymore because social media and smartphones are ubiquitous.

7/10 Night Monkeys

Next up is... I dunno... Deadpool? Where else do I go?
 
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Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
The one minor disappointment I had with Far From Home is that we never really saw any fallout, or ongoing repercussions, from May finding out about Spider-Man. Yeah, technically they would have happened before Infinity War, and I suppose Peter being a major asset to, uh, saving the universe, would ameliorate things. And it's better for this kind of narrative to get over that kind of hurdle ASAP so we can focus on more interesting things. But... the "more interesting thing" here is my major disappointment, which is "let's turn a classic Spidey rogue into an Iron Man rogue with barely a connection to Spider-Man". Again. I'd honestly prefer to have some character-based drama between May and Peter than hear Beck rant about a plan that would fall apart the instant a real Avenger looked into it even slightly. Or, heck, give us a better look into whatever is going on with Flash's family, which actually sounded intriguing.

Also Jesus Christ the entire EDITH thing. It's such a dumb concept and everyone has to become an even bigger idiot to give it room in the narrative. Honestly? I WOULD believe something like AIM coming up with it to fill the gap of Tony et al, a rogue/sinister think-thank offering the tech to the world's governments while everyone is still smarting and vulnerable, but that still wouldn't be a Spider-Man plot. It'd be a Cap or Iron Man plo--oh right they're dead. Well. Give it to Sam and Bucky, then. Or, hell, make Hawkeye actually interesting, and low-power government conspiracy plots sound like the perfect vehicle for either a good Hawkeye or Kate Bishop.
 
Also Jesus Christ the entire EDITH thing. It's such a dumb concept and everyone has to become an even bigger idiot to give it room in the narrative.
It's objectively super dumb and nobody IRL would ever do such a thing, but I don't mind *too much* because there's actually a lot of sound internal logic for MCU nonsense. Consider:

1) Tony had been paranoid about interstellar threats for a decade, and had wanted to build an army of mecha suit drones to protect Earth from Thanos and whatever else is out there.

2) Tony was stopped from progressing to that point from both his wife's pleading him to retire, and from Captain America beating the ever-loving shit out of him in Civil War for Cap's very real concerns about creating a police state and leaving it in the hands of people like SHIELD who oops turned out to be Nazis and who already did try to take over the world with killer drones.

3) Then Thanos comes in and wipes out half of all life in the universe, and Tony lives for five agonizing years crippled by regret and guilt that he could have/should have done more. And as he said in Endgame to Cap, he really was right all along to insist on security first because look what happened.

4) So after the snap, he goes and builds his big drone army. But instead of turning it over to the DoD (see: Hydra) or to his own company (see: Mysterio; Iron Monger) or other Avengers (see: Civil War) he holds onto it himself, because the only person Tony trusts is Tony (see: the entire MCU and his monumental ego).

5) Having been on death's door before several times, knowing how fucked their chances for success, and that he might not come home from the time heist and whatever else might happen that they can't foresee, he makes contingency plans to leave this system to someone in the event that he perishes. Again, he doesn't trust any of the usual suspects you would give this to for good reason. And Pepper clearly would want nothing to do with a bunch of weapons. So if Tony only trusts himself, who is the next best person to trust? That's right, his protégé that he's been grooming to replace him for years, which whom he sees a lot of himself in, but knows has a good head on his shoulders and has the principles to never misuse it.

Like, it really makes sense. The reason why it so obviously goes afoul is because Tony is also a gigantic idiot and couldn't foresee for a minute that putting all that pressure and weight on Parker's shoulders might cause him to crack and make some bad mistakes of his own. And for the most part, Peter honestly doesn't mess up that hard. His mistake is that he trusts Mysterio, but Mysterio is also introduced to him by "the most paranoid man on the planet" as someone Peter should trust. So really, the person who is actually the biggest idiot who makes the worst/most unforgiveable mistake in this entire scenario is Talos for being so incredibly dumb that he didn't even do the most basic of background checks on Mysterio. Like, you'd think running his face through a simple reverse google image search would have landed a hit that he was a disgruntled former Stark employee instead of a dude from another dimension.

Now watch Agents of SHIELD
😬
 

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
The only thing I disliked about Thor: Ragnarok was that it forever foreclosed the possibility of a "Thor and the Warriors Three" movie.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
The only thing I disliked about Thor: Ragnarok was that it forever foreclosed the possibility of a "Thor and the Warriors Three" movie.
(note I have not read a single Marvel comic, this is based on the characters as portrayed in the movies)

Good! They're boring.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I will go to bat for the first couple of seasons of Agents of SHIELD, once it starts leaning in more heavily on Superpower Stuff, it kind of lost my enthusiasm.

When focusing on Crazy Spy Stories in Comicbook Land, well sir, you must be eating my toast because that is my jam.
 

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
(note I have not read a single Marvel comic, this is based on the characters as portrayed in the movies)

Good! They're boring.
They're cameos in the MCU - exposition-bearers with fancier costumes than the average extra. But until they died, nothing in their cinematic portrayal would have prevented them from being fun were they ever in the spotlight.

Then again, Disney probably let them die because they didn't know what to do with them. Alas.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
I would not actually recommend anyone try to watch Agents of SHIELD. I liked it but it's a lot of stuff and only some of it is good.
 

Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
I will go to bat for the first couple of seasons of Agents of SHIELD, once it starts leaning in more heavily on Superpower Stuff, it kind of lost my enthusiasm.

When focusing on Crazy Spy Stories in Comicbook Land, well sir, you must be eating my toast because that is my jam.
This is basically why I never came back after Season 1. I was all for Spy Shenanigans where non-powered agents dealt with the background noise of Hydra and AIM, took on superpowered threats closer to their level (Deathlok was an inspired choice, even if the rendition could've been better), or had cameos from other minor supers like Ghost Rider. When they started focusing on their own powers, and it started resembling the awkward cousin of Heroes and Legends of Tomorrow, it lost me.

OTOH Cloak & Dagger was a surprising and interesting reinvention of those characters, and it's a shame it barely made a blip on anyone's radar.
 

upupdowndown

REVOLUTION GRRR STYLE NOW
(he / him / his)
Getting banished to Sitcom Hell feels thematically befitting the downgrade from movies to TV. And it's nice to see Kitty Forman.
It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that WandaVision as a name was a play on TeleVision 🤦‍♂️

I just love how the series looks to be adapting some pretty trippy comics but seems to have a strong sense of its own thematic and visual identity, and the fact that they're leveraging the medium itself for thematic and visual distinctiveness is frankly incredible

Also, SWORD appears to be finding Monica in a version of her 70s look and apparently, if you look carefully you can see current-day Monica as one of the SWORD agents finding 70s Monica?? We might be getting a version of Agatha Harkness???? this is gonna be a RIDE
 

Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
Wait, Monica was 10~12 in 1995 for Captain Marvel. How can she be in 70s clothes when she's blasted through time/through the simulation/through whatever that was by Wanda?

Unless SWORD/the govt are aware of Wanda's little pocket reality and they specifically sent Monica in there in period-appropriate clothes to do recon?
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Weirdly, the part most exciting to me is knowing character actor Fred Melamed found his way into the Marvel Universe. Heck, I'm seeing a lot of solid character actors in the preview.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
I hope future Spider-Man films continue this new tradition of the last line in the movie being "WHAT THE FUCK"
 
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