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To Infinity and Beyond: The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Wait... Does that mean Dennis Quaid and/or Martin Short will show up in a Marvel movie or show?
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I'm curious on the direction they'll take the character. I don't think there's one story that made him iconic but there are lots of elements to his character that are interesting. A (spoiler for the very first Wonder Man story villain pretending to be a hero decades before that was the Thunderbolts story and likewise being convinced to do good. A hero celeb (not uncommon to the MCU but in most cases celeb status is mostly incidental). The fact that since Marvel doesn't know what to do with him, the fact that there are a few stories where he kind of sucks at being a hero. I don't think they'll do that but... because the character hasn't really had a completely iconic take and a handful of good stories (most of which he's not at the very centre and is more supporting), it's a series that I can't get excited about but see a lot of interesting possibilities for.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Far and away my favourite Wonderman story was the War of the Realms tie-in that the McElroys wrote.

And also I guess Emperor Doom, but my love of that story had nothing to do with Wonder Man
 
there are a few stories where he kind of sucks at being a hero. I don't think they'll do that
I like any superhero whose thing is This Guy Kinda Sucks

Yeah I'm basically only interested in this character if that's a core part of his portrayal, otherwise he's just Energy Superman #37. If you drop that what's left? Being a celebrity I guess, but I think his celebrity is also tied to being a guy who kind of sucks.
 

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
So my cousins dropped by and we watched Thor: Love and Thunder.

Because it had cool visuals and a well-realized aesthetic, I can deem it "good enough," but man, I gotta talk about that.

This is the apex of the Marvel Cinematic Universe tendency to be too embarrassed to remain sincere for long. And it didn't feel incidental this time, but rather was a core part of the film's aesthetic

It leans very hard on the dubious comedic potential of the incongruity between dramatic situations and casual, disaffected speech. But for such a gag to carry an action-comedy, it would need to be far wittier. Instead, the dialog - Thor's especially - is written with the sort of fumbling banalities that call to mind being called on in class while not paying attention.

Perhaps the idea is to express that Thor's uncertainty and emotional emptiness has him going through the motions of being himself, even to the point of not even caring about where he is or what he's doing. But I feel disinclined to put in the work to fill in the gaps on a movie that didn't make that point strongly on its own, while also poking fun at its own chintziness.

Now, I didn't mind it being chintzy, or poking fun at itself per se. The disposably gaudy visual design of Omnipotence City, exemplified by the shitty thunderbolt, is charming, and it suits both what the movie seemed to want me to think it was about and what I actually think it was about. But images like that signal to me "Don't worry too much about this. Pay attention to the other parts." And then those other parts are inarticulate nonspecific nothings.

The axis that Thor 4 revolves around is the recurring motif of giving a speech before a battle, ending with a catchphrase. To the audience, the joke is that the speech is phoned-in and wouldn't inspire anybody who actually pays attention to it. He doesn't care because there'll be another battlefield. Thor bonds with Jane over their efforts to come up with a catchphrase, searching for a repeatable formula to win the adulation of the masses.

And in the end, Thor in the ends not by doing something that demonstrates that he is worthy (important Thor word) of the trust and devotion that mortals place in him, but by finding the right thing to say to Gorr to make him realize that he doesn't really want to butcher the gods.

This emphasis on speech connects Thor to two important entities. The first is Rapu, who dies unsympathetically in the opening scene: does anything in this movie show that Thor is any less indifferent to mortals than Rapu, even as he fights to protect them? And the second is Marvel Studios itself.

It's making me remember a different Jack Kirby character who is fixated on inventive selling.

But, credit where credit is due, the black-and-white planet looked really cool and inventive.
 
finding the right thing to say to Gorr to make him realize that he doesn't really want to butcher the gods.
This seems like such an absurd concept when you say it like that. But it's honestly pretty true to the character when you think about it. Gorr is who he is because he was such a devout believer in the first place. He desperately wanted to believe in his god, but his god was a bad person and didn't deserve his or anyone's devotion. He is not an inherently violent person. Freed from the influence of the Necrosword, he could realize that there was folly in his quest when he encounters a god like Thor who is capable of actually loving mortals and seeing them as equals and not peons. It's not that he doesn't really want to butcher the gods. But he doesn't want to butcher Thor specifically. And also probably all the little Asgardian godlings with whom he can probably trust will grow up ok with Thor to guide them.
 

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
Yeah, I felt like the entire character of Gorr was well-earned. He was allowed to be serious, and he was allowed to be taken seriously, and he was allowed to care.
 

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
But I'll tell you one thing that's true:

I am Charlie Brown, Marvel Studios is Lucy, Galactus' silhouette is the football, and I will never stop falling for it.
 

Vaeran

perfect world
(he/him)
Black Panther: The Way of Water appropriately honors Chadwick Boseman, and for good or bad (mostly good!) is quite epic. I'll need to see it again to full digest it, but my feelings are largely very positive.

This movie is absolutely dripping with grief, as it should be, and I was worried they'd do something grotesque like have Shuri meet a CG reconstruction of T'Challa in the Ancestral Plane, but they were very tasteful with it. The all-Boseman Marvel Studios logo sequence set only to the empty sound of rustling wind was amazing. I don't know how I feel about the fact that the focal point of that grief shifts midway through the film from the real-world loss of Boseman to the death of Ramonda to push the plot forward, but they did it well, and importantly circled back around to the real stuff at the end. (Please also give Angela Bassett all of the awards.) I honestly would have been fine with a film that had little or no action, and instead just have a two-hour drama of everyone hanging out in Wakanda and processing their grief together.

Upthread I expressed my displeasure with Letitia Wright's politics, and part of me is irritated to see Shuri elevated to both queen and Black Panther for that reason, and to a lesser extent because Shuri as a character seemed ill-suited to either role. But she did a lot of growing up during this film, and the strength of Wright's performance kept my mind off my distaste for the most part. I still would have preferred to see the mantle go to Nakia, who otherwise didn't have a lot to do.

While the movie is visually gorgeous, I'm a little sad that we didn't get to see much more of Wakanda and its culture than we did in the first movie. A million years ago they announced a Coogler-helmed Wakanda series that I never heard any more about, and I hope that's still in the works in some fashion. It's just a place I want to spend more time in. The first movie was energizing and tantalizing in a way that the sequel just doesn't match, but it has its own strengths.

The Talokans are extremely creepy in that initial attack on the ship at night, especially with their siren song that compels people to jump into the water. Also loved the water bombs, and the unstoppable aerial balletics of Namor's fighting style. Is it weird that Namor (the only source of information on himself in the film) pronounces his name one way, but everyone else pronounces it another? It is, isn't it? But he was exactly the Namor I wanted to see -- physically terrifying, arrogant, thoughtful, sympathetic and scheming. Eager to see more of him.

For all of her central importance to the plot, Riri Williams feels tragically underwritten. She's absent for huge chunks of the film after being introduced, but characters keep talking and fretting and arguing about The Scientist when all we know about her is that she's real smart. I'm sure she'll be better developed down the road but she should have been better developed here. Cool suit, though.

The scene of Shuri encountering Killmonger in the Ancestral Plane was pitch-perfect, and a wonderful way to bring Michael B. Jordan back for one last bow. That she finds him waiting for her and not her family speaks to the fury in her heart, and I wonder if her simple decision not to kill one man is enough to resolve that. (Probably.)

As in the first BP, very little of the humor landed for me. I just don't think Ryan Coogler is very good at writing comedy, which is fine. There were a ton of callbacks to lines from Civil War and Black Panther, most of which felt appropriate, but maybe there was one too many overall. (This is probably not a problem to those audience members who don't have every MCU script memorized.)

At the end, M'Baku shows up at the coronation ceremony to send Shuri's regards, and announces he is going to challenge for the throne. Who... is he going to fight?

There is a mid-credits scene but no post-credits.
 

Olli

(he/him)
Some thoughts on Wakanda:

* Riri was criminally underdeveloped, especially in her relationship to Shuri. They could have bonded more over working together and science rivalry
* Shuri's emotional arc was kind of unfulfilling. The pieces are there (not being over T'Challa's death, not really grieving, then rage over her mother, accepance) but something didn't play right for me
* I loved that this movie (almost?) failed the reverse Bechdel test. There were very few, if any, scenes with two men talking
* I shed a few tears when the Marvel Studios logo with Boseman rolled. His death was very gracefully handled.
* Namor was good
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
My brief thoughts;


Not enough action to justify the D Box seats, I suspected that would be the case
Love-love-*love* the Iron Heart armor
Surprised they kept the little ankle wings
No such thing as Enough M’Baku
As much as I love Martin and Julia, could have done without that whole subplot
Killmongers appearance was unexpected and fantastic
Attuma had an appropriately ridiculous hat (even if it’s not a hollowed out crab), and all is right with the world.
Also I was worried that Namor wouldn’t say “Imperious Rex”, given the general tone of the film and his characterization in it, but Feige knows what I paid my ticket to see


I liked it a lot, but I’d give the nod to the first one for being the better film
 

Vaeran

perfect world
(he/him)
As much as I love Martin and Julia, could have done without that whole subplot

I meant to mention this in my post but yeah, totally agreed. Everett Ross's inclusion felt like someone on the production team checking off a box, although his sigh of relief/disbelief/exasperation when he realizes it's Okoye rescuing him at the end was one of the funniest moments in the film for me.

Also forgot to mention that Shuri has a line about T'Challa suffering with his illness in silence that hit especially hard given how Boseman concealed his battle with cancer. Whoof.
 

Vaeran

perfect world
(he/him)
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is fun! It's not, like, incredible, but it's nice to see everyone again, and whets my appetite for Vol. 3 next year.

The choice to have the flashback segments animated was interesting. I wonder if it's because Michael Rooker wasn't available in person, or just didn't want to spend all the time getting back into the Yondu makeup for two minutes of screentime.

Go-Bots!

I guess Thanos didn't kill the Collector after all. That actually fits with his M.O. in Infinity War -- once he gets more than one Infinity Stone and becomes too powerful for anyone to stop, he doesn't kill anyone except Gamora and Vision, who are each directly necessary for him to acquire a Stone. And then, you know. Half the universe.

Game Boy! Bucky's arm!!

I would have liked more Rocket content, but the character focus on Mantis and to a lesser extent Drax was nice. (I'm still not entirely happy with Drax's continued Flanderization -- he went from an overly literal Proud Warrior Guy in the first movie to an idiot sociopath by Vol. 2, but what can you do.)

Thanks to Kevin Bacon for being a good sport. And apparently that really was his wife Kyra Sedgwick on the phone.

There is a post-credits scene.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
I really liked Wakanda Forever. They did a great job finding a way to script a story that worked despite the real-world obstacles. It's both an epic exploration of the breadth of the universe and an intimate story about personal grief. There are definitely stumbles here and there that were already mentioned. I don't really blame them for not doing a lot with Riri because there just isn't that much there with the character. My eyes definitely got watery at the silent montage right before the credits.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
Mantis was absolutely the MVP of the GotG Holiday Special; which is a big improvement from “Provider of Exposition” and “Character I forgot was in the series” in her previous appearances.

That was a really delightful special; really liked it. My only complaint is that Cosmo didn’t sound a thing like how I always read his dialogue
 

The High Evolutionary has had ~200 appearances, and in my experience he's consistently the worst part of any story he's in, often ruining issues, events, crossovers and even whole runs with his mere presence. Even a brief cameo by The High Evolutionary can cause irreversible damage that ripples through the entire Marvel comics line. Now, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, like many before it, is rising to the challenge of trying tell the first* ever story featuring The High Evolutionary that isn't horrible. Will they succeed? Only time will tell.

*Or maybe the second? I haven't read the early Kirby Thor appearances.... Maybe they're okay? Is that why people keep trying and failing to make him interesting?
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Engine
(He/Him)
I mean… I like High Evolutionary.

He ain’t my favourite mad scientist with a god-complex obsessed with manipulating genetics, but top three at least…
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
The actor playing him was Murn in Peacemaker and was super good in that so, knowing nothing about the character, I am at least optimistic about the performance.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I don't think I've actually read a High Evolutionary story but reading some background, it feels like he alternates between full on villain to unaligned, amoral scientist who is kind of like an aloof gene-God (capital G) depending on who writes him and basically fell more on the supervillain side. The latter is more interesting to me because the former is Mr. Sinister and we already have one of those.
 
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