After making his presence felt in Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa has finally gotten his moment in the sun as Black Panther has finally arrived in theatres. With all of the hype and excitement surrounding this film, does it live up to expectations? Continue reading “Black Panther Review”
Last month, news reports began to surface regarding 21st Century FOX interested in selling off the majority of their film & TV properties to Disney. Though said talks eventually stalled, they began to heat up again recently and the blockbuster announcement was finally made this past Thursday (December 14th 2017).
The deal, reported at $66 billion, will send properties like the X-Men, Fantastic Four & Deadpool back to Disney along with Avatar, The Simpsons, The Alien franchise & many more. When the initial talks first surfaced, I wrote an article about whether the comic properties would be a good fit in the MCU. Though most fanboys and fangirls everywhere will welcome these heroes with open arms, the question of fit is certainly an interesting one to ponder. Let’s take a look at how Disney can fit these newly acquired properties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Let’s start out with the merc with a mouth, Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds did an amazing job portraying the potty-mouthed mutant in the first solo film back in 2016, making a solid $783 million worldwide. The hard R-rating didn’t stop fans from coming out in droves to see a different kind of superhero movie. With Deadpool coming into the MCU, would he still be the same Deadpool we’ve grown to love?
After the acquisition, Disney CEO Bob Iger assured us all that Deadpool would remain an R-rated property, which is what the fans want. But how will he fit into a shared universe with the rest of the Avengers? In terms of simply putting him into the universe, Deadpool’s case could be one of the simplest ones. Deadpool is a character that frequently breaks the fourth wall in the comics and in his first film. He knows that he’s a comic book character and mentions relevant pop cultural happenings. Simply plopping Deadpool into the current MCU will be an easy transition in terms of the universe he inhabits. Things could get messy if he appears in a team-up style film with other PG-13 characters, but it’s a fun problem to have. Expect plenty of vulgar Mickey Mouse and Disney Princess jokes after Deadpool arrives into the MCU after Deadpool 2, which is hitting theatres next June.
Fans were made to sit through two terrible Tim Story-directed Fantastic Four movies in 2005 and 2007, respectively, but things got even worse when Josh Trank attempted to revitalize the franchise in 2015. Now that the First Family of Marvel is heading back home, how will they be introduced?
The backstory regarding how Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben got their powers revolves around them traveling into space and being exposed to cosmic radiation. This event could take place either in current time or set in the past. If set in the past, the team could be shown to have gotten trapped in the parallel universe known as the Negative Zone in the comics, preventing them from returning to earth after initially gaining their powers.
Going back to the premise that their introduction is set in current time, the prospect of having the Avengers Tower becoming the Baxter Building is very intriguing. As shown in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony Stark has sold Avengers Tower, as their new base of operations is now in upstate New York. But who did he sell to? Could it become Oscorp? Tying the Fantastic Four into this universe could reveal that it has been sold to Reed Richards.
Along with the main team, the Fantasic Four property also includes characters like Silver Surfer, Galactus and Doctor Doom, among others. With Thanos being the biggest big bad in the current MCU, what will the future hold after Thanos is (assumedly) defeated? A cosmic villain like Galactus would be a perfect fit to replace the Mad Titan atop the hierarchy of threats to the universe. On a smaller scale, Doctor Doom could be an incredible foil to any and all heroes in the MCU.
With James Gunn continuing the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and spearheading future space-based Marvel films, the Silver Surfer is a perfect addition to what’s to come. Incorporating him into storylines with the likes of alien races like the Kree, Chitauri, Badoon, and Skrulls, the possibilities for more cosmic-centric films has increased exponentially.
The X-Men franchise has seen its share of ups and downs since it first debuted back in 2000. While films like the original X-Men, X-2, First Class, Days of Future Past and Logan have been very solid films, the converse can be said about X-3, Origins and Apocalypse. With new X-films set to release next year with the likes of Dark Phoneix, Deadpool 2 and New Mutants, putting these characters into the MCU as they currently are would be nearly impossible.
As with Fantastic Four and Deadpool, the X-Men occupy a completely separate universe. Though there are “powered people” and Inhumans in the MCU, the term “mutant” is not in the dictionary. Kevin Feige cannot simply drop the X-Men as they are right into the mix. Characters like Apocalypse, Magneto and Wolverine have been around for a very long time. Knowing this fact, how could they be explained away as to have always been in this world?
The only logical way to put the current X-Men into the current MCU would be some sort of reality-changing event. With Avengers: Infinity War releasing next May and Avengers 4 the year after, it is conceivable that Thanos warps reality with the power of the Infinity Gauntlet and accompanying stones. The premise of multiple worlds and parallel universes has been discussed in the MCU by Dr. Erik Selvig in Thor: The Dark World and even on the current season of Agents of SHIELD. Though this could be an easy fix, it could also cause logistical problems. Does Kevin Feige WANT the current actors and actresses reprising their roles? Does he WANT the previous X-continuity to remain canon? And what about the two different versions of Quicksilver?
If the answer is no, the only other option would be to completely reboot the X-Men. Introducing a completely new roster of mutants would be the only way to go on this one. The X-gene will have to be something completely new, coming by way of genetic manipulation, a virus, or something extra-terrestrial. All mutants in this scenario would have to just be getting their powers, so expansive backstories for Magneto and Wolverine would not exist as we know them.
The MCU Post-Infinity War
Before this deal went through, Kevin Feige previously stated that there are currently 20 new films in development. After next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, we’re getting Ant-Man & The Wasp, Captain Marvel and the currently untitled Avengers 4. Keeping the trend of sequels going, one would assume that Black Panther will at least get a sequel if not a trilogy. The same can be said for Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy (which is getting a third film).
With current plans for a giant slate of upcoming films, would Feige and Marvel/Disney want to reboot the entire universe to accommodate for the newly acquired properties? The complexity of this new process of fitting these new additions is extremely difficult and will take a lot of hard work.
There are a lot of moving parts to all of this and it will be a lot of fun to follow over the next few years. Each upcoming Comic-Con and D-23 events will most likely be our look into Kevin Feige’s plans. Though fitting all of these new characters into the MCU in some capacity will be a problem, it’s certainly a good problem to have.
If the MCU is rebooted entirely, fans should take time to appreciate what we have gotten since 2008 when Iron Man first hit the big screen. This expansive world has given us hours and hours of enjoyment in both film and television form (except for Inhumans). The time of speculation is now upon us all.
Now that the news has broken, how do you see these new characters fitting into the MCU? Do you want the current X-Men ushered in? Do you want to see these properties rebooted? Does the MCU need to be burnt down and rise from the ashes like a phoenix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.
We had a great interview with Kobi Frumer from season 1 of Marvel’s The Punisher. Kobi talks about his character, Zack Lieberman, his interactions with the rest of the cast, nd his favorite super heroes.
Follow Kobi on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kobifrumer/
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The Netflix side of the MCU has been an up and down ride. While both seasons of Daredevil have been stellar, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders have seen their share of criticism. The Punisher has come to put boots to asses and reinvigorate our faith in the darker side of the Marvel world.
Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle first appeared in Daredevil season two and immediately had a major impact on the Netflix portion of the MCU. Fans instantly began calling for a spinoff series and were rewarded last year during San Diego Comic Con when the first images began to surface. The wait is finally over, as season one has finally arrived.
This 13-episode season was filled with many subplots, twists and turns. With the crux of the story seeing Frank out for revenge after the death of his family, he is also enveloped in different arcs involving the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, NSA, NYPD and the security firm, ANVIL. While there were some slower scenes and episodes, they all served the overall story extremely well and paid off brilliantly.
Starting off on the positive side, Jon Bernthal’s portrayal of Frank Castle/The Punisher was outstanding. He absolutely nailed this character in every way imaginable. His character was very deep and complex. Frank deals with the death of his wife and children, the betrayal of the US military, his own PTSD stemming from his time in Afghanistan, and the betrayal of his former best friend, Billy Russo. This man took an insane amount of beatings, gun shots, knife wounds and blunt force trauma that made what Matt Murdock/Daredevil went through seem like a bee sting.
I absolutely loved every facet of what Bernthal brought to this series. He was intense, brutal, gruesome and then seamlessly shifted to being quiet, reserved, sympathetic and even nurturing. His interactions and relationships with different characters like Dinah Madani, David Lieberman/Micro and his family were a joy to see develop. In particular, his relationship with Micro was really special. After initially intending on killing the man, they ultimately began to trust each other and were even willing to die for each other. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what these two can accomplish in future season of this series, as Micro is Frank’s “eye in the sky”.
Comparisons between The Punisher and Daredevil regarding the extreme violence will surely be making the rounds on the internet, but The Punisher goes above and beyond. This series was insanely graphic and brutal regarding the violence and murder shown. The manner in which Frank rips through people without a second thought was ridiculous (in a good way). The flashbacks of Frank’s time in Afghanistan were also particularly gory. And can we talk about the end battle with Billy for a moment? Watching Frank destroy his face was so cringe-worthy I actually almost had to look away from the screen. Ben Barnes did a phenomenal job playing Billy Russo. He was charming, deceitful, and also a total badass. I’m very glad he wasn’t killed off, as he will later become the villain, Jigsaw.
Aside from the violence, I really got into the different plots. This season had the feel of Showtime’s Homeland regarding military and government aspects. Watching Frank, Madani and Lieberman uncovering the truth about the events in Kandahar was really interesting. Seeing the lengths people like Bennett, Schoonover, and Rollins went through to cover their tracks definitely makes a person wonder what kind of shady things our government is really doing behind closed doors.
I was very impressed with how much the writers went into topics like life in the military, its traditions, and the after effects soldiers face after coming home. Having the support group as a part of this season was such a nice touch. It was also very tragic seeing the character of Lewis Wilson struggle so badly after his time overseas, eventually losing his mind and becoming a terrorist of sorts.
The ancillary characters were also very well-developed: Dinah Madani, David Lieberman & family, and the “main” villain, Billy Russo. It was almost a total bummer seeing Billy’s heel turn halfway through episode 5 after seeing just how close he and Frank were. They were the best of friends, even being as close as family. The revelation that Billy knew about the murder of Frank’s family was particularly heartbreaking after seeing flashbacks of him interacting with the Castle family. The kids even called him Uncle Billy. Russo never got over the fact that he was orphaned as a child and wanted so badly to use his past to make sure no one could ever hurt him again, regardless of what he had to do to make sure of it.
I really don’t have too many things to say about what I didn’t like about this season. Sure, there were some slower sequences here and there, but as I mentioned earlier, everything was developed so well that the little things eventually added up. Even though I couldn’t stand David’s son, his rebellious nature caused his and his mother’s kidnapping. People may complain about Madnani for different reasons, but she was essential to the overall plot.
The slower points are definitely the ones that require watchers to be the most focused. I found myself missing things here and there because I became distracted and then had to go back and re-watch scenes. While this may seem like an annoyance, it shows the depth of the story because of the smaller intricacies.
As I reflect on this season, I can’t help but be overjoyed at the finished product. This season gave me everything that I wanted and expected. The storylines were great, the characters were great, the action was great. Though we did see some familiar characters like Karen Page, Turk and Schoonover, it would have been cool to see some of the other Defenders or at least get some kind of mention of them, even if they didn’t have a prominent role to play. At the same time, I totally understand their absence as there wasn’t a need to have them in for story purposes.
This is the Marvel that I love: gritty, violent, deep. If you’re someone who loves the “fun, lighthearted” flavor of the film side of things and purely just want fluff, this may not be the show for you. If you want your heroes with an edge and want to see how well a character can be developed, you’re in the right place. Season two, whenever it gets a release date, is sure to be just as great if not better than this first go-around.
Earlier this week, reports from CNBC surfaced stating that Disney has been in talks to buy film & television properties from 21st Century Fox. Though said talks have seemingly stalled, the premise of having characters like the X-Men, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four is immediately intriguing to Marvel fans everywhere. Whether or not a deal of this magnitude comes to fruition, it was certainly a shocking headline to come across.
A large portion of Marvel fans would be absolutely delighted to see Wolverine sharing screen time with the Avengers or a full-fledged version of the Illuminati, but would these characters fit into the MCU in an organic way? Last year, I wrote an article about my issues with the X-Men film franchise. Their continuity issues and general lack of regard for cohesion has driven fans of the franchise crazy for more than a decade. However, there are also plenty of fans that truly enjoy the X-Men films for what they are and don’t want to see them “return home” to Marvel Studios. Though Fox has done a great job with some of their X-Men films and Deadpool, films like X-3, Apocalypse, X-Men: Origins and every Fantastic Four movie have been huge disappointments to fans.
In this article, I will highlight my reasons for and against adding Fox’s roster of Marvel characters into the MCU and how their inclusion could and could not work in a way that feels both seemless and fluid.
Let’s start out with the positive side of things. The opportunity for Marvel exec Kevin Feige to truly have uninhibited access to the complete roster of Marvel characters is certainly enough to sell anyone on the issue. The MCU has had to make backdoor deals with studios like Fox and Sony in order to be allowed to incorporate different characters into their films. The deal allowing Spider-Man to swing into the MCU was a groundbreaking feat.
No longer would the term “mutant” be banned. No more would we need multiple versions of the same character in different universes like that of Quicksilver. No more changed storylines and character usages because of rights issues. We’ll finally have the opportunity to have more faithful comic adaptations using these characters in the ways they were meant to be used.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview Hugh Jackman at the press screening for Logan. I asked Hugh if he would be interested in appearing in an Avengers movie, to which he replied that he would. Though he has retired from the role of Wolverine, he could be enticed to return with this new opportunity. After all, he is the Wolverine we deserve.
Think of all the amazing storylines and films that we could see: Avengers vs. X-Men, House of M, Civil War 2, and even an Infinity Gauntlet the way it was meant to be done. In the comics, characters like Silver Surfer and the Fantastic Four are imperative to some of the major story arcs. Villains like Galactus and Doctor Doom would be incredible foils in a post-Thanos MCU.
Stepping aside from the film world, the opportunity for various TV series is also a major plus. Some of the offshoot X-Men teams would be prime candidates for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Building a cohesive universe in all areas of visual media is such a wonderful thing to think about and would truly unite the characters we’ve grown up reading and watching.
With all of the positives out of the way, let’s talk about some of the negatives. The inclusion of Fox’s Marvel characters would most likely require rebooting. There’s no logical way that I can think of to have the current roster of X-Men suddenly appear in the current MCU. The X-Men are very much intertwined with political and human rights issues that would have shaped the way society thinks of super-powered beings. It wasn’t until Captain America: Civil War that the Sokovia Accords came into existence to keep track of our heroes, so adding a stable of mutants into the mix just would not fit. Characters like Magneto, Apocalypse and Wolverine have been around for a very long time; having them suddenly appear in the MCU wouldn’t make much sense.
The tone of the Fox universe is also vastly different from that of the MCU. We’ve gotten R-rated movies in Logan and Deadpool that wouldn’t mesh well with the more comedic stylings that the MCU has to offer with properties like the Guardians of the Galaxy or even with the newly-released Thor: Ragnarok. If Deadpool were to pop up in a film with Spider-Man, would he still be the foul-mouthed mercenary we fell in love with last year? Figuring out a way to mesh these different tones would be a difficult task for sure.
Having different properties at different movie studios also gives fans the opportunity to have a greater number of these films. This year, we were given Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Logan. In the coming years, we’re getting two more Avengers films, Ant-Man & The Wasp, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Gambit, New Mutants, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Deadpool 2, X-Force, Venom, Silver & Black and two more Spider-Man films. This is a huge workload for one studio to undertake (though Sony is still in the mix). Having a huge slate of films under a single studio could mean a smaller output of film releases in a calendar year.
There are certainly many pros and cons to having all of our heroes together under one unified branch. Where do you stand on a possible merger? What team-ups would you like to see? What are your ideas as to how Fox’s Marvel characters could be introduced into the MCU? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!
Following his absence from Captain America: Civil War, Thor has returned to the big screen for the third installment of his own franchise. With what has been billed as Marvel’s funniest film yet, Thor: Ragnarok wastes no time bombarding the audience with a steady stream of jokes, puns and naked Hulk butts that will be sure to have the casual fan in stitches.
In norse mythology, Ragnarok is the eventual death and revitalization of the world. With a title such as Ragnarok, one would think that the stakes in this film would be incredibly high. However, director Taika Waititi, known for his work on Flight of the Conchords, made sure that the doom and gloom was completely wiped from the slate.
Without going into full details about the entire plot of the film, I’m going to get into my likes and dislikes about this film as well as my thoughts about the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Like all MCU films, the production value, cinematography and visuals are flawless. The aesthetics of Ragnarok are quite a spectacle. With different characters and beasts like fire demon Surtur, giant wolf Fenris, and The Hulk in full gladiator armor, the CG work was very well done.
Despite the Thor franchise not being the strongest in the current MCU, I’ve always enjoyed learning more about Asgard and the mythologies that go along with it. In each of the Thor films, we’ve gotten to see various locations on Asgard and Ragnarok continues this, which I definitely appreciated. Getting to learn more about Odin’s backstory with the inclusion of newcomer, Hela, was also really neat. We learned about Odin’s nefarious past before becoming more of a benevolent ruler, learned about the legion of Valkyries that were all but eradicated, and got to see good old Heimdall actually do some cool things besides guard the bifrost.
I did enjoy a lot of the banter between Thor and Hulk, although a lot of it also annoyed me, which I’ll get to later on. On one hand, the character interactions felt genuine, as most of them have been around for a number of films and have shared plenty of screen time. I also was happy to see the exploration of the Bruce Banner/Hulk relationship. When we meet Hulk in this film, it’s revealed that he’s been Hulk ever since the events of Age of Ultron, a full two years without changing back into Bruce Banner. When Bruce finally returns, he’s visibly disturbed by the lack of awareness he had while taking a backseat to Hulk and the loss of time also has a major effect on him. The gladiator battle between Thor and Hulk was really fun to watch. Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie was a very well-developed character and stood out.
As this is a full spoiler review, I will mention that the eventual destruction of Asgard at the hands of Surtur was a bold choice. While a lot of the film was very cookie-cutter, this action not only added much-needed drama to this film, but also set a precedent leading into next year’s Infinity War. With the theme of Ragnarok being present and the reiteration of the line “Asgard isn’t a place, it’s a people” (or as close to the actual line that I can remember) throughout the film, the fall of Asgard was necessary.
Let’s talk about the main antagonist, Hela. SPOILER ALERT: she’s Thor’s sister! (What, you did not see that coming?) Hela’s backstory, though vastly changed from the comics, was very interesting. She served as Odin’s executioner and was eventually banished by Odin for her thirst for power. Hela was a very formidable villain, shown killing pretty much all of Asgard’s military and besting Thor in combat initially, also killing the Warriors Three (RIP Hogun, Fandral and Volstagg). Touted as the goddess of death, Hela ultimately wants to rule the entire cosmos, which I can get behind. I’ll get into my dislikes on her later on.
Before I start bashing the overuse of comedy in this film, there were a handful of scenes that got a chuckle out of me, but they certainly were few and far between. There were definitely plenty of elements of this film that I did enjoy.
Ok, here we go. I previously posted an article discussing the overuse of comedy in the MCU, and Ragnarok did nothing to change my thoughts on it. If anything, it furthered my thinking on the issue. There are an overwhelming amount of positive reviews on this film out there from fans and critics alike. It seems that the majority of people enjoy the comedic angles shoehorned into these films, and I can understand that. But understand this: it’s one thing for these films to be “fun” and another thing for them to be comedies. Look at it like this: in this cinematic universe we have characters that are talking raccoons, living trees, space vikings and big green rage monsters. The level of ridiculousness is already high. These characters may have been “created for kids” but they don’t have to be portrayed as stupid or silly.
Take for instance our villain, Hela. She has killed countless soldiers and is then shown cracking jokes with her flunky, Skurge. The fire demon, Surtur (one of Thor’s most powerful adversaries) has Thor bound in chains as he gives exposition about bringing on Ragnarok, but all Thor can do is crack jokes before easily handling the ruler of Muspelheim. I don’t think there was more than a full minute in this film that didn’t have some kind of a joke, gag or pun in it, and to me, that’s just unacceptable. It’s ok to add in some humor here and there to break tension and have some fun. But when it comes at the expense of good storytelling, there’s an issue. If you read my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 review, you’ll know what my thought about this very issue were with that film as well.
I could go on and on about the humor topic, but I’ll digress and move along. Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster character was just terrible. He was a purely campy character that brought absolutely nothing to this film and pretty much wasted screen time.
I also feel like this film tried to do too much in terms of storytelling. In it was the actual Ragnarok plot (which was underdeveloped), Hela’s quest for universal domination, and the Planet Hulk arc. Half of the film was spent on Sakaar, which I really didn’t care about at all. Another thing that really made no sense was Odin’s death. After Loki banished him to Earth in The Dark World and started posing as the king of Asgard, Odin’s life force seemingly dwindled. When Thor and Loki find him in Norway, thanks to Doctor Strange, all of a sudden he just disintegrates on cue and Hela shows up. It was a really bad way for Odin to go out, especially with the huge funeral that his wife Frigga got in The Dark World.
The tone of this film was all wrong. When it tried to be more dramatic, it just didn’t have the right feel with the onslaught of humor being thrown at the audience. It felt like everything Thor said and did was just a setup for a joke and at no point did I feel like he really had any other emotion other than just trying to be funny.
Presumably, Hela was killed by Surtur when he destroyed Asgard. If this is the case, Marvel missed out on a huge opportunity to continue her arc and a possible plot with Thanos. And oh yeah, where was Lady Sif?
Thor: Ragnarok, when first announced, was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. The entire premise of the advertised plot, the inclusion of The Hulk, and the correlation with Infinity War just over the horizon, I was really excited for it until we were finally shown trailers, promotional TV spots, and other marketing. I was extremely letdown by this film. Here’s hoping Black Panther can stop this current trend of comedy movies set in this film universe, especially as Infinity War is right around the corner.
Like all MCU films, Ragnarok was full of easter eggs. I did my best to pick out what I could, but I’m sure there are plenty that I missed.
- Jurassic Park’s Jeff Goldblum appears as the Grandmaster in a more prominent role, however his co-star Sam Neill also appears as an actor playing Odin in a play. Chris Hemsworth’s brother, Luke, also plays Thor in the same play as well as Matt Damon as Loki.
- Doctor Strange abducts Loki as he and Thor appear on Earth, dropping a sheet of paper with the address of the Sanctum Santorum for Thor to find. Doctor Strange introduces himself and tells of his actions of observing beings from other realms on Earth. He also helps Thor and Loki locate Odin, who is in Norway.
- Odin’s treasure room is shown again just like in the first film. Artifacts like the Casket of Ancient Winters, The Tesseract, and The Eternal Flame are shown. The Infinity Gauntlet is also in there but is revealed to be a fake by Hela.
- The planet Xandar from Guardians of the Galaxy is mentioned
- Thor loses an eye an dons an eye patch like Odin
- Thor, new king of Asgard, is bringing his people to Earth like in the comics
- Stan Lee makes a cameo as a character that cuts off Thor’s hair
- Black Widow’s video message to Hulk from Age of Ultron is played again and the line of dialogue she uses to calm Hulk down is used by Thor multiple times
- Thor gives Bruce Banner Tony Stark’s clothes from Age of Ultron to wear
- In a post credit scene, Thor and the ship’s inhabitants come upon a much larger ship, though it’s unknown who it belongs to