Is Now The Right Time For A Black Widow Movie?

Scarlett Johansson seems to finally be getting her own solo Black Widow film after numerous appearances in other films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe dating back to her debut in Iron Man 2 back in 2010. Did Marvel miss the boat on the timing and placement of this film?

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Avengers: Infinity War Spoiler Review

“In time, you will know what it’s like to lose. To feel so desperately that you’re right. Yet to fail all the same. Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.”

That’s right, The Mad Titan has arrived to wreck shop in Avengers: Infinity War. With the culmination of a decade-long shared cinematic universe finally upon us, questions will finally be answered. Who lives? Who dies? And where is the Soul Stone? Let’s find out as we get into this spoiler review. Continue reading “Avengers: Infinity War Spoiler Review”

Avengers: Infinity War Non-Spoiler Review

“There was an idea, Stark knows this, called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to fight the battles we never could.”

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Black Panther Review

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”

How Will Marvel Incorporate Their New Properties Into The MCU?

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.

Deadpool

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.

Fantastic Four

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.

X-Men

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

 

The Punisher Season 1 Review

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.

Likes

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.

Dislikes

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

 

 

Would Fox’s Marvel Properties Be A Good Fit For The MCU?

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!