Avengers: Infinity War Concept Art

Celebrating Black Superheroes – Black Panther 

King T’Challa of Wakanda is also known as Black Panther. This is a man who wears many different hats. He is one of the smartest men in the world. Superhero. King. I first became familiar with the character sometime in the 90’s when he appeared on the Fantastic Four cartoon (voiced by Keith David). I then really became familiar with him during the early 2000’s and Christopher Priest’s seminal writing stint on the character. Priest chose an interesting route with the character as even though he was the main character, the book was told through another character’s perspective. Black Panther was reimagined as a calculating figure that not even the reader was supposed to know what he was thinking. This carried over into Geoff Johns’ stint writing The Avengers. Black Panther was treated with some unease from other Avengers particularly Iron Man due to the revelation that Panther only joined The Avengers to spy on them. However an attack on American soil from The Red Skull, a super Nazi, Black Panther is one of the few to oppose him. 
These stints showed the many sides of T’Challa. His science skills came to the forefront as he isnine to help develop a vaccine for Red Skull’s attack. How he is one of the greatest fighters in Marvel as the only way to develop a vaccine which was derived from Red Skull’s blood. His somewhat aloof and calculating demeanor proved useful when enemies would attack but it wasn’t appreciated by some of his comrades. But thay gave way to also show an honorable and loyal side to the people he has fought side by side for years. This no doubt stemmed from his Wakandan heritage. The kingdom known for its xenophobia which kept it safe for generations but led to mistrust within the world communities and finally came to a head with the dead of T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka. 

T’Challa is one of the most interesting characters in comics as he is a man pulled in a myriad of directions. Many people have compared him to Batman and while there are similarities, keen intellect and paranoia, that is a disservice to The King of Wakanda. There are few characters where you can say they are the King of one of the most advanced civilizations while also being one of the world’s greatest superheroes. That one moment can be making power plays with world leaders and then the next facing down Galactus. 

The popularity of the character has grown exponentially since the 2000’s. One of the main members of the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon and making his live action debut in Captain America: Civil War. His solo movie is set to debut in February 2018 and the character is expected to play a major part in Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel. The character also has his own solo series in the comics while being part of ensembles such as The Ultimates. 

It is a good time for The King of Wakanda. 

Thoughts About Avengers: Infinity War

As of the events of Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers are no more. At least not in the way that we’ve gotten to know them in three movies. Captain America and the heroes who stood by him are now fugitives. Iron Man is in charge of The Avengers now with only The Vision by his side. War Machine is crippled, though there is a strong possibility that he can probably still function a suit. Spider-Man is something of a question mark as even though Iron Man was very pro registering, he still enlisted a teenage hero who clearly did not register. Black Widow is in the wind. The Hulk and Thor are dealing with more important things in outer space. So where does that leave the heroes when Thanos inevitably comes? How do the Guardians of the Galaxy and the upcoming Captain Marvel fit into this?

There is no doubt that the heroes will reunite by the time of the sequel of Infinity War. But what about the events in Infinity War? We know that Thanos has finally gotten off of his chair and is about to get the Infintiy Stones. There are many more movies by the time Infinity War comes around so even though Thanos is not announced as appearing in any movies until Infinity War, there is no doubt in my mind that Thanos will appear before then. I mean it’s not too hard to get Josh Brolin, the actor who plays Thanos, to come in for a day or two to do motion capture for the character and just plug Thanos into a movie. But that’s something I’ve talked about lately. 

Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel are going to be a masterclass in filmmaking. There are a lot of balls in the air and one mistake could mess up the whole thing. It not only has to acknowledge everything that has come before. It also has to set up the movies that come out after and in between its sequel. The Russo Brothers only had about a dozen characters to deal with in Captain America: Civil War. They have said they will be dealing with about four or five times more than that with these two films. One cannot envy their position. Maybe you do because this is something that is unprecedented and are breaking new ground. We will all know in May 2018.

Here’s a picture of Sean Gunn who does the motion capture for Rocket Racoon on the set. Check out the new logo

2017 Needs To Be The Year of Thanos

Thanos, The Mad Titan, is the current big bad of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We know that he is gathering the Infinity Stones. Their comics counterpart can be placed into ths Infinity Gauntlet and be used for complete domination of reality. It can be assumed that this is the goal of the movie version of Thanos as well. But that’s the thing…we know next to nothing about Thanos. I have already made my statements clear that I think Marvel Studios has tripped with their handling of the character. He has only made three appearances so far, his introduction in The Avengers, a small role in Guardians of the Galaxy where he was disrespected by an underling and the last in Avengers: Age of Ultron where he made a lackluster after credits appearance. 

Avengers: Infinity War is due to drop in 2018 so in 2017 Marvel Studios should really build up his threat. James Gunn, the writer/director of Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel has said that Thanos will not be appearing in Vol. 2. He also made the same statements about its predecessor but weeks before the movie was released, it was announced Josh Brolin would be appearing in the movie as Thanos. It’s an open secret that the Guardians will be in Infinity War so something has to bring them to the conflict. Gamora and Nebula are both the daughters (kidnapped children) of Thanos and Drax has a personal vendetta against him. The Guardians also know where one of the Infinity Stones is stored at.

Thor: Ragnarok is probably the most important movie linking to Infinity War. At the end of Age of Ultron, Thor set out to figure out who was behind the gathering of the Infinity Stones. It is also widely believed that the final Stone, the Soul Stone, will play a role in the movie. Loki, currently masquerading as Odin, also has access to the Tesseract aka the Space Stone. Loki was also loaned the Mind Stone (it is still up in the air if he knew that info) in The Avengers to find the Tesseract but failed. So he might have to return a favor to be back in Thanos’ good graces. 

Thanos has not been announced for any of these movies. But as with his other appearances, they can be uncredited. Since Thanos is a motion capture character, it would not require a lot to get Josh Brolin in for a day or two to do the role. But it is time to see Thanos actually do something. The most action we have deen is him sitting in his chair and putting on a gauntlet. We have seen characters refer to him as the most powerful character in the universe but that has not been conveyed. Most of his underlings including both of his daughters have outright betrayed him. Ronan the Accuser outright dissed him and yet no retaliation.

One of the biggest criticisms towards the MCU is how the villains are one note. Marvel Studios can really build up the threat of Thanos before his big opening in Avengers: Infinity War. They don’t really have to be much. Just small cameos in Guardians Vol. 2 and Ragnarok to show he is coming for what he covets and is not messing around anymore. There would be something really unfortunate if the big bad for the MCU turned out to be a dud. 

Should Doctor Strange Join The Avengers?

It’s no secret at this point that Benedict Cumberbatch will be reprising his role as Doctor Stephen Strange in Avengers: Infinity War and presumably the fourth untitled Avengers film. But it’s never actually been stated if Strange will actually join the team or will just be an ally of the team. I tend to fall in the camp that he should be somewhere in the middle. I guess the proper term would be, “on call”. Like you won’t necessarily call on Doctor Strange to take on Crossbones but if something of a Thanos level threat arises then you definitely call on him.

The movie did a good job of just establishing the threats that Doctor Strange has to face on a regular basis. The fact that he had to put himself an endless time loop where he was repeatedly killed just to stop the ruler of the dark dimension says something. Though he hasn’t quite reached the levels that he has in the comics, Strange is still incredibly powerful. One of the bigger issues that has faced the two Avengers movie is what exactly to do with Thor and the Hulk. By not having Strange be a full member of the team, the Avengers can avoid this issue.

It will probably be more wise for Strange to be featured in the “finale” of whatever story arc the films are building towards. Either way it will be interesting to see how Strange interacts with the rest of the MCU. They have yet to encounter someone like him . 

Why I Prefer Stephen Strange Over Tony Stark In The MCU

The release of Doctor Strange has drawn many comparisons to the very first Iron Man film that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. Both are about brilliant yet arrogant men who after surviving a tragic event, eventually become superheroes. It’s a bit hard to judge where the Doctor Strange is going to go as he has only had one appearance so far. Tony Stark has had many appearances and frankly I think he is probably one of the least likable characters in the MCU. So while there are many parallels between the two, I can already say that I prefer Strange over Stark.

When we first met Tony Stark, he was arrogant and a philanderer and something of a war monger. But after the events that led him being injured, captured, and losing his mentor, he seemed to mellow out by the end of the first film. The second film ultimately changed my view on the guy as he arguably became worse. He became much more of a motor mouth and would cause many of the incidents that he would have to save. This is pointed out in The Avengers by Captain America where his more negative traits from Iron Man 2 carried over. Iron Man 3 we do see a younger Stark who once again eventually caused the problems that he had in the film. Age of Ultron was really the straw the broke the camel’s back for me as he once again caused the incident that the heroes had to clean up and was frankly more condescending about it. Captain America: Civil War more or less rectified the two extremes of Stark as he was more mellow and less of a know it all but still had his huge ego.

The ego and arrogance are two of the biggest drawbacks for me to the character. How he is regarded as such a great hero in universe has always been something I’ve wondered about. Other than The Avengers, all of his conflicts have been ones that he either caused or aggravated. His treatment of Scarlet Witch in Civil War was a real point of contention for me. Telling Cap that “Wanda didn’t want to leave” her forced house arrest yet when Wanda calls him out on it he only responds, “It’s not what it seems”. There is also his general hypocrisy about registering yet he willingly drags an unregistered teenager into his pissing contest with Captain America. I think his attitude being all over the place is something intentional on the creative teams behind the films but doesn’t mean I have to like the character.

Doctor Strange from the get go we do see that he can be nice. Sure he only takes cases that interest him or won’t risk his perfect record but when called for help, he doesn’t hesitate. By the end of the film, he willingly put himself into a time loop to endlessly be killed by a more powerful enemy. It’s left unclear as to how many times that this loop happened but it was surely enough. This was a far contrast from the man we saw at the beginning of the film where everything was about him. Halfway through the film, it was implied that he had all forgotten as to why he even sought mystical training (to fix his hands) and just enjoyed his new life. But when faced with the responsibility of being a Master, he shirked at first but by the end he somberly accepted the new role in his life.
Then there is the post credits scene with Thor. Clearly taking place during Thor: Ragnarok, which will presumably be set about a year after Doctor Strange, we see the meeting between the two. It’s cordial but there is seemingly some tension there and presumably has to do with Loki being on Earth. Strange has accepted his role as a protector of the realm and thus wants Loki gone and also Thor and Odin. So we do see the snark of Strange in the scene, he is much more focused on his role. It’s not hard to see why he wants the Asgardians gone as they have caused plenty of problems for Earth.

It’s easier for me to buy a hero who takes his job seriously. I never really got that with Stark with the constant quips and snark. Though Strange does not seemingly lose his sense of humor by his next appearance, we do see he has eased more into the role. It will be interesting to see Strange and Stark meet when Thanos comes knocking on Earth’s door. You can imagine that Strange will not be in the mood for any of Stark’s shenanigans. He jokes when he needs to but during all combat situations, he is utterly focused on what he needs to do to survive and win. So that’s why I prefer Strange over Stark.


 

How Doctor Strange Links To The Greater MCU

Warning there will be spoilers here for Doctor Strange:

The Infinity Stones

As has been speculated for some time, The Eye of Agamoto houses the Time Stone. That means there is one Infinity Stone left unaccounted for. This also means there are two Infinity Stones on Earth. We all know Thanos is finally deciding to get out of his chair and do it himself. So a visit to the Doctor Strange and his mystic comrades is expected. 

The Asgardians
In a post credits scene that is more than likely a shortened scene from Thor: Ragnar ok, we see Thor has gone to Strange for help in locating his father. How exactly Thor learns of him is unknown at this point. But we do see that Strange knows more about Thor and specifically that Loki is on Earth. Loki is a threat to Earth and Strange is having none of that. The condition is that Strange will help Thor locate Odin on the condition that the Asgardians stay away from Earth.

There seemed to be some tension between Strange and Thor. Probably due to the fact that Loki is on Earth. We all know Thor has a blindspot towards his brother. Plus most of the Earth’s biggest problems stem from the Asgardians in various ways. Probably shouldn’t expect Strange’s role in Thor: Ragnarok to be more than a significant cameo.
Avengers: Infinity War

Doctor Strange and Wong have been confirmed to appear in the movie and presumably the fourth Avengers movie that will be sshooting simultaneously. Strange plays the unconnected third party to the splintered Avengers. He may also bring knowledge about Thanos who is a compete unknown to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Will he be the one to unite the fractured heroes? As we saw in the movie, Strange was willing to risk an eternity of infinite deaths to save Earth whereas in the beginning he is only interested in taking medical cases that wouldn’t harm his reputation. He is probably the best example of someone getting out of their own way. The other heroes can learn something from him. 

Exploring The Relationship Between Sam and Bucky

To say that Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes didn’t start off on the best foot is an understatement. The two first met when the latter was trying to kill the former in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. By the end of that movie, Bucky had gone into hiding. Sam decided to stand by his new friend, Steve Rogers/Captain America’s side and track down his best friend. After two years, the three were finally reunited and the two best friends of Steve Rogers were now in his life.

We saw in Captain America: The First Avenger, that Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes were best friends and more like brothers. Both growing up poor in Brooklyn and Bucky being there for Steve whenever he got into it with bullies. Eventually World War 2 tore them apart from one another with Steve unable to go due to his physical limitations. The war brought them back together with Steve being transformed into Captain America and their bond continued with some power shifts but still strong. Eventually Bucky fell to his “death” and Steve was frozen only to awaken decades later.
After the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers was a man out of time and without a purpose. He was willing to die for his mission in World War 2 and immediately being thrust into being a superhero and also a government enforcer. Needless to say, other than combat he had nothing else going for him. Enter: Sam Wilson. A counselor at the local VA who helped soldiers with PTSD and other psychological ailments. is clear that Steve suffers from issues. This is outright said in Avengers: Age of Ultron by Ultron and Steve’s “nightmare” where he struggles with being a soldier without something to fight.So when Steve Rogers has no one to turn to in The Winter Soldier, he turns to a complete stranger and their bond is immediate. How often can you say that you would jump from a flying aircraft with no parachute with only a slight chance that your new friend will catch you.

The big issue here is when the two encounter Bucky Barnes who is the eponymous Winter Soldier. Bucky was captured by HYDRA and experimented on. Now with a bionic arm and mind wiped, Bucky is no longer the same man. Just an efficient killing machine who is frozen when he is not needed. That all changes when he meets Steve again and his memories slowly start to come back to him. Culminating in him saving his old friend’s life before disappearing once again to sort of his memories.

Sam Wilson briefly appears in Avengers: Age of Ultron where it’s established that they have been looking for Bucky for over a year. Also that he is aware how Steve continues to duck and doge having a normal life. By the end of that movie, the two are part of the new Avengers team and that continues in Ant-Man. Finally culminating in Captain America: Civil War where the three lives are connected once again.

It’s never given too much attention to but it’s clear that Sam Wilson as The Falcon is Cap’s guy. They have their own set of team up moves together. When Peggy Carter finally dies, Sam is there with Steve at the funeral. When Steve is about to go on the run, Sam wants to know why because he is going to go on the run with him. The bond between the two is established and one of the most natural feeling of the MCU. So when they finally do corner Bucky, it is Sam and Steve. Steve always there to be more cautious around Bucky because he knows what he can do and Steve has a certain blindspot for his old friend.

They aren’t given much screen time together but the two best friends of Steve Rogers quickly have their own bond. Bucky is mostly quiet and aloof with the members of “Team Cap” but not with Sam. They bicker in the car with one another about the seating arrangement. They both silently tease/cheer Sam on after he kisses Sharon Carter. In the airport battle, they are the two paired up with one another. In fact they are the first heroes to encounter new superhero Spider-Man and while both would probably lose against the web slinger one on one, they are able to hold their own against him for longer than you would think. In fact, Bucky takes a hit from Spider-Man to protect Sam.

By the end of that movie, both men are fugitives. Bucky is in fact frozen once again until he can get the last traces of the Winter Soldier programming out of his system. Smart guess would say that there next appearance will be Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 (working title). Since both those movies will be directed by The Russo Brothers, it’s fiar to say we have not seen the last of Cap’s two best friends working together. Hopefully their bond will continue and they will lose the “vitriolic” part of “vitriolic best buds”.

The Third Avengers Movie Has A Title and It’s A Familiar One 

Avenger: Infinity War is the title. You may be thinking how that was always the title. Well it was originally going to be a two part movie with this one coming out in 2018 and the second part coming out in 2019. While the fourth film will still be a continuation they are still being treated as two separate movies. So the second title is still a mystery at this point. 

Post Civil War: Captain America

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

The-Captain-Black-Costume-Gallery

At the end of Captain America: Civil War, Captain America is no more. Steve Rogers threw down his shield after his climatic fight with Tony Stark aka Iron Man. Stark calling Rogers out for defending Bucky Barnes, the man who killed Howard Stark. Howard Stark is the one who designed Cap’s shield and Tony called him out for his supposed hypocrisy. Rogers without hesitation dropped the shield and walked out with his friend. Next seen freeing his comrades who stood by him from their prison. Finally Rogers was last seen in Wakanda, the home of T’Challa aka The Black Panther, and trying to find a way to free Bucky from his brainwashing. So where does Steve Rogers go from here?

He makes it known to Stark in a letter that he will continue to be a hero, just not under jurisdiction. There is precedent within the comics for this. It is more common than not for Steve Rogers to quit being Captain America for a number of reasons. In the seventies, he gave up being Captain America and went by Nomad instead. If someone did not know the storyline, you would probably not know that the hero known as Nomad was Captain America. I can’t see Marvel Studios going down this route as it’s a little too different. However, there was another time where he gave up being Captain America that would probably line up more with what they plan on doing with the character.

In the 80’s, Steve Rogers once again gave up being Captain America. Instead of completely changing his identity, he instead decided to go by “The Captain” and donned a near identical costume to his Captain America one but instead being black and with a few alterations. He also gave up his shield as it is government property and donned a new one made by Tony Stark. Clearly Rogers won’t be getting a new shield made by Tony Stark. However, it now seems T’Challa is protecting Rogers and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that he would be the one to make a new shield for him. Vibranium is the life source of Wakanda and it is what Cap’s shield is made out of. This also may be a stretch but one can see Cap brandishing a black costume in honor of Black Panther.

How long will Steve Rogers continue to not be Captain America? That is yet to determined. It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine that he won’t resume being Captain America in at least the second part of Avengers: Infinity War Part 2. That will be the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe through line since the first Iron Man movie. It would be a nice thing to see the original heroes joined together in their original moniker. All that is known about the future of Captain America for sure is that Steve Rogers is not the same man we first saw in Captain America: The First Avenger.