After Phase 3, What’s Next For The MCU?

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It’s well known that after the fourth Avengers movie, things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be different. Not just in universe but also in real life. Many of the stars of the movies will no longer be contractually obligated to appear in the franchise. Who knows what story will affect these characters we have come to know for almost a decade now. Just the one thing for certain is this: change. Change is coming whether we like it or not. President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige has said that he is not even sure if the Marvel Studios films will even be categorized in phases anymore.

Back to Basics

I love the MCU but even I’ll admit that things have become overblown. Almost every movie involves the world at stake. Now with the culmination of the Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet storyline, it would be the perfect time to scale things back. With the recent successes of Logan and Deadpool, it would be foolish for Marvel Studios not to take notice. Those films were done on relatively smaller budgets and told more intimate stories that yielded both critical and financial success. Showing that not all of these movies need to have climaxes with large explosions and full of computer graphics.

More Standalone Films

 The nature of interconnected movies is the biggest draw of the MCU. But you can also see how it can be a double edged sword. This basically makes it that every film more or less to service the films that came before it and after. Just like the comic books that inspired them, not every story is connected with one another. Sometimes these heroes just get into their own adventures without it having to effect a future story and especially another hero’s films.

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The biggest out of place moment in Ant-Man was the scene where he had to steal a certain object. Who did the object belong to? Howard Stark who is currently deceased so it now belongs to Tony Stark. Where did Tony happen to have it stored? In the Avengers’ headquarters. Who just happens to find him and fight him? The Falcon. The scene was fun but it really served no real purpose other than to set up Ant-Man’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War. It has no real effect on the plot.

New Faces Take The Lead

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Robert Downey Jr. has been the face of the MCU since the first Iron Man movie in 2008. His appearances in the franchise make him one of the highest grossing actors in Hollywood. His cohorts such as Chris Evans are not that far behind him. They have effectively become too expensive especially Downey. Actors also want to do other things with their careers other than appear in these superhero movies. So now the with contracts running out after the fourth Avengers movie, it is time to phase out these older heroes in favor of new ones.

It’s no real shock that Marvel Studios started introducing new heroes such as Ant-Man at the end of Phase Two and new heroes such as Black Panther, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange at the beginning of Phase Three. There are still those upcoming such as Captain Marvel played by Brie Larson on the way. So as major and supporting heroes continually get introduced, you can see a cycle forming. Older heroes will be phased out in favor of the new ones who will eventually become the old heroes and so new ones will be introduced. This way giving the audiences something new and not exhausting them of the heroes who came before and building up anticipation.

The Future

One thing for certain about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is change. The change is coming in one way or another. Who knows what shape or form it will take? The MCU is much different now than when it sarted. Imagine how it will be in another five years. That may be scary for some but change is also necessary. I personally cannot wait to see how this film franchise/universe changes.

 

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. 

Top 16 Marvel Cinematic Universe Heroes 

To commemorate the 14th feature film and the eighth year of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here are my top 16 heroes: 

1. Captain America 

2. The Falcon 

3. Bucky Barnes

4. The Incredible Hulk 

5. Black Panther 

6. Daredevil 

7. Luke Cage 

8. Jessica Jones

9. Spider-Man 

10. Doctor Strange 

11. Ant-Man / Giant Man

12. Scarlet Witch

13. Thor

14. Hawkeye 

15. Ghost Rider 

16. Vision  

‘Black Panther’ Cast Revealed and It’s Excellent

The main cast of Marvel Studios’ upcoming Black Panther has been revealed. Of course we all knew that Chadwick Boseman would be reprising his role as T’Challa/Black Panther. We also knew that Michael B. Jordan had a role in the movie but it was never officially confirmed and the role was unrevealed. There were rumors about Lupita Nyong’o being cast but that was all rumor. Well it turned out to all be true with the addition of Danai Gurira to round out the four main cast members. Their roles in the movie were also revealed.

Michael B. Jordan will be playing Erik Killmonger. One of Black Panther’s longest lasting foes. Killmonger is traditionally an exile of Wakanda with a serious grudge against T’Challa. The one who abandoned him. 

Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira will be playing Nakai and Okoye, respectively. They are members of the Dora Milaje, which are the high ranking security team of Wakanda. This team is exclusively all women at that. They are important members of Black Panther mythology so it is nice to see Marvel Studios not shying away from this. There was a member shown in Captain America: Civil War but not much attention was given to it.

This will be a very important going forward in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and also superhero movies in general. This will be the first mainstream movie with a primarily non white cast. It is also one of the first mainstream superhero movies to be directed by an African American in Ryan Coogler. It is good to see they are starting with a strong base of critically acclaimed actors. We will see how the rest of the cast expands out. 

Black Panther will be released in theaters on February 16, 2018.

Post Civil War: Captain America

SPOILERS AHEAD

 

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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.

 

Post Civil War – Black Panther

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SPOILERS AHEAD

After Captain America: Civil War the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a completely different landscape. Going forward it is clear that T’Challa aka Black Panther is being poised as a major player in the future to come. By the end of movie, T’Challa has returned to his home country of Wakanda, now as the king. However he has not returned alone but is instead harboring fugitives James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes aka The Winter Soldier and possibly Steve Rogers aka Captain America. Believing his father was killed by the former HYDRA assassin and hunting him throughout, he learned the truth by the end and wants to make amends for his part in the cycle of revenge that was going on in the movie. Now he is looking for a way to cure Barnes of his mind tampering. Rogers even warns him that if and when word gets out that T’Challa is harboring Barnes then forces will come after him. T’Challa simply says, “They will try.”

This leaves Black Panther in a precarious state with many questions attached to him now. Is he harboring all of the Avengers who were anti registration? The beginning of the movie had a conversation with his father and Black Widow where it was said that he is not much of a politician. He seemed to be in favor of the registration but not exactly the politics behind it. This falls in line with the stance that Steve Rogers had throughout the film. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that he is giving sanctuary to the Avengers who are now considered fugitives. He was only helping Stark because it fell in line with his agenda to capture Bucky. He was very cordial and seemed to have a respect/admiration for Captain America in their first conversation.

What sort of forces will be coming after the new King of Wakanda? In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ulysses Klaue was introduced. The two characters have a very bad history in the comics as Klaw (as he is known in the comics) was the one who actually killed T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father. In the movie Klaue was someone who had a history with the people of Wakanda, even being literally branded a thief because of his theft of a large amount of vibranium. Supplemental materials for the movie revealed that his family lineage has crossed path with T’Challa’s lineage as well. Will this carry over into the Black Panther solo movie? It was due to his Klaue’s theft that brought Wakanda out of hiding and more into the spotlight. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Klaue felt that this new shakeup would be an ample opportunity to strike. There may be other forces as well as Helmut Zemo who was the main villain of Captain America: Civil War is still out there and was the one who actually killed T’Chaka and T’Challa stopped him from killing himself. There may also be other forces who may come for Bucky as the history of the former assassin is still shrouded in mystery and he may have a lot of enemies or opportunists.

All that can be known for sure is that the future of The King of Wakanda is going to be one filled with strife. Will he be able to handle the pressure that comes with being a king? It is clear that he is not going to be the same king that his father was. There are also the case of his superheroics as he is now intimately involved with the Avengers. Will Black Panther be the one to unite the the fractured Avengers? There are many questions that come with the future of Black Panther. The answers will all certainly be exciting.

Captain America: Civil War Review

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Captain America: Civil War is both a sequel to 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Solider as well as 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. The film picks up about a year after the end of the latter movie. The film picks up with the current Avengers and a disastrous mission that puts the team under the microscope. Tony Stark is faced with his conscious after his actions in Age of Ultron are called into question. This eventually leads to the Sokovia Accords which requires all heroes to sign under a UN legislation and if not, be considered criminals. Captain America is against it while Iron Man is for it and a schism is formed. Things are further complicated by the return of Captain America’s old friend, Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier and an enigmatic figure, Zemo.

First things first, this is a Captain America movie. It is his actions that drive the plot of the movie. Chris Evans shines once again in his role as Steve Rogers/Captain America. It is easy to see where his characters stands as his previous interactions with government have been less than desirable. He is a character who stands firm in his beliefs and when those beliefs conflict with others, he is still willing to listen and give the benefit of a doubt. This drives his effort in helping Bucky who is a wanted man. There are different sides to Cap shown here as though he is usually shown as the altruistic member of the Avengers, he is no saint. There were times where it was easy to see where people’s frustrations with him came from.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man takes his iconic role in a different path. As someone who has never been a fan of the quippy Stark that has become so prevalent, it was interesting to see a Stark who was much more morose. He still had his one liners and quips but there was a pain to the character that was there from his first scene. Guilt is what’s driving Stark now but he is still a Stark who acts first without really thinking about the consequences for later. There were times where I surprised myself by agreeing with Stark. The film provides a good balance between the two points as neither is in the right or the wrong.

Many of the other Avengers and other Marvel Cinematic Universe characters have parts to play, some smaller than others. Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch probably gets the most. It is her actions which kick off the events in the movie. It is a definite improvement over her role in Age of Ultron as we learn what makes Wanda tick and where her future will take her. Scarlet Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow takes a somewhat backseat in this movie compared to her roles previously. Widow is conflicted as she sides with Stark, who she is not a fan of, on the state of registration while opposing Cap, who she has come to respect and care for. Anthony Mackie returns as Sam Wilson/The Falcon who and shows why he is an Avenger. His loyalty to Cap is steadfast and it extends to his fellow Avengers. His subtle competition with Bucky as who is Cap’s best friend brings a levity to the movie.

The other Avengers and MCU heroes play less of a role. Jeremy Renner returns as Clint Barton/Hawkeye and probably gets the short end of the stick. He is not in that many scenes but does make the most of them. He shows why he is the most personable and his everyman qualities play an important part later between a conversation between he and Stark. Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine fares a bit better. He gets a few more scenes but the scenes he does have do shine. There is an especially poignant moment between him and Stark that really conveys a friendship and love that never came across in the Iron Man movies. Ant-Man and Spider-Man are the two who gets the least scenes and could be considered glorified cameos at best. Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man returns from his solo movie and is a welcome addition. His character is just happy to be along for the ride while still hinting at his anti-establishment characteristics. He brings about one of the more standout moments in the movie. Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man is in the same boat as Ant-Man. He is a teenage superhero who is happy to be along (and brought along under suspicious circumstances). He brings out the youth in Spider-Man such as his nonstop talking during battle but also showing just how dangerous Spider-Man can be. His character was a delight and it is only a bright future for this iteration of the character.

The two wild cards in the movie are The Winter Soldier and Black Panther. Sebastian Stan returns as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier and is now something of a combination of the friendly Bucky from the first Captain America movie and the cold blooded killer from The Winter Soldier. Stan conveys a man who is at best a man wanting to figure out his past but also a man who is at his worst a dangerous killer. His scenes with Evans shine as you are reminded of the friendship between the two and can understand why Cap is going the distance for him. Chadwick Boseman debuts as T’Challa/Black Panther. He is a new character whose origin is touched upon but you know what this man is all about. He is royalty and carries it through his actions. He is nobility and is serious when he needs to be but there is an affability to him when he needs to be. This is someone who is on par with Captain America when it comes to physicality and it shows every time he is on screen. The future is bright for his character.

When it comes to conflict, it stems from two sources. One of them being Thaddeus Ross aka General “Thunderbolt” Ross who was last seen eight years ago in “The Incredible Hulk”. He is now Secretary of State and is the main person pushing for the registration. Though he claims to be on the side of the Avengers, anyone familiar with the character and his last appearance knows that all may not be so simple with him. There is also Daniel Bruhl who plays Helmut Zemo. Zemo is a mysterious character and the less said about him the better. Zemo is not a showy type of role especially for a villain. At first I thought Zemo wasn’t that effective of a villain but on more thought, Zemo was actually a good villain and one with sympathetic reasons for doing what he does. Bruhl was a perfect actor to cast in this type of role.

The movie finds a great balance between plot, character development and action. The film never gets too bogged down in plot and exposition. It also never suffers from too much action either. There were only a few issues that I found with the plot where I found myself losing track of the characters’ motivations. Zemo’s plot is especially shaky when thinking about it too hard. The action scenes are phenomenal especially the confrontation between the two teams at the airport. This comes in the second act and the final action scene wisely takes a step back and makes it more intimate. This intimate final action scene is a good mix of plot and action and really highlights why this movie shines. The movie never loses track of why these characters are doing what they are doing.

Overall, Captain America: Civil War is a triumph. A movie that on paper with its many characters and heady themes could be easily pegged as destined to fail. Though there are a few bumps on the road, the ride was great and one that I will gladly take again. This movie not only a must see for comic book movie fans or superhero movie fans. This movie is a must see for movie fans.

Score: 10/10