Avengers: Infinity War Concept Art

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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.

 

Why Thor: Ragnarok Is My Most Anticipated Marvel Movie of 2017

Thor is one of my favorite characters in all comics. His movie counterpart is not. While I highly enjoyed the first Thor movie, it has been scattered since then. He appears late into The Avengers and despite his brother being the main antagonist, he is not really a focal point. Thor: The Dark World is not a bad movie but it suffers from an identity crisis. Age of Ultron, Thor has to be taken out of many of the battles because he is so powerful he could probably ended the movie thirty minutes in. Plus his character probably got hurt the most by executive meddling as his scenes were devoted to setting up the larger MCU picture. So Thor is in need of a kick in the pants. 

Taika Waititi is a filmmaker that I’m familiar but not one that I can say I’m a fan of. So it was interesting to see that he would be directing the latest Thor movie. But after the Russo Brothers took on the Captain America franchise and took it to new levels, I am open to anything. One of his mission statements going into the movie is to make Thor the most interesting character. In his own movies, Thor tends to get overshadowed by Loki. Though Loki is in Ragnarok, it is unkown just as how much. 

Then there’s the added caveat of The Incredible Hulk. The Hulk due to some legal quagmires cannot have a solo movie. So the next best thing? Team him up in the Thor movie while adapting elements from the popular Planet Hulk storyline. Thor and Hulk trapped on a gladiator planet where even the two most powerful Avengers will have to fight for their lives and one another. The movie was described as something of a buddy road trip movie as Thor is left stranded on the other side of the galaxy. It won’t come as a surprise to see Thor drag Hulk with him as he will need all the help he can get to prevent Ragnarok.

The newcomers to the franchise are also exciting. Cate Blanchett will also be playing the first female big bad in the MCU, Hela. Academy Award winning actor winning certainly brings in a gravitas to whatever she is in. Tessa Thompson is one of the biggest up and coming actors is playing Valkyrie. Karl Urban will be playing Skurge the Executioner, someone who can take Thor on in a one on one fight. Jeff Goldblum is playing The Grandmaster who has ties to other MCU characters like The Collector and Thanos. These are all in addition to the already stellar cast from previous movies such as Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston. 

There’s still much we do not know about the movie. Just how does Hulk get involved? Will there be an Infinity Stone? How well can Waititi juggle all these different elements? Will this be the end f the Asgardians? These answers will certainly be answered November 3, 2017.
Plus: we get to see the return of Doctor Strange. The post credits scene between Strange and Thor was filmed for Ragnarok. 

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. 

Doctor Strange Review

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Doctor Strange is the 14th movie from Marvel Studios. As with Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, Doctor Strange is another movie that is “off brand” more or less. It’s not too different from what you would expect from other Marvel Studios films. But it does have its own unique tone and atmosphere that helps separate from the other Marvel Studios film this year, Captain America: Civil War. So how is the film overall?

Doctor Stephen Strange is an arrogant surgeon. A total master in his field of work. After an accident that cost him the use of his hands, Strange is a broken man. Finding solace in the East and learning  new purpose in life. If this sounds like the plot of the first Iron Man, you’re not too far off. Both Tony Stark and Stephen Strange are arrogant and rude to others but there is a distinct difference. You see from the very beginning that Strange while egotistical does want to help people.

During his training of the mystic arts, Strange befriends and learns from The Ancient One, Wong and Mordo. Each one strict and no time for Strange’s attitude yet at the same time believing in him to do better as Strange shows a unique aptitude. This is all paralleled by Kaecilius, the main villain of the film. Doctor Strange is a unique entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It opens up a new avenue to explore in this universe and has also introduced a unique hero. It will be interesting to see how he and Tony Stark interact as you can see the similarities but also where they diverge.

Benedict Cumberbatch is great a Stephen Strange. It’s not too unfamiliar territory here as he plays the similar Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series. But Strange is a bit more snarky and open to others. The movie probably would not have worked if the main actor did not work. Cumberbatch fits the role to a T. His American accent is a bit disconcerting but it still works. The actor sells the role and it will be good to see his continuing adventures in the MCU.

The supporting characters are also great. Controversy aside, Tilda Swinton sells her role as The Ancient One. A unique master of the mystic arts that is harsh yet sweet. Swinton can sell subtle looks. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo is a unique presence. Those familiar with his comics counterpart know what he becomes but the film does not go that route with the character…in this movie. It will be curious to see where his character goes from here but it goes without saying there will be conflict between he and Strange. Benedict Wong as Wong is also a unique change. Wong is no longer the man servant but a guardian of the library who is not as stoic as he likes to come off. These three really help flesh out the world. Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer, the former lover of Strange does not have a major role in the movie. But does serve a purpose and she does not get to play the damsel in distress. There feels like there was more with the character that was cut but she does the best with what she’s given.

Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius does not fall completely in the line of terrible MCU villains. But he does not get a lot to do either. He does get one scene that helps sell his character and it does help. But once again it felts like there could have been more done with the character. Time is my biggest issue with the film. It’s only an hour and fifty five minutes. It goes by at a good breeze but it does feel like character development got cut out and to the detriment. We don’t spend much time with Strange as the arrogant doctor. We also don’t get to know certain characters as much as I would like either. That is arguably my only quibble with the film.

Special mention also has to go to the special effects. Big budget movies with great special effects is common nowadays. But this film goes the extra mile to be “trippy” to use a buzz word. That is what it is. Psychedelic colors and imagery is apparent from the very beginning. If this film does not win the Oscar for special effects, I will be surprised. The fight scenes where buildings are turning in on themselves and mirror imagery helps set it apart from other action scenes in big budget movies.

Doctor Strange is one of my favorite movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We have been introduced to a great character and new aspect in the universe. This film was a delight from beginning to end. I do plan on watching it again. Though I’m getting tired of the stingers in a Marvel film, there are two in these and both are important. One for the greater MCU universe and in particular one film coming out around this time next year and another more linked to Doctor Strange.

SCORE: 9/10

‘Doctor Strange’ Poster and Trailer Reaction

I will be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest Doctor Strange. I always liked the character but it might be because writers were always finding ways to write him out of comics I read. The magic side of the Marvel Universe is one I never connected to compared to the magic side of their Distinguished Competition. But I was excited to learn there was a movie on the way. After the first teaser came out, my curiosity was piqued. Now that the first full trailer has been released, I am highly anticipating this movie. 

It does look to be the most different Marvel Studios movie since the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. This is a movie about magic so it would have to be unique in that sense. We see striking imagery throughout the trailer such as portals being created and reality seemingly folded on itself. There is a peculiar image of Doctor Strange and Mordo running alongside a building as reality was folding around them. 

More of the plot was revealed this time. It is an origin movie so it does hit those familiar beats. But compared to the teaser where we only mainly saw Strange and The Ancient One, we see more of the cast this time. There is more of Mordo who is usually Strange’s archnemesis but this time seems to be his partner. Who knows how that will turn out. There is also Wong who is more traditionally Strange’s manservant but since an Asian manservant doesn’t fly in today’s world, he is changed to be his instructor. Rachel McAdams played Christine Palmer whose counterpart is one of the Night Nurses but here she seems to be a fellow doctor and Strange’s link to his old life. Finally we see more of the villain Kaecilius though still not more of his plan.

One does get a sense of the tone. It seems to fall more in line with the Captain America films. They were fairly serious but the characters themselves can make light of things around themselves. One peculiar moment that had me laughing was between Strange and Mordo involving Wi-Fi. 

There is no doubt that Doctor Strange will be an important part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. This opens a whole new area that has yet to be seen. Overall it looks to be a strong beginning to a whole new chapter. Doctor Strange opens on November 4, 2016.

Am I Excited For Doctor Strange? Not Really?

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In November of 2016, Marvel Studios will be releasing their first new property since Guardians of the Galaxy and that will be Doctor Strange. This film will be unique because it will also be the studios first foray into the realm of magic/mysticism. There is an all star cast led by Benedict Cumberbatch who will playing the title role. The first trailer was released and it certainly felt very different from any other Marvel Studios film. Yet there remains one problem. I am not excited for the film.

I honestly cannot say as to why I’m disinterested in the film. It may have something to do with the character of Doctor Strange himself. When I was reading comics on the regular, Doctor Strange never had a solo series. He was someone who I thought worked best in guest appearances or in team books. There was also the issue that the character was someone who was too powerful. Whenever there were crossovers Doctor Strange was usually left out for any number of reasons in story but it was usually because he was too powerful and could resolve the issue with the snap of his fingers. There is a reason he is called the Sorcerer Supreme. The characters supporting cast is something of an enigma to me as well. So there is no one that I’m looking forward to. I am aware of some antagonists such as Dormamu or Nightmare but it is unknown who the main villain is. It would be reason to believe that the character will be toned down considerably in his film incarnation. Powerful characters such as Thor and the Hulk are nowhere near the power levels that they are in the comics.

Maybe by the time the actual film is released I will be more excited about the movie. There is still so much unknown about the movie. Who knows? Maybe this will all be a good thing. Since I’m not so invested in the character, I can be pleasantly surprised by the film. Only time will tell how I will feel about the Doctor Strange movie.