Avengers: Infinity War Concept Art

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Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Fifteen years ago, we were introduced to Spider-Man on the big screens with the Sam Raimi iteration. Three movies in that franchise was followed up with a reboot in 2012 with the Marc Webb iteration. After a somewhat failed sequel, Sony Pictures did the unthinkable and teamed with Marvel Studios to integrate Spider-Man with the ongoing and vastly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. After a introduction in Captain America: Civil War, we are getting the third Spider-Man franchise and one intertwined with the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well. What are the results when Spider-Man has finally come back home?

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Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker/Spider-Man is feeling himself a little too much. Tony Stark/Iron Man dragged him into this big mission but effectively kicks him to the curb when he no longer has a use for him. So being restless and aching for some action, Peter is also trying to juggle being Spider-Man with his personal life. The life of a teenager is not easy so add being a superhero onto that is another stress factor. Then there is Adrian Toomes whose life was ruined by inadvertently ruined by Tony Stark. A blue collar worker who has a grudge against the rich and powerful and thus turning to crime and becoming The Vulture to just put food onto the table. Spider-Man is the friendly neighborhood hero with aspirations to be bigger while the Vulture is someone who is comfortable with his slice of the pie and doesn’t want to really rock the boat.

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Tom Holland is great as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. You really understand his teenage angst as wanting to be treated like an adult but not fully grasping the gravity of the situation. Trying to juggle his teenage life with his superhero life is clearly affecting him as sacrifices need to be made. Since he is fifteen, Peter Parker brings a youthful energy to the MCU that is a nice change of pace from what has come before. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is not in the movie all that much. He does have a presence and serve a purpose but despite what advertisements made it seem, he does not overshadow the movie. Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture is great in the role. The biggest downside is that he is not in the movie as you might want him. There are a couple of scenes later on between he and Holland that are great. Marisa Tomei as May Parker is definitely a different kind of Aunt May. In fact, Peter rarely refers to her as his Aunt but simply “May”. She is good but I would have liked to see one or two scenes more with her in it. Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan returns and has more screen time than his boss. I always enjoyed Favreau as an actor so it was nice to see. The rest of the supporting cast is filled with Peter’s classmates. Zendaya is that presence that’s always in scenes but a lot of the time not doing much. It will be interesting to see where they take the character in the future. Jacob Batalon as Ned, Peter’s best friend, is great and they even get to poke fun at the whole superhero has a sidekick who just sits at a computer.

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This film does not rock the Spider-Man boat. Playing it pretty straight in an effect to align this Spider-Man with the rest of the MCU. So while the film takes no real risks, it does a good job of setting up the character and his corner of the universe. There were a lot of screenwriters for this movie including the director, Jon Watts. For someone who has only directed low budget movies beforehand, he did a good job with this major franchise movie. Of course most Marvel movies are effectively cranked out on a machine but still, the movie could have floundered but it doesn’t. At about two hours and fourteen minutes, the movie moves at a good pace. I was never bored or wanted to look at my watch. The only major knock is that while the film was relatively grounded, the ending set piece had to be something in the air and a big explosion. They did reign it in but seemed a little extraneous but that may have been the point. One good job they did was establish The Vulture as a threat. I never really liked The Vulture in the comics but this movie does make him a genuine great villain who could probably make Iron Man struggle if they went toe to toe.

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There are easter eggs galore in this film. Much of The Vulture’s tech is derived from previous battles caused by previous MCU films. In fact the film opens in the immediate aftermath of The Avengers (2012). Not only does it help the film feel natural within the Marvel Cinematic Universe as why wouldn’t criminals start using tech from the super villains? Now that super heroes and villains are the norm, a lot of people aren’t even rattled by the appearance of Spider-Man in their neighborhood. It also helps set up future Spider-Man films as there are tons of Spider-Man villains in this film but it never feels forced. I think almost every character with a speaking line is a character from Spider-Man comics, whether big or small.

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Out of all the six Spider-Man movies, this is probably my favorite. It finds the right balance between the Peter Parker and Spider-Man of it all. It doesn’t go the route of the Sam Raimi movies where the bad guys all had to have some sort of accident or something to be a bad guys. The Vulture is a bad guy. He may be wanting to do right by his family but he is a bad guy. Definitely one of the more memorable bad guys in the MCU lately. Spider-Man: Homecoming achieves what it needed to do. Establish this Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while also serving as a good first film in the individual franchise. The future for the web slinger is bright and can’t wait to see where they take the character in his new surroundings.

SCORE: 9/10

 

Why I’m Lukewarm on Spider-Man: Homecoming

I love Spider-Man. Absolutely love him. If it wasn’t for Batman, the character would be my favorite superhero. But since 2002, they have been making Spider-Man films. There the original Spider-Man trilogy that had a fourth film planned but ultimately fell through. Then there was a rebooted series in 2012 that produced one sequel with ambitions of starting a cinematic universe but also fell through. Then the whole rights things happened with Marvel Studios happened and Spider-Man became part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Making his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War, I enjoyed the character for the little he was in the movie. So why am I not excited?

It’s The Sixth Spider-Man Film

There have already been five Spider-Man films before this. So while it is part of the MCU and thus giving a unique spin on Spider-Man that we have not seen before. But it is still the sixth Spider-Man film in 15 years. The novelty is gone and it is another reboot. There is a tinge of “been there, done that” to the film.

There Looks To Be A Lot of Iron Man

Spider-Man’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War all hinged upon Tony Stark/Iron Man. The superhero “recruited” Spider-Man to his cause. The movie implied that Stark intentionally left details out when recruiting Spider-Man. But the two had good chemistry and there looks to be some sort of odd mix of big brother/little brother and father/son dynamic to their relationship. Stark is also the reason for Spider-Man’s high tech suit. So his presence was expected but previews seem to show that he plays a large role in the film and the plot starts because someone is mad at Stark…again.

I am not a big fan of Tony Stark in the MCU. Charismatic he is but he is a total prick and has little redeeming qualities to me. The villain also looks to have a grudge against him which was the plot of all the Iron Man movies and Avengers: Age of Ultron. We also know from toys that he will be receiving a new armor in this movie. These are all benchmarks of a new Iron Man movie.

I understand the need to explore the relationship between Spider-Man and Iron Man. That’s fine. But Captain America: Civil War was pretty much Iron Man 4 and this looks to be Iron Man 5.

The Trailers Gave Away The Plot

The latest trailer for the film more or less gave away the three act structure of the film. Spider-Man and the villain, The Vulture, will tussle in Washington D.C. Spider-Man will confront Vulture again on a ferry and need Iron Man to help out with the situation and thus lose his fancy new suit. Spider-Man will don his old suit to fight The Vulture on some sort of jet. When watching the trailer, it might not be obvious at first but if you’ve studied film you can get the major beats.

Sure there are character stuff missing. Still don’t really know who Donald Glover is playing. There is something mysterious about Zendaya’s character. So yes there is still a lot to explore character wise but the major action set pieces have been soured a bit. So when going into the film, I can pretty much know what to expect. Also there is a quick shot as Chris Evans appearing as Captain America in some sort of gym video. Something tells me that they just didn’t get Chris Evans just in for that bit. I wish that little nugget was left out of the trailer.

I am still going to see Spider-Man: Homecoming the first night. I still do love Spider-Man and see how he plays in the MCU. But just not as excited as you may have expected. But as long as it’s good, I will support it.

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 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.
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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. 

Spider-Man: Homecoming Is Getting Me Excited for Spider-Man Again

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Spider-Man was one of the best parts in Captain America: Civil War. Despite his character having a relatively small but pivotal role in the movie, he did manage to be a bright star whenever he appeared. During the post credits of that scene, the tagline “SPIDER-MAN WILL RETURN” one couldn’t help but say, “Duh” as that was pretty much a given. Since Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures are now sharing the cinematic rights to the character, you knew they were not going to waste any time getting a movie made about Spider-Man in the billion dollar franchise that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Castings were announced and the film soon began filming. Though the movie was filming, no one knew exactly what the movie was about. The only thing known is that this would be about Peter Parker/Spider-Man as a high school sophomore and balancing his personal life and his newfound superhero life. Only one other movie out of the previous five Spider-Man movies really featured the superhero in high school but it seemed more of an afterthought. You probably could have made him a rocket scientists and nothing really would have changed. This film seems to want to return Spider-Man to his roots.

The plot of the film is still under wraps. When the film was brought out at San Diego Comic Con 2016, it was finally confirmed that The Vulture would be the villain of the movie. It is rumored that there might be more than one villain but The Vulture is definitely one of them. Michael Keaton, the former Batman, is in the cast and is rumored to be playing The Vulture but that is still unconfirmed. If the rumors are true, it is a good choice as Keaton is on a career resurgence and nothing wrong with adding talent to the movie.

Another important element is Peter’s high school life. Peter Parker lives in Queens, one of the more diverse parts of probably the most diverse city in the world. The comics were created in the 1960’s and thus reflected the times. Now Queens is a much different place. There are no longer just white Americans but people of a variety of ethnicities. This is reflected in Peter’s classmates. Probably the biggest divergence is Flash Thompson who has traditionally been a blonde haired, blue eyed football player. Now he is played by Tony Revolori, an Indian actor.

Last there is the connection to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. What was revealed during SDCC, Spider-Man is now a more household name due to his actions in Civil War. Robert Downey Jr. will reprise his role as Tony Stark and the relationship between he and Parker will continue. Who knows how it will develop after the events of that movie. There wasn’t much attention paid to it but the filmmakers even admitted that Stark manipulated the young boy to carry out his agenda. Will it sour? Also look close close to the wings of The Vulture. Those wings look very similar to the wings of the Helicarriers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
I had soured on Spider-Man in movies for a while now. That spark that had me excited or his movies had been missing since Spider-Man 3. What the creators did in his limited role in Civil War, has reinvigorated my excitement for the character. Now that Spider-Man is firmly integrated in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he will no doubt be a major player going forward. He is Marvel’s most popular character and since Robert Downey Jr. is on his way out as Tony Stark/Iron Man, the franchise needs a new marquee character.

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.