MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 20. Ant-Man & the Wasp (2018)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.





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 20. Ant-Man & the Wasp (2018)

 “WASSUPP?! What? You don't remember that beloved commercial? WASSUP?!" - Luis to Hope, Scott and Hank as he shows up to save the day.

This film includes my favorite Stan Lee cameo in the MCU. Stan is about to get into his luxury sedan when Hope is driving by and hits it with a shrink dot. Stan shakes his head and says, "Well, the 60's were fun but I'm paying for it now!"
 
It also was only the second MCU film I didn’t see in theatres. I missed this and Doctor Strange, other than that, I’ve seen every single one on a big screen. The real kicker though, is that I missed this one (or big chunks of it anyway) even when I watched it the first time on digital. I found whole scenes and even a plot thread or two that I had completely missed the first time. I don’t know why I had paid so little attention either, as this film is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
 
It also showcases something that Marvel understands better than any other studio, I think. You have to hit your audience where they are. After Infinity War, no high stakes movie was going to hold our attention. We didn’t want to wallow in our sorrows either, worrying about all the heroes that had vanished with Thanos’ snap. So they jumped back in time slightly, and lowered the scales across the country for an adventure with Scott Lang and the Pym’s.
 
The chase scenes here are amazing, on par in their own way with the fights and chases in The Winter Soldier, but the Ant-Man series (and Rudd as the lead) allow for a level of humor that is almost on par with The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise or Thor: Ragnarok. The combo is very cool, especially when Luis finally gets to join the fun in the final act driving his Hot Wheel and shrinking and growing with the rest of the team.
 
Bill Foster’s introduction here (with Laurence Fishburne) is great for comics fans and again gives us cool past adventures to think about and possibly see play out someday on TV or on film. I sincerely hope we get the adventures of Ant-Man and the Wasp somewhere someday. Please don’t keep all that fun just in my head?
 
One thing that jumped out at me on this viewing is that the suit Hank uses to visit the Quantum realm to save Janet looks VERY similar to the suits the Avengers wear in Endgame to go on their “time-heist”. It’s not spoken about in either film that I can remember, but I’m guessing that there’s a loose, comic-book-science explanation for why white and red color schemes are better for Quantum jumping. Regardless of the reasons, that’s another example of small things being consistent across the films, adding to the “lived-in” feel of the universe. It’s stuff like this that makes me so desperate to see all the adventures in between and hinted at off screen. If it felt like the characters all woke up for the first time when the camera hits them, we wouldn’t care about what happens off screen, but the MCU makes sure we do.
 
There are few rumors of a forthcoming Ant-Man & the Wasp 2, but I am VERY excited for the continuation of this story. I love the supporting characters in this franchise as much as any of the Marvel films, and with the reintroduction of Janet, there are a million new stories to tell here. As long as they keep Luis around to summarize everything for us, I’d be happy with a dozen more.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 19. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.




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 19. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

 “Alright, kid. You’re an Avenger.” - Tony Stark to Peter Parker as he “dubs” him, tapping him on each shoulder.
 
I saw Infinity War twice in theatres. Watched it once alone the day it came out on digital, then watched it again that night with the family. Since then, I’ve seen it four more times all the way through, then finally this past weekend found the commentary track in the extras and watched it again with that turned on.
 
It’s a great movie, a well-told story about fantastical people doing fantastic things. It has a surprising conclusion for a big Hollywood film, which subverts expectations and tropes while being absolutely congruent with the film as presented and satisfying a “hero’s journey” for Thanos in a way that never would have been expected. It also is a complex puzzle of writing that I marvel at every single time I think about it. The commentary track was very illuminating (the same group, the Russo brothers and screenwriters Markus and McFeeley appear on a commentary track on Civil War that I’m now going back to listen to as well). No one has ever done anything like this before on film, these creators have now done it twice (three times really if you count Civil War as the tune-up for this event), and that deserves recognition. Anything they do in the future will be watched very closely by me.
 
There are so many moments in this one that stand out, but the in-res opening with Kenneth Brannaugh’s radio distress signal going out from the Asgardian ship, then to see Thor, Heimdall, the Hulk and Loki all laid low, establishes without any doubt exactly what level of threat Thanos poses.  The assault he perpretrates on Hulk is particularly brutal, and its clear that no one hero can stop this guy, we’re going to need the full roster to pull together if we have any hope.
 
This opening scene gives us two great moments straight from the comics, first the Ebony Maw cowers before Thanos as he puts in the second stone to his gauntlet with words straight from the original Starlin Infinity Gauntlet comic. It made my little nerdy heart sing. Then even better was Heimdall transporting the Hulk back to Earth, crashing into Doctor Strange’s home in another panel lifted straight from the comics (the Silver Sufer played the role of heralding Thanos’ coming in the comics).
 
There are a lot of things that have happened in the galaxy recently to make this the right time for Thanos to strike. There is no Sorceror Supreme on Earth (as Wong told us at the end of Doctor Strange), Thor has lost Mjolnir and Oden is dead, five of the stones have made themselves known somewhere in space (and four of them on Earth) in the recent past, but the real inciting incident is Nebula arriving on Thanos’ ship to kill him. When he apprehends her, he finds that Gamora has discovered the location of the Soul Stone. THAT’s what sets this whole thing in motion, Nebula’s journey for revenge. Of course, that ALSO hints toward what Thanos does in Endgame as well, by discovering the heroes plan through Nebula’s network and jumping through time to fight them once THEY’VE collected all the stones. It shouldn’t have been nearly as surprising as it was.
 
That’s good writing. It’s taking the toys in the toybox and making sure that you use every single kung-fu grip special feature they have to offer, using in-universe explanations to solve your in-universe issues. It’s the reason these films hang together so well, and why the MCU continues to succeed when basically every other attempted “cinematic universe” has failed. THIS is the lesson that Star Wars seems to be learning well and why I’m very hopeful for their upcoming TV series. The minutiae matters when you’re telling a story across films and franchises. Marvel gets the minutiae. 
 

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 18. Black Panther (2018)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.



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 18. Black Panther (2018)

 "Great! Another broken white boy for us to fix. This is going to be fun!" - Shuri

Ryan Coogler was asked to do a fairly large job here. Not only establish a character we'd only gotten a subplot with in Civil War, but also the entire world that character inhabits. A mythology as well as a rogue's gallery and sidekick/support squad. The whole thing, all in one go. 

Coogler nailed it. There is a great bonus feature on the Infinity War digital release, that is a roundtable discussion with Favreau, the Russos, James Gunn, Joss Whedon and Ryan Coogler. He’s the youngest by quite a bit at the table, references the fact that he was in film school when Iron Man released to theatres, and yet they are all clearly in awe of what he’s done in this movie (and the promise that it shows for his future as a filmmaker).

This viewing brought me the realization that T’Chaka and T’Challa’s storyline is remarkably similar to Howard and Tony Stark’s. T’Chaka and Howard are both too arrogant and sure of themselves to admit their failings, both allow that to come between them and their son, both sons long to live up to the unassailable image of the father, while wrestling with the reality of their legacies. The MCU is FULL of daddy issues.


Chadwick Boseman is SOOO good in what could easily be a one or two-note role. The humanity and nobility that he showed in his brief scenes in Civil War are allowed to really shine over the course of two hours here. He’s also thankfully given a foil in the person of Erik Killmonger Stevens. Michael B. Jordan was hot in Hollywood before this movie, afterward he’s a superstar. The rumors say that he’ll return in some form for the sequel. I hope that it’s not a bodily resurrection of some sort as his death here is the kind of thing that will (and does in this film’s resolution) drive our hero to be even better.

Killmonger isn’t right that violence is the answer, but he is right in that those to whom much has been given, much is required. Wakanda has been blessed for a thousand years in this universe, and thankfully T’Challa recognizes that it’s passed time to share some of those blessings.

Especially in a post-snap world, Wakanda can be a stabilizing influence on the world stage. BUT, that level of availability and transparency will also lead to struggles at home, which will make excellent fodder for future Black Panther films.

The other thing that I’m especially excited to see play out onscreen is Black Panther’s position in The Illuminati. I very seriously doubt we’ll ever hear that name used in the MCU, but now that Reed Richards, Charles Xavier, Black Panther et al are ALL under the Marvel Studios banner, I sincerely hope that we get a panel of super-powered decision-makers that both save the universe and doom us to new trials because of their decisions. These stories are some of my favorite in the comics and knowing that all of these great minds can now be brought together in cinema is really exciting. Chadwick Boseman would not only fit in amongst such a crowd, he’d likely be a leader, his T’Challa is really amazing.

Even more so, when you think about how many brilliant and strong characters are introduced alongside the Black Panther. Shuri outshines even Banner or Tony Stark with her brilliance while Okoye is clearly the MCU’s fiercest non-powered warrior (other than MAYBE Black Widow?). The entire court is made up of interesting characters. I’m sure the budget would be exorbitant, but I’d love to see a Disney+ series set in Wakanda that DOESN’T focus on the Royal family. Show me the edges and back alleys of Wakanda! The fact that Coogler and his team did this with just one film shows that he is one of the most promising directors in Hollywood. With people like him and Taika Waititi involved, the fresh ideas aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 17. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.


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 17. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

"Let me explain something, my hair is not to be meddled with." Thor, to Doctor Strange. 

Taika Waititi is likely never in the MCU without James Gunn, but James Gunn never just evolves on his own into Waititi either. This level of humor and camp is a wonderful addition to the universe but the vast majority of the credit for that is due to Taika. That, and Chris Hemsworth's comedic timing.

The line above about Thor's hair could have been how Feige treated the character of Thor too. If it ain't broke, and what not. 

But to allow for reinvention, rebirth, that is what allows for a multi-generational story. It's one of the reasons why Hemsworth isn't riding off into the sunset, and unlike Cap and Iron Man, we have adventures still to enjoy with the god of Thunder.
 
This film has my single favorite score of any Marvel movie as well, though Black Panther that followed it is pretty close. I’m a big fan of lots of 80’s sci-fi, fantasy and horror films that were scored with a single synthesizer and this film leans heavily into that feeling (while giving it full production value as well as accompanying it with a double dose of The Immigrant Song). The most interesting part to me is the fact that it still incorporates the established Thor themes from the previous films as well as even hinting at the Lonely Man theme from the Incredible Hulk tv show with Bill Bixby. That had been woven into The Incredible Hulk film featuring Ed Norton as well, but it was very unexpected here. The combination (the music, the outlandish characters like Korg and The Grandmaster) fit together to make this feel not like Thor in a different movie, but an edge of the Thor universe that we just hadn’t seen before. Unfamiliar and yet not wholly foreign. It is an unfathomable difficult job to thread this needle, and Waititi and his team have done it here almost perfectly.
 
For god sakes, there is a firework-shooting Orgy ship that plays pretty heavily into the final battle and when it starts going off the last time, you almost can’t help but cheer. This is not a low difficulty set of maneuvers on display, this is expert craftsmanship.
 
The most interesting thing about Ragnarok in the end (other than the fact that Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster is still alive to menace our heroes and delight the audience again in the future), is that even knowing Infinity War was coming (the mid-credits sequence makes it clear what is about to happen to the surviving Asgardians), I was still very excited by the narrative possibilities of the Thor franchise. When Captain America: Civil War ended, I wasn’t really hungry for another Cap adventure. When Iron Man 3 ended, I wasn’t jonesing for another outing with JUST Tony and Pepper (and Rhodey). BUT as the Asgardians acknowledged their new King and headed off into space in search of a new home, I was JACKED UP about what came next for Thor, Korg, Valkeryie and their friends.
 
As we sit, post Endgame, knowing that those paths are diverging with Thor headed to space again and Valkeryie leading the Asgardians in Norway, I honestly want to follow BOTH stories. I would love to see some Thor space adventures without his weighty resposibilities of the crown or kingdom concerning him. Let’s introduce Beta Ray Bill finally (his horse face was seen on the Grandmaster’s palace under the newly added Hulk head, but an easter egg isn’t enough)! Have Thor learning about the Celestials (The Grandmaster, The Collector and Ego are all Celestials either as described in the films so far or from their comics past. With the Eternals coming soon, maybe we’ll get this story a different way. But with the humor that Thor’s character is capable of, you can use him as a vehicle to introduce some truly out there ideas.
 
The Living Tribunal for instance was originally considered to show up on Titan in the battle towards the end of Infinity War (pre-snap). This is one of those cosmic characters from the comics that is part of the fabric of reality, basically a stand-in for a big G god as opposed to the gods and goddesses like Thor that we’re sort of used to. This stuff plays great in the comics, especially to philosophy-minded pre-teen and teen boys, but the Russo’s thought just hinting at an entire new level to the cosmic hierarchy was a step too far for the average audience. I agree, and yet, I absolutely want to see Eternity, the Tribunal, the Watchers etc all explored in depth on screen at somepoint. Maybe goofy Thor as revealed to us by Taika is the answer to that particular narrative problem.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 16. Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.
















16. Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)

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As I'm watching Spider-man Homecoming this time, it occurs to me how important Spider-man is. Kevin Feige was willing to work with another studio to have him as a toy in the toy box. The deal means effectively that every few years Marvel Studios goes and makes a movie for Sony but doesn't actually make any money on that film, and that's worth it because merchandising and Spider-Man's influence in the broader MCU is worth the $1 billion or so every one of those Sony films makes. Not that Hollywood is a zero-sum game, but I doubt there’s ever been a deal like this that so benefits another studio.

That’s how much Spider-Man matters.

Getting this movie right mattered almost that much as well. Spidey’s appearance in Civil War had been a big hit, Tom Holland is a PERFECT casting choice for both Peter and Spider-Man (which so far hadn’t really been done onscreen). I still wasn’t very excited for this one, and I know I wasn’t alone among the MCU fanbase. We’d seen 5 onscreen depictions of Spider-Man in recent memory, none of them amazing, but all of them “fine”. Of all the heroes left in the archives waiting to be brought to life, why another retread of THIS one? It’s because Peter’s story is unique among the rest of our heroes. He’s a boy amongst the men and women. But he’s also one of the longest running and best known characters in comics period. Among the Marvel creations, he is consistently the #1 or #2 and the only hero who's had the cultural impact of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman from DC. Spider-Man is big.

So, color me surprised when an hour and a half into the movie I’ve been enjoying myself so much not to see the twist coming. It is the best twist/reveal in the entire Marvel canon so far, in my opinion. This was brilliantly done. The trick is that Peter has his moment of crisis, he is dressed down by Tony, stripped of his new Spidey suit and sent home in a baggy t-shirt to be dressed down again by May. They share a moment, Peter begins to patch up his personal life and has a reconciliation with Liz. This leads to a musical montage with Peter and May getting ready for Homecoming and you completely forget about the fact that Michael Keaton is out there menacing somewhere AND he has a kid that was referenced in the prologue. When he opens the door for Peter, my jaw dropped and it’s almost as effective knowing that it’s coming.

That all leads to the deliciousness that is the car ride over to the dance and especially Papa’s talk with Peter after Liz gets out. Michael Keaton is what we’ve been waiting for with MCU villains and my sincere hope is that they’ve signed him to a deal as long as Samuel L. Jackson’s. I want the Vulture to eventually get the “Superior Spider-Man” storyline, that’s how much I love this character (well, maybe not that much, but I want this Vulture to age and grow onscreen as well as in our imaginations. Please let him lead the Sinister Six in a few more movies?). Casting Keaton was brilliant, especially with his recent renaissance following Birdman, but the cultural memory of him in the Batsuit carrying over to him flying around in this monstrous Vulture rig is perfect. More of this, please. Let’s get Brandon Routh playing a bad guy in the MCU next, I guess? Linda Carter? I am definitely down for George Clooney or Val Kilmer to join up!

My favorite Keaton moment? When he has finally put it all together in the car and he’s started to toy with Peter. He catches his eye in the rear-view and says as menacingly as possible, “Good ole’ Spider-Man!” There are versions of the Vulture character (the Noir universe for instance) that are not just a super-villain but an actual monster, a cannibal even. In that “ Good ole’ Spider-Man” I absolutely believe Keaton might just eat this little boy in the backseat. So when he tells Peter that he’d kill him to protect his family, I (and I think Holland’s Peter) take it for gospel. Having that perfect villain makes Peter a hero in the next moment when he turns it all down and goes after the bad guy anyway. No fancy suit, no backup from Iron Man, and no beautiful girl to welcome you back when you save the day. This movie is about teaching Peter what the “hero” thing is going to cost him, ensuring that he takes it seriously and that he’s ready for what he’s going to be asked to do in the years to come. Tony didn’t know that he’d need a replacement so soon, but the course of this movie (and the events of Infinity War and Endgame) I think have done a much better job than either Tony or Peter might have imagined.

The entire lineup of Peter’s classmates are great, but Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds is a different level. He’s as good in this film as Michael Pena as Luis in Ant-Man. He even gets a great hero moment when he saves Peter from the Shocker in the final act. I know a lot of people were bothered by the convenience of seemingly all of Peter’s classmates being snapped away for 5 years like Peter, but I am just glad that we get more Ned (and MJ, Flash etc). Honestly, rewatching this one has got me totally hyped up to see Far From Home, which after Endgame is no small feat. Here’s hoping that FFH lives up to Homecoming. Also, here’s hoping that they figure out a great way to use “home” again in the threequel a couple years from now.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 15. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.
















15. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017)

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“That’s my point, Peter! What if this man IS your Hasselhoff? Listen, if he ends up being evil, we’ll just kill him.” - Gamora to Peter Quill about Ego.

Kurt Russell is perfectly cast in this franchise as the cocky, belligerent father of Peter Quill (with a 70’s heartthrob face). Also, the behind the scenes story of this character’s return to Marvel Studios (Ego the Living Planet was technically in the package with the Fantastic Four at Fox. They were busy working on Deadpool and wanted to use the name Negasonic Teenage Warhead, with a totally revamped power-set. So, they just traded. A similar deal was suggested once upon a time for an extension on the Daredevil rights (Marvel Studios wanted to get Galactus and Silver Surfer for the MCU and would allow Fox to extend their option on Daredevil). The Daredevil film didn’t end up getting made, Fox didn’t make the deal and eventually Marvel used DD on their own with Netflix. Now of course, ALL of this is moot as Disney has bought Fox now and controls the rights to ALL of these characters. It would have been very interesting to see where Galactus and the Surfer would have come into play in the last phase or two, but I rather enjoyed the Netflix Marvel Universe and Charlie Cox as Daredevil especially, so I’m glad things worked out like they did.

This film feels even more James Gunn than the last one did, especially in moments like Yondu zipping up in the window of the Sex-Robot brothel. Like, WHAT?!?! Or, when Rocket plays Road Runner to Yondu and the Ravagers’ Wile E. Coyote with ever-escalating hijinks. The culmination of this violence is probably Yondu and Rocket escaping the Ravagers with the upgraded fin. It's very fun but also incredibly violent for a Marvel film which generally avoids the specificity on damage to bad guys.

Michael Rooker needs to be our next topic. While he’s great in the first film, and I’ve already told you I love him in general, he shines here in a surprising way. First of all, he doesn’t enter the film at all until that aforementioned pants-zipping scene nearly halfway through the thing. But his storyline as the outcast Ravager and begrudging “daddy” to Peter is really the heart of this film though Kurt Russell gets the headlines. The MCU has dozens of characters like this. They exist in the films largely to support our leads but if given the opportunity you imagine they could easily hold down a movie on their own.

One hopes with the launch of Disney+ these characters can get series of their own, or at least heavy presences in the series of others. While you can imagine the budget would be pretty high set in space all the time, I'd absolutely be down for a Ravager series anchored by Yondu. I think Rooker is probably done with 8 hours of makeup a day too, but maybe an animated series?

As a big fan of the weirder cosmic stuff from Marvel comics I'm absolutely ready to see Adam Warlock who has now been teased in both films. I think it's a certainty that we'll meet him in Volume 3 if for no other reason than to have him available for the next big crossover storyline. He's just too good a cosmic character.

Finally, we have to talk about James Gunn's rehiring for this franchise. I understand why Disney parted ways with him at the time and I'm glad they all could make it work to move forward together now. Gunn is very talented and understands these characters superbly. It would be a great shame if he wasn't able to finish their arc. 

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 14. Doctor Strange (2016)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.















14. Doctor Strange (2016)

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“Who are you, in this vast multi-verse, Mr. Strange?” - The Ancient One

The casting of Benedict Cumberbatch was its own giant moment for the MCU. Robert Downey Jr. was a big movie star, but he was also the rehab kid when he was cast as Iron Man. Getting him to sign a long-term multi-picture deal was absolutely as much a coup for him as for Disney, maybe more at the time. Hemsworth was largely unknown in the United States, Evans wasn’t a household name. Samuel L. Jackson was probably the biggest name that had signed a long-term deal prior to Cumberbatch.

But landing a name of his caliber (who already had his pick of Hollywood projects) for such a franchise cornerstone was really an acknowledgment that Marvel had arrived. The MCU is now its own momentum. If you’re a star who wants to ensuree your relevancy for the next decade or so, Marvel is about as safe a bet as you can make as a star. The modern example of this is Dwayne The Rock Johnson posting congrats to his Instagram feed and reminding Kevin Feige that they need to get together and do lunch. Johnson has his own franchise with The Fast and the Furious, he’s signed on to join the DCEU eventually as Black Adam (Shazam’s arch-nemesis), but still, he wants a piece of the MCU. And OF COURSE he does. Endgame is going to be the biggest movie of all time eventually, and the top 20 on that list is FULL of MCU films. Black Panther and Captain Marvel both debuted over a $1 billion. Who WOULDN’T want to be on this team?
 
Sadly, the only place this film DOESN’T hold up is in the villain department. Marvel had hit a series of solid bad guys, but Kaecillius played by Mads Mikkelson is only slightly better than Malekith or Ronan. This seems clear enough, but it is definitely time to introduce more recurring villains like Norman Osborn and Doctor Doom to this world. There are MANY examples, but those are two of the best we’ve yet to meet in the MCU. We need to build ongoing storylines and connections to the villains in a similar way that we do for the heroes. That’s the only way to build bad guys that stand up to the heroes we’ve been given in the MCU. Doctor Strange, of course, offers one possibility in a sequel through the character of Mordo, revealed in the post-credit scene to be on a mission to steal sorcerer's powers.

The rumors have a possible Namor appearance as the primary villain in this or Black Panther 2, Namor is another good example of a character we’d care about but would likely often if not always play the role of antagonist. Loki is the template that should be easy enough to follow and Namor has MANY opportunities to play along those same lines. Sauve, charismatic, noble even in his own way (and of course good looking, Namor should be a stunner, whoever they cast), but also always out for his own (and his people’s) benefit even when it means the downfall of others.
 
Doctor Doom has a wonderful history with Strange in the comics and I’d be THRILLED to see some of that play out in the future onscreen, but we’ll likely get Doom’s introduction alongside his Fantastic Four counterparts. All of that is more likely for Black Panther than Doctor Strange.  Strange and Bruce Banner have worked together many times in the comics (even being founding members of The Defenders team on the page), and we know that Marvel needs to put the Hulk in other people’s movies to avoid their contract issues with Universal, I’d be ecstatic to get a comic-accurate Defenders team-up in Doctor Strange as well. Honestly, it’s only because of the timing of the Infinity War storyline that we haven’t gotten a sequel already, and I would be very surprised if it wasn’t one of the first ones in the next batch of Marvel movies.

The most amazing thing about Doctor Strange is the visuals. I remember very well reading Doctor Strange, some Silver Surfer and the original Infinity Gauntlet saga and getting my first glimpses into metaphysical theories or philosophy, the idea of a cosmos period. These comics literally opened my mind, no drugs necessary. The fact that we've now had many of those images transposed to cinema in so direct an adaptation is remarkable. Scott Derickson is absolutely to be commended but so is Marvel for letting this film and franchise be a little "weird".  

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 13. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.














13. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

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The people who shoot at you usually wind up shooting at me. - Sam Wilson to Steve Rogers

The thing that was so special about The Winter Soldier was that it was a tight political thriller wrapped up in a superhero movie. When it was announced that the third Cap film would be the Civil War storyline (and that Robert Downey Jr. would be joining as Tony Stark) I was beyond excited, but quite worried that they would ruin the amazingly intimate paranoid nature feel that permeated the 2nd film. Maybe THAT was what made Cap work in the modern setting? Maybe this would all fall apart spectacularly?

But it didn’t. Tony melds in seamlessly to this story without ever making it feel like an Iron Man film. It does feel (especially in the 2nd act) like an Avengers sequel for a while, but the combination of the slightly reduced roster (Hulk and Thor are still MIA) and the storyline that sets the team against itself keeps that from overwhelming the central plot which is Steve Rogers trying to save his friend from his friends.

What a BRILLIANT adaptation of one of the greatest comic stories in decades. Brubaker’s original plot wouldn’t work in the MCU as its central point is secret identities, of which there are none until we meet Peter Parker in this film. The comics storyline ended with an assassination of Cap (as well as the murder of Goliath, a lesser-known Marvel hero), and an android replacement of Thor from Tony Stark. It was a crazy sprawling story that wouldn’t have made sense in one film, and would have necessitated dozens of new character introductions. Yet here, in 2 and half hours, we’re given a tightly constructed story based on the events we’ve already seen take place across these 12 previous films, one that nicely moves our characters forward, uses the same central themes from the comics run as well as a couple of direct moments/panels brought to life on screen. It isn’t as perfect a film as Winter Soldier, but it reaches for such heights that we hadn’t seen before that its triumphs are greater than the earlier film.

Civil War showed the world (and I’m betting the Marvel and Disney teams) that they were capable of this sort of giant crossover event. They could pay off multiple franchises and storylines while still making a good film, one that general audiences would attend, enjoy and praise to their general audience friends. That’s the takeaway from this experiment in the MCU. We can do BIG things. Things that traditional films would have avoided because the audience wouldn't keep up with it all. But our audience will. And our audience is actually everyone.

The Sakovia Accords as laid out aren’t nearly as onerous as the Superhuman Registration Act in the comics, but Cap is right that trusting a shadowy board of politicians (like the World Security Council that had decided to nuke NYC) sounds like a bad move to me. The weaving of Bucky into this thread through Zemo’s plot is what makes this such a personal fight. First for Steve, then eventually for Tony too.

I love that we get to see the “New Avengers” in action in the opening sequence. Especially as it compares to the Avengers mission to crush Strucker at the top of Age of Ultron. This team does have some hitters, as Cap says at the end of that film, but they’re clearly not as polished or familiar with one another as the original team was. This leads eventually to Crossbones explosion that is the precipitating incident. This brings us the returning Thunderbolt Ross from The Incredible Hulk. He makes a great government antagonist and I’m very thankful that they remembered they had him. We can hope that we see him turn big and red eventually.

After Bucky is reprogrammed by Zemo, when he and Cap and Sam are talking about what happened, Bucky says “Your Mom’s name is Sarah.” Reminded me so much of the moment on Voromir with Red Skull, “Clint, son of Edith!” It’s fun when you see all the echoes.

We should talk about the introduction of Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman is wonderful in the role, especially as there is so much emotional weight for him to carry in his small role here. The most interesting thing about the modern MCU is how characters like Black Panther are introduced fully by a different director and writer than the ones already tasked with fleshing this character out fully in his eventual debut. Civil War does it TWICE. First we meet T’Challa, then we meet Peter Parker. Both of them would go on to big opening weekends and Peter even has a sequel rolling out in just a few weeks. A lot of people would balk at having to do a first film in a franchise with someone else’s choice in the lead, especially when a bunch of character choices have been made. The MCU’s brain-trust is doing such a good job that instead of a burden, I think director’s like Coogler see it as a challenge. In his case, he fully lived up to it.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 12. Ant-Man (2015)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.













12. Ant-Man (2015)

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The revelation of Ant-Man is the opportunity to “fill in” the past of the MCU. We’d done this a little with Agent Carter and a few Agents of SHIELD episodes, but not in a major way. Ant-Man doesn’t dive whole-hog, I’d have loved an entire B-Story with Hank and Janet in the past (and wondered if we wouldn’t get that in the sequel), but I still hold out hope that Michael and Michelle will suit up down the road to do a cool 70’s/80’s superhero story properly. Until then, the tease we get here (with Peggy Carter and Howard Stark running SHIELD in 1989) is pretty exciting, and it made the suggestion that Captain Marvel would be set in the 90’s when that started bubbling up even more enticing.

It’s cool that Iron Man was the first open superhero in this world, but the idea that NOTHING happened between Steve Rogers going into the ice and Tony’s press conference is pretty sad. Now, thanks to movies like Ant-Man, we know for a fact that a whole lot of things were going on. That’s awesome, whether we ever get to see those stories actually play out on screen or not.

The other revelation that Ant-Man brought us is Michael Pena as Luis. His recap/explanation scenes are amazing. I am hopeful that we’ll get more of him in the future. I was sure that we’d get at least one in Infinity War or Endgame. In the end, I’m sure that Scott’s scene’s after first returning from the Quantum realm were just too sad to be broken up with Luis explaining the last five years he’d missed or what happened with Thanos and the Avengers the last time. The next Ant-Man sequel desperately needs him though, and I’m hopeful that he’ll make the cut for side-characters in the next Avengers film as well. He’s just too amazing.

The real “trick” of the Ant-Man franchise though, is using the shrinking tech and effects to turn small stakes (the final 30 minutes of the film is a one-on-one fight) into GIANT stakes. It’s brilliant and the perfect antidote to movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War (so, just know whatever movie is on the schedule right before Ant-Man and the Wasp 2 is likely going to be very, very dark).

Using the Toy Train set and a little girls’ bedroom as the final action set-piece is brilliant. We’re all just as worried about Cassie in that moment as we were about the thousands in Sakovia a few months before. Knowing that every film can’t be an Avengers-level crossover, and that you inherently have to continue to introduce new characters often in solo adventures, they’ve shown that’s absolutely possible. You just make it personal. Black Panther and Captain Marvel very specifically follow this template. Doctor Strange, less so.

I’ve voiced my desire for the MCU to somehow put the Fantastic Four (and especially Reed Richards) at the center of the superhero universe once they’re introduced. This film does that with Hank Pym, while giving us a “new” adventure with a 2nd generation hero. Hank has history with Howard Stark, Pym tech has influenced and aided our heroes before even though we didn’t know about his contributions. Hank (and Janet) are one of those hard losses that Nick Fury and Peggy Carter had to endure over the years that we didn’t see play out on screen, but could see in their portrayals. I’m sincerely hopeful that this idea is used again in the future of the MCU.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.












11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

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“The city is flying, we’re fighting an army of robots, I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense.” - Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, earning every paycheck he ever cashes from Disney in my opinion. This is very obviously a Joss Whedon line, but it’s also perfect for the character of Hawkeye and Renner delivers it beautifully. Renner is the least appreciated Avenger, for sure, but for me this movie is where he started really living up to the “Avenger” moniker. His run in this film, Civil War and now Endgame have been great, whether any of the fans noticed or not. When he’s finished training Kate Bishop and rides off into the MCU sunset with Cap and Tony, we’re gonna miss him, trust me.

I LOVE the opening of this film. One of the problems with only having an Avengers film every few years (and even the solo films are limited to a few a year at most), is that we inherently miss a lot of adventures of these characters. The opening, mid-battle (and suggestions during and after it that it was one of many in a sequence of battles flushing out the last of Hydra) makes it clear that while we only see an Avengers story every few years, there are MANY more stories we could see, they’re just generally not much to write home about. I LOVE that. It takes the very best of villains to produce an adventure worth watching. This is such an adventure, and it starts with Strucker’s defeat.

Baron Von Strucker is a great villain in the comics, the evil antithesis to Nick Fury. Here, he only gets a post-credit scene in Winter Soldier and then an opening scene in this film. That seems like a loss, but Agents of SHIELD made good on it by using Strucker’s name and his son for several seasons. It's one good example of how the MCU tv side has occasionally directly benefited from the movies, even if the films have rarely returned the favor.


This was one of my least favorite MCU films if you’d asked me a week ago. But so much of this film is now clearly foreshadowing for Infinity War that I think it will rise in my rankings. Early on in the movie, Tony is making the case to Banner to build Ultron using Loki’s Sceptre. He points to the sky and says “Up there? That up there is the Endgame.” This is a film released in 2015, so neither Infinity War film script would have been even started at this point. Marvel’s long game is longer than you think it is.
 
But it’s not a throwaway line, the entire plot line of this film is the continuation of the PTSD for Tony that we saw in Iron Man 3, except now it’s been thrown into the cosmos. Tony has seen his friends dead (or dying) and one of them laid it at his feet. That’s a powerful motivator for him in his creation of the murderous AI, as well as agreeing to the Sakovia Accords in Civil War. Incidentally, it really makes me wonder now whether they’d decided to do a Civil War film before they had locked the ending of Ultron’s story or not. Probably not, but you could see how they might have said as a story team “we want the Avengers to have to register with the government, what would that take?” and work backwards. I know at least some story beats have to come this way, even if this one didn’t.
 
Tony continues that theme in the scene with Nick Fury on Hawkeye’s farm (a sequence that all plays a lot harder now having seen what happens on the farm during the snap, and also with Nick Fury’s line, “I’m just an old man that cares a lot about you.” That line will echo in my head the next time I watch Endgame and see Nick on the porch during Tony’s funeral. That old man got Tony into all of this, and it eventually costs Tony his life. But neither one of them would take it back. Damn, these movies are good, even when you think they’re not amazing.
 

 

Here's another example, towards the end of act 2, Tony is talking Banner into something again. This time it’s to put Jarvis into the new Ultron body he’d built using Vibranium. Banner is incredulous, ”I’m in a loop, I'm in a time loop!” again, this likely wasn't because they had a plan to do time travel in Endgame 5 years later, but rather people setting up Endgame remembered many of this little points from earlier films that could be ”echoed” in the latter.

 

When the Vision finally comes to life and he's trying to win over the Avengers, he finishes with, ”there may be no way to make you trust me, but we need to go!” as he hands Mjolnir to Thor and everyone else falls silent. This is the payoff for the great sceneat the beginning where all the Avengers try to lift the hammer (unsuccessfully). This moment is paid off again when Cap uses the hammer in Endgame, proving he's worthy.

 

Vision is (until Captain Marvel) the most powerful of all the Avengers. It's a shame that he couldn't be returned with the snap by Banner but it makes sense story-wise, and as a synthetic creation you can imagine lots of ways to bring him back eventually (especially since we’re getting a Disney+ series from him and Wanda, I’d say we are getting him back somehow).  Paul Bettany is great as Jarvis in the early films and I was so glad that he got the chance to play Vision.

I LOVE Spader as Ultron, and thankfully, an AI can always be reborn in one way or another. The overall plot of this film is still a bit clumsy in retrospect and Ultron not properly earned like he was in the comics. I don’t know whether he was responsible for mo-cap as well as the voice work, but Ultron often captures Spader-isms unbelievably well, further adding to his “believability” as a real being, like with Groot and Rocket in Guardians before it. This cannot be underestimated as an important aspect of what modern Marvel has on its side. The stories are good, and told in 2D or 3D, animation or still art, or fully moving, live-action motion picture, the stories would still be good. But EVERYONE in the world only shows up to see them because they are so well presented. The spectacle (fully-realized, beautifully polished spectacle) is what makes a movie open to over $1 billion and rush in just a couple weeks to the biggest film of all time (it’s still not there as of today, but it’s less than $300 million away, I’d say the odds are good).
 
My favorite thing about all of this is that in a generation, maybe even less now that he’s passed away, Stan Lee will be a mythical American figure every bit on par with Walt Disney himself. Personally, I say, ‘Excelsior’ to that. 

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 10. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.











10. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

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What a bunch of a-holes!

 When the MCU launched, they did it by introducing the world (or reintroducing in the case of the Hulk) to a group of superheroes they’d never really known in the mainstream before. They did this INDIVIDUALLY, then the plan was to mash those individuals up into a big team up movie that would not only make more bank than the solo pics, but also retroactively make ALL the solo pics must see films for fans of the team up. And it worked. So well, they put a rush on the team-up sequel with just two years between Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron (even though 4 had passed from Iron Man to Avengers itself.
 
In that Phase two, Kevin Feige and team decided to see if they could basically do it the other way around. Could they throw a whole team on us at once, NONE of which had any name recognition outside the deep comic fans and then eventually make us care for even the side characters and pseudo-villains? Well, the answer was yes, yes they could. This is especially important to think about when you remember that The Eternals film is currently in pre-production and has a writer and director (Chloe Zao) attached (as well as a handful of actors like Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani), and is likely up next after Black Widow’s solo outing (and maybe Johansen’s Swan Song for the MCU?). The Eternals is very different than Guardians. It’s (at least at first) Earth-based, the characters are ALL nearly Captain Marvel-level strong, and actually immortal, they’ve even been the inspiration for mythological gods across human history (like Thor) BUT, it is a large group of very diverse characters that each could easily carry their own film or work well in tandem with other characters across the MCU down the line (just as you could imagine an entire film built around JUST Rocket, Thor and Groot now).
 
This first film still holds up well and is VERY symbolic of the modern direction of the MCU. As much as Favreau and Iron Man put a “look” on the MCU that has hung around, this film has completely centered the MCU’s take on space, as well as the increased humorous tone that accompanies that trip out of the atmosphere. In retrospect, it’s genius. You have to heighten things in one direction or the other when you leave earth behind. These heroes and villains cannot be grounded in the same way that Captain America or Iron Man is. “Real-World” isn’t a thing when we’re floating through an ancient decaying celestial being’s skull full of mining equipment, smugglers and gamblers. The original Thor (under Kenneth Branagh’s hand) amped up the melodrama and the theatricality. Turning MCU’s cosmic side into Shakespeare. That actually works pretty well for Asgard itself (and especially in the royal family) but outside of it, it would drastically limit the opportunity for things like Howard the Duck, or the Grandmaster as we met in Ragnarok.
 
Guardians and James Gunn said, ‘nah, fam. we ain’t goin’ out like that.’ Gunn amped up the humor, giving even strait-laced beat cops (in the form of the Nova Corps), witty quips and genuine human compassion and because of it, he earns full on dance sequences and a talking raccoon (and a less talkative living tree). ANYTHING is possible in the universe that is painted in this film. That’s the promise of Guardians. To then tie it all so firmly to terra firma using the 70’s AM soundtrack is a stroke of genius. It’s also the only part of the film that has aged at all. It’s hard to tell whether this is because every film since (including even Marvel’s own Captain Marvel) has copied it, OR if it’s just because between me and my kiddos we’ve burned a whole through the soundtrack’s of both Guardians I and II at home, either way the songs don’t hit as hard emotionally for me at all in Vol. 1 as they did once upon a time. The more heavily father-son focused aspects of the music in Vol. 2 might win me over no matter how much we’ve played them, so we’ll see when we get there.
 
Michael Rooker is probably my single favorite aspect of this film these days, and I think that’s mostly with the foreknowledge of his whole arc (but then again, I’ve always been a Rooker fan, since Tombstone), but Rocket struck me even better in this viewing than I remember. There really isn’t a moment in the entire film that I think about the fact that neither Rocket nor Groot actually exist. They are not their voice actors or a mo-cap stand-in or even a pile of CGI, they are just real characters, that I can’t wait to bump into some day at Disneyworld (does Disney do a walking Groot yet? They should totally!).
 
It seems likely to me that The Collector is dead after the events in Infinity War, but I LOVE Del Toro in the role and would really like to see him (and his collection) again in the future. In the comics (and I think in some ancillary MCU materials as well) The Collector and the Grandmaster are brothers, and the same “level” of beings as Ego the Living Planet (that we meet in Guardians 2). These characters could ALL come into play as we meet folks like the Eternals, hear more about the Celestials (glimpsed here in the story the Collector lays out about the Infinity Stones, the Celestials are the creators of The Eternals and would figure directly into their story, you’d imagine. They do clearly exist already in the MCU) and set up the possible next “big bad(s)” to follow up Thanos. Knowing the Eternals are coming asap, my money is actually maybe on Celestials being involved in the next giant crossover very directly.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.










9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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Following up the two films that most people consider to be the worst of the MCU with what many consider to be the best was unexpected. In my own recollection, this one came AFTER Age of Ultron (which was a bit of a miss to me) as did Guardians of the Galaxy, but that’s all wrong. Cap 2 and Guardians 1 both arrived in 2014, before Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man in 2015. This film has everything you’d want from a modern day Captain America adventure, and while I’d still love to see another film set in WWII (or now during Cap’s secret life in the 60’s-70’s etc.), this was a film I didn’t know I wanted, but have since learned to absolutely adore.

From the opening scene with Sam that has so much more resonance now knowing where that relationship develops, to the battle aboard the pirated ship that displays how well Cap has adjusted to his new role as a SHIELD agent, and features a great minor Marvel villain in Batroc the Leaper, this movie kicked my butt from moment one. This all holds up 5 years later too, in fact there are several big action sequences in this film that I actually prefer to some of the over the top stuff that comes in Civil War, Infinity War or Endgame. Cap, Widow, Fury and Bucky are all AMAZING fighters, and they all get great sequences to showcase that. Fury’s attempted getaway early on is probably my single favorite sequence in the MCU outside of the final assault against Thanos in Endgame. After playing Professor Exposition and Man in the Shadows for the first 5 films, then getting a minor villain edit in The Avengers, it’s nice to see Nick Fury paid off in this one.

Robert Redford was GREAT casting, especially since they got him to come back for the Endgame cameo. I’d be interested in seeing a younger high-profile actor take on the role for a cameo in a period piece in the future, maybe even the Ant-Man franchise showing a time when he and Hank Pym butted heads. I say a younger actor, as I think it’s unlikely Redford sells them his likeness, but maybe I’m wrong on the number of zeroes they’d put on his check or how many it would take. Who knows?

This is the best Black Widow storyline that we get across the MCU so far too, and the chemistry she has with Cap is genuine (one of the reasons why it was so strange to me that they paired her with the Hulk in Ultron, though knowing that these writers had intentions to reunite Cap with Peggy Carter eventually, maybe that makes sense.

I love moments like Sam telling Cap that Bucky “isn’t the kind you save, he’s the kind you stop”, or to Nick Fury about Cap, “I do what he does, just slower.” Sam filling in the tights of Steve Rogers will be interesting to watch in the Disney+ series and my bet is that he’ll succeed. If he does, expect him to play that role in the team-up films for several years to come. I think it is entirely likely that we get a return of Chris Evans eventually in one way or another (the comics offer MANY ways and he clearly cares about the character and everyone likes money) but, I think the role of Captain America in the MCU will be filled by Sam Wilson for a long, long time. What will be most interesting to me will be to see the dynamic that he and Brie Larson as Captain Marvel develop together individually and as team members.

There is a natural “head”/”heart” relationship that Tony and Steve filled that you could imagine them stepping into, but it may not be same obvious positions their predecessors held. I don’t think we’re in for “Civil War 2” anytime soon, but I do think different personalities and leadership styles will be a feature of both the series and films moving forward. ESPECIALLY as they introduce mutants and the Fantastic Four eventually.

Speaking of Mutants. This film’s mid-credit scene features the introduction of “the twins” Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, that will play prominent roles in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Of course, in the comics, these characters are mutants, on screen they couldn’t be portrayed as such for contractual reasons, Fox owned all film rights to the term “mutants” as well as the vast majority of characters that fell under that distinction. The Maximoff twins counted for both companies because they’d had such long histories as Avengers themselves, and Disney pushed that envelope even as Fox was prepping a film featuring at least one of them as well.

Now that Bob Eiger’s snap has given Disney ownership of Fox and all the X-Men and associated characters as well as the term “mutant”, I fully expect that we’ll find that Wanda and her brother were not alone in the MCU as characters who’d been experimented on to activate super powers. When we eventually meet the X-Men, my guess is that at least a few like Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr have been living in secret with their abilities for years, each activated through some sort of radiation exposure or accident/experiment etc.

The snap (or at least one of them) will have likely set off a global activation that now means anyone with such genes will either activate immediately or around puberty (as happens in the comics). It’s a very clean and convenient in universe narrative excuse for a whole new arrival of beings and abilities without having them ALL be teenagers or arrive from an alternate dimension.

My guess is that whatever they’re explanation is going to be, gets seeded in the upcoming WandaVision Disney+ series, and then plays out over the next few years on screens small and large. Here’s hoping they take their time and don’t rush into the X-Men. I’d love for mutants to slowly roll into the universe before we meet their rockstars, and I’d also REALLY like a good Fantastic Four film FIRST.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.









8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

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Thor: The Dark World is a very different film than Iron Man 3, and yet it has much in common with it.

”When you speak, do I never hear Mother’s voice?” - Thor to Odin while turning down the throne.

It is one of the most unloved of the entire MCU canon, although that may change in light of it being a key plot point for Avengers: Endgame. I’m still at a loss as to why Natalie Portman doesn’t love this franchise. I do understand that her role is limited but is it anymore limited than the latest rom-com she cashes a check for? She’s great here, and she and Thor and she and Darcy have great chemistry. The scenes with her and Friga are particularly good here as well, and there was real tension between her character and Lady Sif (that would have made excellent fodder for a sequel).

The big thing that was noticeable on this viewing was the design of the spaceships of the Dark Elves, the shields around Asgard and then the introduction of the Collector in the mid-credit sequence. While the various interstellar species don’t have uniform technology or ships, there is a similarity to these things even from this early appearance across the Guardians franchise and now in Captain Marvel & the Infinity War films. Space looks the same in the MCU, many of the space-faring species have similar means of travel and they’ve clearly copied or adapted similar technology. This adds to the consistent feel of the Marvel universe, and it’s one of the things I love most about rewatching them all like this. It’s the kind of thing you almost can’t notice without repeat viewings, but knowing that Kevin Feige and his teams do notice it makes me very, very hopeful for the future.

The Loki at play here is going to be closer to the Loki we see in the TV series than the one that appeared in Ragnarok & briefly in Infinity War, that’s my guess at least. Closer to antihero or villain than actual hero, and as likely to stab our other heroes as save them. I’m actually fine with that, I think it’s where Hiddleston shines. I wish I could find anywhere where Malekith shines in this film, as I quite like Eccelston, but this is, for me, the very bottom of the Marvel villain barrel. Though I don’t love the character in the comics, what they do to him in this film makes him even more forgettable.

My favorite part of the film is Eric Selvig, his breakdown after being “possessed” by Loki and the Mind Stone (which we still didn’t realize was an Infinity Stone yet) are wonderful, both funny but also perfectly sensible as how else would a mortal mind react to that sort of knowledge and invasion? Finally, he’s got one of the best lines in the film as Jane realizes the convergence is happening and Malekith is likely on his way to try to destroy the universe when Thor calls Mjolnir and Selvig says dryly, “I guess I better get my pants.”

One other thing that struck me in this watch that never had before: Extremis as presented in Iron Man 3 is VERY similar to Kurse stones as depicted in The Dark World. I’m SURE there was originally a plan to tie these two things together in some fashion, the effects are just too close, but it’s one of the potential threads that never went anywhere (probably because neither one of these movies is much loved by fans).

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 7. Iron Man 3 (2013)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.








7. Iron Man 3 (2013)

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How do you follow up something that’s never been done before? How do you continue individual stories after having the most amazing team-up of all time?

In 2013 Marvel had an incredible problem on their hands. One that is not dissimilar to the one that faces them today, post-Endgame. What does an Iron Man film look like, after Iron Man has teamed up with the full Avengers list. We actually got two different answers to this question in 2013 in the forms of Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. Iron Man followed 11 months after Avengers and told us what Tony Stark had been doing since the battle of New York. Mostly it’s freaking out.

Both these films eschew the team ups that we’d get in Phase 3 for true solo missions, in Iron Man’s case an enemy from his past reemerges in a new form to threaten his relationship with Pepper as well as his life and the world. While Rhodey is back in this one (complete with new paint job & moniker “Iron Patriot”, and Jarvis is embodied with dozens of empty Iron Man suits in the final act, this movie takes the “solo” idea to its extreme crash-landing Tony in Tennessee on his own (except for his kid sidekick, Harley, who reappeared to stump everyone in the funeral scene in Endgame).

Lots of people hate this film for lots of reasons, and I’ll admit that Aldrich Killian is the worst of the three primary villains in this film franchise, BUT The Mandarin himself is an awesome idea, playing on the most fearful aspect of real-world characters like Osama Bin Laden, AND the Shane Black dialogue is sparkling, particularly in the scene where Tony calls in his recharged Iron Man suit to save the day but it’s delayed and the two henchmen he’s threatened snap back at his would be quips.

I love the relationship between Harley and Tony (and sincerely hope that Harley’s presence at the funeral hints at Disney’s plans to use him again as a kid-Iron Man of sorts. This friendship is one of the big stepping stones to preparing Tony to meet Peter and to have a child with Pepper, it is integral to the story of Tony Stark as portrayed in the MCU, and for that we should all be thankful.

The misstep of the fake Mandarin (and the terrible effects generally for the Extremis villains) is righted in the brilliant Marvel One-Shot, All Hail the King. Seriously, if you’ve never seen that one, please do yourself a favor and go now:

This was one of my big wishes for Phase 3 or 4 is that we’d get the “real” Mandarin revealed. I suppose it’s still possible, but will be less impactful if he (or she) doesn’t get to fight Tony Stark himself, but instead whatever proxies are holding down the Iron Man franchise in the future. He could make an interesting big bad for a series focused on the Young Avengers or an Avengers Academy series where they’re regularly fighting the Mandarins recruits and young trainees building up to a real confrontation with the master directly. The short above plays for laughs throughout while in the final moments setting up that grave threat behind the scenes. A Mandarin/Kingpin team-up down the line would be fascinating to watch, or the Mandarin and Dr. Doom sharing secrets of the dark mystic arts. There is SOOO much potential in Marvel’s well that you actually wonder how they’ll properly take advantage of all of it now that characters like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men are back in their hands while the characters they’ve seeded and developed on screen like Valkyrie and the Wasp are just beginning to pay off.

It is literally the best sort of problem to have for a media corporation like Disney. All hail THAT king.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 6. The Avengers (2012)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.







6. The Avengers (2012)

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The Avengers (2012) seemed at the time an impossible feat. Bringing together so many different characters from four different franchises and tying up strands from 5 previous films. Now, it almost seems quaint in its simplicity. The multiple intros and multiple endings make perfect sense, as almost every Marvel movie needs some of the “previously on” and “in the next episode” that this movie does so well.

My favorite of the intros is Black Widow’s. She’s shown in classic damsel in distress fashion. Tied to a chair, wearing a skimpy cocktail dress, being tortured and interrogated by Soviet gangsters. BUT, we realize with Coulson’s call that she’s the one doing the interrogation and she’s totally in charge. When Coulson threatens to carpet bomb the building they’re in if not allowed to speak to Romanov, there’s never a consideration of what she’d do in such a scenario, because obviously she’d make it out just fine. She’s the Black Widow, after all.

This is paid off in a big way later when she draws in Loki to detail his plan while pretending to be bargaining for Hawkeye's life. 

“What does Fury want me to do, swallow it?” - Bruce Banner to Natasha when shown the Tesseract for the first time (knowing what happens at the end of Captain Marvel this is particularly funny).

New Banner (& therefore Hulk) and if you've read my take on The Incredible Hulk you know I don't miss Norton. Ruffalo isn't given a TON in this one but he plays well every note he's offered and establishes himself as the definitive Banner for this universe.


Second favorite moment in the first 30 minutes is Coulson being responsible for the updated Captain America suit. This means Coulson had a part in displaying “America’s Ass” so proudly. This makes me very happy as a longtime Agents of SHIELD watcher. The entire Coulson storyline over this first phase of Marvel films plays out really well in retrospect. You come to care about this minor character, and they paid the fans back for that appreciation with 6 seasons plus now of a pretty good tv series that focuses on him. I am very thankful for that. I wish that we’d gotten a pay off/return of the character at some point in the movies, but I imagine that the next season of SHIELD will make it clear why that wouldn’t work. At least we got him in Captain Marvel. It would be amazing if they do that again in the future with films that fill in the timeline (I’m still hopeful that we get more of that eventually).

The last 30 minutes or so of this film move quickly, and are especially worth watching again post-Endgame. This is the playground where our future heroes are working alongside our past heroes to capture 3 of the Infinity Stones for their “time-heist”. It’s a great sequence in the new film and it’s wonderful to imagine all those things happening in the periphery here. Particularly that The Ancient One and her sorcerers were working around the Sanctum Sanctorum to protect New York in their own way.

The appearance of the World Security Council hints at the troubles we’ll encounter in Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron and Civil War. Powers Booth is another actor who crossed over to the SHIELD tv show and had a very memorable run after his appearance here. But of course, the biggest called-shot comes in the mid-credit scene with Thanos appearing for the first time. 6 years before he’d actually threaten Earth, 2 years before he’d appear on screen in a film directly at all, Marvel was telling the world (and especially comic book fans), be patient, but we’re doing something special here.

The fact that they then spent the next 7 years paying that scene off, delivering not just Thanos himself but a wonderful adaptation of one of the most epic comic book storylines of all time, is a feat that truly deserves the monetary rewards it is currently receiving. Thank goodness they updated the character model for Thanos, as he looks a bit silly in this cameo, but I do hate that we never actually got the floating space chair version of Sanctuary that is glimpsed here. Sanctuary 2 is the name of his spaceship that appears at the end of Ragnarok, in Infinity War and Endgame, but the floating throne in open space is something that is straight out of the comics and only adds to the awe that Thanos is supposed to inspire.

I get why we didn’t get it, but I’d still love to see that image in live action at some point in the future.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 5. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.






5. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

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“Whatever happens tomorrow you must promise me one thing, that you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.” - Dr. Erskine, to Steve Rogers the night before the procedure.

I said in my post on Thor (2011) that Odinson was the only character in the MCU other than Tony Stark with a comparable character arc. Lots of Steve Rogers fans might have taken umbrage with that, but I think the quote above from Erskine exemplifies why I’m right. Steve has a BEAUTIFUL storyline across this 22 film saga (his includes lots of color from the Agent Carter TV series as well), but fundamentally he doesn’t change. He is, was, and continues to be a very good man. Tony becomes a hero, a selfless, sacrificing hero. Thor becomes a leader, a confident, graceful and forgiving leader. Steve is was and continues to be a good man.

The fact that he’s battled gods and devils and gained super-powers and been frozen in ice and survived a universal apocalypse doesn’t change the fact that “(he) doesn’t want to kill anybody, he just doesn’t like bullies.”

I know WHY this film ends with the jump to the modern day, we needed Cap alive and well to join the Avengers film that was premiering just one year later. But it’s clunky, even knowing that’s where it’s going. It’s unsatisfying dashing through WWII, skipping over adventures. Bucky’s scenes in this film are so few that they only have resonance because of the later movies I’ve already seen. I remember at the time talking with Kelly about the character and what was to come for him and she kept asking, “who?” He’s just not a major figure in this film, and that’s because of how much they had to setup before we could have the massive team up that Disney had paid so much for. I get it. But, in the future where we reboot this entire universe and have the Ultimate MCU, I hope we get a couple solo films from each of our heroes BEFORE the first Avengers movie. If we’d at least have had two WWII Cap films (one that ends in a win for the allies, but Red Skull survives and Bucky is lost, then a second where the Skull is defeated and zapped into the space stone, while Cap says goodbye to Peggy and crashes into the ice), Bucky and Peggy in particular could have been fleshed out. We’d have gotten more continuity in Arnim Zola’s story (rather than just hints at a few specific points in the timeline of where things went) and we’d have gotten SOME relationship time with Peggy and Steve. Just a scene or two having coffee, leaving each other’s tent something. THIS is one of my biggest MCU do-overs if I had the Infinity Gauntlet to snap things my way.

I love SOOOO much about this film, though some of its seams do show almost 10 years later. Chris Evans is a rockstar here, suggesting exactly what he’d bring to the table with this character over the remainder of his run. Tommy Lee Jones is delightful as the gruff general here (interestingly, only the second real “General” we’ve seen represented in the MCU since, Thunderbolt is the only one that’s returned.

The entire Howling Commandos team is great and only makes me jealous that we didn’t get a real sequel with this whole team superheroing around WWII BEFORE they jumped Cap to the modern day. Perhaps, with the ending we got for this character in Endgame, we can revisit the past and this team-up specifically sometime in the future/past (are we confused yet?).

Haley Atwell is amazing and has yet to be rivaled by any love interest/sidekick in the MCU even though Pepper Potts has gotten more screen-time and an actual costume, Agent Carter stands alone. Part of this is the nature of some of the sidekick characters and the fact that few of the ones used so far are also romantic partners (Ant-Man and The Wasp could get here eventually, perhaps, but we’ve only really had one film with her). I watched the first season of Agent Carter when it came out, but I never got around to the second season (the show had been canceled by that time and I was disheartened) but I’m excited to revisit it entirely with Endgame in mind.

I can’t wait for the Steve Rogers/ Peggy Carter “What If?” episode and sincerely hope that we get one or both characters again in the future as we continue to flesh out the past of the MCU. It’s a rich, rich vein for great stories and Peggy Carter is a character you can absolutely build an entire world around.

I am so thankful that they finally got their dance.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 4. Thor (2011)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.





4. Thor (2011)

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Thor is the only character in the MCU that has had nearly as great a character arc as Tony Stark. And unlike, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The Thor we’re introduced in this film is light years away from the Thor who stands against Thanos in the final battle of Endgame.

This film has some of the best performances of the first batch of MCU films, but some of the worst action and cinematography in my opinion. It looks cheaper and less polished than the first outing from either Iron Man, Hulk or Captain America. The work between Hemsworth, Hopkins and Hiddelston (just occurred to me how crazy that sounds), is insanely good, even in this first film. It is absolutely enough to hang an otherwise somewhat clunky film on.

One of my favorite aspects of this film (and one of the only redeeming factors of its sequel) is the “Scooby Squad” that surrounds Jane Foster, Darcy and Erik Selvig are delightful, and I sincerely hope that we see Darcy again in the future fo the MCU even if Natalie Portman isn’t interested in returning to Jane Foster (I am fairly certain her scenes in Endgame were stock footage).

I don’t LOVE the Hawkeye introduction here, only because it’s SO heavy handed with the gun/bow difference before we see or hear from him, but the rest of it plays pretty well. I especially like that he’s “rooting for (Thor)” at the end of the approach to Mjolnir. I really wish Barton had gotten a Phase One intro at least as large as Black Widow’s, it’s one of the few big misses in my opinion for the MCU.

That moment sets up a great one between Loki and Thor where Loki tells him that “Mother has forbidden your return.” with Thor and Friga’s story in Endgame this is even more resonate now. Thor is and always has been, a Mama’s boy.

The final act is mostly a mess, but Thor’s sacrifice and resurrection is good, the final stuff with Loki and Thor on the Rainbow Bridge is quite good, and the final lines with Heimdall make me smile every time.

The relationship between Thor and Jane Foster is an interesting one, these two actors have chemistry (at least to me) and I’m sad that we’re not likely to get much resolution with Foster’s character as Natalie Portman isn’t interested seemingly in having her “Pepper Potts-Rescue” moment, even though the Jane Foster-Thor comic run is really interesting. Maybe she’ll change her mind someday.


MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 3. Iron Man 2 (2010)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.




3. Iron Man 2 (2010)

In a world where we ALWAYS seem to get 2 Marvel Studios films per year (and often 3), it’s hard to believe that the studio had NOTHING to capitalize on the success of Iron Man (2008) in 2009, but it’s true. In fact, Iron Man 2 feels rushed even though it had 2 years of prep time as the 3rd official entry into the MCU.

It does A LOT of heavy lifting, fleshing out Nick Fury, introducing us to Black Widow, suiting up Rhodey, but the thing it does BEST in my mind, is give us a villain story to match the hero’s for the first time. Iron Monger happens mostly often screen, and it turns out the character of Stane was a villain even before Howard died. Abomination has some motives (he is desperate for power) but nothing we can empathize with as the audience. While Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash is a LITTLE over the top at times, his motivations are reasonable, he feels his father’s legacy was stolen, and he’s suffered personally his whole life because of it. His actions are still villainous, and his alignment with Justin Hammer means we don’t “root” for him, per se, but in a film that also has Tony abusing his power, endangering civilians and fighting his best friend, a villain you can understand is enough.

It will take Marvel a LONG time to get this really right, but with Vulture, Thanos and Kilmonger, I’d argue that they have figured it out. Whiplash, as brought to life by Rourke, is the basis of all that. The flip-side of his villain coin is Justin Hammer as played by Sam Rockwell. Hammer is the one villain I’d most like to see return in a future MCU film. He’s delightfully bad and sharp-witted in a way that reminds me the most of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor. As a child of the 80’s that’s a good thing. Hammer Tech has been used on the Netflix shows, and I believe referenced in Agents of SHIELD, but he’s not shown up again after this in the MCU outside the short “All Hail the King” (which is amazing), where he was serving his jail sentence.

The Palladium poisoning that sits at the heart of this film’s plot seems like a lost opportunity and one that could have been used to more closely tie in the universe they were building in the background. My initial thought when I saw this was that the answer would be Vibranium, introducing Wakanda for the first time. That would take several more films and years to become reality. Is this an example of how (especially pre-Disney) they were less focused and strategic? Or just an issue of being rushed and having nothing with Black Panther finalized or even green-lit at that point?

This is the first film released after the purchase of Marvel by Disney (although it was not distributed originally by Disney, that started with The Avengers in 2012). It was NOT a sure thing at that point that Avengers would even happen. Captain America still seemed like a difficult nut to crack for a modern film audience, all of those major characters were at different film studios meaning their fate was not solely in the hands of Marvel or even the movie-going audience. Frankly, if Disney didn’t buy Marvel, maybe none of this series happens. They decided to make that purchase after only two MCU films. Of course, films aren’t the only revenue stream for Marvel, merchandise, digital games, comics themselves are all evergreen products, but this began and was closed because of the promise of the MCU to come.

Even here, in what most fans and critics agree is one of the messier MCU titles, that bet/investment was validated by the expanding roster and growing world that the movie hints toward. Fury and Romanov are non-plussed by Stark and his antics, as is Agent Coulson when he threatens to taze him into a drooling fit. They’ve ALL seen it before (having seen Captain Marvel we now know some of just WHAT they’d seen), and that makes this feel like a “lived in world” that phrase that everyone applies to Star Wars versus pre-Star Wars Sci-Fi. The MCU has always felt full and fully realized. It’s that aspect that makes the films often feel so much like the biggest budget television show ever produced as opposed to a film series.

The real question is in a future where we get actual tv series from the stars with big budgets ( through Disney+) will ”normal” MCU movies still work, or will they all have to be Endgame level extravaganzas to get us off our couches? 

One final point on this film. It was the first Marvel movie released post-Disney purchase and includes the closest Walt Disney amalgam ever presented in the MCU in the person of Howard Stark. While Captain America a year later presents him as a young playboy, here Howard is the titan of industry and the pillar of American life that Tony lives in the shadow of for most of HIS life. Howard is shown in archival footage that directly mimics Disney’s “Wonderful World of Disney” presentations and the macguffin of the film is actually inside an EPCOT style “city of the future” scale model. John Favreau is obviously very happy with his Disney overlords having made The Jungle Book and Lion King remakes, and now The Mandalorian with them for Disney+, but I do wonder how much of this was a light-hearted dig from the Marvel creatives at their new owner. It doesn’t play harshly at all, but it also is not something I could see them approving of if this movie were made today. It is just an interesting note in the corporate history of this franchise.

 

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 2. Incredible Hulk (2008)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.



2. Incredible Hulk (2008)

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As a kid, the Hulk was always one of my favorite superheroes. I loved other “monster” heroes like Swamp Thing as well, but I especially enjoyed when the Hulk/Banner combo would unite to give us Professor Hulk, Joe Fixit and all his other “speaking” personalities with overwhelming brutish strength.

The idea of having one of the smartest minds in the world (which Banner was almost always portrayed as in my time as a reader) ALSO share the space with the largest concentration of physical strength in the world was fascinating to me. Top all this off with the fact that as a child of the 80’s and 90’s I had a fondness for and familiarity with the Bill Bixby TV show and TV movies that not only featured the Hulk, but other Marvel characters like Thor and Daredevil. At one time, that WAS the MCU.

I say all this to say that in the summer of 2008, it was THIS movie that I was excited about, and Iron Man was the icing on the cake I’d heard someone was baking me. The fact that Iron Man had hit SOOOO hard had my expectations through the roof. While I felt it wasn’t as complete a success as IM when I saw it first, I did think it would get a sequel and I couldn’t WAIT to see the Leader in TIH2.

But of course, that never came. Now, the reality of WHY it never came is complicated by two things primarily. Contract deals with Universal (When Disney bought Marvel in 2009 Universal was unwilling to part with the Hulk completely and hasn’t been amenable to a deal since that would allow for a solo Hulk film), AND disagreement with the star of this piece, Edward Norton.

”I don’t want to control it. I want to get rid of it.” - Bruce Banner, played by Ed Norton.

Norton’s performance is solid, ESPECIALLY if you like the Bill Bixby take on this character. He’s tortured, he’s desperate to save the world from this “monster” he’s created, and unwilling to consider any possibility of its “usefullness”.

The word is that behind the scenes, though, Norton was unwilling to play ball at least as much as the rest of the players in the MCU have been expected to. He rewrote the script, demanded more money, didn’t want to do press and more.

Part of me wonders if they didn’t know that going into it, as this Hulk looks less like the actor portraying him than any other representation from Marvel Studios since. What DOES look great is the fluidity of his movement, even in this first take from Feige and company. They got the Hulk right, even amongst the things they missed on. The final battle in particular is amazing, but every action sequence plays like the perfect combo of superhero and King Kong movie, That’s what I always want from the Hulk. Moments like when he wears the cop car like boxing gloves and when he uses his hands to make the concussive wind blast put out the fire are things I had waited to see in motion my whole life. They satisfied then and they hold up now, 11 years later.

We dismiss this movie in some ways since it never got a direct continuation, Liv Tyler never reprised her role, the Abomination is just sitting out there in the Raft locked up still, never to be seen again. But Thunderbolt Ross (as portrayed in this film) ended up being one of the bad guys of Civil War and was still running things (or involved in running things) in Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, so this film continues to have ramifications for the rest of the MCU.

Here’s hoping to a motley crew of characters like the Hulk and Namor (whose rights are also tangled up with Universal) could team up in a movie under a different title so as not to bother the contracts, and we could get a Hulk-led story again soon.

And don’t forget, THIS movie had a post-movie scene, NOT a post-credit scene. As soon as we see Banner now has control of the beast in Canada somewhere, the scene flips to Thunderbolt Ross, drowning his sorrows in a bar when he’s joined by a very well-dressed man with a goatee.


”What if I told you, we were putting a team together?” - Tony Stark in what is one of the biggest nonsense moments that had to be retconned after the fact in the entire MCU.

MCU Rewatch Post-Endgame viewing 1. Iron Man (2008)

This is part of a series of blog posts, discussing my rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe FOLLOWING my viewing Avengers: Endgame on opening weekend. If you HAVE NOT seen Endgame, I suggest you wait to read these posts as I will be mentioning and referencing plot points from the most recent film(s) including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.


1. Iron Man (2008)

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RDJ looks great in this, although Tony Stark is the biggest version of his a-hole self in this one. There are so many things here that Feig clearly put in place purposefully, knowing they'd return to.

I was struck by something Favreau said in the Director's Roundtable this is in the special features for Infinity War, "...the work you all (Russo's, Coogler, Gunn, Whedon, Reed etc) have done has made Iron Man timeless and it's actually grown in cultural relevance."

He's 1000% right. This movie has tons of moments that mean so much more to me now, most importantly anything with Pepper, mentions of Howard Stark and especially the Model 1 mini Arc reactor that Pepper turns into the memorial piece.

"What do you want me to do with this?" "Destroy it." Tony says.

"You don't wanna keep it?" Pepper asks, and of course because she does anyway, he is able to save the day later using this original as a backup. The same original that they put on the lake at the end of Endgame.

I know the Sam Jackson cameo was done last minute, but the SHIELD references (and the importance of Howard Stark to the history of this universe) were not. That's long range (at least four or five movies deep) planning from day one, and Kevin Feige is MOSTLY to thank for it.

There is one really bad Trans joke from Tony when he first goes to tell Rhodey about the suit idea that would never fly today with Disney (it's the kind of thing that Lucas would have edited out by now, probably if this was Star Wars).

I LOVE Jeff Bridges, but the complexity of modern Marvel villians is so much better than Stane that it's hard to get too excited about this performance in retrospect.

I'd still love to see this character used in the future somehow. Maybe there's a future Ant Man movie involving flashbacks with Stane and Howard?

The one thing in the action sequences that struck me is the way that Iron Man (and then later Iron Monger are both framed as monsters. When Tony first exits the cave in the Mach 1 suit, the whole scene plays VERY similarly to the introduction of the Hulk (at least as I remember it) in the 2008 movie I'm about to watch next. Then when Iron Monger first suits up as SHIELD and Pepper rush into the Stark building, after his first reveal, he chases Pepper down a hallway in a scene that Whedon copies wholecloth in The Avengers.

I know well the praise that CA: Winter Soldier has received for being the first Marvel movie that was a genre film first and superhero movie second, but this strikes me that the idea of playing with established film genres (other than Superhero movie) was embedded in Marvel Studios from the start.

It's BIZARRE to me today that after this it took them two years to get the next wave of films out (Incredible Hulk was in production at the same time as this one, but actually occurs simultaneously with the events of Thor and Iron Man 2), HOWEVER, it is interesting to think about whether or not the next wave would have actually happened at all if Iron Man (2008) wasn't the hit with fans and critics that it was.