Holy Fuck! Avengers: Endgame is finally here! I wanna say right up front that there will be absolutely NO SPOILERS in this article. However, we go into FULL SPOILERS in our deep dive review of Avengers: Endgame on this episode of The World’s Best Podcast! My Marvel Movie companion, Paul Sr. and I had a chance to see the movie a few days early, but we wanted to wait until at least some of our listeners had a chance to see the film, before we posted this SPOILER-RIFFIC review.
It so rare for movies to live up to the hype, but Endgame manages to surpass expectations. One of the many things fans love about comics, especially from DC and MARVEL, is the interconnected universes. You could be reading a Spider-Man comic and the X-Men or Iron Man or Daredevil would pop up. That was the ingredient that had been missing from superhero movies when the “Superhero Boom” began with movies like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Singer’s X-Men.
It seems so obvious, but it was still brilliant. I remember seeing Iron Man for the first time and being blown away that SHIELD was in the movie. It seems so small now, in retrospect, but that little addition made it feel like the Marvel Universe (It was also the first appearance of fan favorite character, Agent Phil Coulson). Then of course there’s the immortal post credits scene from the first Iron Man film, when Tony meets Nick Fury which I’ve posted here below:
Building off the incredible success of IronMan and then creating 22 films that make this beautiful tapestry of a story, is mind blowing. The fact that out of the 22 films released so far, there have been so few missteps is astonishing. Even their weakest movies, and there’s only 3 or 4 like Thor: The Dark World, are pretty good or not bad at their worst. Everything else is more less gold.
The Russo Brothers, who’ve directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and now Avengers: Endgame, absolutely stuck the landing with this movie, it’s a must see. The films directed by The Russo Brothers, Joe and Anthony, aired the 4 best films in The MCU. Who would’ve thought that guys who worked on TV shows like Community would go on to tell some of the most epic stories of our generation? For the record, I loved Community.
I think the real hero in all of this is Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios. He was not only a massive fan of the source material, but he’d seen what mistakes other Marvel superhero films had made in the past and learned from them. So when it was time for Marvel Studios to start producing their own films, he knew what he was doing and he got the right people involved to work with them. Another huge kudos goes out to Casting Director Sarah Finn, who’s worked on almost all of the films, if not all of them. With maybe one or two exceptions out of literally hundreds, each character was a flawlessly cast. We owe a lot to her work as the reason these films came out so well.
I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t the first trailer drop for the final film in a franchise Paul is obsessed with to an unhealthy degree? Why isn’t he on that like flies on shit!?” A very fair question. I’ll just say we have quite a bit on that in the very near future, so stay tuned…
Anyway, with just a few agonizing weeks until Avengers: Endgame hits theatres, it feels like the movie cant get here fast enough. In the meantime, I have some cool stuff to share to make the wait a little easier.
First off, Entertainment Weekly and their website EW.com always give fantastic coverage to genre entertainment. From Game of Thrones to Star Wars they always have some great content. The MCU is no exception, for their cover story this week they put out 6 exclusive covers featuring each of the founding Avengers. Check them out:
Another magazine, Empire, probably the best movie magazine in the world had this awesome cover of Thanos in full armor for this month’s issue:
Pretty cool right? We also had some light shed on some intriguing upcoming MCU projects. Marvel and Kevin Feige made some big announcements this week that made me VERY excited. Pretty much since I began reading comics, Hawkeye was always my favorite Avenger. In the Avengers comics, he’s a much more beloved character. To many comic book readers, Clint Barton is THE quintessential Avenger. Even more so than Cap or Iron Man.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Jeremy Renner is a great Hawkeye (Though I do think Jensen Ackles who passed on the role to continue playing Dean Winchester on Supernatural would be closer to the comic book interpretation). However, I do feel like audiences haven’t fallen in love with Hawkeye as much as other characters in the MCU. I don’t think this is Renner’s fault at all, I think he’s great with what he’s given. Any failures when it comes to Hawkeye lie with the writers and how they’ve chosen to use him in the stories.
I think Hawkeye really got his time to shine in Avengers: Age of Ultron. I know that’s one of the more divisive MCU films, but I love it. Hawkeye has some fantastic moments throughout the film, I’d even go so far as to say Hawkeye is the central Avenger in the movie. He even has a cool costume upgrade with a coat that harkened back to his classic comic book look.
A number of things stand out to show the audience his importance in the film: He has few great action sequences, I think they stepped up the archery tricks and showed off Hawkeye’s agility and acrobatic skills. More importantly, I loved the surprising look into his private life on his family’s farm, it’s the type of scene I adore in MCU movies. The Avengers. In one place. Together. Their chemistry is so real. I don’t care of it’s played for laughs or heavier dramatic scenes. I love seeing The Avengers put into situations where the chemistry between the characters shines and The Farm scenesfacilitate that. It’s sort of implied that he’s the rock on the team. He’s the guy who’s going to always show up and get the job done. Like Clint’s wife says “I see these guys, these… gods…” Clint replies “You don’t think they need me.” His wife says finally “I think they do, which is a lot scarier.”. The last thing I want to mention is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. At the beginning of The Ultron Offensive on Socaovia there this awesome scene/speech with Hawkeye and Wanda which you can watch here:
All of this has been a long winded way of saying that despite what some people think, Hawkeye is a great character. I always thought the ideal way to tell a fantastic Hawkeye story would be a TV series, like what they were doing on Netflix. Even though we’ve lost great characters like Daredevil to the Netflix purge, the good news is Jeremy Renner will be starring as Hawkeye in his own miniseries on Disney Plus. The more I hear about Disney Plus, the better it sounds. After all Disney does have all the good toys to play with. The Hawkeye series will be one of the first Marvel miniseries to launch with the new streaming service. The story will focus on Clint and his protege Kate Bishop. In the trailer for Endgame we see Hawkeye teaching a teenage girl archery. Is this his daughter? In the comics Kate Bishop isn’t related to Hawkeye. Will they change the character for this series and make Kate Bishop his daughter or will they introduce here as a completely new character? Time will tell.
Other miniseries announced for Disney Plus include Loki, a prequel taking place before his death at the hands of Thanos, this series will chronicle the trouble marking shenanigans and adventures of The God of Mischief over the several thousand years he’s been alive in the MCU. We also have a Vision & Scarlet Witch miniseries called WandaVision, which we know the least about right now.
Finally, we have The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, the team up series about Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. This is speculation on my part, but one way or another I strongly believe Steve Rogers is not going to make it out of Endgame. I think he’ll probably die or at the very least, be taken off the board in some way. Considering that Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson have both carried the mantel of Captain America in the comic books in the past, I wouldn’t be surprised if this miniseries revolves around some kind of Who Wields The Shield concept. Who will be the next Captain America? Factoring in the two of them don’t like each other all that much, just makes it that much more interesting. It isn’t the best resolution, but we do have our first look a the logo for the miniseries, which I have posted below.
Along with The other MCU series I mentioned an animated What if? series is in the works. Like What if Peggy Carter beacame Captain America? or What of Loki was able to use Mjonir?
Disney + will be launching on November 12th for $6.99 per month or $69.99 for the year. In addition to the original content, 500 movies from the Disney library will be available along with 7,000 episodes of Disney TV shows. To put a cherry on top, The Mandelorian will premier on November 12th, available to watch the whole season as soon as the service launches. Disney + will also be the exclusive home to ALL EPISODES of The Simpsons, which is a big move from its current home on one of the FX apps. Fucking crazy, right? Below is photo of the homepage interface that will be broken up into 5 major categories: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.
Bottom line is that a SPECTACULAR as everything we’ve seen from The MCU so far, I think thes type of annoucements as well as Kevin Fiege confirming that though it’s great to have the X-Men back home, it would be a mistake to rush them onto the MCU. Fiege explained that a 5 years plan is in place for the films AFTEREndgame. Let the good times rolll! EXCELSIOR!
I finally saw Ant-Man and The Wasp yesterday, and I realized something, Hope Van Dyne is my favorite female character in the MCU. Realizing that made me reflect on the role of women in the MCU.
It’s been pretty well discussed among critics and fans that for a while the MCU had a female problem. Despite Black Widow having been introduced in the third (of 20 so far) MCU films, she took a long time to gain prominence in screen time, or plot relevance (I’m not sure we’ve even seen her have more screen time or relevance to the story, than anyone but Hawkeye). Fans were asking for a Black Widow film, and Marvel Studios’ response was something along the lines of “when it’s right we’ll do it”. which at the time probably felt like a cop-out, but they were having the same complaints made about having a non-white main character and they were giving the same response. At the time, it really felt like the MCU had a diversity problem, but in fairness they tried to address the problem. They quickly began to introduce characters like Sam Wilson as the Falcon, Rhodey to be War Machine/Iron Patriot started to have a larger role and more screen time, they added Scarlett Witch to the team, for example. Many argued this was a half measure, they were all secondary characters and not a solution to the problem. They were definitely steps in the right direction and they filled in some gaps. It was very clear that women and non-white males needed to be the titles characters of their own movies.
The MCU started using crossovers and the team films to be able to add new characters, layer their universe, and make it more three dimensional. In Civil War, we were introduced to the MCU version of Spider-Man and finally Black Panther. Pretty quickly, it was clear that both would be getting their own films, but the MCU as a single cohesive piece was more important, so they tend not to rush into things and it payed off.
Spider-Man: Homecoming was a big success, but Black Panther was a cultural phenomenon. Black Panther showed us that the MCU could handle a film with a non-white main character, a majority non-white cast, and come out with a critical and box office smash. Black Panther not only stood on its own two feet, but it absolutely crushed the competition. The two most prominent white characters are played by Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. Both are well established actors, but they’re certainly not mega-stars like Tom Cruise or Matt Damon.
The second crucial thing Black Panther did, was almost double the MCU’s roster current of important, strong female characters. Prior to this what did we have? Scarlett Witch, is a decent character, but I personally don’t think she’s nearly as fleshed out as she could be. Black Widow, tends to be used more in her relationship with which ever male hero needs her (i.e. in Winter Soldier with Cap, or in Age of Ultron with Bruce/Hulk). Pepper? I think we’re all honestly surprised when Pepper pops up for a cameo anymore, but really she isn’t much more fleshed out than Friday. Jane Foster, might have been a good addition, except it seems that Natalie Portmant doesnt have much interest in playing Jane Foster anymore. So that’s not entirely the fault of the MCU. The only two pre-Black Panther characters that seemed to be totally realized and fleshed out female characters were Gamora and Hope Van Dyne. In Ant-Man, Hope is the most capable character, the main character arc belongs to Scott Lang.
In Black Panther, we got three really great female characters in; Shuri (who is strong willed, intelligent, competitive, funny); Nakia who almost forces T’Challa to play the ‘fawning love-interest’ character due to her commitment to bettering Africa and the world; and Okoye who is one of the fiercest normal humans in the MCU. Would you want to fight Okoye? Do you think you could outsmart Shuri on literally anything? Do you have more compassion for any group of people than Nakia does? They’re all incredible, and while they have their ‘defining’ attributes, they’re not only those things. Shuri is funny, and brave. Nakia is in love with T’Challa, but refuses to let that be her guiding principal. Okoye, despite being a total bad-ass is also a loving girlfriend/wife (they don’t really say) who also stands up to her love when he is on the wrong side.
Black Panther pushed us further toward the MCU ‘sweet spot. Now we have Ant-Man and The Wasp and it’s the first time in the MCU that a woman is one of the title characters. The Wasp does not disappoint. She’s the most bad-ass fighter in the film, she totally shows up Ant-Man and even the pseudo-villain Ghost. She’s a dedicated, intelligent woman trying to be reunited her mother.
Something Hope/Wasp and the women of Black Panther manage to do, is balance the characters between being what we want in super-heroes while not removing their femininity. They also don’t play on any female stereotypes or tropes. We don’t see any of the female characters being played as ’emotionally erratic,’ while also not playing them off as unfeeling. It’s a hard balance that Hollywood in general has difficulty was and the MCU has done pretty well avoiding those pitfalls. Which is really impressive considering that so far, all the directors in the MCU has been mad.
So what do I want to see when it comes to females in the MCU? That leads us to Captain Marvel. For Captain Marvel, we’re going to get our first female (solo) title character. We’re also going to get our first female director (co-director, but to be fair, Anna Boden has directed all of her films with her husband Ryan Fleck). I really want Captain Marvel to be great. I want it to be as great as Black Panther and a game changer in the same way Black Panther was. I want Captain Marvel to be an amazing character with depth, but also a total bad-ass. The DCEU had their only smash success to date with Wonder Woman because it’s a genuinely good film. I hope Captain Marvel is at least as good (perhaps with a better villain). Because Captain Marvel will not have the momentum of being the first like Wonder Woman was, but it does need to be successful. One of the major takeaways from Black Panther and Wonder Woman was that people respond to diversity in their entertainment. However, if a movie like Captain Marvel fails, Hollywood probably won’t learn the right lesson from it. They won’t say “oh Captain Marvel sucked, let’s try a Black Widow film instead!”, they’re more likely to say “oh maybe Wonder Woman was an anomaly and the audiences don’t really want female lead superhero movies.” It’s bullshit logic, but as I’ve written before Hollywood almost always learns the wrong lessons.
If Captain Marvel has some great action set pieces and the character is as well developed and well acted as Hope Van Dyne, Okoye, Nakia, Shuri, and Gamora, I think they’ll have a hit on their hands. If that happens Hollywood will do more to replicate it. The MCU has done a great job creating this universe and I’m confident that Captain Marvel will not be an exception to that rule. I know I’m really excited.
Because, honestly? I love watching great women characters, especially when they kick ass. That’s so much more interesting to me than the damsel in distress. I don’t know maybe I’m not ‘alpha’ enough, but something I find attractive (not just on a romantic/sexual level, but attractive in a friend, or in my wife, or when I’m proud of my sister ) is characters/people who have passion. It’s what we admire about male characters right? You love that Tony Stark is pursuing (albeit awfully) the betterment of human kind through science, or that Captain America is passionate about the ideals of freedom and what America is supposed to be. Why wouldn’t we look for the same in our female characters? I never understood that.
So, what I want to see, is an excellent Captain Marvel movie, and if there is a love interest, I hope it’s not shoe-horned in. After that, I hope that Captain Marvel opens us up to more female lead films in the MCU. I’m patient, I know it won’t be overnight, but with a few more hits in Phase Four, and then they’ll be on a roll.
So much to love here… Just, as fans that fact that we’re getting this movie is mind blowing. I think Iron Man’s new armor looks very cool. EW is actually a great magazine for this kind of stuff. Very geek friendly. I get a lot of stuff from them. I know they have a whole exclusive article on the movie to go along with these covers, so it’s probably worth checking out. You can’t EW on iTunes through the App Store or anywhere magazines are sold.