On this episode of The World’s Best Podcast, we give our straight out of the theater reaction, to latest MCU film, Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings! While not a FULL SPOILER review, a few MAJOR SPOILERS get dropped in our discussion, so listener beware! Instead of the studio, we recorded this in our car, immediately after seeing the film, which is why there’s a little background noise. However, I did want to include some Easter Eggs, interesting background info, and connections to the rest of The MCU, that just might enrich your experience when seeing Shang-Chi.
One of the cool things about Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, is that certain elements of the character’s history have been present in The MCU, all the way back to the first Iron Man film in 2008. None of this really counts as a spoiler, because it’s nothing that hasn’t been shown in the trailer. is nothing that you haven’t seen in the trailers. The Ten Rings is like a more mysterious, ninja HYDRA. I’m going to elaborate on how the organization was pulling the strings and making moves during some key moments in The MCU. The Ten Rings make their debut in the first MCU movie, Iron Man, in 2008. The Ten Rings were the terrorist organization that kidnapped Tony Stark at the beginning of the movie. They want him to make a weapons of mass destruction but instead Tony plans an escape by building his Mach 1 armor. With that Iron Man, and the MCU, was born.
In Iron Man 2, it’s revealed that, in a deleted scene, agents of The Ten Rings, helped Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash get past security and onto the race track, where ha attacked Tony in his race car during the Monaco Grand Prix.
Even in Ant-Man, towards the end of the film the current head of Pym Tech, Cross has finally been able to replicate his hands on Hank Pym’s shrinking technology. Cross, who’s a real sack if shit, intends to sell it to the highest bidders. Many shady buyers showed for the unveiling of the Yellowjacket, Cross’s version of the Ant-Man suit. Including Hydra, A.I.M., several agents of The Ten Rings. If you have Disney+ I’d also recommend checking out the short film All Hail The King, starring Ben Kingsley‘s character from Iron Man 3, Trevor Slattery. Not only is it a really fun little short, it also has a really cool connection to Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings.
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This week I finally got the chance to sit down and watch, what ended up being, my favorite action movie of the year. Considering how much I love The MCU, some of you might be thinking I’m talking about Marvel’s Black Widow, which opened this week. And yes, you can bet your ass that I went out my way to see Black Widow. Sure, I liked Black Widow. In fact we’re going to do an in-depth, spoiler-filled, deep dive into the film in a few days, but I’m not talking about Black Widow here. The movie that absolutely blew my goddamn socks off, easily one of my favorite movies of the year… was Bob Odenkirk’s Nobody.
With a few notable exceptions, 2021 has been a relatively slow year for movies. Especially good movies. Which is why watching Nobody starring critically acclaimed actor and comedy legend Bob Odenkirk, was such a delight. Odenkirk has been working in Hollywood for decades, getting his start as a comedy writer. Over the last decade, he’s been best known for his role as sleazy lawyer, Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, a series widely regarded as one of the best in television history. Odenkirk reprised his role as the character again, in the nearly equally as lauded prequel series, Better Call Saul.
Some might be surprised to see Bob Odenkirk out there doing his best John Wick impression, in a spectacular, action-thriller, like Nobody. However, anyone familiar with the man’s career and talent, shouldn’t find his ability to almost seamlessly step into such a different genre, all that unexpected. Like science-fiction and horror, comedic entertainers are rarely recognized properly for the level of talent it takes to succeed and excel in their genre. Time and again, some of our greatest comedic actors, like Jim Carrey or Robin Williams, have made incredible transitions into more dramatic work. Bob Odenkirk gave everything he had to make this movie work and make his character a believable and compelling bad ass. All of his hard work payed off, because it shows on screen. All the blood, sweat, and tears. By his own admission, this type of physical challenge didn’t come naturally to him. So he spent years working with some of the best stunt performers and martial artists in Hollywood to get him where he needed to be for the role. After watching the movie, his character Hutch Mansell, wouldn’t seem out of place frequenting The Continental, the assassins hotel in the John Wick series.
For those of you who don’t know, Nobody is the story of a seemingly milquetoast, mild mannered man, named Hutch Mansell. But underneath the facade of suburban dad, Hutch is much more than he seems. He’s married to a beautiful woman named Becca played by Connie Nielsen and they have two children together, a teenage son and a young daughter (His daughter seems to be the only person in his life to show Hutch any kind of genuine love and respect). However, from the moment he wakes up every morning until he goes to bed at night, each day is an identical, soul crushing, never ending loop. His wife feels like a stranger and they haven’t fucked since God knows when. His teenage son doesn’t respect him, and Hutch spends his days working behind a desk, endlessly typing numbers into a spreadsheet. He’s a man going through the motions of life, but not actually living it.
All that begins to change after a home invasion incident. The home invasion itself isn’t a big deal. They don’t kill his puppy and steal his car or anything like that. Hutch and his son walk in on a desperate couple wielding a gun isn’t even loaded, attempting to steal whatever they can from Hutch’s home. Hutch could have easily taken the intruders apart. He knows how easy it would be to kill the duo, but it seems like he almost pities them. Hutch allows the thieves to leave. In the aftermath, Hutch’s son and many of the other people around him, view him as a coward who failed to act in protection of his family, having no knowledge of the carnage Hutch is capable of. In the following days, something begins to reawakens in Hutch and it begs to be fed. Hutch may look like a “nobody”, but in truth he is a former CIA assassin. An extremely deadly and skilled assassin at that. He thought he left that life and that part of himself behind, to start a family and live a “normal“ life (whatever the fuck that is), but the beast inside Hutch has awakened and it is fucking ravenous.
Bob Odenkirk, who also produced the film, came up with the idea for Nobody after experiencing a home invasion in real life, similar to one we see in the film. Because of his long history as a comedy writer and performer, Odenkirk’s vision for this film was to play it completely straight, a brutal, hard-hitting action movie. He didn’t want to make a tongue-in-cheek movie, with a wink and a nod to the audience. He liked the idea that this isn’t the kind of role audiences wouldn’t expect to see him in. Bob has said that he really wanted to push himself in both mind and body, the challenge that this movie presented was nothing like anything he’d ever done before. Which was one of the reasons he found it exciting.
It takes awhile to put a movie like this together, so as a producer Odenkirk knew he had a few years to get himself ready while the film was being developed. He turned to 87Eleven Action Design, one of the best stunt teams in the business, and began intense stunt and martial arts training with them as early as November 2017. That’s some impressive commitment.
Some of the fight scenes in this film called to mind the brutality and realism of the Netflix Daredevil series, which is extremely high praise. The best example of this, and probably my favorite action sequence in the movie, is “The Bus Fight“. Like Matt Murdoch, Bob Odenkirk‘s Hutch isn’t a super soldier, he’s a man. An extremely fucking bad-ass man, but a man nonetheless. Which makes you really feel, every brutal kick, punch, and stab. “The Bus Fight“ is my favorite scene in the movie, for the same reason I really loved this film in general, it wouldn’t work unless Odenkirk was performing the predominant amount of the stunts himself. As I already mentioned once before, Bob knew that he wasn’t naturally inclined for this type of physical action, so you gotta respect the hell out of fact that he spent years, basically getting his ass kicked by bad-ass, career stunt men and martial artists to make himself ready and believable for the film. Even while working on other projects, like Better Call Saul, he continued to train and work his ass off. Oedenkirk and the stunt team seemed to really hit it off, as a result many of the stunt performers that Hutch fights in the film are the same guys who spent years working with Bob and teaching him how to fight. The rapport that developed over years of working with each other, makes it easier to push the envelope and make the action scenes as real as possible. The collaboration between the guys at Eighty Seven Eleven and Bob Oedenkirk really shines through in scenes like this.
I want to give a special shout out to the director Ilya Naishuller. In the wrong hands,Nobody may not have worked as well as it did. He does a great job of using editing, blocking, and camera placement to help tell the story. He flawlessly uses the tools he has on hand to create the mood and tone necessary for any given scene. Whether it’s a car chase or a close quarters hand to hand fight sequence, he’s a brilliant action director. Naishuller seems equally as comfortable with the movie’s quieter, more emotional moments, a touching and honest scene between Hutch and Becca about halfway through the film comes to mind. As a relatively young filmmaker, Ilya Naishuller is definitely a director to keep your eyes on.
There’s so many things I love about this movie. I don’t want to get too much into spoiler territory but, for example there’s a massive action sequence that features Bob Odenkirk, RZA, and Christopher Lloyd fighting together, back to back, in a full blown, balls to the walls, battle to the death with the Russian mob. Who would ever think to put that trio together? It’s just another testament to the fun and ingenuity of thins film. It’s one of those moments that makes you think “Man, I’ve gone my whole life without realizing how much I needed to see this insane team up of Bob Odenkirk, RZA, and Christopher Lloyd kicking ass and taking names together. But now I’m watching it and it’s fucking GLORIOUS”. One of Nobody’s strengths is the great supporting cast, who each bring something interesting to the movie. Like RZA (who plays Hutch’s brother), who’s a lifelong student of martial arts and martial arts cinema. He’s directed a few martial arts films himself and even directed a few episodes of Marvel’s Iron Fist on Netflix. Then of course, there’s Christopher Lloyd who’s always a joy to see pop up in a movie and he’s exceptionally fun in this film as Hutch’s dad. Connie Nielsen as Hutch’s wife Becca, is talented as ever and somehow hasn’t aged a day since Gladiator. She and Bob Odenkirk have great chemistry together and share some movie’s best non-action scenes. Nielsen and Odenkirk have some touching and tender moments that are among the most important beats in the movie.
If the film has a weakness, it’s the inevitable comparisons to John Wick. The John Wick films have become one of the most influential action franchises of the last decade. While there are certainly similarities, I think they’re mostly superficial and coincidental. John Wick is the gold standard for action films right now, so any film in the genre will of course draw comparisons to the franchise. I think the fantastic performance by Bob Odenkirk, the fight choreography, the stunts work, the supporting cast, and even some great music, makes Nobody stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Bob Odenkirk absolutely fucking crushes it with Nobody . I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more successful 180 from an actor. He’s so goddamn impressive as a action bad-ass, that you almost don’t even notice he still giving an incredible performance throughout the entire film, action or no action. This a fantastic movie and a MUST WATCH!
Nobody is available on Blu-Ray/4K, On Demand, ITunes, and digital download everywhere.
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We got out first look at the highly anticipated MCU movie, Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, when Marvel dropped the first trailer this week. Not to mention the cool new poster (above) and some photos courtesy of EW.com. Now, I’m sure some of you out there might be asking: Who the hell is Shang-Chi? Before I answer, don’t forget that just a few years ago, audiences asked the same question about Iron Man and Thor, Captain America and Black Panther. Hell, before Marvel Studios announced the film, even I had no idea who the Guardians of The Galaxy were! Now these characters are household names! Marvel Studios has proven time and again that they can take the most obscure Marvel characters and make magic.
Who Is Shang-Chi?
Shang-Chi is widely regarded to be the deadliest and most skilled martial artist on Earth. He’s better than Iron Fist, Black Widow, even Daredevil. I always like to describe Shang- Chi as: Imagine Bruce Lee, if he was an Avenger? Bruce Lee and his films were a huge influence on comic books featuring Shang-Chi. Stan The Man Lee wanted Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee, to Star in the role whei a film was being developed in the early 80’s. Some comic book artists like to model their character on real people, so quite a few artists based their version of Shang-Chi on Bruce Lee (in one instance, complete with nunchucks straight out of Enter The Dragon).
It’s sort of like the now classic story of artist Bryan Hitch drew Nick Fury, to look exactly like Samuel L. Jackson in The Ultimates. An iconic Avengers comic that Hitch worked on with writer Mark Millar. Of course, Jackson eventually saw this, being an avid comic book reader himself. He and Marvel Studios contacted each other and the rest is history!
But I digress! Sorry about that, I tend to ramble sometimes. Anyway, back to Shang-Chi! Without any enhancements, like the super soldier serum Captain America and Bucky were exposed to call, I think Shang-Chi is so skilled that he would even be able to hold his own, if not out right beat, “enhanced” individuals like Steve Rogers or Bucky Barnes. I’m sure we’ll see his skill as a martial artist on full display in the movie.
Shang-Chi became such a force of nature because of the brutal and cruel father spent Shang’s entire life forging him into a human weapon. To say that Shang-Chi has a complicated relationship with his father is an understatement. Shang is a hero, one of Earth’s champions, an Avenger. His father Wewun on the other hand, happens to be one the most dangerous supervillains on the planet and he wants he son to join the family business (whether Shang-Chi likes it or not). Wewun has gone by many names over the years, including one Marvel fans have heard before, but to say anymore would get into SPOILER territory. Just trust me when I say Wewun is a very cool, badass villain and I can’t wait to see what they do with him in this film. Wenwu wields Ten Rings (5 on each forearm) as you can see in the photo below. The Ten Rings bestow unimaginable power up their bearer, each with it’s own unique power. Fire and water manipulation, lightning blasts, some low level psychic abilities, just to name a few. Basically, Wenwu is a guy you do not want to fuck with. With the heart of this film being about a father and son who are diametrically opposed to one another, some powerful emotional (and liter) fireworks are going to fly.
The exciting thing about Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, is how it parallels the first Iron Man movie when it came out in 2008. No one who knew who the fuck Iron Man was and this great film, with this great characters, exploded onto screens and started this incredible journey. One of the greatest film franchises of all time both creatively and commercially. Like Iron Man, even among comic book fans Shang-Chi is a fairly blank slate. Beyond appearances as a key member of the team in some Avengers comics, as well as Daredevil and Iron Fist, I haven’t read one of the characters solo titles. Something I will be rectifying shortly with the new mini series that just became available in trade paperback/graphic novel. My point is this has the potential to blow up and be huge in the same way Iron Man has. Like Black Panther before it, this is the first major superhero, blockbuster featuring an Asian lead, with an almost entirely Asian cast, and an Asian crew. Shang-Chi can do for Asian children, what Black Panther did for young black kids all around! Not just children, but all Asians who want to see themselves represented in the biggest and coolest franchise in the world. If the people making this film play their cards right, this could be fucking amazing. Without further ado, take a look at the first trailer for Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, here:
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens 9/3/21
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @PJWrightWBM or type Worlds Best Media into the search bar, you can also like and follow us on our Facebook page; World’s Best Media. We’re on Instagram @worldsbestmedia2017. Those likes and follows, as well as iTunes reviews, go a long way to supporting World’s Best Media. We really appreciate the loyalty and support shown to us by our fans, so thanks again! Stay healthy and stay safe!
Jessica Jones Season 3 is coming to Netflix very soon and today I have everything you need to get ready for Season 3! New trailer! Posters! Plot Synopsis! Season 3 photos! and more! But before we dive in, Jessica Jones Season 3 marks the end of the Marvel/Netflix partnership. This season will be the final piece of original Marvel content produced with Netflix. So I wanted to take a minuet to talk about the Marvel/Netflix shows as a whole, as well as their impact and legacy within The MCU.
I was so excited when this was first announced. Netflix and Marvel doing a set of TV series’ focusing on the street level heroes of The MCU was, and still is, a fantastic idea. To top it all off, the shows would feature Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, some of my favorite Marvel characters of all time (Daredevil is #2on my list of Greatest Superheroes of All Time). All three Seasons of Daredevil and the First Season of Jessica Jones stand up with movies like The Dark Knight, Logan, and Captain America: Civil War as live action masterpieces of super hero story telling. Not all of the shows were as successful as DD and Jessica Jones. Luke Cage Season 1 started out fantastic, but lost it’s way towards the end of the season. I’m not certain about the critical and public perception on Luke Cage Season 2, but I thought it was a little better than Season One. Iron Fist was ripped apart when it premiered, as the weakest show in the franchise by far, but made a massive improvement in quality, acting, fight choreography, and storytelling in Season 2. Even The Punisher received 2 successful seasons coming off his memorable debut in Daredevil Season 2. Unfortunately, the team up miniseries The Defenders, was no small screen Avengers. The series largely disappointed critics and fans alike. Going into Jessica Jones Season 3 the enthusiasm for the franchise isn’t where it once was.
To be fair the quality of some of the shows could be inconsistent. None of the Marvel/Netflix series’ suffered from a decline in quality between seasons more than Jessica Jones. Daredevil stayed consistently excellent throughout its 3 season run, Luke Cage followed up it’s first season with an equally solid Season 2, and Iron Fist (the red headed step child of the Marvel/Netflix shows) massively improved between seasons 1 & 2, Jessica Jones was the only Marvel/Netflix show to show large drop in quality.
As we look at the overall place of the Marvel/Netflix shows in the greater context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a shame that Marvel/Netflix characters didn’t have a larger role in The MCU, especially considering how most of the characters were handled so well. Millions of fans wanted to see Daredevil, The Punisher and more of the street level characters show up in an Avengers movie or a film with a large cast of heroes, like Civil War. When asked by journalists, the creative people involved in the MCU films like the directors, writers, and actors, loved the possibility of the Marvel/Netflix characters showing up in one of their movies. However, the higher ups at Marvel weren’t as optimistic. Kevin Feige would say things like “We don’t have any plans for the characters at the moment. But anything’s possible.”. That’s basically a very nice way of saying, it ain’t gonna fucking happen. Fans were never even given a cameo or reference to the TV heroes on the big screen.
Unfortunately, this policy didn’t have anything to do with the quality of the shows, but behind the scenes drama between producers working for a Marvel Studios. This was mainly due to the fact that Marvel’s film and television division were run by different people, Kevin Feige and Jeph Loeb, respectively. The rumor was that the relationship between the two divisions wasn’t good. This just made the idea of The Defenders or The Punisher making appearances on the big screen much less likely. This is just speculation, but I’d bet Jeph Loeb was the asshole of this situation. Kevin Feige did and continues to do the impossible by building the MCU. He has a reputation for being down to earth and very measured. Jeph Loeb, on the other hand, is well-known for being egotistical, without having much respect for the fans. Loeb has also written a lot of comics at DC and Marvel over the last 30 years. A few of them are admittedly great, but for the most part he’s a complete hack of a writer, behind such atrocities as Marvel’s Ultimatum. Oh well, if only the stars had aligned properly… At the end of the day we’ve received some mind blowing movies and TV shows from Marvel. So, sometimes this stuff can sound like nitpicking, but I do hope Marvel figures out a way to work these characters into their films in the future. I just hope if they make a Daredevil movie, they keep Charlie Cox as Daredevil and Vincent D’Onofrio as The Kingpin because they are the PERFECT FUCKING DAREDEVIL AND KINGPIN! Let’s hope Jessica Jones rallies in Season 3 and ends the Marvel/Netflix run on a high note.
With all of that out of the way, back to Jessica Jones Season 3. Now, here’s what’s been released for the upcoming season…
First off, here’s the official synopsis of Jessica Jones Season 3 from Marvel and Netflix:
“When Jessica crosses paths with a highly intelligent psychopath, she and Trish (Rachael Taylor) must repair their fractured relationship and team up to take him down. But a devastating loss reveals their conflicting ideas of heroism and sets them on a collision course that will forever change them both.”
We have more photos from Season 3 below and you can watch the new full trailer right here. This trailer is the first indication of what type of story season three is it telling and what direction it may go in. I think it looks pretty damn interesting, take a look:
Based on the trailer, it looks like the series is attempting to return to that intense, thriller vibe that made season one so great. It’s also nice to a genuinely creepy villain, the trailer has a real “Seven” feel to it. Speaking of the villain, Gregory Salinger is certainly on the D-list, Marvel often does great things with relatively obscure villains. The Purple Man wasn’t on anyone’s favorite villain list until Season One and David Tennent’s performance made Killgrave into one of the all time great, on screen, comic book villains. In the comics, Gregory Salinger is also known as Foolkiller, a mantel worn by multiple men in the comics.
I think the show will probably take bits and pieces from each incarnation of the character in the comics for whatever works for the show. Basically he’s a psychopathic serial killer who think he’s some kind of vigilante (another parallel with the film Seven).
It also looks like Trish is continuing on her path to becoming the vigilante Hellcat. Judging from the trailer and the plot synopsis, Jessica and Trish don’t exactly see eye to eye on the subject.
Here are some additional pictures from the upcoming season:
Regardless of how the season turns out, I’ll be watching all of Jessica Jones Season 3. When I finish the final episode,The Marvel/Netflix Era of The MCU will have ended. It’s bittersweet. On one hand I’m so happy these shows existed in the first place and on the other it’s sad to see them go. I just hope that Marvel finds a way to keep these incredible characters (especially Charlie Cox as Daredevil) as a vital part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Daredevil is by far one of my favorite shows. When Season 1 premiered on Netflix, I was blown away. This was superhero storytelling in a format I’d always wanted, but hadn’t seen before. An adult, character driven show that took the amazing characters from the comic books and told a dark, complex story. With the first two seasons of Daredevil and the first season of Jessica Jones, superhero storytelling had reached a new level of excellence, these shows were game changers. Even though we got a decent dose of Matt Murdock in The Defenders, it’s been far too long between Season 2 and 3. With the future of Marvel and Netflix in doubt, I’m happy to say Daredevil Season 3 delivers BIG TIME. In this episode, we discuss characters, story, deaths, twists, connections to the comic and more. So this episode is FULL SPOILERS. We had a blast recording this one, so we hope you enjoy listening to it. Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:
I also wanted to include some graphic novel recommendations. Daredevil Season 3 draws heavily from a few different Daredevil stories, but they’re all phenomenal. You can pick them up on Amazon at the links below.
In the latest episode of The World’s Best Podcast, I breakdown Netflix’s Iron Fist Season 2! After a lackluster first season, Iron Fist returns with a vengeance, having massively improved in its second season! This season opened up the mythology and characters of The Immortal Iron Fist in a huge way. With my encyclopedic knowledge of the comics, on this episode I give you my thoughts on the season and explain the deal with some of the season’s biggest moments and characters. Including the show’s game changing ending and where the story of the Iron Fist could go from here. Plus, I ramble on about a bunch of other bullshit too! Below, I also put some pictures of some of the characters and places from the comics we may see in upcoming seasons. Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes Enjoy!:
On this episode of The World’s Best Podcast, this week’s guest co-host, Paul Sr. and I look back, discuss, and review some of the late summer TV shows! We also look at some upcoming returning series that look pretty interesting. We review Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime, talk about Preacher Season 3 on AMC, Castle Rock on Hulu, and premiering tonight Iron Fist Season 2 on Netflix! Beware of some light spoilers! Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:
Netflix released an cool new trailer for Iron Fist Season 2! Check it out here and then read my trailer breakdown with pics from EW.com below:
Now THIS is more like it! After a somewhat disappointing first season, Iron First has been steadily improving as a character with each appearance in the MCU. From The Defenders to Luke Cage Season 2 to this awesome trailer for Iron Fist Season 2, it seems like we’re getting closer and closer to Danny Rand from the comics that we all want to see.
To finally see Davos (Danny’s best friend from K’un L’un, who we met in Season 1) become his own “immortal weapon” as The Steel Serpent is so fucking cool. Many of you may not remember, but this a character that was teased as far back as Daredevil Season 1. I can’t wait to see the backstory behind Davos’ new abilities and I wouldn’t be surprised if Madam Goa had a hand in creating The Steel Serpent.
After all, Season 1 ended with Davos and Joy Meachum discussing the destruction of Danny with Madam Goa listening intently near by. I also loved seeing the Iron Fist being used so much, I honestly think we saw the Iron Fist used more in this trailer than in all of Season 1. To my delight, much like Daredevil, it seems that Iron Fist is slowly developing a costume of his own.
We don’t see much of the Season’s other big villain Typhoid Mary (played by Alice Eve) except for some brief fight shots. We do get to see a lot of Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. I know for a fact they’re going full Daughter’s of The Dragon team-up this season, which is exciting for any hardcore Marvel fan. Now we just need HEROES FOR HIRE, DAMMIT!
The fight choreography looks like it’s improved in a big way, especially when it comes to Danny. Not to mention the fights look like they’ve upped the brutality to Daredevil levels. The Immortal Iron Fist should be the greatest martial artist in the world and I hope we finally get to see that in Season 2.
Marvel and Netflix made another very smart move and went from 13 episodes in Season 1 to 10 episodes in Season 2. Considering the show faced some criticism for pacing issues, I think this is a smart move. As much as I love most of the Marvel Netflix shows, each Season of each show usually has one or two episodes that drag the season down, basically filler episodes. A tighter 10 episode season could add excitement and drama, giving the show the momentum that was missing in Season 1. It will be interesting to see if Netflix uses this new 10 episode model for all of their Marvel shows. It makes sense because, from 2018 going forward we’re getting 4 Marvel Netflix shows each year. This year, it was Jessica Jones Season 2, the excellent Luke Cage Season 2, Iron Fist Season 2, and Daredevil Season 3 in December.
I went from cautiously optimistic to very excited for Iron Fist Season 2. Now, I know Rule #1 at World’s Best Media is: DON’T TRUST TRAILERS! However, despite my better judgement, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this could be the Iron Fist series we all hoped for when Season 1 premiered.
Iron Fist Season 2 premiers September 7 on Netflix.
I was ecstatic when Marvel and Netflix announced they’d partnered up to produce multiple TV shows that would be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, focusing on the gritty, street level heroes of the MCU. The original plan was to start with five series. Four focusing on the individual heroes, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, with the fifth series culminating in an epic superhero crossover, called The Defenders. These are probably my 4 personal favorite Marvel characters, so it’s always been exciting when one of these new shows premiere.
Each series ended up being much more successful than Netflix expected. Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage in particular were big hits with audiences and critics. As a result this already ambitious undertaking grew larger. What was originally a 5 series model, added second seasons for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, as well as a spinoff series for The Punisher (with more seasons to come including Daredevil Season 3 later this year). The first two season of Daredevil and the first season of Jessica Jones are among the best pieces of fiction to come out of the MCU PERIOD and that includes the movies. Luke Cage Season 1 was excellent as well, but a terrible villain who popped up in the second half of the season, really brought down the show’s average. Fortunately, the creators seemed to have learned from that particular mistake, but I’ll get back to that in a minute…
It was the kind of superhero storytelling I was always looking for. These stories aren’t about saving the world, they’re about saving a neighborhood. With fantastic character work and mature content that we’d never see on the big screen in the MCU. When these shows are firing on all cylinders they are spectacular. Sadly, there’s been a dip in quality in the last few Marvel/Netflix outings. However, I’m very happy to say that Luke Cage has returned with a phenomenal second season that surpasses the first and reminds us just how good these shows can be.
First of all, as I said before, this is just better than Season One. Luke’s arc in Season Two is complex and interesting in the best way. He’s more or less accepted his roll as the “Hero of Harlem”, but he carries a rage inside of him because of everything he’s seen and been through. Luke’s struggle to find out how to channel that anger in a healthy way is a big part of his journey in Season 2. With characters like Claire Temple, Danny Rand, and the late, great Reg E. Cathy as Luke’s father, helping him deal with that anger along the way. Luke is right up there with Matt Murdock as one of the most morally interesting characters on the Netflix shows. His rage, the responsibility he feels to Harlem, his growing lack of faith in the justice system, how race affects how he views himself as a hero, and more all add up to one of the most unique protagonists on TV.
Speaking of Danny Rand, this is probably the best use of The Immortal Iron First we’ve seen in the MCU so far. Even though he doesn’t have as much screen time as I would have liked, his presence is felt throughout the season. I wish we saw him more in the season, his big team up episode with Luke is everything you’d hope for. Of course, I was very happy to see the writers planting the seeds for “Heroes For Hire” in a big way.
While we’re on the topic of cool stuff from the comics making their way to the show. After losing her right arm in The Defender’s, we finally see Misty Knight get her badass robot arm like she has in the comics (though in this version the arm is provided by Rand Industries instead of Tony Stark). The arm gives Misty a degree of super-strength and it’s just enough to bump her up into superhero territory. She also has a few great scenes with Colleen Wing, who’s always a delight to see, setting up “Daughters of The Dragon” much like “Heroes For Hire” is teased with Danny and Luke.
As fun all the Marvel Easter Eggs are and as great a hero Luke is, it’s the so called “villains” that bring this series to the next level. Mustafa Shakir as Bushmaster, Theo Rossi as Shades, and the legendary Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard elevate the show to another level as the so called antagonists. Each of them are layered and anchored in very real, human emotions. One of the biggest strengths of this series is that each of these villains have done evil, horrible things, yet at certain points you’ll find yourself sympathize with them and maybe even root for them. At times the lines between hero and villain are blurred, with cops that don’t follow the rules and villains that genuinely want to help their community, it can be hard to decide who to root for. There simply isn’t any other show right now that has such complex villains and it’s one of the best things about the series.
Bushmaster is a force of nature, who more than makes up for Diamondback, the Season One villain that really hurt the quality of the second part of the first season. It was great to see a new villain who could go toe to toe with Luke and was also as strong a character as Bushmaster. His motivations are very personal. He’s not looking to become a Kingpin, he just REALLY, REALLY wants to kill Mariah Stokes as he insists on calling her. His history with Mariah and her family is revealed throughout the season and I wont spoil it hear.
Alfre Woodard is fantastic in pretty much anything, but I don’t think she’s ever played a character like Mariah Dillard. She’s magnetic in the role. She terrifying, vulnerable, fierce, sexy, charming, brutal, manipulative, and more. Sometimes you’re not even sure which side of Mariah you’re seeing in any given moment. Is she being genuine or is this a manipulation? She is absolutely one of the MCU’s best villains.
Her relationship with Shades is complex and layered in it’s own right. These two mix business and pleasure. Their on screen chemistry is fantastic and adds something big to both of the characters. Shades, like Mariah, has continued to grow as a character from Season One. I’ve been a big fan of Theo Rossi since his days playing Juice on Sons of Anarchy and his Shades is someone you’ll find yourself love and hate in equal measure.
Lastly, one of the biggest things people will talk about after watching Season Two is how the season ends and where it leaves Luke as a character. SLIGHT SPOILERS HERE The show did a fantastic job of making this turn for the character feel earned. It wasn’t some twist that came out of nowhere. You can see over the course of the season, after everything he’s been through, why Luke would make a decision like this. In the comics, Matt Murdock does a very similar thing when declares himself Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen during Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Daredevil. It was something I always hoped they’d get to on Daredevil’s series, but in the context of the universe Netflix has built, it makes more sense for Luke to be going down this path. I really like the idea whether it’s Matt Murdock or Luke Cage because it’s a unique direction for Luke’s journey as a hero. END SPOILERS
So, Luke Cage Season Two is real return to form for the Marvel/Netflix shows. Season Two improves upon it’s already strong first season with its rich mix of music and setting, unique and compelling hero, and captivating villains. Finally, the end of the season leaves the show in an exciting place with the potential to go in a number of cool directions. If you thought the Marvel/Netflix shows were beginning to lose a step, watch Luke Cage Season Two and you’ll see there’s still some great stories to be told through this format.
Despite the dip in quality towards the second half of the first season, Luke Cage has definitely been one of Marvel’s stronger shows on Netflix. It doesn’t quite reach the excellence of the first two seasons of Daredevil and the first season of Jessica Jones, but it’s still a great show. It was really the villain that they introduced half way through season one that hurt the series a lot. Especially when Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth was such a charismatic villain already. Even Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard and Shades were more interesting characters than the cartoonish Diamondback. I just hope the show doesn’t have the same sophomore slump that Jessica Jones had. Despite all the negativity I’m throwing around, I’m really looking forward to Luke Cage Season 2, which begins streaming on Netflix 6/22. The latest trailer is right here and below that I also posted a fun video of Luke breaking some records with his superhuman athletic prowess. Check them both out below:
Also, it’s cool to see Misty Knight with her trademark badass robot arm like she has in the comics that can do all kinds of cool shit.
Even though he can be annoying at times, Luke and Danny Rand AKA The Immortal Iron Fist, definitely had chemistry in The Defenders. Hopefully his presence in Luke Cage Season 2 brings us closer to a Heroes For Hire series!