Tag: Marvel

Week of Geek: Ranking Marvel’s Films… Can it be done?

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Hiya Geeklings.

So, this weekend I got to see Thor: Ragnarok for my birthday.  Squeal!

LOVED IT!  Funny, action packed, had Doctor Strange in it for a little bit.  So much Loki!  And just awesome.  So much to love!  Ali happy!

And it got me thinking about the MCU, or the Marvel Cinematic Universe if you want to skip the shorthand, Marvel Studios’ wackadoodle dream of creating connected films over a broad scale and bringing all the characters and storylines together for a single goal.  It’s had a succession of great directors and top-notch talent in acting, special effects, costuming, writing (one thing I like to say is that, eventually, Everyone Joins the MCU).  They’ve changed and adapted their original plan when certain properties became really popular or they got the rights back to certain characters (welcome back Spidey!)

17 films so far.  Let’s break it down.

Phase 1 – 6 Films

Iron ManThe Incredible HulkIron Man 2ThorCaptain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers

Phase 2 – 6 Films

Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man

Phase 3 – 10 Films

Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok

That takes us to right now.  I’ve got the links above for everything you can sign out but here’s a handy list of what we have in our libraries.  I like lists (clearly).

And then the next ones coming up are…

Black Panther (click that link, it looks amazing), Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel, Another Avengers Film as yet untitled.

That’ll end Phase 3, and then there’s also a Spider-Man sequel and a 3rd Guardians of the Galaxy movie announced, so I guess that’ll be Phase 4?  Or maybe they’ll just start a new set of phases?  That’s still a few years off, so we’ll see.

So I liked Ragnarok so much that I knew I’d put it up in one of the top spots of favorite Marvel films.  Which got me thinking; how would I rank the other ones?  No small feat, seeing as how there’s almost 20 of them.  So how to go about it?  How I did it was split them up into four different categories and then rank them from there, which made more sense in my own head; a head which is not overly inclined to numbers.

So here they are, my order of released Marvel films from best to worst.  This list is comprised of my own personal preferences.  Some you may agree with.  Some of you may disagree vehemently.  But here they are…

Top Marks

The Avengers – This one may not technically be the absolute best of Marvel’s films, but I’m giving it the top spot because in my little fangirl heart, this moment in cinematic history was a game changer for me and for so many other fans.  This was the first time we got to see Marvel’s plan really come to fruition.  This was something new, something delightful, something that FIVE other films had built to.  And it didn’t let us down.  It was a great film and it proved that what Marvel was on to, this crazy plan of an extended universe, was just crazy enough to work.  It’s left so many other studios scrambling to follow suit.  This was the gold standard for shared universes.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier –  Not only was Cap’s 2nd solo outing probably the best one to date, it was one of the most well made of Marvel’s films, from writing to pacing to acting to effects to… everything.  It gave more screen time to Black Widow and introduced the Falcon.  And it packs one of the biggest emotional punches in the series and two of the biggest twists, completely changing the direction for the rest of the films to follow.

Iron Man – The one that started it all, the face that launched a thousand ships (use whatever double meanings you want there).  It made Robert Downey Jr a household name again (come on, he IS Tony Stark), took a superhero that hardly anyone knew anything about and made him an essential component of the Marvel Universe, and with that one end-credits scene not only started a tradition of waiting in a darkened theater until credits have rolled but hinted at a larger universe.  Plus, it was just a great movie.

Thor: Ragnarok – The third film in the Thor trilogy is, I think, the best one.  Though it gave us some real stakes and some far-reaching consequences for the MCU, it was also a ton of fun, with a lot of humor, some great action sequences and candy for your eyeballs.  It’s really a cultivation of what Marvel’s done so far and how good it can be.

Doctor Strange – This would rank high on my list just for granting me one of my deepest wishes; for Benedict Cumberbatch to join the MCU.  But it was just a great movie anyway, so it’s up here.  One of the trippiest films Marvel’s ever done, it completely worked and gave us a real heroes journey with a whole ton of magic.

Guardians of the Galaxy – One thing I’ve read about as to why Marvel is so successful is that it doesn’t just make great superhero movies.  It makes great films from different genres that happen to feature superheroes.  And Guardians proved that they could tackle a real Sci Fi tale and make it work.  With some great characters, funny lines and eye-popping cosmic romps, Guardians was solid from first take off to last.

Thor – This movie gave us our first introduction to Loki.  Even if the rest of the film wasn’t fantastical fun (and it is) that introduction would be enough for me.

Captain America: The First Avenger – A great intro to Cap, the film had an awesome retro feel and led into the first Avengers film nicely.

Not as good but still great

Spider-Man: Homecoming –  This one was a bit of a last-minute addition to the MCU after they unexpectedly got the rights to Spider-Man back from Sony.  But after a great intro in Civil War, Marvel Studios took the character back to his roots by making him a full-fledged high school student with all the nerdy awkwardness that entails.  Add Tony Stark as a mentor and the Vulture as a somewhat sympathetic villain, and you’ve got a great Spidey solo flick.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – It didn’t quite have the same magic as the first one, but it had me in tears by the end of it and it was still visually awesome, smart and had a lot of interesting observations about the nature of families.

The Incredible Hulk – I’ve found that a lot of people genuinely forget this movie exists, or often mistake it for The Hulk, which is a totally different film and has nothing to do with the MCU (and I hear it’s pretty bad).  But the Hulk does have his own MCU film with Incredible Hulk and it’s actually pretty good.  Mark Ruffalo has been a great Bruce Banner from The Avengers onward, but Edward Norton did well the first time out.  Plus I liked Liv Tyler‘s Betty Ross, and villain Thunderbolt Ross would appear again in Civil War.

Ant-Man – Ant-Man’s always been a weird superhero, and this film did not shy away from the weirdness.  By giving the reigns to conflicted petty criminal Scott Lang, they gave us an interesting main character, and seeing the world from a perspective of being tiny was really neat.  And it was funny.  All good.

Meh

Thor: The Dark World – This one gets a lot of hate, but I can’t hate anything that has Loki in it.  Sorry.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – A good movie that I still enjoyed but it just didn’t have the spark or the cohesion that the first full Avengers film did.  It did give us Vision though, so that’s awesome.  And I like James Spader a lot, so I was happy to hear him as Ultron.

Iron Man 3 – Still fun but not overly noteworthy.  But it did have some interesting looks at mental illness, which doesn’t come up often enough in film, so there’s that.

Least favorites

Iron Man 2 – Still fun but not overly memorable, less so than Iron Man 3 for me, so it goes here.  Points for introducing the Black Widow, one of the most awesome heroines to ever awesome.

Captain America: Civil War – Yeah, I know.  I KNOW this is a good film.  A great film even, possibly one of the best in the series.  It brought a lot of our favorite characters together, it brought Spidey back, brought Bucky back, introduced the Black Panther, introduced Martin Freeman‘s character Everett K Ross, and was just really well done over all.  But I don’t like it.  It’s devastating, watching these characters I love go through such awful things, having to grapple with moral quandaries that really don’t have right or wrong answers, and see everyone’s loyalties divided over them.  And then to have to watch them fight each other?!  I know movies like this need to have stakes, but COME ON!  This was way to much!  I didn’t like it, darn it, so I’m putting it last.  Sue me.

*Deep Breath*

So, there we go.  What do we think Geeklings?  Was I on the mark?  Way off?  Did I do any films major injustices?  Post in the comments section or head over to WriteIt to create your own list.

Quick mention: It’s NaNoWriMo time, and if you’re looking for places to write be sure to check out the Teen Writer’s Club!

Have a great week guys, keep watching the skies (rhyming!) and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: VFC Fandom Countdown Part 5, Marvel and DC Throwdown

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Hi again Geeklings!  We’re up to Part 5 of our Fandom Countdown, gearing up for our first Fan Con just a week from Saturday!  Are you getting excited?  I’m getting excited!

This week I thought I’d talk about 2 franchises which are currently battling it out for domination in film theatres across the globe, but before that they’ve been going head to head in comic book stores for decades.  One was the undeniable ground breaker, first publishing their most iconic character all the way back in 1938.  The other, though they only had their first publication the following year, is considered the cooler counterpart, really taking off in the 1960s and 1970s and allowing the political and social upheavals of the day to influence their work.  And now, one has been a clear groundbreaker in creating the practice of a ‘Cinematic Universe’ and the other is working really hard to play catch up… not always succeeding.

Yup, Marvel and DC Comics, and unlike the self-imposed animosity between Star Wars and Star Trek fans, these two guys actually have a legit rivalry going on, and have ever since they’ve existed.

Both companies have gone through name changes, different management and ups and downs as far as sales, but each one has managed to stay relevant through the years, though it’s often been a struggle to adapt to changing times.  But the one thing about these two that I really want to highlight (’cause let’s face it, we’d be here all day if I tried to summarize the full history of both of these franchises) is their Cinematic Universes.

Starting in 2008 (almost 10 years ago, which just dawned on me) with the release of Iron Man, the still new Marvel Studios kicked off a new trend.  They decided to create what we now call a Cinematic Universe, or Shared Universe, where all of their subsequent movies share characters and plot points and all of them culminate into bigger stories.  And they’ve been so successful at this (both with fans and critics) that other movie studios want in on it too, and are rushing to create their own cinematic universes, DC included (Warner Bros is the studio that holds the rights to their characters).  After a couple of false starts, DC and Warner Bros kicked off the DCEU, or DC Extended Universe, with Man of SteelThey’ve still done well financially, but critics and fans alike have responded anywhere from ‘Meh’ to ‘SO ANGRY!’… at least until Wonder Woman came along, and hope was renewed once more with fans.  Ironic considering how long it took to get Wonder Woman on the big screen, with all the ‘Can a woman headline a superhero film?’ nonsense.  So proven now!

This November the two companies go head-to-head once again with Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League.

Has the trend in cinematic universes changed movies for the better or worse?  Will DC be able to pull themselves up dazzling heights?  Time will tell… but for someone like me, it’s plenty captivating to watch.

So I’ve got lists for the MCU, both their movies and their TV shows (which are connected too).

And here’s the DCEU…

And though it’s not tied into their film series, I’m going to include DC’s current crop of interconnected TV shows, commonly known as the Arrowverse, because they’re really good…

Final note; If I can get a little personal here (yup, Aunty Ali’s gettin’ nostalgic!), there was one time when Marvel and DC actually threw down in the comics.  It’s happened, but this time in particular was a moment that stood out for me.  In the spring of 1996, when I was 14 years old, Marvel and DC released a four-part crossover event that I bought religiously from the tiny convenience store a couple blocks from my high school.  The comic series is kind of obscure nowadays, but it’s always stuck with me.  Basically you’ve got two gods of two universes who want to pit their champions against each other, so you end up with a bunch of battles.  We’ve got Batman vs Captain America, Superman vs the Hulk, Wonder Woman vs Storm, Lobo vs Wolverine, Aquaman vs The Sub-Mariner, Flash vs Quicksilver, etc.  It blew my fragile, teenaged, burgeoning fangirl mind!

So where do you stand Geeklings?  Marvel?  DC?  Both?  Post away in the comments section.  To the surprise of probably no one, I like both.  Just like with Star Wars and Star Trek YOU CAN’T MAKE ME CHOOSE!  MY LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDS!

Stay tuned for more Fan Con news, don’t forget about Unleash Your Story this Saturday, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Only Inhuman after all…

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Hiya Geeklings!  How are the last days of summer going?  Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s almost over.  Get as much fun in as you can!  We’re in the last week for the Teen Summer Reading Challenge so keep reading, keep up those missions and our End of Summer Party is THIS SATURDAY!  Sign up here!

Also, how about that eclipse this week, huh?  The sun was a crescent!  How cool was that?!  It blew my fragile little mind!

Speaking of the moon (bit of a flimsy segue, but bear with me), there’s a new addition to the MCU coming out next week in theaters before premiering on television this fall.  Check it out!

(I say bravo to their marketing department for using Rag’N’Bone Man‘s “Human” for that second trailer.  It worked perfectly.)

The Inhumans are an interesting group of Marvel characters with a rich and somewhat complicated history.  In short, their ancestors were once full fledged humans, who were experimented on by the Kree (we meet those guys in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie).  Most of the Inhumans went on to create their own society, though some broke away and mingled with regular humans, creating descendants on earth that have no idea they’re part Inhuman (this became a pretty big plot point in the show Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD).  The thing that reveals if someone is an Inhuman is something called Terrigen Mist.  When an Inhuman is exposed to this mist it triggers their latent powers.

The Inhumans who created their own society in the city Attilan on the moon (that’s right, the moon) have a Royal Family, who tend to be the main characters of any Inhuman storyline.  This family consists of…

Black Bolt: Full name Blackagar Boltagon, and he’s the King of the Inhumans.  He’s always been a fascinating character to me; he’s the ruler of an entire people, despite not being able to say a word.  He can’t, because his voice creates shock-waves that can cause serious damage.  A whisper is enough to knock the Hulk off his feet.  A shout will level an entire city.  As such, he does most of his speaking through other means like sign language, body language…

and spokespeople, including through his wife…

Medusa: Full name Medusalith Amaquelin Boltagon, Queen of the Inhumans.  Her power is in her long red hair, where every strand acts as an extra appendage.

Maximus: Full name Maximus Boltagon.  He’s Black Bolt’s brother and a prince.  From what we’ve seen in those first trailers, and considering how he gets the moniker Maximus the Mad at some point in the comics, the dude is definitely trouble.

Crystal: Full name Crystalia Amaquelin, she’s Medusa’s sister, a princess and she can manipulate natural elements.

Gorgon: Full name Gorgon Petragon, he’s a cousin of Black Bolt and head of Attilan’s military.  He has hooves instead of feet and they can create shock-waves.

Karnak: Full name Karnak Mander-Azur, also known as the Shatterer, he’s a cousin and adviser to Black Bolt.  He stands out amongst the Inhumans in that he opted NOT to be exposed to the mists, and instead decided to be the most formidable martial arts master all on his own.  Good on him.

Triton: Full name Triton Mander-Azur, he’s another cousin of Black Bolt, as well as Karnak’s brother.  He looks a little… aquatic, and that’s because he has the ability to breathe underwater, as well as other skills.

Lockjaw: He’s a larger-than-average dog.  A teleporting larger-than-average dog.  Really, what more do you need to know?

Got them all straight?  If not, no worries.  You can read more about them in books like War of Kings, the Secret Invasion storyline, World War Hulk and in the Ms. Marvel series.

That’s all for now True Believers.  Keep working on the TSRC, stay tuned for more news and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: The New Doctor and Women in Genre Fiction

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Hiya Geeklings.

‘Member a while back when we had a new companion on Doctor Who?  Well, in perhaps even bigger news, we have a new Doctor.  Yep, the actor playing the Doctor changes from time to time, which on the show is explained as a process called regeneration.  And, for the first time, the latest Doctor incarnation will be played by a woman.

While there has been speculation for the last few years if a female actor would step into the part, we’re now seeing it happen.  Fellow Time Lord The Master regenerated into Missy in the 8th season, so there was precedence set.  And now we’ll finally see a woman, namely Jodie Whittaker, playing everyone’s favorite face-changing time-travelling world-saving alien.

So far the reaction from fans has been generally positive.  There have been some naysayers, as there always is with fandom news like this (remember when the last Ghostbusters came out?), and there have been some great sarcastic responses to said naysayers.  Personally I’m excited.  To me, the Doctor has never seemed overly masculine; he, and now she, just is.  Just The Doctor, and everything that entails.  So I have no trouble picturing a woman in the role, but what do you guys think?  Post away!

And the news seems to be indicative of a bit of a turn of the tide to see more women represented in genre fiction and fandoms.  And it’s about darn time if you ask me.

Though female fans have asked for more representation in their favorite shows/books/movies/games/everything for years and years and years now, there were a couple of incidents fairly recently that, I think, really highlighted that there were still changes that had to be made, and they involved two characters in particular; Black Widow and Rey.

Image result for black widow gif

Back in 2015, when Avengers: Age of Ultron came out in theatres, fans quickly noticed that in all of the merchandise hitting store shelves, next to nothing featured Black Widow.  A few months later, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived and all of their merch was released, fans AGAIN noticed that very few things featured Rey, who is arguably the star of the film.  What heck?

Though the companies that sell these toys tried to tip toe around the issue, people have come out and said that, yes, many executives leapt to the conclusion that boys would not buy something if it had a girl on it.

And that leads to one reason many people don’t realize propelled Disney to buy the Star Wars and Marvel franchises to begin with.  There were a lot of reasons to buy both, but one big one was that they wanted to appeal to boys.  They figured they had girls down with the Disney Princess line, and they wanted more boys to buy their products.

Yes, it’s silly.  And it’s a line of reasoning clearly stuck several decades in the past, as they soon found out.  They didn’t count on the fact that a lot of girls LOVE Star Wars and Marvel, and always have.

Image may contain: text

And when those hardcore fans could not find the characters that they loved on t-shirts or on toy shelves, they would not stand for it.

Image result for that dog won't hunt monsignor

DC certainly noticed the fan outrage, and decided to pounce.  Enter DC Super Hero Girls that same year, which was an attempt to highlight their roster of female heroes by putting them in a high school setting, creating lots of dolls and action figures (I have the Batgirl figure, natch) and animated shorts and films.  DC’s also had tremendous success with their digital series Bombshells, and will have an upcoming series called Gotham Garage, both of which heavily feature superheroines.

For their part, Disney seems to have learned it’s lesson the last couple of years, releasing more merchandise with Widow, Gamorra and the Scarlett Witch.  And just this year they launched Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, a series of animated shorts on YouTube, along with books, dolls, etc. that highlight the heroines of the franchise, from Rey to Leia to Ahsoka to Jyn and more.

So while more work still needs to be done, I think this is all very encouraging.  What do you guys think?  Post away in the comments or write your own thoughts on the WriteIt website.

If you’re looking for more books to add to your TSRC tally might I recommend Black Widow: Forever Red (and the sequel Red Vengeance)?  Or how about Ahsoka or Rebel Rising?  Get your heroine read on!

Keep your eyes peeled for more news, keep reading to run up that TSRC tally and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Spider-Man! An Appreciation!

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Spider-Man!  Spider-Man!  Does whatever a spider can!  Spins a web, any size!  Catches thieves just like flies!  LOOK OUT!  Here comes the Spider-Maaaaaaan!

That song’s been around since the 1960s.  About as long as the character it features.  Yep, we’re gonna talk about everyone’s favorite web-head today, which seems timely seeing as how his first solo MCU film comes out this weekend.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is Spidey’s 6th movie in 15 years, which is a high turn-over rate in film.  It’s actually his 7th if you count his appearance in Captain America: Civil War, and this is his first solo film since joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Let me break it down and bring you up to speed…

ComicsHis first appearance was in Amazing Fantasy issue #15 in 1962, and he was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  He was one of the first teens in comics who wasn’t a sidekick or side character, and he was specifically created with teens in mind as a relatable hero, with power but also insecurities and awkwardness.  He’s been a regular in Marvel ever since and has become one of the publisher’s most iconic characters.

TV – Spidey’s been in other media almost since he appeared on the scene.  The first was an animated series that ran from 1967 to 1970 (and that’s where his theme song comes from).  One version I saw a lot of was an animated series that ran from 1994 to 1998.  But he’s been a steady presence on small screens, with a new series coming out this year.

Broadway – Probably the less said about this, the better.  But still, it did happen.

Movies – OK, buckle up, ’cause this gets a little complicated.  A really great article just came out that outlines the whole sordid affair, but let me sum up.  Some of you might be wondering why we haven’t seen Spidey on screen with the Avengers up until now.  Well, there’s a couple of reasons for that.  Back in the 90s, before the big super-hero boom in film and before they created their own movie studio, Marvel sold off the film rights to some of their most popular characters, most notably the X-Men to 20th Century Fox and Spider-Man to Sony.

Sony had tremendous success with it’s first 2 Spider-Man films, 2002’s Spider-Man and 2004’s Spider-Man 2, both starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker.  But trouble started to brew in 2007 when Spider-Man 3 debuted.  Though it did alright financially, it was panned by the critics and is still a sore spot for Spidey fans.  So, Sony tried to reboot the series a mere 5 years after the first trilogy (that’s a big thing you start to see when you follow pop culture trends; movie studios are first and foremost a business, and they want to make money).  This brings us to Amazing Spider-Man in 2012, starring Andrew Garfield, and Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014.  These were met with resounding ‘meh’s from audiences, so Sony, after having three under-performing films, decided it was time to open up communications with Marvel Studios, who have been killing it with their extended universe of films.  Sony didn’t want to give the character back to them, per se (as was the case with Daredevil and maybe Fantastic 4), but to partner up.  Thus, Spidey appeared in Civil War, with Tom Holland (the 2nd Englishman to play the part) taking over as Peter and he will now get his own film as a joint Marvel/Sony project.

So Spidey returns to the fold!  But I wouldn’t hold your breath when it comes to the X-Men.  Fox is still making good money on those characters and will likely want to hold on to them.

Other characters – The world of Spider-Man has many interesting players to read up on, especially when you get into the multiverse.  There’s Miles Morales, an alternate universe Spidey who is biracial and made a big splash when he first debuted.  One of the most recent and popular characters is nicknamed Spider-Gwen.  She’s an alternate universe version of long-time Parker love interest Gwen Stacy, but in this reality she’s the one who was bitten by that pesky radioactive spider, and became her universe’s version of Spider-Woman.  Fans were thrilled to have Gwen back and staring as the hero, considering what happened to the main universe’s version (spoilers).  And Spider-Man has a heck of a Rogue’s Gallery, some of which have had their own comics.

So there’s a relatively brief rundown, considering the character is 55 years old.  Anything important I missed?  Post in the comments section and if you go see the film be sure to let us know what you think on the Write It website.  Any and all Spider-Man comics you read this summer do count in the Teen Summer Reading Challenge, btw.  And click here and here for more MCU vids to watch.

Until next time, End of Line, and remember…

To hiiiiiiim, life is a great big baaaang up!  Wherever there’s a haaaang up, you’ll find the Spider-Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!  (It’s hard to tell in print, but I’m actually a half-way descent singer, I swear!)