The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the Weight of the Shield

I just finished the third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and I’ve had a question bouncing around in my head since the first episode.  It never once occurred to me reading about these characters in comic books but it rises when you place them within the nature and structure of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The piece will have light plot spoilers for the first three episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Solider so if you’ve not seen any of it and you don’t want anything spoiled, feel free to click away now.  I enjoyed your visit!  If you don’t mind light spoilers, then by all means read on.  You do you :D.  With that being said, this piece will consider the question of the emotional and moral weight of trying to carry Captain America’s shield once Steve Rogers himself is gone.

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What I Learned Watching 26 Episodes of Harley Quinn in 8 Days

On a whim, I decided to try watching Harley Quinn on HBO Max.  My only real experience with Harley Quinn up to this point had been Batman: The Animated Series, obviously, and DC’s recent Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn.  As I watched, I thought it’d be fun to write about the experience as I did last year, when I tried to binge-watch ninety-six episodes of Supergirl in the nineteen days I had left before the new season premiered.  Instead of doing any sort of analysis or deconstruction or anything like that, I just wrote my stream-of-consciousness thoughts as I watched.  Now I’ve discovered the DC Universe’s Harley Quinn show!  And, while I watched at a more leisurely pace (relatively speaking), I decided to write the same sort of piece.  Let’s see where this goes…

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How to Top Thanos Vol. 3 – War of the Realms

This is the third installment in my li’l series where I try to figure out where the Marvel Cinematic Universe should go after Thanos.  As I know Kevin Feige and co. are regular readers of the blog, I like to help them out when I can.  What can I say?  I’m a giver.  For ten years all the narratives across the MCU slowly converged, bringing all our heroes together to battle Thanos on his quest for the Infinity Stones.  While Covid has delayed the beginning of the MCU’s Phase Four, we’ve still got a new overarching story about to unfold.  So what has the gravitas to follow the MCU’s epic, medium-defining Infinity Saga?  My first two ideas were character-centric, considering which villain could be intimidating and powerful enough to follow the Mad Titan.  This time I’m focusing more on tonal issues.  What type of story would be a worthy successor to the Infinity Saga?  Turns out the best way to follow Thanos is with a Marvel Cinematic Universe rendition of the WAR OF THE REALMS.  Huzzah!

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Iron Man, Endgame, and the Thanos of Pandemic Teaching

Amidst the sea of emotions pandemic teaching brings, I find myself often thinking of Tony Stark’s character arc through Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.  So the other day, to explore these thoughts (and avoid thinking only of school once I was home), I decided to rewatch both films back to back.  I realized two things.  First, I was very critical of Avengers: Infinity War when it first came out and, while I stand by my critiques of the glaring plot holes throughout, I grant the film works much better when watched with Avengers: Endgame.  On its own, it’s disappointing.  But as the first half of a six hour movie, it’s far more enjoyable.  Second, Tony Stark’s journey is a surprisingly solid metaphorical stand-in for what teaching feels like right now.  Or, so as to not universalize my feelings for every teacher everywhere, Tony Stark’s journey serves as a surprisingly solid metaphorical stand-in for what teaching feels like right now for me.  Would you like to know what pandemic teaching is like?  Well, if you’ve seen Infinity War and Endgame it turns out you already kinda know. Continue reading

How to Top Thanos Vol. 2 – Onslaught

The first eleven years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe held twenty-two films all leading up the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy’s battle with Thanos and his Black Order, as the fate of creation hung in the balance.  It was a story built with patience and care and the conclusion in Avengers: Endgame, while not without faults, was brilliantly crafted.  But the MCU didn’t end there.  No, Phase Four is rolling and one of many questions to consider is…which villain comes next?  Who can possibly follow Thanos??  My guess?  Onslaught.  BOOM. Continue reading

Considering Peter Parker, EDITH, and Spider-Man: Far From Home

All the creatives and stars of Avengers: Endgame joined in a massive social media campaign asking everyone to be decent human beings and #DontSpoilTheEndgame…for two weeks until Marvel Studios used MASSIVE spoilers for Endgame in their trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home.  It was clear they were seeking to use all the emotions flowing in the wake of Endgame to motivate advanced ticket sales for Far From Home.  Marvel Studios was very direct about how Spider-Man: Far From Home served as the epilogue to Avengers: Endgame.  I enjoyed the film but was – and remain – frustrated by a plot point with seriously troubling implications.

Note, this has spoilers for both Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home (obvs.). Continue reading

Captain Marvel and the “Power Problem” – A Marvel Cinematic Universe Reflection

Whenever anyone asked me what I thought of Avengers: Endgame my answer was generally some form of, “I loved it!  While I thought there were a few serious problems, by and large I thought it was a damn near perfect movie, delivering just about everything I could have wanted from it.”  One of the things that bothered me was Marvel’s sidelining several of their prominent female characters (again).  Now, I grant we had that kickass scene on the battlefield in the final showdown with Thanos.  And I grant Nebula’s story arc was brilliant (but that’s the story for another post).  However, the way they left some of their major players off the board – most notably Okoye and Carol Danvers – bothered me.  Here I want to consider why Captain Marvel should have had a far larger role in Endgame and wade through one of the most commonly cited (and paper thin) arguments about why she’s such a “difficult” character to handle. Continue reading

My Top Five Favorite Comic Book Movies

I’m normally not a huge fan of lists like this.  It’s always so subjective (naturally) and they can change rather frequently (at least for me).  So I don’t often write them.  We can be mercurial in our fandom love, you know?  But this term I’m teaching a new course on the intersection of comic books and social justice.  In the course, we read several comics and watch several comic book films and then we deconstruct them, exploring their messages and symbolism, with an eye towards justice issues.  As we discussed what would be in the course, several students asked me what my favorite comic book movies were.  I couldn’t just brush aside the question – my students are seeking to better understand the preferences and passions that have shaped me and this course!  I also can’t answer a question like this without way overthinking XD.  So here are the results of the deep introspection and soul-searching brought on by my students’ inquiries. Continue reading

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Problem of Fat Shaming

In a recent post about the first teaser trailer for Black Widow, I discussed my excitement for the film while pointing out the criticism Marvel received almost as soon as the trailer premiered for fat shaming again.  In addition to all the (fair and deserving) praise Avengers: Endgame received, it also received some (fair and deserving) criticism for fat shaming in their presentation of Thor.  The trailer for Black Widow does the same with the character of Red Guardian.  A comment left on that post led to the idea for this one.  While putting together my reply, I decided it warranted its own post.  I write often of the intersection of comic books and social justice issues on this site so it’s not just natural but important I address this because fat shaming, or weightism, is a justice issue.  It’s also one, sadly, many people in our culture don’t understand or, worse, don’t even acknowledge as an issue at all.  Thankfully that’s starting to change and now seems like an opportune time to add my voice to that chorus. Continue reading

Ghostbusters: Afterlife – A Trailer, A Mixed Bag of Emotions…

Obviously I’ve been eagerly awaiting the trailer for writer/director Jason Reitman’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife to drop.  The original Ghostbusters (1984) is my all-time favorite movie.  I not only watched it all the time as a kid but I still watch it all the time as an adult.  It’s consistently been bringing joy to my life, and I’ve consistently watched it multiple times every year, for over thirty years!  I don’t have that relationship with any other film – not Avengers, not (500) Days of Summer, not any of the Star Wars movies.  Also, I enjoy Ghostbusters even more as an adult because now I get all the jokes!  So not only do I love this movie but it keeps getting better for me.  Of course then, when I heard Reitman was making “a direct sequel” to his father’s iconic 1984 film, I was intrigued.  So much could go right!  But so much could go wrong too.  Now the trailer’s here and I’m feeling…lots of things. Continue reading