Black Widow and the Face of Family in the MCU

I’ve seen Black Widow!  Well, I guess a better way to put it is I keep seeing Black Widow ;).  It holds a special place in my heart.  Black Widow marks the return of two long running traditions.  My first showing on July 8th was the return of a Marvel movie opening night AND the return of seeing a movie after dinner on my birthday!  The latter is something I’ve done since high school but was naturally on hiatus last year as our local Covid lockdowns were in full force.  It felt so good to be back.  Each time I’ve seen it since, I’ve noticed how comforting it feels to be in a darkened theatre again and hear those pages flip as the Marvel logo appears on screen.  Black Widow is special for many reasons beyond my own traditions, too.  Scarlett Johansson FINALLY has her own solo film as Natasha Romanoff, a character she debuted in 2010’s Iron Man 2.  Yay!  And what a film it is.  It’s magnificent, one of the best within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Black Widow is the film Natasha (and Scarlett Johansson!) has always deserved.  I’d argue Natasha, more than any other character, best personifies the most important recurring message in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this film illustrates all she is brilliantly.    

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Fascination and Frustration with the Loki Finale

Season One of Loki has come to a close and I have lots of feelings.  My relationship with Loki has been complicated from “go.”  The first episode left me with more concerns than intrigue, wondering about the direction they were taking the MCU’s overarching narrative.  The second episode setup so much!  It got me excited!  Maybe I was wrong!  Episode three was disconcerting as it was just filler.  Then comes four-five-six and I’ve been all over the board with how this show has made me feel.  Now, with the dust only beginning to settle, I wanted to explore my at-times-surprisingly visceral reaction to the end of Loki Season One.  MASSIVE SPOILERS for the Loki finale will follow.  A mass of FEELINGS will follow as well.  So tread carefully, based your comfort level with exposure to SPOILERS and my raging feels ;D.

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Stream-of-Consciousness Loki Theorizing About the TVA and Variants

Am I doing this?  Am I writing a second post about Loki after the second episode?  Is this going to be a thing I do?  I don’t know what the future holds but for now…yeah, it totally is.  But it’s summer vacation!  I SURVIVED a year of pandemic teaching!  Now I can catch my breath, work on the book, and enjoy life…which includes watching, thinking, and (it would appear) writing about Loki.  Also, speculating and theorizing is part of the fun with new episodes dropping weekly!  The ideas in this post began with a comment Gemma (of Book Beach Bunny) left on my first post about Loki.  Then Krysta (of Pages Unbound) left a comment on that piece, too, which added more fuel to my contemplative fire.  Then Jeff and I spent like an hour on the phone after we both watched the second episode this morning considering everything we saw and discussing it in light of Gemma and Krysta’s comments.  Soooo…voila!  Here’s a new post.  But do you see what happened?!?  All these ideas began with comment thread discussions so maybe this post will lead to new ideas to obsess over until the next episode comes out!  Also this will have MAJOR SPOILERS for episode two of Loki so read on only if a) you’ve seen it or b) are ok with MAJOR SPOILERS.

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Loki and Questions of the MCU’s Multiverse

I just watched the first episode of Loki and decided to sit down and write about it.  This NEVER happens for me!  Normally I’ve too many thoughts to order as I write or life is too busy to go from reading/viewing to writing to posting or both.  Either way, here we are :).  I didn’t go into Loki planning to write about it.  But as I watched several serious questions began swirling around in my head.  And I figured, “What the Hel?  Just write.”  So here we are.  If you’ve not seen it, I won’t discuss any major surprises but I’ll be exploring the basic plot setup and the questions it’s presentation of the multiverse gives us.  Coolio?  Coolio.  Let’s jump into all the first episode of Loki gives us to consider about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s concept of the multiverse, shall we?

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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.

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