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

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

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

How To Top Thanos Vol. 1 – Annihilus

The first generation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – now officially “The Infinity Saga”[1] – has come to a close with Avengers: Endgame.  While I’m only beginning to process all the film had to offer, I still can’t help imagining what will come next.  More Black Panther!  More Captain Marvel!  More Dr. Strange!  Plus we know there are movies in the works for new characters like the Eternals and Shang-Chi.[2]  But, as the name “Infinity Saga” implies, it’s not all about the heroes.  The name points towards the reality that the past eleven years and twenty-two films all led to our heroes’ iconic encounter with the Mad Titan Thanos, in an attempt to stop his destruction of half of all life with the Infinity Stones.  So, thinking of the future of the MCU naturally begs the question…what villain comes next?  Who can possibly follow Thanos??  My (first) guess?  Annihilus – the Living Death that Walks.  BOOM. Continue reading

#DontSpoilTheEndgame – What Compels Us to Spoil Things?

In the weeks leading up to Avengers: Endgame, I did what any conscientious fan has to do now – I got off social media, stopped reading any and all articles online, and stopped viewing video clips and interviews with the cast and the Russos.  I didn’t want the conclusion of a story I’ve watched unfold for a decade inadvertently spoiled for me.  In the days leading up to the film and the days following its release, the hashtag #DontSpoilTheEndgame began to trend as the stars of the film and the Marvel Studios/Disney marketing machine urged people not to ruin anything for the fans who hadn’t seen it yet.  Of course people still did.  Then Marvel Studios/Disney did.  Apparently the whole “don’t spoil it” thing’s cutoff is two weekends.  Then the spoilers came fast and they were BIG.  It leaves me asking, what is wrong with people??  Why must we publicly discuss twists/the end at all? Continue reading

Tony Stark – Marvel’s Cinematic Masterpiece

“Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” – with four words Joss Whedon defined the character of Tony Stark for a generation.  But it was never the words alone that transformed a b-level character into a worldwide icon and the anchor for a groundbreaking interconnected cinematic universe.  It was the man inside the armor delivering those lines.  While it’s easy to forget, eleven years and twenty-two films in, back in 2008 Marvel Studios was far from a sure thing.  Marvel had sold their most successful characters (Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four) to other studios and was left to make their own movies with their second tier.  Robert Downey Jr. made it work.  He incarnated Tony Stark perfectly, seamlessly blending cockiness and charisma, arrogance and vulnerability, snark and heart.  He presented a character who resonated and who meant something.  He carried the world of comic books into the mainstream on his armored shoulders, all but single-handedly paving the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  No matter how much brilliance followed in his wake, this is why Tony Stark will always be Marvel’s cinematic masterpiece to me. Continue reading

Best MCU Viewing Order / My Avengers: Endgame Preparation!

It’s that time of year again.  It’s time for me to add stress and pressure to my life by trying to wrap all daily obligations around a now TWENTY-ONE FILM movie marathon before seeing the twenty-second entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame.  Last year I said the MCU was getting too large for this.  I can’t marathon their entire catalogue three times a year with each new entry.  But I also admitted I’d have to do this at least once more because Avengers: Endgame is the closing chapter of the MCU’s first generation.  If I marathoned it all for Avengers: Infinity War, then I had to for Avengers: Endgame.  I figured I’d discuss my preferred viewing order now too.  Why is it the best?  Um, well it’s the one I’ve chosen for myself and why wouldn’t I pick what I like best for myself?  Do you agree, dear reader?  Well, there’s only one way to find out…read on and let’s get our Mighty Marvel Movie Marathon on together! Continue reading

Captain Marvel – A Trailer, A Hunch

Okay so obviously I know the Captain Marvel trailer(s) came out before the one for Avengers: Endgame.  And, in the wake of my feelings on Avengers: Infinity War, I’ve been pretty open about being more excited for Captain Marvel than Avengers 4.  So you may be wondering why, pray tell, didn’t I write about this trailer when it came out?  Well, when I watched it I had a feeling and this feeling informed what I wanted to write.  However, to write what I wanted to write, I needed to see if my hunch played out and for that I needed to see the Avengers 4 trailer.  Now, having basked in the glory and excitement of both the Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame trailers, I’m ready to talk about our first look(s) at Carol Danvers cinematic debut! Continue reading

Avengers: Endgame – A Trailer, Some Feels

Obviously, like so many others, I immediately stopped everything I was doing to watch the Avengers: Endgame trailer when it was released today.  As I proceeded to rewatch it (a bunch of times) I was struck by a unique idea.  What if I wrote about the trailer?!?  It just came out.  I have random thoughts and feelings.  What if I used the internet to share those immediate thoughts and feelings?!?  I know it’s unheard of for someone to use the internet as a medium to publish their immediate, undeveloped reactions to something as soon as it happens.  But I felt this idea was just crazy enough to work!  Plus, I’ve been pretty open about my disappointment with Avengers: Infinity War so I wanted to talk about the surprise punch to the feels this first trailer brought. Continue reading