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

The Greatest Kraven Story Ever Told

Sergei Kravinoff, a.k.a. Kraven the Hunter, was created in 1964 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for The Amazing Spider-Man #15.  The son of a Russian noble family who fled to America in 1917 in the wake of the February Revolution, Kraven’s self-identity was defined by being a big game hunter.  In an attempt to prove he was the world’s greatest hunter, Kraven became obsessed with defeating Spider-Man.  He hunted the web-head from his creation in ’64 until his death in 1987’s critically acclaimed “Kraven’s Last Hunt” story arc.  As with many comic characters Kraven would ultimately be resurrected, in this case by his family in 2010’s “Grim Hunt” storyline.  In the fifty-four years since his creation, Kraven has featured in some of Spider-Man’s most iconic storylines and stood among the web-slinger’s fiercest foes.  But which is the greatest Kraven story ever told?  To my mind, dear reader, there is only one answer.  (Oh, there will be spoilers, obvs.) Continue reading

Lovin’ Loki: When A Villain Evolves

As early news for 2012’s The Avengers began to spread, we learned (much like in the comics) the villain who would unite these heroes for the first time was a familiar face.  Loki Laufeyson had survived his self-imposed fall from the Bifrost at the end of 2011’s Thor and would be leading a Chitauri invasion force to take Earth as his own.  This had two major implications for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  First, most obviously, it gave the Avengers a reason to form.  Second, it showed the MCU was finally ready to depart from the default/cliché ending to almost every superhero movie ever.  A villain had lived!  This would be a game changer.  In allowing Loki’s character to evolve (over the course of five films by the time Avengers: Infinity War hits), fans have been able to embrace him as Tom Hiddleston has built an engaging, complicated, and evolving character. Continue reading

Who Is My Spider-Man?

My original plan was to re-watch all three of Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man movies, both of Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man movies and then re-watch Captain America: Civil War in preparation for Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Then I was going to write this post about which film version I liked best.  It was going to be a sort of who-really-embodied-my-Spidey-the-best kind of a thing.  But a realization hit me.  While I’ve loved each and every Spider-Man I’ve seen swing across the screen in their own way (yes, I even see a bright and enjoyable silver lining to Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2), not one of them have felt like my Spidey.  However, this has nothing to do with writers, directors, or actors.  Rather, it has everything to do with when I grew up.  Continue reading

Guardians Of The Galaxy and the Importance of an Awesome Mix Tape

It’s a looong weekend ladies and gentlemen so let’s pop in a good mix, consider what our music says about us, and appreciate some tunes!  Yes, the music in James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy films create an unbelievably fun, catchy soundtrack we all want to play on repeat forever BUT it’s ALSO as unique and important to the plot as the crew of the Milano.  More than most films, the Awesome Mixes give Guardians Of The Galaxy its soul.  It makes sense!  Our music is an intimate part of who we are and, as a result, an honest, heartfelt mix tape is a gift where we share something deeply personal with another.  In the films, Awesome Mix Vol. 1 and 2 are gifts to Peter from his mother, Meredith Quill.  In sharing the music she loved with him she also gave him a beautiful part of herself.  So, in the Awesome Mixes, we aren’t treated simply to a fun soundtrack.  Rather, we see a picture of who Meredith Quill was and we find an important part of what shaped Peter Quill into the man he became. Continue reading