This weekend, in anticipation of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, I returned to a favorite tradition of mine – marathoning old movies before I see the new one! The size of the Marvel Cinematic Universe means the last time I watched every movie was my marathon for Avengers: Endgame. Now, saner (and healthier!) parts have prevailed. Instead of ruining my life by trying to watch the twenty-eight different films and nineteen different TV series with thirty-six seasons between them that make up the MCU (at the time of this writing), I’ve just chosen to watch Doctor Strange (2015), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), WandaVision (2021), and Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). Rewatching Doctor Strange a question struck me: whatever happened to Dr. Christine Palmer?
As soon as I saw Black Widow last summer I felt this thought wiggling around in my brain. Is it…? Could it be…? Is…is Black Widow now my favorite Marvel movie?! Because I’m me, I certainly couldn’t say definitively. First, I’m not the type of person who can throw a term like “favorite” around lightly. To say I like or love something is one thing. But to say it’s “my favorite” or “the best” or “the greatest” of all-time? That requires a lot of thoughtful discernment for me. Second, there’s this odd reaction/habit within our culture, especially within our fandom cultures, where whatever is newest is automatically the best. It’s new! It’s shiny! It’s the best ever!!! So, while that’s never been me, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t having that sort of reaction when I first saw Black Widow on July 8th. I said I loved it. I said it was easily one of the best films the MCU has to offer. And I said it may be my all-time favorite movie within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Still, I needed time before I could say that with any certainty. Now I know. Black Widow is the best Marvel movie of all-time! And here’s why…
This was a guest piece I wrote back in August of 2018 for a site that no longer exists. I like it and was thinking about Thanos today (I know…dark, right?) so I figured I’d post it here with a few slight edits. Enjoy!
What’s the plural of Thanos? Would it be Thanos? Or Thanoses? Or Thani? I don’t know but I still kind of like the ring of this title anyway so I’m sticking with it. Once Avengers: Infinity War was finally upon us, one of its most discussed features was the character of Thanos. I’ve read many reviews and essays examining the film which make the point Avengers: Infinity War is more a film about Thanos than any of the superheroes, something directors Joe and Anthony Russo have said themselves. What struck me most about Thanos when I first saw Avengers: Infinity War (and has continued to warrant further reflection with each subsequent viewing) is how different his motivations are in the film from the comics. Continue reading
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
Inspired by listening to the song a few weeks ago, I decided to spend the month of December reflecting on what Christmas means to me. Then I decided it would be a fun to use Doctor Who Christmas specials as the sole lens through which to consider this question! “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” written by Steven Moffat, was Doctor Who’s 2016 Christmas special. It starred Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Matt Lucas as the oh-so-amazing-yet-forever-underrate Nardole, Justin Chatwin as Grant Gordon/the Ghost, and Charity Wakefield as Lucy Fletcher. Picking favorites out of the Doctor Who Christmas specials is all but impossible. Still…this one has always stood out for me. So, What Does Christmas Mean To Me (Vol. 3)? Let’s follow the Doctor stateside to New York City and start breaking that very question down!
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