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

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Team Cap: A Realization

This is a sequel of sorts, to one of the earliest pieces I ever wrote on this site.  However, it isn’t a piece I was planning on writing now or, if I’m being honest, ever.  I wasn’t planning on writing tonight as I’m in D.C. for the PCA/ACA National Conference on Popular Culture.  My week’s focus is attending exciting panels and presenting my paper on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  So writing wasn’t on the agenda.  However I HAD to write because something’s been gnawing and I had to express it.  You see, last night my pre-Avengers: Endgame marathon came to Captain America: Civil War and, well, something struck me – something I never thought I’d see or say or believe.  But here we are. Continue reading

Captain Marvel – Where the MCU’s Been and Where It’s Going

I went into Captain Marvel with pretty high expectations.  While I felt the marketing Marvel did for the film was subpar, this was still the Marvel movie I was most excited about this year.  It was also the one I had the highest expectations for.  Yes, I will be in line for Avengers: Endgame with everyone else, ready to see how the first generation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to an end.  But Captain Marvel’s the movie I was waiting for.  With that in mind, I wanted to talk a little bit about the film (no spoilers) but also about the MCU in general  After my first (and second) viewing of the film, I found myself contemplating how Carol Danvers was brought to life on the big screen and also what the future of the MCU will look like with her and Black Panther at the fore. Continue reading

Spider-Gwen: Portrait of an Isolated Vigilante

Like everyone else in the world, I fell in love with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse when I saw it.  Miles Morales’ story began when I wasn’t reading comic books and, when I returned, it was one of the things I couldn’t wait to explore.  In fact, for the first year of my return to comic reading, it was his Spider-Man exploits alone I followed, wary of jumping back into Peter Parker’s world after having missed out on so much.  To see Miles take center stage in this movie was exciting!  But it wasn’t just Miles in the film.  My excitement to see his story unfold on the big screen was matched by my intrigue at seeing Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Woman.  I wasn’t halfway through my first viewing of the film before I knew I had to start reading Spider-Gwen for myself. Continue reading

My Comic Advice: Where to Begin Reading Spider-Man

So you’re new to comics…or you’re new to the Marvel Universe…or you’re new to Spider-Man and you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I’d like to immerse myself in the amazing world of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man BUT there’s over sixty years of comic books out there.  That’s intimidating!  How do I just jump in with decades of characters and continuity??  Where do I even begin?!?”  Well you’re in luck.  I’m here to help in my new series, “My Comic Advice,” where I’ll outline the best place for any newbie to begin reading a popular comic series.  What makes me the person for this job?  Well, I’ve loved comics for over thirty years but, more importantly, you are here reading this so it seems like we already have a bond :).  That being said…where do you begin reading Spider-Man?  Let’s find out! Continue reading

The Imperial Avengers Assemble!

Since I pushed Mike to present his Avenger’s Dream Team he, in turn, told me that I had to share my own squad of Avenging superheroes. As I have been soaking up Marvel stories lately, and not really interested in the Star Wars content being pumped out by Disney (which has resulted in my having absolutely nothing to say about Star Wars over on my site), I figured I would take Mike up on the offer and share my own team – “The Imperial Avengers.” That said, I should note that whereas I am a savant with Star Wars, my knowledge of the Marvel-verse is plebian compared to Michael. Soooo, you know, just bear with me here as I struggle to explain my rationale for choosing my team. Continue reading

My Avengers Dream Team

Reading Brian Michael Bendis’ The New Avengers lately (first the issues in “Civil War” and now I’m wading through the equally lengthy “Secret Invasion”) I can’t help but think: He just picked whatever superheroes he liked and made them Avengers.  I mean, c’mon.  Spider-Man?!?  Wolverine?!?  Luke Cage and Jessica Jones?!?  I love Spidey but he’s a neighborhood guy.  The same goes for Luke and Jessica; they’re street-level heroes.  And Wolverine?  The guy’s not a joiner AT ALL let alone randomly becoming an Avenger.  Jason Aaron’s done the same thing with his new team.  Ghost Rider?  Doctor Strange?  What the heck??  But then I realized THAT’S WHY YOU’D WANT TO WRITE AVENGERS BECAUSE YOU GET TO DESIGN YOUR OWN TEAM.  Moments after this realization hit it naturally led me to consider – Who would fill my Avengers dream team? Continue reading