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

Black Widow: A Comic Book Retrospective – the ‘80s and ‘90s

On the heels of the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, a conversation with Kiri (of Star Wars Anonymous) about whether or not Black Widow had ever been blonde in the comics showed me how shamefully few of her comics I’d read.  Naturally, I took the next logical step – I waaaay overcommitted and have spent over two years now figuring out a reading list, finding the titles, and then reading my way through decades of Black Widow stories.  Three months back, I wrote a piece looking at Natasha’s most important appearances in the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Now it’s time to dive into the ‘80s and ‘90s as I continue my little journey through her comic book history, from Natasha’s first appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964) to her most recent miniseries, The Web of Black Widow (2019-20). 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.

Note, this has spoilers for both Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home (obvs.). Continue reading

Ten Surprised I Found When I Finally Read “The Winter Soldier”

Quarantine brings lots of time to read so I guess there’s a little silver lining to be found in our lives of social distancing and self-isolation.  While I’ve been at home, I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading.  Since I’ve had Bucky Barnes on my mind lately, I thought the time was right to finally read Ed Burbank’s “Winter Solider,” the 2005 storyline that served as the inspiration for one of the MCU’s most well-received films.  I figured I’d use the format I chose when I wrote about Marvel’s epic “Civil War” storyline a little over a year ago, too.  With a story so widely known and discussed in popular (comic) culture circles, where there any surprises left to be found reading it fifteen years after the fact? 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

My Top Five Favorite Comic Book Movies

I’m normally not a huge fan of lists like this.  It’s always so subjective (naturally) and they can change rather frequently (at least for me).  So I don’t often write them.  We can be mercurial in our fandom love, you know?  But this term I’m teaching a new course on the intersection of comic books and social justice.  In the course, we read several comics and watch several comic book films and then we deconstruct them, exploring their messages and symbolism, with an eye towards justice issues.  As we discussed what would be in the course, several students asked me what my favorite comic book movies were.  I couldn’t just brush aside the question – my students are seeking to better understand the preferences and passions that have shaped me and this course!  I also can’t answer a question like this without way overthinking XD.  So here are the results of the deep introspection and soul-searching brought on by my students’ inquiries. 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

Black Widow – A Trailer, IT’S ABOUT TIME!!!!

I wasn’t planning on writing tonight.  But two things changed my mind.  First, this was my first day back to work after Thanksgiving break and that means my body still isn’t back to its “work sleep schedule.”  Last night I tried to go to bed early which translated into me laying in bed staring at the ceiling wishing I could fall asleep for like two hours.  Second, and faaaaaaaar more influential here, WE GOT OUR FIRST TEASER TRAILER FOR BLACK WIDOW TODAY!!!!!!!  That’s right, after eleven looooong years of Marvel cinematic magic, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff is finally, finally, finally, FINALLY getting her own solo movie AND WE GOT OUT FIRST LOOK AT IT TODAY!!  AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  So yeah, if I’m not going to bed on time anyway, I might as well talk about how excited I am for this. Continue reading

…..really?? – Kevin Feige, Disney+, and the MCU

The other day I stumbled upon this article on ComicBook.com about how Kevin Feige has said the upcoming MCU shows on Disney’s new streaming service Disney+ will fit in with the movies.  As I read it, I found this li’l post developing in my head.  Sometimes I like/need to just react to something as soon as I hear it.  That’s how this sporadic “…..really??” series works.  Sometimes my fears/feelings end up being validated (like how “Marvel Legacy” was a boring reset) and sometimes I couldn’t be more wrong (like when I decried the “Hydra Cap” reveal).  But this time it’s Feige and the next phase of stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe I want to talk about. Continue reading