Saturday, April 10, 2021

Order in the (Marvel) Universe (Part IV)

While furloughed from my previous job (I still can't get over the idea that I've quit) I was distracting myself by rewatching the whole the of Marvel Cinematic Universe in chronological order of events, including the TV Series. 

Which brings me to Part IV. It's been nearly a month, and we've still been working our way through it. Last blog post about this we'd just finished Season 2 of Agents of SHIELD, and were heading back into Hell's Kitchen again...

Daredevil Season 2 promotional image - 
Matt Murdock gets a bit chained up by the Punisher

Next up on the rewatch is Daredevil Season Two. I remember the first time I watched this I had a couple of problems with it - one was Elektra's accent, and the other was the casting of Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle (aka, The Punisher). Elektra was one of my favourites as a teen, and one of the comics that got me back into reading comics after a break thanks to Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz's 'Elektra: Assassin'. I'd read that so many time, so in my head I knew Elektra's background as being Greek, so her rather upper-class British accent sounded a bit weird at the time. However, on the rewatch, it didn't bother me for some reason. Maybe because I knew it was coming.

Jon Bernthal's casting as Frank Castle only really bothered me the first time around because the only thing I'd really seen him in was The Walking Dead, and I really didn't like Shane in that series. Time has passed, and I stopped watching Walking Dead a long time ago (#JusticeForGlenn - my favourite TWD character). Now time as passed and Shane is a distant memory, I could really appreciate Bernthal's portrayal of Frank Castle. He's deeply troubled, mentally scarred, and feels he cannot be redeemed. Vengeance is all he can see. Honestly brilliant.

And Season Two really ups 'The Hand' and their influence on things - and the sequence where they are escaping in Stick's car, and The Hand are firing arrows into it from the rooftops, is so Frank Miller it's genius. Needless to say, loved it. 

But, of course, we weren't JUST watching Daredevil Season Two. The timeline meant we were watching both Daredevil Season Two AND Luke Cage Season One

They needed to be watched in a special order - 

29 - Daredevil (Season Two, Episodes 1-4)

30 - Luke Cage (Season One, Episodes 1-4)

31 - Daredevil (Season Two, Episodes 5-11)

32 - Luke Cage (Season One, Episodes 5-8)

33 - Daredevil (Season Two, Episodes 12-13)

34 - Luke Cage (Season One, Episodes 9-13)

Anyway, Luke Cage Season One was great again. Brilliant cast, Simone Missick is fantastic as Misty Knight, and another one of my favourite actors - Mahershala Ali - who (let's face it) is flipping brilliant in anything he's in, just look at the last season of True Detective, as Cornell Stokes.

Promo image for Season One of Luke Cage

Another beautifully directed series, with gorgeous lighting that gives everything an iconic yellow tint (much like Daredevil has a red hue, and Jessica Jones is blue). And that soundtrack. Absolutely stunning. The only thing I thought that let Season One down was the departure of Cornell (don't call him Cottonmouth) Stokes, and bringing in Diamondback as the big-bad of the season. He was good, but he didn't ooze the charisma of Ali. I guess I should also mention multiple award winning Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard, who you just hate from the outset. You know she's up to evil things, and she portrays that power-hungry frenzy with a passion. 

The timeline didn't really have too much of an impact until you get to episode 11 of Daredevil, and Clare Temple survives an attack by The Hand at the hospital, and for her safety she leaves Hell's Kitchen. The next thing you watch is Episode 5 of Luke Cage and there's Clare Temple, arriving in Harlem. Really nice to watch it like this.

After the double-bill of Daredevil and Luke Cage, it's back to the movies and back onto Disney+ for Ant-Man

Promotional image for Marvel Studio's Ant-Man

Ant-Man is one that I was really excited for when it was announced, as initially it was going to be directed by one of my favourite movie directors - Edgar Wright. Unfortunately, he and Marvel parted ways, but his fingerprints are all over this heist tale. I managed to go to the press screening for this when it was released, and to the press conference with director Peyton Reed, and stars Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, and Michael Peña. 

Have to say, I do love this movie. It's a brilliantly heartwarming tale of families, wrapped up in a crazy action movie, with a heck of a lot of comedy. 

Then it was back to Agents of SHIELD to start Season Three. 

Promo image of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD Season Three

They really turned up the emotions in Season Three didn't they? Simmons is trapped on an alien planet, falls for a stranded 'sacrificial' Will Daniels, and is rescued in time to see the departure of Bobby and Hunter (such a sad episode, not a dry eye in the house - why did they cancel their spin-off series "Marvel's Most Wanted"?????? Arrrrg!!!). There's a mission to rescue Will from the alien planet, they discover HYDRA's origins, and have to face a new threat in the form of Hive. Really doesn't let up that season. It's brilliant as always, but...

You have to stop at episode 19.

Small pause in the action, just as things are getting really hectic in Agents of SHIELD while we take some time out to watch Iron Fist Season One.

Promotional image for Season One of Netflix's Iron Fist

I know Iron Fist gets a lot of hate, and I don't know why. Sure, Danny Rand is a bit of a naive plum, wandering around New York without shoes, expecting to just walk straight into his old life and become the billionaire he's born to be, and Finn Jones does a great job of this innocence. But the series is really made by the co-stars. Jessica Henwick is brilliant as Colleen Wing, and don't get me started on the Meachums. Ward and Harold Meachum (Tom Pelphrey and David Wenham) are just the perfect level of psychotic and messed up. 

There were a few criticisms that the martial arts in it seemed slow and badly choreographed, but I (personally) saw it as being fine - it kinda felt like Danny knew all the moves so much and had them ingrained into his head to the state that he could do them with little of the fury you'd expect from a fight. 

After Iron Fist Season One, (no, it's not back to SHIELD) it's onto the movies again for Captain America: Civil War. 

Promotional poster for Captain America: Civil War

This is my wife's least favourite Marvel movie, and I can understand why. The characters are all brilliant again, and it introduces two major players in the MCU - Black Panther and Spider-man. And the background plot of Zemo trying to destroy the Avengers from within, by making them turn on each other, revealing who killed Tony Stark's parents, is a great plot.

I know the movies are based on comics to a certain extent, and that all the characters are comic characters, but there's always that comic trope of heroes fighting each other. Who would win? (And before you ask, Wanda could take Superman) You know what? I don't care who would win. They are heroes. They fight villains who would cause the world harm. I love Tony Stark, though I love Steve Rogers more. I don't want to see them beat seven-hells out of each other. I want them joining together and fighting a bigger threat. The 'big fight' at an airport has its plus-sides (this is a great portrayal of Spider-man, and his witty remarks in a fight), but when you see Hawkeye and Black Widow fighting and you know they're pulling their punches you have that moment when you think - why are they actually fighting, and can they stop and get along now please?

Not so much a Captain America movie, but more Avengers 2.5, it's just good that they get over their differences in time for Thanos... but that's a way off yet...

But, it does introduce something major into the MCU timeline, something that will surface again very soon as we return to Agents of SHIELD Season Three for episodes 20-22. The Sokovia Accords. You can see why you watch Civil War between episodes 19 and 20, as episode 20: 'Emancipation' seems to say 'Sokovia Accords' a billion times in its first twenty minutes as the need to register and keep an eye on powered individuals is felt all over the MCU.

Season Three closes with the end of Hive, the end of Grant Ward, and the end of another Inhuman (spoilers for those who haven't seen it yet). It's emotional, but before you can rest there's the post credits sequence at the end of the last episode and we jump forward six months to realise Coulson's not the Director of SHIELD, Daisy has gone rogue, and it's all going to heck. 

Before moving onto Season Four (one of my favourites in Agents of SHIELD) we need to finish the big culmination of those Netflix series - everything in the four individual series have been building up to The Defenders

Marvels' Defenders promotional image

After some great first seasons in their own respective series, The Defenders resolves (most) of The Hand storyline mostly from Daredevil and Iron Fist, when we discover what they've been doing with that hole under the building in Manhattan, unlocking the key to immortality. Admittedly, it really starts very slow, but by episode three of the eight episode limited series they've all met in The Hand's offices (or rather a shiny room where Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver), one of the five fingers of The Hand, is meeting with her minions), and the cinematic punching begins. 

Sure, there are the Civil War problems where some of the characters just don't seem to get along, and there's a marked moment in one of the later episodes where they remember all the excellent supporting characters and Colleen, Clare, Karen, Misty, Foggy, and Trish, have a quick catch-up and get them involved again. It all ends with lots of punchy action again, and a lot of me shouting 'why haven't you powered up the fist?' repeatedly. 

And that brings us up to date (just about). Yesterday we started Season Four of Agents of SHIELD (as I mentioned, one of my favourite series of SHIELD - mostly as it did a brilliant job of Ghost Rider, had a great Life Model Decoy storyline, and then became "Agents of HYDRA" for a bit). 

For those of you who want to keep up, I'm using the order that DigitalSpy produced a little while ago. If you want to join in, here's the list we've worked through so far...

1 - Captain America: The First Avenger

2 - Agent Carter (Season One)

3 - Agent Carter (Season Two)

4 - Agent Carter (Marvel One-Shot - on Iron Man 3 bluray)

5 - Captain Marvel

6 - Iron Man

7 - Iron Man 2

8 - The Incredible Hulk (on Netflix)

9 - The Consultant (Marvel One-Shot - on the Thor bluray)

10 - A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to Thor's Hammer (Marvel One-Shot - on the Captain America: The First Avenger bluray)

11 - Thor: The Mighty Avenger

12 - Avengers Assemble (the first Avengers movie)

13 - Item 47 (Marvel One-Shot - on the Avengers bluray)

14 - Iron Man 3

15 - All Hail The King (Marvel One-Shot on the Thor: The Dark World bluray)

16 - Agents of SHIELD (Season One, Episodes 1-7)

17 - Thor: The Dark World

18 - Agents of SHIELD (Season One, Episodes 8-16)

19 - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

20 - Agents of SHIELD (Season One, Episodes 17-22)

21 - Guardians of the Galaxy

22 - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

23 - Daredevil (Season One)

24 - Agents of SHIELD (Season Two, Episodes 1-10)

25 - Jessica Jones (Season One)

26 - Agents of SHIELD (Season Two, Episodes 11-19)

27 - Avengers: Age of Ultron

28 - Agents of SHIELD (Season Two, Episodes 20-22)

29 - Daredevil (Season Two, Episodes 1-4)

30 - Luke Cage (Season One, Episodes 1-4)

31 - Daredevil (Season Two, Episodes 5-11)

32 - Luke Cage (Season One, Episodes 5-8)

33 - Daredevil (Season Two, Episodes 12-13)

34 - Luke Cage (Season One, Episodes 9-13)

35 - Ant-Man

36 - Agents of SHIELD (Season Three, Episodes 1-10)

37 - Agents of SHIELD (Season Three, Episodes 11-19)

38 - Iron Fist (Season One)

39 - Captain America: Civil War

40 - Agents of SHIELD (Season Three, Episodes 20-22)

41 - The Defenders

Next up on the list is:

42 - Agents of SHIELD (Season Four, Episodes 1-6) <-- We are here!!!

43 - Doctor Strange

44 - Black Panther

45 - Agents of SHIELD (Season Four, Episodes 7-8)

46 - Agents of SHIELD: Slingshot (Episodes 1-6)

47 - Agents of SHIELD (Season Four, Episodes 9-22)

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