Sunday, May 2, 2021

Order in the (Marvel) universe (Part V)

Over the last few months we've been keeping ourselves sane by rewatching the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in chronological order of events, including the TV series. A mammoth undertaking, but it has been a heck of a lot of fun.

Last post (you can read here) was a fairly large section as we worked through Season Three of Agents of SHIELD, and the movies in that timezone. We were just about to start Season Four of SHIELD, so how far have we got in the last three/four weeks?

Season Four of Agents of SHIELD is one of my favourite seasons of the show, as it did a brilliant thing by splitting into three defined arcs - which perfectly tied together. The first arc, 'Ghost Rider', sees Daisy off by herself, going rogue and investigating the strange flaming figure that is enacting harsh justice. The Ghost Rider arc is flipping great, and as much as I love Nicholas Cage, this arc of a TV series pulled off the Ghost Rider far better than either movie ever did. So cool. Gabriel Luna is fantastic as Robbie Reyes, the latest host of the Rider. And they tap into the comics with the version of the Rider who drives an awesome car with flaming tires, rather than riding a bike. Great stuff.

Anyway, we get to the end of Episode Six, and stop. Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie disappear - shunted into another dimension. And we leave it there? Why? Well, in casual conversations, we've already learned of alternate dimensions. But those strange 'magical' powers that certainly aren't the superpowers we've seen before. So we stop in our SHIELD watching to learn all about magic with the Sorcerer Supreme...

Okay, I'm going to confess that I'm a HUGE Doctor Strange fan. Haven't read an awful lot of it since my childhood when I was reading the UK reprints in 'Super Spider-Man and the Titans', and that artwork - that Gene Colan artwork - was just mesmerising and haunting. I read the run when Chris Bachalo did the artwork (because I love Bachalo's art) but I have a real love for those classic Strange comics.

Doctor Strange was one of those Marvel movies I really had high hopes for, and the result (Directed by Scott Derrickson - who directed the scariest movie I think I've seen, 'Sinister') did not disappoint. Cumberbatch was brilliant, the right level of arrogant learning to be selfless, and another couple of my favourite actors in there too - Chiwetel Ejiofor (who I still think should be the next Doctor Who), and Mads Mikkelsen (the best Bond villain to date). Just great. Mind-boggling special effects. Like Inception turned up to eleven. I wrote a blog post about it a long time ago...

Doctor Strange introduces the 'magic' and explains about power coming from other dimensions. Just what you need to know ready for the return to SHIELD. However, before we return, there's another movie to watch in this order...

Black Panther is a great movie, but watching it now is really hard. Amazing cast with some huge award winning names in there. I mean, Daniel Kaluuya is always great - remember him in The Fades with SHIELD's Fitz? And Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, and Angela Bassett and Forest Whittaker. There is nothing to let this movie down. Not a huge fan of Killmonger as a villain, but it all works, and I love Winston Duke's M'Baku. Duke is such a presence when he's on screen. 

But Chadwick Boseman. Oh lord, he was just so good, a perfect T'Challa. A powerful performance, with a playful humour, and it's just all tinged with emotion after his loss. Such a tragedy. 

After those movies, it's back to Agents of SHIELD Season Four - we know about magic, so it's back to those we've left trapped in another dimension. With Aida accessing the scary occult tome (possibly the one missing from the shelves in Doctor Strange) the Darkhold (which we'll see again in WandaVision), she uses the book to open portals into the other dimension to help our trapped agents back - but that's just the start of Aida's descent. The ever deluded Holden Radcliffe's artificial creation is setting things up for the second arc of this season...

After just two more episodes of Agents of SHIELD, episodes 7 & 8, we take another break - venturing off to Youtube for some SHIELD I'd not seen before - Slingshot.

Must admit, I didn't even know this existed, so this was all new to me. The six parts together have a total running time of about 20-25 mins, but it tells an interesting flashback story of Yo-Yo Rodriguez, and an 'off the books' mission. It ties in nicely and provides some much needed spotlight to a great character, and sets up the next arc in Season Four...

Agents of SHIELD: LMD - or 'Life Model Decoy'. They've established at the end of the previous arc that Aida is up to something, and that one of the agents in the team has been replaced by a 'Life Model Decoy', but this arc is a great example of complete paranoia getting out of control. No one can trust anyone else, as Aida continues to gradually replace more and more of the team with lifelike android duplicates, placing the human originals in a hyper-realistic simulation called 'The Framework'. 

Just great again, absolutely love it. It gives all of the actors chance to do something different, and the absolutely heartbreaking standoff between Fitz and Simmons as they are convinced one is an LMD... 

But again, this leads perfectly into the third and final arc of the Season...

Agents of HYDRA is a scary sudden change if you've not been following it. HYRDA is in charge, rounding up Inhumans, and the agents we're familiar with are scattered. But thankfully, this is all a simulation. Part of Holden Radcliffe's Framework, Aida's calculations to make the subjects immersed in the simulation both accepting of the environment, and resolve their deepest regret, creates a world where SHIELD fell, HYDRA won, and a lot of that is down to Agent May's actions in the past. Not making the hard decision lead to a world of paranoia and totalitarianism. 

It's another great arc, and Iain De Caestekker plays the HYRDA commander with chilling aplomb. Aida (Malory Jansen) is now within the Framework as well, as Madame Hydra, who has been using the Framework simulation to gain knowledge of Inhuman physiology to create a human (or rather Inhuman) body in the real world for when she emerges. She's almost unstoppable, but thankfully they've set up the perfect solution three arcs ago right back at the beginning of the season. Nice!!

Like most series, the season ends with a cliffhanger - the agents (though not all of them) are frozen and removed, taken off to a space station in Earth's future...

Before we move onto the next season, it's back to the movies.

Spider-man: Homecoming has a slight error in the dating for the prologue, but we'll ignore that one. Other than that, it's just about a perfect Spidey movie. Tom Holland is great, but Michael Keaton takes a villain I remember from my childhood and makes them so much cooler. The Vulture was always a bit 'meh' in the comics, but it was a brilliant interpretation, using the Chitauri tech, incorporating the fur collar in the suit. Awesome. And that scene when Peter's in the car on the way to Homecoming... so freakin' tense. Brilliant. 

And I love the subtle comic influences for other villains in there too. The Shocker's another one I remember from my childhood, and the way they used the yellow 'quilted' looking sleeves like the comics on both iterations of the Shocker. Great!

And hints of the Scorpion too... 

Continuing the movies, it's onto the third Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok. I'm going to be very controversial, I'm sorry. I know it's one of the favourites of many people I know, but it's my least favourite of the Thor movies. I know. I hang my head in shame. 

I'm a big fan of Taika Waititi. Love his films, the series, everything. And Ragnarok has some of the most epic and stunning imagery you could ever imagine in a Thor movie. I mean, just look at the Valkyrie scene with the slow motion, and the pegasus, pegasuses, pegasi... wow. And Cate Blanchett... wow again. Seriously good. Great soundtrack, some amazing scenes, and yet, it's still my least favourite Thor movie. 

Why? Because this is MAJOR stuff. The Warriors Three fall. Odin dies. Asgard is destroyed. This is freakin' huge. And it's a comedy. Sure, most of the Marvel movies have humour, but this is too funny for the major events that happen in it. There's no sense of loss when the Warriors Three are dispatched so easily.

So, yeah. I still love it, and I love Taika's movies, but it is too glib with some of the drama sometimes, and makes me a little concerned that Love And Thunder will be the same. "Jane Foster's back, she has cancer, ha ha, funny line, it's okay, she's Thor now! Funny line again!" 

Bringing the rewatch right up to date (as in, only just finished it today), we have Marvel's Inhumans. Critically panned, and cancelled after eight episodes, this ties in with the events of Agents of SHIELD with the Terrigen crystals, and focuses on the Inhuman royals on the moon in the hidden city of Attilan. 

There are some great elements, and Iwan Rheon is perfectly cast as Maximus, the Loki of the Inhuman universe. So scheming. There are some cool plot-lines, and it could have been great - so what happened?

I'm going to go with the lead characters. I'm sorry. Serinda Swan is Medusa, and what do they do with her? Cut her hair off (so she's not really able to do her cool Medusa stuff) and then she spends a load of time on Earth striding around being all "I'm royal and you are a peasant" which doesn't really make her likeable.

The other big problem is Black Bolt. Anson Mount a very attractive man, and you just have to watch Star Trek: Discovery (Season 2) and you'll know he has a real charm and charisma. He's brilliant in that, and I seriously can't wait for Strange New Worlds. So very good. So, you take an attractive and charismatic lead, and you give him the role of a character who can't speak. His Inhuman power means vocal sounds destroy and kill. Great actor - can't talk for the whole thing. So frustrating. I know that's what Black Bolt is like, but still. I guess they were thinking they needed a great bit of acting because he can't speak. 

A real shame. It had potential, but maybe it was just a bit too out-there for its time. I mean, a guy with hooves (it's pronounced HOOves, not huvs), and a giant teleporting dog? Of course, with series like The Umbrella Academy and Doom Patrol showing that 'out there' is perfectly acceptable on TV now, maybe The Inhumans was just at the wrong time?

Anyway, with those eight episodes over with, we're back onto the Netflix series, and onto The Punisher (Season One)... but that's for next time (as we've just started the rewatch). 

If you want to catch up and keep up with the rewatch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we've been following 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

42 - Agents of SHIELD (Season Four, Episodes 1-6)

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)

48 - Spider-man: Homecoming

49 - Thor: Ragnarok

50 - Inhumans (Season One)

Next up is:

51 - The Punisher (Season One) <----- We Are Here!!!

52 - Runaways (Season One)

53 - Agents of SHIELD (Season 5, Episodes 1-10)

54 - Jessica Jones (Season Two)

55 - Agents of SHIELD (Season 5, Episodes 11-18)

56 - Cloak and Dagger (Season One)

57 - Cloak and Dagger (Season Two)

1 comment:

Gwen said...

Chadwick - extremely talented gentleman. it's just a reminder that you never know what people are going through, even when they're giving their all.