Marvel & Margaritas

One of my quarantine goals is to perfect the cocktails that I love, since I can’t go out and get them. (Total Wine having pre order is helping me in this goal.) I haven’t attempted my beloved Vodka Martinis with a twist yet, because I inevitably put too much vermouth in them, but I did get The Lemon Drop down, and on Monday, I decided to try a classic margarita. I usually just buy mix, but this time, I made it for real, ordering some tequila and tripel sec, and squeezing limes.

The drink came out well, and I was happy, but as I mixed it, I had a memory and decided to watch Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. For one thing, if I hadn’t already decided I wasn’t going to do Movie Season this year, I think COVID-19 had declared it so. (Black Widow isn’t opening on time, and that would have been the kick off) But back in the old days, before we got grown up jobs and apartments, Aless and I used to meet at Lucy’s, a terrifically mediocre and outrageously overprived Mexican restaurant on 34th Street before seeing movies. We would drink margaritas and eat tortas and nachos and put up with the indifferent service from cute waitresses in Hawaiian shirts.

Our movie going strategy switched when one time we couldn’t get decent seats at the 34th street theater so went for Lincoln Square instead. We went to PJ Clarke’s pre show and had a lovely time, and a few weeks later went back, and the bartenders remembered our names, orders and that we’d been going to the movies the last time.

Four years of Lucy’s and that had never happened, so we changed it up. It was more convenient as a meeting spot, and the food and service were better. But there’s still something about a classic, from the shaker margarita that makes me want to watch superheros. Then eat pancakes, we would go for margaritas, see the movie and then adjourn to the Tick Tock diner, also overpriced and mediocre YAY MIDTOWN, to discuss the movies. Important discussion were had there, like, “Is Cap a virgin?” and “Was Ryan Reynolds bred in a lab to play Deadpool?” and “Do we think Anna Faris would be a good Captain Marvel, because I kinda ship her and Star Lord?” (That last one hasn’t aged well.)

So I decided to watch those last two Avengers movies on Monday while I tried to make myself a margarita. The drink came out ok, the movies remain great. I also read Bob Iger’s auto biography The Ride Of A Lifetime this weekend, so I was in a Disney acquisition headspace. He’s really proud of The MCU, although that book is way less braggy and than it could be, and way more thoughtful than I expected. (He’s more fair to George Lucas than I would have been, “MOTHER FUCKER I GAVE YOU 5 BILLION DOLLARS AND APPOINTED YOUR ANOINTED SUCCESSOR AND YOU COMPARE IT TO SELLING YOUR CHILD INTO SLAVERY?” would have been my reaction. This might be part of why Iger got to run Disney for 14 years, and I write this blog.) (He’s still a coward for killing Stormpilot.)

This post may seem rambly, that’s because I wrote it while I was drinking margaritas and watching Avengers: Infinity war.

I continue to urge you all to stay home and safe. I’m working on some fun stuff here, I promise. I’m reading a whole bunch, binging Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (how long has it been since I reported on some Nerd Homework?) I’m sending as much love as I can out into the world, supporting local businesses and cooking hearty meals. Hope you’re all doing well, and when this is all over, I intend to make cocktails for everyone.

Higher, Further, Faster

In case you’re new here, I’m a really big fan of The Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m an easy mark for these movies.

In case you’re really, really new here, I also really like stories about women kicking ass.

In case you just stumbled here from another dimension, and can’t figure out from context clues, that means I had high hopes for Captain Marvel the first MCU movie to focus solely on a lady type hero.

My hopes were met. I wasn’t blown away by the movie, the way I was by Black Panther last year, but it did the job, and had some real stand out moments. Among them, of course, was the woman in question, Brie Larson. Larson embodies Carol Danvers in all of her stubborn, deeply feeling, ass kicking, princess sparklefist, shoot first and ask questions later glory.

She befriends Nick Fury, she’s got a cat, she’s looking for who she is in this crazy universe. And her appearance and eventual departure inspires Fury to start The Avengers, so that’s pretty cool.

Other things in this movie that totally rule:

  • Samuel L. Jackson. (Given)
  • Cat!
  • Soundtrack!
  • 90’s Fashion
  • Maria and Monica Rambeau as Carol’s main emotional ties
  • Annette Benning!
  • Jude Law!
  • Coulson! (In a small but nice part!)
  • Stan Lee Cameo to make ya cry.
  • Skrulls! And a killer plot twist regarding the Skrulls!

I’ll do an in depth review and essay about the movie in a few weeks, (When it’s number comes up in the rewatch) I intend to see it again, and I’ve got half baked thoughts coming out the butt, but I’d like to see it again and fully bake them. But the movie’s good, it does Carol justice and there’s a Kelly Sue DeConnick cameo, so I’m covered.

Ready For Endgame: The Avengers

I remember when I first saw The Avengers I was underwhelmed. I’ve come to love it, really, but just, in that moment, I’d seen it all before. In my review of the movie, I laid out the ways director and writer Joss Whedon was playing his usual song in a new key here.

I understand that Cap relaying the battle plan was exciting and new to other people, but I’d seen Buffy do that six times. The iconic hero pose circle shot, which is wonderful was a more cinematic version of Angel’s “Let’s Go To Work,” final moment. (This single greatest end shot of a TV show ever.) Tony’s change of heart to fight the good fight alongside his friends had been handled by Mal Reynolds before.

So, while the novelty of The Avengers was lost on me, it’s that very profitability, the excellent execution of a formula I’m fond of, that’s made it hold up over the years, and my god, does it hold up.

The action is exciting, the team coming together, or not, is fabulous, the one liners delightful, and that final battle, is the stuff of legend.

But we’re not going to talk about that. I mean, we have. In the past. When I’ve written about The Avengers. Today, I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about Phil Coulson.

Phil Coulson was created for The MCU, meant to be a one off quick way to introduce SHIELD in Iron Man, he really took off when Jon Favreau liked working with Clark Gregg. Gregg was a long time Marvel fanboy and took the job at his wife’s (Jennifer Grey. They are my favorite C-List celebrity couple!) urging, saying when else was he going to get a job like this?  I’m a big fan of Gregg’s, because he’s in the Aaron Sorkin Repertory Company, and I’m convinced it’s that experience that convinced Whedon to make him the lynch pin here. The, “you lack conviction,” speech is straight out of the West Wing playbook. (Frankly, part of what I’ve always loved about Whedon is that he’s like Sorkin, but uses magic in his stories instead of patriotism.)

I was one of those people who was wrecked by Coulson’s death. All Whedon fans have their one that they’ll never forgiven him for. And I’ve gotten emotional over others. (I’m not made of stone, the phrase, “I am a leaf on the wind,” makes me gasp sadly. I too wish we had lived to see Winifred Berkle avenged, and Anya’s death in Xander’s arms is a real heartbreaker)  But Coulson is mine. (Yes he came back! But that took a while!)

Anyway,  Coulson, who’d already had some standout moments in the previous movies, really shines here before his death at Loki’s hands. His familiar banter with Pepper (I love that they were pals. Seriously.), his giddiness at Cap, his familiarity with Thor, it’s all of it hitting just the right notes.

I miss Phil Coulson. I mean, as much as anyone can miss a character that never really went anywhere, but I sort of fell out on Agents Of SHIELD a few years ago, I might catch up someday, but I have so many superhero shows to watch, and not all of them shitty WB relics or luke warm adaptations of my favorite comics characters either.

The Avengers is a stunning acheivement in franchise storytelling. What comes directly after is uh…less essential. Next week, we take on Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. One is a delightful action movie throwback that I love, the other, I got kinda bored and watched a bunch of Lonely Island Videos in the middle of.  Guess which is which!

Ready For Endgame: Thor And Captain America: The First Avenger

There are certain movies that are very hard for me to separate from the first time I saw them. These are usually because of the people I saw them with, or because I saw them as a kid. But with Thor and  Captain America: The First Avenger, it’s really because of timing.

People might not remember that these movies came out within months of each other, when The Avengers was a certainty but still a whisper. And everyone was still scoffing at them. “Right, like a Thor movie is going to work.” And because I was getting ready to finish my English Lit degree, I even added, “what is Kenneth Branagh doing?” (The film nerd in me was less skeptical about Joe Johnston because I’d grown up with The Rocketeer, and that the guy who made that was making a Captain America movie made perfect sense to me.)

But there’s something about these movies and the way that they act as a doorway for the MCU and the fact that they came out the summer I finished college that feels kind of perfect to me. There’s of course my epic, “Glen literally pulled Chrissy and me out of a bar at the end of a bar crawl to go see it,” Thor story. He was pissed as hell, because we hadn’t told him we were going on the crawl, his words, “I’d have gotten tickets for tomorrow if I’d known this was your plan.” Of course our very cogent response was, “PFFFF, we’re not that drunk! Let’s get pretzels, and HOLY SHIT THAT IS ONE HOT MAN RIGHT THERE ON THE MOVIE SCREEN!” I told this story in my toast at their wedding. I left out the hot man parts. The fact that these two people are parents now brings me such joy.

Captain America, I saw with my friend Lisa, which was the first time we’d hung out since graduation. I then saw it like 5 more times, because I wasn’t really working that summer, so had a bunch of spare time. It was what cemented Cap as my Marvel Guy. (At the time Batman was still my DC guy. I hadn’t fully fallen for Dick yet.) And whenever I go back and look at Phase 1, I realize it’s still the movie that I’ve watched the most. (Iron Man is close behind, btw.)

Anyway, my personal experience of these films aside, they’re both solid, and deeply enjoyable. Thor especially, is a treat. I think people tend to forget how charming it is. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are all in on Thor and Loki from their first moments on screen, and while it’s small scale is probably because no one was sure if this whole thing was going to work, it’s in the movie’s favor that it gets a quiet intimate scene where Thor explains the nine realms to Jane on a rooftop, or Thor and Selvig getting drunk together, or Sif, Loki and The Warriors Three sitting beside a fire discussing Thor’s banishment. Branagh uses his Shakespearian ear perfectly in these scenes, letting them breath and the actors relish in their ridiculous dialog, and melodramatic plots.

 The MCU in general is a miracle of casting but Captain America: The First Avenger might be the most clean example of this. Everyone in this movie is pitch perfect for it’s throwback tone. None more so than Hayley Atwell and Chris Evans though. Dear lord are they magical. Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers might be the only two love interests I’ve ever cosplayed BOTH of, because I love them both so much. (Having cut my hair again, I might bring Peggy back this year…) But seriously, there’s so much about this movie that’s absolutely right, that I have trouble not smiling.

I’ve written literally thousands of words about The MCU, and it’s hard to explain though, that the reason is because of these two movies and the people I was hanging out with at the time being so excited for them. I seriously doubt I’d have gone to see them in the theater if it weren’t for these folks, which is why it’s very hard for me to separate the movies themselves, which are great, by the way, from the experience of watching them for the first time. So I fail as a critic in this essay, because I’m too attached. (Also, if I’m frank, I watched them on a Saturday afternoon and I’ve had some wine, and I’m a little buzzy. Blogging is all about honesty right?)

Next week we talk about The Avengers, which, if you’ll recall was the first movie I ever reviewed here on The Fangirl’s Dilemma, and that was 10 years ago and that is disgusting. 

Ready For Endgame: Iron Man 2 

Man, Iron Man 2 is bad. I shouldn’t say that, it’s not terrible, really, it’s just so aggressively mediocre, and overstuffed and such a disappointment after the first one.

But, for all of it’s flaws we get some good things here, we get the introduction of The Avenger’s initiative, we get Natasha Romanoff, we get some great Nick Fury moments and my favorite MCU tweak, Don Cheadle replacing Terrance Howard (though I understand that the circumstances around the recasting had, uh, issues.) (I think racism is bad! But Don Cheadle is good!)

Iron Man 2 is worth revisiting for these things, as well as for once again, Robert Downey Jr.’s performance. He is so in sync with this character at all moments, and I’m dumbfounded by it. Especially having watching Infinity War over the past week, Tony’s come so far and yet feels of a piece with what Downey is doing here, it’s exceptional.

And, there’s something else that Iron Man 2 gives us, and that’s Howard Stark. I mean, the Howard Stark who’s shadow looms over the rest of the enterprise. He’s mentioned in Iron Man, Tony wanting to sure up his father’s legacy, and the arc reactor are both big points, but it’s here, in John Slattery’s quick performance that we get the outline that Dominic Cooper will later work off of, and Slattery will play again for Ant-Man and Civil War. 

Granted, I am always always happy to see Slattery, or pretty much anyone from Sterling Cooper pop up in my media.  (Except Vincent Cartheiser, which isn’t his fault. He’s a very good actor, I just really hate Pete Campbell.)

Now, onto Cheadle. Rhodey is stealth my favorite MCU character. I don’t know when it happened or how, but I always think, “Oh, yay! Rhodey’s in this one!” whenever he pops up. Terrance Howard did a good job with the character, but Don Cheadle explodes with him. Part of it is the chemistry with RDJ, but part of it is also just, buying him as an authority more. He’s in control of a room the minute he walks in.

And then there’s Natasha. Wonderful, wonderful, Natasha Romanoff. She doesn’t get a lot to do here, but she does get a “hallway fight,” which of course later became a staple of Marvel/Netflix. (It’s not a one take, but it still smells like one. It’s the fritatta to the hallway fight’s omelette.)

But the most important parts of Iron Man 2, are the things that the MCU takes a lot of heat for in it’s later installments, is that this one doesn’t really work as a movie on it’s own, just a piece of the bigger whole. (Age of Ultron also gets bogged down in this.)

Next week we’ll talk about Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, I’ll think about graduating college a whole bunch, and Phase I nearly completes.

 

Ready for Endgame: Iron Man & The Incedible Hulk

OK, so, I know we tried this last year and we didn’t get anywhere with it. But this time I have a schedule and a plan, and I’m determined. I am rewatching the MCU and I am writing about it! (HOORAY!)

So, we’re starting at the beginning, whenever possible I’m going to do 2 movies per post with each Avengers movie getting their own post. A few, just by virtue of timing will be getting solo posts.

First up! That first year. Let’s go back shall we? It was the summer of 2008. People were curious about a little film called, Iron Man, and very excited about a movie called The Incredible Hulk. 

Then they came out. It does feel hard to believe that everyone was way more psyched about Hulk, but to be fair, it was the big flashy one, with the movie star lead, not the washed up former addict.

But then you started hearing about it, and that sentence, “Stay until after the credits.” People forget that wasn’t really a thing you did before. I mean, sometimes, there would be cute jokes or teasers after a movie, but nothing you know, essential. But then Nick Fury stepped out of the shadows, and we all knew, something was beginning.

But that wasn’t the only thing about Iron Man, everytime I watch that movie I’m thrilled by how it holds up. It’s funny, and smart, and the performances are universally excellent. The final fight is simple and a bit crude looking in retrospect, but still a fun watch, and really, truly and honestly, Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic. I’ve read complaints a few times that The MCU as a whole leans too hard on Tony Stark, but really, watching the first few movies again, I can see why they went that way. It’s such a committed and lovely performance.

The Incredible Hulk, on the other hand, is simply nowhere near as strong. Edward Norton’s performance as Bruce Banner lacks conviction, Liv Tyler is, well, I mean, Liv Tyler. The CGI is sloppy, the final fight is still fun, but feels oddly low stakes, and it’s just not a good movie. It sets up some intersting concepts that remain constants (pointing the Hulk, Banner trying to control the time of transformation, General Ross)

But then it happens, that amazing moment where Tony Stark walks into that bar, declaring that “the super soldier program was put on ice for a reason,” and it’s a moment of clarity. We aren’t in Kansas anymore, this is something new, something exciting.

It would two years before we got more, and another year after that before the clarity of vision comes into place, but the picture began to form, the big experience was starting, the game had begun, and it all hinged on the one guy. It was about Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, it was about charisma, and strong casting and fitting the guy to the suit, not compromising on what makes a hero a hero.

We’ll get into that more next week, when Iron Man 2, easily my least favorite movie in the whole series (like The MCU, not just the Iron Man series,) gets a solo week, because of how this is all working out.

 

I Bet You’re Wondering How Thor Got In This Cage

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I think I’m in a minority here, so you’re about to hear a rant.

greatly enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok. I thought it was a well made, wonderfully paced movie with some stellar performances and more than a few surprise tricks up it’s sleeve. Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchet were sublime additions to the cast. (Though I missed Natalie Portman and Jamie Alexander, not to mention Kat Dennings.) Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are fantastic as Thor and Loki, embodying these characters as they always have from minute 1. Jeff Goldblum is a delight. Idris Elba and Mark Ruffalo kill it.

Here’s what I didn’t love. I get that Guardian of The Galaxy was a colossal monster of a hit, and very unexpected, I get that Marvel Studios has never quite known how to pitch a Thor movie. Saying, “let’s make it as much like Guardians as possible,” though? I’m not sure that worked either.

The “jokey jokes” didn’t always land for me, especially in a series that I always felt had some excellent comedy in it. (The scene in the first movie where Thor demands a dog or cat big enough to ride ALONE cements there was always humor here.) The comedy that did work for me were things like Hulk claiming Thor is “Banner’s friend” rather than his. Loki’s discomfort at being in the vicinity of Hulk, as well as Thor’s test of throwing things at his brother to determine if he had corporeal form.

The larger intergalactic plot, of Thor on Sarac, while fun and cool, didn’t engage me the way that the Asgard stuff (Odin’s death, Hela’s invasion, Heimdall evacuating the city) did. That’s always been where the stuff I liked about Thor lived though. (Well, and in his relationship with Jane, which, I get, was a necessary casualty here, because Natalie Portman, the human being, didn’t want to be in the movie.)

Doesn’t mean I didn’t love Valkyrie (Seriously, Tessa Thompson ROCKS HARD!) or most of the big action set pieces. Or our requisite shirtless Hemsworth scene. I really liked it. Marvel doesn’t make bad movies, I just don’t think this one was as drop dead awesome as the rest of the internet does.

Still really good though.

Rankings!

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Battle Of The Sexes
  4. Dunkirk
  5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  6. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  7. Thor: Ragnarok
  8. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  9. The Dark Tower
  10. Cars 3
  11. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: First time seeing it on the big screen and OMG YOU GUYS! We’re so close, and it’s going to be awesome.

Black Panther: Do you wanna know what’s nice? Ryan Coogler found space for Michael B. Jordan in this movie. (Did we think he wouldn’t?) I’m not sure how to articulate how excited I am for this movie, because it’s deep in my gut.

12 Strong: Siggghhhh, I mean, I love this cast, so, there’s that. Fun that Michael Shannon gets to play a good guy. I may see it.

Movie Season, Moving Forward:

Here’s the deal y’all! I know I’ve been slack this year, it’s for a lot of reasons, but I’ve started a new day job! (This is an invariably GOOD thing. Trust me!) And I’ve got a Disney trip in just over a week! (WEE!) But, the good news is that the new day job is a lot closer to my apartment and pays me more money, so I’ll be able to close out movie season fairly strong, as the Oscar-bait movies come out. (There’s also a small independent theater walking distance from my apartment, so…yeah…)

Aless and I are trying to figure out what we’re doing for Justice League, as I’m leaving for Disney the morning after opening. We may delay by a whole week. (This is WEIRD for us, but you know, it’s DC, we didn’t even do Suicide Squad together…) Coco will for sure happen, and we’ve already got our Star Wars tickets.

 

Stay Close To The Ground

Spider-man

Every time something new started in Spider-Man: Homecoming I thought, “Well, that’s perfect.” From the opening of Peter’s video diary showing his time in Civil War from his perspective, to the pounding drums of The Ramones “Blitzkreig Bop” over the credits (Because QUEENS! You guys, both Spider-Man and The Ramones are from Queens!) every second of Homecoming feels right.

Tom Holland is a treasure, and I feared with a whole movie to cover we met wind up with some Charlie Hunnam/Ed Westwick/Robert Pattinson “whisper to cover the British Accent” thing, but that didn’t happen and his dorky infectious youth is such a good fit for Peter Parker that even the flaws in this movie, of which I feel there are very few, are easy to miss.

Zendaya’s Michelle (MJ to her friends…a little on the “John Blake’s name is actually Robin” side there, Homecoming…) is probably my favorite character in anything in a very long time. Jacob Batalon’s Ned is as endearing a BFF as we’ve ever gotten in the MCU, and of course Robert Downey Jr., Marissa Tomei and Jon Favreau acquit themselves well. Michael Keaton’s Vulture is terrifying and compelling. (Did we expect less than that from him?)

The cameos by Hannibal Burress, Martin Starr and Donald Glover are all hilarious and kind of perfect. (Put. *CLAP* Donald. *CLAP* Glover *CLAP* In *CLAP* All *CLAP* The *CLAP* Things *CLAP*) And a last minute appearance by Gwyneth Paltrow actually had me PHYSICALLY BOUNCING OUT OF MY SEAT! (TONY AND PEPPER GOT BACK TOGETHER! AND THEN ANOTHER THING HAPPENS! NO SPOILERS!)

The action is fun and zippy and not overused, the superhero through the lens of John Hughes is equally great.

Oh, and those Captain America school videos? Further proof that Evans is the best Chris. And that post credit is further FURTHER proof. (This is mostly to shut down my brother, who insists that Pratt is the best.)

RANKINGS!

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  3. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  4. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  5. Cars 3
  6. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers:

The Dark Tower: I mean, I didn’t NOT CRY, when The Man In Black asked Roland if he told the boy everyone who walked with him died. I haven’t been breaking into sobs whenever I think about Jake Chambers lately or anything. (Also, is it just Roland and Jake in this movie? No Eddie and Susannah? I have a lot of questions…I’ll get my answers in a few weeks I guess) (I hope we get Eddie and Susannah.) (Especially Eddie.)

Dunkirk: SO SO SO SO SO GOOD. Also, I didn’t realize Kenneth Branagh was in it. Because I needed more reasons to see this movie.

Daddy’s Home 2: Aside from the perfection of casting Jon Lithgow as Will Ferrell’s father I just do not see a need for this to exist. I would much prefer if they’d done The Other Guys 2 as both Ferrell and Wahlberg were funnier in it, and it’s a better movie.

Pitch Perfect 3: Wooo, a waste of all of these women’s talents is coming out again. (My dislike of Pitch Perfect 2 is deep.)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle: GOD IT LOOKS SO GOOD!

Wonder: I don’t actually want to see this, but it does feature Daveed Diggs as an elementary school teacher, which feels right. And it made me wish Aless was with me (she’s in Italy, whatever!) because I don’t think the strangers around me appreciated my squealing of his name when he appeared on screen. (Look,  they’re lucky I didn’t shout “LAFAYETTE!” in rhythm to “Guns and Ships.”)

 

 

This Unspoken Thing

Guardians 2

Happy Movie Season You Guys!

I think this is the first “official” movie season that actually started on May The 4th.

If you’re new around here, let me explain.

Movie Season is the Blockbuster release time, between May and December. The rule of thumb is that it reaches from Marvel to Star Wars. (Previously, Marvel to Hobbit)

This year’s first Marvel Studios release was the highly anticipated Guardians Of The Galaxy: Volume 2.

One of the many things that made Guardians Of The Galaxy the delight that it was, was the surprise factor. It’s humor, it’s space opera action and that soundtrack all caught everyone off guard. Volume 2 doesn’t have that out of left field leg up, instead has the handicap of expectation. This worried me a little, thinking their might be an Iron Man 2 effect, where the loss of the surprise makes the whole thing feel sloppy.

Not the case. Rather than rehash, James Gunn has built on the foundation he placed 2 years ago. My main complaint about Guardians was always that for a team film, it is woefully unbalanced, giving priority to Star Lord and Rocket, which is fine, but shortchanges Drax and Gamora in a big way, which is a bummer, because those characters are fun, and Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldana are fantastic.

Volume 2 balances things a little bit better. The team is split up for a large chunk of the run time, placing Rocket and Groot with Guardian frenemy Yondu, and Gamora, Star Lord and Drax with her sister Nebula, Peter’s father Ego, The Living Planet, and adorable new comer Mantis.

The team relationships are well defined, and the chemistry based but “unspoken” romance between Peter Quill and Gamora is actually very touching. And there’s something to the theme of family of choice, and biological family, or structural family (In the case of Gamora and Nebula) and the ways they intersect and fight with one another.

Visually, the movie is bright, interestingly designed and of course, the soundtrack very very interesting yet again. (You’ll never thing of “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” the same way again. And it makes excellent use of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” as well as “Surrender.”)

It was also the first Marvel Movie that Aless and I could think of that quickly and breezily passed the Bechdel-Wallace test. (A scene between Gamora and Nebula where they discuss Gamora’s plan for her sister does it.) So good job!

Rankings:

  1. Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2

Trailers:

Not Wonder Woman.

Dunkirk, Spider-Man, Star Wars, Pirates, yes, but not Wonder Woman.

 

Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil: Season 2: Episodes 1 & 2

Guys! It’s time for Daredevil Season 2! AKA The Punisher is THE BEST! (Also Elektra!)

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Season 2: Episode 1: “Bang”

The premiere of season 2 is the first indication that this isn’t the same show that it was the season before. Everything’s just a little bit bigger and slicker and then there’s The Punisher. Who we don’t technically know is The Punisher yet, and we definitely don’t know is Frank Castle.

Anyway, we open with Daredevil stopping a mugging that leads him to a church. It’s bigger and more kinetic than anything we saw before, and we see Matt’s upgraded suit. Which I think is great, but I’m also a fan of the original suit, so apparently I am wrong.

Anyway, after her gets the bad guy, we see Matt and Foggy on their way to work, joking and laughing, talking about Foggy’s date the previous night, they get to the office and Nelson and Murdock is overrun with clients, none of whom can pay of course.

Karen’s busy managing the office and when the three of them go out for drinks that night, the sexual tension between her and Matt explodes. Foggy is not thrilled, but whatever. (I am also not thrilled. Mostly because I think pushing Matt and Karen together was super de super lazy)

The scene where The Punisher takes out an Irish crime family is so incredibly intense. It’s also hilarious in a weird way, and brilliantly staged. It’s so clear that the team is revelling in this new brand of violence, and the first chase between Daredevil and Punisher is exceptional and Matt getting shot in the head, the titular “bang” is even better. (These first three weeks are going to be fun!)

Season 2: Episode 2: “Dogs To A Gunfight”

Foggy and Karen are consistently my favorite not Claire parts of Daredevil, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise that I actually really like this episode a lot. It’s basically the two of them maneuvering to get their client into witness protection so that The Punisher won’t get him. It’s pretty cool stuff.

Of course, there’s also Foggy dealing with the fact that Matt got SHOT IN THE GODDAMN HEAD and is still insisting that being Daredevil is necessary. The scene where Matt loses his hearing is so beautifully done and amazingly terrifying, I really enjoyed watching it again. Well, enjoyed is the wrong word, “was impressed by,” is probably better.

And that I really do love the fact that the fights between Matt and Frank, who we still don’t know is Frank, takes place sort of off screen and weirdly framed. It’s how most people see them, on the periphery of the real world.

Other Stuff

  • I must remember that there is not much Claire in this season. While everything is not as good when there’s less Claire, I understand the reasoning, she was off in Harlem filming a way better show.
  • The scene where Frank beats the crap out the guy selling child porn is so cathartic. We don’t even see the beating, but knowing it’s there is awesome.
  • I’d forgotten that the first few episodes take place during a heatwave. Such a great way to show tensions building.
  • Hey! That’s the same DA that threatened Jessica Jones.
  • Officer Brett Mahoney considers Foggy his friend now. Aw. Foggy also gets beat up by some bikers. He’s having a bit of a day.
  • Karen confronting Matt is great too. Look, I’m just saying that Karen is too good for him. Also he’s too good for her. I’m saying that this pairing is stupid and I don’t read their chemistry as romantic. Also Team Claire!