Fangirl Loves Star Wars Comics: Darth Vader By Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca & Edgar Delgado

Darth Vader is cool.

Like, he’s a very cool villain. There’s no getting around it. Dude’s awesome.

Darth Vader the comics series from 2015-2016 takes huge advantage of the fact that Darth Vader is really cool. Also, magically, Kieron Gillen manages to make this Vader, purely Vader at this point, the series takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, feel of a piece with the Anakin Skywalker we’ve come to know from the prequels and The Clone Wars, without betraying how cool and scary Darth Vader is.

Gillen’s Vader is impulsive, single minded (he wants Luke Skywalker. That’s it.), cruel and charismatic. He’s also, oddly compassionate, in his totally and completely evil way. Like, I don’t know how to quite describe it, this is just a wonderfully written series and I was glad to have read it. (Even if I got it my mistake thinking it was Darth Vader: Lord Of The Sith, which we’ll do soon.) There are fun new characters too. The mercenary Doctor Aphra, a sassy rogue archeologist (There’s a particularly fun moment where she fights Han and they are foiled by some snakes…), two evil murderbots, 000 and B2, and a host of cyborgs who have been trained in the Jedi Arts, including two twins who make Vader want to Force Choke things even more (The Force is mysterious that way.)

I was genuinely overwhelmed with glee reading this series. Seriously, it’s a must do for a Star Wars fan digging deeper, if only because it balances fun and adventure in a way that the series does not always do well, and is always a joy to see.

Next time we’re going to take on Resistance Season 2, and I MEAN IT THIS TIME.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Poe Dameron (Comics) by Charles Soule, Phil Noto & Angel Unzueta

Um, I don’t know if you know this or not, readers, but I really am fond of the character Poe Dameron.

That might be an understatement…

What’s the word for a character who’s life story you’ve dived into, who you’ve written tons of secret fanfiction about, who you’ve spend hundreds of dollars to create cosplay for, and who’s actor you’ve decided you must watch his entire filmography?

OH! Is the word, obsessed? Yes, I think that’s the word.

Never forget the tagline of this blog is “Saving The World One Obsession At A Time!”

And while my obsessions wax and wane and sometimes go away entirely. (I no longer feel the need to purchase every Billy Joel album, for example! And I never even got The Nylon Curtain or Cold Spring Harbor.) But ever since that night watching The Force Awakens five years ago, Poe Dameron and by extension Oscar Isaac’s have been pretty steady.

Poe Dameron the Comic series was written by Charles Soule who is very good at writing comics. (READ SHE-HULK! He made her comic into a David E. Kelley show and it was great and perfect) He was also very nice to me once at ACBC, so you know, there’s that.

Poe Dameron covers the time before and between movies. First we get the lead up to The Force Awakens where he is trying to find Lor San Tekka (Remember how Kylo Ren killed Max Von Sydow? That guy) because Leia said so.

Seriously, one of the best things about Poe, which is preserved here is that when Leia says jump, his answer is, “How high? Also can I do a barrel roll?” Anyway, our self proclaimed best pilot in the galaxy is not alone, he’s got a great group of friends in his Black Squadron. Snap Wexley (there’s a moment where Snap’s childhood droid friend, Mr. Bones from Aftermath makes a comeback and I said, “Oooh YAY!”),  Jessika Pava, Kare Kun and Suralinda Jones. They’re a good team, and also Snap and Kare are in love and great and now I am even more sad about how Snap died. (This is not even getting into the great tragedy of him being shot down right before his step dad Wedge Antilles showed up on Exagol. My friend Jess warned me of this, but it is ROUGH y’all.) There’s also a bunch of stuff about C-3P0’s spy network, which is BADASS, and BB-8 rolling around being the best.

The art is good. There’s something a little off putting about photo realistic art of characters who’s actors I know well, but the likenesses are quite good, and once I was used to it it got easier.

But mostly it’s a lot of piloting and character building which is cool. It makes Poe’s disposition in The Rise Of Skywalker make a lot more sense. He’s given up everything for this fight, he’s lost friends and he’s kind of done.

Anyway, I’m glad to have picked up this one. Our next visit to a galaxy far far away will be the novel Bloodline. First I’m going to be hanging out where no one has gone before…because y’all Picard starts tomorrow! New Clone Wars not far behind btw. Lot going on at the moment.

 

Even In Death I’m The Hero

Kevin Feige, may his name be praised to the Nerd Heavens, So Say We All, stated that Spider-Man: Far From Home would serve more as a Coda to MCU: Phase Four, than an opening chapter to Phase 5.

That’s all well and good, and making Spider-Man, Peter Parker, as played by the relentlessly adorable Tom Holland the new centerpiece of this enterprise, is probably the best call anyone could have made. But Far From Home functions as a very good film all on it’s own. I’ve made no secret to how much I love Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was is probably the post Ultron MCU movie I’ve watched the most, and in a reconsidered ranking, the winner of a movie season that was easily my favorite since I started the experiment. Far From Home is world’s better than Homecoming. Peter’s more sure of himself in some ways and more uneasy in others, and just genuinely trying to do the right thing.

The school trip to Europe that takes Peter away from New York, is a great way to set him off kilter to begin with, and to show the impact that Tony Stark’s death has had on the world, and on Peter, who is being pressured by Nick Fury and Maria Hill to step up and be the public face of superheroes now that Tony’s gone. (Excuse me, but what’s going with Sam Wilson, or LITERAL KING T’Challa, that they can’t do it? Why does this fall on the kid?) He also kind of wants to catch his breath and tell MJ that he likes her.

Naturally none of that happens. European cities are being attacked by mysterious “Elementals” and new comer Mysterio is helping SHIELD take on the threat. Peter’s helping too, and of course, if you know how stories work, Mysterio is not what he seems.

Jake Gyllenhall’s Mysterio is the best part of this movie, especially as a kind of road not taken, since he was likely up for Spidey back in the day. (And frankly might have been better, but Maguire was great too.) He fills this fake hero actual villain with humor, charisma and perfection.

The action sequences move quickly and feel more comic-booky than anything before. See it on the big screen if you can.

Rankings:

  1. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  2. Avengers: Endgame
  3. Rocketman
  4. Detective Pikachu

POST CREDITS:

 

The mid credit scene features Peter and MJ swinging through Manhattan (SWOON) they land in Time’s Square and a large screen projects “The Daily Bugle.com” hosted by J. Jonah Jameson. PLAYED BY JK SIMMONS. I mean, we’ve all always said that the MCU’s biggest strength is casting, and you can’t improve on perfection. Then he reveals Peter’s identity. OH NO!

 

Then there’s the post credits. Where we learn that the Fury and Hill in this movie, weren’t Fury and Hill at all but Telos and another Skrull! Fury’s been taking some time off in space. What will happen next?

Trailers:

I missed the trailers. Sorry gang!

Ready For Endgame: Black Panther

What is Black Panther?

Is it a boilerplate superhero blockbuster? Is it an important film about colonialism and black diasporan identity? Is it another cog in a corporate machine designed to take our money? Is it an important moment in social discourse?

Yes.

Black Panther is all of these things, and also just a rocking good time of a movie. It’s kind of hard to believe it’s been only a little bit over a year since it came out and the world exploded around it.

I’m the kind of idiot who sits around with her loved ones and identifies, “the next *fill in the blank*” depending on what we’re talking about. I like tracking where things place in history, and it’s always fun to see how people react to things. So at Christmas when I said I was pretty sure that Ryan Coogler was the next Spielberg (capable of both deeply felt personal art, like Fruitvale Station and crowd pleasing spectacle like Black Panther and Creed.) I didn’t expect everyone to agree with me.

Black Panther cemented Coogler as a blockbuster guy. (Creed cleared the brush away.) and it also made Michael B. Jordan into a certified movie star, reminded people that Angela Basset should be Queen Of Us All, let Lupita N’Yongo and Danai Guirara do their thing and intro’d us all to Laetitia Wright.

And that’s before we even talk about the way Chadwick Boseman’s poised and coiled T’Challa holds all these moving parts in place around him. Black Panther is a masterful example of the superhero medium, and the fact that people don’t talk more about what Boseman does in this movie is criminal. It’s a calm collected and altogether wonderful performance, than grounds the whole enterprise emotionally.

There’s of course a million angles to take when talking about Black Panther because there is a lot going on here. That’s part of why it resonated so hard, and got nominated for Best Picture. (The first superhero movie to do so! SUCK IT THE DARK KNIGHT! Incidentally, I don’t know why I feel the need to tear down the The Dark Night over and over again in this series of posts, it’s a great movie, that I like a lot.)

Black Panther 2 is coming and I’m deeply looking forward to it. I think there’s also a Dora Milaje film in the works. That could be very cool. But the way that this film connected with audiences was so special, and I was so grateful to be a part of it.

Next week, we talk about Avengers: Infinity War, and likely detail all of the reasons that I am not OK even a year later.

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: Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Last weekend when I watched Molly’s Game I tweeted the below:

If Molly’s Game is the Sorink-iest movie to ever Sorkin, Avengers: Age Of Ultron might be the Whedon-iest Movie to ever Whedon. I’ve long linked the two in my head. They’re both TV Titans, theater dorks, and overfully pleased with their own cleverness.

I also happen to be a big fan of both of them.

There’s a moment in “Once More With Feeling,” the musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, where Buffy stops the Scooby’s theorizing about their foe with a simple, “I’ve got a theory, it doesn’t matter.” Her point becomes that as long as they’re all together, they’ll prevail. They do. Of course they do.

Nick Fury delivers a similar speech to The Avengers as they sit around Hawkeye’s kitchen table halfway through Age Of Ultron, then Vision and Cap do the same about a half hour later. Ultron is also full of grey villains who switch sides (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver), excellent team work, and a deus ex machina of an ending predicated on, “the true avenging was the friends we made along the way!” tropes.

So, yeah, there’s a lot to like here if you’re a Joss Whedon fan. Which I am.

But there’s also a lot to dislike, if you’re a fan of the MCU, which I also am. There’s a pretty steady stream of fans who insist that Whedon “doesn’t get,” Captain America and Thor, and I don’t think that’s it. Neither of them behave out of character in Ultron, but I do think that Whedon isn’t interested in them, particularly.

He is interested in Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, so the movie focuses on them. And, he’s interested, as he always is, in the normal guy who dances with gods. There’s a reason why Xander Harris and Winifred Berkle and Wash are so well fleshed and beloved by the fanbases (Well, maybe not Xander, people have kind of turned on him…) it’s because Whedon’s enamored of that guy.

So Hawkeye gets some real stand out moments, where as Thor and Cap fall a little bit more flat here than they did in The Avengers. Tony, meanwhile, is at his most insufferable here. Truly, it’s astounding how arrogant and misguided he is. But, as always Robert Downey Jr. sells it. I happen to not totally hate the Banne/Natasha pairing, it’s not great but again, it hinges on the performances, ScarJo and Mark Ruffalo do well.

The problem is, I don’t know that Joss Whedon belongs in film, even film that is essentially long form TV like the MCU. If Age Of Ultron were a season finale, the fact that two cast members get basically side lined would be mostly OK. Not great, but OK. But this is an ensemble movie, and two main characters, especially one who was coming off of a huge shift in status quo, like Steve was, and needed strong direction in the first place, like Thor, not having any kind of arc, is problematic.

So yes, the movie has some big problems. But the stuff that works, really, really works. James Spader’s voice performance as Ultron is a hoot. The big action pieces are a excellent. The birth of Vision is a lovely piece of sci-fi whackiness, and my God, that “when you step out that door, you’re an Avenger,” moment is a heart string tug.

But it’s a mess. And Whedon’s gone on record saying he wasn’t interested in playing ball with the Infinity stones storyline, which I think also contributes to Thor’s sidelining. And honestly, watching the movie, you see what it could have been if he’d had his way. It probably would have been quite different. But his reach exceeded his grasp. I joked last week that I think the movie broke his brain.

Whedon took a long break after Ultron, and listen, it’s not like it was unearned. But I think he also knew that he whiffed it, and he needed to regroup. He didn’t get what he wanted and the work was subpar, for him, for the sandbox he was playing in. It’s far from his worst work. (There are some clunky ass episodes of Buffy and Angel and ya know, Dollhouse exists.) It’s also far from his best. Joe and Anthony Russo take it from here, and they do it really, really well.

Next week, things come back to Earth, for a little while, at least. Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War come due, and once again, we’ve got two movies that I like a lot. Especially Ant-Man. (Also, really, except for Dark World there aren’t any MCU movies that I dislike. And even that, I more nothing than hate.)

Ready For Endgame: Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians Of The Galaxy

A very strong case can be made that 2014 was the best year for the MCU. (I’d say only 2018 can give it a real go…) It was the year that gave us my personal pick for the greatest superhero film of all time, and expanded the universe we’d all fallen in love with beyond even what Thor had shown us.

Let’s start with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which I think deserves much more serious consideration in the genre than it gets. It deals more elegantly with the themes of the surveillance state than everyone’s beloved The Dark Knight, presents a grappling with the reality of turning humans into symbols and going past your expiration date, like Logan and manages to fit into the Marvel formula perfectly and wring some killer performances out of Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson.

Not to mention, you could remove Captain America from the proceedings entirely and you’d still have a political thriller where a badass spy played by Samuel L. Jackson has to deal with being betrayed by the politician that he protected his entire career played by Robert Redford. Which would also be an incredible movie. What do you get if you take Batman and The Joker out of The Dark Knight? Huh? A slightly crazy DA loses his fiance to the mob and a police captain fakes his death? OK, that would also be a pretty good movie, but not as good.

My point is that The Winter Soldier rules. Chris Evans is perfect in it, it gives Natasha Romanoff real stakes, something she was surely and deeply missing in her previous appearances. It brings back Bucky Barnes, setting up Cap’s stakes for the rest of the series, and introduces us to Sam Wilson, The Falcon, the second best sidekick in the series. (The best is Rhodey.)

It’s action scenes are tight, it’s mystery well thought out and it’s twists well executed. And it’s funny, you guys, and it has Robert Redford. It’s amazing. It’s the greatest superhero movie ever.

Also, it sparked one of my all time favorite “Wait, what?” fangirl conversations that Aless and I ever had over pancakes after watching a Marvel movie (Margaritas before, pancakes after.) “Is…is Captain America a virgin?” (We concluded that, no, no he is not. We don’t think…but he might be? He definitely never got to have sex with Peggy, which is very sad for both of them.) (The rest of the pancake session was spent guessing which Agents characters might be HYDRA. We did not consider Grant Ward, like even a little. What a well executed twist that was. You didn’t see it coming but in retrospect it made perfect sense.)

Guardians Of The Galaxy, is not the best superhero movie ever, but it’s a very, very good one. Few superhero and sci fi properties embrace fun and dorkiness with such aplomb, (I’d say Legends Of Tomorrow might be the only other one I can think of that really hits the balance just right.) And Guardians is so confident in what it’s doing. While it starts with a scene that’s so maudlin it might be heavy handed, young Peter Quill at his mother’s bedside, the air is almost immediately taken out, when our would be swashbuckling hero hits play on his walkman and dances to his destination.

Guardians is full of moments like that, setting up moments that we should know by heart and just undercutting them enough that they work on their own but feel different because of the humor, the characters and my god that soundtrack.

The strength of both of these movies really does seal up 2014 as the best year. (Again, 2018, with three super strong entries is a close close second.)

Next week, we get into the movie that may have broken a legend, but did give us a controversial ship, and some good jokes. We give Avengers: Age Of Ultron another go. I don’t think my opinion on it will change much, which is basically that it’s a glorious mess. And it may have broken Joss Whedon’s brain. We can’t be sure.

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.