“You’re late.” “And you’re missing an eye.”

Thor: Ragnarök

The third solo Thor film; the title is part of actual Norse mythology, though Marvel has it occur a bit different than what tradition has passed down.  There is a new villain in Hela (played by Cate Blanchett; Galadriel in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, as well as the voice of Valka in the latter two How to Train Your Dragon movies.  She’s the stepmother in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, involved in Ocean’s Eight, played Elizabeth I twice, and Marion in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood).  Jeff Goldblum is another antagonist in the Grandmaster, and Karl Urban is Skurge (Éomer in Lord of the Rings, Dr. McCoy in the alternate universe Star Trek movies, and apparently a stormtrooper in Rise of Skywalker.)  [We’ll cover more on the fact that Marvel has chosen a lot of Middle Earth actors to be in their universe in the wrap-up post.] 

This film starts a little differently, with Thor voicing over a summary, saying he’s saved Earth a couple times and is now a hero.  And he’s been searching the cosmos for the Infinity Stones.  And that is how he ended up in a cage, from which he drops and dangles and spins in front of Surtur, who is destined to destroy Asgard in Ragnarök.  Thor has been concerned about Ragnarök, with the nature of his dreams lately; so if he takes the crown off Surtur’s head, it can never be put in the Eternal Flame and thus Ragnarök will be averted.  But Surtur warns Thor that Ragnarök has already begun and Odin is not on Asgard.  There is nothing Thor can do to stop it.  He still holds his hand out for Mjölnir and smashes through the demons (cue Immigrant Song).  He calls for Heimdall after he takes the crown off Surtur, but he doesn’t get a response, so he has to dodge a dragon (of some sort [could be a reference to the Midgard serpent of Norse legend]).  Turns out, Heimdall is not at the Bifrost, there’s a new guy, Skurge, who is too busy showing off to ladies to hear Thor.  He does eventually answer, after Thor slays the dragon.  Heimdall is a fugitive, after being declared a traitor to the crown.  Thor flies off to confront “Odin,” and Skurge runs behind him. 

There’s a new statue of Loki and Thor discovers a play being performed about Loki’s sacrifice (with Luke Hemsworth [Chris’s older brother; a cousin of theirs is a college girl in the film] portraying Thor, Matt Damon portraying Loki, and Sam Neill portraying Odin).  When Thor addresses “Odin,” he remarks “Oh shit,” then babbles that the Asgardians wanted to honor Loki.  Thor then holds on to Odin, swinging Mjölnir, then threatens that nothing with stop the hammer from returning to his hand, “not even your face, brother.”  “Odin” shouts he yields and transforms into Loki [we already knew Odin was Loki from the last scene of Dark World].  Skurge finally shows up, but Loki’s already annoyed; his new lackey had one job, and didn’t do it well.

Thor now demands to know where Odin is.  Loki knows.  He’s on Earth.  At the Shady Acre Senior Home…that is currently being demolished when the brothers visit.  Loki doesn’t know where Odin currently is, making a crack that he’s not a witch.  Then Loki disappears and Thor finds a card, directing him to Bleeker St; where Thor meets Dr. Stephen Strange; “Earth has wizards now?”  Strange keeps an eye on threats to Earth, including Loki, but all Thor and Loki want is to find Odin.  Strange can help with that (and also show off his magic to Thor [there’s an interesting post on the different ways Loki and Strange utilize magic, being pro-Loki]), and opens a portal for Thor.  He needs his “umbrella” first, which crashes into several things on its way to Thor, and Loki.  Who has been “falling for thirty minutes!”  Strange sends the brothers to Norway.

Odin is sitting calmly, waiting for his sons.  It admittedly took time for his to shake off Loki’s magic, but now, Odin misses his wife.  He knows his time draws near, and he has to warn Thor and Loki that they have a sister, whom he exiled for her violent appetite.  She is the goddess of death, and Odin’s first born.  She draws her power from Asgard and if she resides there, it will be limitless.  He also counsels his sons to remember this place they all saw each other.  Then he turns to gold dust and floats away.

A storm begins brewing and Thor and Loki are ready to fight again, until Hela emerges.  Their clothes transform when they approach her.  She first tells them to kneel.  To which Loki demands, “I beg your pardon?”  [How dare she steal his line.]  Thor throws Mjölnir, which Hela crushes.  The brothers try to make it to Asgard, but Hela attacks them while in transit and throws them out.  When Hela arrives at the Bifrost, she instantly stabs Volstagg and Fandral for moving against her.  Skurge just wants to survive, so she takes him with her.

Thor lands on Sakaar, in a rubbish heap.  A crew try to take him prisoner, but another woman comes along and claims him instead, with a little shocking device (she’s also a little drunk).  Thor meets the Grandmaster and hears about his contest of champions.  If Thor wants his freedom, he has to defeat the Grandmaster’s contender.  Loki is also in the background and the brothers bicker a little; Loki was thrown out first and landed before Thor, but managed to befriend the Grandmaster instead of be trapped.  Loki later visits his brother in the prison, while Thor holds a quiet, private memorial for Odin, which Loki joins.   Though it’s just an illusion; Thor can easily throw rocks through Loki lied to both of them.  Yet, when Thor argues he wants to return to Asgard, Loki insists that Hela is stronger.  They could wait a while, and make their own way off Sakaar and go anywhere.  Thor finally reviews Loki’s actions; he faked his death, stripped Odin of his powers and stole the throne, left Odin on Earth, to die, which released the goddess of death.  And that is only the past two days.  Loki warns his brother that anyone who faces the Grandmaster’s contender perishes; and he’s bet heavily against Thor. 

[Let’s stop and consider a few things for a moment, since Loki is one of my favorite characters: He joined in the memorial for Odin; he still considers Odin to be his father, as much as he sneeringly denies it at times.  He is genuinely concerned for his brother going against Hela.  He claims Hela as “our sister.”  His voice rises when he tells Thor he doesn’t stand a chance.  So, as much as Loki argues to the contrary; he’s still Thor’s brother, he’s still Odin’s son.  And, as Hela pointed out, Loki picked up some of Odin’s mannerism, offering to come to a deal.  And supposedly, the Asgardians didn’t notice a difference in Loki ruling as Odin.]

Meanwhile, in Asgard, Hela greets the guards and claims her right to rule as Odin’s firstborn.  The guards attack and she has fun slaying them all; Hogun being the last one standing.  While Hela and Skurge are busy outside the palace, Heimdall steals his sword from Bifrost (preventing Hela from rampaging the cosmos).  Inside the palace, Hela reveals that Odin covered up the history he had with Hela; how they won the Nine Realms by spilling buckets of blood.  But when Hela grew too ambitious, Odin locked her away.  Below the palace, the dead guards are buried and she uses the Eternal Flame to revive them, along with the gigantic wolf, Fenris [who does play a part in the traditional Ragnarök myth].

Thor is sent to face the Grandmaster’s contender and Korg, his rock buddy in prison, points out that the woman who caught Thor is an Asgardian.  Thor recognizes her as a Valkyrie, due to a tattoo, and tries to ask for her help.  She dismisses him.  Thor then has to face a haircut from Stan Lee, and enters the ring.  Turns out, the champion is Hulk.  Thor is ecstatic; “he’s a friend from work.”  Loki is decidedly not.  But Thor cannot reason with the Banner portion, he cannot use tricks to calm him down.  So they pummel each other, Hulk even smashing Thor like he did Loki in New York, which Loki gleefully shouts “that’s how it feels!” [and the funniest part of the movie].  This triggers lightning to come out of Thor and the ante is upped.  And just when Thor is ready to finish Hulk, the Grandmaster shocks Thor and he passes out.

But he wakes up in Hulk’s chambers (briefly shirtless, I think that’s a rule) and tries to pick up their friendship.  He realizes that Hulk came to Sakaar in the Quinjet and that is a way off.  But Hulk wants to stay.  Thor manages to contact Heimdall and check on the situation in Asgard.  The people hide from Hela.  Heimdall suggests Thor go through the big doorway to get off the planet.  Hulk is friends with Valkyrie and Thor attempts to recruit her, but Valkyrie wants nothing to do with Hela.  She’s happy to drink and forget.  Thor manages to get out and to the Quinjet, but the Hulk destroys it when he wants Thor to stay.  Triggering a video from Black Widow brings Banner back, who is concerned he stayed as the Hulk for two years.  If that happens again, Banner may not come back.

The Grandmaster sends Loki and Valkyrie to find Thor and Hulk, though after a brief fight, in which Loki also discovers who Valkyrie is, they team up with Thor and Banner to get off Sakaar, through the largest portal.  Loki can help them get a ship.  Thor and Loki fight together, and Loki suggests he goes separate ways from Thor.  And Thor agrees; at one point, he thought the world of Loki, but Loki keeps betraying him, and their paths diverged long ago.  He still suggests they do “get help.”  Loki does not want to do “get help.”  They do “get help” and Thor throws Loki at the guards.  Loki attempts to betray Thor, but Thor is a step ahead this time, and slaps a shocker on Loki.  Korg and his revolution eventually free Loki, who takes a larger transport to follow Thor.  Thor steals one of the Grandmaster’s ships and Valkyrie helps clear their path off planet.

Hela and Skurge are threatening the people, who are trying to make it to the Bifrost with Heimdall, but an army is behind them and Fenris is in front of them.  Thor sits on the throne to draw Hela to him.  He even tries to bond with Hela, that Odin’s solutions to problem was to either cover it up, or cast it out.  But Thor is wise enough to know he cannot trust Hela; he’d love for someone else to take the thrown, but she’s just the worst.  In the ensuing fight, Hela slices out one of Thor’s eyes, so now he looks like Odin.

Meanwhile, Valkyrie starts to clear a path for the Asgardians.  Bruce turns into the Hulk and takes on Fenris (after smooshing into the rainbow bridge as Bruce first).  A transport ship arrives for the people, Loki proudly declaring “your savior is here!”  Heimdall knew Loki would show up, and Loki joins him against the army.

Thor is losing the fight against Hela and she taunts him, “what were you the god of again?”  Thor has a vision of Odin, who counsels him that Mjölnir was only a way for Thor to focus and control his power.  And Asgard is the people, not a place.  Thor fears he is not as strong as Odin; not, Odin tells him, Thor is stronger.  This triggers lightning from Thor again and he blasts his sister (notice the pride on Loki’s face), and a repeat of the Immigrant Song.  And a totally epic image of Thor smashing through the ranks with lightning.  The heroes still struggle and Hela tries to stop the transport ship.  Skurge jumps out from where he was hiding to take on the army, but Hela spears him.

Thor realizes the only way they can defeat Hela is to destroy Asgard; she’ll lose her power.  They have to trigger Ragnarök.  He sends Loki (whom he knew would show up) to the vault to put Surtur’s crown in the Eternal Flame.  The devil-like creature is happy to smash, though Hulk tries to take him on and Thor has to call him back.  Hela rallies for a moment, but Surtur still smashes her.  Sadly, the planet is destroyed, but the people survive.  And Loki is there to stand beside his brother (and we hope they did hug).  Loki is not sure about returning to Earth, but Thor feels everything will work out fine.  There is an ominously huge ship that appears in front of them.

I find this film funnier than several of the other Marvel movies. It’s an appropriate amount of humor; Love and Thunder just tried too hard.   Thor is more off the cuff and even Loki is more relaxed.  We continue to see more of a sibling relationship between Thor and Loki, like throwing things at each other, anticipating each other’s moves.  And playing Led Zepplin’s Immigrant Song makes it badass; and the lyrics match well, as my father pointed out: “We come from the land of ice and snow/From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow/The hammer of the god/Will drive our ships to new lands/To fight the horde, sing and cry/Valhalla, I am coming.”

We also witness two kickass female characters…with absolutely no love interests!  Hela reveals in being the goddess of death [Cate Blanchett is plain awesome].  Valkyrie doesn’t take crap from anyone.

I’ve recently started my research on Norse mythology, with a course from Wondrium, that covered the basics of their legends and clearly stated that Marvel got the legend wrong.  It was fairly interesting, though I intend to follow up with some books I already own (including the tome by Neil Gaiman).

At the time of writing this blog, sadly Ray Stevenson, the actor who portrays Volstagg [among other roles, such as Porthos in the 2011 Three Musketeers] passed away on May 21st.

I am incredibly busy for the next month, so Black Panther will be a while coming (but it will come).  In the meantime, who are your favorite MCU characters?

“Yeah, a kid who can stop a bus with my bare hands.”

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Still a part of Sony Pictures, but they collaborated to bring Spider-Man into the MCU.  Tom Holland [approved by Stan Lee] is the newest actor to take on the lead role.  Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan makes an appearance, as does Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.  Zendaya (Greatest Showman) is Michelle, or more commonly called, MJ.  Michael Keaton (Batman in the 1989 film [and it looks like he is reprising that role in the upcoming Flash film]) is Adrian Toomes, AKA the Vulture.  Donald Glover (who we saw as a young Lando Calrissian in the Solo movie), makes an appearance as Aaron Davis.  And if the principal looks familiar, that is Kenneth Choi, who played Jim Morita, one of the Howling Commandos in First Avenger; now he’s Principal Morita, a descendant of Jim.  (Fun side note, Jennifer Connelly voices the Karen A.I in the spider-suit; she is married to Paul Bettany, whom we know in the MCU as JARVIS, in the first few Iron Man suits.  It is also noted that “Homecoming” has many connotations as a title; obviously it is the dance that occurs in the film, then there’s coming home from Berlin, and finally, a homecoming for the Spider-Man character to the MCU.)

We throwback a little to the end of the first Avengers film and a crew is cleaning up the aftermath of the invasion.  They are interrupted by a government agency, the Department of Damage Control, in conjunction with Tony Stark, so Toomes looses the contract and is thus out a fair bit of money.  He and his crew decide to keep the last load of exotic materials they forgot to turn over.  They create gadgets out of them and prepare to change their worlds.  This continues for eight years to bring us to the present day; Toomes now flies around picking up scrap from the Damage Control as the Vulture, with a flying suit.

In Spider-Man’s case, we start with his appearance in Civil War; he makes a behind the scenes video for himself and receives a new suit from Tony.  Then Tony is dropping Peter back off at home, counting this as an internship as an alibi, and tells Peter to keep the suit.  No, there are no missions planned for Peter anytime soon, but keep doing the little stuff and keep in contact with Happy, Tony tells him.  And in a very Tony Stark fashion, also tells the teen “Just don’t do anything I would do.  And definitely don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”  And so, Peter blows up Happy’s phone, checking in for two months, asking about any new missions and reporting on stopping bike thieves and little old ladies.

We also meet Peter Parker’s friends; Ned, who he builds Lego Death Stars with; there’s MJ, who watches them; Peter also has a crush on Liz.  Sadly, Flash is a bully and doesn’t believe that Peter actually has an internship with Tony Stark.  Peter is also part of the academic decathlon at Midtown Science and Technology school (which showcases Howard Stark, Abraham Erskine, and Bruce Banner in the background), but he’s trying to drop out of nationals since he feels he needs availability in case Tony calls.  MJ points out he’s dropped out of band and robotics club already (she’s just observant, she swears).

Then, Peter comes upon bank robbers with high-tech gear.  He’s got the banter down, but one of the ray guns slices through the bank and across the street, to the bodega that Peter visits during the day.  He rushes over to save the owner and his cat, but now Spider-Man is going to be on the lookout for those weapons.  Peter sneaks home, still in his suit because the garbage bin his bookbag was webbed to was taken away.  He crawls up the wall and through the window, and only discovers Ned when he turns around.  He makes his friend swear not to tell anyone; he doesn’t want to worry his Aunt May.  So now Ned wants to help Peter as Spider-Man, be his “guy in the chair.”

When the boys find out that Liz has a crush on Spider-Man (in gym class, where they show Captain America videos mandated by the state), Ned blurts out that Peter knows Spider-Man through the Stark Internship.  This gains them an invitation to Liz’s party (and we find out she’s a senior, compared to their sophomore status), with Flash cracking that Peter should bring Spider-Man.  Peter’s not comfortable using Spider-Man like that and when he suits up, he discovers lights coming from a weapons deal.  He breaks it up, then tries to follow the bad guys…and we discover that Spider-Man is not meant for the suburbs; there aren’t a lot of tall buildings for his webs to latch on to and for him to swing around.  So he gets dragged around by the van, until the Vulture swoops down and grabs him.  Then he drops him in a lake.  Luckily, the suit has a parachute, but Peter still struggles in the water.  Another suit dives in and pulls him out; it’s Iron Man.  Well, his suit; Tony’s somewhere more exotic.  He does lecture Peter (while showing off there’s a heater in Spider’s suit) and breaks out the classic “because I said so!” line.  Peter should leave the weapons and guys in suits alone; there are other people to handle that (but not the Avengers).  Peter should stay closer to the ground, help the little guy, and be the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.  Peter points out that Tony thought he was ready for the big leagues by taking him up against Captain America.  To which Tony retorts, that if Cap had wanted to really hurt Peter, he would have [so Tony was counting on Steve not wanting to hurt his friends; at that point, Steve wouldn’t go for the kill…Tony still gets called out for his decision in the fandom].  His parting words to Peter are, if Peter comes across these weapons again, call Happy (who is also busy packing up the Avengers tower and moving everything to the new facility upstate).

On his way home, Peter finds part of the weapon that was shot at him and takes it with him.  Then beats on it with a hammer during shop class, trying to get the power source out.  Ned happily helps with that part.  Meanwhile, Toomes intended for his merchandise to be moved under the radar and not draw the attention of the cops or the Avengers, but now they’re being shot out in the open by an idiot.  Who accidently ends up dead.  There’s talk of a big job, but Toomes wants to hold off yet.  He sends some guys out to track down the missing weapon piece, so Peter spots them at the school.  He puts a tracker on them and finds them heading to Maryland.  It just so happens that Nationals for the academic decathlon are held in Washington D.C.  He gets back on the trip and in his hotel room, has Ned help him pull the tracker out of his suit so Happy and Tony don’t know what he’s doing.  He also has Ned turn off the “Training Wheel Protocol,” giving him more access to the suit.  Including its own A.I. voice, whom he names Karen.  Ned doesn’t think this is all a good idea, but Peter convinces him, then sneaks out to follow the crooks (there’s a deleted scene that shows the school bus passing the Triskelion mess that is still being cleaned up, and MJ comments on the situation; the Avengers are creating a lot of messes that Damage Control is cleaning up and so the crooks have a steady supply of parts they can steal).

Peter does interrupt the Vulture grabbing a load, but gets stuck in the truck, which is then parked in a secure warehouse.  It does allow him time to run a refresher course on his new web capabilities, but he gets bored soon and works on breaking out of the warehouse; especially when he finds out the core of the weapon he found, that he passed along to Ned for safekeeping, is explosive.  Peter misses the decathlon, yet Midtown wins thanks to MJ.  The team heads to the Washington Monument to celebrate and the scanners activate the core, which goes off in the elevator.  Spider-Man races to the scene and scales the building, having to crash through a window near the top, then web the elevator.  It still falls, but he manages to stop it.  He has to grab Liz at the last second, but once she’s safe, he drops.

Meanwhile, the Vulture and his crew are not happy with Spider-Man appearing and breaking up their business.  So, Toomes plans to kill Spider-Man (though he has to be grateful that Spider-Man saved his daughter in DC).

In typical teenage fashion, Peter is riding the high from his rescue and plans to skip out on school so he can continue to be Spider-Man and join the Avengers, but he’s caught by the principal and is in trouble for missing Nationals.  They show another cheesy Captain America video during detention, but Peter leaves when Steve poses “what would Captain America do?”  He gathers web fluid from under the lockers and works on hunting down the crooks.  He tries interrogating the guy he saved from the deal, who turns out to be helpful, but also comments that Peter has to get better at that part of the job; he sounds young and not intimidating.  Peter heads to the Staten Island Ferry to break up the next deal and hangs up on Tony when Stark calls to acknowledge a job well down in DC.  Then the FBI shows up to break up the operation, but Peter still goes after the Vulture.  Webbing one of the guns ends up cutting the ferry in two.  (Vulture has a point when he says Spider-Man is messing with things he doesn’t understand.)  Peter tries to web it back together, even holding the two pieces himself.  Luckily, Iron Man shows up and pushes it together and seals it back up.  It is actually Tony in the suit and he is furious.  When Peter protests that the adults need to listen to him, Tony points out he did; that’s why the FBI was there.  Peter just wanted to be like Tony; and Tony wanted him to be better.  Tony doesn’t want anything to happen to Peter and for that to be on his conscience; so he takes the suit.  Peter protests he’s nothing without the suit.  Then he shouldn’t have it, Tony tells him.

When Peter returns home, May is worried sick.  She knows he’s been cutting class and school and the decathlon.  She knows he’s sneaking out and begs him to talk to her.  She then comforts him when he quietly tells her he lost the Stark Internship.  At school, the principal gives him another chance; Peter’s a good kid.  And he’s on his best behavior now.  He hangs out with Ned and they complete the Lego Death Star.  He apologizes to Liz about decathlon and manages to ask her to homecoming.  May eagerly helps him prepare.

When Peter arrives to pick Liz up for the dance, he sees Toomes and recognizes him.  He’s distracted as they drive to the dance, and the chatting leads Toomes to realizing that Peter is Spider-Man.  He has a conversation with the boy (with a gun in his hand) in front of the school.  In return for Spider-Man saving Liz, Toomes is offering Peter the chance to walk away from taking down Vulture and his crew.  But if Peter persists, Toomes will go after Peter’s family.  Peter makes his decision as he walks into the dance.  He apologizes to Liz, then dashes down the hall.  He pulls out his old suit from under the lockers, but is met by one of the crew outside.  Ned comes along and helpfully subdues the guy, saving Spider-Man.  Peter has Ned call Happy, who is busy with the last steps of moving stuff out of the Avengers Tower (including Cap’s new shield and a magic belt for Thor).  Happy hangs up on Ned.  Peter steals Flash’s car to follow Toomes to a warehouse (he stashed his phone in the car for Ned to track; Ned is thrilled to be Peter’s “guy in the chair”…until he gets caught, then claims he was watching porn).  Toomes attempts talking to Peter again, claiming that guys like Tony Stark don’t understand what it’s like for guys like Toomes and Peter.  In reality, it’s a distraction, waiting for his wings to arrive.  They cut through support columns, which brings the warehouse crashing down onto Peter.

Peter freaks out [and all you want to do is wrap him in a hug] and calls out for help.  He sees his reflection mixed with the mask and recalls Tony’s words, that if he’s nothing without the suit, then he doesn’t deserve the suit.  His resolve strengthens and he lifts the rubble off him [one of my favorite parts].  He gets out in time to catch a ride with the Vulture, who has decided to do the big job, involving a high-altitude seal.  He attaches to the plane, which is autopiloted, and opens a doorway.  Toomes is thrilled with the hull, but Spider-Man breaks the seal.  And Vulture goes after Spider-Man.  The plane looses two engines in their fight, and then Peter has to steer the plane from crashing into a tower.  They crash onto a beach and Vulture goes after Spider-Man again.  Until he spots arc reactors and tries to take off with them.  Peter notices that his wings are sparking and tries to warn Toomes.  When a fire erupts, Peter gets up and drags Toomes out [another favorite part].  He webs Toomes to the gear and leaves another note for Happy, who saw the explosion.

Peter apologizes to Liz again, as she’s leaving school; she just hopes he works out what’s going on.  Happy picks Peter up from decathlon and takes him upstate to meet with Tony.  Tony commends Peter again for his actions and offers him an official place with the Avengers.  Peter considers it for a minute, then turns it down; he’d rather stay a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for now.  Tony’s impressed, but then Pepper comes out, wanting to know what their announcement is going to be.  Happy has been carrying around a diamond ring since 2008 and throws it to Tony.  Pepper’s not too mad.  At home, Tony left the suit for Peter again and he eagerly puts it back on.  Except May is standing in the background now.  In the credits, we see Toomes approached by another criminal, who wants to know Spider-Man’s identity.  Toomes claims that if he knew who was under the mask, they’d be dead already.  [Yet we shouldn’t commend Toomes too much because he did knowingly attempt to kill a fifteen-year-old, who also happens to be a classmate of his daughter’s.]  And at the very end, is another Captain America video on patience, that sometimes we wait so long for something that ends up being disappointing…no, there is not clue as to the next video and Cap just wants to know how many more PSA’s he has to make.

To be fair, several characters can take part of the blame for actions in the film.  Tony recruited Peter to help fight against several superheroes, but didn’t lay ground rules for Peter after.  Peter himself tries to handle big problems on his own in an effort to prove himself to Tony.  Happy is dismissive of Peter’s calls, but then, Peter did send him a lot of messages, but adults didn’t listen to the teenager when he really had something important to say.  At the end of the day, we still root for Peter because he has honest, good intentions; he desperately wants to help.  He’s just fifteen.  He does show maturity throughout the film; he’s willing to apologize when he can, he’s not keen on being Spider-Man at a party, remarking to Ned that Spider-Man is not there for party tricks.

This movie got me interested in the MCU again, because after the last couple, my interest was waning.  But Tom Holland and thus Spider-Man is adorable, in that way that you want to hug someone and protect them [admittedly, I am not very familiar with the other Spider-Man movies, though I’ve watched the Tobey Maguire ones once; but they seem more serious, while Tom’s is that dorky kid that I relate to.]  I also appreciate Tom’s background in dance (he was Billy Elliot on the West End) and the fact that he can do all those flips on his own; he did most of the stuntwork where possible as well.

This is a well-developed story, showing consequences for actions and gives the villain a motive; though again, he did try to kill a fifteen-year-old, well aware of who he was.  Property was damaged, but only one person died and they were a bad guy and Spider-Man was not the one to kill him.  A low-level criminal even respects Spider-Man for blindly offering to get shot instead of him.  Teenagers are played by teenagers and act like teenager, with appropriate embarrassment.

And at the end, we just want to watch Tony mentor Peter and Peter eventually join the Avengers and become part of a family.  There are several fanfiction stories I found after watching this movie, but I am saving my recommendations for a big Marvel round-up post after the last movie.

Up Next: Some more fun with Thor: Ragnarök

“So, we’re saving the galaxy again?” “I guess”

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The Guardians are back, adding Kurt Russell (he was Colonel Jack O’Neil in the first Stargate movie [before Richard Dean Anderson took over in the series], and opposite Goldie Hawn in Overboard) as Ego, with an appearance by Sylvester Stallone as Stakar.

The film opens in Missouri, 1980, where we meet Peter’s mother, as well as his father, though we should note that there is something alien in the field.  Meredith is so pleased to find a spaceman.  Quick jump to thirty-four years later, and Peter is on a job with the other Guardians, with their usual antics.  Dancing baby Groot distracts us from the fight going on behind him.  They technically complete the job, but Rocket steals something from their client, which sends a fleet of ships after the Guardians, who still bicker and now have Nebula with them as a prisoner.  Rocket and Peter argue over who is the better pilot and they are only saved by the intervention of a new ship.  They crash land onto Berhert, where the other ship lands as well and their savior introduces himself as Ego, Peter’s father.  He invites Peter to his home planet to explain everything.  Gamora and Drax go with Peter, while Rocket and Groot remain with Nebula to fix the ship.

Meanwhile, Yandu and his Ravengers are partying (well, Yandu isn’t partying as much), then he meets another Ravanger, Stakar, who calls Yandu out for some of his prior jobs, including kidnapping young Peter.  He’s exiled, but manages to pick up another job, which is to find the Guardians of the Galaxy for their botched job.  He finds Rocket, who handles the crew pretty well with a myriad of traps, but Nebula manages to get free and sides with the crew that mutinies against Yandu for going soft (he’s just smart enough to not kill the Guardians of the Galaxy).  Nebula makes a deal with the new crew so she can hunt Gamora and kill her, then track down Thanos and kill him.  Yandu, Rocket, and Groot manage to escape, aided by Kraglin and go after Peter.

Ego shows off his planet to Peter, Gamora, and Drax, and they meet his…companion Mantis, who uses her empathy to help Ego sleep.  Peter already doesn’t trust Ego, but as Gamora puts it, “if he ends up being evil, we’ll just kill him.”  But Ego’s planet is beautiful and full of life.  Ego reveals he’s a Celestial; in essence, a god, small “g.”  He doesn’t quite know where he came from, but he’s been around millions of years.  He can control the molecules around him and in the planet and eventually formed himself into a human.  He didn’t want to be alone in the universe and eventually met Meredith Quinn on Earth.  When he discovered she had a son, he searched the galaxy for him, then heard of a human who could hold an Infinity Stone without dying and knew Peter must be part Celestial.  He swears to Peter that he wanted to be a father; Peter is not a mistake.  And he wants to teach Peter about the light.  But Peter is still mad that Ego left and never came back.  They partially make up when Peter is able to make a ball out of light and they play quintessential catch for a few minutes.

Peter is happy and even persuades Gamora to dance with him for a few minutes, then she ends up insisting that there is nothing between them.  And Mantis is hiding something from the heroes.  Nebula tracks down Gamora and they start fighting each other, then Nebula’s ship crashes and Gamora ends up saving Nebula.  Nebula finally shouts at Gamora that all she wanted was a sister; it was Gamora who was focused on being better and the victor.  During their argument, they find skeletons and have to make it back to the surface.

That’s where Ego is sharing his plan with Peter.  Peter is immortal as long as the light lives in the planet.  And Ego wants to spread throughout the galaxy.  In this Expansion, he planted thousands of extensions of himself (that weird alien planet from the beginning) on thousands of planets, with the intention that they will cover all that exists.  But one Celestial does not have enough power on their own.  So he needs Peter.  Mantis explains to our heroes that the bones the sisters found are Ego’s previous children, none of whom shared the Celestial gene; only Peter.  And Peter’s initially taken by Ego and on board with the plan until Ego admits he was the one who put the tumor in Meredith.  Peter is furious.  He tries shooting Ego, but Ego just reforms and spears Peter in order to use him as a battery.  One Earth, that plant bursts into a giant black wave that begins engulfing the town.

Yandu and the rest of the Guardians crash in.  Yandu admits he couldn’t hand Peter over as a child after he heard about what happened to the others.  Peter grudgingly forgives him and they focus on destroying Ego, meaning they have to strike at the center of the planet in order to kill him.  Mantis helps the Guardians by putting Ego to sleep, which works for a few minutes.  When he wakes up, he tries to crush Peter’s friends, continuing to insist that this is Peter’s purpose in life.  But Peter fights back, remembering the good times he’s had with his friends (even a brief clip of Yandu teaching a young Peter something), and his friends are released.  He continues to hold back Ego, growling that he shouldn’t have killed his mom.  Groot sets a bomb, but it still looks hopeless for the Guardians, with the planet falling apart around them.  Rocket gets everyone on the ship and takes off, without Yandu and Peter, saving his friends.  They all demand to know about Peter.  Peter is fine not being a god and watches Ego disintegrate.  Yandu is there to save him, using the jetpack himself, but putting the protective bubble on Peter when they hit space.  Yandu freezes, but Peter lives.    

They hold a Ravanger funeral for Yandu, whom Peter finally admits was his dad.  The life he was always looking for was right there.  Gamora asks Nebula to stay and they even hug, admitting they will always be sisters.  But Nebula wants to hunt down Thanos and leaves.  The other Ravangers come for Yandu’s funeral and everyone is fairly content.

This movie is about family; yes, Peter finally solves the problem of who his biological father is, but he also accepts other people in his life as family.  And the Guardians feel the same way, considering they demand to know where Peter is before they leave.  And I like that Peter is a little more serious in this film.  There are plenty of jokes cracked to keep the humor we know from this crew, but Peter doesn’t pass everything off as a joke.  He honestly wants to know this man who calls himself Peter’s father, but is also smart enough to not immediately trust him.  And he truly cares for Gamora and Gamora eventually returns his feelings.  Everyone experiences character growth (which is what you want in a sequel).

I’m looking forward to Next Time, we have Spider-Man: Homecoming

They put the warnings after the spells

Doctor Strange

Again, Marvel continues to expand their universe.  Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Smaug and the Necromancer in the Hobbit trilogy, Khan in Into the Darkness, Richard III in Hollow Crown, as well as appearing in War Horse and Amazing Grace) leads the big name cast as the titular Dr. Stephen Strange.  Rachel McAdams (famous for The Notebook, Mean Girls [how did those two come out in the same year?], and Irene Adler in Guy Ritche’s Sherlock Holmes [which gave birth to a meme that’s only expanded]) is Dr. Christine Palmer, Chiwetel Ejiofor (the Operative from the Firefly movie, Serenity) is Mordo, while Mads Mikkelsen (he’s Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts, and Galen Erso in Rogue One.  He’s also Rochefort in 2011’s Three Musketeers and Le Chiffre in Casino Royale; needless to say, he’s experienced playing villains) is Kaecilius.  Tilda Swinton (a bit of a different role from portraying the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia films) is the Ancient One [and if you’re like me, and wondering why Pangborn is familiar looking, he’s Eric Matthews in Miss Congeniality.]

The film opens with Kaecilius beheading the librarian in order to rip pages from a book in order to do a dangerous ritual.  Change of scenery to a city and Kaecilius is confronted by someone in yellow robes with their hood up.  He shouts hypocrite while the world gets topsy-turvy.  The woman in yellow showcases her skill and Kaecilius and his followers run away. 

Another change in scenery and we meet a doctor as he preps for the operating room.  He’s a bit of a show off, but does help another doctor in a second operation when she asks.  We find out that Christine Palmer used to date Stephen Strange, but they chose different paths; her in the ER and he wants to advance new techniques.  Or show off and get credit; “everything is about you,” Christine remarks.  Stephen invites her to a ceremony, which is an award for him, but she declines.  We see that Stephen has done well for himself with the selection of watches and the fast car he has.  But as he’s checking out a new case (and turning down Rhodey’s spinal case we find out), his car crashes, glass shatters into his hands.  Christine is one of the doctors who rushes alongside him back into the hospital.  She’s the one to inform Stephen of the bad news; due to how long it took to get him into a hospital (most likely because it took time to discover he was missing and find him), there is severe nerve damage in his hands.  She encourages him to allows his body to heal, but he bites back “you’ve ruined me.”  So begins Stephen’s journey to get his hands back.  He asks different doctors for help, suggests experimental treatments.  But nothing brings them back to the way they were.  Christine tries to help him, but he pushes her away, being very rude to her one evening, saying that they hadn’t even made a good couple and tells her to leave.  So she does.

He eventually finds another patient who had had a supposedly hopeless case, but ended up walking again.  When he tracks down this Pangborn, he’s sent to Karma-Taj, which apparently resides in Nepal, because Stephen travels to Kathmandu.  He’s rescued from some thugs by Mordo, then taken before the Ancient One [and I do appreciate that the Ancient One is portrayed as a woman simply from the aspect that a woman is the head of this…religion I believe one could classify].  She is aware of who Stephen Strange is and explains that they are able to convince the body to put itself back together, by reorienting the spirit to heal the body (I don’t quite get the mix of medical and philosophical).  Stephen is disbelieving, so the Ancient One demonstrates by sending Stephen’s soul through different dimensions (and it gets a bit weird here).  He asks to be taught.  Mordo tosses him out.  But Stephen persists; sitting at the door, until the Ancient One lets him in based on his stubbornness, arrogance, and ambition, though she fears leading another gifted student who may ultimately betray her (like Kaecilius).

The Ancient One teaches Stephen that the language of the mystic arts is as old as civilization; they called it spells, but they actually harness energy from the multiverse [setting up the storylines after Endgame that we are not getting into because they are too confusing and I just didn’t have the energy after Endgame to continue with the crazy storylines.]  This energy they use to create shields and weapons.  It requires study and practice, which Stephen should be used to.  Stephen discovers the library and the new librarian, Wong.  He is told that no knowledge is forbidden, only certain practices.  Eventually, Stephen begins to study time, which is not something that is really allowed, but he also gets good at astral projecting and being in two places at one, and even allows his astral form to read while he sleeps.  He has his struggles, often blaming his hands, until the Ancient One leaves him on Mount Everest and he has to make his way back.  He succeeds and continues.  She also shows him the Mirror Dimension when his education progresses and he needs a safe place to practice; what occurs in the Mirror Dimension cannot influence the physical world.  Stephen’s study in time leads him to the book of time and the Eye of Agamotto.  He uses his new knowledge to bring the pages torn out of the book back and starts to read about the Dark Dimension.  He’s caught and stopped and warned not to tamper with natural law.  While the Avengers defend the world against physical dangers, sorcerers defend it against mystical dangers.  Stephen finds out about the three Sanctums; Hong Kong, London, and New York.  The Dark Dimension holds Dormamu, who is the cosmic conqueror and destroyer of worlds.

Then Kaecilius attacks the London Sanctum, which throws Stephen into the New York Sanctum.  Kaecilius soon arrives and kills the guard, and Stephen fights back…with some help from a cape (and the funniest bit of the movie).  Stephen is stabbed and transports himself to the hospital where Christine is and gets her help.  He has to go to the astral plane to fight another bad guy, and he ultimately lives and proves to Christine he’s not crazy, though she’s still a bit scared.  He returns to New York and keeps the cape.  But he has also discovered the Ancient One’s secret; she draws on the Dark Dimension while warning others away…that is how she has lived so long.  Stephen gets in an argument with Mordo, then Kaecilius is back and they try to trap him in in Mirror Dimension, but he fights it.  The Ancient One arrives and fights Kaecilius again.  This time, she’s stabbed and exits the Mirror Dimension.  Stephen takes her to Christine, but she freezes time for a single moment to talk to Stephen, bestowing words of wisdom.  Then she allows herself to die.  Stephen knows he must save the Hong Kong Sanctum, dragging Mordo with him, who is angry with the Ancient One. 

When they initially arrive, they are too late, but Stephen uses the Eye to begin to rewind time.  Eventually, he freezes it and confronts Dormamu.  He’s come to bargain and he has infinite time to repeat the same moment over and over and over again, which makes Dormamu his prisoner.  His price, take the zealots and leave, let Earth live.  Dormamu agrees and Kaecilius is dragged into the Dark Dimension and Hong Kong is saved.  Mordo has to figure out his new path and leaves.  Stephen agrees to put the Eye back and Wong points out that it is an Infinity Stone.  We see that Mordo has chosen a bloody path and hunts down Pangborn because this world now has too many sorcerers.  And a little taste of Thor is given when we see in the credits Stephen meets with the god, mentioning Odin and Loki.

Let me say that this film has a great cast.  However, as much as I’m interested in magic, I just can’t get into this film.  To me, the film is very one note. Yet, it is how we get this meme (and there’s another Sherlock if you include superhero movies in general with Henry Cavill as Superman/Sherlock in Enola Holmes):

Up Next: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

“Are we still friends?” “Depends on how hard you hit me.”

Captain America: Civil War

A turning point in the MCU and it acts more like an Avengers movie since most of the other characters appear in this film.  While we don’t have Thor or Bruce Banner, Clint and Scott Lang show up.  And T’Challa (played by the late Chadwick Boseman) and Peter Parker (played in this universe by Tom Holland) are introduced.  Martin Freeman (Watson in BBC’s Sherlock and Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit trilogy) appears as Everett Ross.

The prologue of the film takes place in 1991 Russia, with the Winter Solider program, revealing a red book with a black star that holds information on the program, including the coded phrase that…activates, I guess you’d say, the solider.  Poor Bucky is screaming at one point, then chillingly responds in Russian to the phrase, “ready to comply,” showing that he’s no longer in control.  He carries out a mission involving a car crash and stealing a case.

Now, we’re in present day Lagos, and Steve’s team is on a mission to hunt down Rumlow.  They’ve brought Wanda with them, working on her training.  Rumlow’s after a biological weapon (and Sam gets to show off his new drone bird “Red Wing,” and some other tech).  [By the way, the guy holding the vial looked a bit familiar; because he’s played by Damion Poitier (who was the Incapacitator villain in the Lab Rats, Mighty Med crossover episode.]  When Rumlow faces off against Steve, he mentions Bucky as a way to distract Steve.  But Wanda is there to help get a bomb away, but it doesn’t work the best and the bomb takes out a corner of a building.  It is revealed that many of the ones killed were Wakandans and the king is unhappy and is now speaking to the UN.  Both Wanda and Steve blame themselves (and Vision decides to walk through a wall instead of an open door).

Tony’s speaking at MIT, demonstrating a project that can help people clear traumatic memories, using it to say goodbye to his parents like he never did.  And this is just a precursor to funding all the students’ projects.  But when it’s time to bring the head of the foundation out, Pepper is not there.  A mother confronts Tony in a hallway; her son was brilliant, but won’t get the funding because he was killed in Sokovia; and she holds Tony responsible.

Tony meets up with the rest of the team, inviting along the new Secretary of State, Ross (that guy who hates the Hulk).  Ross admits that the world owes the Avengers an unpayable debt, but now people are disagreeing with the destruction the Avengers leave in their wake, and taking battles into other countries.  So, 117 countries of the United Nations have put together the Sokovia Accords, to restrict the Avengers’ powers and supervision.   A panel will decide when and where the Avengers deploy.  The team has three days to sign; if not, they will be forced to retire.  The team begins splitting.  Tony and Rhodey are all for signing; agreeing they need to be held accountable, while Steve feels that they are giving up their right to choose.  Vision points out there may be a causality going on; since Tony revealed himself as Iron Man, there has been an uptick in enhanced individuals coming on the scene and major disasters happening.  While Tony argues they need put in check, Steve argues that the safest hands for this situation are their own.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the old Winter Soldier handler is attacked, by Zemo, and asked about the December 1991 mission.  Zemo claims the red book.

The Avengers’ argument is interrupted by Steve getting notified that Peggy Carter has passed away.  He’s a casket bearer at the funeral in London, accompanied by Sam.  Even Nat comes to pay her respects and comfort Steve.  They also find out that his apartment neighbor, Kate, is actually Peggy’s niece, Sharon Carter.  Peggy was a huge role model to live up to, so Sharon never revealed her relation.  She also gives a pointed eulogy that Peggy cautioned “compromise where you can.  Where you can’t don’t.  Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is right.  Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye and say No, you move.”

Natasha informs Steve that Tony, Rhodey, and Vision have all signed the Accords.  Clint is retired, and Nat will sign to keep everyone together.  Steve tells her he can’t.  Natasha attends the meeting at the UN in Vienna, meeting King T’Chaka and Prince T’Challa of Wakanda.  There’s an explosion while T’Chaka is speaking and T’Challa tries to get to his father, but he is killed.  The news reports that James Barnes is a suspect.  T’Challa intends to find Bucky, but Steve wants to find him first.  Sharon Carter helps out and Sam follows Steve.  They find Bucky in Bucharest [Sebastian Stan spoke his native Romanian language in the market scene] and Steve helps out when the special forces invade Bucky’s apartment.  Bucky insists he’s not going to kill anyone; he doesn’t do that anymore.  The Black Panther shows up on the roof of his apartment, and they take the fight to the streets, chasing each other, eventually causing an explosion and getting caught by Rhodey and the police and arrested.

Bucky remains a prisoner, and Sam and Steve have to turn in their weapons and suits, but manage to stay out of a jail cell.  On their drive, T’Challa explained that the Black Panther is the guardian of Wakanda.  They’re introduced to Everett Ross.  Tony tries to convince Steve again to sign the Accords (after confirming that he and Pepper are taking a break; to Steve’s disappointment, he was hoping Tony was going to announce her pregnancy).  Tony insists they need Steve; he doesn’t want to see him gone.  And Tony feels that he is doing what has to be done in order to stave off worse.  Both men cannot stop being who they are.  Steve still won’t sign.

Zemo, masquerading at the psychologist, beings to ask Bucky questions.  When the lights go out (thanks to an EMP he planted elsewhere in the city), he rattles off the code words to activate Bucky.  Then he escapes and Bucky fights the Avengers, without their suits.  Even T’Challa goes after him (and they all show off how well they fight even without their suits.)  Bucky makes it to a helicopter, but Steve pulls it back down.  It falls and takes them both into the water.  This time, Steve pulls Bucky out.  Zemo heads to Moscow.  When Bucky wakes up, he remembers old Steve; then tells them that Zemo wanted to know about Siberia.  And bombshell, Bucky is not the only Winter Soldier.  Sam and Steve realize that with the split in the Avengers, they have less help than normal; they don’t think they can go to Tony, or even if we wanted to help if he could, with the Accords controlling his actions.  But, Sam knows a guy (remember the stinger to Ant-Man?)

Secretary Ross goes to Tony and Tony insists that he brings in Bucky and Steve.  Ross gives him 36 hours.  Nat and Tony both have ideas on who can help.  Nat’s idea is downstairs.  Tony’s in in Queens.  A teenage kid that Tony has figured out is Spider-Man.  He intends to upgrade Peter’s suit and convinces him to come to Germany with Tony, though they can’t tell Aunt May why.  Peter protests because he has homework, but Tony just rolls his eyes [and Robert’s comment in the scene, “I’m going to sit here, move your leg,” was because Tom forgot the blocking, but it worked well in the scene, so they kept it.]

Next, Clint enters the Avengers compound to retrieve Wanda, who has been instructed to remain inside by Tony, watched over by Vision.  Wanda and Vision have created a friendship, so they don’t want to hurt each other, but Clint has to hold him off in order to get Wanda out, making a crack about coming out of retirement for this.  Then Wanda stops Vision so she can leave and they can help Steve.  She’s decided that while she can’t control other people’s fear, she can control hers.  So the teams both head to an airport and lineups are revealed.  Scott Lang joins Clint, Wanda, Sam, and Bucky with Steve.  While Vision, Rhodey, Natasha, T’Challa, and Peter side with Tony.  Steve tries to explain, and Nat quips “do you really want to punch your way out?”  Tony accuses Steve of tearing the Avengers apart.  The fight starts (and yes, it is pretty cool, even though we wish they really weren’t fighting.)  Ultimately, Steve’s goal is to get him and Bucky out of there, and Clint agrees that the rest of them won’t get out.  Scott grows gargantuan at one point, grabbing Rhodey, to which Tony says “give me back my Rhodey.”  It is also hilarious that Peter’s idea is to treat him like an AT-AT from Hoth in Empire Strikes Back (and of course, the teenager calls this all old).  And hey, it works.  Peter also gets to face off against Steve and there’s a little New York rivalry going on.  Nat holds off T’Challa to let Steve and Bucky through, then Sam dodges a shot from Vision, which then hits Rhodey.  Rhodey crashes to the ground, Tony landing shortly after him, followed by Sam, who is concerned for the other man.  Steve and Bucky fly off.

Those who opposed Tony are locked up on a prison in the middle of the ocean, Clint and Scott very angry, and Sam still shows concern about Rhodey.  Tony has found out that Steve’s story of Bucky’s innocence holds some ground (they found the murdered phycologist’s body), and he wants to help.  So Sam gives him an idea where to go.  He finds Steve and Bucky in the bunker, and the dead soldiers.  But Zemo has loaded a video for Tony to watch.  That mission that Bucky took in December of 1991, that caused a car crash?  That was Howard and Maria Stark and the video shows Bucky killing them.  Which understandably gets Tony angry and Steve of course tries to defend his friend, but he also reveals that he had found out before Tony and never told him.  While Tony goes after Steve and Bucky, T’Challa stalks Zemo.  Zemo confirms that he wanted to destroy the Avengers and figured the best way was to pit them against each other.  T’Challa stops the other man from committing suicide; while T’Challa will not allow himself to be ruled by vengeance any longer, he will not let Zemo get away so easily: “the living are not done with you yet.”

There’s a pause in the fight between Steve, Tony, and Bucky, and Steve cautions Tony that this fight won’t change what happened.  Tony doesn’t care, Bucky killed his mom [note that he’s more upset over his mom’s death; but we know that Tony has a complicated relationship with Howard; he even admitted to Steve earlier that because of Howard’s obsession with Captain America, Tony grew up hating him.]  Tony attacks again.  When Bucky sees Steve in trouble, he picks up the shield and attacks Tony.  The two trade off on the shield until Bucky goes for Tony’s arc reactor.  Tony blasts off Bucky’s metal arm.  Steve’s furious now and trades blows with Tony.  He kneels in front of Bucky, telling Tony “he’s my friend.”  He won’t abandon him.  Well, Tony though he was Steve’s friend as well.  Tony tells Steve to stay down.  Of course, Steve’s not the person to stay down.  He gets back up, quipping “I can do this all day.”  Tony lines up a shot, but Bucky distracts him, which then allows Steve to grab Tony, then pummel him, grabbing his shield, smashing the arc reactor (at least instead of Tony’s unprotected head).  Tony yells for Steve to drop the shield.  Steve complies and helps Bucky out, leaving Tony behind.

Tony returns to the compound to help Rhodey with leg braces, and receives a package from Steve [delivered by Stan Lee, calling Tony “Stank”], containing a letter and phone in case Tony ever needs him.  The Avengers are more Tony’s family and Steve’s going to stick with Bucky.  Steve also retrieves his teammates from the Raft prison, then is allowed sanctuary in Wakanda (probably because T’Challa is making up for going after Bucky, who he knows is now innocent.)  Bucky also allows the Wakandans to put him back in cyro until they can get the Winter Soldier training out of his head.  The final stinger in the credits is May bringing Peter some ice due to the bruise from getting hit by Steve, a guy from Brooklyn, Peter admits.  And, he’s got some new tech.

I am not going to dissect the argument over the Accords between the two sides because I feel they should have found a third alternative.  They should have tried to figure out how to keep the team together.  If Steve and Tony were better at communicating with each other, they may have not gotten in a fight.  Of course Steve is going to protect Bucky; Bucky had his back all those years when Steve was a weaker man, he’s going to return the favor.  And yes, Steve should have told Tony about the attack on his parents; because keeping quiet on that stuff in order to “protect” someone never works out.  And all parties involved are lucky that the worst that happened during that big face off was Rhodey getting injured (most likely paralyzed to a degree); someone could have gotten killed.  Tony, Steve, and Bucky were certainly going for the jugular in their last fight.  Yes, they’re humans and have emotions and reactions, but they’re also grown-ups and heroes, and we just end up disappointed in them by the end of the film.

On a more positive note, I enjoyed the new characters who were introduced (who later get spectacular solo films).  Peter is adorable, chatting through his fight, because he’s supposed to be this nerdy teenager who’s just pumped to be around all these heroes.  And the airport fight sequence is admittedly cool.

Up Next: Doctor Strange

This one actually can control ants


Marvel continues to add characters to its line-up.  Paul Rudd (known for his comedy films) leads the cast as Scott Lang, Michael Douglas (in my house, we know him for Romancing the Stone, The Jewel of the Nile, and American President) is Dr. Hanky Pym, while Evangeline Lily (we’ll see her in the Hobbit movies as Tauriel) is his daughter, Hope Van Dyne.  Judy Greer (from 27 Dresses) is Scott’s ex, Maggie, David Dastmachian (Murdoc from the 2016 MacGyver) is Kurt, and Anthony Mackie makes an appearance as the Falcon.  Hayley Atwell and John Slattery reprise their roles as Peggy Carter and an older Howard Stark in the prologue to the film, which is set in 1989, while the Triskelion is being built.  Hank storms in to confront Stark, claiming he’s stealing his research.  Howard and Peggy attempt to calm Hank down, but the other man in attendance, Mitchell Carson makes a crack about Hank’s deceased wife.  Hank punches him and resigns, while Stark pleads that Hank’s research is revolutionary science and they need him.  Hank declares that no one will get the formula to his Pym Particles as long as he lives.  Peggy assures them that Hank is not a security risk and Stark agrees with her, unless they make him one.

In present times, there is a fight going on in jail, which is actually a weird good-bye ritual the inmates do when someone leaves.  Scott’s buddy Luis picks him up and lets him crash at his place until Scott can find a job.  Though Luis first offers another criminal job, but Scott insists he is finished with that.  He wants to be able to see his daughter and doesn’t want to get arrested again.  Scott feels with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering, he’ll find a job easily.  Not so much.  He ends up at Baskin-Robbins (dealing with an idiot customer), but his record is found out and he’s fired.  Luis, joined by Dave and Kurt, offer the criminal job again.  Scott again insists he is out, and emphasizes that he burgles, which involves not threatening.  But when he visits his daughter’s birthday party and speaks to his ex-wife, he realizes he needs to do something to make money so he can have a chance at visiting his daughter.  [It is rather sweet that his daughter absolutely adores him and later, her mother even defends her ex-husband, saying he’s not a bad man, just confused.]

Meanwhile, at Hank’s company, he makes a rare appearance when the new head of the company, Darren Cross, has an announcement.  Hank’s daughter, Hope is working for Darren and is cold to her father.  But afterwards, it’s shown to be a partial act; she’s helping her father take down Darren.  Darren has found Hank’s old “Ant-Man” research, about shrinking people down to the size of an insect and carrying out covert work.  Darren has developed the Yellow-Jacket suit and touts it as an “all purpose weapon of war,” (and sounds a lot more dangerous for the world.)  Hope insists to her father in their plans that she can use the suit.  Hank tells her he’s found a guy.

Scott agrees to the criminal job, which is to break into an old man’s house and break into the safe (explained through a rambling story).  Scott proves to be a bit of a MacGyver [which is ironic with the Murdoc of the newer series sitting there], but when he opens the safe, there’s only a strange suit inside.  He takes it anyways and gets out.  Out of curiosity, he tries on the suit later and pushes the buttons on the gloves.  He shrinks down and a voice echoes in the helmet, telling him it will be his trail by water (since Luis is starting a shower).  Scott then falls through a crack in the floor and begins his adventure.  When he returns to normal size, Scott tries to return the suit, but is caught by the police.

Hank visits Scott at the station and offers him a choice.  He explains that he had set up the case for Scott and watched him the whole time.  If he wants a second chance, await further instructions.  With the suit, Scott is able to escape prison and finds his way back to Hank’s house, where he meets Hope, who is not happy for Scott to be brought into the plan.  Turns out, Hank has been watching Scott since his burglary and how he beat the security system.  Hank fills Scott in and Scott’s first reaction is that they should call the Avengers.  No, Hank won’t let Stark near his technology and the Avengers are too busy dropping cities out of the sky (a callback to Age of Ultron, but at least a character is aware enough that hey, this is a universe with the Avengers, they can help).  Hank needs Scott to be Ant-Man (and Hank won’t risk his daughter).  So they begin training, Hope reluctantly helping, though she seems to enjoy beating Scott up.  Hank warns Scott against messing with the suit too much, primarily the regulator; he risks entering the Quantum Realm where he would continue shrinking for all time.  When Hope storms out, Scott talks to her, admitting that he’s the expendable part of this plan, because he recognizes that Hank does not want to risk Hope.  And Hank finally admits what really happened to his wife; they were a team years ago, she was the Wasp, and while on a mission, she entered the Quantum Realm in order to take out a missile, but she never returned.  Hope understands more now.

Part of their plan requires a bit of Stark tech, so Scott is sent to an old warehouse in upstate New York.  Turns out that old Stark property has been turned into the new Avengers compound (that we saw in Ultron).  And Sam is on patrol and his goggles allow him to spot shrunken Scott.  There is a rather good fight between the two, Scott going between being shrunk and normal-sized, and he manages to get into the building and retrieves the item they need.  Then he shrinks into Falcon’s suit and messes with it, so Sam can’t follow (and Sam requests that Cap never finds out about this).

They hit a bit of a snag when Darren Cross, who has managed to successfully shrink a lamb, is at Hank’s home.  Hope keeps her cover, but they have to move fast now.  Hank has promised to be at Cross’s next announcement, so Scott suggests calling in his buddies to help, though Hank and Hope don’t hold much hope in their skills.  Scott pays a quick visit to his daughter at night before he goes on the mission.  Luis is the security guard inside, who helps Scott enter through the water main.  When the cops show up to arrest Hank for springing Scott from a holding cell, his buddies distract the cops so Hank can get in.  Scott uses his training to plant bombs throughout the building and almost has the Yellow Jacket suit in his grasp, but Cross was onto him.  He’s ready to sell his tech to Hydra, though he holds on to the shrinking solution for more money.  He threatens Hank and Scott manages to escape, though Hank is still shot.  In the chaos, Cross escapes with the suit, they send Scott after him.  Hank had shrunk a tank, so he and Hope use that to escape.  Cross causes more damage, but the good guys exit the building before it explodes.  Then Cross puts on the suit and heads to Scott’s daughter’s home, knowing Scott will follow him.  They shrink down and have a fight amongst the girl’s toys (which is a bit funny to watch from the outside).  Scott has to go subatomic to enter Cross’s suit and he’s almost lost in the Quantum Realm, but hears his daughter calling for him and switches the regulator so he can get out.  Cross is destroyed and Scott patches the relationship up between his ex, her fiancé, and his daughter.  He also begins kissing Hope, though they’re caught.

Luis has another rambling story that the Falcon is looking for Scott.  Which ties in with the scene at the end of the credits that we now know is part of Civil War, where Sam tells Steve he knows a guy who can help.  In the credits, Hank also gives Hope the Wasp suit he was working on; he knows he should have her as part of that world now.

Ant-Man is not one of my favorite Marvel films, mainly because I don’t like bugs and I don’t want to see enlarged ants on screen.  The story is pretty good and the actors are wonderful; it just doesn’t drag me in.  Though, the daughter is adorable.  And I like how this is still exploding the Marvel universe, showing Hank working with Peggy and Howard Stark, and mentioning other Avengers.

So, next up is Captain America: Civil War  [and I have more of an opinion on this one]

“The city is flying and we’re fighting an army of robots. I have a bow and arrow. Nothing makes sense.”

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The big six are back together and working on taking down Hydra.  James Spader (he was Dr. Daniel Jackson in the original Stargate movie) voices Ultron, while Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen (yes, she is the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashely Olsen) join as Pietro and Wanda Maximoff [in some versions of the comics, they are Magneto’s children, which explains their abilities.  In the MCU, they are not, and instead volunteered for the program.]  The Avengers find Struker’s facility and attack.  Strucker is holding Loki’s scepter, but he doesn’t want to risk the twins yet.  He tells his men to not surrender, but he is fine with surrendering himself and tells someone to destroy their evidence.

The team jokes around like many teams do in battle situations, Steve inadvertently calling Tony out for his language; and no, Tony is not going to let Steve live that down.  Steve continues to use his motorcycle as a weapon, tossing it when needed to.  Tony has built new suits, as an Iron Legion, to help protect the city as it takes fire during their assault.  He manages to bring down the shield and get inside [and his dialogue is funny at times, which helps the film].  The Maximoff twins have run off into the battle as well and manage to get Clint hit.  Natasha is called upon to calm the Hulk down once they’re finished.  Tony retrieves the scepter, but not until after Wanda has shown him a vision; of everyone dying and blaming him.  (She’s first shocked at his vision, then smiles when he takes the scepter; not making her the most trustworthy at the moment.)  The flight home is subdued, though Tony gets permission from Thor to check out the scepter before he returns it to Asgard.  Tony also makes a crack about Steve being the boss of the team, while Tony just pays for everything, but he is concerned about Clint and calls in a doctor friend.  (We do get a bit of the Avengers’ theme when the tower comes in.)

Steve finds out more about the twins [and Maria Hill’s explanation that “he’s fast and she’s weird” is a bit rude, in my opinion.  Though she did try to give a more technical explanation, but telekinesis is so much for than “weird,”] and makes a crack about “what kind of monster would let a German scientist experiment on them to protect their country?”  Proving that Steve recognizes he’s not so different from the twins, even if they’re not on the same side right now.  Tony and Bruce work on the scepter and discover that the gem at its center is actually protecting something else inside it; something they describe as a mind, similar to Jarvis.  Tony theorizes that it will help them create Ultron, in order to protect the world and bring about peace.  And no, he doesn’t want to debate it with the team because he doesn’t want them to say no, so he works alone with Bruce.  Once Bruce and Tony leave, Jarvis makes a connection with Ultron and tries to explain things, but Ultron makes the wrong conclusion and attacks Jarvis.

Meanwhile, Tony hosts a party and we get to see Sam Wilson and Rhodey for a few minutes.  Sam is happy to not be part of the firefight and carries on the search for Bucky for Sam.  Steve and Thor hang out with some veterans, while Bruce attempts to flirt with Natasha.  Once the party-goers have left, leaving our main team, they decide to test who can actually lift Thor’s hammer [best scene of the movie].  Clint can’t figure out the trick, Tony calls upon Rhodey and parts of their suits and still fails.  Steve gets Mjölnir to scootch just a smidge (Thor’s a little concerned in the background) and Natasha refuses to join in.  Ultron makes an appearance and ruins the party; he deploys Tony’s suits, one of which grabs the scepter and escapes.  Ultron believes that in his quest for world peace, he has to destroy the Avengers.

Once he leaves, this leads to a discussion amongst the team, who are not happy Tony did not share his plan with them.  Tony is more concerned with the big battle he saw as the endgame [they title dropped that one well in advance.]  Steve insists they’ll go at it together, Tony retorts that they’ll lose.  “And we’ll do that together, too.”

Ultron, in a new shiny body, finds the Maximoff twins; he knows that they blame Stark for some of their lot in life; it was his missiles that struck Sokovia and trapped them in their house.  So Wanda showed him a vision, knowing that Tony’s fear would control him and make him self-destruct.  Ultron agrees that everyone creates the thing they dread and repeats that in order to save the world, the Avengers have to be destroyed.  He will use Wanda to get in their heads.  Ultron then kills Struker, which gets back to the Avengers.  They begin to look through his connections (using files and paperwork) and find that he’s connected to a man called Ulysses (played by Andy Serkis [most notably Gollum in Lord of the Rings]) that Tony had knowledge of back in the day.  Thor notes the brand on his neck and Bruce discovers its from Wakanda, which Steve and Tony pick up as the place where vibranium is from, which makes up Captain America’s shield.

And Ultron does go after Ulysses (and cuts off his arm), but it’s also a trap for the team.  Wanda hits Thor, Steve, and Nat with her powers.  Thor sees Heimdall, then destruction.  Steve imagines himself with Peggy, and Natasha remembers the Red Room.  Clint manages to stop Wanda, who is then rescued by Pietro.  She recovers and goes after Bruce [which, if you see one of them coming, why didn’t you attempt to lock the door?  Let’s just hang out in the open and become a target].  Bruce Hulks out and can’t control it, and creates havoc in the nearby city.  Tony goes after Bruce and uses a new suit to control him.

In the aftermath, the Avengers need to lie low.  Natasha, Steve, and Thor are all recovering from their visions and Bruce is upset about the destruction he caused.  Clint has a place they can go; his own farm.  The team meets the family (and Natasha is an honorary aunt to his children).  Thor needs answers about his vision and flies off.  Bruce talks to Natasha about leaving and she offers to go with him.  Steve and Tony take some of their frustration out by chopping wood (admittedly, impressive that Steve can just rip a log in two), but end up in an argument.  Clint’s wife, Laura, pulls Tony aside to have a look at their tractor.  Fury is actually waiting for him and Tony admits that he saw the team dead, because of him.

That is after Nick admits he cares about Tony…which, let’s unpack that a little.  Earlier, both Thor and Tony attempted to make light of the fact that their significant others are not at the party.  And Tony’s getting a lot of flak from everyone on the team, heck, even Fury was joking about it a minute before.  But Tony is shouldering the burden of this knowledge he was shown and he can’t share with his team.  So he throws himself into a project in order to protect the team and the world…which admittedly was maybe not fully thought out.  But it all boils down to, no one is on Tony’s side.  And he’s just had someone he does respect; because if Tony didn’t respect Nick Fury, he wouldn’t help him as much as he does or even pay attention to him if he didn’t want to, admit he cares about Tony.  There’s not a lot of that going on at the moment.  So Tony is honest with him.  And Nick tells Tony it’s not all on him, and he also understands that Tony is dealing with the knowledge that he lived, while all his friends died.

So Nick gives the team a pep talk.  While he does this, Thor goes to Erik Selvig for help.  Erik leads Thor to a pool that is similar to others on other worlds where Thor can go back into his vision and find answers.  And while all of that is going on, Ultron has hunted down the Avengers’ doctor because she has a “cradle” that can create skin and cells and essentially a human body.  He has to use the scepter to convince her a little, but she starts work.  He plans to upload his mind into the new body, along with binding vibranium to the human cells, making him nearly invincible.  Ultron also brings the stone out of the gem in the scepter and sets it in the head of the body.  Wanda can now read this being’s mind and sees the destruction that will come.  She’s horrified, but Ultron shoots the doctor and escapes with the body.

The Avengers have a new mission; get the body back.  Natasha gets her own motorbike this time and races after the truck, Clint calling out locations from above.  Steve takes on Ultron.  Pietro and Wanda come along to help the Avengers; Wanda slows down a runaway train while Pietro gets people out of the way.  It is nice that Steve accepts them when they show up; he cares more about saving people rather than why someone is doing it.  Yeah, they fought each other before, but if you want to help innocent people, that’s okay.  Natasha manages to get the cradle to Clint, but does not escape herself.

Back at the Tower, Jarvis is back.  And Tony wants to put him into the body Ultron was creating.  When Steve and the twins show up, the argument begins all over again, until Thor flies in and superpowers the cradle.  The body emerges and at first, tackles Thor, but stops when it takes in the window and the city outside.  Thor explains the Infinity Stones, one of which is the Mind Stone that now resides in this new body, which has Jarvis’s voice [and now Paul Bettany doesn’t get to just read lines], but he is neither Ultron, nor Jarvis, he is something new.  Thor warns of the destruction the Mind Stone can bring, but with it on their side, they stand a chance of defeating Ultron [and Thanos].  The most important sign that they can trust this new being?  He can lift Mjölnir.

So the team gears up for a new fight.  Tony puts a new interface into his suits, Friday.  They land in Sokovia and Steve states that their primary mission is to save the people and get them out of the city.  Pietro and Wanda help with that.  Bruce rescues Natasha, then wants to run and offers Natasha to come with him.  She kisses him, but pushes him off the rising city, because she needs the Hulk at the moment to take down Ultron.  He plans to lift Sokovia and then crash it to Earth, creating a massive explosion and global extinction.  Tony works on a way to minimize damage.  Steve tells everyone to take out the suits Ultron has sent out.  “If you get hurt, hurt ‘em back.  If you get killed, walk it off.”  Clint gives Wanda a pep talk; she can stay safe where she is and he’ll send Pietro for her, but Clint has to go out and help the people.  If she comes out that door, she’s an Avenger and has the same job.  When she walks out, she’s ready to fight.  When Pietro runs by Clint again, he jokes to himself about getting the guy.  The fight continues.  Ultron takes on Thor, which is just a distraction.  Tony and Steve debate the best way to finish the fight; Steve wants everyone rescued.  And Fury comes in with the helicarrier and SHIELD.  The rest of the Avengers start getting the people away and even Rhodey is there to help.

The team converges.  Thor taunts Ultron “is that the best you can do!”  And more suits show up.  As Steve says, “you had to ask.”  The fight intensifies.  At one point, Clint is about ready to leave, but realizes there is a kid still in the city, so he goes for him.  Pietro notices that a suit is lining up at Clint and runs between them, taking the shots.  Wanda feels her brother’s death and screams.  Clint takes Pietro with him.  Hulk rescues Natasha, then takes a Quinjet.  Wanda goes after Ultron, wanting to cause him pain.  One of the suits manages to drop the city, so Tony has Thor help him stop the crash.  Vision rescues Wanda, then speaks to Ultron after the city is back.  They speak of humans, but Vision is on their side and uses the Mind Stone to destroy Ultron.

There are some happy moments in the ending.  Clint is back home and his wife gives birth to their third child, a boy they name Nathaniel Pietro Barton.  Tony drives to a new facility and we catch a glimpse of Erik Selvig.  There’s a funny bit between Steve, Thor, and Tony discussing the hammer again.  Vision is worthy, but would an elevator be worthy?  Thor flies off to continue tracking the stones.  Tony is thinking of trying the simple life, and Steve admits he’ll miss him.  As for Steve, he’s staying at the facility, more comfortable with who he is.  He’s not the same man who went into the ice.  Instead, he’ll have Natasha help him train some newbies who aren’t a team yet (as we hear the Avengers theme).  Rhodey, Sam, Vision, and Wanda are waiting for them.  Steve calls them to order, “Avengers…” and the scene cuts [in a blooper, Scarlett shouts “assemble!”].  In the credit, Thanos picks up a gauntlet, declaring “I’ll do it myself.”

I’m not as fond of this film as other follow-ups in the MCU.  It’s setting up Civil War; a lot of fans, me included, are not fond of the idea of our favorite superheroes fighting amongst themselves.  Lines are starting to form between them; a lot of blame gets placed on Tony and okay, his idea wasn’t the safest, but he apparently doesn’t trust talking about what he saw in his vision with the rest of the team, so he made a bad decision, though Thor approved of part of it, I guess.  It gets a bit confusing.  But there is definitely a separation between Steve and Tony and at the end of the first Avengers, we hoped they were getting over it.  Which is why fanfiction includes Tony looking in on Steve at the end of Winter Soldier.  Dear Marvel, we want our characters happy.

And I don’t get how the Ultron project was supposed to actually work or how it really went wrong.  But faceless suits of armor attacking are a bit creepy.  Also, in regards to pairing Natasha and Bruce, my comment is why does there have to be a romantic couple at all?  Do we have to pair Natasha off with one of the guys on the team [yes, we were kind of rooting for a Natasha and Clint pairing at one point, but it’s also sweet that he has a family totally outside of Shield].  But why can’t she just be friends with these guys?  Why does there have to be a strained relationship going on?  She could be Bruce’s friends and the story will still stand.

Admittedly, there are a few funny parts, such as everyone joking about Steve’s “language” comment.  (As fans have pointed out, Steve probably swore a lot as part of the Army, despite coming from a generation that looks down on casual swearing.)

Up Next: Ant-Man

“I’m going to die surrounded by the biggest idiots of the galaxy.”

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel adds some new characters and a different tone to the scene.  The film stars Chris Pratt (famous for Parks and Recreation [which I’ve only seen commercials for], he’s also Own Grady in the newer Jurassic World movies) as Peter Quill, Zoe Saldana (she’s Neytiri in Avatar, Uhura in the alternate universe Star Trek movies, and was in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movies) as Gamora, Lee Pace (Thranduil in the Hobbit movies [we’ll get to Marvel casting Lord of the Rings and Hobbit actors later]) as Ronan, and Karen Gillan (Amy Pond in Doctor Who) as Nebula.  Vin Diesel (he’s part of the Fast and Furious franchise, though I thought he was funny in The Pacifier) voices Groot and Bradley Cooper (he’s been in a lot of big movies in recent years; he was Face in the 2010 A-Team movie) voices Rocket.  Glenn Close (she voiced Kala in Tarzan and played the Vice President in Air Force One as well as Cruella de Vil in the live action Dalmatians movies) appears as Nova Prime.  I recognize John Reilly as Corpsman Dey, Sean Gunn (he was oddball Kirk in Gilmore Girls and would stand in on set as Rocket, and he’s also director James Gunn’s younger brother) as Kraglin, and Djimon Hounsou (he voices Drago in How to Train Your Dragon 2) as Korath.

We do start on Earth in 1988, unfortunately, in a hospital.  Young Peter is there for his mother; he’s called in one last time, the rest of the family surrounding her.  She has one last gift for her son and also mentions his father, calling him an angel.  When she passes, Peter runs.  And gets taken by an alien ship.  Twenty-six years later, Peter is grown up and dances his way to steal a mysterious orb.  He’s caught, and refers to himself as Star-Lord, a legendary outlaw.  He manages to escape, then his boss calls him.  (And Yandu may not be fully honest with the guy, because he claims that he saved him, but actually he was hired to deliver the child.)  Peter just wants to deliver the orb and get paid.

But trouble is brewing in the galaxy; a race known as the Kree have made peace with Xandar, but Ronan is a more traditional Kree and wants to destroy Xandar.  It was his men who confronted Peter about the orb; they want it as well.  Ronan is to deliver the orb to Thanos (he starts becoming a big and visible player) in return for Thanos destroyed Xandar.  Ronan has two daughters of Thanos in his company, Gamora and Nebula.  Gamora volunteers to go to Xandar to get the orb.

On Xandar, we meet Rocket and Groot, who are bounty hunters and want to capture Peter, since Yandu put a price on his head.  When Peter goes to the Broker to sell the orb, once Peter mentions Ronan, the Broker wants nothing to do with him.  Gamora is waiting for him outside and tries to get the orb.  It soon becomes a three-way fight when Rocket and Groot join in.  They are all arrested by Nova Corps and sent to the Kyln prison (and they helpfully run down the characters so we know a bit about them).  Many inside the prison want Gamora dead for her connection to Ronan and Thanos and Rocket admits to Peter that the guards won’t help; they’re only there to keep people from escaping.  And Rocket is keeping an eye on Peter because he still wants his pay day.  In actuality, Gamora plans to betray Ronan and she has another buyer in mind for the orb, who will pay more.  When Peter interrupts some guys killing Gamora, she offers to lead them to the buyer if he, Rocket, and Groot get her out of prison.  Drax is another prisoner in the Kyln, who has serious beef with Ronan.  Peter has to stop him from killing Gamora, pointing out that Drax really wants to kill Ronan and Gamora will be helpful in the meantime.  They have to improvise, but they make it out, with the addition of Drax.  (First, Peter has to make sure he gets his tape player back [I appreciate that Marvel brought fun music back to their movies]).

Ronan is called before Thanos, who does not care about the politics of the Kree or Xandar.  All Thanos wants, is the orb.  Yandu pays a visit to the Broker and we see the Collector again (still creepy).  Gamora’s buyer is on Knowhere, the severed head of a celestial being which has become a home to outlaws.  She reveals to Peter that Thanos is not her true father; he destroyed her true family and tortured and turned her in a weapon for him.  She wants out.  Peter shares the “legend of Footloose and the hero, Kevin Bacon.”  [He’s lucky he’s good with tech and actually has a good heart or this guy would be too stupid.]  However, it gets him an almost-kiss with Gamora, until Rocket and Drax get in a fight.  They try to settle down, for the deal, when Gamora is called before the Collector.  He explains that inside the orb is one of the six Infinity Stones.  And Gamora realizes what Thanos’ plan is.  One of the Collector’s servants grabs the purple stone, destroying part of the building and herself (which was better than living as the Collector’s slave).  Gamora gets the orb and now they have to try to get off Knowhere.

But Drax is drunk and calls Ronan so he gets his showdown.  Ronan beats him fairly easily and Nebula goes after her sister.  Peter goes after Gamora, claiming they should take the Infinity Stone to Nova Corps for safe keeping.  When Rocket asks him “What did the galaxy ever do for you?  Why would you want to save it?” Peter comes back with “Because I’m one of the idiots who lives in it!”  And someone has finally pointed that out!  Peter’s also trying to get away from Yandu, who has also arrived.  Nebula manages to shoot down Gamora and take the orb, leaving her sister to float in space.  Peter leaves his pod and gives her his mask, so she’ll live.  He had also sent a message for Yandu to come and get him, so they’re rescued quickly, but Yandu’s crew still beats him up, as an example.  Peter does manage to convince Yandu not to kill him (still in exchange for the orb).  Groot rescues Drax, and insists to Rocket that they save Peter and Gamora, since they’re friends.

And Ronan plans to turn on Thanos, now that he has absorbed the Infinity Stone into his war hammer.  Nebula will gladly help kill Thanos (no one likes this guy).

Peter’s got twelve percent of a plan [call back to Avengers, when Tony and Pepper were having twelve percent of a moment] and asks his new friends for help.  It will likely result in them dying, but they’ll do it (Rocket takes some convincing).  They know that Ronan wants to destroy Xandar, so Peter sends a message.  They then plan to punch a hole in Ronan’s ship, get inside, and destroy him with some contraption that Rocket has put together (that racoon likes gun).  Nova Crops helps and Yandu and his crew also help.  We see Yandu whistle-arrow take out a whole bunch of Kree.  Gamora and Nebula face off again, and Gamora manages to get the upper hand.  Rocket and the Ravagers protect the city.  Yet, Ronan is still standing after the blast.  They do manage to get his ship to crash (Groot protects everyone, which makes his burst into a thousand pieces when they land, much to Rocket’s sorrow), and Peter declares a dance-off with Ronan…who is very confused. 

It’s actually a diversion.  They hit his war hammer, which releases the stone.  Peter grabs it.  Gamora then grabs his hand, and Drax grabs his arm.  They destroy Ronan and manage to still be standing afterwards.  Gamora puts the stone into a new orb, which they have to hand over to Yandu, with the warning not to open.  Again, Kraglin makes a comment about how it was good that they didn’t deliver Peter to his father, like they were hired to.  Except, Peter switched the orb; Yandu’s has a troll in it.  Peter delivers the real Infinity Stone to Nova Corps, who also point out that Peter is only half from Earth; his father was something else and that may explain why he was able to hold the Infinity Stone and not blow up.

We catch some glimpses of happy endings.  Groot has been re-potted and is growing again.  Peter gets a new ship and everyone agrees to stay [and Gamora’s dress is reminiscent of Starfleet uniforms].  Drax wants to kill Thanos, since Ronan is gone.  And Peter finally opens his mom’s last present, with a letter that called him Star-Lord.  He has a new tape to play (and Groot enjoys dancing to Jackson 5’s I Want You Back).

I’m not a big fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but I can appreciate the change in tone.  It’s funnier and I do appreciate the music.  The characters act more like humans, being honest when things are dumb.  They’re honest that they’re not the most morally upright people, but they do recognize what is the right thing to do; as in saving thousands of innocent lives and that is actually more important than money.  As Dey quotes Peter, they may be a-holes, but they’re not dicks (which, way to go for Marvel and Disney for letting the language slide).

I just, tend to prefer my heroes to be a little more, classically heroic.  And the humor in this movie is not quite my brand of humor.  But I can stand this better than some other films [like re-watching Thor: Love and Thunder recently and they just made Thor so incredibly stupid.  He was not always that stupid; this is far better in comparison (and doesn’t have screaming goats for no good reason)].

This also happens to be my 200th post, which is a little mind-boggling.  When I first had the idea to do this blog, I didn’t have a notion of how much it would encompass.  I’m a little in awe of how much I’ve done, but also aware of how much more I want to do (we haven’t even hit Lord of the Rings yet, which has had a huge impact on me).  This “exercise” also shows me that this is something I enjoy doing; I enjoying watching movies and talking about them and sharing little tidbits that I find out.  And when my brain will focus, analyzing story or character aspects.  So, thanks for coming along for the ride!

Up Next: Avengers: Age of Ultron

“As always sir, a great pleasure watching you work.”

Iron Man 3

Draws on what happened in The Avengers.  Ben Kinglsey (Nizam in Prince of Persia, he appeared in The Last Legion and Schindler’s List.  There is also a video of him singing “Shall We Dance” with Julie Andrews from The King and I) is added to the cast as Trevor Slattery.  Miguel Ferrer (Assistant Director Granger from NCIS:LA; he sadly passed away in 2017) appears as the Vice President.

Tony voice-overs the opening of the film, stating “we create our own demons.”  And with I’m Blue playing, we flashback to New Year’s Eve of 1999 in Bern, Switzerland.  Tony, accompanied by a mullet-wearing Happy, had made a presentation and is thoroughly enjoying the after party, even bumping into Yensen (a callback to the first Iron Man movie).  Then he comes across a pretty girl who asks questions about research.  They move the party upstairs, though Tony is briefly approached by Aldrich Killian, who has a proposal for a think tank, named AIM.  Tony is briefly intrigued, but moves on to going over the pretty girl’s research, which examines the healing center of the brain, and she calls the project Extremis.  Extremis has explosive results.  Getting so caught up in the research, Tony forgets to meet Killian.

Fast forward to the present, post Battle of New York world, Tony is working on more suits.  The latest is the Mark 42, which is supposed to come to him piece by piece, guided by chips implanted in his arm.  There are a few errors, but then Tony has been awake 72 hours.  But the world doesn’t rest; the Ten Rings have reappeared and taken over the airways, with their leader, the Mandarin calling out Americans and warning “you’ll never see me coming.”  The President immediately announces that Captain Rhodes will be handling the situation as the Iron Patriot.  Tony has to meet his friend afterwards, but Rhodey is worried about Tony; he’s showing signs of PTSD, having panic attacks and flashbacks.  Tony tries to laugh them off in public and flies off before he has to deal with it.

In the meantime, Pepper is still CEO of Stark Industries, with Happy as her chief of security, which he takes seriously.  And he gets bad vibes from her meeting with Aldrich Killian and his bodyguard, and reports such to Tony.  Pepper wisely turns down Killian’s proposal on Extremis, feeling it is too weaponizable.  When she returns home, she finds Tony in his workshop and he’s trying to make this relationship work, admitting he’s a hot mess.  He loves her and just wants to protect her; that’s why there’s multiple suits; he can’t live without her.  Pepper gives him a chance, until he has nightmares in bed and unconsciously calls his suit to him, scaring Pepper.

Happy follows his hunch and follows the bodyguard, who’s doing some sort of deal.  Happy pockets something, then gets in a fight with the guard until the other man heats up and explodes.  Happy is gravely injured and Tony takes a place by his side, informing the nurse to ensure that everyone is wearing their security badge, something Happy is a stickler about.  Oh, and Happy thinks Downton Abbey is romantic, so keep him playing.  Tony is greeted by reporters outside the hospital [one of whom is Kim Holderness, who has a YouTube channel with her husband with funny skits now].  The Mandarin has already claimed the attack (and the videos are a bit terrifying).  Tony has a response; he’s not afraid of the Mandarin and he’s coming for him, good old-fashioned revenge.  He even gives the Mandarin his home address.

Once home, Tony has JARVIS compile a Mandarin database and examine the attacks associated with the terrorist.  There are several bombs that have detonated, like the one at the Chinese Theatre with high heat, but no bomb parts found.  Happy, in his last conscious moments, pointed to a clue for Tony and JARIVS finds a similar case in Tennessee.  Until there is a woman at the door; Maya.  Pepper, of course, wants to leave.  Their discussion is interrupted by helicopters outside that shoot missiles into Tony’s home.  Tony calls the suit, but has it cover Pepper, and in turn, she protects Tony, until he gets her to safety and calls the suit to him.  Tony manages to take out the helicopters as the house crumbles around him and he drops into the water.  He manages to shoot out of the water, but no one seems him.  He passes out and wakes up as he crashes in Tennessee.  The suit is low on power and JARVIS shuts off, so Tony drags the suit behind him until he finds a pay phone to leave Pepper a message.  Then he finds a seemingly deserted shed.  Turns out, not so deserted, it’s got a kid, Harley.  Tony convinces Harley to help him (cause what kid is going to turn down the chance to help Iron Man?)

Meanwhile, Pepper talks to Maya about why she came to the house (she did get Tony’s message and knows he’s alive, but let’s the media say he’s presumed dead).  Maya thinks her boss, Aldrich Killian, works for the Mandarin.  When they find a hotel, Aldrich shows up and captures Pepper.  Maya indeed works for Killian and yes, she went to Tony for help.  She needs him to fix the glitch in Extremis.

Tony investigates the explosion site in Tennessee, though Harley pesters him with questions about the Avengers and New York and causes Tony to have another panic attack.  Tony visits the victim mom, assuring her that her son was innocent, until another woman tries to arrest him.  He battles her; she’s another one that will glow, as well as Killian’s bodyguard.  He tires to take Harley prisoner, but Harley uses Tony’s bully defense sparkler to get away.  Tony’s got the information he wanted and instructs Harley to guard the Iron Man suit.  Tony realizes that AIM, Killian’s company is behind this, with the Extremis program, and calls Rhodey.  Rhodey’s a little busy, being Iron Patriot all over the Middle East, looking for the Mandarin, who put out another video, threatening to execute a man.  Even though the President called, the Mandarin still shot him (we don’t actually see that part).  Iron Patriot is taken down in one of the buildings he’s investigating.

This causes Tony to have another panic attack, and luckily, JARVIS is running enough to help him out, with some assistance from Harley.  JARVIS’s system is showing the Mandarin’s messages originating in Miami.  Harley suggests that Tony builds something, since he’s a mechanic.  So Tony showcases his genius again in making an arsenal out of what he can find at a hardware store (recalling that “box of scraps” comment from the first movie).  He enters the compound in Miami and finds the set of the Mandarin videos.  And that the Mandarin is actually just an actor hired to play a role.  And yes, Killian was behind it; a custom-made terror threat.  The bodyguard enters and captures Tony.  Tony sees Maya again, who reveals that Tony had jotted down an equation all those years ago and hence why she thought Tony could help.  But Tony doesn’t remember the equation and tries to appeal to Maya.  Killian enters and credits Tony with creating him; leaving him on the roof in Switzerland made him desperate and he decided to rule from behind.  He gave evil a face and a target in creating the Mandarin.  He’s planning on opening the Iron Patriot suit and he will own the war on terror, creating supply and demand.  Oh, and he’s given Pepper Extremis.  Maya threatens to kill herself to protect her work; Killian shoots her anyway.

The clock is ticking.  Tony calls the suit to him (which is hilariously delayed), but he still takes out the guards and makes his way back through the compound (one guard easily gives up; he’s had enough weird) to find Rhodey.  They have to find the President, who is now on Air Force One with someone he thinks is Iron Patriot.  Iron Man arrives in time to rescue the people falling from the plane [pretty cool].  Then he’s hit by a truck; it’s not actually Tony in the suit, he’s controlling it from a distance.  They continue to make their way to the shipping yard where Killian is staging the murder of the President.  Rhodey is no slouch in sneaking on and taking out guards, with Tony backing him out.  Then Tony’s other suits arrive, all controlled by JARVIS and the action really begins.  Tony uses this as a chance to find Pepper, who is trapped.  He almost has her, then she falls into a fire.  Rhodey, in the meantime, rescues the President.  Tony goes after Killian, switching suits as he needs to (because Tony cannot go against Killian as Extremis in just his human form; the suits come in handy and he can take on more dangerous enemies).  Killian mocks Tony, that Killian was trying to improve Pepper.  Tony retorts that no, he didn’t deserve her, and she was already perfect.  Tony gets Killian in one of the suits and blows it up.  It does not stop Killian, though he admits to the Mandarin plot.  Just as Killian is about to deal the final blow, Pepper to the rescue!  She knocks Killian out, then takes on the suit and blows up Killian.  Her comment at the end?  “That was really violent.”  Now she’s the hot mess.  Tony quips, it’s still debatable; she’s in a relationship with him.  He promises to fix her; he almost had it while he was drunk years ago, and this is what he does, he fixes things.  He then has JARVIS blow all the suits.

The story wraps up with Rhodey arresting the Vice President, who was in on the kidnapping of the President since his daughter would have benefitted from Extremis.  Tony got Pepper sorted out, then has surgery to finally remove the shrapnel from his chest and remove the arc reactor.  And Happy wakes up and Harley gets an updated lab.  Tony theorizes that his armor and tools can be taken away, but no one can take away the fact that “I am Iron Man.”  And this is all revealed to be Tony talking to Bruce (who fell asleep).

This is not my favorite Marvel movie, or Iron Man movie; there’s just too many things going on at the same time.  However, I do like seeing more of Tony Stary, rather than just an Iron Man suit.  While the suit is helpful, he’s no slouch outside of it.  There are a few things that I don’t get why the character had to do; like why did Tony have to destroy all of his suits?  He just proved how helpful they are and he doesn’t have to be in them all the time.  And while I think it’s great that Tony no longer has the shrapnel in his chest, I was a bit sad to see the arc reactor just thrown in the ocean.  And kind of missed seeing the other Avengers.  I get that these are their individual movies again, but some crossover would have been nice.  For instance, when Pepper is standing in the ruined mansion, alone.  No one came to check on her?  Or attempt to find Tony?

Up Next: We circle around to Thor: Dark World

“Those with the greatest power…protect those without.”

X-Men: Apocalypse

The final X-Men movie I will cover (and really the last one I’ve watched; I’m aware Dark Phoenix came out afterwards and continues the story, but it definitely looks like it is not a fun story, and there are several other Logan/Wolverine movies that also look depressing…superhero movies should have a good dose of fun).  Sophie Turner (equally famous for her portrayal of Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones, and is now married to Joe Jonas) joins the cast as Jean Grey, and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron in the Star Wars sequel trilogy and Prince John in Russel Crowe’s Robin Hood) is the lead antagonist, En Sabah Nur.

Charles’ voice opens the film, saying that mutants are still searching for guidance.  Their gifts can be a curse and when they are given “the greatest gift of all, powers beyond imagination, they may think they are meant to rule the world.”  We go way back in history, to 3600 BCE and the Nile valley.  There is a ceremony going on in ancient Egypt, the crowd chanting “En Sabah Nur.”  There is to be a transference between an ancient mutant and another mutant.  But the guards betray En Sabah Nur and collapse the pyramid, though a few mutants remain loyal and protect their leader or god.  Now, we’re in 1983 and a high school class in Ohio is learning about mutants being “discovered” at the 1973 Paris Peace Accords.  One of the students is Scott Summers, who discovers his powers that day.

At the same time, in East Berlin, there are cage fights between mutants, with Angel as the reigning champion, now to face Nightcrawler.  Raven is in the audience and knocks out a guard in order to overload the electric fencing, so the mutants can escape.  She takes Nightcrawler and is going to get him set up with a new identity.  Meanwhile, Erik is living fairly peacefully in Poland, with a wife and young daughter.  Nina shows an affinity with animals (and is rather adorable).  Note: he has to live like a human in order to survive, but it’s good to see him happy.

Alex picks his brother up and brings him to Xavier’s school (Charles is already teaching The Once and Future King, like we see in a later/earlier movie…boy, that’s confusing).  They meet a young Jean Grey and Hank is still at the school.  Scott unfortunately destroys Charles’ favorite tree, but the professor is excited to help him nonetheless.  Across the globe, Moira McTaggert is investigating in Egypt and discovers a group chanting “En Sabah Nur” again.  Sunlight touches the capstone of the pyramid and makes its way into the Earth, awakening the ancient mutant.  This causes an earthquake across the world.  In Poland, Erik saves a coworker at the factory, then hopes he wasn’t spotted.  In the mansion, the earthquake is just the precursor to Jean’s terrifying nightmares that Charles attempts to comfort her.  When he puts on Cerebro later, he comes across Moira and the next day, has Alex take him to the CIA to see her.

The group was part of a cult that views mutants as a sign of god and actually believe that the first mutant lived thousands of years prior, in contrast to the popular held belief that mutants only evolved in the twentieth century.  Wherever this god that was raised went, destruction followed, and he always had four key supporters; like the four horsemen of the apocalypse.  The way this god lived so long, before being buried, was by transferring his consciousness from body to body and thus, gaining more powers.  And now this god is out and about in Egypt.  He discovers a young mutant thief, we know to be Storm by her powers.  She leads him back to her hiding spot, where there is a poster of Mystique, her hero.  En Sabah Nur touches her television screen and begins to soak up the world news.  He sees the clip of Magneto at the White House and calls the nuclear weapons and state of the world false gods and idols.  When finished, he declares to young Storm his intent to take over and rule the world as he did in days of old.  He calls it “saving” the world, but really means “cleansing.”  He makes Storm his first follower and her hair turns its’ signature white.

Back in Poland, Erik’s actions were noted and reported to the police; men he viewed as friends.  Erik is trying to run, but has to collect his daughter from the woods, where the police are holding her.  They point-blank ask if he’s Magneto.  All Erik wants is for them to release his daughter; he even offers to come quietly.  But when they’re traded, Nina reaches for her father, like young Erik did decades ago, pleading that she will not let the men take her father away, like his parents were taken.  The animals react to her distress and scare the policemen.  One accidentally released his drawn arrow, instantly killing Nina and her mother.  Erik cradles his babies, then uses Nina’s locket to eliminate the guards.  “Is this what I am!” he shouts to the sky. 

News quickly spreads.  Raven discovers it from her informant and has Nightcrawler/ Kurt Wagner take her back to the mansion.  Charles is still out, so she talks to Hank, while Kurt befriends Scott, Jean, and their friend Jubilee.  The teens escape to visit a mall and see a movie [Return of the Jedi and they have a humorous discussion about movie trilogies].  Hank tries to persuade Raven to stay; start the X-Men like they talked about years ago.  Charles is still hopeful for the world, but Hank is a little more realistic; they should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.  Raven just wants to find Erik.  En Sabah Nur and Storm recruit more mutants, gathering Angel, with new wings, and a woman with a laser sword.  Then they come upon Erik at the factory, ready to make the men who betrayed him pay (to which Erik asks the intruders, “who the fuck are you?”  He gets the swear word this film).  En Sabah Nur easily takes care of that, then takes Erik back to Auschwitz to teach him to pull metal directly from the earth.  (Note that he picks mutants who are angry with the world.)

Charles is pleased to see Raven, though disappointed she’s only there to find Erik and to argue the point that Charles should be teaching his students to fight.  Mutants in the outside world still live in fear; they’re not accepted, people just have to be polite to them now.  Charles reaches out with Cerebro to speak to Erik, which En Sabah Nur senses.  He then turns that conversation on Charles and takes him over; “thank you for letting me in.”  He uses Charles to release all the nuclear weapons straight up, and destroy them.  “No more weapons!  No more systems!  No more superpowers!”  [If the music sounds familiar, it is Beethoven’s Allegretto.]  Charles gets ahold of himself long enough to ask Alex to destroy Cerebro; “wreak havoc,” is his order.  Alex does so, but once they have the professor safe, En Sabah Nur and his followers arrive at the mansion.  Alex is still enough of a hot head, he charges the god while Erik pulls Charles to him by his wheelchair; Alex lets loose a blast, but the horsemen escape and the blast creates a chain reaction.

Peter Maximoff has seen the news on Erik and plans to track him down, so he goes the mansion.  Just in time to rescue everyone from the blast (rather hilariously too).  Well, almost everyone.  Scott instantly notes when he arrives, that Alex is missing.  He was closest to the blast and already gone before Peter arrived.  Scott, Jean, and Kurt separate off from the rest of the group, Scott grieving for his brother, when the military arrives.  They blast the mutants unconscious, and Stryker collects Raven, Moira, Hank, and Peter.  The other three follow, intent on rescuing their leaders.  Stryker wants Charles, but no one knows where he is at.  There are barriers in place to prevent the teens from entering, and Peter reveals to Raven that he is Erik’s son.

En Sabah Nur brings his horsemen and Charles to Egypt.  His plan is to wipe the face of the earth and rebuild it as he remembers, ruling as god.  And now, with Charles, he can control every mind on earth.  Charles, of course, tries to reason with Erik, but his old friend is still too hurt, too angry.  En Sabah Nur’s message that Charles passes along is to warn the world of his plan.  That the strongest among you, those with the greatest power, the earth will be yours.  Charles also manages to send a secret message to Jean, letting her know where they are.  And Charles changes the message at the last second, telling those with the greatest power…protect those without.  That is Charles’ message.  And that has always been and will always be Charles Xavier’s message to the world.  (And we love him for it).  En Sabah Nur’s not happy with the change, but his plan is not over yet.

The trio find Wolverine (because that apparently needed rehashed again), who goes on a rampage.  Jean manages to set him free and gives him “Logan.”  And no Scott, that is not the last you’ll see of him.  But they manage to free Hank, Raven, Peter, and Moira.  And find a plane to take to Egypt.  Raven speaks to the teens, telling them about her first mission and tells them that Havok was brave.  Raven doesn’t feel like a hero because she couldn’t save everyone.  But the teens still view her as a hero, so she will lead them.  Their objective is to rescue Charles.  Raven and Peter will try to get Erik.

En Sabah Nur’s final plan is to transfer into Charles; then he gains Charles’ power, but not his morality.  The transference is how Charles loses his hair.  The teens take on the horsemen, and Kurt manages to get inside the pyramid and get Charles out.  But their plane is caught before they can escape, so he has to get everyone out at once.  They hide, Scott and Hank taking on the other horsemen.  Raven tells Erik she’s going to go save her family and gives him the choice (and he recalls moments from First Class).  Peter uses his speed to punch the ancient mutant, until his leg is caught and broken.  Then Raven disguises herself as one of his horsemen to get close and uses the blade to slice him.  But he chokes her.  Storm watches as mutants fight mutants and the god she is following attempts to kill her hero.  Yet, En Sabah Nur and Charles are still connected.  Charles wants to save his sister and uses that connection to distract En Sabah Nur.  In his mind, he gets a few good punches in, until En Sabah Nur grows and beats Charles up.  Erik puts a metal X between En Sabah Nur and his friends.  He will no longer betray them.  Hank and Scott rescue Peter and Raven, then Scott uses his powers in conjunction with Erik’s to take on their opponent.  Charles asks for Jean’s help, telling her to let go.  Unleash her power without fear.  She walks into mid-air and flames erupt, in the shape of a phoenix.  Her powers pull back the ancient mutant’s armor, giving the men an opening.  But he tries to get away.  Until Storm electrocutes him.

Everyone is safe.  Charles gives Moira her memories back; she later has Stryker arrested for kidnapping her.  Peter and Storm decide to stay at the rebuilt mansion, courtesy of Erik and Jean working together.  And Raven has decided to stay to train the new batch of X-Men.  Erik and Charles have a conversation outside the simulation room, Charles now looking like his older counterpart with the bald head.  Charles was right about Erik and he was right about Raven.  There is still hope for the world.  But Erik cautions him, “doesn’t it ever wake you up in the middle of the night?  The feeling that one day they’ll come for you and your children?”  Charles responds: “I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul that comes to my school looking for trouble.”  [I love that this is a call back to the last scene of the first X-Men movie!]

Overall, I prefer the prequel trilogy of the X-men franchise to the original trilogy, but the stories get a little wonky.  Honestly, the time jumps between the three newer films almost get in the way of the characters.  Sure, the ones who were introduced in First Class are still around twenty years later, but realistically, they shouldn’t be the same actors, as much as we love them.  If the studio wants to keep the same actors, great, just don’t show the same person looking the same twenty years later.  Also, while I love that Raven is Charles’ sister and that dynamic, this doesn’t work fully in retrospect: our Mystique could have never poisoned Charles like Mystique did in the first X-Men movie.  I’m sure the executives would explain that with the time travel, the future that was the original X-men films changed…ultimately boiling down to alternate universes in combination with wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.

Up Next: The two Fantastic Four films with Chris Evans; then I’ll be taking a bit of a break to work on some other writing, mainly the fantasy epic I have intentions of writing.  I figure this is a good place to pause, before jumping into the twenty-or-so Marvel Cinematic Universe films.