Tag Archives: Marvel Studios

Multiverses, Mutants, And The (Uncanny) Implications Of “Spider-Man: Far From Home”

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Anyone who has read more than a few comics, seen a few movies, or consumed more than a little sci-fi knows what often happens when multiple universes enter the picture. First, the overall story becomes bigger in scope, scale, and complexity. Second, a host of major complications emerge. Third, when done poorly, it becomes next to impossible to follow.

In terms of a larger narrative, it’s a huge gamble. It’s one of those plot points that is easy to mess up, not unlike time travel, wizards, or clones. Very few franchises, be they movies, comics, or TV shows, can make that gamble pay off. If ever there was a franchise that could make it work, it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Between the record-breaking box office of “Avengers Endgame” and the adulation of countless fans, including myself, Marvel Studios is uniquely equipped to make the concept of a multiverse work within its over-arching story. To some extent, it has to. The finality of “Avengers Endgame” means it will have to find some way to grow without the iconic characters that helped make it.

The stage has already been set for a larger multiverse to emerge within the MCU. Just as fans like me are finally recovering from the emotional upheaval we experienced in “Avengers Endgame,” the second trailer for “Spider-Man: Far From Home” dropped and, beyond dropping some heavy spoilers, it revealed that the multiverse is officially a thing in this world.

There are a lot of implications for this, many of which go beyond Spider-Man’s story in the MCU. As the trailer reveals, the universe-altering events of “Avengers Endgame” opened a literal and proverbial door to new conflicts within the MCU. These conflicts offer many opportunities for some of Marvel’s many cosmic characters, but I believe the biggest opportunity is for the X-Men.

I say that not just as a huge X-Men fan who has already written extensively about their potential in the MCU. I believe that Marvel Studios could reinvent the X-Men and the entire concept of mutants in a way that’s fresh, engaging, and very relevant to events unfolding in the real world.

Marvel and their Disney overlords have already reported that the X-Men will be rebooted into the MCU in the coming years under the skilled hand of Kevin Feige. However, the method and details of that plan have yet to emerge and chances are, it’ll be several years before we see that full-on reboot that X-Men fans have been pining for since Hugh Jackman hung up his claws.

Imagining Wolverine without Hugh Jackman.

Even for Marvel Studios, it’s going to be a challenge. How do you introduce mutants, an entire race of super-powered beings, into a world in which they’ve never been mentioned? In fact, thanks to conflicts over movie rights, nobody in the MCU could even utter the word “mutant” without incurring the wrath of Fox’s lawyers.

That’s a problem because in over 10 years of movies, TV shows, and tie-ins, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become populated with many super-powered beings that include gods, super soldiers, and teenagers armed with spider powers. On top of that, they already have a race of genetically modified people called the Inhumans, who basically acted as a stand-in for mutants at one point.

This complicates the whole premise of the X-Men. A big part of their story and their appeal is the parallels between mutants and real-world minorities. The X-Men emerged during the time of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and have since come to represent oppressed minorities from many eras, from racial minorities to the LGBTQ community.

That’s a tougher parallel to establish in the MCU because how can mutants be hated and feared in a world where Asgardians, super soldiers, and talking raccoons exist? Granted, mutants have a unique aura of unpredictability in that anyone could potentially be a mutant. Unlike the Inhumans, there’s no catalyst or radioactive spider necessary to activate their powers. They need only survive to puberty.

It’s still a stretch because the hate and fear of the 1960s is very different from that of the early 2000s century. It’s one thing to just be afraid and hateful of mutants. It’s quite another to craft killer robots to hunt them while ignoring entire populations of similar super-beings.

This is where the multiverse could enter the equation. With the proper sci-fi machinations, it could both bring the X-Men into the MCU while framing mutants in a context that makes them very relevant to contemporary issues. The key is linking the struggle with mutants with that of refugees.

Whereas discussions over minority issues have become somewhat predictable in recent years, debates about refugees have been much more heated. It has triggered protests, empowered populist uprisings, and caused a rise in xenophobia that far exceeds the old-school racism of the mid-20th century. These are the kinds of heated politics in which the X-Men thrive.

The “Spider-Man: Far From Home” trailer establishes that something happened in the battle against Thanos that opened the door to the multiverse. It’s easy to envision a scenario in which a population from a more hostile universe seeks refuge in one that is already used to super-powered beings.

It’s not difficult to imagine things getting that bad for the X-Men or mutants. Both “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “The Gifted” explored a world where mutants where hunted, imprisoned, and outright murdered. The comics also have a lengthy history of dystopian futures in which the X-Men could not stop humanity from hating and fearing their kind.

Then, just as things look hopeless, a doorway to another universe unexpectedly opens. Mutants suddenly have a chance to escape their rapidly-decaying world and start anew. It’s an opportunity many desperate and traumatized refugees seek in the real world. Their stories are full of horror and atrocity. It’s a story that resonates beyond the superhero genre.

In addition to providing a mechanism for entering the MCU, it also solves another critical issue with respect to narrative. It gives the X-Men a new type of story that hasn’t been told before in the movies. For the past 19 years, almost every X-Men movie has followed a similar formula.

Mutants are hated and feared.

The X-Men try to combat that fear.

Someone, often Magneto, tries to provoke a war between humans and mutants.

The X-Men stop that war from occurring.

It’s a story that has played out many times. Sometimes, it has been great. Other times, it has been god-awful. Just telling that same story again in the MCU won’t be enough. By making mutants refugees, the entire dynamics change in a way that could cause all sorts of upheavals that could impact many other MCU franchises.

One possibility.

Like real-life refugees, they come to a new world out of desperation, escaping horrors that they had no part in creating. The world they enter is inherently suspicious of them. They see them as strange, dangerous outsiders who could bring their problems to their homes. These are real concerns from people other than the reactionary radicals who often preach hate.

It’s one of those issues that has no good resolution. These people are victims of a war that they want to escape. They flee to wherever they feel they’ll be safe. Often, their options are limited and when an opportunity comes along, they have to pursue or die. If the events of “Avengers Endgame” somehow create such an opportunity, then why wouldn’t someone take a chance?

It would put mutants and the X-Men at odds with everyone in the MCU, from the Avengers to SHIELD to the average person still recovering from invading aliens in New York. It would also establish a clear divide that could one day manifest in a full-blown “Avengers Vs. X-Men” movie, which has already been teased.

All that being said, the powers that be at Marvel Studios may opt for an entirely different approach. In that case, everything I just described may be a moot point. This is just one approach that I found myself contemplating after seeing the “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” It’ll probably be a while before we know the full implications, both for the multiverse and for mutants in the MCU.

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Filed under Deadpool, Marvel, movies, Spider-Man, superhero comics, superhero movies, X-men

A Fitting Endpoint: My (Spoiler-Free) Review For “Avengers Endgame”

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Starting an epic journey is a daunting challenge. Keeping people engrossed in that journey for over a decade is exceedingly difficult. Ending that journey in a way that’s dramatic, appropriate, and satisfying is damn near impossible. Despite those insane stakes, that’s the primary goal of “Avengers Endgame.” It attempts to cap off the story that began in 2008 with “Iron Man.”

Without spoiling the many dramatic details of this three-hour cinematic experience, I can safely confirm that it did. “Avengers Endgame” achieved that seemingly impossible goal of completing a decade-spanning story that included 22 movies, a cast of top-notch actors, and one talking raccoon. It’s one of those feats that shouldn’t be possible, even with Disney’s deep pockets, but Marvel Studios pulled it off.

It isn’t hyperbole to say that “Avengers Endgame” is a historic cinematic achievement that fundamentally changes the standards for just how bold a movie can be. All the praise from fans and critics alike that this movie has garnered is well-earned, but still doesn’t do justice to what this movie achieved.

It’s not just another step in the ever-expanding saga that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This movie does not set the stage for another sequel or lay the groundwork for the next big battle between the Avengers and the next Thanos-level threat. The movie is true, polished ending that manages to beautifully encapsulate the scope and scale of the story it told.

As a life-long comic book fan and a fan of superhero media, going back to the days of Saturday morning cartoons, this movie was both satisfying and impactful. I came out of the theater with my heart still racing and my mind still reeling from what I just witnessed. Part of me was sad. Part of me was elated. In all, though, I felt like I’d completed a journey alongside these beloved characters.

Even if you’re not a fan of comics and only know these characters through the movies, “Avengers Endgame” still succeeds in terms of raw storytelling. Years of world-building and character development really come to ahead in this movie. The shared journeys of characters like Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Bruce Banner provide plenty of dramatic weight to everything that happens.

Make no mistake, though. A lot happens. This movie will test your bladder almost as much as it tests your heart. There are so many characters to juggle and many of them have their own arcs. Tony, Steve, Thor, and Hawkeye are all in wildly different places throughout the story, literally and figuratively. Coming together again in a cohesive plot takes time and effort, something the Russo brothers do not shy away from.

As a result, “Avengers Endgame” is very different structurally from “Avengers Infinity War.” Whereas “Avengers Infinity War” played out like unfolding battle with Thanos leading the charge, “Avengers Endgame” is very much a reaction to the aftermath of that battle. To say it left some traumatic scars would be the understatement of all understatements.

There’s no getting around it. Thanos won and the Avengers failed. Before anyone can even contemplate undoing the damage, these characters have to adjust to a world that has been decimated on an unimaginable scale. Processing, exploring, and reacting to that decimation is a big part of what makes that final showdown sufficiently epic.

That means are sizable parts of this movie that don’t involve Hulk smashing things, Captain America fighting Hydra agents, or Iron Man blowing stuff up. “Avengers Endgame” puts much more time and energy into character moments and interpersonal drama, which were fewer and less developed in “Avengers Infinity War.” However, none of this time ever feels wasted or drawn out.

It helps make that final showdown all the more meaningful. It’ll get you to cheer, gasp, cry, and cringe every step of the way. I can even attest that there are moments in this movie that got the people in the theater out of their seats and cheering. In all my experience with superhero movies, I can’t remember the last time a movie got people that emotional.

There’s a lot I can say about how “Avengers Endgame” succeeds in making the emotional investment of the past 22 movies pay off. I don’t think I need to belabor how important this component was in making this movie work in a satisfying, climactic manner. While the movie succeeds in this critical aspect, there are other noteworthy details.

In terms of pure entertainment value, it is not as great as “Avengers Infinity War.” I would even argue the first “Avengers” movie had more spectacle and was more cohesive, overall. There were times when “Avengers Endgame” felt somewhat chaotic, due to all the character arcs it had to balance. While it managed to juggle them all effectively, there’s only so much that can be done to keep that narrative concise.

It’s also worth noting that some character narratives were managed better than others. I won’t cite specific characters for spoiler reasons, but they fairly obvious within the first hour of the movie. I’m sure fans of certain characters will be conflicted by how things play out, but I doubt those same fans will be too disappointed.

Fans of the distinct humor that often shows up in Marvel Studios productions will also have plenty to laugh at. Granted, the bleak circumstances of the movie make that tricky, but moments are there and they never feel too forced. They’re not quite as numerous as they are in other MCU movies, but given the various plots of the story, I’d say there’s just enough to balance the overall tone.

There are some other flaws within this movie, but the extent of those flaws is never more than minor. It would require an extreme level of pettiness and nit-picking to use those flaws to undercut the movie. “Avengers Endgame” is not perfect, nor does it try to be. Its primary goal is to end this era of the MCU and it does so beautifully.

The ending will leave many with tears in their eyes, both from joy and sorrow. There’s equal amounts of tragedy and triumph. Certain characters get a happy ending. Others must deal with loss and tragedy. Overall, it’s a perfect blend of satisfying conclusion and bittersweet finality. It reinforces the notion that these characters are true heroes.

For a movie that begins under such bleak circumstances, the ultimate conclusion really solidifies “Avengers Endgame” as an incredible cinematic experience. If I had to score the movie, I would give it a 9 out of 10. It hits all the right dramatic notes, evokes all the right emotions, and succeeds on a level that few could’ve imagined 11 years ago.

Like Captain America himself, this movie was willing to do whatever it takes to complete this superhero saga for the ages. Moving forward, it’s hard to say what will come of the MCU, especially in wake of the Disney/Fox merger, but it’s safe to say that “Avengers Endgame” has set a bold new standard for just how great a superhero movie can be.

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Filed under Marvel, Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies

“Love and Endgames” A Sexy Short Story (Inspired By Superhero Movies)

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As I write these words, I am anxiously awaiting the premier of “Avengers Endgame.” I have my ticket and detailed plan for how I’m going to take in this historic movie that promises to break so many box office records. Just as I did withAvengers Infinity War,” I wrote a sexy short story to celebrate this momentous cinematic achievement. Enjoy!

It seemed like just yesterday, but it had been nearly 11 years since that fateful day. Iron Man, a generic superhero movie starring a troubled actor in Robert Downey Jr., debuted and gave rise to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Few could’ve imagined that one movie would’ve spawned the biggest movie franchise in cinematic history. Even fewer could’ve imagined it would ultimately lead to a movie like Avengers Endgame. Allen Marco was among those select few, but the rise and dominance of the MCU had a more personal impact for him.

On the day Iron Man premiered, Allen was reeling from a potent combination college burnout and a broken heart. Early that morning, he learned that his ex-girlfriend, who he’d been dating since high school, had been cheating on him. He thought they’d been going through a rough patch. Apparently, she’d been trying to break up with him for months.

He was so devastated that he planned to spend the day sulking rather than seeing Iron Man with his older brother, who was in town to help an old roommate move. Whether by fate or luck, his brother sprained his ankle and couldn’t go. Rather than throw away his ticket, he convinced Allen to take his roommate’s sister, Ashley.

Initially, Allen refused. Then, his brother insisted that he take her out as a favor, claiming Ashley had been a recluse since getting booted from the university’s championship swim team. She’d become a constant nuisance for her brother and all his friends, by default. Allen’s brother never could’ve imagined that coaxing him into a date with his roommate’s sister would spawn a love that had blossomed as well as the MCU.

“Here we are,” Allen said as he pulled into the parking lot of the same movie theater where that love began, “eleven years later, we’re back to where it all began.”

“I know,” Ashley said distantly. “Amazing, isn’t it? Three Iron Man movies, three Avengers movies, three Thor movies, three Captain America movies…”

“Don’t forget Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy,” he pointed out.

“I haven’t. I doubt I ever will. How could I when you proposed to me after the first Avengers movie? Or when I told you I was pregnant after seeing Age of Ultron?”

“It feels like a movie, in and of itself…albeit a cheesy one,” Allen said with a laugh.

“I’d still see it,” Ashley said, laughing as well and casting him a loving smile.

As he parked their car in main garage, Allen continued to marvel – a fitting term, given the context of their relationship – at how far they’d come. It was early in the morning, just after sunrise. The theater wasn’t even open, nor was the strip mall around it. There were practically no cars in the garage, but that was sure to change as Marvel fans gathered for the premier. It wouldn’t be the first time, either.

Allen still remembered pulling into the same garage 11 years ago, driving that beat-up old Buick he should’ve gotten rid of years ago. He was in such a rotten mood that day. It didn’t help that it was pouring rain and he had college finals to worry about. Seeing any movie, let alone Iron Man, felt like a chore.

Then, he saw Ashley. That moment had an impact almost as great as that first post-credits scene where Nick Fury teased the Avengers. It sparked an intrigue that only grew and expanded over time.

“This is bigger than any other Marvel movie,” Allen said. “I know I said the same thing about Infinity War, but this is different and not just with respect to who I fought to get these tickets.”

“You don’t need to tell me, Allen,” said Ashley. “I had to cash in several favors at the office and make several promises to my boss in order to get this day off.”

“It’s still worth repeating. They’re saying that Avengers Endgame is the end of an era. Everything that’s been building since that first movie 11 years ago…that movie that brought us together…culminates with this.”

“You hoping it inspires a similar culmination with us?” she teased.

“That’s just it. It doesn’t have to. Our love culminated years ago on our wedding day. This movie means something else.”

Upon turning off the engine, Allen undid his seatbelt and set the keys aside. He then reached over and grasped the hands of the woman who’d become the love of his life after 11 eventful years. Looking at her and recalling how far they’d come, it seemed like a journey worthy of any superhero.

Meeting Ashley was like Robert Downy Jr. getting the part of Tony Stark. It just fit so perfectly. He’d been a fan of superheroes since he was a kid and Ashley had grown curious about them, thanks to her comic book loving brother. Seeing that first Iron Man movie together wasn’t just thrilling from a pure movie-going standpoint. Experiencing it together acted as a catalyst for a deeper connection, one that ultimately blossomed into something every bit as vast as any cinematic universe.

“Ashley, before I met you, I honestly didn’t know what it meant to love someone,” Allen said, giving her hand a warm squeeze to convey the depths of his affection. “In some ways, I was like Tony Stark or Thor in the first movie…thinking the world worked a certain way, but not seeing the flaws that were right in front of me.”

“I’d say you were more like Starlord, at least in terms of dance skills,” Ashley said with a slight tease, “but I haven’t forgotten. It’s not like I was in a good 11 years ago, either. I might as well have been Erik Killmonger in Black Panther.”

“And like those characters, we needed something to jar us out of our stupor,” he went on. “We needed something to help us realize that we’d been going about things all wrong. It might not have involved an infinity stone or a magic hammer, but it was every bit as powerful.”

“Did you really just compare us to Mjolnir?”

“Why not? It was enchanted to respond only to the worthy. That’s not too different from love. Many try hard to seek someone’s love, but sometimes it’s just not there and trying to force it only results in frustration.”

“Kind of like how I reacted to getting booted from the swim team,” Ashley added.

“They were harsh lessons…the kind every hero learns in these movies. We just had to learn ours together.”

Allen reached over and caressed her face, lovingly trailing his fingers down her cheek, just like he’d done at their Avengers-themed wedding six years ago. Ashley smiled and blushed almost as much as she’d done on that fateful day, unable to contain the joy that he often evoked in her. It didn’t just make him worthy in a Thor sort of way. It affirmed what he’d come to know about their relationship and love, in general.

“Before you, I thought love was something that just happened naturally.” Allen said distantly. “You find someone you like, you follow a few simple rules, and you just wait for it to blossom. It wasn’t magical or extraordinary. It was just part of the process.”

“Not exactly romantic, but not entirely flawed, either,” Ashley said.

“Every superhero usually sees their world in a similar way, assuming they know how it works and making every excuse when it doesn’t. Then, something comes along that hits you like an invading alien army, a treacherous sibling, or killer robot. You can’t make excuses. You have to see what you once refused to see…accept what you didn’t want to accept.”

“And what did you see in me?”

Her tone became more serious as well. The way she looked at him was so different compared to that fateful day when they saw Iron Man. It wasn’t immediately clear what they’d found together, but the signs were there.

In his wife’s eyes, he saw the memories of that day play out in perfect detail. They approached one another at the theater, uncertain and confused. They weren’t sure what to make of one another. It was hardly love at first sight. Then, they watched the movie and it got them talking.

One moment, they were walking out of the theater, talking about how foolish Tony Stark was to reveal his identity at the end. The next, they were sitting at a fast food restaurant across the street, talking about whether Iron Man being a superhero made him a champion or an enemy of defense contractors. Before they knew it, they’d spent all night together, engrossed in conversation.

From that conversation, a spark emerged. Allen could still see traces of that spark in her eyes, even after 11 years, a wedding, full-time careers, and a beautiful baby boy they’d named Stanley. What happened that night sent them on a hero’s journey of their own. To some extent, it was beginning all over again with Avengers Endgame.

“I saw in you how wrong I’d been…how stupid I’d been, even,” Allen said.

“That’s not fair. I didn’t even believe love existed before I met you. How stupid is that?” Ashley argued.

“Not believing is better than being wrong,” he told her, “and believe me, I’d been very wrong. With every girl I’d been with, I kept pushing to hold onto this feeling I thought was real love. Hell, I thought if I wasn’t pushing, then it wasn’t real.”

“That’s not stupid, Allen…misguided, but not stupid.”

“Call it whatever you want. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been surprised when it all went wrong. I was like Hulk trying to lift Thor’s hammer, frustrating myself and everyone around me by trying to force something that just wasn’t there.”

“God, my heart still skips a beat when I think of that scene,” Ashley snicker.

“With you, it finally became clear. Being in love is like being worthy. It’s only there when you realize how strong it is…how deep it runs.”

“Keep going and I’m going to break down like I did at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.”

“After 11 years, it’s worth remembering and even celebrating. Just like nobody thought we’d get a movie like Avengers Endgame, we never thought we’d find a love as deep as ours.”

Allen leaned in closer, now cupping her face with both hands. The past 11 years had been a profound journey, not unlike that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From heartbreak and despair to love and fulfillment, he and Ashley had come a long way. Avengers Endgame marked both the completion of one journey and the start of another.

“Coming back to this theater, complete with non-refundable tickets, I marvel at everything we’ve achieved together,” he told her.

“Marveling at our love,” she said to him, “that’s just so fitting.”

“We stopped assuming we knew what love was supposed to be. We followed our own rules, forging love on our terms. And damn it, it worked. It couldn’t have worked better if Steve Rogers himself had blessed it.”

“Even my brother was surprised by how hard I feel for you.”

“That’s because shared in that journey. We dared to argue and disagree, but we always assembled when it counted. It was never just about me or you. It was always about us…together.”

“Together,” she repeated.

It sounded like a speech that Captain America would give before the final battle against Thanos. To anyone else, it would’ve been a needlessly melodramatic comment from someone who’d seen the first Avengers movie six times in theaters. To Ashley, the woman he’d met the day the Marvel Cinematic Universe began, it was the most loving sentiment any man could express.

She affirmed her appreciation of that sentiment in the form of a passionate kiss. Snaking her arms around his neck, he pulled him in close and shared with him the same gesture that had capped off that fateful first date. That kiss had been on a whim, but it ended up inspiring something far greater. Captain America would be proud.

As she kissed him and he kissed back, Ashley undid her seatbelt and deepened the embrace. Unlike his old Buick, their SUV had much more room and much greater comfort. It allowed Ashley to slip out of the passenger’s seat and join him on the driver’s side, straddling his waist and grinding her pelvis against his, inspiring another reaction that was far more basic.

Allen did not avoid it. He embraced it with her, slipping his arms around her waist and feeling up her favorite Captain Marvel shirt. In doing so, he found out that she wasn’t wearing a bra, which effectively communicated her intentions.

“Ashley,” Allen gasped, abruptly breaking the kiss.

“Yes, my marvelous husband?” Ashley replied in a deep, seductive tone.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re attempting the same sexy stunt we pulled after seeing the first Thor movie,” he pointed out.

“It’s not my fault seeing Chris Hemsworth shirtless made me so horny,” she teased. “Plus, you did park the car in this garage…early in the morning…with nobody else in sight.”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on something shady, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Allen, you parked in the exact same spot you did on our first date. You think I missed the subtext?”

Allen smiled and blushed, as he often did when Ashley surmised his intentions. She knew him so well. There was rarely any ambiguity, especially when it came to their sex life. Just like their first date, the spark came from a Marvel movie.

Their first time together had come the night the Incredible Hulk premiered, just a few months after Iron Man. That only lit the fuse of their passion for one another. Over the years, they’d explored it in many other ways, some of which included role playing and Black Widow themed lingerie. He was also fairly certain that their son had been conceived the night they saw Guardians of the Galaxy.

By parking in the same parking spot he had nearly 11 years ago on their first date, Allen expected to evoke plenty of emotions. He didn’t assume it would turn her on to the point where she’d want to have sex in the car – something they’d done more than once, including on the night the first Thor movie premiered – but a part of him had hoped it would.

“Well, we’ve got plenty of time to kill before we start camping out,” Allen said, as though it were the most logical thing in the world.

“And you did clean out the back yesterday,” she added, “including that mess Stanley made last week.”

“And I made sure it stayed clean when we dropped him off with your parents,” he said, “so if you want to start fantasizing about a shirtless Chris Hemsworth again…”

He let his words trail off, allowing Ashley to fill in the blanks, as only she could. He could tell by that sultry grin that she was already picturing Chris Hemsworth’s muscular body. That was okay with him because she knew he pictured Scarlet Johansson in a skin-tight catsuit during those same moments. Such lurid thoughts, inspired by 11 years of movies, had the desired effect.

Their excitement for Avengers Endgame had triggered an excitement for one another.

Their passions had been ignited.

They had time, energy, and 11 years of anticipation to build on.

“The back seat…now!” Ashley said in a voice as assertive as Thanos.

Like a couple of horny teenagers, he and his marvelous wife eagerly crawled into the back of the SUV. Before she even reached the seat, Ashley undid her pants and pulled them down, revealing that she was wearing that sexy Black Widow themed thong he’d gotten for their anniversary. He didn’t think he could get more turned on by the prospect of sex with his wife in a car on the day an Avengers movie premiered. Once again, Ashly found a way to raise the bar.

By the time they reached the back seat of the SUV, her pants were at her ankles and Allen was removing his Avengers-themed shirt. While he didn’t have the same build as Chris Hemsworth or Chris Evans, he liked to think he kept up as anyone without superpowers could. Ashley certainly appreciated his efforts, helping him remove his shirt before pulling him into her loving grasp.

She wasn’t subtle about her intentions, either. She threw her legs around his waist and latched onto his shoulders, pulling him onto the seat with her where she kissed him passionately, using plenty of tongue and making those seductive noises that got his blood flowing in all the right directions.

Even with such escalating arousal, it was tricky to maneuver within the confines of the back seat. However, an SUV was more spacious than his old Buick. Having not forgotten how he and Ashley managed to make love in that old car on the night of the Thor movie, he followed a similar approach to that fateful night.

“Feeling worthy, yet?” Allen whispered into her ear, doing his best Thor impression.

“Yes…very worthy,” Ashley replied, doing her best Jane Foster impression.

Those were the exact same words they’d said on that night. Also like that night, he channeled his inner superhero, laying her down on the seat so that her head rested right up against the passenger window. Ashley seemed to appreciate that approach, kissing him harder and pawing his chest and back intently. He matched her growing passion, reaching up her Captain Marvel shirt and fondling her breasts.

A heated make-out session continued, not unlike the many they’d shared when they started dating. Whether it was excitement over Avengers Endgame or just general horniness, he and Ashley felt 10 years younger. They were all over each other, kissing and fondling one another, building up both arousal and passion. Soon, the whole SUV felt 10 degrees hotter, making their remaining clothes feel unbearable.

“Mmm…take it off!” she moaned through muffled kissing. “Please, Allen…I’m hotter than Hulk’s temper.”

“Be calm, my love,” he assured her. “I’ll get you out of those clothes. And unlike Hulk, nothing will get ripped.”

True to his word, Allen got his beautiful wife out of those itchy clothes, pulling her shirt up off over her head and removing her panties. She had already broken out into a light sweat after all the foreplay, making her naked body glow in the early morning sun. She was such a beautiful sight, more so now than she was 11 years ago.

He wanted her so much. He wanted her like Thanos wanted the Infinity Stones. It didn’t just show in his admiration of her body. It also showed in the large bulge that had formed in his pants. Ashley, never one to fall too far behind in intimate moments, noticed as well.

“Your turn, my hulking stud!” she teased.

With reflexes that would’ve made Quicksilver envious, Ashely reached up and undid his pants with ease. Allen couldn’t slip out of them and his Iron Man boxer shorts fast enough. Upon kicking them off, he slipped back into his marvelous wife’s embrace, their naked bodies pressing together on the narrow seat.

More kissing and foreplay followed. Sweaty skin touched sweaty skin, her breasts pressing up against his chest in the increasingly-steamy confines of the car. Allen could feel how much she wanted him, her body aching for his as much as he longed for hers. In most intimate moments, they preferred to drag out the naked fondling, but the one unfolding before them demanded more urgency.

“You ready to assemble, my love?” Allen teased.

“Yes, my avenging lover!” Ashley gasped intently. “Please…assemble!”

With a confident grin and a bravado second only to Tony Stark, Allen got grasped his wife’s thighs, hitched her legs over his shoulder, and aligned his hulking manhood with her wet entrance. Then, using whatever leverage he could in the confines of the back seat, he thrust his body forward and entered her. In that instant, their flesh assembled.

“Oohhh Allen!” Ashely moaned. “My hero!”

“Mmm…speak for yourself,” he said with a grunt.

For a moment, he savored their intimate union, soaking in that hot, moist feeling around his member. The desire now burning with the intensity of a Hulk-led rampage, Allen followed those desires further, moving his body and establishing an intimate rhythm. Ashley eagerly supplemented his efforts, grabbing onto his shoulders and arching her lower body in accord with every motion.

Through their shared goal of expressing the love, their sex became an act of teamwork. The Avengers would be proud. Together, he and Ashley rocked the SUV, the rhythm of their passion building more sweat and heat. The windows were already fogging up. The air grew sticky and muggy with the scent of sex. It was similar to the ambience they’d created on their first time together. After 11 years and 21 MCU movies, it was every bit as satisfying.

Just like that fateful night years ago in the back seat of his dirty car, he and Ashley made the most of the intimate setting. They drew it out like a battle scene in an Avenger movie, going at it from every angle they could. Channeling his inner Nick Fury, he made use of all the intel he had on his wife’s proclivities.

She liked it when he nibbled around her neck.

She liked it when he grunted like the Hulk in her ear.

She loved it when he squeezed her butt and held her waist up so that he could thrust into her at just the right angle.

“Ooh yes!” she exclaimed. “By Thor’s hammer, just like that! Smash that pussy…just like that!”

Allen gladly reciprocated. She knew his kinks just as well, namely how she hooked her legs around his waist, just as Black Widow did to Justin Hammer’s henchmen in Iron Man 2. The extra leverage even allowed her to hold her up in his arms and bounce him along his cock, rocking the car even harder. It also allowed them to really draw out their sex, as if to show how good they’d become at making love to one another. It definitely showed in terms of passion, stamina, and pleasure.

It got so intense and energetic, more so than most lovers could hope for after 11 years together. It was a testament to the love they’d assembled, growing and blossoming like the MCU had over the years. Avengers Endgame was supposed to be the final chapter in that saga. For their love, it was just another milestone.

“Allen…my marvelous husband…I’m close,” she panted in the midst of their heated movements.

“Me too, Ashley,” he grunted. “I’m so…so close.”

“Let’s…do it together. Let’s…truly…assemble!”

Her choice of words couldn’t have been more perfect. It gave Allen even greater motivation to carry his lover to that special threshold and beyond. With their naked bodies in an upright position, him bouncing her pelvis up and down to work her womanhood along his manly length, he pulled out all the stops. He kissed, caressed, and stimulated her until that euphoric feeling washed over them.

Finally, in an instant as powerful as Thanos’ famous snap in Avengers Infinity War, Ashely climaxed in his arms. As soon as he felt that intense throbbing in her lower body, along with the extra tightness that came with it, he crossed that special threshold as well and joined her in the ecstasy.

“Oohhh assemble!” they both exclaim.

It was an odd, but fitting proclamation. Their love began thanks to the Avengers movies. Now, on the eve of the biggest to date, it culminated once more.

Their shared release was uniquely satisfying. Allen felt his love tremble in her arms, throwing her head back and raking her nails down his back as the sensations coursed through her. He admired the sight as he took in the hot flood of sensations that erupted within his core, spreading from head to toe like a ball of blissful fire. The heat of their ecstasy, as well as the heat they’d made together, had caused much of the windows to fog up. Even though the car had stopped bouncing, the scent of their lovemaking lingered heavily in the vehicle.

“I love you, Ashley,” said Allen.

“I love you too, Allen,” Ashley replied. “After 11 years, 21 movies, and a fondness for superhero movies that everyone in my family finds weird…our love has come so far.”

“Like Iron Man…like Thor…like Captain America,” he pointed out.

“Except their journeys are ending. Ours is still going…and growing.”

“God, I love how you tie our sex life into superhero movies.”

“I wasn’t just referring to our sex life, but it still works!”

They shared a joyous laugh. Allen then kissed his wife again, deepening their embrace, their naked flesh remaining wondrously entwined. Just 11 years ago, it was hard to imagine being so in love with someone. It was just as hard to imagine that an entire cinematic universe based on superheroes could grow to such heights. On both counts, he and Ashley saw that it was both possible and achievable.

Now, on the eve of the Avengers final battle, they celebrated those achievements. They still had plenty of time to kill before getting in line and waiting for the premier of Avengers Endgame. Thankfully, they also had the love and passion to do plenty of avenging in the meantime.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: War Of The Realms #1

Every week, the world is in desperate need of something to make it just a little more fun. As such, every Wednesday brings us a fresh batch of comics that achieves just that and then some. With the anticipation of “Avengers Endgame” at unprecedented levels, we all need something to tide us over until we cram into theaters and send piles of money to our Disney overlords.

Thankfully, a comic like “War of the Realms #1” does plenty to scratch that superhero itch and it doesn’t require anyone to deal with crashing websites. While the big gathering in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is taking shape, these kinds of gatherings seem to occur every other Tuesday in the comics. Some are more awesome than others and the one that unfolds in “War of the Realms #1” definitely qualifies.

You don’t have to have followed to recent comics to appreciate it, although it certainly helps. The world of Marvel comics is always in flux with respect to the threats the heroes face and the situations in which they find themselves. “War of the Realms #1” is a confluence of compounding factors that started in Thor’s world of gods and mythical monsters. Now, it has erupted to a level that even comic book gods can appreciate.

If you thought Asgard was in a rough place after “Thor Ragnarok,” then you’ll be unpleasantly shocked at how much worse it can get in the comics. However, it’s not solely because of giant fiery monsters set to 70s rock music. It’s largely because Odin, in stark contrast to the charm exuded by Anthony Hopkins, is a divine prick in the comics.

It’s because of him that Asgard is in ruins, much of his fellow gods have abandoned him, and the realms are ripe for invasion. Despite being the All-Father of gods, he’s powerless to stop it and the heroes of Earth/Midgard are the ones who have to fight it. Prick or not, it still makes for a hell of a spectacle that brings out the best in Russell Dauterman’s artwork.

The mystical machinations of the war aren’t overly complex, nor do they need to be. Asgard isn’t a shining bastion of order and stability anymore. That means Frost Giants, Dark Elves, and Trolls are free to organize and invade other realms. Leading the pack is Malekith the Accursed and if you thought he was a push-over in “Thor: The Dark World,” this comic should help shatter that notion.

Far from being the bland throw-away villain in the movie, Malekith is a forced to be reckoned with in “War of the Realms #1.” He has united gods, monsters, and entire races into one massive army right out of J. R. R. Tolkein’s worst nightmare. Now, he leads them into a full-scale invasion of Midgard and the battle that ensues is as epic as anyone could hope for.

It’s not just Avengers who rush to the front lines. We see the likes of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Daredevil, and the Punisher join the chaos. This is not just a battle for the Avengers. This is something that will bring in players from all ends of the Marvel Universe.

Even with the recent Disney/Fox merger closing, this isn’t something we’re going to see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe anytime soon. “War of the Realms #1” offers a taste of just how much bigger the world of Marvel can be when all its iconic characters occupy the same world. Even for those who can barely contain their excitement over “Avengers Endgame,” this comic should give those same fans plenty of possibilities to contemplate.

The underlying plot to “War of the Realms #1” may be basic, but Jason Aaron, who has been the architect of both Thor and the Avengers for years, finds plenty of ways to bring depth to such a colorful clash. He even finds a way to squeeze in a joke about colonoscopies and kidney stones. I promise I’m not making that up.

Much like the movies, there bits of humor that keep things from getting too dire. However, “War of the Realms #1” never feels like a joke or an excuse to see Thor beat up frost giants. Jason Aaron has shown, throughout his run, that he can incorporate layers into mystical, hammer-wielding spectacles. Those layers are definitely there and poised to affect the battle.

How that battle plays out is just starting to unfold. Even though this comic is padded with extra pages to go along with the inflated price, it’s very much a prelude to a much larger conflict. That conflict already has Spider-Man making dirty jokes and Loki getting eaten by a frost giant. If you can’t find entertainment in that, then you’re just being difficult.

Beyond the entertainment value, “War of the Realms #1” offers the kind of high-stakes superhero crossover story that movie fans have only recently come to appreciate while comic fans have been enjoying it for years. While Malekith the Accursed will never be on the same level as Josh Brolin’s Thanos, there’s something to be said about a character who can wage a cosmic war on the entire Marvel Universe.

Whatever your feelings about Malekith, Odin, or Spider-Man’s brand toilet humor, “War of the Realms #1” has plenty to enjoy while also setting up a much larger conflict. It’s a story that gives the superheroes we love a chance to unite, kick ass, and break stuff. It’s stories like that which remind comic fans why New Comic Book Day is truly the best day of the week.

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Done Deal: The Disney/Fox Merge Is Complete!

As Micky Mouse himself would say, “Oh boy!”

As of 12:02 a.m. on March 20, 2019, the deal that has been 18 months in the making is complete. Disney and Fox are officially merged in an intimate corporate entanglement that sounds extra-sexy to fans of the X-Men and Fantastic Four.

There are a lot of implications here. The media landscape will never be the same. I’m neither smart enough nor psychic enough to make sense of those implications. However, I’m certain there will be plenty to discuss in the coming years. As a fan of superhero movies and all things awesome, I’ll be keeping a close eye on it and I’ll certainly single out the stuff that’s extra sexy.

Until then, let’s all just take a moment to appreciate the bold new, Disney-dominated world we live in now.

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Higher, Further, Faster, And Fun: A (Spoiler-Free) Review Of “Captain Marvel”

captain-marvel-costume-brie-larson-mcu-movie

Soaring to new heights, venturing into uncharted territory, and achieving greater things always requires a great deal of risk. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll only get what you’ve always gotten and that’s just not enough for some people. For Marvel Studios, the gold standard by which all other movie studios are measured, it has to take those risks in order to expand its dominance into another decade.

A movie as big as “Avengers: Infinity War” or as diverse as “Black Panther” had high stakes on top of higher aspirations. They had to keep raising the bar that Marvel Studios had already raised to unprecedented heights. Those movies both succeeded and raked in record profits, but even those movies never faced challenges like the ones faced by “Captain Marvel.”

Without a doubt, this movie will go down as one of the riskiest movies Marvel Studios has ever made, which is saying something for the same studio that made an “Ant Man” movie. It’s not just because “Captain Marvel” is Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie, nor is it because DC set a pretty high bar with “Wonder Woman.”

Captain Marvel” arrives with more baggage than any other superhero movie not associated with Joel Shumacher. In some respects, it’s coming out at the worst possible time. This is an era where gender politics are on a hair-trigger and features an actress who has been outspoken on where her political affiliations lie. It’s like bringing a tank of gasoline to a growing wildfire.

The context of this movie and its politics are already well-documented and I’ve made my opinions on it known. Beyond the politics, the heated gender debates, and coordinated efforts to tank this movie, there’s still one critical question that overrides all the baggage and burdens.

Is “Captain Marvel” a good movie?

Having seen it at a midnight showing in which the theater was quite packed, I can say in my humble opinion that yes. It is a good, entertaining movie. It doesn’t deviate too far from the Marvel Studios tradition of making superhero movies that are fun, entertaining, and heartfelt. However, “Captain Marvel” ends up achieving much more than that.

Before I go any further, I want to make a few comments about the heated politics surrounding this movie. I’m not going to focus too much on them, but I’m not going to avoid them, either. I get that some people will go into this movie with certain expectations and look for any excuse to justify those expectations. This is my response to those specific individuals.

No, this movie is not laced with radical feminist undertones.

No, this movie does not denigrate men or a specific race of men.

No, this movie does not make overtly political statements.

No, Carol Danvers is not a Mary Sue who is never allowed to fail or be wrong.

Yes, the movie is entertaining and fun in the tradition of good superhero movies.

Yes, the movie is respectful of the history and personality of the character.

Having said all that, I understand that there are a number of people who may disagree with every one of those statements. However, after seeing the movie and having time to digest all its high-flying details, I believe that doing so requires a level of outright pettiness that obscures just how good this movie is.

 

This movie does not have the luxury of expanding on a character who was previously introduced. Unlike Black Panther, Carol has nothing to build on when the movie starts. However, things move quickly once the action gets going. We find out early on that Carol is in a difficult situation, but tenuous situation. In addition, that situation helps further the world-building that is so distinct of the MCU.

We learn more about the Kree in the first 20 minutes of this movie than we have in any other Marvel movie, to date. They’ve been mentioned before in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but who they are and what they’re like is firmly established in “Captain Marvel.” Their iconic rivals, the Skrulls, are also introduced and it’s here where the movie really shines.

If you’re not familiar with the history of comics, it’s hard to overstate how critical the Kree/Skrull war is to the cosmic side of the Marvel universe. This massive war is something that Carol finds herself in the middle of and her role in it evolves over the course of the movie. Without getting too heavy into spoiler territory, it’s safe to say that this evolution is what helps make her Captain Marvel.

Carol’s story isn’t just about her seeking to fly higher, further, and faster. Through both flashbacks to her past and struggles in the present, her journey from being a loyal Kree warrior to Captain Marvel feels personal, even as it moves the story forward. At first, it feels like the story is on a predictable path. However, that changes, thanks largely to Carol’s the supporting cast.

This is where Samuel L. Jackson’s role as Nick Fury and Ben Mendelson’s role as Talos really complements the story. Their choices and their actions put Carol in a situation where she comes to some difficult realizations and has to make difficult decisions. In doing so, she becomes the hero that she needs to be, both for this movie and for the MCU.

It’s not unlike the evolution that other characters like Tony Stark and Thor have undergone. They start off with one particular outlook on their world. Then, they find themselves in a situation that undermines and even shatters what they thought was right and true. Rather than avoid the unpleasant implications, they confront them. That’s what heroes do and that’s what Carol Danvers does.

By the end of “Captain Marvel,” it’s easy to root for Carol. As she realizes her true power, she becomes the kind of hero that fits right in with the Avengers. The source of that power is not something she inherits or pursues. True to her comic book origins, her high-flying aspirations lead to an accident that comes close to destroying her. Also like the comics, it renders her vulnerable in unexpected ways.

Throughout the movie, Carol is guided and often frustrated by her limits. Some of those limits are things she puts on herself. Some are limits that others impose on her. Overcoming such limits, be they her own emotions or the actions of others, is the true strength of her character. It’s a strength that anyone, regardless of race, gender, or anything of the sort, can respect.

That’s not to say there aren’t flaws in that journey, along the way. In terms of a superhero origin movie, I would not put “Captain Marvel” above the ranks of “Batman Begins” or “Iron Man.” The movie does feel somewhat congested in several areas and the pacing, especially in the early parts of the movie, are a bit erratic.

There’s also an issue with villains in this movie, to the extent that they’re vague. Both the Skrulls and Jude Law’s, Yon-Rogg, aren’t going to give Thanos or Erik Killmonger a run for their money. Even the presence of a young Ronan the Accuser feels like a missed opportunity. While Carol has plenty of fights to pick in this movie, the lack of a major villain is somewhat glaring.

Let’s face it. Nobody was going to top THIS guy.

However, this doesn’t keep “Captain Marvel” from succeeding in the ways we’ve come to expect from Marvel Studios. The distinct bits of humor and tone are definitely there. The use of 90s nostalgia, from grunge rock to Blockbuster, works at every turn. The choice of music is spot on for every scene. Like “Captain America” and “Wonder Woman,” the time and place fits perfectly with the story.

By nearly every measure, “Captain Marvel” checks all the right boxes, in terms of a quality product from Marvel Studios. Again, it is possible for someone to single out certain scenes as proof that the movie is trying to make a political statement. However, I would argue that you could find similar scenes in movies like “Wonder Woman” and even “Deadpool.”

At the end of the day, if you’re really determined to hate this movie and label it as some sort of hit piece against a particular race or gender, you’ll find multiple excuses. However, it still requires a level of pettiness that requires someone to actively look for a reason to be offended and there’s already too much of that in this world.

If you watch “Captain Marvel” with the sole desire to be entertained and see the MCU evolve before your eyes, this movie will deliver in all the right ways. If I had to score this movie, I would give it a 4 out of 5. It’s a fun ride with a few bumps along the way, but is ultimately satisfying by the end. On top of that, the post-credits scene help further build the excitement for “Avengers: Endgame.”

Also, no matter your politics, the Stan Lee tribute at the beginning of the movie is beautiful.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Captain Marvel: Braver & Mightier #1

Every week, a new collection of comics enters this world and makes it a just little more bearable. In these times of internet trolls, political divide, and terrible movie remakes, few things are as relaxing and rewarding as enjoying a good comic on a Wednesday morning. Once again, I’m here to single out one particular comic that helps make a good morning turn into a great day.

This week, along with a sizable chunk of 2019 thus far, is another great week to be a fan of all things Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers. With her big debut movie coming out in just over a week, she’s about to achieve a rare status among comic book superheroes. That makes a comic like “Captain Marvel: Braver and Mightier #1” that much more special.

This comic isn’t actually part of Captain Marvel’s other ongoing series by Kelly Thompson, which I also highly recommend. This comic is a simple one-shot with a simple story that, in 23 short pages, highlights why Captain Marvel is a character deserving of the superhero A-list.

If you’re looking for a plot with some big, elaborate twist, you’re looking for too much here and you’re looking in the wrong place. If you’re just looking for a nice, simple summation of who Carol Danvers is and why she’s such a great hero, you’ll get everything you need and then some.

Writer, Jody Houser, puts Carol in a fairly simple setting. A fleet of mysterious aliens are threatening to invade Earth. It’s the sort of thing that happens at least once a week in the Marvel universe. It happens so often that it really doesn’t warrant assembling the Avengers. This sort of thing is right up Carol’s alley.

While this is going on, another smaller story unfolds back on Earth. At the Air and Space Museum back on the ground, Carol is being honored with her own little day of celebration. Having come from the United States Air Force and from NASA, it makes perfect sense that they would single her out as their preferred hero. Captain America already has the 4th of July and Tony Stark has a big enough ego.

As part of this celebration, some people in the press are looking for a chance to interview her. Among that press pool are a couple of local high school students who only got to attend because they’re local. They’re not exactly professional reports. They even admit that. However, they still have a chance to talk to Captain Marvel and they want to make the most of it.

They won’t get to ask her many questions. In fact, they need to figure out just one. All the while, they find out along with the rest of the world that Captain Marvel is fighting aliens on the same day when she’s supposed to be celebrated. It feels exactly like the sort of thing she would do, but these two plots complement each other in a way that really works in the end.

Without spoiling too much, Ms. Houser uses “Captain Marvel: Braver and Mightier #1” to demonstrate an issue that affects Captain Marvel more than most superheroes. As someone who is part human and part alien, she is often torn between worlds. Her desire to fly higher, further, and faster isn’t just about ambition. It reflects how her alien side often clashes with her human side.

Throughout her history, especially since she took the title of Captain Marvel in 2012, she often finds herself divided between confronting alien threats in Marvel’s vast cosmic landscape and defending the Earth with her fellow Avengers. As a result, it’s sometimes hard for her to relate to the people on Earth, as well as the aliens not trying to kill her.

Being able to relate to the people they’re saving is an important component for any hero, regardless of their origins or heritage. Superman is an alien and Wonder Woman is a demigod, but they still have strong connections to the world they protect. “Captain Marvel: Braver and Mightier #1” helps remind Carol of that connection.

In the end, Ms. Houser’s story and Simone Buonfantino’s artwork work together perfectly to demonstrate how far Carol Danvers has come and how much further she is poised to soar. It acknowledges the challenges she faced in the past and even noted some of her failures. However, Carol takes the good with the bad. That’s not just the mindset of a good superhero. That’s the mentality of a mature, understanding person.

The simplicity and humanity of “Captain Marvel: Braver and Mightier #1” makes it an excellent entry point for those curious about Captain Marvel beyond her upcoming movie. Again, it’s not too dense in terms of plot, but doesn’t need to be in order to work. It’s a good time to be a fan of all things Carol Danvers and this comic can only make those good times even greater.

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