Tag Archives: MCU

Why Natalie Portman Becoming Thor Is The Biggest Story From San Diego Comic Con 2019

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If you’re a fan of comic books, superhero movies, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this past weekend was like Christmas, Halloween, the 4th of July, and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. The San Diego Comic Con is essentially the epicenter of geek culture. In recent years, it has only gotten bigger, becoming a staging area for major pop culture events. This latest convention was no exception.

While there was plenty of news to follow at this year’s Comic Con, especially for X-Men fans like me, the biggest event was always going to be Marvel Studios. It has already been a historic year for superhero movies, especially on the Marvel side of the genre. Shortly before the convention began, “Avengers Endgame” officially passed “Avatar” to become the highest grossing movie of all time.

It’s a good time to be Kevin Feige.

It’s a good time to be Bob Iger.

It’s a good time to be a Marvel fan, in general.

With the end of “Avengers Endgame,” however, the story that began in 2008 “Iron Man” has concluded. The Avengers assembled in a truly spectacular battle for the ages. Thanos is defeated. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is once again secure, but after making the highest grossing movie of all time, how can Marvel Studios keep raising the bar like this?

In Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center, the next phase of the MCU was finally revealed. Some of the announcements were expected. News of a “Black Widow” movie, as well as an “Eternals” movie, had already been reported months ago. News of a “Blade” movie within the MCU was more surprising, but that wasn’t the biggest story by a long shot.

By far, the biggest Marvel Studios news to come out of San Diego Comic Con 2019 was Natalie Portman returning as Jane Foster to play a female Thor. I’m not going to lie. When I saw this news, I had to blink a few times and slap myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Once certain this was real, it finally sunk in.

Natalie Portman is returning the MCU as Jane Foster to play a female Thor.

To appreciate why this is a huge deal to longtime comic readers like me, I need to provide a little context. Jane Foster being Thor is a concept that only recently gained prominence, thanks to one of Marvel’s top-tier writers, Jason Aaron.

Back in 2014, the Thor comics underwent a major upheaval. After a fateful encounter with Nick Fury, Thor suddenly became unworthy of lifting Mjolnir. It was a dramatic moment that defined the character for years to come. Then, after everyone in Asgard failed to lift the hammer, Jane Foster came along to wield it. In doing so, she became the new Thor.

If you haven’t read the first few volumes of that story, I cannot recommend them highly enough. Even if you’ve only seen the movies, you’ll still find plenty to love about these comics. They made me a fan of both Thor and Jane Foster. If Marvel Studios and Natalie Portman can even capture a fraction of this story’s greatness, then it’ll be a bold new era for superhero movies.

Now, make no mistake. Jane Foster becoming Thor was not without controversy. In fact, the timing of this story couldn’t have been worse. It came out right around the same time that efforts to promote diversity within superhero comics had become mired in regressive politics. It was a time when iconic characters were being replaced and new characters were being created, albeit with mixed results.

This is how mixed it got and NOT in a good way.

I’d rather not go into all the issues, controversies, and absurdities from that era, but I will say that Jane Foster becoming Thor was one of the success stories from that tenuous period. Her journey as the new Thor didn’t supplant that of her predecessor. If anything, it complemented his story. The title of Thor was greatly improved because Jane Foster wielded that hammer.

Now, Marvel Studios is in an even better position to do the same. The success of both “Wonder Woman” and “Captain Marvel” has established that there is a market for female superheroes. The events of “Avengers Endgame” also opened the door for someone else to step in without diminishing Chris Hemsworth’s character, who may still have a part to play in “Guardians of the Galaxy 3.”

It also helps that Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster has been MIA since the events of “Thor: The Dark World.” While her reasons for leaving were somewhat obscure, the announcement at San Diego left no room for ambiguity. She’s coming back and she’s going to play a major role in the next phase of the MCU.

In my opinion, this will go down as one of the most pivotal announcements in the history of the MCU. Why do I believe this is bigger than the Eternals, Blade, Black Widow, or any of the upcoming shows on the Disney+ streaming service? To answer that, it’s necessary to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

The Jane Foster that Natalie Portman played in the first two Thor movies is not the same Jane Foster who has established herself as a prominent force in the comics. Throughout her history, she has maintained a strong connection to Thor and not just as a romantic interest. In many respects, she has been the character through which ordinary, non-Asgardian people explore Thor’s world of gods, demigods, and monsters.

A big part of what made Jason Aaron’s story surrounding Jane Foster becoming Thor so powerful was how she proved her worthiness of that title. As a mortal woman with many mortal limitations, she embraced that role and proved herself against gods, monsters, and even other superheroes. It was easy to cheer her on every step of the way.

In any era, it’s a powerful story, having an ordinary human embrace god-like power to bear god-like burdens. In this current era of superhero movies, Jane Foster becoming Thor isn’t just a fitting, comics-accurate way to build her story in the MCU. It’s a story that almost feels necessary.

The MCU is a world that has become densely populated by super soldiers, aliens, gods, monsters, and demigods. With the conclusion of “Avengers Endgame,” the world is in a tenuous state. Friendships, families, and teams have been decimated due to the conflict surrounding Thanos and the Infinity Stones. There are voids to be filled, including a few once populated by gods.

Ordinary people becoming heroes is a story that the MCU has told many times before, the latest being “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Stories about ordinary people becoming gods haven’t been nearly as common and with the Eternals already poised to join the MCU, I think that story should play out in some manner, if only to keep humanity connected to this world.

Jane becoming the Goddess of Thunder is the perfect story to maintain that connection. Unlike Carol Danvers, Jane is not a soldier or a warrior. She’s a scientist who got caught up in the world of gods and superheroes, but she didn’t run from it in the comic. Now, armed with Natalie Portman’s Oscar-winning talent, she’s poised to make a similar journey in a world that needs new heroes to step up.

It’s an exciting, but uncertain time for the MCU. However, when you’ve got a story like that of Jane Foster becoming Thor and an actress as talented as Natalie Portman leading the way, the future has never been brighter.

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Filed under Marvel, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” Review: An Amazing Movie With One Spectacular Flaw

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In this golden age of superhero movies, Spider-Man occupies a special place. Aside from being one of Stan Lee’s most famous creations, this franchise has undergone many triumphs, failures, scandals, upheavals, and everything in between. No matter where it stands among other franchises, Marvel just isn’t Marvel without Spider-Man.

The first “Spider-Man” movie helped revolutionize the superhero genre alongside “X-Men.” It’s not unreasonable to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn’t exist without that first movie. That’s why when Spider-Man entered the MCU with “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” it carried a lot of weight.

With “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” both the standards and the stakes are higher. This movie is coming off the historic success of “Avengers Endgame” and is poised to close out Phase 3 of the MCU. It’s tasked with building on the foundation of its predecessor and dealing with the dramatic aftermath of the battle against Thanos. That’s a tall order for any franchise.

Look at this face and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you.

At the same time, it feels like Spider-Man has to be the franchise to pull this off. Between its special place in the genre and its cast of emerging stars, including the inherently lovable Tom Holland, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” feels like the only movie worthy of such a task. It has everything going for it. The question remains. Does it succeed?

In my humble opinion, I say it does, but not without some major flaws.

In terms of the big picture, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is a quality Spider-Man movie that checks a lot of boxes, both for the franchise and for the MCU. It seamlessly weaves itself into the evolving narrative of the MCU in wake of “Avengers Endgame.” The first five minutes of the movie touch on the lingering aftermath of that climactic battle. It even injects some of that trademark MCU humor into some heavy moments.

On a more personal level, Peter Parker’s story builds upon the drama of Tony Stark’s death in “Avengers Endgame.” Throughout the movie, Iron Man’s presence looms large. Spider-Man is essentially stuck in the shadow of another hero who really affected his journey as a character in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” It makes for plenty of dramatic moments that guide Peter throughout the story.

In terms of it genre, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” even succeeds in maintaining the increasingly high bar that Marvel Studios has set for its villains. While Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio won’t rank as highly as Josh Brolin’s Thanos, he proves himself a daunting foe who doesn’t just test Spider-Man. He comes very close to breaking him.

I would even go so far as to say that Gyllenhaal’s take on Mysterio is worth the inflated ticket price. He makes “Spider-Man: Far From Home” work on multiple levels. I would argue that he’s the primary reason why the movie succeeds, despite its critical flaws.

Now, this is where I’m probably going to diverge from the those who have given this movie such glowing reviews. I may even upset some of my fellow Marvel fans who recoil at the idea of an MCU movie faltering. However, I believe the flaws are there and are being overshadowed by factors beyond the scope of the movie.

To me, the biggest failure of this movie isn’t in how it tells Spider-Man’s story. It’s in how it develops Peter Parker’s story. The battle between Spider-Man and Mysterio is beautifully developed. It’s what happens when Peter is out of his mask where the story stagnates and it has everything to do with Zendaya’s character, “MJ.”

I put “MJ” in quotes because she is definitively not Mary Jane Watson, Spider-Man’s most famous love interest in the comics and the character that Kirsten Dunst portrayed in the first three Spider-Man movies. That’s not the issue, though. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” established her and Peter’s friends as something very different from the comics. It wouldn’t be the first time the MCU made such changes.

The problem with MJ, Peter, and their shared role in “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is how poorly their romantic sub-plot plays out. It’s not a trivial sub-plot, either. A good chunk of the plot involves Peter following this elaborate plan to tell MJ how he feels about her. On paper, it’s pretty romantic. In practice, it’s a catalyst for too many cringe-worthy moments.

There’s no polite way to say it. The romance between Peter and MJ in this movie is awful. I won’t say it’s as awful as the nonsensical babble we saw between Peter and Gwen in “Amazing Spider-Man,” but it’s pretty close and for the high standards of the MCU, it’s just unacceptable.

While “Spider-Man: Homecoming” did an admirable job of establishing the dynamics between Peter and MJ, it falls incredibly flat in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” In fact, if you didn’t see “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” Peter’s efforts to get with MJ seem more obsessive than romantic. At one point, he becomes downright vindictive when someone else tries to get with her. It does not reflect well on Peter.

MJ isn’t much better. Zendaya is a great actress, but she comes off as flat and unemotional throughout this movie. Say what you will about Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of Mary Jane, but she still displayed a wide range of emotions throughout three movies. Zendaya’s tone and facial expressions barely change throughout this movie.

In essence, there’s no real chemistry between Peter and MJ. Given how critical this relationship is for the plot of the movie, that’s not a trivial oversight. It frames their actions and their decisions as something petty and selfish. There’s never a sense that Peter and MJ make each other better. If anything, they’re liabilities to one another.

In both the comics and the previous movies, this is not how the romantic sub-plots play out. While Spider-Man’s relationships have always complicated his efforts to be a better superhero, they ultimately make him stronger. They make his decision more heroic and his triumphs more satisfying. In “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” the romance was more a handicap than a challenge.

Compared to how other romantic sub-plots in the MCU, Peter and MJ’s is by far one of the weakest. It’s established that they’re attracted to one another. That’s the critical first step in any romantic sub-plot. However, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” skips the part where they actually start caring for one another before they develop deeper feelings.

Again, that’s not a trivial oversight. Compare that to other relationships like Starlord and Gamora, Pepper Potts and Iron Man, or even Thor and Jane Foster. It starts with attraction. The characters flirt and tease one another. Then, at some point, that flirting turns into genuine care. They show concern and emotion when they see one another in danger. From there, deeper feelings emerge.

None of that happens with Peter and MJ. Their interactions lack drama, which limits the personal stakes for Spider-Man’s battle against Mysterio. It helps that there are other personal stakes besides MJ that guide this struggle. If anything, those stakes would be a lot more powerful if the sub-plot with MJ were completely removed.

As bad as this romantic sub-plot is, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” still works because so many other elements of the movie are well done. Mysterio is a great villain who really capitalizes on the post-Thanos landscape of the MCU. Peter’s supporting cast, from his teachers to his Aunt May to his best friend Ned, all get a chance to shine. They help give this movie the right impact.

Compared to other Spider-Man movies, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” definitely exceeds the quality of the two “Amazing Spider-Man” movies that came before it. I would also say it’s slightly better than “Spider-Man 3,” albeit barely. If I had to score this movie, I would give it a 6 out of 10. It’s great, but not amazing.

For the MCU, especially after “Avengers Endgame,” the standards for a great superhero movie have never been higher. This movie met many of those standards, but a major flaw in a key sub-plot kept it from exceeding those standards. While I doubt this will hinder the franchise, I believe it’s a flaw that will only get worse if it’s not addressed in the sequels.

If you see the mid-credits scene, then you know what I’m talking about.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Marvel, Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies

Why Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique Is The Best Version Of The Character

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Everybody has at least one unpopular opinion that draws ire from the vast majority of people. I’m not referring to extreme political stances, though. Those who identify as full-fledged communists, anarchists, or theocrats are more defined by an ideology than an opinion. I’ve shared plenty of opinions in the past, some of which I’m sure qualify as unpopular.

Regardless of what those opinions entail, I’ve tried to make my point and most of the time, I can find a substantial group of people who share my views. It’s part of why I enjoy doing what I do. However, there’s one particular opinion I have that might be the most unpopular position I’ve ever held.

It has nothing to do with politics or ideology. It has to do with comics and superhero movies, another popular topic I’ve discussed many times before. I’ve shared it before in other forums and in almost every case, I have a hard time finding anyone who agrees with me. Knowing how dangerous it can be to share unpopular opinions on the internet these days, I’m going to take a chance and share it here.

I believe that Jennifer Lawrence’s take on Mystique is one of the best version of the character in any medium.

I’ll give X-men fans, comic book fans, and fans of superhero movies a moment to stop fuming. Take all the time you need. Believe me, I’ve heard and read all the vile insults you want to throw at me. Before you flood the comments section with a fresh batch of frothing hate, please hear me out because I feel like there’s a point worth making here.

If not, please take this stunning image as a consolation prize.

Before I get into the details of the comics and movies, I freely acknowledge that Jennifer Lawrence is one of those high-profile celebrities for which many have mixed opinion. Ever since she rose to fame, she has been a polarizing figure. People either love her or hate her with very little in between.

Regardless of how you might feel about her, as an actress, there’s no denying that she played an instrumental role in revitalizing the X-Men movies, beginning with “X-Men: First Class.” As Mystique, she succeeded a very popular version in Rebecca Romijn, who set the precedent for blue-skinned shape-shifters who favored nudity. However, there was one important distinction with Ms. Lawrence’s version.

Unlike Ms. Romijn, and every other version for that matter, Ms. Lawrence’s take on Mystique included a backstory that provided unprecedented depth for the character. That story, and the depth that came with it, proved critical in the role that this Mystique would play in “X-Men: Days Of Future Past.” I would go so far as to argue that both movies work largely because of how Ms. Lawrence carried this character.

I can probably find more than a few people who agree that Ms. Lawrence’s Mystique was important in making her first two movies in the role work. Where I probably lose those people is when I go a step further and claim that this version of Mystique is superior to most other versions.

Some might call that hyperbole and maybe it is, to some extent. I still contend that there is an argument to be made and anyone familiar with Mystique’s history in the comics can appreciate it. I doubt I’ll change anyone’s mind, but it’s that very history, or lack thereof, that helped make Ms. Lawrence’s take on the character so compelling.

Mystique, like many other comic book characters, has a history that is more convoluted than most. She’s been around since 1978, but in all that time, her character has never been developed beyond a certain point. In fact, in the grand scheme of Marvel’s vast universe, it’s remarkable that she has managed as well as she has with so little backstory.

There’s no canonical information about where she was born, who her parents are, or even how old she is. She has never appeared as a child or a teenager. She’s always been an adult who goes by the name, Raven Darkholme. It’s not even clear that’s her actual name. Being a shape-shifter, it’s impossible to tell.

Beyond her unexplored history, Mystique’s personality has been pretty flat over the years. She’s a villain. That much is made clear. However, her brand of villainy is not nearly as refined as others. She’s basically a sociopath whose only purpose in life revolves around tormenting the X-Men, especially Wolverine.

How she goes about it varies, but why she does it rarely gets explored. Granted, there have been times when she has joined the X-men, but it never lasts and often ends with her betraying them. It has happened so often that it’s somewhat predictable. Even when it seems like she has undergone some major growth, she always ends up regressing back to her psychotic ways.

She still looks sexy every step of the way.

That’s not to say she has no depth. Being the biological mother of Nightcrawler and the adopted mother of Rogue has been a major source of drama over the years. Her romantic and sexual entanglements have also been colorful to say the least, albeit not always in a good way. However, this drama rarely ever adds depth to her villainy.

While Rebecca Romijn’s version had some nuance, especially in the second movie, she didn’t deviate much from her comic book counterpart. For three movies, she was one of Magneto’s top henchmen and little else. Jennifer Lawrence’s version of Mystique dared to be more than that.

The first minutes of “X-Men: First Class” did more for Mystique’s backstory than three movies and four decades of comics had done to that point. It established her as a mutant who’d run away and had nowhere to go, something that has real-life parallels for certain minorities. From there, she develops a close sibling bond with James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier, which does plenty to develop his character as well.

However, what truly makes this version of Mystique special is how she grows over the course of several movies. Like her comic version, she shifts her allegiances repeatedly. She starts off as an ally of Charles Xavier. Then, she leaves and follows Magneto. Eventually, she returns to Xavier’s side, but not without undergoing major personal upheavals.

In both “X-Men: First Class” and “X-Men: Days Of Future Past,” she finds herself at a crossroads on multiple occasions. Sometimes, she walks a more villainous path. Other times, she’s more virtuous. They’re all contingent on difficult choices and, regardless of where they take her, there’s an underlying sentiment to those choices.

In “X-Men: First Class,” she chooses Magneto because she believes Charles wants her to hide her true form. In “X-Men: Days Of Future Past,” she choose Charles because she realizes the consequences of her actions. Friends and enemies alike try to influence her. When she finally makes a choice, it feels like something a real character would make.

In the comics, you can always assume Mystique will make villainous choices and be right most of the time. With Ms. Romijn’s, you can assume she’ll choose whatever Magneto chooses and be right, as well. The choices of Ms. Lawrence’s Mystique are truly uncertain and for a character defined by her shape-shifting traits, that’s more than fitting.

It wouldn’t be accurate to call Ms. Lawrence’s Mystique a hero. In “X-Men: Apocalypse,” she resents that label. It wouldn’t be accurate to call her a villain either, even though she doesn’t always side with the X-Men. She adapts to whatever her situation requires, like anyone would expect of a skilled shape-shifter. It’s an understandable, and even admirable, take for a character in a superhero movie.

While her ultimate fate was tragic, as revealed in “Dark Phoenix,” her journey has been remarkable. Regardless of how the events of “Dark Phoenix” played out for everyone else involved, it’s still the most complete story that Mystique has ever had. That’s why I feel Jennifer Lawrence’s take on Mystique is the best we’ve seen to date.

That’s not to say she’s without flaws. I don’t doubt that her diminished role in “X-Men: Apocalypse” undercut her development. Even with those flaws, she’s still more balanced than anything the comics or previous X-Men movies have given us. Whatever happens with the X-Men as they joint he MCU, I hope Ms. Lawrence’s Mystique inspires the future of the character for years to come.

To all those who disagree with me, and I’m sure there are many, I welcome your comments and thoughts. I only ask that you keep it civil.

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Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Marvel, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, X-men

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

“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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Final “Dark Phoenix” Trailer Is Threatening (In A Good Way)

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These are wonderful, exciting times for fans of superhero movies, unless you’re a Hellboy fan. “Avengers Endgame” is poised to break all sorts of box office record. The Disney/Fox merger is complete. On top of all that, “Dark Phoenix” is still set to come out on June 7, 2019.

While some have opinions on this film that are petty and unwarranted, I’m still very excited and not just because Sophie Turner is flexing some cosmic sex appeal. This movie is poised to be the last of the X-Men movies that began way back in 2000. While I can understand why some are eager to jump ahead to the X-Men joining the MCU, lets’ not forget that there would be no MCU without the first “X-Men” movie.

It was X-Men that helped usher in this golden era of superhero movies. Now, both “Dark Phoenix” and “Avengers Endgame” promise to usher in a new era. As such, the final trailer for “Dark Phoenix” dropped today and it promises closure, along with cosmic threats.

Sophie Turner has never looked more menacing as Jean Grey.

Tye Sheridan has never looked more determined as Scott Summers.

Between them and the wondrous dynamic between James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, this movie has everything necessary to cap off this era of X-Men movies in all the right ways.

I know “Avengers Endgame” will break most of the records and make more headlines. However, I believe “Dark Phoenix” will ultimately have a greater impact when all is said and done.

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

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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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