The following video is from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It is my full review of “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Please note that this video has major spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie, you have been warned. Also, it’s a great movie! You should definitely see it the first chance you get. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: MCU
Some movies just never get a fair chance to succeed. It’s sad, but unavoidable sometimes. There are just too many forces working against certain movies and too many people have already primed themselves to hate it before they ever see it.
Sometimes, those movies go onto become cult classics. It just takes time for people to rediscover the movie and appreciate it for what it achieved. That is my sincere hope for “Dark Phoenix,” a movie I’ve praised before and even done YouTube videos about. I genuinely believe that this is a movie that fans will appreciate more as time goes on.
It had so many things working against it. It just never got a fair chance because of the pending Disney/Fox merger. I feel like it got critically panned for reasons that had nothing to do with the actual quality of the movie. Fans and critics alike just decided to hate this movie because it was part of a dead cinematic universe and it wasn’t in the MCU.
That’s a bullshit reason to hate a movie and most reasonable people understand that.
Now, I believe the time is right for “Dark Phoenix” to get another shot. That’s because today, “Dark Phoenix” has officially arrived on Disney+ and anyone who never gave it a chance when it came out can truly judge for themselves.
If you have a Disney+ subscription, I highly recommend adding this movie to your queue. Forget everything you’ve heard from the critics. Forget the popular perceptions surrounding this movie. Just check it out and see for yourselves.
I believe that this movie’s worth will reveal to a new audience. I also believe the time is right because we haven’t had much news about the future of the X-Men movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We know they’re coming. We just don’t know when or what form it’ll take.
Since it’ll likely be a while before we see any mutants show up in the MCU, the time is right to appreciate what the Fox movies gave us. Many of those movies are already on Disney+ and I think “Dark Phoenix” is the hidden gem the franchise needs right now.
Again, just give it a chance. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it.
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s another video about comic books, which shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point. It’s also about Victor Von Doom, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been following this site for any extended period. This video is actually based on an article I wrote a while back, but with a few tweaks here and there. Given his eventual arrival into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I think the time is right to celebrate why he’s such a great character. Enjoy!
You don’t have to be a lifelong fan of superheroes to know the role that secret identities play in their over-arching narrative. It’s one of those story elements that often goes hand-in-hand with a hero’s journey. Part of becoming a hero involves forging an identity and, more often than not, this identity can’t function alongside the one they start with.
It’s a story that has roots in the early days of modern superhero comics. It wasn’t just a common plot point. It was practically a given. It was as necessary as capes, colorful costumes, and punishing masked criminals.
From a practical standpoint, having a secret identity has some legitimate merit. There are things Bruce Wayne can do as Batman that he cannot do and vice versa. The same goes for Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and many other iconic heroes. In “Batman Begins,” Bruce Wayne set the stage for his secret identity by crafting Batman as a symbol, one that conveyed an idea that went beyond the person in the costume.
In recalling that scene, I think that idea was more prophetic than Christopher Nolan initially intended. When I look at how secret identities have come to define many characters, I believe they’re more important today than they have been in any other era.
I don’t just say that as a long-time fan of superhero comics who has used his knowledge of the genre to explore serious issues. I believe that we, as a society, are entering uncharted territory when it comes to how we manage our identities. The influence of the internet, social media, and an increasingly connected world is more powerful than any fictional hero. It’s already finding its way into superhero media.
This topic became especially relevant for Superman fans because back in late 2019, the release of “Superman #18” officially revealed Superman’s identity as Clark Kent. Now, it wasn’t not the first time Superman’s identity has been exposed, but this time it wasn’t a gimmick. Now, Superman had to learn how to be Superman without a secret identity.
Over the past decade, the value and vulnerabilities of secret identities have been under fire. One of the most jarring moments of the original “Iron Man” movie was the very end when Tony Stark didn’t attempt to hide the fact he was Iron Man. For those not familiar with the comics, it might not have seemed like a big issue. Trust me, it was a major shift.
While Tony Stark debuted as Iron Man in 1963, his identity didn’t become public until the early 2000s. That’s nearly four decades of him operating with a secret identity. In the context of his journey, this was not a trivial decision.
What happened to Spider-Man at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” was even more jarring. While his secret identity has been revealed many times in the comics, it’s almost always retconned. Like Batman and Superman, he has to have a secret identity. He has to have a civilian life that’s separate from his superhero life.
There’s even a notable episode of “Superman: The Animated Series” in which Superman flat out admits that he’d go crazy if he couldn’t be Clark Kent. Think about that for a second. Superman, one of the most powerful and iconic superheroes of all time, admits that can’t handle a life without a secret identity. This is someone who can handle Lex Luthor, Darksied, and Brainiac. If he can’t handle it, then what hope do we have?
That question might not have been too relevant 20 years ago. Before the age of smartphones, broadband internet, and social media, a superhero might have been able to get away with having their identity exposed. You could say the same for anyone who happened to have a dirty secret or a double life. Whether it was an affair or a secret hobby, you didn’t have to work that hard to keep it secret.
Back then, not everyone had a fully-functional camera in their pocket or a means of sharing their media on a mass scale. Even if someone did manage to take a compromising picture or video, it wouldn’t be a huge revelation unless it was published by a major news source and even then there was no guarantee it would have staying power, especially if other major stories broke at the same time.
Now, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can capture compromising footage of anyone and share it with the world in seconds. In the world of superheroes, it makes keeping an identity harder than ever. Spider-Man found that out the hard way at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Ordinary people and major celebrities are finding that out as well in the real world.
The internet and social media has created an unusual, yet potent system that skews the dynamics of having an identity, secret or otherwise. On one hand, it’s easier than ever to create an anonymous persona on the internet. With that persona, people are unbound by the propriety of real-world interaction.
It’s part of why the comments section of any website or social media feed is full of deplorable rhetoric that highlights the worst in people. Ordinary people can use the anonymity of the internet to say thing they would never say to another human being face-to-face. At the same time, celebrities and people of influence have the opposite problem.
In this hyper-connected world, every word and every action is permanently archived and subject to greater scrutiny. Every mistake or misstep is amplified and blown out of proportion. Every bit of subtext and nuance is completely lost in the various biases and agendas of the public. In essence, public figures have little to no control of their identity. They are very much at the mercy of how others perceive them.
That kind of scrutiny can have benefits and drawbacks. You could argue that the added scrutiny of social media has held celebrities and people of influence to a higher standard. They can no longer operate in the shadows with impunity. Dirty secrets will come out. Bad behavior will be documented. The O.J. Simpsons and Bill Cosbys of yesteryear could not get away with their deplorable behavior in today’s environment.
That may be a good thing on some levels, but it comes at a cost and not just for those who have had their lives ruined by the internet. In a world where anonymous identities are easily created and valued identities are easily ruined, how can anyone hope to maintain a balanced perspective? Whether you’re an accomplished celebrity or just some random blogger, don’t you still need a persona that feels true?
For people who are stuck in difficult situations, such as those belonging to racial, religious, or LGBTQ minorities, having that secret identity might be the only one that feels true or genuine. If that gets exposed, then those individuals could be in legitimate danger. There are parts of the world who will punish these individuals in ways far more serious than online trolling.
In the past, these kinds of people didn’t have an outlet or a means of connecting with others who share their struggles. They either had to organize in secret or set up their own communities, which often meant making themselves real-life targets. The ability to create an identity, secret or otherwise, can be a powerful mechanism for helping people forge an identity that feels true to who they are.
To some extent, superheroes embody the importance of these identities. They can’t do what they do without them. They can’t remain connected to the people and the world they’re trying to protect if they’re always in costume, trying to maintain this persona they’ve created. Without it, they become disconnected and overwhelmed. As a result, they can’t be the heroes they need to be.
For people in the real world, having these identities is more important than ever. You don’t have to be a superhero to appreciate their value, but as our world becomes more connected, it’s become a lot easier to understand why Spider-Man and Batman work so hard to preserve their secret identities.
The fact they still struggle, despite having super-powers and billions of dollars, is a testament to just how difficult it can be. As the world becomes increasingly connected and increasingly tribal, it’s only going to get harder.
When we have two things we love, it’s only natural to look for a way to combine them. Without that inclination, we wouldn’t have such wonderful combinations like chocolate and peanut butter or beer and buffalo wings. It’s almost an instinct, mixing the things we cherish in hopes of compounding the joy.
As a fan of romance and superhero movies, I’ve certainly had this inclination before. I’ve built dates around going to a superhero movie. When I was with my ex-girlfriend, we would organize our evenings around a particular superhero movie or TV show that we both loved. It made for more than a few memorable moments, the details of which I’ll save for my novels and sexy short stories.
I know I’m not the only one who enjoys mixing date nights with superhero movies. The massive box office haul generated by superhero movies essentially guarantees that at least one couple has built their date night around them. I have friends and relatives who have used superhero movies, both in the theaters and at homes, to supplement their date night.
With this being a thing in our current cultural landscape, I thought I’d craft my own short-list for the best superhero movies to see on date night. Keep in mind, this list isn’t about which superhero movies are the best or most entertaining. These are the movies that evoke just the right combination of emotions that help make a romantic evening more intimate.
It doesn’t have to involve a major romantic sub-plot, although that helps. It also can’t be all spectacle and flare. There’s a time and a place for those kinds of movies, superhero or otherwise. For date night, the goal is to stir up passion and inspire romantic moments. Having seen pretty much every superhero movie multiple times, and also being a fan of romance, I feel uniquely qualified to craft such a list.
What follows are my top 5 superhero movies for date night. I imagine others will have a different list. I’m sure plenty will strongly disagree with my choice and ranking. That’s perfectly fine. This is just my assessment on which superhero movies are best suited for a fun, romantic date night. Enjoy!
Number 5: Captain America: The First Avenger
For those who cheered Captain America on in the final battle against Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame,” it’s easy to forget that he had a long journey to becoming the living legend we known and love. That journey began in “Captain America: The First Avenger” and while it didn’t gross $2 billion at the box office, it gave everyone a reason to root for Steve Rogers.
A big part of that journey involved a romantic sub-plot that was simple, basic, and inherently lovable. Before he became a Captain, Steve Rogers was just a lanky soldier who set his patriotic eyes on the beautiful, charismatic Peggy Carter. She wasn’t just a pretty face, either. She played an integral part in helping Steve become the hero he sought to be. It’s a beautiful story that just happens to have romantic undertones.
There’s plenty of action. There’s plenty of intrigue as well, in that this movie helped set the stage for the first “Avengers” movie. However, the heart and depth of Steve’s love for Peggy strikes all the right chords. It makes Captain America’s journey more personal. He’s not just this paragon of American ideals. He’s a man who seeks to serve his country and love a good woman.
It’s a simple story with lovable characters. That’s an essential combination for any successful date night movie.
Number 4: Wonder Woman
There are a lot of things that “Wonder Woman” did well. For a movie that had so much riding on it, both for the superhero genre and for female superheroes, the success it achieved at the box office is nothing short of remarkable. It’s only fitting that it checks most of the boxes for a good date night movie.
It’s an epic story full of gods, monsters, war, and humanity. Yes, there’s a great romantic sub-plot mixed in with Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, but that sub-plot works because everything around it works. They both navigate unfamiliar territory together, sharing both the journey and the drama. Along the way, they help one another. They learn from one another. They make each other stronger.
At its core is the sheer heart it conveys. It has always been Wonder Woman’s greatest strength and this movie does everything necessary to capture it. Any couple seeing this movie will find moments that will make them smile and fill them with the urge to cuddle. The epic battles that Wonder Woman leads, along with Gal Gadot’s wonderful performance, is a nice bonus as well.
Number 3: Dark Phoenix
As big an X-Men fan as I am, I’ll be the first to concede that the movies have been hit or miss over the years. Some have been great. Some have been nauseatingly awful. However, even the most acclaimed X-Men movies rarely have the attributes of a good date night movie. That changed with “Dark Phoenix.” Of all the X-Men movies not associated with Deadpool, this one has all the traits of quality date night movie.
It’s not just a superhero movie. It’s not just a re-telling of one of the X-Men’s most iconic stories in the Phoenix Saga. This is a movie built on high drama and powerful emotions. Much like the Phoenix Force itself, the strength of the story and the characters involved stem from emotions. There’s love, loss, anguish, and sacrifice. Tears are shed, anger is shared, and the pain is palpable.
These are all core aspects of what made the original story in the comics so endearing. They’re also the sentiments that make a great date movie. The story isn’t all world-ending spectacle. It’s personal and emotional. What happens to Jean Grey and her friends in “Dark Phoenix” is both dramatic and powerful. It evokes the kinds of feelings you want to share.
There are plenty of other elements in this movie that are worth praising. I covered many of them in the review I wrote for this movie. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call “Dark Phoenix” the best X-Men movie, I’m comfortable saying it’s the best X-Men movie to share with a date.
Number 2: Deadpool
This is one of those movies that caught a lot of people by surprise in the best possible way. Without a doubt, the first “Deadpool” wildly exceeded everyone’s expectations, from X-Men fans to romance fans to fans of anything associated with Ryan Reynolds. Between the box office it generated and the praise it earned, it’s easy to forget that this movie is built around a love story.
That’s not just the musings of a self-professed romantic. That’s exactly what the movie says through Ryan Reynolds’ uncanny charm. Even the marketing for this movie teased its romantic undertones and for good reason. As funny, crude, and violent as Deadpool was, the movie was still built around romance and it was built well.
The love between Wade Wilson and Vanessa was genuine, sexy, and sweet. A lot of Deadpool’s motivations and antics were a direct result of his love for Vanessa. It’s the kind of love story that will make you smile, laugh, and even gag a bit. For any couple looking for a little of everything in a date night movie, “Deadpool” delivers all that and then some.
It’s the kind of romance that’s genuinely fun. No matter how serious you are with your lover, it’s important to have a little fun and “Deadpool” never misses an opportunity to have fun. That kind of spirit can only help anyone’s date night.
Number 1: Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Finding the perfect date night movie isn’t easy. Finding one that has just the right amount of fun, entertainment, and dramatic impact can test any couple’s patience. Sometimes, a movie is too serious and ceases to be entertaining. Sometimes, a movie is too theatrical, so to speak, and the drama just feels flat. Striking that balance is very challenging, but “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” proves it’s not impossible.
Of all the superhero movies I’ve seen, few hit me with as many feels as this one and it did so without going too heavy on the romance. While there were plenty of romantic elements throughout the story, the greatest strength of this movie was how it gets you to care about these characters. The fact that they include a talking tree, a rocket with a machine gun, and a guy named Taserface is secondary.
This movie had plenty of colorful moments that were funny and quirky. Like its predecessor, it dared to have fun with the genre. However, the fun never got in the way of the drama or the characters. There were elements of family, including parents and sibling rivalries. There were secrets and revelations that hit you in all the right ways. Even when you re-watch the movie, it still has an impact.
It evokes a wide range of feelings, more so than a typical romance movie. The sheer breadth of those feelings is what makes “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” an experience worth sharing. If you’re with someone who appreciates those feelings, then this movie will do plenty to satisfy. It’s the kind of movie that you can still enjoy by yourself, but it’s best when shared with someone special.
As I noted earlier, this is just my personal list. If you think there are other quality date night superhero movies, please make your case in the comments. I’d love to hear them. Given the rich slate of superhero movies planned for the coming years, this list is sure to change.
The following is a YouTube video from my channel, Jack’s World. It is my full video review, reaction, and eager speculation for the first season of “Loki.” Of all the Marvel shows that have come out to date, this one might be the most impact. It’s not unreasonable to say that this show has changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe forever. To appreciate just how much it changed, I will include plenty of spoilers in this review. I also won’t stop myself from gushing with excitement. Enjoy!
These are exciting times for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and fans of superhero media, in general. The COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted and delayed certain plans, but things do seem to be back on track. The success of the recent Disney+ shows and the release of “Black Widow” are encouraging signs that the MCU will continue to grow, evolve, and bedazzle.
However, if the MCU is to continue its unprecedented streak of success, it’ll have to address one massive Thanos-shaped hole that has remained since “Avengers Endgame.” Even as it introduces a new generation of characters while continuing to explore others, it’ll still need one key detail to keep the awesome flowing.
It needs a powerful, over-arching villain who will require the Avengers to assemble once more.
That is no easy feat to pull off. Thanos set the bar very high through three phases of MCU movies. He raised the bar for villains of all kinds, both for the MCU and for movies in general. He presented a threat that required the full force of the Avengers to stop. That’s why so many of us cheered during the climactic battle in “Avengers Endgame.”
The idea of any character presenting a threat like that is difficult to imagine. However, Marvel Studios has proven time and again that they can keep raising the bar. It certainly helps that Marvel has no shortage of villains from the comics, but the recent events of “Loki” have already revealed that one in particular is poised to become that next great threat.
He was already confirmed to show up in “Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” He also has been cast to an accomplished actor in Jonathan Majors. Most importantly, he’s a character who has a lengthy history in the comics of being a huge threat to both the world and the multiverse. Much like Thanos, he has often required the Avengers to assemble in a big way in order to stop him.
By almost every measure, Kang has a lot going for him. He even has more to offer in terms of overall complexity. Both the comics and the “Loki” finale mention that Kang has multiple version of himself. You could argue that’s one of his most defining characteristics. Since he’s a time traveler, there are a near infinite version of him with varying levels of power, motivations, and malice.
One could be Immortus, who often carries himself as Kang’s final form.
One could be Iron Lad, a younger version of Kang who tries to walk a more heroic path.
One could be Rama-Tut, a version of Kang who ruled Ancient Egypt as a pharaoh.
It’s that flexibility that puts him in a unique position to be the MCU’s next great villain. It’s also something that helps him stand apart from Thanos in a big way. Thanos was big, bad, and menacing, but there was still only one of him to deal with. There are many version of Kang. Some are potential allies while others could be an even greater threat than Thanos. That could add a lot of drama and tension to every battle.
Since the rise of more complex villains like Killmonger and Baron Zemo, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made a concerted effort to give depth to their villains. Kang, given his many variations, is in a better position to provide that than most villains. You can have version of him trying to avoid his ultimate fate of becoming a ruthless conqueror doing battle with others who’ve already embraced that fate.
In the comics, this has always been a major struggle for Kang. It’s also a personal struggle and the Avengers often get caught up in it. As shows like “WandaVision” have so nicely demonstrated, Marvel Studios have shown how much they can milk a personal struggle for emotional resonance. If they can do that with Kang in a way that builds further drama with the Avengers, then they could set up something every bit as epic as “Avengers Endgame.”
That is likely the ultimate goal. However, there’s still a chance this effort could fail or fall short of Marvel Studios’ lofty standards.
I offer this possibility as both a long-time Marvel fan and one who isn’t too big a fan of Kang. In fact, I’ll go on record as saying he’s one of my least favorite villains. My reasons are purely personal. I just think he’s one of those characters who’s too malleable. He’s also one of those characters who do a lot, yet still ultimately achieve so little.
That’s just an unpleasant side-effect of him being a time traveler. While plenty of other Marvel characters travel through time, Kang really overdoes it. You could argue it’s the only truly defining aspect of his character. As a result, it could also be something that seriously hinders his story.
It’s not unusual for stories involving Kang to get confusing and complicated, even by time travel standards. It’s also exceedingly common for his time traveling antics to be solved with more time travel. Every time he seems on the cusp of defeating the Avengers, something happens that either changes the timeline or undoes everything Kang did to that point. He’s one of those villains who can do a lot, but leave a very limited impact.
That’s why I’m not too fond of him. Too much of what he does is easily erased or retconned by more time travel. On top of that, his reliance on time travel basically guarantees that you’ll be confused by the sequence of events within a couple issues at least. I can’t imagine it being much simpler over the course of multiple big budget movies.
That’s not to say he can’t work as the MCU’s next main villain. Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige have proven time and again that they’re capable of making these seemingly impossible stories work. They were able to transform Thanos into this death-obsessed madman into someone with more complexity and emotional range. If they can do that with Thanos, then who knows what they can do with Kang?
Hopefully, we’ll find out soon enough. Jonathan Majors has already given us a taste in “Loki.” I look forward to seeing something even bigger in “Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” These are exciting and chaotic times for the MCU. Only time will tell how chaotic it gets and for a character like Kang, that’s all too fitting.
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It is a full, spoiler-filled review of “Black Widow.” After multiple delays and a global pandemic, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is back. Was it worth the wait? Does it measure up to previous MCU movies? Does it give Natasha Romanov the appropriate send-off she deserves? These are all questions I try to answer in this review. Enjoy!
For nearly two decades, X-Men fans like myself have known only one Wolverine on the big screen in Hugh Jackman. In that time, we’ve had three don the mantle of Spider-Man, two as Superman, two as Batman, and even two as the original X-Men cast. The world of superhero actors is dynamic, to say the least. Long-term stability is the exception, not the norm.
However, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is one of the greatest exceptions of all time. Multiple generations of fans know no other Wolverine and the idea of casting someone else to don those adamantium claws just feels wrong. Despite plenty of casting rumors, no one can forget the high bar of snarling, swearing berserker rage that Mr. Jackman set for 17 years.
Now, he’s toying with our collective hearts once more. In a somewhat cryptic post to his Instagram, Jackman showed an image of him and Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige, along with some iconic Wolverine artwork by BossLogic.
Needless to say, it garnered a hell of a reaction. I’m not gonna lie. My heart definitely skipped a beat when I saw this. As much as I love the send-off Jackman’s Wolverine got in “Logan,” a part of me still wants to see Jackman play Wolverine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since Disney didn’t complete its purchase of Fox until after “Logan” came out, it seemed like an impossible dream.
Now, this cryptic post does not confirm anything. Kevin Feige, Disney, and Marvel Studios are notorious for their secrecy. You’d probably have better luck getting information out of the CIA at this point. That said, I’m inclined to believe Feige and Jackman knew what kind of reaction they’d get by posting this. This was not an accident. It may just be a stunt, but a part of me believes it might be something more.
That’s not to say it means Hugh Jackman is signing onto do another six Marvel movies as Wolverine. That’s just not gonna happen, given Jackman’s age and the training it takes just to be Wolverine. If he thinks he can do it, then more power to him. I’ll be the first to cheer him on. I just think it’s more likely that Marvel Studios wants a fresh start with Wolverine and all things X-Men.
However, that doesn’t mean they won’t acknowledge the past cinematic successes of X-Men. Since Jackman was part of those successes, I think it’s likely he will make a few Stan Lee style cameos at some point. That leads me to believe that this post teased a possible appearance in the upcoming “Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” Since multiverse is literally in the title, it may be the case that the world of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is just one of the universes that story will reference.
If that means seeing Hugh Jackman as Wolverine again, even if it’s brief, then that alone will be worth the ticket price.
If it means something more, then that’ll be a hell of a bonus.
I’m not getting my hopes up for the latter, but I’ll be plenty satisfied with the former. There’s also a chance that this is nothing more than Jackman capturing a nice moment with someone he’s known for over 20 years. If that’s the case, then I’ll be disappointed, but not enough to stop loving Hugh Jackman and all the wonderful years he gave us as Wolverine.
The following is a video/mini-documentary that I made for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. I’ve actually been working on this video for quite some time now. I feel it’s finally ready for release. It’s a grand overview, as well as my own personal take, on the brief, but impactful rivalry between the Inhumans and the X-Men. It’s also me making the case that this was a case study in how not to develop a rivalry.
Please note that, while I tried to be fair and objective, I couldn’t help but go off-script in a few areas. Trust me. You’ll know it when you see it. I still try to tell the story of this rivalry in as fair a way I could. Enjoy!