Ready For Endgame: Thor And Captain America: The First Avenger

There are certain movies that are very hard for me to separate from the first time I saw them. These are usually because of the people I saw them with, or because I saw them as a kid. But with Thor and  Captain America: The First Avenger, it’s really because of timing.

People might not remember that these movies came out within months of each other, when The Avengers was a certainty but still a whisper. And everyone was still scoffing at them. “Right, like a Thor movie is going to work.” And because I was getting ready to finish my English Lit degree, I even added, “what is Kenneth Branagh doing?” (The film nerd in me was less skeptical about Joe Johnston because I’d grown up with The Rocketeer, and that the guy who made that was making a Captain America movie made perfect sense to me.)

But there’s something about these movies and the way that they act as a doorway for the MCU and the fact that they came out the summer I finished college that feels kind of perfect to me. There’s of course my epic, “Glen literally pulled Chrissy and me out of a bar at the end of a bar crawl to go see it,” Thor story. He was pissed as hell, because we hadn’t told him we were going on the crawl, his words, “I’d have gotten tickets for tomorrow if I’d known this was your plan.” Of course our very cogent response was, “PFFFF, we’re not that drunk! Let’s get pretzels, and HOLY SHIT THAT IS ONE HOT MAN RIGHT THERE ON THE MOVIE SCREEN!” I told this story in my toast at their wedding. I left out the hot man parts. The fact that these two people are parents now brings me such joy.

Captain America, I saw with my friend Lisa, which was the first time we’d hung out since graduation. I then saw it like 5 more times, because I wasn’t really working that summer, so had a bunch of spare time. It was what cemented Cap as my Marvel Guy. (At the time Batman was still my DC guy. I hadn’t fully fallen for Dick yet.) And whenever I go back and look at Phase 1, I realize it’s still the movie that I’ve watched the most. (Iron Man is close behind, btw.)

Anyway, my personal experience of these films aside, they’re both solid, and deeply enjoyable. Thor especially, is a treat. I think people tend to forget how charming it is. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are all in on Thor and Loki from their first moments on screen, and while it’s small scale is probably because no one was sure if this whole thing was going to work, it’s in the movie’s favor that it gets a quiet intimate scene where Thor explains the nine realms to Jane on a rooftop, or Thor and Selvig getting drunk together, or Sif, Loki and The Warriors Three sitting beside a fire discussing Thor’s banishment. Branagh uses his Shakespearian ear perfectly in these scenes, letting them breath and the actors relish in their ridiculous dialog, and melodramatic plots.

 The MCU in general is a miracle of casting but Captain America: The First Avenger might be the most clean example of this. Everyone in this movie is pitch perfect for it’s throwback tone. None more so than Hayley Atwell and Chris Evans though. Dear lord are they magical. Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers might be the only two love interests I’ve ever cosplayed BOTH of, because I love them both so much. (Having cut my hair again, I might bring Peggy back this year…) But seriously, there’s so much about this movie that’s absolutely right, that I have trouble not smiling.

I’ve written literally thousands of words about The MCU, and it’s hard to explain though, that the reason is because of these two movies and the people I was hanging out with at the time being so excited for them. I seriously doubt I’d have gone to see them in the theater if it weren’t for these folks, which is why it’s very hard for me to separate the movies themselves, which are great, by the way, from the experience of watching them for the first time. So I fail as a critic in this essay, because I’m too attached. (Also, if I’m frank, I watched them on a Saturday afternoon and I’ve had some wine, and I’m a little buzzy. Blogging is all about honesty right?)

Next week we talk about The Avengers, which, if you’ll recall was the first movie I ever reviewed here on The Fangirl’s Dilemma, and that was 10 years ago and that is disgusting. 

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Don’t Be Robin, Be Someone Else

I’m the first to admit that my hype for Titans went from, “THIS IS GOING TO BE GREAT,” to “Oh no,” to “people are saying it’s pretty good and I’m getting DC Universe for Young Justice: Outsiders anyway, so I’ll get around to it.”

Look, that “Fuck Batman,” trailer was rough, no way around it. And I’m still not sold on the designs for Starfire and Beast Boy. And that Donna Troy never suits up is kind of a bummer. (Spoilers, sorry…)

But, Internet Nerds, we have greatly misjudged this show. It’s pretty wonderful. As an adaptation of Teen Titans, it’s only OK, but as a genre show in it’s own right, a version and riff on the concept, it’s good. It’s full of game performances, excellent character work, and a steady build up of suspenseful writing leading to a hell of a cliff hanger.

I’m not going to say it’s the best first season of a live action superhero show. Daredevil season 1 exists after all, but it’s damn sure of it’s self and super entertaining all the way through, which is more than I can say for any other DC TV project from the past 10 years. (I loved the first seasons of The Flash and Supergirl but they still had their bumpy finding their feet moments.)

And it has it’s problems. The costume designs really are awful. Minka Kelly’s wig as Dove is one for the DCTV bad wig hall of fame. Geoff Johns seems a little too happy to drop the F-bomb. It’s refreshing that the young heroes actually talk like young people, but it’s also, you know, kind of heavy handed at times. The FX are laughably bad at points. The violence is a lot, but not unexamined. I was mostly concerned about this from the perspective of Dick.

Kori and Rachel (Raven) being more violent is consistent. Starfire, being an alien and all, has different values about life than humans do. Raven’s powers are all about darkness and containing bursts of violence. Titans examines both of these perspectives, Rachel desperately trying to contain her power, and Kori accepting it as a part of herself.

Dick though, it’s handled masterfully. The show begins by showing it’s been a year since he walked away from being Batman’s partner, because he felt himself losing control. But he’s basically addicted to the violence, and he’s not happy about it. The entire season and his entire arc (and the show really does belong the Brenton Thwaites) is him grappling with this side of himself. He knows he can’t really be Robin anymore, but he doesn’t know how to deal with this any other way.

This all really hits home in two episodes, which are easily my favorites, episode 6, “Jason Todd,” and Episode 8, “Donna Troy.” Jason, a year into his tenure as Robin is eager and excited to spend time with his predecessor. Dick is mostly annoyed by Jason’s, well, Jason-ness (Seriously, he’s perfect.), Bruce’s seeming trust of his new partner, (“You’re allowed to drive the Batmobile?”) and most especially, the kid’s sanity and safety. I burst into tears when Dick warned Jason, “the cost is too great.” THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW  THE COST YET! Even in Dick’s “darkest timeline,” created in his mind by Trigon in the finale, Jason is paralyzed, not brutally murdered, then resurrected and insane. (This show is uniquely well set up to do Red Hood as a storyline though.)

“Donna Troy,” meanwhile, just made me gloriously happy as a Dick Grayson fan. Donna’s retired from being Wonder Girl, but she’s still doing her part, and working as a photographer. Dick goes to see her, they talk a lot, there’s a really good flashback to when they were kids where she gives him a pep talk and there’s also a scene where they go to a party and Dick babbles like an idiot to some unsuspecting friends of hers. He says things like, “my dad used to work with her mom sometimes.” (STAHP! MY FANGIRL INSIDES CANNOT HANDLE IT) She says things like, “Wonder Woman was created to protect the innocent, Batman to punish the guilty.” They giggle and do backflips, they track down some big game poachers. They drink beers and confide. This is a very good depiction of friendship between superheroes.

Also, Donna continues to be awesome throughout her run on the show.

So, to recap, things that Titans isn’t great on

  • Design – It’s an ugly show. That can be improved as we move forward though. I also did like Jason’s Robin suit.
  • Effects – They’re groan worthy in places, but again, now that it’s a hit (apparently? Streaming’s weird that way) maybe they’ll get a budget increase to help with that.
  • Tone – Scale back on the angst a bit, it worked but tipped too far a few times

Things that are good

  • Characters & Writing – Everything’s consistent and well thought out.
  • Violence – It’s a violent show, but it actually grapples with that violence. Which is a nice change of pace.
  • Dick Grayson – Seriously, this is a very good version of this character. Who I love. Kind of a lot. 

BIRDS OF PREY!!!!

It’s happening you guys.

Warner Brothers has officially green lit a Birds Of Prey movie.

I’ve spent the past 24 hours freaking the frak out about it.

The BOP lineup is apparently set. Margot Robbie is going to be producing as well as featuring as Harley Quinn, and apparently there’s going to be a villain, “we’ve never seen on the big screen before” (This is both exciting and kind of a bummer, because I was really hoping it would be the Birds VS Harley and Ivy)

I’ve wanted this for a very long time, but let’s get into the lineup:

The Huntress -Helena Bertinelli

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It appears they’re going Helena Bertinelli, which is fine? I like both versions of the character, but I prefer Helena Wayne. Her backstory is much more fun, and her relationship to both the vigilante world and the crime world a delight. (Bruce Wayne is her dad, Selina Kyle is her mom) But Bertinelli’s good too, and hey maybe they’ll go with her Grayson  spy backstory rather than her “mob kid decides to fight crime” one? That could be cool

Batgirl – Cassandra Caine

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YYYEEESSSSS! While Cassandra is the Batgirl I know the least about, this gives me a good excuse to dive into her stuff. What I do know? She’s a straight up BADASS. Raised by her league of assassin parents to be the perfect weapon, she was also kept from speech and verbal communication. This makes her a body language expert, and kind of weird about like, people.

Also, she’s Asian, which means it’s a representation win.

Renee Montoya

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We don’t know whether Renee will be Detective Renee Montoya of the GCPD or The Question but either way I’m on board. Renee’s a great character with some fun stories to tell and like Harley, I’m pretty sure she’s a BTAS original, which is fun.

AND OF COURSE!

Black Canary – Dinah Lance

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Look, y’all know how I feel about Black Canary. She’s my signature cosplay, a character who pushed me to look beyond the A-List to DC’s deep and fascinating B-List characters. Dinah’s a great fighter, has a really cool power, a distinct and fun costume look. (If they skip the fishnets a la Arrow, I’ma cut a bitch) Not to mention she’s been leading the Birds for most of their best iterations.

I’m very very excited about this movie. Like dance around my room excited. Pull out my platinum blonde wig and give a Canary call excited. I was already planning on bringing the costume back this year. (HOORAY FOR SIGNIFICANT AND CONSISTENT WEIGHT LOSS!) Of course DC has taught me to be cautious with said excitement, but I have faith in Margot Robbie as a producer. She has very good instincts.

What was the cost?

Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War is very good and very surprising and you should go see it.

It is a very good part 1 of a series finale. The performances are all great but especially Josh Brolin and Zoe Saldana.

If you don’t want Avengers: Infinity War spoilers I suggest you take your butt some place else because I am not ok and this is now a place place for others who are not ok.

OK?

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E

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G

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I think I might have been OK if it weren’t for Spider-Man. Seriously. I mean, the Not OK began when Thanos killed Loki and Heimdall in the first five minutes, cemented when he sacrificed Gamora to obtain the soul stone being kept by a specter of The Red Skull, but I could have handled that.

But man, when Peter looked at Tony and said he didn’t feel so good, I LOST it. And then Bucky AND Sam, AND T’Challa AND Wanda AND all of the Guardians except Rocket and Nebula?

Somewhere George RR Martin is shaking his head and shooting off an email to Joe And Anthony Russo and Kevin Feige asking who hurt them?

Then we got the post credits. It is deeply fitting that Nick Fury’s final moment is an aborted mumbling of the word “motherfucker” AS HE PAGES CAPTAIN MARVEL.

Yes, Carol’s gonna fix this because she has to.

Look, the movie was great. I can’t wait to watch it again and be traumatized all over again.

Rankings:

  1. Avengers: Infinity War

Trailers!

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Aless and I have workshopped some alternate names for this movie that we are very excited to see: Lando! Khaleesi In Space, Woody In Space, The Young Chewbacca.

Deadpool 2: Just, holy shit, it looks good.

Venom: I mean fine, I love Tom Hardy, it looks freaky but awesome.

The Meg: YOU GUYS IT’S A MOVIE WHERE RAINN WILSON AND JASON STATHAM FIGHT A GIANT SHARK BECAUSE GOD LOVES ME. THIS IS GOING TO BE MY NEW FAVORITE FOREVER.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: God it looks so dumb. Like SO dumb. I’m gonna love it so much.

Wakanda Forever

You guys, this movie.

This movie.

It’s really, really good.

This movie, by the way is Black Panther. It’s directed by Ryan Coogler. It’s starring a young woman named Letitia Wright.

Oh, OK, technically it’s starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. But mostly. Leitia Wright as Shuri, Princess of Wakanda. Everything about this movie is awesome, but she is the awesomest, and I know that’s not a word.

She’s smart and funny, and she knows how to get under her brother, T’Challa, King of Wakanda’s skin, and oh yeah, she’s also a tech genius and total badass.

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Actually every woman in this movie is a badass. That’s Shuri, getting geared up for a fight with Nakia, played by Goddess Among Us Lupita N’Yongo.

Seriously, I was already excited to go into a movie that was guaranteed to have tons of “No White Guys,” moments, but OMG there are moments where not only are there no white guys, but there are NO GUYS AT ALL. Seriously, at least twenty minutes of this two hour long movie are just badass black women talking to eachother. And it’s NOT EVEN LIKE IT’S A BIG DEAL.

Aside from my particular political reasons for loving this movie, it’s just a really good movie. Chadwick Boseman is great. Michael B. Jordan is great (natch). Ryan Coogler is a very good director who is excellent at working inside of a formula while still reinventing that forumila. (Creed anyone?)

Anyway, back to Shuri, who is now my favorite Disney Princess. (SHE IS TOO A DISNEY PRINCESS!) I keep thinking about her as an aspirational figure. She’s a princess, she’s a warrior, she’s a scientist (SHE FIXED BUCKY!) and she doesn’t take crap. I’m not a sciencey person, but I know that whenever someone asks me why I want to be a writer I explain it’s because I saw Little Women when I was seven because I wanted to be Jo March. I keep thinking about all the little girls who will fall in love with Shuri because of her humor and her heart and her bad-ass-ness, and will want to become scientists like her and my heart explodes.

I think even more about how each of the women in this movie gets to be different, they can have conflicting goals and loyalties. And it’s fine.

Also, there is a white guy in the movie. And he’s played by Martin Freeman! And he’s a pilot. (I think this is hilarious since the various black dudes in the MCU are pilots. Rhodey, Sam…uh, that’s it, right?)

Black Panther is worth the hype, I should write a proper review, and I probably will after I see the movie a second time today. (WOO HOO NO WORK FOR ME TODAY!) But for now, I just wanted to bask in how awesome it was.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Guys, it’s been a while since I did a post like this, but it’s all I can think about and OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!

We’ve known theoretically that Captain Marvel was coming for a while, but there’s been like, no movement on what the movie was actually going to be. Well, that’s not totally true. We knew it had Brie Larson (YAY!), we knew that she was going to be fighting Skrulls. (YESSSS!) we knew that it was going to take place in the 90’s! (SUPER BESTEST BECAUSE KAMALA! And also the possibility of both Spice Girls songs or Meredith Brook’s “Bitch.”) But beyond that we hadn’t even gotten a post credits scene with Carol. (Aless and I have a policy of saving popcorn to throw at the screen each time.) And it sort of felt like it was never actually going to come.

But now we have a picture. And it’s perfect.

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I love her 90’s hair! And I love that the suit is Kree Armor (though if she’s not in the Red, Gold And Blue by the end of the movie, I’m going to be a bit disappointed.) But OMG! You guys, it’s real. It’s happening. We have the Captain!

The Road to Infinity: I am Iron Man

Iron Man

So, I’m rewatching all of the MCU movies. Some one them, I will be watching for the first time since I saw them in theaters. Some of them, I have watched a zillion times.

Iron Man, is one I’ve watched a zillion times. Everytime, I am reminded of why this is the movie that launched an empire.

It’s really, really solid. The script is good, the performances are excellent, and the effects still look a lot better than a lot of what you see in most superhero movies. (They are also used quite sparingly.)

And Good God, is Robert Downey Jr. excellent in this movie. He’s just astounding. Over the course of 20 films, he’s given a mix of good to phenomenal performances as Tony Stark, but this original one is the phenomenal one.

Also, I will never, ever let anyone say a bad word about Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, or generally as an actress. (Gwyneth Paltrow as an insufferable internet personality, sure, fire away! SHE has time to do Yoga everyday AND raise her children!) She’s such a bright spot in every scene she’s in and she really does look like she’s having a ball.

And this movie has a social conscious that I always forget about. I don’t just mean, Tony’s realization that he’s complicit in a cycle of violence that will ultimately lead to the creation of The Avengers, the signing of the Sokovia Accords and his mentorship of Peter Parker, but I mean the scene on the roof.

While at a benefit Tony and Pepper have a romantic moment, and she is immediately uncomfortable. When he tries to brush it off she insists that they discuss it, that the power differential between them (he’s her boss!) makes where it was heading inappropriate. And, this is the important part, Tony backs off. Granted, he finds out that his mentor is trying to take away his company (and murder him) but still, he backs off, until they can have a real conversation about it.

I love Tony and Pepper.

Anyway, I also think that people don’t give Jon Favreau enough credit. Iron Man moves well, manages to stay small enough and big enough in the right places and somehow, hits every note perfectly. The impact of these decisions cannot be overstated, as they shaped the other 19 movies substantially. (Though even in The Incredible Hulk, made the same year, things are ramped up a bit…)

Overall, I was wary about diving back into the MCU, I don’t know how all of the movies are going to hold up. (I am SUPER  nervous about watching Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World again, because OMG…) But I’m glad to know that Iron Man holds up and knowing how this story winds up going is an excellent beginning.

Plus, you guys, Phil Coulson, showing up for the first time, so unassuming at first and then such a complete and total badass.

We’re here to talk about “The Avengers Initiative.” Let’s get moving!