Looks neat, although I’m disappointed in having no Shang-Chi sequel. Despite it having the typical Marvel third act, the first was a fun superhero flick that didn’t try to be everything, and Simu Liu and Awkwafina were a fun comedy duo. Maybe it’s in the cards for phase 6?
My understanding is that they’d like to do another one before Secret Wars, although I also read that they want to fast-track another Dr. Strange in there too so who’s to say what survives. I’m still upset that the third act wasn’t just a magic-free knock-down drag-out punch-up between Shang-Chi and Wenwu.
Watched Ant-Man: Quantumania with a friend. Paul Rudd is still the only person in the MCU who is funny enough to carry the jokes this universe thrives on, so the Ant-Man films are always entertaining. I liked Jonathan Majors in this much more than I liked him in Loki, gave me hope for him as a recurring villain for this phase. Not much to say about the rest of the stuff, I think ‘the quantum universe is just a planet you might see in GOTG’ is a little dull, but the Star Wars meets slugs aesthetic was still done well. Most of the side characters weren’t very interesting, but I did love the communist ants. And the infinite recursion of Scotts was a cooler concept for an action scene than basically anything in Phase 4.
Yeah, I think the secret sauce to the Ant-Man movies is that Paul Rudd is just playing Paul Rudd But Superhero and that works fine. My meta-concern with Quantumania is that this seems to be where the bar for the MCU has settled: a solid 7/10 that you can probably wait to see on Disney+. They don’t seem to have any gas in the tank for something like a Black Panther anymore. But Jonathan Majors seems like he’s having a great time in his James Spader period
Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 3 had some good scenes, strong moments, but it definitely felt a little overlong and meandering at times. Like there were two pretty decent films here that, combined, were something of a lesser product. I think having Rocket be unconscious for 3/4 of the Rocket-centred film, where we learn he’s grown since GOTG2 and could be a good leader for the new Guardians, that he can accept he’s actually a racoon… it doesn’t quite work when he only gets to actually participate in the final act of the film. And things like Peter giving him the captaincy, I think I would have liked paired with the Guardians accepting his status as an animal - him and the Soviet dog, too - and choosing to risk their lives to save the animals, instead of a bunch of human children, would have landed much stronger.
But the heist stuff was fun, and the villain was over-the-top evil in a way I think you need to do for a eugenicist antagonist. No need for a repeat of Thanos. I think I was endeared slightly more to him having seen Peacemaker, where his actor’s a fairly prominent character, and I liked his purple/tech aesthetic.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 I thought whipped hard and was so good you could probably just end your run with the MCU there. I know I’m probably out for 99% of whatever is coming next. (Wake me if they get a good X-Men movie.)
It felt like the first one of these movies in five years or more that had a creator’s stamp on. Like we got some of a Raimi movie with Dr. Strange, but it was predominately an “MCU Movie” first. Worse, Black Panther 2 was like two minutes of a Ryan Coogler movie, 99% MCU. James Gunn actually seemed to win arguments and made a movie distinctly his. It’s also the best looking one of these in a few years too, actual practical props in this thing! I’d take Nathan Fillian in a bulky muscle flesh suit that’s a real suit over ten thousand awful CG creations. Actually fun world designs and premises!
And I’m amazed by how sincere this film is. James Gunn has been a figure that’s undercut his drama in his films with jokes more than anybody. His Suicide Squad film would often crush big sweeping moments with cruel deaths for laughs. GOTG3 stays on the emotions, it hits hard, especially the tiny furry animals. This movie made me a lot more excited to see how Gunn can do a real Superman movie versus the next MCU product, that next Captain Marvel movie looks so empty in comparison.
I mean, they’re both very obviously AI generated credits (the sort of shimmer on the animation gives away that it’s all ML flow, not just some starting images they got out of a generative model to start with), and also much worse than a non-AI version of the credits would be. (In that they’re unsettling mostly because they’re from a generative model, not because of directed artistic intent.)
What’s most depressing about this is that there’s an interview with the person who commissioned this credit sequence where he comes across as completely clueless about the entire process.
I will say, it’s really weird (episode 2 of Secret Invasion) seeing someone doing fake British News reports in a TV show which don’t just have it actually be the BBC. (Secret Invasion has “CUV News”, with almost-exactly-the-same-imagery-as-the-BBC-news).
Watched the first couple of episodes of Secret Invasion. It’s nothing innovative, but it seems pretty solid so far - the behind-the-scenes issues with AI, not withstanding. Aliens aside, it feels like a fairly straight political thriller, but between having Samuel L. Jackson in the lead (and damn, does he look good as hell in episode 2!) and letting this be its genre, with a bit of the violence that entails, it’s pretty fun!
I don’t know who he is, but the actor playing Gravik did a great job selling his part in episode 2.
Not without its problems, of course. Feel pretty mixed about Maria Hill returning only to be immediately killed off, even with the standard caveat that this is a comic book show and she could return at any time as a cyborg or something. And it’s gotta be said: the writers know that there are, like, thousands of black people in Russia, right? Alexander Pushkin’s grandfather was an ex-slave; the Soviet Union had a scholarship program to bring African students to Soviet universities by the thousands.
I’ve been catching up a bit on Secret Invasion and, well…
On paper it’s basically made for me. I love spy stuff, Manchurian candidate type stories, old-fashioned cold-war style paranoia…
Yet I’m not finding this a compelling watch. There’s no pressure to move on to the next episode when I finish one and I’ve been trying to figure out why and I think it just hit me.
By the middle of Episode 3 I realised I was getting actively irritated every time Gravik is on screen, and by the end I realised the same was happening for basically every major character, hero or villain.
Fury and Thalos are pathetic. Not broken down old heroes, just sad-sacks. And Gravik is cartoonishly evil. Like OG Skeletor. And the performance is too scenery chewing, but also not enough.
Basically every character choice seems specifically designed to irritate me personally.
And something Marvel has always done well, until recently, is make interesting characters even if the movie or show they’re in isn’t much.
Yeah, I dropped off of Secret Invasion after episode 2, and I was also trying to work out why it wasn’t grabbing me (since, on paper, I should also really like the setup), and I was wondering if it was just MCU burnout (which I think is partly the case). You’re quite right though, part of the problem is how they’ve missed the mark both on Gravik’s personality and in making Fury and Talos too far towards “sad old men” (Fury has moments of demonstrating spycraft, and of course SLJ is very charismatic in general, but…). It also just feels very… made for TV, weirdly, in a way not all the MCU TV things have.
(Also, their habit of introducing characters from movies just to kill them off is cynical and offputting.)
Fury being old kinda works for me because SLJ is…well…old. But the only real evidence they have that Fury “changed” after the Blip is that he was away for a bit and gets continuously outfoxed by Gravik. It’s a fun show moment-to-moment because the cast is so good (I don’t mind Gravik being a scenery-chewing sociopath because that’s sort of what I expect out of comic book villains) but I feel like it’s not well-served by the script.