My Thoughts on the MCU (Context Post) by R.P. Lauer - Distant Web

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My Thoughts on the MCU (Context Post)
My Thoughts on the MCU (Context Post) by R.P. Lauer - Distant Web
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4/29/2019
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I started writing up a Spoiler Dissection for Avengers: Endgame, and as part of that I started going through some of the MCU movies and giving my thoughts and opinions on them for the sake of context, where they differ from the 'standard' consensus. At least, what I consider to be the standard consensus anyway. Well, that got to be way longer than I expected, so I decided to cut it out all together and give it a life of its own here.

Adding to that, I also said screw it and expanded upon that to include ALL MCU films up to (but not including) Endgame. Before I get into that however, a disclaimer:

I am going to be foregoing my standard attempts at self-censorship. Normally I don't like using too harsh or 'naughty' of language, especially when posting publicly (with some acceptations of course). But this will be a special case as I just don't know if I'll be able to help myself. Therefore, I may be using some salty language; if this offends you, you may want to stop reading here. And if you are one of those people who goes out of their way to BE offended, hoping to be offended, looking to make issues where ever they can, just fuck off right now. Yes, fuck right the hell off.

(But also, please try not to take what I'm about to say too personally. I probably went a little too rough with some of my opinions, but my intentions were never to offend)

So without further ado...

Over all I LOVE the MCU; I am SO happy that I got to live through some of what I feel are landmark events in cinematic history, at least in terms of slightly nerdy productions (I'm not talking Citizen Kane here). The original Star Wars Trilogy, the Harry Potter saga, and now the MCU and it's 'Infinity Saga'. I could go into more detail than that, but that would be a long ass posting in of itself.

The MCU has had its share of criticisms, mostly in terms of a lack of 'stakes'. People have desperately wanted to see their heroes die, and I not only deeply disagree, but I also think that they are fucking crazy! I love my heroes, and I NEVER want to see them die! I honestly don't understand why people are so bloodthirsty for the deaths of characters they claim to like.

I'm not trying to say that no fictional character should ever die, I'm just saying that when I like a character, I never think to myself 'man this character is cool, they really need to die now'. If the death ends up serving the story/plot in a good way, then sure, maybe. But most of the time it ends up at least seeming to me like killing a character just for the sake of killing a character. That seems awfully twisted to me.

I've heard arguments that basically amount to 'realism' or something like that, which makes no sense to me. It's fiction, not reality. I myself get enough reality from, well, reality. For me, fiction is an ESCAPE from reality. I would love to hear arguments here, I really would. Just don't expect me to agree (I'm not saying I won't, I'm just saying I may not).

Another common criticism tends to be along the lines of that the main villain is just a beefed up (or identical) version of the hero. This never bothered me, especially since the movies typically do a very good job (in my opinion) of showing how and why they came to be that way. Typically speaking in those circumstances, it just makes sense to me!

Now in terms of individual movies, here we go:

Iron Man - What can I really say about this one? I think I am pretty much in line with everyone else as far as I know. It kicked off the entire MCU and it was fantastic! I don't think I hate the villain as much as most; I never cared that he was just a bulkier version of the hero. I just loved the movie a lot, and its post credit scene set the stage for everything to come (overall). Robert Downey Jr. absolutely NAILS the role of Tony Stark.

The Incredible Hulk - I thoroughly enjoy this movie. It sucks that the main actor has since been replaced in the sense that it feels a bit off now because of it, but many actors have been replaced over the years so technically this is no different. But still, no matter what, I really enjoy this movie. This was also the first one I saw in theaters.

Iron Man 2 - After my first viewing I didn't care for it, but in repeat viewings it got better and better to where I really enjoy it now. Not as good as the first, but still enjoyable. My least favorite aspect is the character of Hammer; DAMN does that guy fucking grate on me! Scarlett Johansson makes her debut as Black Widow AKA Natasha Romanoff AKA Nat, and she is fucking amazing! I have long since loved her in these movies, and I have always wanted her to have her own movie!

Thor - I FUCKING LOVE THIS MOVIE!!! I really don't understand why this movie gets shat on so much! The humor is great, the acting is great, and the characters are great! Natalie Portman is a wonderful and the chemistry between her and Chris Hemsworth is amazing! I also LOVE Lady Sif and the Warriors Three, and they NEEDED their own damned movie!!! Chris Hemsworth NAILS it as Thor. Personally I could do without Kat Dennings, but oh well.

Captain America: The First Avenger - This movie is seen as 'bad' or 'boring' to most it seems. I disagree entirely. While I don't think it's as good as Iron Man or (how I feel about) Thor, it's still really really good. Sure, the movie does 'montoge' too many moments that would have been better in more detail, but it was a long origin story and I think they did as well as they could have over al. If nothing else, Chris Evans IS Captain America; he is, in my opinion, the best cast person out of the entire MCU. And that really says something IMO, because pretty much all of the main cast members (and reoccurring side characters) have been very well cast.

The Avengers - Absolutely loved this film! Though, I do have issues with it... I don't think of Joss Whedon as being any kind of 'god'. In fact, I think just about any director could have done just as well outside of a few even worse ones like Michael Bay or Zack Snyder. The characters and the actors made this movie. But it's great nonetheless.

Minor Nitpick: I hated to the death of Coulson, and I feel it's purpose was ridiculous. His death was meant to 'unite' the team, but that's a stretch in my opinion. Cap and Bruce JUST met him for the first time ever, so would it really motivate them? Thor only had some superficial interactions with him in his film, so no real motivator there as far as I can tell. Tony had a little more interaction with Coulson, but from my perspective he wasn't exactly 'close' to him; in fact, Tony seemed to see Coulson as an irritation as far as I could tell. Only Nat and Clint were truly close to Coulson. Would his death REALLY be the motivator the team needed to be a team? More so than the impending doom upon the planet that the aliens represented?

Iron Man 3 - This movie absolutely sucks. It's boring, the Mandarin 'twist' was stupid as hell, and it's completely removeable. Outside of one throwaway line in Infinity War, and the kid showing up in Endgame, there is NO lasting impact and nothing of any importance happens. And did I mention it's boring? Personally it's only redeeming quality is that it included William Sadler, but he's barely in it and doesn't really add much unfortunately.

Thor: The Dark World - Not as good as the first, but still really fucking good! It has some issues, and sure, the Dark Elves kinda suck (like most Marvel villains), but it's still really good and a lot of fun. I absolutely love Rene Russo as Thor's mom. She was brilliant and her death broke my heart. This movie also gets what I consider an undeserved amount of shit.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - This is actually my favorite movie in the MCU. I just can't really put my finger on why, I just love it SO damned much! I wanted more movies with Cap, Nat and Sam. Oh, and throw in Bucky too while you're at it; post Civil War anyway...

The Guardians of the Galaxy - This was just an amazing surprise! Like most people, I didn't expect anything out of this, but this is one of my favorites of the entire MCU! Maybe 3rd or 4th? 5th Maybe? Great characters, great chemistry, wonderful humor, weak villain but who care? The dynamic between the 'Guardians' is unchartable!

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Like most people, kind of disappointing upon first viewing. It wasn't really an 'age' of Ultron, more like a moment or two. There were maybe too many moments of future movie setup. However, after Infinity War my opinion on that changed 100%. Post Infinity War it's now about a million times better in my opinion. And as a fan of Agents of Shield, I really appreciated the small amount of show crossover. Also, I fucking LOVE Scarlet Witch.

Ant-Man - I personally really loved this film as well! It's not at 'top tier' movie for me or anything, but it is still really good and a LOT of fun! Michael Pena is a fucking treasure and Abby Ryder Fortson (Cassie) is adorable! I think this movie is criminally underrated.

Captain America: Civil War - This is a mixed bag for me. Over all I do love it! The entire airport sequence is fantastic! The dynamic between Sam and Bucky is hilarious! Tom Holland's Spider-Man is probably the best Spider-Man AND Peter Parker yet in a live action setting! Paul Rudd is wonderful! Elizabeth Olsen and her Scarlet Witch is/are powerful and I fucking LOVE her/them! Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa is yet another great addition to the MCU. The final showdown between Tony and Cap/Bucky is powerful!

However...

I'm sorry, but I just don't feel like the movie did a good enough job setting up its own foundation. The idea that superheroes need to be put into 'check' is an interesting idea, but I don't think they did it very well at all. The specific examples given were ultimately bullshit. The consequences of ALL previous movies, with one exception, were NOT the result of the heroes; with the exception of Ultron, all other movie's destruction were the result of SHIELD in one way or another, and the heroes actually just saved the day. Hell, the GOVERNMENT tried to nuke New York and they are acting like the heroes did something wrong???? Ultron, well, THAT was Tony. Everyone else just helped clean up HIS mess. Oh, and Hydra helped fuck things up as well a few times...

So now let's look at the opening events of this movie. The movie wants us to feel like the heroes need to be put in check because they fucked up in the beginning. But, did they? Sure, Cap hesitates when Crossbones mentions Bucky and Wanda throws an exploding Crossbones up in the air which takes out part of a building, killing some inside. But no matter what Cap did, Crossbones was going to explode. Had Wanda NOT done something, he was going to explode right there, at the base of that very same building. Had that happened, that ENTIRE building could have collapsed, potentially killing EVERYONE inside! Not to mention everyone on the street close by; they're all dead now... So is that better then? Personally, I don't think so.

So when you look at it, TONY is the only one that really needs to be put in 'check'.

You could call that nitpicking, but the way I see it, that's the entire foundation to the conflict of the story. You HAVE to nail the foundation if you want the rest to hold up.

FUCK, I went WAY too long on that. Anyway, I do love Civil War, I just don't think it sold its own story well enough. Moving on...

Doctor Strange - After Civil War, it's actually kind of nice to go back to just another stand alone story. This movie adds a new layer of magic to the MCU, and it works great! The climax is new and refreshing, and Benedict Cumberbatch nails the role!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 - Over all I do like this movie, but it has a lot of issues. The humor is way more hit and miss, the 'gold people' are annoying as fuck! They actually drag the whole thing down in my opinion. They are a joke that falls pathetically flat and were completely unnecessary. But the main Guardians are great, and Mantis is a perfect addition to the cast. The movie does a great job with Yondu and it kills me to see him die; I would have LOVED to see him actually join the crew for the next outing. And the movie adds a great layer of dynamic with the sibling rivalry between Gamora and Nebula. I just really wish the Gold People had either been less of a bad joke, or removed entirely.

Spider-Man: Homecoming - All I can really say is that I absolutely loved this film! Michael Keaton is brilliant and delivers one of the few truly great villains of the MCU. The humor is fantastic, the story works well, and the performances are off the charts! My only beef is that I would have preferred a Spider-Man that made his own suit that was more than just pajamas, even if it WAS inferior to what Tony would ultimately provide. I know it kind of had to go this route because of how Spider-Man was introduced, I just would have liked to see him make his own suit or something. Oh, and Marisa Tomei's last scene fucking killed me!

Thor: Ragnarok - I fucking HATE this movie! SO much! This movie was awful, start to finish, and actually pissed me off! My wife and I both left the theater just livid; had we been sitting next to each other (our family were all sat between us) I have a feeling we would have left within the first 20 minutes.

Now, I loved the first two Thor films, and I accept that I am one of a very small few. Fine. But that doesn't mean they had to piss ALL OVER those movies with this parody! The humor was juvenile (we see the total destruction of Asgard and that is used as the setup to a bad joke), the direction was crap, the story was all over the place ('Ragnarok', the title of this movie, is a side-note), and ALL of the characters were just shadows of their fomer selves! As I already stated, I LOVED Lady Sif and the Warriors Three. At first I was pissed that Jaimie Alexander was not going to be reprising her role as Lady Sif. But after seeing this movie, I'm glad she didn't, because I'm sure she would have been killed off in a stupid ass way like her Warriors Three were.

The pacing was horrible as well with just about every scene trying desperately to finish as quick as possible to get to the next leaving NO time to let anything sink in. Doctor Strange (the movie) teases a team up, but his character's involvement is almost as short as it's mid-credit sequence and feels significantly sped up.

And what pisses me off the most about this movie is how important it is to the Infinity Saga; it's basically a MUST watch to get from Ultron to Infinity War. FUCK THIS MOVIE!!!

Black Panther - This one is tough. I feel like there are too many politics behind this movie to really talk about it honestly. However, I will say that I did enjoy it quite a bit. I just don't think it was nearly as good as most other people said it was. The CGI was inconsistent; it went from being really fucking good to pathetically bad which is just jarring.

The story was weird because parts of it are really good; the antagonist is great as are his motivations and experiences. But some of the aspects were kind of confusing and it's hard to summarize. After T'Challa's father was killed, he was made 'King', but he also needed to be approved by all of the different tribes first, yet he was still given the power juice just to have it taken away for the ceremony? That was a little convoluted in my opinion.

Add to that the extent that vibranium became a 'cure-all' and it's a little too plot convenient, even FOR a superhero/comic book movie. It's also a little too 'meme heavy' (WHAT ARE THOSE????). But, it's still really good with some great performances.

Infinity War - What can I really say about this? It's a damned near perfect (MCU) movie! It starts off with all cylinders firing, and just keeps that momentum through pretty much the entire movie! It also gives us probably the single greatest villain in ALL comic book movie history (not just the MCU) who really and truly drove the story throughout. My only beef is with the ending, in that they went a little TOO far showing just who got 'dusted'.

The second I saw Black Panther turn to dust, I knew that ALL who were dusted and about to be dusted were going to come back in the end. It killed ALL weight and tension that had been built up the entire movie. I would have preferred to see them NOT dust Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man, at minimum, until Endgame. Give us SOME dusting, and then let us get a full death count at the start of the next movie (aka Endgame). That one thing, in my opinion, would have made the movie SO much better!

Ant-Man and the Wasp - Why the hell do people hate and/or knock this one so much?? Sure, Infinity War was an impossible act to follow, so if you were expecting it to be just as 'epic', that's kind of on you!

This was a fun movie, just like its predecessor (Ant-Man of course) and it was, in my opinion, a perfect cleansing of the pallet after Infinity War; it resets the scope of the MCU to something more manageable.

All returning cast members are just as fantastic as they were before, and Laurence Fishburne and Hannah John-Kamen are welcomed additions! Michelle Pfeiffer was unfortunately underused, but that was kind of to be expected I think? I don't know, I just really enjoyed this movie.. It's not one of the best, but it's also not one of the worst. It's above average in a series of great movies!

Captain Marvel - Oh fuck! (More politics, YAY!) I think I have to either absolutely love or absolutely hate this movie, right? Wrong, fuck you if you actually thought either of those things!

It was really good. But it was neither great, nor awful. It's biggest problems for me are all of the 'prequel-moments'. You know, those moments where they feel they have to prove to you it's a prequel to a franchise by showing you something you never wanted to know about an origin of something you have seen before? This movie does so much nudging I left the theater with some massive bruises on my ribcage from all the times the movies stopped in its tracks to jab me in the side while winking.

Other than that though, it was really good and a lot of fun! Maybe a little too dark at times (as in the lack of light, not metaphorically). Brie Larson was wonderful as Carol Danvers and I don't know WHAT movie people were watching who said that she was stiff and had no personality, but it wasn't this movie! Are you sure you didn't walk into Glass instead? I haven't seen that one yet myself, I'm just guessing.

Anyway, it was also nice to see Coulson back on the big screen again, even if it was WAY too little. Nick Fury was fantastic as always and the Skrulls twist was surprising!

So this all just leads to the Endgame. Before I finish up here, however, I'd like to go ahead and throw out some random thoughts. Probably mostly about characters I didn't already touch upon.

Idris Elba's Heimdall - I fucking LOVED Heimdall and I would have loved to have seen more of him! I've read that Idris Elba did not care for working with Marvel, and I'd be interested to know why (as of this posting, I do not know the story there). It actually saddens me that his experience was so bad (assuming what I read was correct). If I had to pick a favorite moment, it would be when he takes out that invisible Dark Elf ship in Dark World.

Coulson - I fucking LOVE Coulson. His death in the first Avengers movie pissed me off, but I was happy to see him on the smaller screen, though I would have loved to see him come back to the big screen, other than the few seconds here and there in Captain Marvel.

I hated the pilot for Agents of SHIELD, both times I tried to watch it. But after the second viewing attempt, I pushed through (Netflix) and forced myself to keep going, and I'm glad I did. AoS turned out to be fantastic, in my opinion, and it did NOT take a full season, or even half a season, for it to get good! Honestly, within a few episodes after the pilot, I was already finding myself looking forward to what was to come, and I was hooked not long after! AoS is also criminally underrated!

Pepper Potts/Gwyneth Paltrow - I also LOVE her! Her chemistry with RDJ/Tony is endearing! I was sad to hear her leaving the franchise, and was beyond thrilled to have her back with Homecoming! It was also a massive surprise to me because I had avoided spoilers apparently. More on her when I talk about Endgame...

Peggy Carter/Hayley Atwell - More love here as well! It saddened me with the way the story went, as Cap becoming a Capcicle meant leaving her behind to the past. Her show was good (not great unfortunately, but still good), but I started to get the feeling that the Russo's hated her; first her lying in bed, old with dementia (that scene broke my heart) and then they killed her. But, maybe, just maybe, they don't hate her after all?

Since I'm on the first Captain America movie, let me add that Tommy Lee Jones was fucking bad ass (as usual) and I would have loved to see more of him, as well as Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos (their cross over in Agent Carter was the highlight of that show IMO)!

Edward Norton vs Mark Ruffalo - This is tough. As I said, I really enjoyed The Incredible Hulk; I think it has an undeserved bad rap. And I really liked Ed Norton in it, a LOT. However, if I'm honest, I can't picture Ed Norton doing as well in the 'ensemble' films. I think he works best as the star, or close to 'the' star. Mark Ruffalo, on the other hand, did extremely well in the mix of Avengers. We'll probably never know, so I have no answers there. But I liked Ruffalo and I will not say who I think is better because I honestly just don't know.

The Russo Brothers - Personally I think that the Russo's have done probably the best job in terms of directing and world building, outside of the writers, obviously (and of course Kevin Feige who has played puppet master to all of this). Some of the absolute best character (Hero/Villain) introductions come from his movies; Winter Soldier, Falcon, Black Panther, Spider-Man, to name a few. Just think about the first time you see those specific characters (the personas/alter egos if you will). The action sequences they put together are also some of the very best of the MCU.

The part in Civil War where everyone is chasing Bucky and he takes that motorcycle from a passer by and hops on it was just mind blowing in my opinion!

Conclusion

It's really past time to wrap this up. I could go on and on, I really could, but I need to stop; this is already too damned long. I had really tried to keep this short, I really did (at first). But I really do just love these movies (mostly) SO much! I know that these are not the best that 'cinema' has to offer, but they are not just dumb action flicks either. And these moves really do excite me like few others have over the years!

The wait for Endgame (and Infinity War before it) has been so hard for me, and I honestly cannot wait to see what's next for the MCU. I am afraid that from here on out, it just won't compare, but even if that is true, at least I have these 22 movies (more or less) to keep watching!

(As I said before, please try not to take anything I said too personally. I wasn't trying to piss anyone off, I really wasn't. I just get so wrapped up on my head when it comes to these movies; they really have been a continuing source of joy, and sometimes anger and/or disappointment for me. If you liked the movies I hated, or hated the movies I liked, so be it. It really is fine if we disagree. You're just wrong and that's ok.)

Thank you for reading! Next up will be a Spoiler Dissection for Avengers: Endgame!

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