Marvel Musings #9: Thor: The Dark World

Thor Dark World 1I feel as though the moral of every Thor movie is this: You can’t trust Loki.

You just can’t.

It doesn’t matter that he occasionally does the right thing. He could save your life at one moment, just to turn around and disembowel you the next. Hm, he’s a little like Ray Donovan that way. He might love you dearly, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to let you stand in the way of his own desires.

It doesn’t help matters that Loki gets most of the best lines, and that Tom Hiddleston plays the role to perfection, with a smirk and a smile.

This was a proper adventure film, with big effects and lots of buckles being swashed.

It was grand entertainment for an afternoon or evening, but none of the film stuck with me. I didn’t find myself thinking about scenes later, turning them over in my mind and finding deeper meaning.

One could argue that the fault lies with my mind, not the movie. And one would not be wrong. My mind is like a cellar, dank and dark, filled with spiders, smelling faintly of mildew and damp earth. With a Christmas tree standing in the corner.

What were your takeaways from Thors: The Dark World?

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Marvel Musings #8: Iron Man 3

iron man 3 firstTony Stark isn’t OG, he’s OA–Original Angst.

There’s a lot to love about this movie. Pepper saving Tony. Tony’s interaction with the young boy. Even Tony’s panic attacks and lack of ability to process what just happened to him in The Avengers.

These last features allow us to see Tony as human. We already knew he was flawed, but since he’s brilliant, handsome and richer than God, it’s hard to feel sorry for him. He can buy any toy he wants, and if said toy doesn’t exist, he can invent it. He’s brilliant and driven, and frequently takes the people around him for granted. Why are we going to be in his corner, rooting for him?

In this movie, Tony becomes more human. He learns that he does have to depend on others. Sure, the storyline has to hammer him over the head with it several times, but eventually he gets it. He becomes less of an asshole.

BUT…there’s one feature of this movie that defies suspension of disbelief. Tony’s home is like a giant carbuncle on the buttocks of the California coast. You can see it from space. It’s big and gaudy and no attempt has been made to hide it. He throws parties. He has, over the years, indiscriminately invited many, many, many women back to his home for an evening of frolic.

My point? Where Tony stark lives is no secret. Never has been. But until he announces his street address on national television, the bad guys can’t find him? Pretty poor villains, if you ask me. I can’t imagine them pacing about in their secret lairs, biting their nails and wailing “if only we knew where Stark lives!” Seriously. Probably less than 5 minutes of half-hearted Googling would show you where he lived.

Which means that, as an instrument to propel the plot forward, Tony announcing is address just doesn’t work.

Another interesting note, to me at least. The first time I watched this movie (in the theater), I rolled my eyes so hard at the sight of all those suits zooming around at the end that my eyeballs almost fell out. The second time around? They didn’t bother me. Maybe I saw it as a metaphor for all of Tony’s struggles to figure out who he, the one Iron Man, really was. Maybe I was just in a more forgiving mood.

What did you think about Iron Man 3?

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Marvel Musings #7: The Avengers

As I watch the Marvel movies in chronological order, I assume that anyone reading this has already seen the series as well. So yes, there will be spoilers.

avengers 1The beauty of these movies, for me, is that you can allow yourself to be totally swept away in the action, adventure and effects. Beautiful people fighting for truth, justice, and the American way, whatever that is. Almost none of my reflections, on seeing the movies again, is what I thought the first time I saw them.

Like plot holes. The opening to this movie is so vague as to almost be nonthreatening. Someone is talking about destroying Earth, but we really aren’t clear on who or why. All of a sudden the Avenger initiative is out of business, and Nick Fury is answering to The Council. Who the what, now? And, really, it took Hawkeye to tell them that if the Tesseract is a door, it can be opened from both ends?

At one point, Fury says the attack is from Loki but not from Aasgard. But how does he know that? And why are these beings attacking Earth? Loki, a relatively new player, really has that much power, to launch an attack on a planet just on a whim? I understand that they want the Tesseract, but once Loki has it, why doesn’t he just jet off into the sunset? Surely an Earth scientist (Dr. Selvig, nice to see you again) isn’t the only being in existence who can figure out how to tap the Tesseract.

Nice to see Cobie Smulders from How I Met Your Mother fame. My first thought was, “Oh, it’s Robin!” And isn’t it lovely that everyone else is wearing a uniform, some of them with body armor, but she gets to walk around the bridge in a catsuit? Good thing those fellows shooting at her when the Tesseract is stolen are such bad shots! Maybe they learned marksmanship from Stormtroopers.

Speaking of wardrobe, last time we saw Pepper Potts she was in business suits and lovely, elegant dresses. Now she’s in a pair of Daisy Dukes smaller than most known underwear. I guess the writers assumed if she’s only onscreen for one short scene, she can’t possibly make an impact with her personality and/or intellect. Quick, for the love of the gods, man, get some skin showing!

I have to be fair now. Our first shot of Captain America is just as sexist. He’s boxing, and it’s a long, long shot of him from the back, just a man with an incredible ass punching a …well, I know he was punching something. I think.

From “Thor,” we all know Loki is twisted and cunning. In his first scene here, we learn that he’s gone from pain in the ass to full blown bad guy.

One minute of screen time for Mark Ruffalo and Bruce Banner is already more interesting that he was in the entire Hulk movie. Very grateful for this change in casting.

How does Robert Downey Junior just keep getting better looking?

When Iron Man and Thor are battling in the forest, is there a woman in the audience who isn’t rolling her eyes and thinking, “Just whip ’em out and measure them already.”

And why do we spend more than half of the movie with the Avengers fighting between themselves? There is no other way to bond? You can’t tell me Coulson didn’t have a plethora of team-building exercises up his sleeve.

We get some nice foreshadowing for the entire series of movies when Captain America tells Tony Stark, “You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play.” Sure, it fits with the ending of this movie, but it also works on a much larger scale.

Favorite scene: When Loki declares “I am a GOD,” and the Hulk picks him up and smashes him side to side like a rag doll. “Puny god,” he says.

What was your favorite scene? Do you agree with my assessments? What did I get totally wrong?

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Marvel Musings #6: Thor

We can’t leave our houses, so why not join me in watching the Marvel movies in chronological order?

thor 1Thor, released in 2011, seemed to me to be where the Marvel movies really hit their stride. They figured out how to balance a lot of action with humor, touches of romance, and a main character who actually grows and changes over the course of the film.

Thor (played by the magnificently muscled Chris Hemsworth) starts out as a spoiled brat, ignorant and entitled. And there’s so much backstory, so many threads to be pulled at in later movies. Loki (oh, that Tom Hiddleston) is devious and manipulative even before he (and the audience) unwind  how truly screwed up he is.

I really like that we saw how twisted Loki was before he even realized he had a reason to be screwed up. He likes to cause trouble just because he can. The skill with which he can ask a simple question, that will inevitably lead whoever he is speaking with down the wrong path, is magnificent. He’s one of the most adept button-pushers to ever grace the silver screen, I think. He plays on insecurities you don’t even know you have.

I loved the character of Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), because this was a woman with a job to do, and she was both fearless and relentless about pursuing her goals. In fact, charging ahead in her profession is how she meets Thor in the first place! The romantic element is sweet and slow-growing, which gave the audience time to both believe in it and root for it.

I also believe this movie is where Marvel got better at hinting about things to come. They realized Iron Man wasn’t a one-trick pony, and they could take a little more time to drop hints. We see Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye. Over the credits we see Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) being shown the Tesseract.

My immediate reaction to watching this move was this: More! Marvel! Movies!


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Marvel Musings #5: The Incredible Hulk

Marvel movies. Chronological order. Come play with me!

hulk 1The Incredible Hulk was released in 2008, and it was something I never thought a Marvel movie could be–dull. My god, what a yawner.

There were a couple of cool moments. At one point, we see a TV showing “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” an old sitcom starring Bill Bixby, who later starred in the Incredible Hulk TV series as David Banner. Also, the guard who is so easily distracted by a pizza is played by none other than Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk in the TV series. Very nice shout out there.

Beyond that, there’s not a lot to recommend this movie. It couldn’t hold my attention, the plot was muddled, the female character was nothing more than a damsel frequently in distress. Seriously, you could occasionally not run toward danger, or not throw yourself into the middle of a military operation. Because confronting your officer father in front of all his troops, and making him choose between his job and his hysterical daughter? Gosh, who wouldn’t appreciate that?

Could not wait to finish this movie and move on to the next one.

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Marvel Musings #4: Iron Man 2

Follow me down the chronological road of Marvel movies!iron 2 poster

This one should be subtitled “The Iron Man Gets a Heart.” In fact, we were sort of beaten over the head with that point. And what’s with all the reaching into that gruesomely gooey cavity his flux capacitor lives in, powering his heart?

At least Pepper gets a spine, along with some goals that don’t revolve around Tony Stark. Okay, sure, they revolve around Stark Enterprises, but she’s no longer meekly following Tony around acting like a nagging nanny. Plus we finally get an awesome female character in Natalie/Natasha. Poor Happy got his ass kicked, but the rest of us sat up straight and said, “Who is that?” Let’s see, this movie came out in 2010, so it only took ten years for the marvelous minds at Marvel to follow up and allow her to have her own movie. At least, I hope “Black Widow” is still being released this year. The character has ass-kicking sisters (as do I), and one of my favorite actors (David Harbour, love him in Stranger Things) plays her father.

In case I haven’t reminded you lately, I came straight to the Marvel Movies without reading the comics that came before them. The odd comic crossed my path when I was younger, especially Thor for some reason, but I came into these movies as a blank slate. Some would say I’m still a blank slate.

Anyhoodles, what did you think of the villains in this movie? We’ve got Sam Rockwell playing Justin Hammer, who seems to be the singular reflection of Tony Stark’s nerdy and intellectual side. Tony if he got all greedy and morally bankrupt and didn’t go the gym. Then Hammer pairs up with Ivan Vanko, played by Mickey Rourke, who is all angry passion and violent energy. Tony’s id, perhaps?

Thoroughly enjoyable movie. Shout out to Don Cheadle, another of my favorite actors, taking over the role of Rhodey. Loved, loved, loved the two scenes with Garry Shandling as not so much a villain as a thorn in the side of democracy. And Tony Stark. The two are fabulously intertwined.

What did I miss? Did you love it? Hate it? Was it meh?

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Marvel Musings #3: Iron Man

Happily watching the Marvel movies in chronological order over here!

iron manHm, so many of us watched this and fell in love with Robert Downey Jr. all over again. Although watching it now, I find myself musing over how young RDJ looks in this movie.

So his character, Tony Stark, is an asshole. It really doesn’t matter if he’s brilliant or talented, he’s still a Grade-A asshole. Compelling, handsome, charming, infuriating, and still an asshole.

The opening shot of the movie is an Army convoy traveling through a middle eastern landscape. You can tell it’s middle eastern because there’s a man in a robe herding goats. (We writers call that showing, not telling.) There doesn’t even seem to be a village or a settlement nearby, but still, gotta have those goats to set the scene.

We meet Happy in this movie, but just barely. In fact, we get introduced to a lot of characters who will be back again later, but don’t get too attached to Terrence Howard as Rhodey–this is his only appearance in that role.

Having seen this movie more than once, I think it was mostly built on Downey’s charm and wisecracks. Even Pepper Potts hasn’t grown a spine yet. She manages Tony, but her interactions with him are almost more motherly than romantic. The exception is the balcony scene where they almost kiss. She cleans up his messes, manages his calendar, nags him to finish what he started. None of that says “love story” to me.

We get a glimpse of Coulson and Fury. Teasers, since we know they’ll be back.

Sometimes I feel like this movie is more about the evolution of the suit than it is about Tony Stark. The suit changes more than the character does.

How about those ratings?
1. Captain Marvel
2. Iron Man
3. Captain America

We all loved this movie when it first came out. But now that we’ve seen how much better it can get, do we still love it like we once did?

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Marvel Musings #2: Captain Marvel

Here I am, watching all the Marvel movies in chronological order.

cap marvelThe second move was another one I hadn’t seen–Captain Marvel.

It was Marvel-ous! Although early on, when you see a holo-projection of Annette Benning’s character, I thought, “Annette Benning is playing the Great and Powerful Oz?” Not sure why they needed to alter and deepen her voice so much.

What’s not to love?

Kick-ass female lead. Strong, dedicated, striving to be her best. Subplot was her relationship with her best friend, not a romantic oogly googly. And her boss, another kick-ass woman, was played by Annette Benning.

Agent Coulson and Nick Fury – both with hair!

The cat. If you’ve seen it, you’re saying “Right?” If you haven’t seen it, you’re going to love the cat.

We are learn why Nick Fury has a pager to contact Captain Marvel in a future movie.

Visual effects were good. Nice product placement for Stark Industries.

My biggest disappointment is that we have to wait sooo long to see this character again. I don’t understand why she didn’t pop up in any of the Guardian of the Galaxy movies, given where she’s been living and who she’s been living with since her unfortunate accident.

If I was going to rank these movies:
1. Captain Marvel
2. Captain America

Of course, ranking is easy when you’re only two movies into the series.

Am I the only fan out here who can’t wait for more Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel?


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Marvel Musings #1: Captain America

For reasons beyond my own understanding, I decided to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order, instead of in release order.

Captain America

Even though I consider myself a fan of the Marvel movies, I had never seen Captain America. I’d seen bits and pieces, but never the whole thing.

First of all, kudos on the special effects. When the movie opens Steve Rogers is a short, scrawny little guy. I was all set to suspend disbelief for the transformation scene, although I did think stretching one’s bones to make them longer should be a lot more painful than his procedure seemed to be.

Nice appearance by Howard Stark, father of Tony, who will eventually become Iron Man.

Tommy Lee Jones played Tommy Lee Jones: Military version. I bought it.

The most interesting character, for me, was Agent Peggy Carter. What a dame! Fierce, confident, strong, smart, and funny. Everything you want a female lead to be. A bit sassy, but with no heavy-handed snark. Sassy and classy. A worthy opponent to her enemies, and a very worthy match for one Steve Rogers. No simpering about waiting for someone to rescue this woman!

I found the movie to be engaging, and I was glad I finally took the time to watch it. All-American hero beats up and defeats Hydra, an organization of Uber Nazis. Because that’s what you do with Nazis–beat them up, beat them down, run them out of town, and refuse for one second to tolerate their stupidity and obnoxious racism.

It’s also interesting to watch the development of Stark Industries over the course of these movies. I’m looking forward to seeing how characters evolve from when we first meet them. Although now that I’ve seen this movie, I’m not sure the character of Steve Rogers changes as much as some of the others.

What did you think of Captain America? How would the Marvel-verse be different today if the movies had started here instead of with Iron Man?

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U is for Underwear

UI think that underwear occupies far too much of our collective consciousness.

If you’re extremely lucky, you put it on in morning and never think about it again until it’s time to take it off.

If you’re unlucky, you get a pair that creeps. You’re walking down the hallway at work, perhaps slightly nervous about the presentation you’re about to give, and your underwear launches 70% of its surface area into the crevice of your buttocks.

What to do? You don’t have time to go to the restroom and wrestle it into submission. And you can’t just reach around, grab hold and give it a yank, because that’s exactly when the Big Boss will step into the hallway with the Important Client. You can’t look dignified with your hand wedged into your butt, trying to clutch at an edge, any edge, of slippery fabric.

Perhaps you have a vicious, malicious pair, the kind that will wait until you are exactly midway through standing up or sitting down to casually wrap a seam around seven unsuspecting pubic hairs and try to wrench them out by the roots if you don’t stop moving right that second.

Again, no delicate, unobtrusive way to disengage. Thrusting  one’s hand down one’s pants is frowned upon in most workplaces, public transportation and restaurants. You can attempt an Elvis-worthy hip shimmy, but likely you’ll just get things wound up tighter.

Let’s not forget to salute the elastic that gives up and commits stretchy suicide at the most inopportune moment, leading to drooping at best and falling off at worst.

For some, that delicate lace edging that looked so delicate and feminine in the store turns into a maddening itchy nightmare as soon as you’re far enough from the house that you can’t go home and change. You might end up itchy and irritable all day. You might end up with a rash and a friction burn. Underwear roulette, where nobody wins.

What about the restless kind, that seems to bunch and slide and move around as if it has attained sentience and is looking for the nearest exit? You might as well be wearing a snake down there, the way it slithers around, never quite still.

And those are just the garments on the bottom half.

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