Marvel Movie Marathon: Dark World
Marvel Movie Marathon: Dark World: this is much less bad than I remember. Like, if I had to choose between watching it again and watching Iron Man 3 again I’d definitely choose Dark World.
Dark World is the second Marvel movie I hadn’t rewatched, although I’d rewatched parts of it. Going in a second time, I remembered it as half a good movie (the Thor & Loki Road Show) & half a bad movie (everything else), but honestly, it’s not that bad. It’s not *great*, and I think the Space Elvess are probably still just a really bad idea (and I’m sorry, but Doctor Who or not, Christopher Eccleston should not take/be cast in roles he has contempt for), but it’s a lot less awful than I remember it being.
Poor Natalie Portman is mostly not given anything great to do–she’s much more Damsel-y in this than in Thor–although in retrospect she’s apparently made of solid brass balls, because she manages to contain the power of an Infinity Stone for days before having it ripped out of her. And she also gets to deliver the most satisfying slap (punch?) in the MCU, when she decks Loki. And she does get to be funny again, before the Aether gets hold of her and reduces her to Fainting Damsel. And I *want* Natalie Portman to get to be funny, and to be able to loosen up, and do the things that were taken away from her thanks to instant childhood fame. So I appreciate that.
Poor Chris Hemsworth does not get to spend nearly enough time half naked. I mean, come on, he worked so hard for it, surely we should get to appreciate his effort a little longer, right? I’m sure I’m not being selfish here. But he’s actually quite good being the mopeish lovelorn prince, and then the chemistry between him and Tom Hiddleston, well, I mean. *just throws my hands up* You know what I mean, right? I mean, ye gods. But really, I’m impressed at how much maturity Thor’s achieved over the course of his three movies so far. It’s a big change, and it’s cool to watch the character arc.
The whole schtick with the hammer is still really funny. :)
There is no ‘poor’ appended to Tom Hiddleston in this film. He just gets to go straight for the bone and hangs on savagely throughout. Like: in Thor, Loki uses the illusions on him and in Avengers he asks if Thor will ever not fall for that, right? And I was like “hahahaha it paid off!” in Ragnarok, except it turns out it pays off in Dark World, too: “No more illusions, brother!” So Thor *does* see through it, which means in Ragnarok Loki ought to be prepared…but the thing is, of course, Loki’s not really willing to see that Thor has changed, and he’s never been able to see that regardless of what Odin thinks, Thor has always loved him best. “Trust my rage,” is one of his strongest lines, and–I mean, he knows he got Frigga killed. That rage is real.
And speaking of Frigga…I’ll never forgive them for killing her, but the fact that she died in defense of Jane, a woman she’d just met, but mostly importantly, a woman, is pretty good. It’s not very often we get to see women defending other women in film, especially in battle, and we got a lot of it on a lot of levels in this movie. Jane/Darcy, Jane/Frigga, even Jane/Sif, although Sif is SO JEALOUS of Jane. So that’s a real strength of the film, and I appreciate it.
Anyway, yes, so, a lot less bad than I remember, which is a nice surprise! And now with only a month to go before Infinity War, we’re down First Avenger, Iron Man, IM2, Thor, Avengers, IM3, and Dark World. Winter Soldier (which still holds my #1 spot in the MCU) is up next, and then apparently Chronologically Speaking we’re supposed to sideline off to GotG V 1 & 2 before Ultron. Time is growing short, though, and if we have to skip the GotG flicks, I’ll live with that. (No I won’t. We’ll just watch one every night, if we have to, I bet. :))
Marvel Movie Marathon: Iron Man 3
Marvel Movie Marathon: Iron Man 3: meeeeeeeeeeeeh.
This is the first of the MCU films I’ve only seen once, out of the 18, and it’s because my original feeling on the film, which apparently matches my rewatch feeling, was, “Meeeeeeeeeh.”
There were many things I liked. I thought dealing with Tony’s PTS was great and important. I liked that a lot. I loved Ben Kingsley. I LOVED SEEING PEPPER IN THE IRON SUIT AND I STILL WANT A RESCUE MOVIE JFC MARVEL JUST SUIT UP AND TAKE MY GODDAMN MONEY ALREADY altho I did notice literally everybody post-Tony who puts on an iron suit seems to instinctively know how to use it (Stane, Rhody, Guy Pearce whose character definitely had a name besides “creepy greasy haired dude”)…except Pepper. Pepper, who lives with Tony, does not know how to use the suit. Which sucks. But let’s put that aside for the other things I didn’t like.
God, I hated the kid. I hated the kid so much. Not the kid himself, he was fine, although he would have been 100% cooler and more agreeable to me if he had been a she which I thought he was in the first moments he was introduced, but the child’s presence at all just…I hated it. I mean, I can see the argument that the kid’s incessant questions forced Tony to deal with his trauma in a way no adult around him would, but I. hated. the kid. I felt like the kid was a cheap trick to earn audience sympathy and bleh bleh bleh cloy ugh agh i hate it. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate. Hate hate hate.
I also haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated that apparently Tony somehow harnessed the Extremis…stuff…at the end to not only cure Pepper but also himself (I’m not sure it’s *said* in the film, but the implication is very, very strong, that that’s what’s happened), which means that he’s essentially created a universal panacea and…nothing is ever done with that. I hate that a lot. Because it’s big and important (and I mentioned this on Twitter a couple nights ago when a discussion of IM3 crossed my timeline seconds after we’d finished watching it, and, unbeknownst to myself, I was responding to someone Far More Famous than I am, and he replied to me (with “comic book science!” which is totally legit in terms of why they do what they do but is still ANNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOYING) and anyway for a while my mentions totally blew up and I was kinda O.O, it was funny :) and *mostly* the MCU is very good at following through on things, so dropping that like a hot potato just got right up my nose. She said, mixing metaphors in an actively painful fashion.
Also, this time I noticed there was a blonde woman reporter asking Tony questions and it *wasn’t* Christine Everheart, which makes me really sad, because she totally deserved to be in the third movie.
My favourite moment in the whole movie was, and remains, “Oh my god. That was really violent!” when Pepper went all Extremis Superhero on everybody’s asses, because I thought, “Wow. That was really violent for Pepper!” and I was really grateful and amused that the character recognized it too. :)
But yeah, no. I wanted so much more for Pepper. I want a Rescue movie, simple as that. Give me an all-female Avengers line-up. Gimme Rescue and Widow and Shulkie and Wanda and Wasp and I will be *here* for it, because…I want more, man. Me and goddamn Ariel.
Really, though, out of the…6? Yeah, 6. Out of the 6 MCU movies we’ve watched so far, IM3 is far and away my least favourite.
But that’s okay, because we’ve got Thor: Dark World coming up next… o.O
Marvel Movie Marathon: Avengers
Marvel Movie Marathon: Avengers: I love this movie.
I would have loved writing this review more if my browser hadn’t eaten it when it was halfway written, but I’ll try to recreate it with as much enthusiasm as the first go had. :p
The truth is I was really not confident about Avengers. I’ve watched a lot of Joss Whedon’s stuff, but I’d never drunk the Kool-Aid, and I was grimly afraid we were going to end up with Magic Widow the Superhero Slayer for this movie. We didn’t, and I’m still both astonished and grateful. I read a while after the film came out that Joss (or someone with enough influence over him) had looked at the early cut and thought “this movie has too much Joss in it” and subsequently left 20 minutes or so on the cutting room floor. If that’s the case, it’s a rare instance where I’ll doff my hat to Joss Whedon, because normally ego would override that kind of decision, and it was to the betterment of the film that it did not.
I don’t love it just because it’s funny, although it is (Cap paying up the $10 to Fury, and his delighted, “I understood that reference!”; Tony poking incessantly at Bruce; Loki’s snarky, “I’m listening!” and his baffled, “This usually works…”; Nat’s irritation at her interrogation being interrupted–“I not give…*everything*..?!”; Coulson’s utterly mortifying, “I watched you while you were sleeping.”; and the unbeatable Harry Dean Stanton line, “Then, son…you got a *condition*.”). And it’s not just the delight of seeing a long build-up pay off in the “meet, fight, bond, battle” arc that happens again and again in the comics, although the joy of watching Cap and Tony and Thor throw down in the forest never gets old.
I think what ultimately makes it work for me so well are the moments of poignancy and connection. I think it’s in Avengers where we start to understand how deeply Thor loves Loki, and how agonizing it is for him to have his brother be the bad guy. Natasha and Clint’s relationship, despite being given literally no screen time before Clint is compromised, is remarkably well wrought. And there’s Coulson’s story, of course, which didn’t rip my heart out THIS time (although I do desperately want to know if his ex-wife in the Framework was The Cellist), but that’s probably the first time it didn’t hit me viscerally. And his last line is a great one. Tony, trying to call Pepper, while Pepper is watching the TV to see what happens to him. There are a lot of really great emotional beats in this movie.
But of course if there’s a single moment that really lifts the whole film, it’s the old man rising to face down Loki. “There are always men like you.” And it’s because that moment isn’t about superheroes and impossible fantasy. It’s simple human courage, doing the right thing against insurmountable odds. He doesn’t know Cap is going to fall out of the sky and save him. He just knows he’s not going to kneel to a monster. And that’s the moment that seizes me by the throat, in Avengers.
Anyway, yeah, I could go through it on a line by line basis and complain that the beginning is a little slow, maybe, or that we could really do with some more women, thanks, but the guts of the matter are that I think Avengers works better than almost every other movie in the MCU. It remains in my top five, and I’m really pleased to have watched it again.
Marvel Movie Marathon: Thor
Marvel Movie Marathon: Thor: This is really a pretty straight-up enjoyable movie.
Given my recently-discussed inherent level of dubiousness regarding Iron Man, you will perhaps be surprised to hear that the character I absolutely thought they *could not* make work in a cinematic universe was Thor. I thought—honestly, I *still* think—that introducing gods into a superhero world was asking too much from the audience, and the fact that they went to a mild degree of trouble to ensure everybody that no, these are technically aliens, not gods, did not, IMHO, improve matters. I truly felt that accepting superheroes was enough of an ask and that adding aliens to the mix was just too damn much.
(I mean, yes, by the time they get to GotG, okay, yes, sure. They had a dozen movies behind them at that point, and a wildly successful franchise/universe. I was okay with bringing aliens/space opera in then, because it was all solidly *established*. (This is why I cringe at the apparent alien storyline in the upcoming Dark Phoenix film: they’ve flopped around so much with the X-films that I don’t feel like there’s enough *established* to bring aliens in without making it Too Much. It’s why I was *so thrilled* that they weren’t going the alien route with Jean in the first two films, and I will always be a little sad that we didn’t get Bryan Singer’s third X-Men movie, even if Singer himself turns out to be problematic. :p ANYWAY.))
The point of all this is that my expectations were lower than the bottom of the bucket, so Thor would have had to have to have been *excrutiatingly* bad to disappoint me, but I went to it the first time quite grimly, really not expecting to enjoy it at all.
I was wrong. They pulled it off. They managed to bring aliens (or gods) in successfully and in an entertaining fashion, in part thanks to the in-film skepticism presented by Stellan Skarsgard’s Eric, who is a man who wants to believe. But mostly—who are we kidding—it succeeds because Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are wildly charismatic, and because the script is funny, occasionally poignant, and just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek.
It is no wonder Tom Hiddleston rocketed to superstardom on the strength of playing Loki. He’s both angularly, sullenly beautiful and capable of whipping out the most suppressed-wounded gaze imaginable, and Loki himself is such a snake. It’s such a solid part. My memory is that it was a brilliant part, and possibly the first time around, it was. Now the actual brilliance is from the evolution of the character across, what, four? films; he starts out good and by the time you reach The Hug We Were Cheated Of, it’s this magnificent embodiment that retroactively colors my perception of the character from good to amazing in the first movie. So I was kind of surprised to feel that he was only *good* this time, but he was, in fact, very good.
I HAD FORGOTTEN THEY BLEACHED CHRIS HEMSWORTH’S EYEBROWS, THO. THAT WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA! :) Thor is…such a dick, really, in the first half of the film. A good-natured huge lunk of a dick. He’s a total bro, which is diametrically different from Tony Stark’s total assholery in the first part of Iron Man, and, like RDJ, without the actor’s inherent charisma (and, of course, the advantage of story structure meaning we know he’s going to go through a redemptive arc) it’d be easy to just loathe the character. And, you know, I’d…all the previous times I’d seen it (all 2 or 3 times, max), I’d felt that his character arc was too easy? That it didn’t…I didn’t really feel like it..*took*? Except this time, watching it, I really felt for him as he learned Odin was dead and he realized it was all on his shoulders and that he’d screwed up his and everybody else’s live irrevocably. I believed it for the first time, like. So that was interesting!
One of the *great* things about Thor is that the women get to be funny. Natalie Portman does not often get to be funny, but she has both situational comedy (hitting Thor with her car) (twice) and a couple of funny line deliveries, particularly “Oh. My. *God*,” with the up-lilt in ‘god’, and “It’s a *good* look.” And Kat Denning’s Darcy is just the best and I would love to see some kind of MCU movie built around, like, her and Rosario Dawson’s Claire. They would just savage the whole MCU. :)
Oh, also. *laughs* I’d never seen Idris Elba in anything before, at least, not to my aware knowledge. I honestly thought he had gold eyes. I mean, I’ve seen a handful of people in my life who did, so I just…honestly thought he had gold eyes. To the point that, the next time I saw him in something, I thought, “Oh, aw, man, they decided to color his eyes brown in this!” And then sort of slowly it occurred to me that, um, nooooo, they hadn’t… :)
The other best part about watching Thor again is we decided Young Indiana was old enough to watch it now, and he loved it SO MUCH. He was narrating and shouting questions and going, “OOOOOOH, they LIIIIIIIKE each other” at Thor and Jane, and it was completely magnificent. I thought he was going to swell up and explode with pride when Thor went to face the Destroyer on his own. “Mommy! Mommy, he doesn’t have his powers! Mommy, what’s his plan? What’s he going to do?” “He’ll have a bad plan, honey, Thor’s plans are always terrible.”
Dad forgot we were going to watch it today, so he’d gone out and only came home for about the last third, which kinda meant he got most of the best bits (he did miss the White Room scene, which is terrific), and he enjoyed what he did see of it, and now he’s got Thor and Loki established (I mean, he did anyway because he’d seen Ragnarok) and we can watch Avengers!
Marvel Movie Marathon: Iron Man 2
Marvel Movie Marathon: Iron Man 2: I saw most of IM2 again a couple years ago and I thought it had held up a *lot* better than expected. My memory of it was that it really wasn’t very good, which is borne up by the fact that basically everybody seems to think it really wasn’t very good, but…actually, it’s pretty good.
It does, yes, have the problem of following very similar beats to the original film in terms of the Whiplash storyline, which ends with him in a giant mech just like Stane ended in. But outside of that…it’s pretty individualistic.
Tony’s storyline is…I mean, it’s a *disaster*. *Tony* is a disaster. He’s dying of palladium poisoning and he’s doing the world’s absolute worst job of trying to do right by people before he dies. He’s AMAZINGLY bad at it. SO BAD. It’s kind of wonderful. But you know what? Even if he’s a terrible person, a womanizer, a cad, insensitive, all of it…I would not be afraid if I was locked in a room with Tony Stark.
But Justin Hammer, in this movie? I would be terrified. He’s a lot of the reason I didn’t like the movie in the first place, because he’s SO unlikeable, so craven and glory-hungry and competitive. Tony without any of the charm or, frankly, the social skills. I would feel *threatened* by that man, if I was stuck in a room with him, because he doesn’t care at all about other people, only himself, and Tony, despite his flaws, does. Hammer would be perfectly okay with hurting me, deliberately, to get what he wanted; Tony would not. And in this #metoo era, that makes Hammer an *exceptionally* alarming villain, which I thought…really worked.
Mickey Rourke’s Vanko really borders on this side of tragic–I think with a little more finessing they could have made the character heartbreaking. It wasn’t what they wanted to do, but I think they *could* have.
And then there’s poor Pepper, who once again gets the rigid, upset thankless female part. A thing they did well in this one, though, was end up with Pepper and “Natalie” on the same side (a decision that I like but am not confident was well telegraphed in the actual movie; it seems like an abrupt flip on Pepper’s part rather than being organic). I just kind of wish there’s been a moment of softening or forgiveness toward Christine Everheart, who is, in her way, as caught up in Tony’s nonsensical world as Pepper is, and it’s not Christine’s fault that Tony is who he is. She just went with it, and really, who wouldn’t? I’d rather have seen Pepper sort of sympathetic to her than openly hostile.
Gosh, I forgot how very *bouncy* Black Widow’s hair is in the “I kick everybody’s ass in the hallway” scene. IM2 is my least favourite incarnation of Natasha (and holy god, she really slimmed down for that catsuit; she’s not as tiny in the other films, nor does she need to be), but it’s hard to not remember the sheer glee of seeing her just *waste* all those dudes, particularly with Happy in the background whaling away on the one. “I got him!”
I was pretty darn unhappy about the fact that Terrance Howard’s Rhodey was recast at the time, but I’ve come around to where I find Howard the anomaly and I now kinda wish I could’ve seen Don Cheadle as Rhodey in the first movie, because I do love him. (My recollection is Howard wanted more money, and my opinion was, and indeed is, that he probably deserved more, pretty well regardless of what he was getting paid, and that was BEFORE the revelations about how shockingly underpaid white actresses are compared to white actors, and how magnitudes-more-shockingly-underpaid actors of color are than white women started coming into the more general consciousness, but I’ve also since learned that he is apparently…not a nice person…at all…which I suspect may have had *more* to do with him being replaced than the money, which can often be a convenient excuse.)
So the upshot is that IM2 is really worth a re-watch, which is a pretty pleasant discovery!