Long overdue! There’s been so much new stuff! But, what am I, on your schedule!??? Nope!
I haven’t seen Oops! All Spider-Men (2021) or Hawkguy (‘21) or the Sam Raimi Dr. Strange or the new Taika Waititi Thor or Moon Knight (‘22) or the G. Willow Wilson Ms. Marvel tv show. Haven’t seen a lot of things yet. They keep making more things! And, of course, I’m not counting anything that’s not a movie. Made that choice since the very beginning. I mean, that way lies madness — watching each and every episode of Agents of S.N.O.O.Z.E (‘13-’20), tallying up all the little shorts they made for the home releases and then trying to decide on the precise level of quality inherent in the one they did with Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford and Titus Welliver, watching the Netflix shows, eventually coming to the inevitable and inescapable conclusion that the aesthetically finest thing in the entire MCU is this promotional video where Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd hambone while shouting “Ants! Ants! Ants! Ant-Man!”.
For my purposes, well, any of the television that I waited for the trade and watched in one or two sittings counts as a movie. I’m not counting WandaVision (‘21) as a movie because I watched each episode week to week. Not a movie! But a lot of the other stuff I’d just get on the stationary recumbent bike and plug away for a couple hours, take a short break, have a bite to eat while watching the rest of an episode, then get right back on the stationary recumbent bike again and finish up the final few episodes. That’s a movie! That counts as a movie to me. Even if I watched the second half of the season the next day, well, that’s still a movie. Sometimes I like to give myself a little break in the middle of a movie. There’s no referee here!
I watched this in July of 2021. We’re halfway through February of 2023. I gotta level with you. I no longer really remember what I thought of this one beyond a vague recollection of not liking it all that much. And yet fortunately for me, fortunately for you, fortunately for us all, my phone is like Pepperidge Farm®. It remembers! I forget but it recalls what I tippy typed into it! Oh, is it fair to rank it dead last? Well, life’s not fair.
re: Avengers "What they did was supposed to happen."
Pilot repetitive, characters rehashing the same info over'n'over
Another one of those "Why didn't we know this before?" questions, where Tom Hiddleston asks Owen Wilson this about the TVA. And this is AFTER he saw the li'l movie in the lobby!
Just a long stretch of scenes where Tom & Owen watch select pieces from one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, then a recreation of a minor historical incident probably unknown to 90% of its audience (but not to, like, the AVClub and its ilk), followed by MORE stuff from the movies
As if that's not enough, well, soon after that is a bit where Tom watches some more bits'n'pieces on his own.
Costume Designer Christine Wada!!!
Wait, they brought in Kate Berlant for two (2) lines???
Again, with the showing us AND telling us! We see a flashback to young Sylvie followed soon thereafter by a scene of her telling Loki the info the audience has already received in the flashback. (I suppose we get a teeny tiny smidgen of new information w/how Sylvia grew up, but it's barely barely there and it's the LAST thing she says.)
The prospect of bringing back the secondary characters Taika Waititi (sp?) threw away, raised by Jaimie Alexander (sp?) being in this episode; it's a good one. Hope we see the Warriors Three again!
Paying Richard E. Grant to scream "Glorious Purpose!" rather than investing any real thought in how to craft a story whole, out of its own independent elements; sure, why not
We've reached the point where the lowest-hanging fruit on the tree branch of extratextual oomph is just ... MCU audience. So, Taskmaster is extratextually us. Kang (?) is extratextually us. That's it. That's their one move. We're just going to keep seeing it, over and over. That'll be the extratextual meaning behind their antagonists.
They capped their show w/the ending from the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes!!!!????
22. Falcon And The Winter Soldier
Again, same deal. Don’t really remember much beyond not liking it! I’ll just paraphrase what I’ve got in my phone. I kind of think the choice of Wyatt Russell for a role here was a huge waste — he’s such a good actor, he’s not his father of course but nevertheless and nonetheless he’s so good, he’s so funny — because he gets one good line (“What’s with all the knives?”) and basically nothing else. I gather that they’re bringing him back for more stuff in the future so fingers crossed. I liked Zemo throwing that pole through the lady. Deeply disliked how the show juggled the always difficult problem of consistency versus continuity which has plagued writers of mainstream interconnected superhero narratives since before the Bronze Age — examples: the exchanges of "Why didn't we already know this?" twice, once w/Isaiah Bradley and once w/ Dr. Nagle vs. deciding to reveal Bucky as an explicit supersoldier — but I can’t really speak more about it because I didn’t bother to type up the details in my phone. I blame my phone. I deeply disliked the bit of dumb banter which was something like "Think Karli's gonna throw in the towel?" followed by "I think she's gonna double down." and I thought there was something earlier about playing cards, that sort of thing always brings to mind the Futurama joke. I liked Sharon Carter's underground gallery of real paintings w/the fake ones on display in legitimate galleries around the world; thought it went well w/the general theme of the series. At the end there where they showed us Buck and Sam having a heartfelt chat where they effortlessly throw the shield around Sam's makeshift training course AND THEN showing us the training montage establishing that he is bad at it and gets better through practice; well, I thought that was real dumb, juggling scenes like that, just plain dumb.
Not good! I guess my chief complaints are these : numero uno, characters just bopping and bipping in and out of the narrative according to arbitrary demands! Dane Whitman, yeah, and Kingo, sure, but even and especially how everyone’s introduced all at once but then held offscreen except for the bizarrely ill-dispersed flashbacks. So all these people come on board, then they’re gone, then they’re slowly and unsurely salted back into the meal at non-regular intervals. Sometimes they die, yeah, but death’s the end of some character’s appearances onscreen but not others. Gotta put these characters before us, gotta keep them before us, gotta make sure to take them away from us properly. Every other blockbuster these days feels less like a story and more like a transcription of a D & D campaign where not everyone manages to show up all the time for game night!
Secondly, they really just tried desperately to save this movie in post. Tons and tons of ADR’d lines. They figured out how to make the movie after the movie was made, they figured out what motivated these characters after the movie was made, they figured out what the movie lacked and awkwardly inserted what they needed into the movie to try and make it all come out in a wash. Just make a bad movie from the beginning, instead! I’d love this movie more if it felt like they sat down, wanted to make a bad movie, and committed to that badness in all its manifold and myriad ways from jump. It doesn’t feel like that. It feels like a movie where everyone involved had a different and only somewhat overlapping vision for what kind of bad movie they were making (the actors are delivering semi-concussed performances w/the exception of Kumail Nanjiani! the director is making a beautiful picture about a woman going through a break-up while reminiscing about all these lovely vacations her and her soon-to-be ex went on! the writers are ripping off the Make A Wish kid who delivered the best line in Thor: Ragnarok (‘17)!) and someone sometime had to gather it all together after the fact into a coherent whole. I suppose that’s all movies, really, all big Hollywood blockbuster make’em’ups, yeah, but this is the most artless and rambling attempt at it I’ve seen so far from these folks.
Thirdly, well, I thought I had more to moan about here but I’m going to switch tacks and talk about what I liked about the movie. It’s mostly because of the relative paucity of quality Eternals comics out there that I can say definitively that this is better at being a movie than most of ‘em are at being a comic. It’s a better movie than the Gaiman comic is a comic, it’s a better movie than the Gillen comic is a comic, is it a better movie than the Kirby original!? Maybe!? If you look at all the times Kirby noodled around with this general concept, if you counted up every time he tried to offer the reader his definitive take on mythology, well, if you had to rank his Eternals among those then where would it be? I don’t think it’s better than any of his Fourth World stuff, I don’t think it’s better than his Thor run, I don’t think it’s better than his 2001 series, I don’t think it’s better than the stuff in his Fantastic Four that’s roughly aligned w/this, I don’t even think it’s better than, like, Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers. All it’s got is basically the thumb of Arishem! There was no big thumb of Arishem in this movie reaching out to the audience, though, so I guess the Kirby original beats out the movie, in the end.
The movie’s interesting on that old Wendy Doniger level, the line about how every bad movie has really good metaphysics. The movie’s visually interesting. Not on the level of action sequences, no, but there’s plenty of interesting stuff to look at. The movie is not aurally interesting, soundtrack’s a big nothing, none of the deep cuts are bangers. The characters are honestly less compelling than the Kirby originals and those are pretty much ciphers to begin with.
I guess the big thing that the movie deserves credit for is … the twist!? I didn’t see that twist coming! I figured Salma Hayek wasn’t really dead, right!? I assumed she’d be the bad guy. More fool me! I guess I don’t really have the requisite skull space to confidently predict where this movie was going. I mean, what is the end of the movie about!? It’s about Green Ranger and Blue Ranger having a tiff because Green Ranger wants to use her powers to turn Gold Giant into White Giant instead of listening to the orders of Red Giant. Blue Ranger decides at the last second not to stop Green Ranger because he loves her (hey, idiot, if you stop her then everybody’s mind wipes and you can love her even more on the next planet!) so I guess it’s all about the power of love!!!?? Love conquers all, folks, love wins, love is grand, let’s turn this immortal sociopath into a human so she can experience true love! Druig should’ve brained Sprite again afterwards! Don’t use the power of love! Use rock! And, paper covers rock, after all, so that’s what this movie’s true love really is : paper. Dollars!
20. The Incredible Hulk
19. Guardians of the Galaxy / More Guardians of the Galaxies
18. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Pretty rough stuff! There’s a tweet, a tweet on twitter, something like : “marvel got two kinda of movies, cool ones to watch while you are stoned, and the hat ones”. The fundamental problem w/this movie is that Shang-Chi, the original Doug Moench & Paul Gulacy stuff, it’s way more of the latter than the former. It’s a hat one! It’s all Bruce Lee rip-offs and spy movie rip-offs! There’s a real mismatch at play here because they decided to make their movie a cool one to watch while stoned. It’s all about Shang-Chi’s magical homeland! They decided they needed a Wakanda, they needed a K’un-Lun, that’s not what Shang-Chi needs! That’s not what he’s about! The appeal of Shang-Chi is not that he has MAGIC WEAPONS! The appeal of Shang-Chi is that he’s Bruce Lee!
Simu Liu is a very very gifted physical comedian (when he rings the bell during the bus fight!) and absolutely inept at delivering the ‘witty’ banter (when he’s putting a button on Ben Kingsley’s Planet of the Apes joke! when he’s setting up the karaoke callback at the end!). He can’t do it. You know how Hemsworth was super duper worried they’d recast the role of Thor for the sequels, well, they should give serious thought to recasting the role of Shang-Chi. The one thing they need these guys to do, more than getting themselves to such a level of visible fitness that it actually puts their overall health at risk, more than plausibly interacting with CGI nothing while wearing CGI nothing, more than lie with dead eyes to talk show hosts about how they love Marvel Comics and have dreamed since childhood of playing this specific superhero, more than any other single thing, is make the dumb dumb half-humour so the whole enterprise goes smoothly. He can’t do the dumb dumb half-humour! I hate the dumb dumb half-humour but even I have to admit that the only thing worse than it being in the movie at all is when it’s poorly executed.
On the whole, though, not too bad! A lot of the action sequences are genuinely enjoyable! Loved seeing Zach Cherry again! Don’t understand the ending on basically any level but beggars can’t be choosers.
17. Dr. Strange
15. Avengers III
So, in the big fight scene in Wakanda that caps off the first half of this two-parter pretty much all of the good guys in it look roughly the same from a distance : slender silhouettes of dark or pastel shapes. Maybe the only real exception to this is Mark Ruffalo in the Hulkbuster armour. He’s bigger! He’s shiny! And the movie has introduced Peter Dinklage as Eitri who is --- he was in a couple of issues of New Mutants!?? Well, apparently, he was in the Simonson run, yeah, before that but I don’t really remember him. My point is the movie gives us Peter Dinklage, we spend a lot of time w/Peter Dinklage on screen as this big big big guy with a big big big voice, Thor and Rocket Raccoon and Groot spend a sizable chunk of this movie with this big guy, and then once it’s time for the fight sequences at the end they teleport away without him and join the fights. My complaint here isn’t on the level of plotting or story or whatever because, after all, he’s just this old guy with broken hands whose role in the narrative/franchise is to supply the Hemsworth action figure with a new toy. My complaint here is that visually speaking having another really big guy during these fight scenes would make the fight scenes better. It’s good to have a giant man running around out there on the field. Don’t understand why, like, Michael Douglas wasn’t Giant-Manning about. Or if not him then anyone at all. That’s my complaint. The fights needed a big guy, the movie has a big guy, the movie kept the big guy on the bench. You gotta make fights good.
14. Thor Ragnarok
13. Spider-Man : Far From Home / Spider-Man : Homecoming
12. Iron Man III
11. Black Widow
10. Iron Man
9. Ant-Man II
8. Iron Man II
7. Captain Marvel
A far better Shane Black rip-off than the actual Shane Black MCU film!
6. Avengers II and Avengers I
5. Cap II
4. Thor II
2. Black Panther
1. Captain America