Tag Archive: Avengers


I haven’t posted in a while, because I’ve been buried under work. I certainly don’t lack for contracts to fill my spare time, but I’ve also been busy preparing my house for a kitchen remodel; I’m significantly handicapped, so that’s even more trouble than it might otherwise sound. I just haven’t had the energy for blogging.

However, today is Marvel Day. No, really; it’s not just that it’s when Captain America: Civil War is out in theaters, it’s also the day that I seem to have seen several MCU movies over the years. Not just the weekend, but the day, May 6th. Not sure how that’s happened, but it’s what my Facebook memory feed shows today. The coincidence gets eyebrow-raising with the fact that I didn’t even realize this when I’d made the decision to take today off.

But taking the day off also means that I have the time to write up my thoughts on this movie — spoiler-free, I might add.  Continue reading

Ant-Man

Ant-Man_posterSadly, I haven’t had much time for blogging lately (at least about writing); but I can’t pass up a review of Ant-Man. Particularly since so many of you enjoy me writing about the Marvel franchise.

I went to see Ant-Man last night at the Alamo Drafthouse, because who can pass up the chance to watch superhero films while eating fried mozzarella and hot wings, washed down with an alcoholic root beer? All movie theaters should be restaurant theaters.

Anyway, it was a good experience. The service was prompt and good as always, and the movie was decent. Yes, decent; not incredible, not outstanding. Decent.

As I said before, I expected this movie to disappoint me by comparison to the others. On a scale of Marvel films, this is the third-worst, beating out Thor: The Dark World and Incredible Hulk, though Dark World had better visuals. That may sound disappointing, but remember what I said before: a bad Marvel movie is, so far, better than an average movie.

Spoiler Warning Continue reading

Editor’s Note: Welcome, once again, the lovely and talented Lori Janeski in another Novel Ninja guest post. This time, we present her debut fisk, as she decides to tackle the massive Social Fiction Warrior response to Avengers: Age of Ultron by targeting a particularly egregious essay.

I should add that Lori is Texan — and yes, even fisks are bigger in Texas. This one clocks in at over 13,000 words, enough for a good-sized novelette. Strap in, grab some popcorn, and warm up your mouse-using fingers, because you’ve got some scrolling ahead of you.

Enjoy!


If you ever want to learn how to make a complete and total idiot of yourself in front of the whole internet, just read this essay I found: “Age of Robots: How Marvel Is Killing the Popcorn Movie.”  If you’re not into being an idiot, you can go ahead and read it for its entertainment potential, because it is so utterly ridiculous, and yet trying to be completely serious and intellectual and failing miserably, that it will make you either laugh your head off, or crawl under a rock and weep for humanity.  Maybe both.

Now, the author, Sady Doyle, is allowed to have any opinion she wants.  That’s part of life.  I don’t have to agree with her, and she doesn’t have to agree with me.  But when you’re being this stupid while pretending to be smart, those of us who are not stupid have to say something to make sure you aren’t successful in convincing people that you are smart.  To borrow a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, “I respect your right to free speech, but not your stupidity.”

Omar

Normally, I try very hard to disagree with the argument, not attack the person.  This article, however, is such a piece of trash that my politeness went right out the window.  Doyle is so far beyond stupid that she has reached the status of “contemptible,” and doesn’t deserve a polite, intellectual discussion about the merits, or lack thereof, of Age of Ultron.

If you don’t want to read an angry article about how stupid someone else is, complete with the occasional vulgarity, then don’t finish reading.  Go elsewhere now.  You have been warned, so there better not be any nasty comments on the blog or Facebook about how mean I am.

Oh, and if you can’t guess, there are spoilers ahead.  I know Matthew has a spoiler graphic somewhere around here . . . aha!

Spoiler Warning

There.  If you missed that, you deserve your spoilers. Continue reading

MCU Expectations

In my review of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I said that I had some speculations that I decided to cut and turn into a separate blog post. It isn’t just about predicting future plots, but there’s some of that too.

We all know that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a blowout success. Even the shaky installments (we’ll ignore Agents of SHIELD season one for right now) have been “bad” only in comparison to the top material. It’s also been successful at introducing these long-beloved characters to new audiences who may have known nothing about them or their stories. That’s impressive all on its own, considering the depth of the Marvel Comics storylines, many of which go back half a century now.

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It started with Iron Man, which updated Tony Stark’s story to fit a modern audience’s expectation. A great deal of the success comes from Robert Downey Jr., of course. He’s the Tom Baker of not just the role, but the whole universe; and one of the best things about it is that he’s also aware of how close he came to outright disaster due to drugs and other self-destructive behavior, and I firmly believe that this fuels the way he throws himself into the role. Not only does he know what it’s like to completely doubt yourself, but he clearly sees each day as part of a second chance on life. Continue reading

Avengers: Age of Awesome

avengers-age-of-ultron-alternateWas there any doubt that Avengers: Age of Ultron would be a fun movie? Was there any doubt that the existing fanbase would love it? Was there any doubt that the movie would be a hit success? No, indeed. The only doubt was how good it would be on a scale of 6 to 11.

Rest your doubts. It’s at least a 10.9.

Note: This is not a spoiler-free review. However, unless you’ve been avoiding the trailers, you’re safe until you come to the big spoiler graphic. After that, you’ve been warned.

Superhero stories have traditionally been plot-driven. Things happen in a particular way to have a particular end, and that’s the only important thing. We all know how annoying that can be. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s horrible. However, the MCU has mostly stayed true to character-driven stories. There have certainly been ones where plot mattered more (Thor: The Dark World and Agents of SHIELD season one come to mind), and others where character and plot intertwined to the point where you don’t care that a story had to go this way to set up something later, because the characters still had their day (Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

Of course, character-driven stories aren’t automatically better, because character without consistent plot is unsatisfying. Think of Iron Man 3, which was a fantastic movie from the perspective of Tony Stark’s character development, and rather sucky for the rest.

The first Avengers movie remained a shining example of a character-driven story, as Ross explained earlier this week. My biggest worry about Age of Ultron was that it might not live up to that standard. In point of fact, I think Age of Ultron actually exceeds its predecessor in that regard. While the movie actually lacks a little of the stand-up-and-cheer of the first, Age of Ultron is now a new go-to example for true character-driven stories.  Continue reading

I’m just going to toss them all together today. It’s a superhero gumbo! Or a salad, if you prefer leafy things.

There’s a reason why I’m doing that. Well, two reasons. The one that has nothing to do with laziness is that Arrow, The Flash, and Agents of SHIELD all had a few things in common this week. They all dealt with stakes that have less to do with saving the world, and everything to do with their own humanity.

It’s necessary to up the stakes for a serial story, since if your characters always deal with the same problems then everything is boring. (Or it’s an American soap opera. Or a political election cycle. Or both. Hey, I live just outside DC; you can’t tell me it’s not like a soap based on The Godfather or something.) On the other hand, if you’re constantly upping the external challenges, then your character quickly becomes so powerful that threats start becoming rather ridiculous. That’s even more important if you’re like Superman and you wind up leveling Manhattan in your origin story.

I don't care if you call it "Metropolis." Who thought that an audience would find a climax involving massive buildings collapsing in New York City to be endearing?

I don’t care if you call it “Metropolis.” Who thought that an audience would find a climax involving massive buildings collapsing in New York City to be endearing? I mean, other than Zach Snyder. Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? 

The best way to solve that issue is through exploring human bonds between characters (even if some of them might not be human). As I said yesterday in my post on superhero prose, it’s important to never lose sight of human wants, needs, desires, things that an audience can understand. A massive battle is fun (well, in fiction), but it will never carry the same weight as the betrayal of a loved one. Done right, and the audience can feel a punch in the gut too.

However, from here on out, hic sunt mortiferis. That’s Latin for “If you haven’t seen this week’s superhero shows, you might want to check back later.”

Spoiler Warning Continue reading

PowAvengers 2 comes out this weekend. Well, Thursday, in many places . . . which means you might wind up with a lot of geeks missing work on Friday. Me? Ha! I get paid for this stuff!

Well, no, I actually don’t. This blog is a 100% free resource, and I can’t get paid for reviewing Age of Ultron. I can, however, potentially get paid for talking about superheroes in general. (Mind you, I can neither confirm nor deny any involvement in the development of a multi-author shared-world superhero setting. Hush, now. I don’t know how these rumors get started.)

Superheroes have, arguably, been around as long as science fiction or fantasy, at least as separate genres with somewhat dedicated followings. They’ve always seemed a bit separate, however, because they use what I call the fourth medium of print: visual art. (The other three are prose, poetry, and script.) Superheroes have rarely done well outside of comic books, in large part because the visuals have dominated the storytelling so completely that it’s difficult to have the same effect in pure prose. It’s only been recently that film technology has advanced to the point that the big screen can live up to the promise of hand-drawn art.

That, however, is a stylistic difference that more people are accepting these days, and it is entirely because of indie publishing.  Continue reading

Avengers Assembled

EDITOR’S NOTE: This guest blog is brought to you by my good friend and former college roomie, Ross Windsor (yes, a distant relation of those other Windsors, but they never invite him for tea). To whet the appetite for the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron this weekend, he has a few words to say about the first Avengers movie from the perspective of a movie buff and filmmaker.


I suppose I should start by giving a *SPOILERS* warning, but if you haven’t seen The Avengers yet: STOP. Back away from your computer, go buy the movie, and watch it. Twice.

 

Photo 01 - Shawarma

 

Marvel Studios faced the relatively unique challenge of bringing together four major heroes from previous film titles, along with lesser (though still important) characters from those films, while making The Avengers stand on its own as a movie. Of the six Avengers, all had made their first appearances in one of the five preceding movies. In order for The Avengers to appeal to moviegoers who had not seen all or even any of the previous films, director Joss Whedon had to introduce every character as if for the first time. And due to the number of major characters, these introductions had to be brief enough to not bog down the story, yet compelling enough to grab the audience’s interest immediately. This sort of quick introduction is a fantastic and necessary technique for short films, but serves well in feature-length films as well, particularly one like The Avengers. Continue reading

Looking Ahead with the MCU

Agents of SHIELD has always had the potential to be the little show that connected the big things. Now, with Marvel getting more little things (that is, TV shows), we have even more opportunities to see the backdrop of the Marvel Cinematic Universe through the eyes of Coulson and his team.

Of course, the problem with that has been that Agents has, well, supremely sucked at doing that.

There are a few other factors, though, even if the writing on the show continues to improve. For one, Agents and Agent Carter (if the later ever gets renewed) are ABC properties. If the Netflix shows pan out the way Daredevil did (I really need to write up my review/analysis of that show!), then that “network,” so to speak, will wind up being stronger, which means ABC might not want to share. On the other hand, Marvel TV contracts reportedly all include the possibility of cinema appearances, while the reverse (cinema to TV) is not true.

What I hope is that Spider-Man will help bridge that gap. In the comics, he’s done plenty of team-ups with Daredevil, as well as the other coming Netflix characters. I’d like to see him show up in both Netflix and ABC shows. Problem is, I don’t know if Sony would think that’s a great idea.

For now, it’s hard to judge where Agents of SHIELD is going after this season. Which brings us inevitably to the Avengers: Age of Ultron tie-in, where reportedly we have multiple characters from the show popping up. Back when I first heard about it, I wasn’t impressed. Now, though . . . heck, even the supremely-boring Skye, of all people, has become interesting. I’ve gone from “How can they do an Agents cameo and make it look anything other than forced?” to “How can they do an Agents cameo and do the show justice?”

My, how things change.

For the rest, though, I need to get into some spoilers for the current season.

Spoiler Warning

Continue reading

Daredevil Now Live

11958118In case you hadn’t already marked your calendar, the new Netflix original Daredevil TV show is now live.

Yes, I’ll be reviewing it, but not for a little while unless I wind up reviewing chunks rather than the whole thirteen-episode season. (Yes, Netflix released them all at once. What did you expect? It’s Netflix. Binge-watching is encouraged.) While I’m down with particularly severe fibromyalgia symptoms for the third day in a row, which would make for a perfect time to binge-watch, I’m scheduled to watch it with someone else after work tonight. We probably won’t finish it this weekend.

But for those of you who are still sticking around and not clicking that oh-so-shiny link, let’s talk Daredevil for a bit.  Continue reading

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