Tag Archives: marvel

Avengers Homecoming Dance Video

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.  Just wanted to share this video that’s been making the rounds.  A bunch of kids at an Arizona high school did an Avengers themed dance routine and I have to say, it’s pretty on point.  Everything is so detailed that they had to have spent a ton of time on this.  The songs are keyed into the characters, they do battles, there weren’t any screw ups as far as I can tell, I mean, these kids could go pro.

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Movie Review – Spiderman: Far from Home (2019)

Spiderman’s taking his show on the road, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review.

I think the overall success of the new Spiderman franchise is that they dove us into the action without bogging us down with another origin story.  By now, these superhero movies have been done to death so we know who they are and where they come from.  We don’t need to see baby Superman crash on the farm again.  We don’t need to see Batman’s parents get shot.  We don’t need to see Spidey’s uncle get shot.  We know.

By trusting the viewers know, the movies can delve into further action and that is what’s done here.  Peter Parker is going on a summer class trip to Europe, hoping to get a break from saving the world and all the woe that comes with it.  Alas, Nick Fury tracks him down and wants him to carve out some time from his sightseeing schedule to help Mysterio fight elementals – giant monsters made out of earth, wind, fire and other 1970s bands.  Or were the 1960s?  I think 70s.  I don’t know.

The movie integrates itself into the post Avengers: Endgame well, but my fear is that (SPOILER ALERT) Endgame offed a lot of key characters, so where the whole franchise goes from here without them is uncertain.

If I go deeper, I’ll give the movie away but suffice to say, I think this incarnation of the web slinger is a model for others to follow.  We don’t need the origin story anymore.  Just dive in.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy

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Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame (2019)

I think I might be the only one who thinks it stinks.

BQB here with a review of what will apparently be the last Avengers movie.

It’s good.  It’s flashy.  It’s got all the usual razzle dazzle.

By the way, they did a good job of keeping the plot under wraps.  There are some major changes that happen to the universe in this movie so if you haven’t seen it yet, you probably should not read on.

SPOILERS ABOUND.

So, it’s over three hours and there’s a lot of very confusing time travel.  Basically, Ant Man informs us of quantum technology which is used by the Avengers to go back in time and grab the infinity stones before Thanos can.

The result is sort of a quasi-highlight reel of the past films in the franchise.  The scenes aren’t all taken verbatim but the characters from the future are doing things while the characters from the past.  In some ways it’s cool and leads to a lot of poignant wrapping up of a number of character arcs.  In others, it feels like one of those final episodes of a TV show where the writers didn’t know what to do so they turned in a clip show.

I had a hard time following it and sad to say, it’s the first Avenger movie where I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

The ending is sad and sets up for new films with other characters taking the lead.

I’m not sure what they could have done differently and there are fun parts.  It’s still worth the price of admission and wraps up the series well.

I just…I don’t know.  Meh.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Captain Marvel (2019)

She’s just a girl in the world, 3.5 readers.  Is that all that you’ll let her be?

BQB here with a review of Captain Marvel.

Amnesia.  Past lives.  Going back in time.  Shapeshifters.  Aliens.  The 1990s.  This movie has a lot of moving parts and none of it is spoon fed to you.  Instead, you’re trusted to hold on and wait for it all to make sense.  Eventually, it does.

In that respect, this isn’t the typical Marvel movie.  Most superhero origin stories are linear, while this one jumps around more than a Quentin Tarantino script on acid.  At times, I wondered if I had missed something but all I can say is if you feel that way when you see it, just give it some time.

Honestly, I don’t know how to discuss the plot without giving it all away.  Brie Larson is Carol Danvers, but also Kree warrior Vers.  Vers has memories of a life on earth that she doesn’t recall living and can’t make sense of.  Alas, to save the day, she’ll have to go on some earthly escapades during the 1990s.  (I don’t know if this is so much as a SPOILER as it is me giving you help that wasn’t provided me but I spent half the movie thinking Vers time traveled to 1995 only to realize the movie just begins in 1995 and the beginning just looks like the future because it takes place in space.)

Along the way, she teams up with a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who is occasionally helped by a young Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg.)  This movie should get a special effects Oscar because the tech they use to make Jackson and Gregg look younger stays pretty tight throughout the movie.

Part of the film is a buddy cop situation where Vers and Fury team up to track down the alien baddies.  They bust jokes on each other and it is fun.  There are 1990s throwbacks throughout – dial up modems, grunge music, and aliens who are used to super computers are freaked out by a Windows 95 desktop that takes forever to load a file.  Also, there’s a kitty who is pretty much the star of the film.

We live in a political world and unfortunately, sometimes that bleeds into movies.  There’s been a lot of online turmoil about this movie.  Some fans say it’s a great day for women as there’s finally a superhero movie with a female lead role (Wonder Women gets pissed when she hears this.)  Some detractors say the movie sucks and critics are just propping it up to make women happy.

Personally, once the movie started, all that drama went out the door for me.  It grabs you.  It does confuse you but it does eventually make sense.  Typical Marvel action and humor and it does have positive messages for women.

Some detractors have complained that this film doesn’t follow the traditional superhero origin arc and therefore, Captain Marvel isn’t relatable.  In other words, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Captain America are all flawed individuals and they have to figure out a way to do their jobs without letting their shortcomings get the best of them.

Captain Marvel, on the other hand, appears to have no shortcomings.  As Carol Danvers, she was already pretty special as fighter jet test pilot.  As Vers, she’s a skilled Kree warrior.  There’s never really a moment where she’s like, “Wow.  I’m a dick because I have X problem.  I should conquer that problem to be a better hero.”

Eh.  I mean, OK.  That might be a valid point but then again, what are we saying?  Well adjusted people who never picked up bad habits or character flaws should not be allowed to become superheroes?

Plus, she does face adversity, something that all watchable heroes must overcome.  As Carol Danvers, she has to deal with men telling her she shouldn’t become a pilot.  As Vers, she has to deal with her Kree boss (Jude Law) telling her one thing while her conscience tells her another and so on.

One criticism is I could have used more info on the Kree.  Why are some of them blue and others not blue?  Is there a blue race on the Kree planet?  How do they get their powers?  Lots of unanswered questions.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Good addition to the Avengers universe.  And honestly, when there is political drama over a film where some are saying it sucks because it is too political and others saying it doesn’t suck or whatever, I’ll be honest and say whether it sucks or not.  For example, I didn’t think the 2016 all-female Ghostbusters sucked so much as I just thought it was rather basic and forgettable.  Captain Marvel doesn’t suck and I’d watch it again so it is worth your time.

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RIP Stan Lee

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

This is a nerdy blog so you can expect I’d have to say something about Stan Lee.

I guess my first memories of him are when I was a kid, watching Spiderman cartoons on Saturday mornings and hearing him narrate, calling the kids listening “True believer” and using his catchphrase, “Excelsior!”

It’s sad but it is also hard to feel bad because a) 95 is about the best anyone can hope for b) I’m not sure how well he was physically but he was doing well enough that he appeared in cameos in every Marvel movie since 2008 and that’s better than any of my 70 plus relatives were ever able to do c) he was a rare person who not only created something but also did what he wanted his whole life and made a good living at it and d) he lived long enough that he got to see his creations draw big time box office gold.  Sure, they were always possible in comic book form and in cartoons and toys but it wasn’t until just the past couple of decades when Marvel based movies really came into their own.  He got to see it.

Most of all, his heroes were flawed.  While Superman was Mr. Perfect, Lee’s characters struggled with their abilities.  They wanted to do the right thing but they didn’t always know what the right thing was.  They screwed up, made mistakes, felt bad about it, learned how to cope with failure, etc.

When I was a kid I started an autograph collection, writing to celebrities to ask for an autograph to see if they’d write back.  Most didn’t but sure enough, I got an autographed photo of Stan in the mail sent in a Marvel Comics envelope.  I wish I’d saved the envelope.  I’ll have to dig the photo out and post a pic of it.  I’ve always wondered if the signature is real or if it is a pre-printed signature but either way it was cool. I’m sure it was just some assistant who sent it but still, cool.

Finally, here’s a cameo that a lot of people probably forgot but Gen Xers like me remember, Stan in Mallrats, trying to talk Brodie into being a better boyfriend to his girlfriend.

Man, my friends and I watched this movie so many times when we were kids.  Where does the time go?

 

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Movie Review – Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

I can’t believe it took me a week to see this flick.  Maybe my reputation as the Internet’s greatest nerd is ill-deserved.

BQB here with a review of “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Where did the past 10 years go, 3.5 readers?  I remember watching “Iron Man” in 2008, thinking Marvel was really onto something here and, well, if only I could time travel back 10 years, take the seat next to me and give myself some advice on how to negotiate the next decade.

Oh well.  No use crying over spilt milk.

Speaking of not crying, we have a seasoned cast of superheroes now, and damn, there are a lot of them.  You’ve got the Avengers…the various hangers-on who help the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the assorted interlopers who mingle in these worlds…you’ve got a lot of characters.  Is it too many?  Maybe not.

After all, this film is our reward for sticking with the franchise for so long.  Once you watch the individual films, as well as the group get-together films, you spend a lot of time with these characters, getting to know what makes them tick, and thus films like this are possible, i.e. where the individuals come and go, make their entrances and exits and you understand their motivations by now.

There was a brief moment in the beginning where I wondered if this whole spectacle hadn’t jumped the shark.  Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older but when you really think about it, I mean, seriously…you’ve got a man in an iron suit, a Norse God, a green monster, a patriot, a computer man, a witch, wizards, a spiderman, a cat man, a flying guy, another guy in an iron suit, a lady assassin, a band of space pirates and their talking raccoon…WTF?  How do these all fit together?

At one point, I was like, “Wow.  There are way too many Avengers.  Like seriously, I can’t keep up with all these Avengers.  There is a ridiculous amount of superheroes on screen right now.”

Somehow, Disney/Marvel makes it all work.  In past movies, we’ve been teased with an impending Thanos (Josh Brolin) attack and it pays off big time here, as he’s the villain to end all villains, the big bad that the Avengers et. al. will have to throw everything at, including the kitchen sink, the toilet, the toilet paper, the plunger and so on.

It’s an intergalactic battle royale featuring different planets, different locations on Earth, different bands of heroes duking it out with different bands of Thanos’ cronies, all in the name of gathering the infinity stones, which the infamous ne’er-do-well hopes to use to engage in acts of evil-doery across the cosmos.

There are touching moments, hilarious moments, humor, laughter, suspense and I don’t want to give it away but Disney/Marvel does go in quite an unexpected direction, one that defies the typical ending of these films and perhaps when all 3.5 of you have had a chance to see it, we can discuss it further.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Kudos to Disney/Marvel for keeping this franchise alive, still going strong, still being as magical as ever.  Thank you to all the actors who didn’t let fame go to their heads and bail on their recurring characters.  It’s been quite a ride and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Movie Review – Black Panther (2018)

Mother of God, 3.5 readers.  Look what some rapscallion posted on Twitter:

Shameless plug: if you follow @bookshelfbattle you can read snarky commentary like that all the time.

And now, on to Wakanda!

Short version – Malcolm X and Martin Luther King (or at least their dueling philosophies on black empowerment) were put into superhero form and left to duke it out.

Longer version – Wakanda has long existed as a hidden utopia of technological greatness, all made possible to large reserves of vibranium, the magic, do-everything metal that makes Captain America’s shield so awesome.

At the core of Wakandan politics is a central question – should Wakanda remain hidden from the world, hoarding its technological secrets to ensure the country’s continued survival, or should it reach out and arm oppressed people of African descent all over the world?

T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), newly crowned king, takes the former position.  Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) a Wakandan-American with a desire to challenge T’Challa’s claim on the throne, takes the latter.  The stakes are high as whoever holds the throne is able to claim the power of being “the black panther” i.e. the superhero with amazing abilities that can be wielded for good or evil, depending on who is wielding them.

No superhero is complete without his entourage or “Scooby Gang” as Buffy used to call them.  T’Challa’s feisty younger sister Shuri serves as her brother’s James Bond-style “Q” or master of technology, coming up with all sorts of fun and interesting gadgets for the king to use in his war against evil.

Danai Gurira (“Walking Dead” fans know here as the samurai sword wielding Michonne) gets her long overdue big screen debut as T’Challa’s general, Okoye while Lupita Nyong-o is the big cat’s love interest.  Angela Basset rounds out the royal family as T’Challa’s mother.

Meanwhile, Andy Serkis, long relegated to behind the scenes work where his movements are recorded to create CGI characters like “Lord of the Rings'” Gollum hams it up big time as Killmonger’s partner-in-crime/internationally evil weapons dealer Ulysses Klaue.  I got the impression that Andy was waiting a long time to become a real life character and thus enjoyed every minute of it.

Martin Freeman connects the film to the ongoing Avengers plot line as Agent Ross.  Ross is loyal to America while T’Challa’s allegiance is to Wakanda, so somehow they have to set aside their differences to engage in some buddy cop shenanigans.

You know 3.5 readers, one thing I always notice about a super hyped movie is that it is always a let down if the movie doesn’t live up to it.  This film does.  I noticed a lot of African Americans at the theater wearing traditional garb so I imagine there’s a lot of pride in seeing the first black Marvel superhero on screen.

I mean, there was Falcon (Anthony Mackie) but he’s really Captain America’s sidekick and hasn’t been given his own movie yet.  And there’s Blade (Wesley Snipes) who had a whole trilogy but he’s not an Avenger and his powers are more occult/vampire related whereas the Avengers’ powers usually have less scary origins.

However you slice it, Black Panther is the first blockbuster super hero and he’s raking it in at the box office.  Further, as the Marvel cinematic universe enters its tenth year, the cat is breathing new life into the franchise.  While the older characters we’ve grown used to are a lot of fun, we’ve gotten used to their story lines and new additions like this one will keep interest going into the future.

Special effects wise, there’s a lot of cool stuff going on.  Typically, I don’t like it when movies put a certain brand of car into the film as an advertisement, but there’s a pretty cool chase scene in which a Lexus is driven in an unusual way.  I’ll let you watch it rather than spoil it.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

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TV Review – The Punisher

Guns, guns, and more guns.

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s “The Punisher.”

When I was a kid, it was common for nerds to gravitate towards more realistic super heroes.  Batman was popular because he was a human without any supernatural powers.

Nerds in the know knew that as cool as the Caped Crusader was, Frank Castle aka “The Punisher” was the more (perhaps the most) realistic superhero.  Arguably, advanced wealth, and the ability to train all day, travel the world to learn new techniques, fund new technologies and figure out how to subdue criminals with non-lethal bat kicks only to hang them forty stories up in the air by a bat rope hooked to one end of a gargoyle with the other end to their underpants is pretty damn spectacular.

In short, it’s unlikely you’ll ever obtain Bruce Wayne’s wealth and if you did, it’s unlikely you’d be able to develop the science defying goodies he wields.

The Punisher, on the other hand, has one super power (of sorts.)  He’s extremely pissed off over the death of his family, leading to an eternal “I don’t give a f%%k” attitude.

Batman might knock out a crook with a batarang.  The Punisher will just buy an epic shit ton of guns off the black market and blow the crooks away.

I remember as a kid wondering why super heroes always go to elaborate lengths to save villains and bring them in safe and sound only for the criminal to escape and wreak havoc again.  Whoever invented “The Punisher” realized that clearly, the only way to stop a criminal from being evil again is to dispense with some hot lead justice.

I mean, for all the blowback Batman got for being a vigilante acting outside the law, the Dark Knight at least left the crooks tied up for the cops to arrest and the justice system to put on trial.  If you were an alleged criminal, you at least had a chance to go before the judge and argue that Batman got the wrong guy.  The Punisher has no checks and balances system.  If it turns out he ganked the wrong dude, the wrong dude remains dead.

Anyway, enough of that nerdery.  After three film versions, Netflix seems to have captured the essence of this fan favorite.  Jon Bernthal (fans of “The Walking Dead” know him as Shane) plays the ultimate sullen, sad-sack tough guy.  We are spared a detailed origin story, though newbs are spoon fed just enough of what they need to know about what drove Frank to become a gun toting one-man crime stopper.

In this version, it’s been six months since Frank took out the crew who killed his wife and daughter.  Somehow he thought that would be enough for him to move on be he can’t.  There’s a hole inside him and it can only be filled with dead bad guys.

Batman sends his baddies to Arkham.  Superman gives his baddies a stern talking to.  Spider-Man gums up evildoers in a web but Frank…Frank just shoots them.  That’s it.

After “Agents of Shield” I lost hope for a good Marvel TV show, but this series has renewed it.  Good show, Netflix.  Good show.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Does Frank even count as a superhero?  Discuss in the comments.

 

 

 

 

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Daily Discussion with BQB – The Accusations Against Stan Lee

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

When I was a kid, I made an effort to start an autograph collection.  I wrote to celebrities, usually to like the network they worked on, the company they worked for, and wrote polite little letters asking for an autograph.

I got a lot of form letters back telling me politely to pound sand…but I also got…a photo signed by the one and only Stan Lee. (Not gonna lie, I have debated for years whether he signed it or if it was a photo with the signature already printed on it, but either way, it was a better response than what I’d received from anyone else.

It made me happy because I used to watch the “Spider-Man” cartoon on Saturday mornings, narrated in his cool voice.

Sigh.  Excelsior, true believers.

He’s denied the accusations through his lawyers.  I think I’ll wait and see how the story develops before I say anything.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Is Thor Cultural Appropriation?

Sigh.  I don’t want to be a wet blanket, especially because I love Marvel movies and Thor is the best of the solo hero standalone flicks.

But…yep, there was an ancient Norse religion.  Odinism.  Asatru.  Call it what you will, but just as the Romans had Apollo and the Greeks had Zeus, so too did the Scandinavians of old have Odin, Thor, Loki and Hela.

Thor was a God worshipped by many.  So I mean, yeah, if Marvel were to create a new hero called “The Amazing Jesus” and have him fight the Hulk and run around with Capt. America and Spiderman, people would be upset.

But Odinism was replaced by Christianity. I don’t know the whole history but my limited understanding is that the Romans took over Europe.  The Europeans were forest dwelling tree people and ironically, were considered savage barbarians by the Romans.

Eventually the Roman Empire converted from its multi-God system to Christianity, becoming the Holy Roman Empire and Christianity spread throughout Europe.

So I don’t know…there have been movies about the Gods of old and they are interesting but its just interesting how history plays out.  Some religions remain and it would be offensive to have superhero movies about them.  Others can turn the Gods of religions into cartoon characters.

I have some Scandinavian blood in me but I mean, it doesn’t bother me.  If I were a full blooded Asatru worshipping Thor lover though, yeah, I feel like I’d be sad to see Thor being a caricature.

Oh well.  Just a random thought.  Again, I’m not saying dump Thor.  Of all the Avengers, he has the best storyline, probably because it was written by ancient Norwegians and not Marvel.

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