Marvel-ous Day 4 (Part 2)

June 28, 2020 at 12:22 am (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

***SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017) Netflix

One-sentence summary: A dorky teen with superpowers has to save the day alone when the grown-ups get sick of him.

The opening scene is the affable and competent villain-to-be Adrian Toomes helping tidy up after the battle of New York, only to be fired because one of Stark’s many companies takes over. He steals some alien tech and ultimately becomes Vulture.

This is part of Marvel’s increasing nods to realism (calling it realism would be a major exaggeration, which is as it should be). Several villains (including the baddie from way back in Iron Man 2, and most recently Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) have now been directly inspired by the mistakes and/or collateral damage caused by our heroes.

The second scene is Peter Parker’s dodgy home video of the leadup to the Captain America: Civil War airport fight. He is so lovable it hurts.

Oh, that moment when Stark leans over to open the door and Peter thinks it’s a hug but it’s not. From that moment, every parent-hearted individual on Earth wants to adopt this precious child.

Another aspect of Marvel’s nods to realism is that they’re trying to be slightly less painfully un-diverse. So other than Peter, Stark, and Happy, most of the important characters are people of colour. I am so, so, so excited for Phase 4.

Zendaya wins over the audience in two lines. Everything she says or does is… I want to say “perfect” but it’s so much more than perfect. I love you, Zendaya.

And an adorable montage of Peter trying (and often failing) to be a hero.

I’m gonna have to stop listing every scene in this…

Oh, but the scene in which Ned discovers Peter’s really Spider-Man! Love it. (Also so delighted to see a properly overweight character… who isn’t gross or greedy or lazy.)

Oh, but Ned is so funny!

Oh, and school safety videos by Captain America!

The scariest scene is not the climax, but the scene in which Peter goes to pick up his date for Prom, and realises that her dad is Vulture. And everything he says and does drips with menace even before he realises during the drive to Prom that Peter is Spider-Man.

*

And when Spider-Man is hurt—really hurt—and he’s just a kid in a red tracksuit who’s all alone and scared… that packs a genuine emotional punch.

*

And the film ends on a beautiful moment, as Peter gets a new suit and is just trying it on when Aunt May walks past the open door behind him and says, “What the Fu–!”

Post-credits scene 1: The Vulture meets up with another villain in prison, but chooses not to reveal Spider-Man’s secret identity. It’s weird and beautiful that he is, in his way, one of the best fathers in the MCU.

Post-credits scene 2: Another Captain America PSA, this time on the merits (or not) of patience.

 

THOR: RAGNAROK (2017) Disney +

One-sentence summary: Thor blows up his home planet so his big sister stops playing with it.

Ah, that opening scene immediately tells us that this Thor movie is going to be fun. Thor is chatting to a skeleton in lieu of any other admirers, and then he continues to be damn funny for the rest of the film. Suddenly Thor became interesting again.

And the second scene has Loki, disguised as King Odin, enjoying a play rehashing his most recent “death” (with Matt Damon, Luke Hemsworth, and Sam Neill playing Loki, Thor, and Odin). It is the greatest and best way to deal with the plot point of Loki currently ruling as Odin.

This film is brilliantly funny throughout. (“I have been falling for thirty minutes!”)

Then the brothers face Odin’s demise, and immediately meet their big sister Hela, goddess of death, who is instantly iconic as she breaks another icon and joins the nine realms’ least functional family (okay, maybe second-least, after the Guardians. Or just the Quills. Or the Starks. Or… never mind).

Hela takes over Asgard and chucks the brothers into space. They land, like all rubbish lands, on Sakaar, which happens to be where the Hulk ended up, as well as Scrapper 142 aka Valkyrie.

The Willy Wonka terror tunnel is a lovely piece of theatre, as is everything the Grandmaster says and does (particularly calling Thor “Sparkles”). Ditto Valkyrie.

Korg!

“Another day, another Doug.”

“Piss off, ghost!”

The fight between Thor and the Hulk (I mistyped that as hunk first time around) is wonderful. It’s the best fight between two Avengers, because it has such a rich emotional journey (not to mention cutting back and forth into Loki’s emotional journey as he watches the fight).

And there’s one more pure iconic moment to come, during the battle to escape Asgard.

And it’s so thrilling to see both Loki and Valkyrie fighting for good.

Post-credits scene 1: Loki and Thor chatting about how they’ll be received rather differently on Earth, but Thor is sure everything is going to be fine. Then a shadow falls over them as a much, much bigger ship flies slowly over them.

Post-credits scene 2: The Grandmaster stumbles out of a crashed ship into a pile of rubbish surrounded by a large number of armed and dangerous scavengers. He congratulates them on their revolution, and graciously declares it a tie. It looks like they’ll most likely kill him.

 

BLACK PANTHER (2018) Disney +

One-sentence summary: King T’Challa kills a baddie and then does what the baddie wanted.

There are two exceptional things about this film: the setting, and the characters. (Also the writing, and the fight scenes, and the costumes, and the… well, you get the idea.)

We meet bald-headed Okoye (head of the Dora Milaje fighting force), love interest Nakia (a spy who is quietly making the world better one mission at a time), Queen Ramonda (described elsewhere as “Angela Bassett playing herself”), and genius teenager Princess Shuri.

Our main villain Killmonger (Eric Stevens/N’Jadaka) is introduced as he lectures the West African artifact expert at a museum and then mentions he’ll be stealing an item. When she objects, he points out that it was stolen from Africa in the first place. He continues to be righteously angry, and fundamentally correct in everything he fights for. Even his methods, although violent, make sense. (Shooting his girlfriend was a pure dick move, though.)

Wakanda itself is incredible. The unique tech, the choice to remain hidden, the different tribes which are all visually and culturally distinct, and the gorgeous scenery.

M’Baku (leader of an isolationist tribe) challenges T’Challa for kingship, and loses. (Fighting on top of a waterfall is definitely not a great way to pick who runs a kingdom, but it is visually stunning.)

Nakia spends some time with T’Challa, and sets forth her argument that Wakanda is strong enough to help the rest of the world, and should do so.

T’Challa, Nakia, and Okoye have a cool fight in South Korea, during which Okoye says, “Guns. So primitive.”

*

T’Challa loved his father, and the knowledge that his father executed his uncle and abandoned his very young cousin (aka Killmonger) is devastating, and plays a part in his loss when Killmonger challenges him to fight for the kingship.

When T’Challa is thrown off the waterfall, it is as horrifying as it was inevitable. Suddenly everyone must decide if they are loyal to T’Challa or to the throne. Nakia is loyal to T’Challa; Okoye is loyal to the throne. Nakia quickly hides the royal family and the visiting member of the CIA, saving their lives—and one of the heart-shaped flowers that give the Black Panther its power. Smart girl.

It is not easy to write motivations that can be good on both sides, and cause good characters to fight one another. Motivations scraped by plausibility-wise in Civil War; here they are painfully real. M’Baku is a powerful and noble antagonist too.

Killmonger, like T’Challa before him, is able to speak to his dead father in a scene that shows a great deal of pain and personality.

War rhinos! I want one!

And with them comes a moment in which we know exactly where one woman’s priorities lie:

W’Kabe (Okoye’s husband and another major war leader): “Would you kill me, my love?”

Okoye: “For Wakanda? Without question.”

The battle ends, but the royal cousins are still fighting. T’Challa wins.

Killmonger has been told a Wakandan sunset is the most beautiful thing in the world. He has never seen one. So T’Challa takes him outside where they sit side by side and watch the sun set over the mountains as Killmonger dies.

T’Challa offers him medical attention: the chance to live.

Killmonger: “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships because they knew death was better than bondage.”

*

In the final scene, Wakanda is opened up to the (very surprised) world.

Post-credits scene: Bucky (now called the White Wolf) is chilling out in a hut by a stream. Shuri has taken him in hand and it’s clear he’s healing from his past.

*

And the next film is Avengers: Infinity War! Yibambe!

2 Comments

  1. Summary of a Saga | crazy talk said,

    […] 3 (part 1, part 2, part 3 aka Infinity War, part 4, part 5 aka Endgame, part […]

  2. 5 Most Profound Moments in the MCU: Infinity Saga | crazy talk said,

    […] fights T’Challa and, eventually, loses. I wrote out his dying words on the main review page, but they are well worth […]

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