Summary of a Saga

June 30, 2020 at 12:27 am (funny, MegaList of Awesomeness, Reviews, Top Ten, TV/movie review, With a list)


I just watched the entire MCU Infinity Saga in five days. With twenty-three movies in the saga, I averaged ten hours of movie-watching time a day. I’m keeping a neat-o summary here to remind myself who’s who and what’s what next time I dive into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And linkety links to all my many MANY thoughts on the Saga.

In Australia, they’re all on Disney + except The Incredible Hulk (I rented it from YouTube; feel free to skip it), Spider-Man: Homecoming (Netflix), and Spider-Man: Far From Home (Amazon Prime).

Phase 1 (all reviewed in full here)

***Iron Man

Stark swears off weapons then immediately makes the best one ever.

*The Incredible Hulk

Dr Banner is found by the government but eventually manages to go back into hiding.

***Iron Man 2

Stark promises that bad people definitely won’t be able to make any iron man suits; two different baddies make iron man suits.


The god of thunder becomes less of a dickhead.

***Captain America: The First Avenger

A good-hearted weakling turns into a good-hearted superhero.

***Marvel’s The Avengers

Loki tries and fails to use a shiny to get more shinies for big bad Thanos.


Phase 1 summary: S.H.I.E.L.D. (specifically Nick Fury) puts together a superhero team made up of playboy genius Iron Man; part time rage-monster Hulk; jock god Thor; honourable 1940s man Captain America; and well-trained humans Hawkeye (arrows) and Black Widow (spy/assassin). They defeat various baddies including an alien hoard led by god of mischief Loki (aka Thor’s adopted brother and temporary minion of big bad Thanos).

Our original six heroes, left to right: Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man.

And here’s Loki.

Phase 2 (reviews part 1 and part 2)

***Iron Man 3

Stark makes way too many suits then blows them all up.

**Thor: The Dark World

Thor and Jane get back together; Loki is slightly less evil.

***Captain America: The Winter Soldier

S.H.I.E.L.D. turns out to be mostly Hydra (oh no), but Cap’s best friend gets partially un-brainwashed (yay).

***Guardians of the Galaxy

Star-Lord makes friends, and together they keep a shiny orb away from assorted baddies.

*Avengers: Age of Ultron

Stark makes then breaks a bad robot.


An ex-con becomes a superhero in exchange for stealing stuff for a cranky good guy instead of amiable bad guys.

Phase 2 summary: Our superheroes (now including semi-reformed Loki and Winter Soldier) add iron-suited War Machine, flying robot Vision, superfast Quicksilver (already dead), his twin sister Scarlet Witch (who has ill-defined but impressive powers and no personality to speak of); and lovable schmuck Ant-Man to their ranks. They also get (but don’t yet meet) the Guardians of the Galaxy: insecure but music-loving Star-Lord (human); righteously driven ex-baddie Gamora (green); trisyllabic Groot (tree thing; it dies but sprouts another Groot); twisted and damaged Rocket (mutated racoon thing); and literal-minded muscleman Drax (humanoid). They mean well (mostly), but commit various crimes including major property damage, theft, and mass manslaughter.

Picture 1: Scarlet Witch, Falcon (who gets those wings in the next movie), Vision, War Machine (in his Iron Patriot phase; usually he’s not so colourful).

Picture 2: Bucky (recovered from being the Winter Soldier) and Ant-Man (Scott).

And the Guardians, left to right: Groot, Rocket, Star-Lord (aka Peter Quill), Gamora, Drax

Phase 3 (reviews part 1, part 2, part 3 aka Infinity War, part 4, part 5 aka Endgame, part 6)

***Captain America: Civil War

Running low on baddies, the Avengers fight each other.

**Doctor Strange

Dr Strange learns to use his annoyingness for good.

***Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

Star-Lord finds and then kills his dad (who is a murderer and also a planet).

***Spider-Man: Homecoming

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

***Thor: Ragnarok

Thor blows up his home planet so his big sister stops playing with it.

***Black Panther

King T’Challa kills a baddie and then does what the baddie wanted.

***Avengers: Infinity War

Thanos gets all the infinity stones and instantly erases half of all living creatures.

***Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp rescue Wasp’s mother from the quantum realm.

***Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel realises she’s Captain friggin’ Marvel.

***Avengers: Endgame

The Avengers kill Thanos (twice).

***Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spider-Man gives a potent weapon to a baddie then gets it back again.


Phase 3 summary, excluding Infinity War and Endgame: The goodies add the following to their roster: adorkable kid Spider-Man; witty sidekick Falcon; arrogant wizard Dr Strange (and similarly-powered sorcerer Wong); half-mecha ex-villain Nebula (Gamora’s green sister); empath alien Mantis (now also a Guardian); long-frustrated heroine Wasp; superhero squared Captain Marvel; and the Black Panther and a bunch of epic Wakandan people and weapons (gracious noncombatant Queen Ramonda; genius teenager Princess Shuri; and Okoye, the righteous leader of the bald-headed Dora Milaje all-female army).

Summary of Infinity War and Endgame: Thanos erases half of all living creatures. The heroes get everyone back, except:

a) There’s a five year gap when the world is half empty.

b) Gamora, Loki, Vision, and Black Widow are dead; Captain America is old and retired. Past versions of Gamora and Loki are likely to be around in future.

c) Thanos is definitely for sure gone now.


Picture 1: Spider-Man and Dr Strange

Picture 2: Nebula and Mantis

Picture 3: Captain Marvel (she cuts her hair later) and Black Panther (Wasp not pictured because she’ll be hanging out with Ant-Man, and her look is very similar to his except she has wings):

Thanos is big and purple, and also dead. Not pictured.

*     *     *

Here are some other MCU reviews etc that I wrote in 2019:

Captain Marvel VS Wonder Woman

Spoiler Free study guide (including the stones, actor names, and a paragraph on each film) for those about to see Infinity War

Spoiler-FILLED prep for Infinity War, for those who want to know what happens in advance

Spoiler-filled post-viewing discussion of Infinity War, with my predictions about Endgame


All Fourteen Best/Worst-of Lists I Wrote Just Now:

Top 5 Best-Written Villains

Best 5 Movies in the Infinity Saga

Best 5 Scenes in the Infinity Saga

5 Best Characters to Cosplay

5 Most Iconic Lines

5 Most Profound Moments in the MCU: Infinity Saga

5 Best Side Characters

5 Best Chrises

5 Best-Written Pieces of Exposition

5 Worst Fathers in the MCU

5 Most Problematic Moments in the Infinity Saga

5 Best Romances in the Infinity Saga

Biggest Writing Challenges for Marvel going forward

After Infinity: Marvel Stuff I’m Looking Forward To

*     *     *

For those concerned about my health, I had a very calm day today. TJ was lonely in the living room, but he was fine with me sleeping as long as I was in the room with him. I’d warned him I needed to rest today, so he very carefully made the living room couch “super comfy” for me so I slept there during the day.

Pictured: super comfy.

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Marvel-ous Day 5: Part 4

June 29, 2020 at 2:51 am (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

One film to go!

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (2019) Amazon Prime

One-sentence summary: Spider-Man gives a potent weapon to a baddie then gets it back again.

This takes place in the post-Snap (aka post-Blip) world. The movie reminds us of all the tragedy of Infinity War and Endgame, yet has us laughing virtually immediately.

The romance here is a suitably dorky teen romance full of awkwardness and hesitation. It is exactly as it should be. And so is May’s enthusiastic support of Spider-Man. And the awkwardness of his aunt heading into a romance of her own.

Our sweet innocent child has a few good normal things in his life, thank goodness. Like a school trip, yay!

But he’s grieving for Stark, and feeling like everyone expects him to take over as, effectively, Iron Man. It does NOT help that Stark has bequeathed him a set of Iron Man sunnies that double as a weapon of mass destruction. Classic Stark, though. Stark and Peter both make a lot of dumb life choices. Sure enough, Peter gives his sunnies away to the villain. (Way later in the film.)

Elemental visuals are cool.


I love that MJ figures out Peter’s secret identity—and also plays a part in discovering the truth about Mysterio.

Zendaya is trending on twitter right now, as she’s getting attacked by some fools and worshipped by many others. That’s life as a woman of colour, unfortunately. Here’s some real quick google images of her wonderfulness to brighten your day:


Mysterio does what all the best Spider-Man villains do, and messes with Peter’s head.

He is just a kid, after all.

So Mysterio beats him up both literally and figuratively, tells him that he’s dumb and that all his friends are going to die, and then runs him over with a train.

Sounds like adolescence to me.


Haha I’m so tired. Forty-five minutes to go. I really hope TJ lets me sleep in tomorrow.


Peter breaks down under the stress of not being Iron Man, and of having given a major weapon to a villain.


Happy points out that Iron Man was a mess too.

And then Peter steadies himself and uses Stark’s magic computer system to design his own new Spidey suit. (And Happy is smart enough to not mention how like Stark Peter is.)


And so we come to the final showdown in London. It’s a delight to see Zendaya and the other schoolgirl take down a drone using medieval weaponry.


Peter has fully regained both his mojo and his “Peter tingle” (Aunt May’s term for his Spidey sense). As a result, Mysterio’s tricks, illusions, and gaslighting stops working on him.

Mysterio dies from his own drone strike.


MJ and Peter finally and beautifully get together. She keeps the mace.

Peter takes her flying…

Post-credits scene: …and she hates it.

And Mysterio (with assistance from J. Jonah Jamison) had set up a death-switch video that exposes Spider-Man’s secret identity. While framing him for the ‘murder’ of Mysterio.


Post-credits scene 2: It turns out that two Skrull have been acting as Fury and Maria Hill for this entire movie, while Fury has a holiday in space. (Which explains why Fury was so determined to push the very young Peter into risking his life so much.)

*     *     *

It is astonishing that any series can be of such consistently high quality for so long. (See Appendix A: Game of Thrones.) The whole saga shares themes and characters in a balancing act of character, style, theme, and even multiple genres (fantasy, comedy, space opera, scifi, action). My cats are super impressed and so am I.


I have a LOT of best-of-the-MCU-so-far lists that I’m compiling for your edification and mine. I’ll probably release one or two a day for a week or so. (The first, top villains, is here.) Everything from ‘best characters for cosplaying’ to ‘best one-liners’.

We all need something to keep us going until we can see the next Marvel movie. And/or all those upcoming TV shows.

Edit: I went to bed an hour ago but did I mention I’m having a manic episode? It takes a while to come down from those. So I’m up again at 4am because I was just getting more and more ideas for blog post lists. Also I got really excited that I reckon I’ve figured out the title of the third Spider-Man movie. So now I have to fill my head with something other than my own creativity, so I’m… watching TV. Specifically, movie reviews.

I like movie reviews. Could you guess that?

I will eventually get to sleep, don’t worry.

The title of the third Spider-Man movie should be Spider-Man: Homeless.

Because the other two both have the word ‘home’ in the title, and because Peter’s just been framed for murder AND outed as Spider-Man, so it’s likely he’ll be on the run for a bit.

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MCU Infinity Saga: Top 5 Best-Written Villains

June 29, 2020 at 1:51 am (Reviews, Top Ten, TV/movie review, With a list)

The MCU has a bad reputation for forgettable villains, and it’s often justified. While attempting to explain every plot twist to my six year-old, I realised that every movie has several villains. Of course a lot of them aren’t well-developed.

But a bunch of them are brilliant. Here are my top picks, based purely on the quality of the writing (and acting), and the depth of emotion they inspire.

5. Thanos.

Not because his plan makes sense, or because he’s so powerful (powerful schmowerful, as so often happens). He gets on the list because his treatment of his daughters is so twisted and so painful that I truly hate his guts.

And he actually thinks he loves them, too. Sure, he grieves Gamora. People often grieve useful or beautiful or expensive objects, especially when they’re spent a lot of time getting them just the way they want them. That’s not love.

4. Ghost

I’d be angry too, if other people’s incompetence led to constant pain for me—particularly if I also had only days to live. As a disabled person with chronic pain in an ableist world, Ghost is just too relatable. Which, for a murderer, is a mighty achievement. It doesn’t hurt that Hanna John-Kamen is one of the most beautiful people on the planet. I hope we see more of her in future movies.

3. Grandmaster

He is so adorable and hilarious and charming you forget he’s a slaver (sorry, I meant to say, “employer of prisoners with jobs”) and a villain. Every second he’s on screen is a delight. It doesn’t hurt that everyone in the room with him is clearly having a blast—Jeff Goldblum most of all.

2. Loki

But you knew he’d be on the list, didn’t you? Joy, mischief, pain, humour, and redemption in one very pretty package.

Honorable Mentions:

Klaue (played by Andy Serkis) because of his manic glee.

Hela (Cate Blanchett), for dark joy, shocking power, and for exposing Odin’s awful treatment of her—and his war-mongering/colonialising ways. She has good reason to be angry.

Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), except that they’re much more interesting as they’re becoming good. As villains, they’re dull (the Winter Soldier is basically a blank slate, which is the point).

1. Erik Killmonger

Killmonger is fundamentally right, both in his personal anger towards the hero (because of the actions of T’Challa’s father and uncle), and in his wider anger about Wakanda’s isolationism when African people around the world are crying out for justice. It is all too close to home for anyone living in the real world right now. He also plays beautifully with stereotypes, deliberately dressing in a way that makes white Americans see him as a thug. And his death breaks our hearts. Put all those elements together, and you have an unforgettable villain.

Do you agree with the list?

Did I forget someone I shouldn’t have?

Sound off in the comics! Let the nerd wars commence.

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Marvel-ous Day 5: Part 3

June 29, 2020 at 12:58 am (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019) Disney +

One-sentence summary: The Avengers kill Thanos (twice).

That opening scene with Hawkeye’s family vanishing puts us right back in that moment when half the population simply disappeared. It’s powerful.

And then we see Iron Man and Nebula slowly dying, in space. And Stark is teaching her dumb childish games, and she wins, and it’s freaking her out because any form of competition was always a precursor to punishment for her. But she’s learning to be (for want of a better word) human, for the first time.

And then Stark leaves a farewell message for Pepper.


Captain Marvel shows up, takes the spaceship back to Earth, and joins the remaining good guys. *much cheering*

They figure out where Thanos is, and go to kill him and get the stones so they can bring back all the people who turned to dust. (I really like the closeup on Captain America’s eyes as this man from the 40s goes into space.) But Thanos has already destroyed the stones. Thor kills him with that super cool new Stormbreaker axe, but it feels hollow.

The screen fades to black, and then says, “Five Years Later.”

There is time for the pain of the Avengers’ greatest failure to sink in. In the theatre, people gasped. Marvel firmly established the rules for their own universe, and then broke them. That’s good writing.


I wish the fact that there’s a gay character could pass without comment. It’s such a tiny moment. But we had waited for so many years to finally have the existence of gay people acknowledged on screen.


Thanks to the world’s most heroic rat, Ant-Man is brought out of the Quantum Realm (leading folks to try time travel to ‘borrow’ the stones from the past) and soon finds out what has happened. Sweet little Cassie is a teenager.

There are so many different types of grief in this film.


When Captain America talks about whales returning to the less-polluted Hudson River… that moment hits so much harder during the COVID-19 crisis. Because we now know what it’s like to see the world doing a little better because humans are doing so much worse.


Also? There are SO many characters in this movie, but the writers take their time letting us feel who they are through their grief before jumping into the time heist.



This is where the audience figures Stark might not die after all. Because hurting that precious child is too awful to contemplate.

And, this is where we get some legitimate tension because Stark has a lot of great reasons to NOT do anything heroic any more. But of course the others need his help.

In the end, he can’t resist helping. His compulsion to invent and explore and save the world is too strong.


Incidentally? Not that it’s a competition or anything, but my son TJ once said to me, “I love you times a googol.” (A googol is a 1 with 100 zeroes.)

Just saying.


The Honest Trailer pointed out that this time heist is the ultimate fantasy for the current generation(s): the chance to go back and fix our mistakes.


Love Professor Hulk.


Love Fat Thor, hate fat jokes.


Still, Hawkeye manages to surpass him in the ‘least functional member of original team’ awards.


And now for the main plot: borrowing the six infinity stones from the past in order to bring back the people who were snapped away.

Six stones, three teams.

This is our hero shot: bleak looks, bleak colours, bleak situation. (Captain Marvel is off helping the rest of the universe. This must have been a trailer shot because Thor and Professor Hulk are both missing, but they’re there in the actual shot.)

*One team goes to New York in that moment when three stones were there (during the battle of New York from the first Avengers movie, which is extremely fun). Captain America, Professor Hulk, Ant-Man, and Iron Man.

-Loki escapes with the tesseract.

-Cap fights himself, and says the line, “That is America’s ass.”

Ant-Man and Hulk take the stones they acquire back to the present, and Iron Man and Captain America go further into the past, where Iron Man chats to his own father and Captain America gets a glimpse of Agent Carter.

Iron Man: Do you trust me?

Captain America: I do.

Theirs is the most intense relationship in the Infinity Saga.

*One team goes to the planets Vormir and Morag, to get the soul stone and the orb-encased power stone that Star-Lord stole in the very early (dancing) scene of the first Guardians film. Nebula and War Machine go there, and unfortunately Nebula’s built-in wifi alerts past Thanos to what’s happening (so old evil Nebula catches her and takes her place back in the present). On Voromir, Hawkeye and Black Widow fight each other for the right to hurl themself off the cliff so the other one gets the stone. This is how Black Widow dies. It’s not an easy scene to re-watch. I still hope that Gamora and Black Widow ‘get better’ although the fact that we end up with a past Gamora in the present makes me less hopeful for Black Widow.

*And the other team: Thor (who gets to talk to his mother before she dies) and Rocket go to Asgard to get the red stone from when it was making Jane Foster sick (in Thor: The Dark World). Thor also gets his hammer, which when combined with his mother’s wisdom makes him realise he is still himself and helps him get out of his depressive/alcoholic funk. “I’m still worthy.”

He’s still a wreck both physically and mentally, but that is the turning point. (It is beautiful that he doesn’t magically become ripped again before the final battle—he is imperfectly perfect.)

If it wasn’t for his own mum mocking him for his weight gain, this scene would be incredibly meaningful to so many who suffer from depression and/or the kind of weight gain that comes from having your life ripped apart.

FYI: Salad will never fix that.

FYI #2: When someone is seriously overweight, there’s always a reason. Their body is built that way, or they’re physically and/or mentally ill, or suffering from PTSD, or any number of other reasons that could cause someone to lose their control over their own body, knowing full well the disgust and hatred society will throw at them as a result. A huge proportion of disabled people are also overweight or obese. That’s what happens when it’s difficult or impossible to exercise; when the world tells you that you’re useless and/or a freak; or you’re using food to deal with constant pain.


It’s 11:14pm and I have  one and a bit movies still to go. I’m getting a little tired, I confess.


Black Widow’s death brings the movie to a halt for a little while (not as long as Stark’s death will do; not by a long shot).

Professor Hulk snaps his fingers, permanently withering his arm—and everyone comes back.

It’s a beautiful moment. It’s all right! They did it!

It is appropriate that it’s Ant-Man—the ordinary schmuck of the Avengers—who walks to the windows, seeing birds return. And Hawkeye’s wife calls him.

Then, boom.

Past Thanos has arrived, thanks to past Nebula.

It’s time for the final showdown—again.

I’m not going to attempt to rehash all the beats—Nebula enlisting past Gamora and then killing her past self; Giant Ant-Man punching out a chitauri spaceship; Captain America wielding Mjolnir, lightning and all (delighting Thor); Star-Lord seeing what he thinks is the Gamora he knows (who kicks him in the crotch); Captain Marvel’s rather dramatic arrival; the famous girl fight moment including Pepper Potts suited up as Rescue (Chris says, “It’s cheap and manipulative but you kinda love it”)


I’m finally eating my own bowl of mousse now, sloppy as it is. You can’t go too far wrong with sugar, chocolate, and cream.

Speaking of cream, I used up the last of that pot of cream today by making creamy fettucini chicken for dinner.

I like finishing things.


There are some things that must be mentioned, however.

“On your left.” (And Valkyrie has a UNICORN you guys!)

“Avengers, Assemble!”

And then the real hero shot of the movie, as the battle lines rush towards one another:

And, more importantly, this:

And the two lines we all know from this movie:

Thanos: I am inevitable.

Iron Man: I am Iron Man.

Bye bye Thanos.

And… bye bye Stark.

Time to sob for a solid half hour as we deal with Tony’s death, and the grief just piles on and on. Rhodey. Peter Parker. Pepper. Steve Rogers.

Peter: “We won. We did it, Sir. We did it.”

Happy, and little Morgan Stark.

“I’m gonna buy you as many cheeseburgers as you want.”

Like I said, a solid half hour of sobbing.


There are so many shots of families and friends reuniting—a bittersweet joy, after five years lost and Stark’s death. And the deaths of Black Widow and Vision.


Thor appoints Valkyrie Queen of Asgard, and heads off with the Guardians of the Galaxy. May the bickering between superheroes continue!


Captain America returns all the stones to their right places (off-screen, because that would be QUITE a story) then returns as an old, old man. He gives the shield and the title of Captain America to Falcon (which Bucky clearly knew was coming), having spent his whole life with Peggy back in the past. It’s a neat contrast to Stark’s arc (going from selfish to selfless), and I’m very glad that Steve gets to live happily ever after.

There is no post-credits scene, but there is the ding-ding-ding of Iron Man building his first suit way back in 2008.


Status of original six heroes:

Iron Man – dead

Black Widow – dead

Captain America – super old and retired

Hulk/Banner – now Professor Hulk, but with a withered arm

Thor – gone walkabout in space with the Guardians

Hawkeye – should definitely be in prison after his actions as Nomad (not that the name is mentioned in the film), but is otherwise fine


Other active heroes (including probably-reformed villains):

Loki, Odin and Frigga – dead, although Loki (probably past Loki) will be on TV

War Machine – fine, with semi-artificial legs

Vision – dead, but gonna be on TV (presumably in the gap between Civil War and Infinity War)

Scarlet Witch – alive, and gonna be on TV with Vision

Winter Soldier (aka Bucky) – alive and gonna be on TV

Falcon – alive and gonna be on TV with Bucky

Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-Lord, Rocket, Teen Groot, Drax, Mantis, Gamora, Nebula – all fine except Gamora, who is dead (although her past self is around in the present). 3rd movie is coming.

Ant-Man and the Wasp – both alive, and presumably with one more movie

Dr Strange (and Wong) – alive, and with more movies to do

Spider-Man – alive, and second and third movies are coming (the second is the epilogue film to the Infinity Saga, which I’ll watch and review next)

Black Panther (and his mother Queen Ramona, and his sister Shuri, and his girlfriend Nakia, and his war general Okoye, and his ally M’Baku) – all alive ready for more movies

Captain Marvel – alive but usually busy in space; more movies coming

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Marvel-ous Day 5: Part 2

June 28, 2020 at 6:57 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

Now, I know what you’re all thinking. DID THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE SET OVERNIGHT?

No it did not.

Somehow, TJ didn’t seem to mind.

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018) Disney +

One-sentence summary: Ant-Man and the Wasp rescue Wasp’s mother from the quantum realm.

The first opening scene is good (Hank Pym and Janet as the first-gen ant-man suit wearers; Janet has to go subatomic and is lost in the subatomic realm), and the second is magnificent.

The second scene is a deliciously, ridiculously elaborate game between Scott Lang and his daughter Cassie. Cassie is a brilliant child, and her love for her dad shines like the sun.

After Infinity War, this is a wonderfully light, fun movie with a nice simple goal: to save one person. And we finally get to see the Wasp in action.

We also meet Ghost (Ava), who is certainly a villain but she’s in so much physical and emotional pain and all she wants is to live.


My daughter wandered through the living room so I gave her a bowl of chocolate mousse too, explaining that it was meant to set but it still tasted good. She said, “Next time try looking at the recipe.”

Thanks for that, kid.

She redeemed herself (or not) a few minutes later by telling me I make the best mousse-flavoured soup ever.


The Ant-Man films are genuinely improved by product placement.

And there’s another iconic moment during the chase:

I love the fact that Ghost gets healed and becomes Ant-Man’s “new friend”.

Post-credits scene 1: Ant-Man goes into the Quantum Realm again to fetch some more healing energy for Ghost while Hank, Janet, and Hope stand by with the equipment outside. Then all three Pyms dissolve into dust, just like so many others did at the end of Infinity War. And Ant-Man is stuck in the Quantum Realm.

Post-credits scene 2:


CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019) Disney +

One-sentence summary: Captain Marvel realises she’s Captain friggin’ Marvel.

We open with a dream/flashback of a plane crash, then Kree soldier Vers (soon to become Captain Marvel, and used to be Carol Danvers) wakes from her dream and talks her mentor Yon-Rogg into a training session. He lectures her on controlling her emotions (and her shiny and very potent super-fist) but she eventually punches him with her shiny super-fist. And gets in trouble for it.

On her first mission against the shape-changing Skrull, Vers is captured.

They shuffle through her memories, and we see a girl who is constantly told to give up and never does. We also see Dr Wendy Lawson for the first time. Vers promptly escapes from the Skrull, taking an emergency pod, and crashing through the roof of a Blockbuster Video store in the movie’s first seriously iconic moment, neatly establishing time, place, and tone.

She quickly butts heads with Fury (who will shortly be her staunchest ally; the chemistry between them is glorious—as is the chemistry between Carol and her best friend the fighter pilot Monica Rambeau, and between Carol and Rambeau’s daughter).

Carol runs away from Fury to chase some Skrull. Specifically, this one:

The Skrull are brilliant villains because of the extreme paranoia of knowing they could be anywhere, and anyone. But Carol knows her business, and she punches that old lady in the face without hesitation.


Later, the script flips and we find out the Kree have been gaslighting Vers (who is human) into thinking she’s Kree—and into thinking her super-punching skills were given to her by them, rather than something she gained accidentally back in that plane crash. Carol adapts fast, and helps the Skrull as Dr Wendy Lawson (actually a Kree scientist based on Earth and helping Skrull refugees) wanted.

But the Kree follow her into a Skrull refugee base, and capture her.


The Kree double down on their gaslighting, calling her cute and pathetic, and saying that her only strength comes from them. But they’re wrong, and Carol now knows it. Not only does she break free of the fight and of their mind control, she takes the power-limiter (that they have told her is necessary to keep her safe) off her neck.

It is glorious.

Then Goose eats the tesseract (yes, the power stone one). He’s not a sweet ginger tabby, at all, but a terrifying Flerken monster. And he eats a bunch of baddies too.

It is gloriouser.

And then “Just a Girl” by Gwen Stefani plays as Carol beats up all those who have told her they’re her team, her only friends, her saviours. Their threats and intimidation just… don’t work. At all. Then she blows up a bunch of spaceships so easily it makes her laugh.

It is the gloriousest.


But is it too on the nose?


I felt ambivalent coming into this film for the second time. The first time it meant so much to have a female superhero film at last, and the themes of gaslighting and lies were so powerful. But was it just that—a girlie film, catering purely to the frustrations of the females of the population?

And yeah. It definitely resonates more with women. Because women get more gaslighting, more lies, and more people telling us we can’t do what we want, and that we’re “too emotional” (and at the same time, that we should smile more). And it’s high time we got a truly awesome superhero film that went ahead and leaned into those themes.

This is that movie. And until such time as all reviewers remember that

(a) Women make up half the population, and

(b) Themes that are more relevant to women than men are still universal, and certainly not embarrassing or trite (something I’m clearly not over myself), and

(c) Superheroes aren’t just for boys

…this film will have a special power that makes it even greater than the norm.


And yes, I spent several months after this yelling, “FLERKEN!” at my cat during odd moments. But so did everyone.

Which reminds me. My kitten wasn’t born yet. Time to give her the flerken treatment.


Post-credits scene 1: Captain America, Black Widow, Dr Banner, and Rhodes are looking at screens showing how many people vanished in that awful moment at the end of Infinity War (same moment as the post-credits Ant-Man and the Wasp scene), with Fury’s special Captain Marvel pager in the other room. Then Captain Marvel appears among them and says, “Where’s Fury?”

Post-credtis scene 2: Goose the flerken throws up the tesseract on Fury’s desk.


Since my entire mind is so very saturated with this Infinity Saga at present, I’m compiling a bunch of lists! What are the best five movies? Best five scenes? Best five villains? Best five one-liners?

Is there a particular list you’d like to see?

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Marvel-ous Day 5 (Part 1)

June 28, 2020 at 3:44 am (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)


But surely you know everything that happens by now, whether you’ve seen the film or not.


Wow. I’m about to start Infinity War so I’m sort of close to the end of the saga… but there’s actually still five films to go, and two of them are super long.


Just now I made some chocolate mousse, for the first time in my life.

Why have I never made mousse before? Simple. Meringue is basically an ingredient of mousse, and meringue is delicious and annoying to make. So if you’re gonna make meringue, you’re not going to keep going and make mousse, are you?

So why did I make mousse today?

Well, I run a food pantry and I also receive a government food box each week. I take from the box what is useful to my family (usually not much because of food allergies etc), and put the rest in the pantry so it’s not wasted. But often government food, especially the fresh stuff, is a little dodgy. Rotten vegetables, dairy that’s past its use by date when I pick it up, etc. So on Friday I received a carton of buttermilk that was two days out of date, as well as a 600mL pot of cream that was use by on the day (Friday). I figured two days wasn’t all THAT much out of date so I should challenge myself to prevent food wastage by making as much buttermilk or cream-based food as possible. Thus, on Friday I made buttermilk bread. Today I made cheesy buttermilk scones (this recipe, which was awesome. I added chives, which was even more so). And then I made mashed potatoes with buttermilk for part of tonight’s dinner. And now, having successfully used all the buttermilk, I’m making chocolate mousse in order to make a start on all that cream. See? It all makes sense now.

So why am I mentioning this?

Because it’s fun to mock myself. Here’s some stuff I did today: I licked a spoon with the meringue on, having forgotten that the sugar is in a different part of the recipe. So that wasn’t as delicious as I had hoped. Mmm… raw egg white.

I also dropped four food items today:

*A perfectly-cooked lamb chop, right on the kitchen floor.

*A serving bowl into a mixing bowl.

*A mixing bowl into a serving bowl.

*uh… I forget what the fourth thing was.

The good news is that by the time this film is over, the mousse will be set.




***Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Disney +

One-sentence summary: Thanos gets all the stones and instantly erases half of all living creatures.

The opening scene is devastating, especially after all that the Asgardians went through in Thor: Ragnarok. And all Loki has been through (not that we’re certain he’s really dead after this scene, but it sure seems that way, especially since Marvel can bring the character back via time travel rather than resurrection). The gut-punch of losing Heimdall and Loki and half the Asgardian refugees in the very first moments of the film lets us know that all bets are off and there’s real pain ahead.

Before he dies, Heimdall sends the Hulk to Earth.

By the end of the scene, Thanos has the blue (space) and purple (power) infinity stones. There are two stones on Earth: the mind stone, in Vision’s forehead (yellow or orange); and the green time stone, in the Eye of Agamemnon (which Dr Strange wears around his neck on the pretty pretty necklace).

Dr Strange meets Dr Banner, then Iron Man, and the three of them face various high-level minions trying to get Dr Strange’s stone. But Hulk, having just been beaten up by Thanos (not to mention his more-than-usually tumultuous relationship with Banner) refuses to make an appearance. This continues for the entire movie (Banner wears giant armour in the Wakanda battle).

Iron Man: “Dude, you’re embarrassing me in front of the wizards.”


Across town, Peter’s Spidey sense tingles.

It’s rapidly clear that the giant alien spacecraft on the other side of town might be a bad thing, so he heads over there at once, and receives this handy plot update from Stark:

“He’s from space. He came to steal a necklace from a wizard.”


Meanwhile, in space, the Guardians respond to the Asgardian’s distress call and pick up an unconscious Thor.

Star-Lord: “Who is this dude?”

Drax: “He is not a dude. You are a dude. He is a man.”


With Sorcerer Wong’s help, several baddies are killed but Dr Strange is taken away to be tortured until he gives up the green time stone. Which he doesn’t do.


The reality stone is with the Collector on the planet Knowhere. Only Gamora knows where the soul stone is, so she makes Quill (Star-Lord) promise to kill her rather than let Thanos get ahold of what she knows.


Thor spends the movie making a weapon strong enough to kill Thanos. Rocket and Groot (who grows the wood of the handle) help him, while the other Guardians go to Knowhere.


The baddies come to Scotland to try to get the mind stone out of Vision’s head, drawing Scarlet Witch into the fight because she’s dating Vision. Luckily for them, Falcon, Captain America, Captain America’s beard, and Black Widow show up to help. (Ant-Man and Hawk-Eye are both on house arrest and not in this movie at all.)


Mini Gamora is adorable and is the closest we get to caring about Thanos.

Grown-up Gamora manages to kill Thanos on Knowhere before he gets the reality stone. Even after all his abuse, she weeps to see him dead… except he isn’t dead. It was a fake reality that he was able to make as a trap for her because he also has the reality stone (red).

Peter is unable to kill Gamora. They confess their love to one another, and Peter is finally able to pull the trigger… but Thanos changes the bullets to bubbles. He takes Gamora, and ultimately gets the location of the soul stone off her (by torturing Nebula).


Vision and friends (now including War Machine) head to Wakanda to see if Princess Shuri can remove the stone from his head without killing him. King T’Challa gives a tired-looking Bucky a new prosthetic weapon arm, and Bucky reluctantly accepts that he’ll have to fight real soon.


Iron Man and Spider-Man rescue Dr Strange, and the three end up on a random planet (Titan).


Oh! I just remembered the fourth thing I dropped. Some of the cream for the mousse. More ‘spattered’ than dropped. So now I have a lot of ineffectually-wiped cream on my pajamas. My kitten was thrilled at this new feature of my attire.


Gamora and Thanos go to the location of the soul stone: Voromir. The red skull tells them that to get the soul stone one must give up the soul of someone you love. Gamora, very reasonably, laughs at the irony that Thanos can’t get the stone because he’s so full of hate.

Then there’s the awful realisation that he believes he loves her, and that belief is enough to get the stone by killing her. Which he does (badly reducing the number of female heroes in the films).


Beautiful character moment between Rocket and Thor as Thor tries to say how fine he is, since he’s already lost everything that matters to him.


Arg, my shoulder is really sore again. It’s not watching the movies; it’s all this typing. I’ll try to type less. At least this is my last movie for today (despite what the subject line says).


Those Guardians not with Thor head to Titan and they fight Iron Man & co. until they all figure out they’re actually all good guys, and they team up (and Nebula too, since she’s escaped from Thanos).

Arg! I just burned my popcorn again. *shakes fist at brilliant scriptwriters*


The Wakanda battle has too many iconic moments to list, but there is one that stands out:


I was yelling that at the cat for weeks afterwards. She was not impressed.

(Yes, I have two cats.)


Thor helps forge his new Axe, Stormbreaker, and uses it to take himself, Rocket, and Groot to join the battle in Wakanda.

“I am Groot.”

“I am Steve Rogers.”


Thanos has a big fight with everyone on Titan, which is cool but ultimately unsuccessful, and Dr Strange gives up the time stone so easily that it’s clear he is working towards the one successful future out of 14,000,605. The revelation that Gamora is dead causes Quill to screw up their plan. But to be honest it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway, since Thanos was already far too strong to be killed by any normal weapon.


Back on Wakanda, the girl baddie fights Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, and Okoye. It is an enjoyable scene, but the entire audience knows perfectly well that this is Marvel saying, “Look! We have loads of female characters now! They can have a whole mini-scene, see?”


Overall, things are not going well for our heroes.

Thanos has every stone except the one in Vision’s head and the Avengers have run out of time to remove it. Scarlet Witch does it at last, killing him—only to have Thanos rewind time just to kill him a second time in front of her.


This film is a tragedy. A well-written tragedy has both a sense of inevitability about it and a sense that there are so many ways when the story could have changed, and everything would have been okay. What if Star-Lord had shot Gamora quickly? What if Scarlet Witch had taken the stone from Vision as soon as they realised they should? What if Thor had gone for the head?

But in each case, it is their character that causes them to make the decisions that they do.

And then, of course, there’s the snap.

Thanos leaves. There is an eerie silence.

Then Bucky falls to bits in front of Steve. The field of war is halved as far too many people dissolve. King T’Challa vanishes. Groot. Scarlet Witch. Falcon.

On Vordor, Mantis says, “Something is happening.”

Drax vanishes. Star-Lord. Dr Strange, saying, “Tony. There was no other way.”

And Peter, resisting with all his spidey senses and strength, apologises to Stark as he turns to dust in his arms. “I don’t want to go! I don’t want to go!”

And that’s where it ends. Failure. Thanos wins.

It doesn’t matter that we know all our heroes will be back (except for the non-snap deaths). It doesn’t matter that we know they’re not actually real people. After all these hours (and years) spent with these characters, there is real grief at such an ending.

A generation of kids will grow up traumatised by that moment (TJ’s asleep, by the way!) Adults and teens will never forget the quiet sobbing in that theatre as the credits began to roll, and the shock of such an end.

Post-credits scene: Samuel L. Jackson realises what is happening and manages to page Captain Marvel just as he, too, dissolves into dust. “Mother-fu—!”


Given that this is heading towards the 2000-word mark, I’m gonna stop there and post this one by itself.


The mousse isn’t set. Hmm.

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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.


“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!

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Marvel-ous Day 4 (Part 1)

June 27, 2020 at 4:07 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

Spoilers. Obviously.

This is where Phase 3 officially begins. It’s eleven movies long rather than six (like Phase 1 and 2).


One-sentence summary: Running low on baddies, the Avengers fight each other.

It’s always fun to see the Avengers working as a team. It shows their maturity that they sit down and discuss the Sokovia Accords (whether or not to submit to the UN as their boss or to continue being their own special force that answers only to themselves) without yelling or punching each other—for ages.

Oh no. Peggy is dead. Of course Steve is one of her pall-bearers.

We meet King-In-Waiting T’Challa aka the Black Panther. Moments later we see him almost save his father’s life.

The Winter Soldier is framed for blowing up T’Challa’s father. T’Challa swears to kill him.

Bucky goes to Steve, even though he isn’t yet 100% sure who Steve is. However, they fight together against a force of armed men and then against the Black Panther, who no one (including the audience) has seen before. The Falcon joins them. War Machine breaks it up, which is when the Black Panther takes his mask off for the first time.

The Avengers split into two sides:

Captain America, The Winter Soldier, The Falcon, Hawk-Eye, Scarlet Witch, and Ant-Man.

Iron Man, Black Widow, War Machine, Vision, Black Panther, and also introducing Spider-Man.

(Hulk and Thor are in space at the moment.)

This is a stealth Avengers film, and I’m not complaining. Also, a lot of scenes of tormented but recovering Bucky is absolutely fine by me.


So just now our dishwasher did that annoying thing where juuuust when you think it’s finally finished and you can watch the TV in peace, it starts up again. I had a brief Iron Man-esque moment when I said, “I hate you” and it switched off. But it was only for an instant; a completely normal pause in its normal operations. OR WAS IT????

Yeah, it was. I’m not that manic, or that tired, or that disconnected from non-comic reality. Ten and a half movies to go.


Oh man, the scene when Tony Stark takes Peter Parker (a teenage fan) into his bedroom, locks the door, sits on his bed, and blackmails him into joining his NON-ESSENTIAL fight? So incredibly problematic. That’s pretty much exactly how predators work. And yeah, recruiting a teenager for this is classic Stark irresponsibility but seriously? Yikes.

On the other hand, every second of that sweet child (Spider-Man) on screen is precious. So precious, I kept watching too closely for too long and as a result I burnt my popcorn. I blame Stark for that too.


And then there’s the airport scene, which is what everyone remembers about this movie (especially Spider-Man making friends with everyone, because he can’t help himself, and Ant-Man turning enormous). And Natasha betrays Stark and lets the others go.

Unfortunately, War Machine gets badly hurt (of course he does almost all his physio and recovery off-screen and gets magic legs, but it’s still unusual for any superhero to suffer consequences lasting more than a scene).

Stark discovers that Bucky really was innocent of this movie’s bombing, and goes to help Captain America and Bucky make sure there aren’t any more Winter Soldiers. There aren’t, but then Stark is shown a video of Bucky (clearly not himself, but certainly his body) killing Stark’s parents. And Steve admits that he knew about it.

So Iron Man rips off Bucky’s metal arm and he and Captain America have their epic one-on-one fight.

Steve: He’s my friend.

Tony: So was I.


Tony: You don’t deserve that shield. My father made that shield.

…so Steve leaves it behind.


Then, later, he writes a letter saying that if Stark needs the other half of the Avengers all he has to do is call and they’ll be there.

We all know this storyline is all about the classic game of smashing one’s action figures together. But actually, it’s an excellent movie and even though Stark in particular makes bad choices, it makes sense in the moment. It’s been thoroughly established that Stark has major issues and is often driven by fear. This is the guy that made Ultron, after all. And he and Pepper are broken up, so he doesn’t have her handling him as she does so expertly. In conclusion, I’ll allow it.

You know what? The Captain America trilogy is on a par with the Iron Man trilogy. Which, like so much of this entire saga, is incredibly impressive.

Post-credits scene 1: Bucky gets put on ice, for safety reasons, in Wakanda.

Post-credits scene 2: Peter Parker is explaining his black eye to Aunt May while carefully avoiding mentioning any superheroes whatsoever.



**DOCTOR STRANGE (2016) Disney +

Stone: Time stone. It’s green, and currently called the Eye of Agamemnon (worn as a pretty pretty necklace).

One-sentence summary: Dr Strange learns to use his annoyingness for good.

Opening scene has the baddie of the day kill a librarian (oh no!) and rip pages from a book (nooooo!) and even a super cool chase scene can’t fix it.

The visuals get the second star in this movie. It also links it to Ant-Man in my mind, because Marvel was working hard not to become visually generic. And they succeeded. Unfortunately, they didn’t do so well on the personality front. They already have an arrogant goateed genius on their roster, so a lot of this film does feel incredibly generic in terms of the main character (worse, it lacks the fun of Iron Man and of Stark himself). Both actors have played Sherlock Holmes, even.

And they made Bandersnatch Cabbage-patch use an American accent, which is highly offensive.

And although Tilda Swinton was and always will be brilliant, this is the second time Marvel has used a white actor for an Asian character. Not cool.


Hey kids, don’t use your phone while driving.


Oh! I just realised the first case offered to Dr Stark as he’s driving is Rhodey!


And yes, as a disabled person, I’m aware that the visceral horror of physical imperfection is deeply problematic. But I enjoy the fantasy that physical impairment can be turned into superheroism—Bucky’s prosthetic arm, Dr Strange’s magic, etc.—even though I’m aware that the fantasy itself is problematic. I like the element of truth buried inside it: yes, being disabled does make a person stronger in other ways. (Unfortunately most of that strength has to be spent in pretending to be normal in order to get by socially and financially. Still.)


And then there’s the iconic moment when The Ancient One pushes Dr Strange’s Astral form out of his physical form…

…followed by an extremely trippy second trip into the astral plane.

Followed by Dr Strange, kneeling and wind-blown, saying, “Teach me.”


His powerful, opinionated, and affectionate cloak is iconic. I’ve seen a whole lot of glorious cosplay of Dr Strange featuring beautifully-made red cloaks, and I hope to see plenty more.


The time manipulation of the final scene is beautiful and unique, and the most iconic part is Strange annoying Dormammu into leaving our dimension. Excellent.

Post-credits scene 1: Dr Strange chatting with Thor (while magically refilling his beer as he drinks it) about Loki aka “a worthy addition” to the list of major entities that could threaten this dimension.

Post-credits scene 2: Mordo (payed by Chiwetel Ejiofer) is evil now. I imagine he’ll show up again in another movie (although he doesn’t show up within Phase 3).



Opening scene is fun, as we see Peter’s parents and know the dad is alien. It’s very gently ominous.

It’s amazing to me how often I have utterly forgotten the actual opening scenes of these movies, but vividly remembered the second. I think it’s a deliberate strategy: draw people in with a solid scene, then bowl them over with a brilliant one. That’s definitely the case here, as the second scene is one of the greatest of all time.

There’s a bit of bickering, re-establishing character, and then a fabulous fight versus a tentacled beast. Fun on its own… but baby Groot (and the way all the other characters are keeping one eye on him during the fight) blasts this scene into the stratosphere.

I had to pause it while writing this, because I couldn’t bear to miss a second. There are a thousand still shots that are joyful, kinetic, hilarious, and just as poster-worthy as this one:

And let’s not forget his own epic fight with a rat-like thing.

Drax is iconic in this scene too.

The soundtrack of Guardians continues to be exquisite, and the combination of 80s pop and technicolour space adventures is a beautiful thing.


The golden people are deliciously hateable.


Another Howard the Duck cameo. (He also appears—just—in the final battle in Avengers: Endgame.)


We see a lot more of Nebula (aka the green meanie), and her journey to redemption begins here.

And this film is where we meet Mantis, the empath.

From here, the Guardians gang is two members bigger.


I’m resisting the urge to quote virtually every line of this film. It’s so good, you guys.


Yondu’s character gets a whole lot more complex in this film, and gets three iconic moments in a single film:

-The scene with his arrow killing just everyone, to the tune of “Come a Little Bit Closer”

-“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!”

-His surprisingly touching death and funeral.


Ah, sibling relationships. Scenes of Gamora and Nebula attempting to kill one another are always so relatable.


And in the final wonderfully psychedelic battle, poor Rocket attempts to teach Baby Groot a simple sequence of steps that are necessary to save the universe. And sweet little Groot just can’t remember NOT to push the button that just kills everyone.

And all this adorableness, highly marketable cuteness, and hilarity is also relevant to the theme of family and (particularly in this movie) fatherhood. Quadruple-duty writing for the win.

Post-credits scene 1: The ‘good’ ravager practising controlling Yondu’s arrow, and accidentally hitting Drax in the next room.

Post-credits scene 2: Other ravagers getting back together and deciding to “steal some shit”.

Post-credits scene 3: The gold-skinned high priestess invents “Adam” to destroy the Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s comics-famous, but hasn’t appeared within the MCU yet.

Ooh, and Jeff Goldblum’s character from Thor: Ragnarok appears in the credits too, for those who are paying attention (or who, like me, glance up at just the right moment—after having seen future movies).

Post-credits scene 4: Sullen teenage Groot getting told off by Peter Quill. Beautiful (and preps us for teen Groot next movie).

Post-credits scene 4: David Hasselhoff saying, “We. Are. Groot.”

Post-credits scene 5: Stan Lee’s rambling old man character getting snubbed.

Clearly, the writers had too many cool ideas. I’m not complaining.


I’m still going strong today, but I’ll release my Phase 3 reviews in groups of three. Since I actually started these last night, I’ll most likely have another three-movie post later today (for the most flexible possible definition of “today” ie before I sleep).

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Marvel-ous Day 3

June 26, 2020 at 11:24 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

Spoilers, darling.

***GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014) Disney +

One-sentence summary: Star-Lord makes friends, and keeps an orb away from assorted baddies.

Stone: Space (I think) stone. Purple? Encased in an orb, because if someone mortal touches it they die.

This film was the moment when we realised Marvel could sell us literally anything. Having said that, this is a brilliant movie that deserves every success.

A whole new set of Superheroes is masterfully introduced. There are two opening scenes: a tragic scene of a small, clearly messed up kid, that ends with a space abduction. The next scene has the adult Peter Quill, very much in space, but very much of Earth as he dances his way through his scavenging mission.

By the middle of that scene, the audience is hooked on the selfish, irreverent, fast-talking Star-Lord.

The next to be introduced is Rocket, who is hunting for something worth stealing and is amusing himself by insulting everyone he sees, including a small child. It’s only after establishing his character that we discover he’s a talking racoon. (And much later we see, and genuinely care about, his vulnerability.)

Meanwhile, Groot is drinking from a fountain like an over-excited dog.

Then we meet Gamora, who expertly and effortlessly outwits Star-Lord.

And then everyone is fighting everyone, which is a fabulously complex and slapstick scene.

TJ watched almost the entire movie with me. There are a lot of complicated bad guys in this, you guys.

The next iconic moment is when we see Groot and Racoon fighting together in the prison. (Just before Grax becomes one of the team.)

I… didn’t take any other notes because I was too busy watching, and TJ was too busy watching the film with me. But this film is many people’s favourite of the entire Infinity Saga, and even in such good company it definitely deserves that spot. Also, the soundtrack is fantastic.

The ‘found family’ theme is always a winner, but when you start with a group of thugs, thieves, and murderers it takes some clever writing to balance out their past with their redemption and the slow growth of trust. This film gets it done right.

Post-credits scene 1: Baby Groot sneakily dancing, then freezing whenever Grax looks up.

Post-credits scene 2: The Collector is recovering from the events of the film. Howard the Duck has a cameo, because Marvel hasn’t forgotten that its base is comic book nerds.


*AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) Disney +

One-sentence summary: Stark makes then breaks a bad robot.

First iconic moment is the shot of all the main six racing into their opening-scene fight. You know the one (this is such a blurry shot and I don’t know why because it feels completely clear in the film itself).

Then there’s the scene where several Avengers attempt to lift Thor’s hammer. When Captain America tries it, there’s a wobble. Because Steve actually is worthy, but he realises it would hurt Thor, so he lets it go.

Natasha refuses to try. You can interpret it two ways: either she’s the only superhero who isn’t driven way too much by testosterone, or she feels fundamentally unworthy because of being an assassin. I say both are true.

So this is a classic movie of the “Good guys screw up and then fix it” variety, which is a pretty dumb trope (even with the Scarlet Witch helping mess with everyone’s head before she turns good). It’s great to see all the Avengers together—ah, how quickly we take that balancing act for granted!—but this movie just doesn’t grab me like the rest do.

We add Quicksilver (who is dead by the end of the film), Scarlet Witch, and Vision to the roster of heroes.

Ooh, the mind stone is the orange one! From now on it’s in Vision’s head.

…Seeing the expanded Avengers all fighting in a broken tower is cool.

In fact, I was so inspired by all the super-coordinated badassery that when I went to put a dirty jug on to soak I held the jug with just one hand while pouring in the hot water so I could use my other hand to pour in the detergent at the same time. What a rush. So many things could have gone wrong. I could have dropped the heavy jug and spilled hot water everywhere. I could have dropped the detergent, spilling detergent everywhere. I could have added too much detergent. Those bottles can be slippery. I could have randomly fallen over, dropping everything.

But I executed the plan flawlessly, you guys.

Post-credits scene: Thanos with his Infinity Gauntlet, saying, “Fine. I’ll do it myself.”


**ANT-MAN (2015) Disney +

Introducing Ant-Man aka Scott Lang. We also see The Wasp aka Hope Pym but she’s not the wasp yet.

There are two wonderful things about this film: Paul Rudd playing the endearingly failure-prone Scott Lang. And the visuals. Suddenly there are major action scenes in a bathtub, or a grassy backyard—and it’s awesome. Oh, and Scott’s daughter Cassie is glorious.

This film has plenty of humour and heart, and one of the most affecting deaths in the entire Infinity Saga: the death of Ant-thony. And the climactic train scene—on a toy train in Cassie’s room—is truly terrifying and truly hilarious at the same time. And unforgettable, especially when Thomas the Tank Engine turns giant and smashes out the window.

Post-credits scene 1: Hank Pym shows his daughter Hope the Wasp suit she’ll soon be wearing. After spending half the movie loudly and correctly pointing out that she should have run the heist instead of Scott Lang, she smiles and says, “It’s about damn time.” (There’s only eight movies to go until she gets half of a title.)

Post-credits scene 2: The Winter Soldier is in somebody’s basement, with his metal arm in a vice. The Falcon and Captain America are discussing an issue they’re having, and the Falcon (who fought Ant-Man in this film, as Ant-Man apologised over and over) says, “I know a guy.”


Aaaand that’s the end of Phase 2! Phase 3 is twice as long as the other two, but tomorrow is Saturday and the kids are going to Nana and Poppy’s house so I should be able to burn through quite a few.

I’ve also received a data usage warning on my phone for the first time in my life. Shockingly, I wasn’t planning on making a habit of watching cinematic masterpieces on my phone, so that’s fine.

It’s not even midnight yet, so I’ll be posting this blog and then starting on Phase 3. Woo!

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Marvel-ous Day 2

June 25, 2020 at 11:57 pm (Reviews, TV/movie review, With a list)

Uh… spoilers, by the way. For all of the MCU so far. I’ll try to stick to the film I’m in so if you haven’t seen them all you can skip the relevant entries if you’re that far behind the nerd curve.


***IRON MAN 3 (2013) Disney +

One-sentence summary: Stark makes way too many suits then blows them all up.

Superheroes: Iron Man (Tony Stark), James “Rhodey” Rhodes (War Machine, currently unsuccessfully rebranded as the Iron Patriot).

I barely remembered this movie but it’s actually incredible. Iron Man’s PTSD is severe, causing him to have manic episodes, constantly building better and better suits. And he has his first major panic attack early in the movie, which is very accurately written and acted. He responds to a kid, Erin, asking him to sign her Iron Man picture by scribbling on it and writing, “Erin help me” and then rushing outside and activating his suit to tell him whether he’s having a stroke or a heart attack. A lot of people with panic attacks believe they’re having a heart attack (and go to emergency wards), so this scene is bang on. (Happy has also picked up Stark’s paranoia.) He has several more panic attacks over the course of the film, panting and stressing and being annoyed at himself for having them.

I know what it’s like to be manic (why do you think I stayed up all night last night?) and I am all too familiar with panic attacks. This film has already won three stars for doing such a good portrayal of a brave person suffering through panic attacks, and of what that feels like.

Oh, and there are Christmas trees throughout the film (not to mention a giant bunny), which means this is a Christmas movie. That’s the rules.


Happy sees two bad guys looking stressed, and questions one about his “junkie girlfriend”. C’mon Marvel, stop using gay jokes. It’s painfully obvious that way, WAY too many of your writers are straight white men.

And minus many more points for not grabbing the chance to use an Asian actor for the Mandarin character.


Like an idiot, Stark publicly dares the Mandarin to attack him at his house, and publicly gives out the address. The Mandarin obliges, to which I say, “Nooooo! Don’t hurt that beautiful house!”

(Although, Stark throwing the suit onto Pepper is an awesome move, and she handles the suit pretty well too.)


Stark ends up stranded in a small town, holing up in a kid’s barn/workshop. Stark is so horrid to that (brilliant and cynical) kid, and somehow it’s charming. Also, the man is literally insane. (Speaking as someone who knows what insanity means from the inside; I’m aware that in a few years the classic cry of, “Are you insane!?!” will become offensive but it doesn’t actually bother me.) And the kid shows up again, briefly, in Avengers: Endgame.


Stark has a cool little fight scene against a mutant (lady) while he’s in handcuffs. Kids, THAT is how you up the stakes in a sequel (not with galaxy-spanning villains, who are too big to be truly interesting).


And the scene in which Stark is zip-tied to a bed frame and he knows his suit is on the way but it takes much longer than he expects is hilarious and brilliant…. What’s more, in the middle of the scene there’s a standoff with Stark and a low-level minion who raises his hands and says, “Honestly I hate working here. These guys are weird.” And Stark lets him go.


The reveal of the Mandarin as this wonderfully awful actor is even more fun on the rewatch, because you know it’s coming and can enjoy how utterly disgusted Stark and Rhodey are rather than focusing on the revelation itself.


Another iconic scene, as Stark saves thirteen people falling from a plane using the “Barrel of Monkeys” system. Genuine chills. And a nice BLAM at the end, complete with rolling head.


The final battle is excellent. Lots and lots of iron men doing cool stuff, without losing sight of the humans and human faces involved. And then there’s the heartbreaker moment, when Stark promises to catch Pepper, and… he misses. She falls 200 feet into a fire. His worst nightmare has come true, and all his manic preparations aren’t worth a damn.

Then, a bit later, she emerges from the fire, in a sports bra and pants, burning from within. And she takes out the big bad, who (let’s not forget) betrayed her more than Stark anyway.

And then, finally, Stark blows up all his spare suits. They couldn’t save him anyway, or protect Pepper, and it’s time to let go of his #1 defense mechanism. Which in his case is rather literal.

And the genius kid gets a fully-equipped lab.

And Stark sorts out the shrapnel still in his chest, and chucks his best arc reactor heart off a cliff where his mansion used to be. Then he ends a movie a second time with the line, “I am Iron Man.” Because he is who he is, even without a suit.

The credits do a nice visual recap of the whole Iron Man trilogy. The indulgence is richly deserved. It is one of the great film trilogies of all time.

Thank goodness for credits, by the way. They’re the closest thing to a break I’m taking 😛

I got up at 10am, so operating on maaaybe four hours’ sleep today. I began watching this on my laptop over breakfast, then on my phone at the doctor (with headphones…not realising that the headphones were 100% not working so I was blasting it to the whole waiting room at full volume for twenty minutes), then on my laptop at home, then on my laptop at the in-law’s house while fetching TJ, then on my phone at a playground on the way home, then on my laptop in my room.

I’m forgetting words. Objects. Things. My vision feels… slippery. I put my shirt on backwards. I’m doing FINE.

But Chris came and told me he needs the car for work tomorrow, which somehow turned into him agreeing to run my errand for me. So I must be pretty sharp.

Post-credits scene: The Stark voiceover that bracketed the movie turns out to be Stark talking to Dr Banner, who has fallen deeply asleep. He tries and fails to explain to Stark that he’s “not that kind of doctor”. It’s a fun scene, and a satisfying end.


**THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013) Disney +

Superheroes: Thor and Loki (arguably Captain America).

Stones: The Aether, red, which is powerful and which makes Jane Foster (human love interest and scientist) sick, so it must be removed. Plus the dark elves want it in order to destroy the nine worlds.

One-sentence summary: Thor and Jane get back together.

I was almost dreading this one. I couldn’t remember anything about it, and it’s got a reputation for being meh. But this—this, my friends—is the film in which Loki begins his somewhat bumpy redemption arc.

So sure, there’s a lot of blather. But then there’s Loki.

Partway through the film, the arrogant trickster is brought low, not by prison, but by the death of his mother. Thor comes to him for help, and tells him to drop his illusions—which he does.

He is sitting on the plain floor of his cell, with basic clothing, tangled hair, and bare and bloody feet. Wretched.

Moments later he’s iconic again: briefly shifting form to (among other characters) Captain America. It’s a fabulous moment.

And then, after faking his death (again—in a beautifully balanced farewell scene that is exactly 1% over the top so absolutely no one believes it’ll stick) he shapeshifts into King Odin and takes over ruling Asgard.

And the final iconic moment happens mid-battle, as the big bad and Thor fight in and out of portals connecting all the nine worlds—and Thor ends up at a train station and has to get back to the battle by riding the subway.

My 6 year-old (who is very emotionally sensitive) loves superheroes, and so I let him watch bits and pieces here and there. We did some ‘acting practice’ (lots of dramatic dying) and talked about makeup and prosthetics to help ground him in the real world, and when I explained how the battle kept shifting from world to world he understood how silly it was and laughed out loud.

Post-credits scene 1: Lady Sif and friends give the red stone to The Collector for safekeeping, since the Asgardians have another infinity stone on Asgard and they shouldn’t be stored together. Lotsa aliens.

Post-credits scene 2: Jane Foster is waiting for Thor to show up (kinda like he absolutely didn’t during the events of Marvel’s The Avengers)… and he does.

Post-credits scene 3: A giant dinosaur-like creature, still loose in London after the worlds-spanning battle, is chasing crows in an abandoned carpark. Oopsie.



Superheroes: You guys can probably remember who’s who by now.

One-sentence summary: Shield is mostly evil, but the Winter Soldier gets mostly un-brainwashed, yay!

I’m now off the clock kid-wise so it should be super easy to finish this one. My goal is three movies and a lot of sleep today. I’m so very tired. Luckily this is a great film.

The opening scene is a (“nonromantic” wink wink) meet cute between Steve and Sam Wilson (who will become The Falcon). It’s great. Marvel doesn’t succeed because of their budget, but because they remember to have character moments like this. Wilson is jogging laps around a giant pool (I don’t know the name of it but maybe the Lincoln Memorial Pool?) and Captain America says, “On your left” as he passes—over and over again. From that, the two become friends.

Steve’s list of cultural things to catch up on is a great moment.

The first major iconic moment is when Steve visits his girlfriend, Peggy Carter, in hospital. She’s bedridden and ancient, having lived a very full life that included founding S.H.I.E.L.D. and having a husband and family. And Steve is so sweet and gracious, and glad to still know her, and the contrast between their young and old faces is a beautiful, painful thing.

It’s incredibly cathartic to see the famous and familiar badass, Fury, in a serious fight.

Then comes the famously unsettling revelation that Shield itself is compromised… and the famous scene in which Captain America is trapped in a glass elevator with just so, so many baddies. He knows they’re going to beat him up and they know he know. The elevator stops, and Steve says, “Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?”

No one moves for a long beat. Then Steve beats up everybody.

And we see the Falcon flying, yay!

These two Captain America sidekicks are both so iconic. I love wings. And also long-haired men with a tragic past.

In other news, I’m very bad with faces, so the reveal of the Winter Soldier being a brainwashed Bucky Barnes didn’t come to me for a long, long time. When we first saw it, Chris whispered who it was, and why that mattered. But from then on I was in love with Bucky and with his arc.

I am very much looking forward to the TV show.

So of course it’s iconic when Bucky’s mask comes off and Captain America has a chance to look at him, and sees his friend properly for the first time in seventy years, and says, “Bucky?!”

To which Bucky says, “Who the hell is Bucky?”

Fury’s life hangs in the balance, Shield is mostly evil, Captain America is on the run with his world falling down around him. But of course it’s the revelation that Bucky is, somehow—sort of—alive that hits Steve the hardest.

Everything around him in this movie is custom made to crack Steve’s incredibly moral core. But he doesn’t crack. He doesn’t obey orders any more, but he is still the thoroughly good person he always was. Without all his pain and suffering, he’d probably be quite dull. Instead he’s compelling. And he still believes in the good in others, too. Amazingly, he is an influence on the cynical Fury and Black Widow, rather than them being an influence on him.

And then there’s the climactic helicarrier fight, in which Captain America is trying hard to save Bucky rather than quickly kill him. He puts hundreds of lives on the line because he loves his friend, and he’s incapable of giving up hope.

He saves the day, and then stays on board the doomed helicarrier to try to save his friend. And hope wins.

Post-credits scene 1: Hydra has Loki’s sceptre. And we see “the twins”: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.

Post-credits scene 2: The Winter Soldier is in the Captain America exhibit we all saw earlier, reading about himself. He has a beard, so has clearly been a-wandering for a while since he saved Captain America’s life.

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