The Forge: Putting up something Fantastic as we look at the possibilities for Marvel’s phase 4

Every fan of the comic book genre has their particular hero or heroine that they cheer for or want to see make the jump to the silver screen. For me I have Thor, who is one of my favourite characters in all of the Marvel comics, right beside Wolverine. Over in DC I am a huge fan of Wonder Woman and Big Barda due to their warrior nature, much like that of Thor. Alas, for each of these characters I get to enjoy on-screen, minus Barda obviously, there are five I personally want to see on the big screen in the upcoming phase four of Marvel’s cinematic universe. We will also take a quick look at some potential TV shows that, in my mind, would make for excellent stories to spread out over eight to thirteen hours.

Before jumping into what we want, lets first look at what we have, because it is a lot. Marvel has been steadily ramping up their production and we are getting three movies this year, next year, and potentially three movies for the foreseeable future. Add to this fact that phase three looks to be the first phase that gives us more than six movies, as the first and second rounds of the MCU were both six films apiece. With this in mind, lets look at what I believe will be the line up for this stage of Marvel’s world domination. Some of these are at the end of 2019, which I think will fall into phase four, and add them to my speculation section.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Spider-man: Homecoming
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Black Panther
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Ant-man and the Wasp
  • Captain Marvel
  • Untitled Avengers Movie*

Eight movies over the next two and a half years is quite the tall order. We have the potential for universe ending devastation in Guardians, Ragnarok AND both Avengers films, not to mention any potential inter-planetary conflicts from Captain Marvel. We also have smaller scale conflicts in Black Panther with potential war in Wakanda along with the big, or small depending on how you look at it, hi-jinks that Ant-man and the Wasp get into. Oh, and Peter might lose his homework while swinging across the city to school, but that’s a low-key problem. Those of you who know the current announced line up might notice that I have not included Spider-man: Homecoming 2, and that’s because I think it is going to be the start of phase four, and the start of the fallout from the Untitled avengers movie. That being said, with all of these great films to look forward to already, what six movies could possibly be waiting for us in the waning light of 2019? **Potential spoilers for infinity war as my knowledge of the comic’s will come into play a bit here**

Spider-man: Homecoming 2

Spiderman Homecoming 2

To me, this just makes perfect sense, as we are coming off the hard-fought victory over Thanos, spoiler alert the MCU doesn’t end in 2019, and now the repercussions of that fight, any potential deaths, or changes to reality due to the infinity gauntlet’s power and the person/persons who wield it. Bringing the universe point of view back down to a very personal level with Peter Parker also allows the rest of the movies in phase four to get the reset they need. It’s hard to care when the world/universe is always the macguffin to save.

The other reason I think this is likely is that we get to see Peter either in his final year of highschool, or his first year of college, which adds a whole new dynamic to the character, as his greater work load will affect his superhero life and vice versa. I also personally hope the story line they go with is the Kraven the Hunter arc: Kraven’s Last Hunt.

Fantastic Four

fantastic four logo

Yes I am one of those people. While it may be a long shot, especially with the rumours of a second one being developed by Fox, I still have faith that the lack of interest in their studio’s attempts will make them give up any plans they might have, and allow the rights to revert back to Marvel. Fox’s repeated mishandling of the First Family has been nothing short of disastrous, and if they could get back into the hands of the MCU I see great things able to happen.

While to some, it might make sense for F4 to be the first movie of phase four, I think it actually makes more sense for them to come second, as they can expand upon the multiverse nature of the MCU, and gives them a brand new foothold to branch off from. Whether it’s knowing the characters in a different light, or simply meeting heroes who were never in their version of earth leaves open a lot of story options. Frankly if this does happen, I put money on the Hulk being their nemesis for the first movie, to mirror the times in the comics where they have fought.

Nova/Nova Corp

Nova

This might seem like an odd choice, as many don’t know who this character is and the Nova Corp only played a small role in the initial Guardian’s movie. As a intergalactic police force, they serve as a great backdrop to any of the Marvel movies which take place in space, and the character of Nova in particular can be portrayed, and often was, as a “John McClane in space” kinda guy. His power set, and the exotic nature of foreign planets and species allows for a huge host of villains to fight.

My bet would be a story loosely based on the Annihlation story arc, which has a ton of characters in it, many of which Marvel can’t use one being the actual main villain, Annihilus. However a minor change to your antagonist, or if Marvel does get the rights back to this character it would make an incredible visual spectacle along the lines of the best parts of Guardians, and the incredible nature of Guardians 2.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3

Guardians of the Galaxy

This is a no brainer in my opinion. Not only has James Gunn said that Guardians 3 is on the docket, the likelihood of Guardians 2 being bad is about as likely the sun exploding by Christmas. With a growing cast of characters, GotG 3 will likely be another smash hit simply due to the cast’s excellent chemistry and the bombastic and fun nature that these movies portray.

I couldn’t even guess at what stories they would go forward with, as I don’t know the Guardians from the comic’s all that well, though if my speculations hold true, there could be a significant chance that Nova plays an integral part in their movie.

Black Widow

Black Widow

This is another movie which I think is a no brainer in phase four. As, currently, the biggest female hero within the Marvel universe Black Widow has been dying for a movie as she is a kick ass character who has so many stories to tell, not only from her past, but from any point throughout the latter two Captain America movies.

Personally, I would love to see her solo, but I would also be jazzed for her and Hawkeye as both actors have fantastic chemistry on-screen, and in my mind the back and forth they had when they were assassin’s seems like the best story to tell, as it finish’s with them both in S.H.I.E.L.D.

Namor the Submariner 

Namor-Sub-Mariner

This is my ‘long shot’ prediction, and I swing for those underwater fences because Namor is a FANTASTIC asshole character. Smug, narcissistic, and has little patience for idiots, Namor to me is a character that needs to be made. This also gives Marvel their analog to DC’s Aquaman, which is a character that is seeing a revival in popularity.

The problem with this, however is no one seems to know where the rights to Namor lay. It seems to be in limbo with Universal, Lionsgate and Marvel all somehow holding a piece of him. I will admit, I have no idea how this will get resolved, however when you’re wishlisting for a movie to get made, you try not to worry about these things.

Talking TV

While the movies are great, and any or all of my speculated movies being added to the slate would be fantastic, there is another place where we can get our Marvel fix. That comes in the form of MTVU or Marvel TV Universe and the Netflix universe. While Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. is hit or miss, I personally like it, it is not the biggest market for our TV heroes. Netflix is where we see the biggest market with two seasons of Daredevil, a season of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. While Iron Fist was the first real stumble, we still have the Defenders coming as well as the highly anticipated Punisher series. Two other series, which I am not actually sure who is publishing, is the Cloak and Dagger series, and the Inhumans series. I believe Inhumans is ABC, but C&D is a series “cloaked” in mystery. Haha, terrible jokes are terrible. That said, Here are two series I would love to see, both preferably on Netflix or HBO simply because that affords them the budget and ability to show more mature subject matter.

Moon Knight

Netflix-Moon-Knight

While the allusions to Batman are very strong, Moon Knight is a brilliant character to bring to the small screen. Whether it sticks strictly with the origin of Moon Knight, or blends some of his later story arcs where his mental instability has started to come through. Unlike Deadpool, Marc Spector, the characters real name, is much more troubled which adds such complexity and depth to his character. In my mind The Bottom arc should be the material taken from.

This series not only deals with mental illness, but violence, hatred and how madness can slowly seep into a person, especially when being pushed to the limits, both mentally and physically, by their villains. The fight scenes in a series like this could be legendary.

The Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

To me, the Ghost Rider is a must have and the longer they take to get his project off the ground, the more time they spend not making all of the money. While I am a fan of the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, I have been hearing a lot of great things about the new ghost rider, who appeared in Agents of Shield, Roberto “Robbie” Reyes. With a new look, new ride and a fantastic story to kick off on, Robbie could make the Netflix Marvel Universe a much more hellish place for the better. While this may seem trite to mention, it also goes to continuing the diversity of the marvel Netflix cast as a Latino-American actor would be a welcome addition.

What Ghost Rider brings to the table, besides the crazy visuals, is a story of vengeance turned to hatred to an eventual deal, begrudgingly, to work together with the demon inhabiting his body, the promise to kill and sate a thirst for murder, albeit only to kill the those who do evil and punish those who deserve it.

While this is a lot to consider, I think it is pretty safe to have some trust in Marvel, be it the movie arm or the tv arm, as they are both producing quality products more often than not. Some of these choices, like the new Guardians and Spider-man movies are pretty safe bets, but sometimes it’s fun to put your speculative hopes out into the universe, just in case it’s listening. Or it’s the Beyonder and he is shaking his head saying “Sir, you are higher than a Super Skrull on Helium if you think that is happening”. Either way, cannot wait for the present movies and TV, let alone the future.

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Review of The Iron Fist: Better than Kung Fury, but it ain’t no Enter the Dragon (Spoilers)

I want to preface this review with a bit of information. I am not very knowledgeable on Iron Fist from the comics, so there are nuances to the character I may not know/understand. I am reviewing this based on the merits of the show itself and the strengths of its actors and actresses. This is a spoiler review.

Netflix has been on a pretty positive roll with their Netflix series set within the Marvel universe. Daredevil has been touted across the board as excellent, while both Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have been critically well received with positive fan feed back along side them. Characters like the Punisher and the team up of the Defenders, which includes our titular character Danny Rand, are in the works or finishing up their production for us to consume. On top of already announced projects, fans are speculating about other potential heroes to join the Netflix roster such as Moon Knight, The Demon Etrigan or Constantine, I personally want to see Etrigan as I like fantasy shows and a demon who rhymes is just cool.

With all of the positive momentum that Netflix and Marvel have garnered so far however is marred by the internet having issues with its latest series. The “controversies” like white washing in other movies made their way into Iron Fist, which in itself is comical, as this character is actually white in the comics as well, but I digress. Couple these casting discussions with the fact that many outlets that got the first six episodes of Marvels new Netflix series were not as entertained as they had been with previous entries. Whether it’s too high of expectations, or Marvels legitimate first major misstep, everyone was talking about it. To add fuel to this fire unfortunately the main lead, Finn Jones, made some less than, lets call them, “well thought out” comments about peoples negative reactions. However we are now a few days past the release date, and those of us who want to be part of the conversation have binged the first season of Iron Fist, so lets actually talk about it.

Iron Fist 2

The series opens with our introduction to Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist, listening to some old school hip hop as he wanders down the street. Clad in ratty cloths, and an old backpack, he enters his father’s office building, only to be promptly kicked out. To be fair, if you went into the offices of a place that knew you, but you have been presumed dead for the past fifteen years, being kicked out seems pretty reasonable. Undeterred however, Danny tries to enter a second time and we get to see the teachings of K’un Lun in action. . . . and they are not very impressive. The unfortunate nature of either how these were shot or the actor himself does not lend any sort of weight or mysticism to this brief encounter against the security guards. This ‘soft touch’ or ‘half speed’ nature that many of the fights have are, in my opinion, one of the main reasons Iron Fist suffers, however I will discuss that later.

Danny makes it up to the top floor to see the Meachum siblings, Joy and Ward, and as you can imagine everyone is confused and scared because a homeless looking man is in their office building. This is not a beat by beat recounting, I just wanted to bring these three characters in at the beginning because they are the primary trinity that we revolve around, which in itself causes issues with the story. Both actors Jessica Stroup, Joy, and Tom Pelphrey, Ward, are actually solid actors in this series. Mr Pelphrey actually being one of my favourites in the series due to the constant outside forces pushing against him. Ms Stroup does a good job of being the both the hammer and the sickle when needed in their business life, and on the occasion in their personal life. Out of all the characters in this series though, I have to say that Finn Jones was the actor who struggled to make an impact in my book the most.

Whether it was from poor direction, poor script, or the actor was just the wrong choice the role if Iron Fist never feels fully fleshed out. The first episode to the last keeps the character circling the same few plot points over and over again, and each time there is a clear path to expanding upon his character they choose to avoid that off ramp and stick to their circle. This is disheartening to say the least, but frustrating in part because each of these potential divergent character flaws or branches of growth would have done the one thing Danny was sorely missing, and that is the aforementioned fleshing out. While it’s made clear that he has psychological problems due to the trauma of his parents dying in the plane crash at the beginning of the series, and a point we continually go back to in flash backs, they never allow the character to grow up. His mentality, maturity and overall morality system are based off of this one incident, which again would be fine at the beginning of the series, but not at episode thirteen. Couple this fact with that those said personality traits mentioned above radically change every couple of episodes at its best or multiple times within the same episode at worst, and you have a character that feels like a collection of idea’s and not a singular being. Not all is negative with Jones however as he does try, or at least seems like he does, to give his all for each scene. He feels honest in the quieter moments of each episode, and even though some of the lines are brutally bad, I can appreciate the effort. His spats of rage/flashback induced fear also seem to be pulled out from him well, as his physical acting in these parts match’s what someone might do or feel.

The rest of the cast is pretty good as well, much like the Meachum sibblings they all give solid performances. Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing is one of the seasons strongest actors, as she supports Iron Fist throughout the majority of their time on-screen. I personally dislike how it seemed to go from “oh you’re a guy” to “I am infatuated with you because you know kung fu” over the course of. . . well I don’t actually know when, I can’t seem to find the actual transition period when going back, as it just seems like she goes from the Daughter of the Dragon to the girlfriend of the Iron Fist in the blink of an eye. It should be known I am not a fan of romance subplots, as to me they are not usually done well, though I am prepared to be told I am wrong here. If I had to pick standout actors though it would be Harold Meachum’s David Wenham, Faramir from LotR for those sweaties in the crowd and Wai Chng Ho as the always impactful Madame Gao. David’s portrayal of a man pinned into a corner but is always working the angles gives you an ally and villain you can get behind throughout the course of the show. On that same playing field is Madame Gao, much like Rosario Dawson’s character Claire, helps bridge the gap between each of the Netflix shows as part of their connective tissue. Her soft but menacing touch to every scene she is in makes her such a fun character to watch, and as events unfold you see how well she weaves her webs of deception and lies to great effect. I have to mention one more character as a personal favourite of mine as he brought the level of action up for a brief moment to where I had wanted it all season, and that is Lewis Tan as Zhou Cheng a Zui Quan, or Drunken master style, martial artist. He was only in Iron Fist for one episode, but I found him to be entertaining to watch in the fight, philosophically on point to his oath/word and brought a dry humor to the scene which was needed.

Iron Fist

Speaking of fighting, let’s get into what should have been the crowning achievement of this series, but ultimately fell flat in the overall picture. The Iron Fist is supposed to be a martial arts master, a point which is reinforced through exposition throughout the series, yet watching Danny Rand fight felt like watching a group fighting in water. Besides a few of the scenes I will discuss in a moment, every fight felt light, and did not have the impact one would expect coming from a martial arts-centric series. Punch’s are floaty, kick’s limply impact their opponents and throws feel like everyone is landing on pillows. There are exceptions to this however, and I think they need to be pointed out as what the standard SHOULD have been. The first one to really grab my attention was the first and second time Colleen Wing entered into an underground fighting ring. You can see her unshackle herself mentally as the rush of combat over takes her. Each blow feels like a fight is happening and the more visceral nature of these cage fights show off how Iron Fist can get their trade craft done right. The aforementioned Zhou Cheng fight two-thirds of the way through the season is another fantastic fight to draw inspiration from. This, out of all fights in my opinion was the closest thing to a “Full on Daredevil Fight” we saw, as the impact of blows to body and face looked and felt like they were happening, instead of the worst episodes of the CW’s fight scenes we were normally treated to. The second most “Daredevil fight” was when they fought Ramon Rodriguez character Bakuto in the elevator hallway. This extended fight once again felt impactful and real, as silly of a term that may be, compared to the rest of the episodes.

As I reflect back on season one of Iron Fist, my biggest negative take away is how much the main character didn’t follow any of the story arcs they brought forth in the scene/episode before them. It may seem like I am harping on it, but the inability for the character to grow out of his adolescence mentality doesn’t suit the their overall universe and, in my opinion, makes Danny Rand look like a poorly constructed character. His lack of character development is countered however by the rest of the cast being pretty on point for the most part and makes up for many of the short comings the season was hampered with. The ending of season one leaves the door wide open for much better story telling, significantly better fighting sequences and hopefully a worthy successor to this character, as it’s not quite limp, but it certainly isn’t an Iron Fist.

As with all of my reviews (going forward) I am using a -10 to 0 score where a -10 is utter garbage and a 0 is as close to perfect as you can get.

Final Score -4

Iron Titans vs Immortal Men: Captain America Civil War Re-Review **SPOILERS**

**This post contains spoilers to the movie Captain America Civil War. I will be talking about the movie plot, major scene’s and specific character arcs we see in this movie. Please give this movie its due and watch it in theater’s — SPOILERS**

Joyous. If I had to sum up my experience of my three viewings of Captain America Civil War with a single word, it would be joyous. As a huge comic fan and a huge fan of comic book movies I was looking forward to this adaptation of the comic sharing the same name. Civil War is the third in the Captain America solo films, making this the cap, no pun intended, to an incredibly trilogy. Some have been trumpeting “It’s Avengers 2.5” which I think is an unfair comparison but not without its merit.

This film does four things that put it leaps and bounds ahead of many other comic book films. The first is character motivation, the second is story flow and the third is humor and the fourth is clearly action. Character motivation has always been one of the strong suits in Marvel movies, and in Civil War they crush it. Steve Rogers is ever the tree, rooted in his moral compass and will always act for the good of mankind, Tony Stark racked with guilt, depression and a dollop PTSD trying to save not only his friends and teammates, but himself by putting the Avengers in check with the Sokovia Accords, and both T’Challa and Zemo follow an arc of vengeance, burning with the rage of family lost yet pursue it in completely different ways. The Russo brothers flesh out these motivations and make you not only care about the characters, but also believe them and their struggles with parental themes, loss, and losing control.

While nearly flawless, there are still spots of shaky ground. Our Villain, Helmut Zemo, starts off strong with his plan as he explains his process and knowledge to a hydra agent he has captured but his second and third act sections rely heavily on suspension of disbelief and coincidence. Is this a game breaker? no of course not, but when you have a film of so many positives you can start to easily pick out the negatives, as minor as they be. Another minor gripe is actually Hawkeye, as we don’t really get his motivation in general besides a throw away comment of “I owed ya”, which again is a minor gripe. The ending of the movie is also a point of contention for me, as we have this divide at the end of the last fight, and that blow gets softened by the letter/phone that Steve leaves for Tony.

captain-america-civil-war-art 2

Tied in closely with the motivation is the story and how it flows. Each of the plot points weave together in a fantastic tapestry, that again merges together loss, vengeance and brotherhood. Vengeance is a very strong theme throughout the movie as we have characters who seek it for family and react to that motive of vengeance in such different ways. Black Panther on the hunt for his fathers killer, while Iron man throws away a friendship for his blinding rage but the standout vengeance story arc for me however is Zemo. I loved how he puts his plan into motion, and while convenient, really enjoyed the chess match/mastermind tactics he uses to turn the Avengers on each other. My favourite moment is when Zemo fades into the shadows as Iron man, Captain America and Winter Soldier start fighting, showing that a man with his mind, not a super villain with powers or weapons or evil super soldiers, can crush earth’s mightiest heroes. This greatness is compounded when he is sitting outside and has a quite yet powerful conversation with Black Panther and you feel his anger, his sadness, and his malicious intent to break a team of super heroes apart for a simple concept; “you killed my family and there were no consequences”.

Let’s move onto something Marvel has been doing well for a while and that is humor. The balancing act that the Russo brothers do with Comedy, Action, and Dialogue are some of the best yet, comic book or otherwise and I will give you a perfect example. . . . Spider-man. He maybe has twenty minutes in this movie, and nineteen minutes and fifty-five seconds he destroys it. His awkwardness, and quips really stand out as phenomenal pieces of dialogue. matched only by Paul Rudd’s Ant man. Another stand out comedic presence. The awkward fan-boy attitude when he meets cap, just like Spider-man, the hilarious dialogue throughout the fights, and let us not forget Giant man. Action aside Giant man is just fun and really makes the audience connect with him in every scene.

The airport scene aside, which is where Ant man and Spider-man primarily reside, there are scores of small humorous moments that are shared between all characters and while I cannot name them all, I will give a shout out to the few that stick out for me. The first and second come from Ant man and Spider man when he, Ant man, turns into Giant man and begins to lay a beat down on Team Iron man. Not three minutes later, Spider-man throws out an Empire Strikes Back reference and pulls a snow speeder maneuver to knock down Giant man is hilarious. My third stand out comedic moment, which is actually my favourite in the entire movie is when Steve kisses Sharon Carter as the team gets their gear back. As Steve turns around he see’s Bucky and Sam both slowly nodding with the “yeah buddy, get some” smirk on their face and I nearly died from choking on my drink.

captain-america-civil-war-art

The real draw to this movie however is the fights. Whether battling Crossbones in Lagos, brawling out in a Bucharest airport or trading blows in a Russian facility the Russo brothers have put together some incredibly satisfying fist-a-cuffs. As alluded to in the humor section the fighting at the airport with all of our heroes is our main set piece. What makes this so incredible is that for seventeen minutes we see superheroes fight and yet we don’t get tired or bored with it. Why you ask? Well that’s because each character actually fights three or four fights. Captain America fights Black Panther, then Warmachine, then Black Panther AND Warmachine, and finally throws down with Spider-man. Each of these ‘mini-fights’ allow the viewer to stay fresh and light while still giving each character their own space and spotlight.Talking about these fight scenes doesn’t do them as much justice as actually seeing them.

Final thoughts for Captain America Civil War is you have a movie that fires on all cylinders and does so many things right. It’s hard to find any substantial faults in this movie and wets the appetite for not only Avengers 3 and 4, but reinvigorate’s for Suicide Squad, Dr. Strange and beyond. If you haven’t seen this movie, GO SEE THIS MOVIE. If you have seen it, well go see it again because it’s damn awesome!

Thank you for reading.

 

*note*

Some may notice this says Re-Review, and that is because I found my initial article to be poorly written and wanted to redo it. This may not be any better, but I feel like its more concise. Thank you for reading.