Avengers Endgame Trailer Breakdown

First and last spoiler warning. I have written this post assuming that everyone is caught up on all  previous Marvel movies so I decided not to worry about mentioning spoilers.

The wait has been excruciating, but the Avengers 4 trailer is finally here…and it doesn’t disappoint. I’ve watched this thing more times than I care to admit today and thought I would break down everything I saw in the trailer.

Watch the trailer here!

You know it’s a big deal when a trailer for a superhero movie doesn’t show an ounce of action and still breaks the internet. That’s the hold that Marvel has over socirty right now, and I love it. Literally every single shot is someone standing, sitting, and/or talking. 

We all know that there will at least be one more main trailer to get everyone hyped up before release, but I hope it’s a small one. I like the amount of story that’s revealed in this trailer – enough to make you excited but not enough to spoil the details of the overall plot.

It’s also worth noting that the clips we’ve seen in the trailer could be different from what we’ll see in the final film. Remember how the Infinity War trailers showed Hulk running with the rest of the Avengers in Wakanda? Yeah that never happened.  

Let me know if there’s anything else you spotted that I missed or if you have any theories on what will take place. Ok let’s get to it.

Tony is in trouble.

The trailer opens with Tony drifting in space on his last leg. He appears to be in the Guardian’s ship, presumably with Nebula as well since they were the only heroes on Titan to survive Thanos’ finger snap. Tony records a final message for Pepper, but she could very well not be alive to listen to it…we don’t know yet.

The duo are undoubtedly trying to get back to a familiar corner of the galaxy, but have run out of fuel, food, and water and are only hours away from certain death. There’s no way though that this is how Tony’s story is going to end, especially if you’ve been paying attention to all the set photos that have leaked. I’m confident they’ll be rescued at some point, the only question is by who?

Scarecrow Thanos is a nice comic reference.

Next is a shot of Thanos’ armor hung up as a scarecrow in a field. This is a great homage to a well known moment from the comics. While it plays out a bit different in the cinematic universe the same idea applies. Thanos turns his armor into a scarecrow now that he has finished his “humanitarian” work of balancing the universe and is living life as a simple farmer. We also get a quick shot of him walking through some vegetation and his gauntlet arm still looks banged up good.

Cap is back to a familiar look – but why?

The first thing that is noticeable about Cap in this trailer is he’s once again clean shaven and has gone back to wearing his uniform from Winter Soldier. Cap is of course free to wear whichever star spangled costume he wants. However, there’s really no reason that makes sense as to why he would go back to this specific look, especially since this is what he wore while he was working with SHIELD. 

This along with leaked set photos adds fuel to a popular theory that there will be some amount of time travel involved in Endgame to bring down Thanos and correct everything he wrecked. I absolutely love this idea and hope it’s true. There’s another reason it could be true a little further down. Keep reading.

Clint lives! But looks very different now.

Hawkeye was one of 2 Avengers noticeably absent from Infinity War. Ant-man and the Wasp revealed that Scott Lang had been on house arrest learning magic tricks and playing the drums, but we still hadn’t seen anything regarding Clint except for a brief mention that he had “retired” since the events of Civil War.

This trailer finally gives us our first official clue into what’s happened to him. Clint has a brand new look and appears to have gone down a darker road since the last time we saw him. He also seems to be half way across the globe hunting criminals and not taking prisoners. 

All of this confirms that Clint has taken on the identity of Ronin, an alias multiple people including Clint have used in the comics. Why he’s taken on this persona is up for debate still, however the most likely theory is that Clint’s wife and kids were all incinerated in the snap which would have been enough to send anyone over the edge. Seriously, his family seemed really nice! Now with nothing left to lose, Clint has quite literally taken on the meaning of his alias, Ronin and become a warrior with no master.

Avengers mourn those lost at the end of Infinity War. 

We see a couple seconds of the remaining Avengers going through a list of the presumed dead. Shuri, Scott, and Peter Parker are each shown. We know Peter is gone and Scott is alive but the jury is still out on Black Panther’s genius kid sister. I’m rooting for her to still be alive and would honestly love to see her taking on the mantle of Black Panther in T’Challa’s absence. 

The end of the trailer is a funny bit where Scott arrives at Avengers HQ in his van; revealing to the Avengers he is in fact alive. 2 things are very important to keep in mind about Scott’s van that we learned at the end of Ant-man and the Wasp.

First there’s a miniaturized quantum tunnel that has been retro fitted into the back. This essentially is a mobile gateway into the Quantum Realm.

2nd, Hope’s mom warns Scott about the dangers of getting sucked into a “time vortex.” Remember that theory earlier on time travel? The Avengers could easily find a fake science way to harness the power of a time vortex to travel back in time to stop Thanos. Take that time stone. 

That snazzy new title: Endgame. 

“Endgame” was rumored to be the title of the movie for a while now, and it’s fitting for a couple reasons. 

First, it’s a direct reference to the comment Dr Strange made at the end of Infinity War. Strange looked into the future and saw that out of the 14,000,605 possible scenarios facing Thanos, there was only 1 where the Avengers ultimately won. While things seem bleak right now, it will undoubtedly be revealed at some point that the heroes are still in that lone scenario and this is why Strange said:

The word end or endgame has been said before in previous Avengers films also, both times in Age of Ultron:

It’s interesting as a character how quickly Tony is ready to accept “the end,” and more so that he is the one chiefly responsible for causing it. He’s been doing this throughout the franchise and will most likely come to a head here.

Well that’s it for now! Let me know how excited you are for the movie and what you thought of the trailer!

Avengers: Endgame will release April 26th!

What Stan Lee Meant To A DC Fanboy.

The pop culture world has been mourning the loss of Stan Lee this last week after he passed away on Monday at the age of 95. The internet is still flooded with social media posts paying their digital respects to the man who will be remembered for co-creating some of the most iconic comic book characters ever to exist. Stan’s influence had an immeasurable impact on my life as well, and I wanted to write about that briefly.

Avengers #1. Art by Jack Kirby.

I definitely read plenty of comics as a kid, but some of my earliest memories interacting with the Marvel Universe are actually from watching two of the most legendary cartoons of the 90’s: Spider-Man and X-Men. Cartoons like these played a key role in getting me hooked into comics and cultivating a love of art in general. I remember buying several books over the years from school book fairs that detailed how to draw the Marvel characters, and for a long time I even considered becoming a cartoonist or comic book artist.

The X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons of the 90s were the best.

If you were unfortunate to have missed these animated gems growing up, the animation in both were top quality while also doing a fantastic job of capturing the essence of the comics. Both shows had memorable opening themes as well, with music that screamed 90s. Once either of these two shows started, nothing else mattered until the episode was over.

Do yourself a favor and check out the opening titles to both Spider-Man and X-Men.

Honestly, whenever forced to choose I’ve always leaned more to the DC Universe. My parents named me after Superman actor Christopher Reeve (a tale for another day), which naturally made me gravitate to that side of the superhero aisle. That being said, I wholeheartedly believe there is enough geek love to go around for both companies’ cast of characters.

Marvel and DC have always offered 2 sides of the same coin for me, allowing me to jump back and forth depending on what kind of story I’m in the mood for. And who was the person responsible for differentiating Marvel from the rest of the superheroes at the time? In large part it was Stan Lee of course.

The DC Universe roster has been around longer and excels at telling entertaining stories that provide an escape from reality. These heroes live more in the realm of fantasy and mythology as the universe is crowded with super powered beings from other planets who always do the right thing to protect their imaginary cities from the forces of evil. They are truly larger than life.

Stan saw this even back in the 60’s and decided to tell his stories from a different angle. He created characters along side legendary artists Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and others who at their core were every day humans, based in real cities, dealing not just with bad guys wanting to wreck everything but their own real life dilemas as well.

This famous panel drawn by Steve Ditko was paid homage in Spiderman: Homecoming.

This artwork from iconic artist Steve Ditko was paid homage in Spiderman: Homecoming.

The Marvel characters don’t just provide entertaining escapism, they also resonate with readers. They’re not just tireless do-gooders who always do the right thing. They make mistakes. They fail. They give us hope that it’s possible to do great things while also struggling with every day life. I’m not saying these qualities are completely absent from the DC Universe; only that Stan set up Marvel to consistently do a far better job.

The X-men constantly face prejudice and racism from a world that doesn’t understand their mutant abilities. Tony Stark is his own worst enemy with a monster size ego and inner demons of alcoholism. Mathew Murdock, a nobody from Hell’s Kitchen, turned his crippling disability into one of his greatest strengths as a hero. Peter Parker is constantly forced to juggle the pressures of his personal life with crime fighting. The list could go on for pages.

The immense success of the Marvel movies over the past decade is also proof of how much these characters resonate with the world. I was 23 years old when Iron-Man released and now at 33, married, and a baby on the way the franchise is 20 movies in and still going strong. I, like so many others have been to every single opening weekend, and have collected each film as it came out on DVD/Blu ray. I absolutely love and am fascinated with how these movies all contect together and reference each other as every iteration builds the universe just a little deeper, just like issues of comic books.

President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige deserves a large amount of credit for crafting films that appeal to the masses, but the heart of the these characters wouldnt exist without Stan. Honestly, seeing Stan’s cameo in every single film is also part of the experience that will sadly end after his last cameo in the upcoming Avengers 4.

Despite all of this, I don’t find myself overly saddened thinking about Stan’s passing. He had a long and fulfilling life, and is now at rest after accomplishing more with his life than most ever think is possible. He has inspired countless artists and creators to leave their mark on the world and will continue to do so as future generations experience his universe for the first time.

My wife and I meeting Stan at Awesome Con.

I’m beyond grateful to have met Stan a year or so ago at Awesome Con in DC, but as incredible an experience as it was, I was surprised at how little he resembled the comic book rockstar from my childhood. He kept reminding me of someone’s grandfather that should probably just be at home, resting. I think it was in that moment that I knew and accepted this marvelous man (see what I did there) wouldnt be with us much longer.

However, this is not how he will be remembered. He will be remembered for all the things previously mentioned in this post; as the man that revolutionized not just comics but art, TV, and film as well. He will be remembered for his bombastic story telling, a knack for alliteration, and his trademark sunglasses and mustache.

Never fear true believers. Though he is no longer among us, his legacy on pop culture will continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Excelsior.

Venom: Movie Review

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate

Run-time: 2hr and 20 min Rated PG-13

Check out the trailer here

Venom has been a “dark horse” of sorts pretty much since it was announced a few years ago. The thought of Sony making a stand alone film with one of Spider-Man’s most popular foes without everyone’s favorite wall-crawler even making an appearance seemed destined for failure. The movie’s outlook improved only slightly when the talented Tom Hardy was announced as taking on the lead role of investigative journalist turned alien powered anti-hero: Eddie Brock.

Fast forward to 2018 and we are now into the third week of its theatrical run. Despite opening to a more than expected thrashing by movie critics, something unexpected has happened. Venom is actually a damn fun time.

As word of mouth spreads, Venom has broken records and become a box office hit (currently having raked in over $400 million).

I went in expecting to be disappointed with a mediocre action CGI-fest and was shocked at how much I enjoyed the film. Not only that, but I’m also looking forward to the already announced sequel.

Let me be clear: Venom is light years behind 95% of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a clunky story that suffers from several issues.

Despite that, the movie makes you look past all of its flaws with a relatable anti-hero and his strange but endearing bond with Venom that is entertaining to see develop. It’s a solid attempt on Sony’s part of bringing the character to the big screen and a hell of a lot better than the garbage we were given, shoe-horned in at the end of 2007’s Spider-Man 3 (I’m looking at you, Topher Grace):

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It’s no secret that Hardy is a brilliant actor and he was a smart choice for Eddie Brock. While I’m a huge fan of his work normally, I was definitely questioning the decision based on the first trailer, as the accent he was going for didn’t seem to work nor did he come across as a believable reporter.

Now, having seen the movie, I think a lot of that was a result of poor editing choices in the trailer. He feels like a much better fit in the actual film, minus a few scenes, and actually has a sort of awkward charm that helps make his character relatable and endearing. The first trailer also butchered the pronounciation of “symbiote,” but I was releaved to see they fixed it for the film.

Interestingly, he’s also the voice of Venom, proving once again he’s the cinematic master of weird voices. Hardy explained in an interview how they created and implemented Venom’s voice into the scenes.

The relationship / bonding moments between Eddie and Venom are hands down the most enjoyable parts of the movie. The interactions are so fun that it’s a shame more time was devoted to pre-Venom setup and not more so to these moments.

This a long movie at 2hrs and 20 mins, but the time flies by. Another 15-20 more mins of Eddie and Venom time would not have been a bad thing.

The rest of the cast worked but could have been better. Riz Ahmed was a supreme dick as the villanous head of the “Life Foundation”, though he really never came across as menacing or as powerful as he was supposed to be. He’s just a dick…with money to waste on irrational science experiments.

Michelle Williams and Jenny Slate were fine, but could have been given more to do. Williams, who plays Eddie’s girlfriend, does have one awesome moment towards the 3rd act but by time you realize what’s happening, it’s over.

Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake, head of the Life Foundation.

Jenny Slate as Dr Skirth.

Michelle Williams as Eddie’s girlfriend Anne Weying.

The action scenes are well done and there are a couple solid fights. A car chase involving Venom made for some great stunts and effects. I do think Venom would have benefited from an R rating. I understand that the studio wants to make as much money as possible, however this is another example where the more adult rating fits the character. Movies like Logan and Deadpool prove if done right, studios can still make tons of money with an R rating.

I think much of the negative reviews by critics comes from not really understanding the personality of the source material. Possibly, they went in expecting a dark and gritty film, almost bordering horror and didn’t know what to do with the hybrid action/comedy with an alien creature making childish jokes about eating people. He does have an off kilter sense of humor and some of Venom’s comedic lines were actually ripped straight from the comics:

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The plot is the movie’s biggest stumbling block. It isn’t terrible…but it isn’t amazing either. It feels like a trip back in time to a 90’s superhero flick. That may be in large part due to the director drawing heavily from the 1993 Venom comic arc “Lethal Protector.” The issue is this story features Spidey in the comics and you can tell Sony stumbled around trying to figure out how to redo the story without him. They actually did a respectable job all things considered, but it is hard not to think about how much better it could have been.

With the financial success of this one maybe the sequel could have a least a guest appearance from Spider-Man…if only long enough for Venom to gain his signature white symbol and ability to shoot his own version of webs.

There are two after credits scenes: the one at the very end is only worth watching if you’re interested in Sony’s upcoming “Into the Spider-Verse” Animated film as there’s a short clip for it.

I won’t spoil who the actor is, but the middle credits scene is where it’s at, teasing the villain of the Venom sequel: Cletus Kasady aka Carnage.

Final Verdict

Overall, while Venom could have been a much better movie and has several issues, the relationship between Eddie and Venom makes you forget the film’s short comings and just have a great time.


Cinematic Quality: 3.5 out of 5

Fun Factor: 4.5 out of 5

Worth the price of admission: 3.5 out of 5

Re-watch Value: 3.5 out of 5

Overall Score – 3.75 body part Venom snacks out of 5

Final Avengers Infinity War Trailer Breakdown.

We’re almost there, everyone! The movie event that has been brewing for the past 10 years and 18 movies is now just over a month away.

Tickets went on sale yesterday, and to help entice people to buy, a new trailer and movie poster were released. I’m not ashamed to admit it worked on me…but I would have bought tickets regardless.

Holy smokes, what a trailer! There’s several new clips with a ton of new insight to be gleaned from the trailer, so if you don’t want to know anything going into the theater, turn away now.

Who the heck is this Thanos guy? The trailer starts with Gamora talking about who Thanos is and what he wants. Then we see that she’s talking to at least Tony, but most likely other Avengers as well. This makes sense as the Guardians are the ones who have had the most history with Thanos up until this point.

Wakanda takes center stage. We already knew that Wakanda would play a large role in this movie, including a large-scale battle. Now the reason for that battle seems more clear: Wakanda will be the location the Avengers try to hide the remaining infinity stones from Thanos and his minions.

Star Lord doesn’t agree, but this seems logical considering Wakanda is the most technologically advanced city on the planet and would provide the best defense against Thanos.

The Avengers are in trouble. We see several heroes taking on either the Mad Titan himself or his henchmen in the trailer, and all of them seem to be completely outmatched. Fans are already anticipating heavy casualities and this trailer doesn’t do anything to change that idea.

A close up of the “Hulkbuster” armor. Last seen in Age of Ultron, the team will need everything they have to take on Thanos. There’s reason to believe there could be someone other than Tony in there…

Tony’s “Bleeding Edge” armor at work. This new armor pulled from the comics is based on tiny nanomachines that not only expand across his body to construct Tony’s basic armor, but they can also form new shapes such as wings, or the huge rocket booster we see form around his feet in the trailer.

Star Lord and Iron Man probably won’t be besties. This is the first interaction we’ve seen of the two so far. Knowing the size of both of their egos, things seem to be going about as expected.

A closer look at Peter’s “Iron Spider” suit. This is the same suit Peter decided not to take from Tony at the end of Spiderman: Homecoming. It’s inspired heavily from the “Iron Spider” suit he gets from Stark in the comics.

Flashback to when Thanos kidnaps/adopts Gamora. Both the child and another woman to the left of one of the clips have Gamora’s green skin and red hair. It seems safe to assume this is from a flashback to the day Thanos conquered Gamora’ s home world.

A blink and you’ll miss it look at “The Black Order.” These are the elite, alien henchmen who work for Thanos and do his bidding. It looks like they have been sent out into the universe to help Thanos track down the infinity stones.

Doctor Strange and Star Lord know that teamwork makes the dream work. This one is easy to miss but we get a super quick look at Doctor Strange helping Star Lord cross an area with a little use of magic. Peter Quill usually has rocket boots that allow him to fly; they must have been taken out of commission somehow.

Humorous introductions. Peter Parker introduces himself and we learn that joking about Doctor Strange’s name is still funny.

What do you think? Anything else cool that I missed? What are your predictions?

Avengers: Infinity War explodes into theaters April 27.

Road to Infinity War #3 of 18: Iron-Man 2 (2010)

The next film in my “Road to Infinity War” series is Iron-Man 2, from 2010. These posts aren’t a review. Instead, they serve as “cliff notes” to make sure you’re up to speed on what’s happened over the last 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe before Avengers: Infinity War in May.

Be sure to also check out my full viewing guide for the MCU which lays out the complete viewing order for the MCU but also which ones are essential to the upcoming Infinity War, and which ones you can skip.

The links to the previous entries in this series are listed at the bottom of this post.

Alright, let’s get started!

Important Characters

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Howard Stark

We get to see more of Tony’s dad in the form of old video reels Howard made for his Stark Expo back in the 70’s. Howard was not only one of the founding members of SHIELD, but just as much a workaholic as his son.

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Ivan Vanko

Ivan is the son of Anton Vanko, whom we learn worked on several projects with Howard Stark until he defected to the Soviet Union. Ivan blames the Stark family for his misfortunes and is out for revenge.

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Colonel James Rhodes “Rhodey” aka War Machine

Rhodey returns, this time played by Don Cheadle, who has played the character ever since. After a spat with a drunken Tony, Rhodey steals the Mark II armor and turns it into his own suit, called War Machine.

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Justin Hammer

Hammer is the CEO of Hammer Industries, and has been a long time weapons manufacturing competitor of Tony. Stark’s tech is far superior, however after he decided to stop making weapons in the last film, the government gave all of their contracts to Hammer. Justin will do anything to humiliate Stark and prove he’s the best, including partnering with Vanko to design his own version of the Iron-Man suit.

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Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow

Romanoff shows up to Stark Industries as the notary after Tony decides to make Pepper Potts CEO of Stark Industries. Tony, still not completely over his weakness for a pretty face, hires Romanoff as his new personal assistant even after Pepper says no. Turns out Romanoff is actually a SHIELD agent in disguise, sent by Fury to keep tabs on Tony. Romanoff has a dark past, as before defecting to the US, she was a spy/assassin for the Soviet Union.

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Director Nick Fury, SHIELD

Nick Fury is still working Tony to get him onboard with the Avengers Initiative. He also knows that Stark’s body is being poisoned by the palladium in Tony’s chest piece, and that Howard had found an alternative before he died.

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Agent Coulson, SHIELD

Coulson is put in charge, later in the film, of making sure Tony doesn’t leave his house until he discovers a replacement element to use in the engineering of a new chest piece. The picture above is a reference to Captain America’s shield. Coulson pulls it out of the crate of Howard’s belongings, implying that at some point in the past Howard Stark worked with Captain America.

Tony puts on a great show, but is hiding a deadly secret.

  • Tony decides to bring back his dad’s Stark Expo which focuses on the development of new technology for the betterment of the future. Of course he makes a grand entrance in his Iron-Man armor.

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  • In true Tony showmanship, he works the crowd into a frenzy proclaiming that he’s the reason the world is enjoying a more peaceful existence and that there is no one who can go toe-to-toe with him.
  • However, backstage it’s a different story. It’s revealed that Tony is actually slowly dying. Ironically, the chest piece’s Palladium core, designed to keep him alive is also poisoning him. He has so far been unable to find a solution, and is keeping this a secret from everyone.

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  • Stark decides to appoint Pepper as the new CEO of Stark Industries.
  • When the notary, Natasha Romanoff arrives to make the transition official, Tony decides to hire her as his new personal assistant (He was impressed by her resume).

A new challenger appears to hold the Stark family accountable.

  • With Tony inching closer to death, he starts making extremely foolish decisions, such as personally driving the Stark sponsored formula one car at the Monaco Grand Prix.
  • Ivan Vanko makes his way onto the track during the race, wearing a suit he built himself, similar to the Iron-Man armor. However, his version is much more simplistic; all except for the long, electrified whips extending from either hand (He’s called Whiplash in the comics).

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  • Ivan slices Tony’s car in half, sending him crashing upside down.
  • Before Vanko can finish him off, Happy Hogan and Pepper drive onto the course and pin Vanko against the track gate long enough for Happy to throw Tony a portable Iron-Man suit that looks like a red suitcase.

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  • As Iron-Man, Stark easily defeats Vanko in his minimal suit.
  • Stark visits Vanko in lock up and asks about the “cheap knock off.”

  • Vanko cryptically tells him that the Stark family’s weapons empire has destroyed numerous people while posing as American patriots. The Vanko family is among the list of casualties.
    • Vanko says the design is from his father and that he doesn’t need to kill Stark, he only needs to prove that he’s not untouchable. Once the world realizes this, Stark will be overwhelmed with foes until there is no way he can beat them all (this is an extreme paraphrasing of this scene).

The government tries to put Iron-Man in check.

  • Reacting to the events in Monaco, the government calls for a senate hearing in an attempt to strong-arm Tony into giving up his tech to the government.
  • Senator Stern brings one of Stark’s former rivals, Justin Hammer, along with Rhodey (against his wishes) to testify against Tony.
  • Tony, through a big show, proves that the development of any tech that would rival his is still at least a decade off. Tony effectively angers the senator and then arrogantly leaves the hearing.

  • Tony continues to make foolish choices by getting extremely drunk during his birthday celebration at his house. He puts on his suit and shows off to the guests by using household items for target practice.22670870
  • Pepper tries to talk him down, but he only gets worse.
  • Rhodey shows up and decides that enough is enough. He puts on Stark’s Mark II armor and tells Tony to stand down or else. Of course, or else happens and the two have a very destructive fight throughout the house.

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  • Although the fight ends in a draw, Rhodey manages to fly off with the suit.
  • He takes it back to the US Air Force base and calls Justin Hammer in to upgrade it with a ton of weapons, thus becoming the War Machine armor.

Nick Fury steps in to push Tony in the right direction.

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  • The next morning, Nick Fury finds Tony nursing a nasty hangover (still in the suit)and reveals several things:
    • Romanoff is actually an agent of SHIELD, who was assigned to Stark.
    • Howard Stark was a founding member of SHIELD.
    • He was on the verge of a huge discovery, one that among other things could provide a solution to Tony’s illness.
    • Contrary to what Tony thinks, his father loved him and thought of him as the future of his legacy.
    • Vanko’ s father worked with Howard and helped to develop the famous “arc reactor” technology that would later power the Iron-Man suits. When Howard learned he was selling secrets to Russia, he had him deported.
  • Fury places Tony on “house arrest,” with a crate of his father’s belongings, including some old journals and film reels. Fury promises that the solution to Stark’s illness is contained within this crate, Tony just has to figure it out.
  • At first the journals and film footage seem ordinary: Howard recording clips for his Stark Expo back in the 70’s. Multiple takes are on the film and show:
    • A young Tony wanders onto the set, and an angry Howard yells at his wife to take him away…seemingly confirming his dad’s cold nature.
    • Howard drinking during filming, and becoming increasingly intoxicated with each take…confirming that, like his son, Howard also enjoyed some destructive habits.

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  • Eventually, near the end of the film, Tony discovers a secret message his father left for him:

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Tony, you’re too young to understand this right now, so I thought I would put it on film for you. I built this for you [meaning the model table of the Stark Expo]. And some day you’ll realize that it represents a whole lot more than people’s inventions, it represents my life’s work. This is the key to the future. I’m limited by the technology of my time, but one day you’ll figure this out. And when you do, you will change the world. What is, and always will be, my greatest creation… is ‘you’

Tony gets a new heart.

  • Tony realizes then that the model behind his dad is the key. He sneaks out of the house and drives to Stark Industries to take the same table back to his house to study.
  • He also attempts to apologize to Pepper and explain the reason for all his shenanigans lately. However, he mistakenly brings her strawberries…which she’s allergic to…which he should know considering how close they are. This mistake obviously kills the apology attempt.

  • Back at his house, with the help of JARVIS, Stark uses a digital scan of the table to discover the arrangement of the buildings are actually the cellular structure of a new element his father discovered. Howard was unable to synthesize the element with the technology of his time, so he created the model as a blueprint for when technology advances to the point of being able to do so.
  • As it turns out, this new element will serve as the perfect replacement for the palladium core in his chest piece.
  • After a period of time and some demo work to make room for the necessary equipment, Tony successfully synthesizes the element and engineers the updated chest piece.

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A final showdown with “Whiplash” and Hammer.

  • Stark flies to the Stark Expo where Justin Hammer is demonstrating his Hammer Drones and War Machine.
  • Earlier, Hammer had broken Vanko out of prison and enlisted him to help build copies of the Iron-Man suit. Hammer wants to debut the suits at the Stark Expo to humiliate Stark.thT0B883A3
  • Vanko builds drones instead, which he plans to use to kill Stark and his legacy.
  • When Tony arrives at the expo to warn Rhodey about Vanko working with Hammer, Vanko activates the drones remotely to kill Tony.
  • Rhodey is in the new War Machine armor and under Vanko’ s control as well.
  • Tony leads the drones away from the expo and hacks into the War Machine suit, giving full control back to Rhodey.
  • While the drones chase Tony and Rhodey, Pepper realizes what Hammer has been up to and easily subdues him by twisting his arm behind his back until the police can arrive to arrest him.

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  • Tony and Rhodey land in a secluded area and take out all the drones in a fierce battle.
  • The victory is short-lived as Vanko shows up soon after in more advanced version of the whiplash suit.
  • The 2 are able to take him down, however Vanko activates a self destruct option on his suit and all the drones as a last-ditch effort.
  • Both escape the blast, and Tony, having realised that Pepper is in the blast zone, narrowly saves her.

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  • Tony and Pepper share their first kiss as a couple.

Avengers Initiative?

  • A few days later, Tony meets with Nick Fury to discuss the Avengers Initiative.
  • Fury tells Stark he’s not sure he’s a good candidate. He reads a personality assessment agent Romanoff completed during time with Tony. The findings were that Tony’s personality traits: arrogance, self obsessed, not a team player, resulted in her not recommending Tony for the Avengers.

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  • Fury tells Stark that for now, SHIELD only wants Tony as a consultant to essentially help recruit candidates for the Avengers.
  • Tony agrees under one condition: that Nick arrange for Senator Stern from the senate committee earlier, to be the one to present medals to both Tony and Rhodey at an upcoming ceremony.
  • Fury agreed much to Stern’s dismay:

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After credits scene.

  • Agent Coulson arrives at a desert area in New Mexico. There’s a large crater with several vehicles swarming around it.
  • Coulson makes a call, presumably to Fury saying “Sir, we’ve found it.”
  • The last shot is a look at what made the crater: Thor’s hammer.

This is a small teaser for the next movie in the MCU, and the next summary in my Road to Infinity War series:

Thor (2011).

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Check out my previous posts:

  1. Iron-Man (2008)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Black Panther Movie Review

Directed by: Ryan Coogler

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker, Danai Gurira, Angela Bassett, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman, Florence Kasumba, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown.

Rating: PG-13. Runtime: 2hrs and 15min

Click here to watch the trailer.

Black Panther is the 18th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let that sink in for a moment. There’s only a couple other franchises that can top that (at least for now).

You would think that by this point, it would be difficult to keep the franchise fresh. However, with Black Panther, Marvel continues to bring new and exciting perspectives to its movie universe.

This is a significant entry in the series. It is the first major superhero movie to feature an African hero, as well as an almost entirely African cast of characters with their native country taking center stage.

Story: 8 out of 10

Overall, the plot is very solid. Other than briefly mentioning a couple events that took place during Captain America: Civil War (mostly for background info), Black Panther is its own, self contained story. This was a great way to show the world these characters can stand on their own without the rest of the Marvel crew to hold them up.

Black Panther is an origin story, introducing not just T’Challa, but also Wakanda: it’s people, culture, and traditions. The majority of the film focuses on T’Challa officially take over the mantle of king as well as what ruling the fictitious African nation looks like.

The pacing did feel a bit choppy and disjointed at times, but not enough to hurt the film. I do think Killmonger’s plan (no spoilers) would have carried more weight if it had been saved for the inevitable sequel; giving T’Challa more time as king first. It’s not a major issue though, and still worked well here. There were also a few things that didn’t completely add up, however, nothing that can’t be chalked up to comic book logic.

As with any Marvel movie, there is plenty of humor to be had which is well timed and feels organic. Black Panther knows exactly when it should be funny and when it’s time to be serious; something I still feel derailed Thor: Ragnarok.

There are 2 after credit scenes, so make sure you stay until the end. The first expands on Black Panther, and the second adds a small tease for the upcoming Infinity War. If you were like me and hoping to see the last Infinity Stone revealed, sorry to burst your bubble; no such thing happens (I still think it will be in Wakanda though).

Acting: 10 out of 10

This is one of the areas where Black Panther shines the brightest. Everyone not only gave fantastic performances, but they also all felt vital to the story. Each character had meaningful moments throughout, and no one felt wasted.

Chadwick Boseman reprises his role as T’Challa/Black Panther. He is very charismatic and the perfect choice for the role, however I did leave the theater wanting more. There was plenty of time devoted to T’Challa as king, however I wanted to see more of him as Black Panther. The moments he is in the suit are great though.

Michael B. Jordan was fantastic as villain, Eric Killmonger. A story always stands out more when you can sympathize with the villain and their point of view. You can definitely understand why Eric feels the way he does even if his reaction is wrong. It’s also satisfying to get more than the standard “evil for the sake of being evil” baddie common in the comic book world. This must also feel like a bit of redemption for Jordan as his last go in the genre was the colossal train wreck of a reboot: Fantastic Four in 2015.

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Letitia Wright absolutely stole the show for me as T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri. She was responsible for a large chunk of the humor and her presence lights up every scene she’s in. She deserves as much screen time in future movies as possible.

Shuri is the brilliant techie behind most of the developments in Wakanda technology similar to Q in the Bond films. The car chase scene, specifically was outstanding and really felt like a cool and unique idea for a franchise that’s 18 movies deep and already featured technology experts before.

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Danai Gurira’s Oyoke is a fierce warrior who takes things more seriously than the other characters; which also makes for some great humor. She’s known for playing the badass Michonne in The Walking Dead, however Oyoke’s skills in battle are far superior. Oyoke is passionately commited to Wakanda; so much so that someone in the theater with us yelled out towards the end, “She’s loyal as fuck!” Comments like that, and the audience’s reaction to them, are why I love going to movies opening weekend.

Others, including Angela Bassett, Forest Whitacker, Luputa Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Daniel Kaluuya all were terrific at rounding out the cast. Andy Serkis also proved that he’s not just the king of voicing CGI characters, but can also hold his own in person.

Sound: 9 out of 10

The music in Black Panther also stands out, offering a refreshing change of pace. Composer Ludwig Göransson, actually spent a month in Africa researching the music of the area to ensure the score sounded authentic. That, combined with a soundtrack by Kendrick Lamar, resulted in a music experience that sounds unlike any Marvel movie that’s come before.

Visuals: 8.5 out of 10

The visuals for the movie mesmerize at times, and at others disappoint. Some scenes, especially shots of the city of Wakanda, look fantastic. The mix of futuristic tech and ancient tribal traditions make for serious eye candy. Other sections, like the big fight at the end, showcase CGI that seems below Marvel’s achievments with other movies.

The last fight between T’Challa and Killmonger reminded me of the early days of Marvel movies. Think of some of the special effects in Sam Rami’s Spider-Man. Specifically, Peter in his wrestling outfit, climbing up a building after the death of his uncle. After 15 years, it is painful to watch.

A couple of the landscape shots are also a little too noticeably green screen created. I blame Marvel for these issues. They should have thrown more money and time at it to make the scenes look as good as their other films.

The costume design for the movie is honestly award worthy. There is so much detail to all of the colors and designs that it’s easy to get distracted from the rest of the movie just taking it all in.

Overall Rating

Obviously, this review represents what I feel were the strengths and weaknesses of Black Panther as a movie. At the same time, this movie represents a historic moment for Hollywood that transcends numeric ratings. Box office records are currently being broken and will undoubtedly open the door for more culturally diverse superhero movies, which should have happened a long time ago.

The movie has a much needed message, not just for African Americans, but for everyone. As T’Challa tells the UN; “that which binds us together is stronger than what separates us.” This is a message we need to hear now more than ever.

Black Panther’s final score is 8.9 vibranium panthers out of 10.

Everything You Need to Know About Black Panther Before Going To See the Movie.

There is no question that Black Panther, releasing this week will be a big deal for several reasons; not only as a stand alone film, but also leading up to Avengers: Infinity War in just a couple of months. I’m all but certain we will see the final Infinity Stone pop up somewhere. This will definitely be one you won’t want to miss.

Who is Black Panther, anyway? Many movie goers will not be overly familiar with this character going in, however he is a heavy hitter in the Marvel universe that shouldn’t be overlooked. While there is a far richer background for the character in the comics, I’ll stick to covering primarily the cinematic counterpart to keep things simple.

First, I highly recommend at least making sure you’ve seen Captain America: Civil War before catching the movie, as this is where Black Panther makes his first appearance in the MCU.

A quick history lesson.

Black Panther, or the character’s real name T’Challa (“Ta-Cha-lah”), was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966, during a time when comic book heroes were not ethnically diverse at all. In fact, he is the first African superhero to hit mainstream comics, paving the way for others to follow such as Falcon and Luke Cage…in other words, he’s a big deal.

Contrary to what some think: Black Panther does not have a connection with the Black Panther Party, and actually predates it by 6 months. For a brief time, Marvel even changed the character’s name to “Black Leopard” in an effort to sidestep any controversy, however it didn’t last long as the name didn’t sound quite as badass.

“Black Panther” is actually the ceremonial title passed down to each successive king of the fictional African nation, Wakanda. The title signifies that the king is both the ruler and protector of the people of Wakanda. During the events of Civil War, T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father, is the current king until he is murdered during the UN meeting to ratify the Sokovia Accords. This means that the kingdom, as well as the mantle of Black Panther now passes on to T’Challa.

As king, T’Challa also has an all female royal guard, known as the Dora Milaje (“The Adored Ones”) and are highly skilled with various weapons and fighting styles.

Wakanda is one of the most technologically advanced civilizations on the planet, and sits on one of the largest vibranium deposits anywhere. If that word sounds familiar, it’s because vibranium is the metal Captain America’s shield is made out of, so it’s an extremely valuable commodity. For comparison, much of the tech in Wakanda rivals that of what Tony Stark can cook up, in some ways even surpassing.

Vibranium plays a significant role for the hero, as the Black Panther suit is highly advanced and made out of the material, including retractable claws on both hands, effectively making him bulletproof.

Furthermore, T’Challa also has enhanced abilities including speed, agility, strength, and durability; gained from eating something called the Heart Shaped Herb. In the comics, (and most likely the movie) this herb is believed to grant a mystical connection to the Wakandan Panther God, however in reality, the plant is mutated from a vibranium meteorite that crashed to Earth long ago.

T’Challa/Black Panther is essentially the Marvel equivalent of Bruce Wayne/Batman; except T’Challa is not only richer than Bruce (by far), but also has super powers, unlike The Dark Knight.

A couple other characters you should know

Ulysses Klaue, the smuggler and arms dealer who lost his arm in Avengers: Age of Ultron will return in Black Panther. He’s actually been to Wakanda before, where he enslaved Wakandans to illegally mine vibranium for him.

Everett Ross is the CIA operative from Captain America: Civil War that worked with the government to attempt to control the actions of the Avengers. He will be returning with unknown motivations so far.

Stay tuned for my full review at the end of the week!

Black Panther is releases in theaters tomorrow.

Black Panther follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.