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Why Marvel’s Movies Keep Getting Better



So everybody, Thor: Ragnarok was awesome. The action was fun and Jeff Goldblum has never been Jeff Goldblumier. OK, thanks for reading. That’s really all I needed to say. Article’s over, go home.

But since there are a few hundred more words to be filled in, let’s break down why Thor: Ragnarok was awesome. In fact, let’s talk about why Marvel movies keep getting better. Because according to this nifty graph I made based on Rotten Tomatoes scores, that’s super what’s happening:

As you can see, Marvel has consistently had hits since they started making movies, but as time passed, their lower-ranked films slowly caught up with their higher-ranked ones. If you’re wondering, the films that represent those valleys in quality were The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor 2, and Age Of Ultron (although you can hardly count any of these as critical failures).

So what is happening? What’s behind the pattern? Well I’m glad I asked, because I have an answer: The lowest-rated films were all “filler” stories. Incredible Hulk was a necessary reboot of Ang Lee’s attempt, and the other three were all part twos leading up to major explody events like The Avengers and the eventual Infinity War. We had already met all the characters, and so these films bought time so that the MCU could set up the inevitable hype films on the horizon. For that reason, the stories are pretty self-contained and therefore rather boring: the bad guy shows up, wants to blow up the world, and creates an army.

Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios“It may have not worked out for the first 23 bad guys, but Team Ultron is gonna make it happen, baby!”

Second question: Why did the quality of these “filler” films get better? Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok could both be considered “filler” movies. Hell, the plot to the first Guardians, when you look at the broad strokes, is extremely cliche: “A group of reluctant heroes band together to fight an evil wizard / family member from blowing up a planet using a super-weapon, only to take down his spaceship and save the day.” That’s also the plot to Star Wars. Ragnarok is about another Asgard sibling putting together a generic skull army to take over their world … only with an even pointier helmet. So why is it so amazing despite that oatmeal premise?

Because it’s fucking weird, obviously. This “oatmeal” premise is flavored with crazy-dick characters and Led Zeppelin. Jeff Goldblum is dressed like a gospel space-priest and appears multiple times as a hologram. The movie is so comedic that it’s practically a parody of itself. The studio got the dude who made What We Do In The Shadows and let him make a beautiful mess, like a cocaine toddler in a Walmart. Marvel realized they were making filler films and said, “Well shit, we might as well fill these fillers with clown guts and candy.” And that’s goddamn swell.

And so the rule for Phase Three came down to a successful Marvel film being either A) a unique and interesting story told in a straightforward way (Civil War, Homecoming), or B) a really straightforward story told in a unique and interesting way (Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians).

This explains why movies like Thor 2 and Ultron weren’t as well-received, for they are neither unique nor told in a particularly fun way. The lesson here is that Marvel’s doing a great job of being ahead of its fans and realizing that the superhero stories once considered “unique” tend to get old really fast. I remember a time when I couldn’t wait to see an origin story; now I shudder at the words “Uncle Ben.” And guess what? Homecoming knew this, and focused on making a Spider-Man that felt bizarrely similar to a coming-of-age teen movie. Other comic book movies are figuring this out too. Logan was an X-Men stab at drama, and now we’re getting The New Mutants, a goddamn superhero horror movie.

But finally — and this is super important — Marvel is beginning to learn that they need to stick an eccentric ’80s/’90s actor in their movies as a villain. Sure, it could be Kurt Russell or Michael Keaton, but the big money is obviously Jeff Goldblum, America’s bumbling sex maestro.

We need more Goldblum villains, Marvel. Goldblum Hobgoblin, Goldblum Stilt-Man, an entire gang of clone Goldblum henchmen. I don’t give a fuck who you thought was playing Thanos; if you want Infinity War to end with a whooshing cacophony of nerds’ ROM the Space Knight panties hitting the theater floors, you know what needs to be done. Don’t fuck me on this.

David is totally on Twitter.

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Super Heroes

Missed ‘Civil War’? Here’s what you need to know before ‘Black Panther’



Don’t worry, T’Challa we’ll get you up to speed in no time.

Image: Mashable Composite / Marvel Studios

This week’s Black Panther marks the first solo feature film for, well, Black Panther. However, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen him onscreen.

Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, actually made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2016, while his nemesis, Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), appeared even before that, in 2015.

But if your recall of the previous Marvel movies is fuzzy (or if you never saw them to begin with), don’t fret — we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know.

What other Marvel movies feature Black Panther?

Black Panther’s first (and, until Black Panther, only) appearance in the MCU was in Captain America: Civil War. The film also featured the first glimpses of Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), T’Chaka (John Kani), and Ayo (Florence Kasumba), all of whom return in Black Panther.

But the first Black Panther character we met in the MCU was actually Ulysses Klaue, who has a small role in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Do I need to watch those movies before Black Panther?

No. It might be nice if you did, because Civil War, Ultron, and the others do provide some added context. But Black Panther recaps all of the most pertinent details.

Can you give me a rundown of Captain America: Civil War anyway?

Black Panther is just a subplot in Captain America: Civil War — the struggle between Cap and Iron Man is the major focal point — but sure, I can fill you in on all the Black Panther-related stuff you missed.

T’Challa’s father T’Chaka dies, making T’Challa the new king of Wakanda. T’Chaka is killed in an explosion at a United Nations summit in Vienna. T’Challa, who was with him but survived, vows to avenge his father by killing Bucky Barnes, whom he believes carried out the attack.

T’Challa is also, separately, the Black Panther of Wakanda. Think of him as a superpowered protector of the nation, blessed with enhanced physical attributes and a bulletproof high-tech suit. The hows and whys of the Black Panther role aren’t really explained in Civil War, however — that’s left for Black Panther to do.

Wakanda is very isolated, but slowly opening up. The country is described by one outsider as “traditionally reclusive,” but T’Chaka makes it clear that the Wakandans have been making active outreach efforts recently.

Ayo is part of T’Challa’s security detail. The Dora Milaje warrior appears only briefly but makes a strong impression.

Everett Ross is in T’Challa’s orbit. Ross is a CIA agent trying to contain the Avengers and Bucky in Civil War. He crosses paths with T’Challa multiple times.

T’Challa decides on mercy. T’Challa’s revenge mission ends when he finds Zemo, the man who’s really responsible for the UN attack. Rather than kill Zemo, though, T’Challa decides he’s done letting vengeance consume him, and turns Zemo over to the authorities.

T’Challa takes Bucky back to Wakanda with him. In the end credits scene for Civil War, T’Challa agrees to let Bucky stay on ice and in hiding in Wakanda.

What about Avengers: Age of Ultron?

Although Black Panther is not in Age of Ultron, the film does start laying the groundwork for his eventual debut — mostly centered around Klaue.

Wakanda’s greatest natural resource is vibranium. It’s a special metal found only in Wakanda, although very limited quantities have made it outside the country. Most of the world mistakenly believes that Wakanda has no more vibranium left.

Klaue, a black-market arms dealer, is the rare outsider who’s been to Wakanda. He successfully made off with a large amount of vibranium, but not before getting caught and branded (literally) as a thief.

Klaue has a history with Wakanda. A dossier glimpsed in Age of Ultron reveals that Klaue was hired at one point to murder T’Chaka, and that his great-grandfather was killed by a previous Black Panther.

Klaue loses an arm. Ultron blasts it off during an argument. This is relevant because he has an exciting replacement in Black Panther.

We’ve seen vibranium in action before. Captain America’s shield is made of the stuff, as explained in Captain America: Civil War. In Ultron, the supervillain buys vibranium from Klaue and uses it to create a doomsday device.

That actually seems like a lot of stuff!

Eh, it’s not that bad. Again, the most relevant information is rehashed in Black Panther.

Will Black Panther be involved in future MCU movies?

Oh, you can count on it. In fact, he and his friends will be back just three months from now, for Avengers: Infinity War.

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‘Black Panther’ made the cover of TIME magazine



Director Ryan Coogler (left) and star Chadwick Boseman (right) at the ‘Black Panther’ European premiere in London.

Image: Mike Marsland/WireImage

Any publication capable of repeatedly enraging Donald Trump is one we should pay at least some attention to.

The latest cover of TIME magazine has struck a chord. It features Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman.

Accompanying the cover is a piece by journalist Jamil Smith

Smith’s article highlights the cultural significance of the film. He traces the history of the Black Panther comics, which first appeared in the civil rights era (1966 specifically), all the way up to the character’s inclusion in the MCU, and what this means for black representation in media.

“This is not just a movie about a black superhero,” Smith writes, “it’s very much a black movie. It carries a weight that neither Thor nor Captain America could lift: serving a black audience that has long gone under­represented.”

He points also to the film’s widespread acclaim and probable commercial success will dispel the myth that black films are only marketable to black people. 

“For a wary and risk-averse film business, led largely by white film executives who have been historically predisposed to greenlight projects featuring characters who look like them, Black Panther will offer proof that a depiction of a reality of something other than whiteness can make a ton of money.”

People are enjoying both the cover and the article.

Super Heroes

This Marvel Studios class photo is unreasonably large



Image: marvel

After 10 years of Marvel movies, (most of) the team got together to take one big happy family photo.

Like, really big. Go ahead and click on this photo below to expand it and try to find some of your favorite actors and filmmakers from the Marvel cinematic universe:

Image: Marco Grob/marvel studios

Along with the giant photo, Marvel released a short video that showed a little bit of the behind-the-scenes process of getting all of the 79 actors and filmmakers together for a class photo.

The photo doesn’t include absolutely everyone who worked on the dozen plus Marvel movies that came out since 2008, unfortunately, but it has a whole lot of them.

Here is the full list of people in the photo, starting from the left side of the front row:

Sean Gunn, Hannah John-Kamen, Scott Derrickson, Trinh Tran, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Victoria Alonso, Zoe Saldana, Angela Bassett, Jon Favreau, Chris Hemsworth, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Stan Lee, Kevin Feige, Scarlett Johansson,Louis D’Esposito, Kurt Russell, Danai Gurira, William Hurt, Alan Taylor, Karen Gillan, Brad Winderbaum, Emily VanCamp, Louis Letterier, Jon Watts, Sarah Finn, Tessa Thompson, David Grant, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, James Gunn, Dave Bautista, Michael Peña, Anthony Mackie, Evangeline Lilly, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Chris Pratt, Chadwick Boseman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Joss Whedon, Paul Bettany, Mitchell Bell, Frank Grillo, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Letitia Wright, Jeffrey Ford, Peyton Reed, Laurence Fishburne, Linda Cardellini, Jonathan Schwartz, Sebastian Stan, Ty Simpkins, Mark Ruffalo, Brie Larson, Michael Douglas, Stephen Broussard, Ryan Coogler, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeremy Latcham, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Nate Moore, Benedict Wong, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Michael Rooker, Vin Diesel, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Taika Waititi, Jeff Goldblum, Erik Carroll, Ryan Meinerding, and Craig Kyle.

In another 10 years, Marvel may need to rent out an airplane hanger to get everyone together.

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