THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE

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THE UNIVERSE: The Marvel Cinematic Universe or The MCU

THE MOVIES: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel’s The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

THE BIG PICTURE: Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is currently the biggest and baddest, made up 18 films and counting. It may have actually coined the phrase “Shared Universe”, because after Marvel started their’s, every other studio blew the cobwebs off their old franchises, stopped making sequels and created “Universes”. All of the movies are about super-heroes in one form or another. Like any series of films, some are great, others are okay, and others are “skipworthy”. Some of the films lead directly into each other, especially the first six films. The ones after that seem to others contain pieces that will be part of the bigger picture a few movies down the road. Supposedly next year’s Avengers: Infinity War will be the culmination of all of the Marvel films in the series to date. That’s a lot of super heroes. And the BIG BANG of the Marvel Universe starts with…

Iron Man (2008)
PG-13 | 2h 6min

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RECAP – Tony Stark is a weapons manufacturer, who is kidnapped by terrorists. To escape be builds a metal suit, and when he gets home he builds a better one, so he can secretly stop other terrorist groups from using his weapons to hurt people, as Iron-Man. This gets him in trouble with the guy running his company who then builds his own suit to fight Tony. In the end, Tony Stark wins and announces to the world: “I am Iron-Man”.

REVIEW – This movie sets up all you need to know going forward. And the good news is after all these years its still one of the best Marvel movies. It was made before they knew what they needed these movies to be, so for the most part, it’s a solid action movie. It sets up so much of the “universe” to come without overtly drawing attention to it. It was also the first Marvel movie to put together, its now infamous, great casts: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrance Howard…  Jeff Bridges! How did I forget he was in this? The only downside to this movie, is it starts the whole trope of the bad guy basically being just an evil version of the good guy. But it was the first movie to do it, so it gets a pass.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? All of it including the bonus scene with Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury asking Tony about the “Avengers Initiative”, which sets up everything to come.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)
PG-13 | 1h 52min

IMG_5097RECAP – Bruce Banner has been in hiding since a failed experiment turned him into a green rage monster whenever  he’s angry, aka The Hulk.  Bruce has been communicating with a Mr. Blue who might have a cure if Bruce can get him more information. After an ambush by General “Thunderbolt” Ross’s men, Bruce heads back to the States to get the data and runs into his old flame Betty Ross. After another Hulk “incident” Bruce and Betty go into to hiding and find Mr. Blue, aka Dr. Samuel Sterns. Sterns stops another Hulk “incident” and then confesses he’s been trying to recreate Bruce’s failed experiment. At this point Ross and his men show up and one of Ross’s men, Blonsky (who has already been “juicing”) forces Stern to give him Banner’s treatment. This causes Blonsky to turn into a huge rage monster that fights The Hulk in the middle of Harlem. The Hulk defeats Blonsky and goes back into hiding.

REVIEW –  This movie is better than I remember, but it’s still not that good. It plays more as a remake of the old Bill Bixby TV show than a new take on the character. William Hurt and Tim Roth are both great actors but are terribly miscast as Ross and Blonsky. Maybe it’s just that the technology was not as advanced in 2008, as it is now, but The Hulk LOOKS and moves like a fake computer-generated character, which makes it hard to care about him. He also looks nothing like Edward Norton as the Hulk, so it’s even harder to relate to him. The final battle between Hulk and Blonsky is so video “gamey” it might as well be Wall-E and Buzz Lightyear punching each other for 7 minutes. Actually, that’s already more interesting.

So, what do you need to know for future movies? Nothing. When I did the initial watch, I skipped this one. The only thing that is carried over from this movie is Thunderbolt Ross in Captain American: Civil War. Anything else you need to know about The Hulk is recapped in the far superior version of him in The Avengers.

Iron-Man 2 (2010)
PG-13 |2h 4min

IMG_5085RECAP –  Tony Stark is slowly being poisoned by the glowy thing in his chest keeping him alive and is acting recklessly because of it. He is mouthing off to congress, racing his own race car and giving away his company and all his stuff. In the meantime, the son of his father’s business partner, Vanko (aka Whiplash) is trying to kill him, and then teams up with another of Tony’s business rivals. All of this gets the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. who reveals Tony’s new notary Natalie Rushman is actually S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Natasha Romanoff, The Black Widow, who spurs him on to find a cure. Tony eventually does with the help of his dead father, and stops Vanko and saves the day and his girl.

REVIEW –  Being the MCU 1st sequel and the movie that follows Iron Man, this movie pales by comparison. It stops a lot of the action for “universe building” scenes like talking about S.H.I.E.L.D. and whether Tony can be part of the “Avenger initiative.” Also, Downey is annoying this time. It feels like this time they decided to let him say whatever he wants but unlike the last movie it doesn’t always work. And this is probably the first time the “bad villain” trope is obvious. If you think about it, Whiplash (Vanko) kind of sucks. He only fights Iron Man twice, once in Monaco and then at the end. Both times gets his ass handed to him. Sam Rockwell is a fun bad guy, but there is no real menace to him.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Natasha Romanoff is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. So, if Fury is around, she is not far behind.  Also the little kid at the Expo in the Iron Man mask… he might get bit by a radioactive spider one day.

Thor (2011)
PG-13 | 1h 55min

IMG_5092RECAP –  Odin, The King of Asgard, (another planet) has 2 sons, Thor and Loki, who both wish to be king. After being tricked by Loki to attack another realm, Thor is banished to Earth where he meets Jane Foster, a scientist. Thor finds out his magical hammer is also on Earth, but is currently unworthy to wield it. Meanwhile Loki has discovered he is adopted, tricks Odin into a deep sleep and begins ruling Asgard. Thor’s friends journey to Earth, followed by The Destroyer sent by Loki to kill all of them. The Destroyer “kills” Thor as he sacrifices himself, proving him now “worthy” of his magic hammer. After which he goes back to Asgard, and defeats Loki, and restores his father to the throne.

REVIEW –  This movie is jarring to watch right after Iron Man 1 and 2. At this point, The MCU seems so grounded in reality (as much as it can) but this thing has monsters and magic and vikings and space travel. So to go from there to THIS is hard, at least for the first 15-20 minutes. The best thing it does, is send Thor to Earth for his fish out of water story. Thor is kind of an ego-maniacal prick, so sending him to Earth where he can be funny and weird and ultimately humbled, allows you finally LIKE the person the movie is named after.  You also can see right away why Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is such a good villain. They let him have so many layers, you kind of feel bad for him It just would have been nice to see more of slow burn to his villainy. He seems to go from wanting to embarrass his brother to wanting to be king of the universe pretty quick. Also, aside from someone to talk to, the rest of supporting characters, save Anthony Hopkins (who I forgot saves Thor twice) is pretty forgettable.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? That Thor will come back to Earth to help protect it. Loki is still out there wanting a place to be rule as King. Oh, and that S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who was going to shoot Thor with a bow and arrow, his name is Clint Barton aka “Hawkeye”.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
PG-13 | 2h 4min

IMG_5089RECAP –  Steve Rogers is 95 lb. weakling who can only join the army in 1942 if he agrees to be part of a Super Soldier program, which will give him great strength and speed.  Steve passes the tests and becomes Captain America. At first Cap is used to sell war bonds and promote America in the war. But finally after seeing actual soldiers fighting, Cap joins the war for real and is tasked with taking out The Red Skull, head of Germany’s science division, Hydra. The Red Skull is using a mystical cube called the Tesseract to make space age weapons. Cap and Red Skull fight on a large plane headed to destroy New York. The Red Skull is defeated but the only way for Cap to save his hometown is to crash the plane into the Arctic where he is lost and frozen for 65 years. Cap wakes up in Times Square in 2011 having missed his chance to dance with Peggy Carter.

REVIEW –  I’ve always had a soft spot for this movie. I think it’s because it reminds me so much of a Spielberg movie. It feels at times very “Raiders like” which is probably on purpose. If there was one MCU character that I thought was going to be hard to crack it was “Cap”. I mean his name is Captain America, he wears a red white and blue outfit with a matching shield. He’s always supposed to be so true blue and pure.  How do you make a modern movie for THAT guy? Here’s how. Don’t run from it. By setting it in World War 2 they can let “Cap” be “Cap” and do all of those things and it doesn’t seem out-of-place.  Cap is just a guy who wants to help, and that never changes. I also always forget Tommy Lee Jones is in this movie and how great and subtle he is in it. Cap’s supporting cast though used briefly, is much more interesting than Thor’s. The universe building doesn’t feel overdone. It lets Cap have his movie. All of which makes the final scene set in the present day so much more heartbreaking, as you realize Cap’s lost everything and everyone he was fighting for.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies?  The Tesseract, that thing the Red Skull used to make is weapons was found by S.H.I.E.L.D. Sure looks like Cap’s friend Bucky died, but did we ever see a body? And now that Cap is in present day, he’s got nothing to do… yet.

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
PG-13 | 2h 23min

669847-the-avengersRECAP –  Loki returns with an army to take over the world, so Nick Fury calls in Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and The Hulk to form THE AVENGERS and stop him.

REVIEW –  THIS MOVIE.  It had so much to live up and manages to do so in spades. I mean is the culmination of all of the MCU Movies that has proceeded it. It shouldn’t have been able to pull it off, but it does. And not only that, in a strange way it all makes sense. There is no one there who shouldn’t be. Thor is there for Loki, Loki wants to be king of something, Cap is unfrozen and has nothing to do, S.H.I.E.L.D. is involved so Black Widow and Fury need to be there and they bring in Iron Man. Probably the biggest leap was bringing in The Hulk because the Tesseract magically now emits gamma radiation. Really? There is NO ONE else other that the guy who turns into a huge green rage monster that studies that? Aside from the random reasons they find to have the Avengers fight each other, overall the movie is what it should be, it’s fun. It’s a fun movie with a bunch of characters we already like, fighting disposable bad guys and tossing out one liners. Yes, if you analyze the movies flaws, it quickly falls apart, but those are so overshadowed by how enjoyable it is to watch. I’ve seen it a few times, I know when the jokes are coming and they still work. There are scenes in this movie that just great scenes. But most important, it never tries to be anything more than what it is. A fun ride.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? There is now something called The Avengers and they WILL be back.  Also, what do you think happened to all that alien tech Loki’s army left behind?

Iron Man 3 (2013)
PG-13 | 2h 10min

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RECAP –  Tony Stark has PTSD and is not sleeping. After his friend, Happy is hurt by a terrorist called The Mandarin, Tony decides to give him his address so he can take him on. This leads to a sneak attack where Tony’s house and all his Iron Man suits are destroyed. Thought dead, Tony tracks down The Mandarin and the man behind The Mandarin, an old rival that Tony embarrassed back in 1999, Aldrich Killian. Aldrich is now all healthy thanks to this thing called Extremis which makes you regrow body parts and then get really hot (literally) and then blow up.  After Aldrich kidnaps Pepper, he and Tony have a showdown at a pier where Aldrich is defeated. Tony then blows up all his suits to show his commitment to Pepper.

REVIEW –  Now we get into the dark part of the MCU, with a couple of movies that if you skipped them, aside from a few questions that you might have in future MCU movies, you don’t need to see them. The first of those is Iron Man 3. It was clearly meant as the last IRON MAN solo movie, so it ties up a lot of things, that no one cared too much about and that get untied later. It’s not a bad movie, it’s better than Iron Man 2. Usually my big complaint in these movies is we get “Universe Building” scenes that take away from the story, but that’s not the problem here. It’s that this is so unlike a MCU or Iron Man movie, that it’s just awkward. I mean Tony Stark as Iron Man is great, but Tony Stark playing detective with a kid sidekick… not so much. And I guess because it is so self-contained, it seems inconsequential. Extremis, The Mandarin, Aldrich Killian, even Pepper being infected by Extremis all get wrapped up pretty quickly, affecting nothing outside of this movie.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Uh… How Stark got the glowy thing out of his chest? That’s about it. Two hours to answer that question.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)
PG-13 | 1h 52min

Thor-The-Dark-World-Chris-Hemsworth-Natalie-Portman-e1365011117908RECAP –   Let’s see if I can do this…. There is this red thing called the Ether and this dark elf wants it but it gets accidentally put into Thor’s gal Jane Foster. So, Thor takes her to Asgard, where the dark elf attacks and kills Thor’s mom. Thor then gets Loki to sneak him and Jane off Asgard so he can get the Ether out of her. He does and then the dark elf takes it and goes to London to destroy Earth. Thor and Jane’s dopey friends stop him. Loki is thought dead but he’s really has really disguised himself as Odin.  Seriously that’s the movie.

REVIEW –  Ugh this one.. its just bad. Thor movies for some reason are the big universe builders. Since all of these movies are leading to the infinity stones, this movie is all about the red one.  So, for those playing the long game, sure this movie is necessary… I guess.  But it’s all pretty forgettable and not very good. At times, it’s even boring. I mean during the big fight between Thor and the big bad guy at the end, I dozed off. When I woke up, I didn’t feel the need to go back and see what happened. And I know this sets up a pretty big thing in the final scene, about Loki and Thor’s dad. But that happens at the end, so no one deals with it. Thor’s Mom dying should be something I care about, but it’s done is such a ham-handed way, where we get all these scenes with her we never got in the first one, ONLY so when she dies it might mean something to the other characters. But Loki, Thor and Odin get over it pretty quick.  And talk about a forgettable supporting cast, one of Thor’s boys stays behind after the big battle at the beginning, and I completely forgot about it and so did the movie. Natalie Portman, is so not wanting to be there. She is such a good actress when she wants to be, and she did NOT want to in this. And the rest of her human friends,  they all seem so crazy or incompetent. Why in the world would you want THOSE people to help you stop the impending universe destroying event. Thor call an Avenger! Even if it’s Hawkeye!

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? As of right now nothing. It helps explain the bonus scene in Doctor Strange, but beyond that, skip this movie and you miss nothing that won’t be recapped in subsequent movies.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
PG-13 | 2h 16min

IMG_5090RECAP –  S.H.I.E.L.D. is about to launch a program that kills bad guys before they act, but Nick Fury is having second thoughts. After he mentions this to his boss, and is then almost killed. The only person he trusts is Captain America. Cap goes on the run trying to find out who tried to kill Fury and in the process, finds out Hydra has been secretly running S.H.I.E.L.D. for years. Oh, and remember Cap’s friend Bucky, well he’s not dead. In fact, he’s been a Hydra assassin for the last 70 years called The Winter Soldier who is now tasked to take out Cap. Cap with the help of Black Widow and a vet named Sam, team up to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D., take down Hydra, stop the program from going online and in the process, destroy S.H.I.E.L.D..  Cap and Bucky fight, Cap is hurt, Bucky saves him and disappears.

REVIEW –   So far, the best film of the MCU. It’s not at fun as Avengers, but as a movie its really good. Probably better than it should be. I mean it’s a Captain America movie, the guy who runs around with a red white and blue shield, and matching outfit. But it’s so good. It’s a mystery and spy thriller. And there are stakes, which affect the entire MCU, like the dismantling of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The action scenes are so intense. We learn more about our heroes and why they do what they do. We CARE what happens to them (I’m looking at you Thor supporting cast). It manages to expand the universe and build upon, without stopping the action or the story to do it. My only complaint, is it’s the first post Avengers solo movie where I thought, why don’t they call the other Avengers. I mean why hide out in the condo of some guy you just met. He seems like a good guy, but wouldn’t Tony Stark have been able to help you a little more? You can’t hide on Asgard?

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? There is no more S.H.I.E.L.D. or Hydra. Cap’s buddy Bucky and has killed a lot of people. Some of them may be related to people we already know in the MCU.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
PG-13 | 2h 1min

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RECAP –  Peter Quill is abducted from Earth in 1988, and taken into outer space. Twenty Six year later Peter (aka Star Lord, a name only he calls himself) tracks down a rare artifact his former partners the Ravagers have been hired to steal.  Gamora, an assassin working for a terrorist named Ronan goes after Peter to get the artifact but is thwarted by Rocket, a cybernetic racoon, and Groot a talking tree limited to 3 words, I am Groot.  Peter, Gamora Rocket and Groot all break out of the prision with the help of Drax, who is only helping them so he can get revenge on Ronan for killing his family. Gamora has a buyer for the artifact, but it goes south when it is revealed to be an infinity stone. Ronan recovers the infinity stone and sets out to destroy his enemy the Xandar. Peter and his new friends to team up with the Ravagers to stop Ronan, in doing so they recover the infinity stone, use it to destroy Ronan and become The Guardians of the Galaxy.

REVIEW –  This is my favorite Marvel movie so far. I’ve seen it more than any of the others, and can go only a few months between viewings and it’s just as much fun as the first time. I love all the characters, especially Drax who would never let anything like a metaphor go over his head because “his reflexes are fast and he would catch it.” Chris Pratt proves why he should be a movie star with this film. Sure this movie doesn’t have the best villain, but I forgive it because it has so many other good things going on. I’d much rather spend my time in this movie watching the Guardians interact than watch the bad guy brood or monolog about taking over the galaxy. The movie is just a good fun adventure story in space set to K Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70’s.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? For the rest of the Earth bound Marvel movies, for right now, nothing. As good as it is, you could skip it. I wouldn’t because of how good it is, but you could easily go from Winter Soldier to Ulton, and never miss it. Maybe pay attention to Benicio Del Toro’s Infinity Stone tutorial, because we are about to hear A LOT about Infinity stones.  Beyond that, things like Peter’s Dad is a jackass and some sort of anomaly, you only need to remember for Guardians Vol. 2.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
PG-13 | 2h 21min

avengers-age-of-ultron-trailer-screengrab-4RECAP –  After getting Loki’s stick from Avengers 1, Stark and Banner try to build a robot called Ultron to protect the world.  But Ultron feels the best way to protect the Earth is to get rid of all the humans, so he teams with the Hydra enhanced twins, Wanda who has “magic” and Pieter who can run fast. After Wanda shows all the Avengers their worst nightmares and makes Hulk rampage through a town in the country of Wakanda, they lie low on Hawkeye’s secret farm with his secret family. Ultron then tries to build a new body made of flesh, but the Avengers steals it and create their own super hero robot Vision. With Vision, Wanda and Pieter on their side The Avengers have a final showdown with Ultron as he tries to turn a Wanda and Pieter’s home town of Sokovia into a meteor that will destroy all life on Earth.

REVIEW –  Here is where Age of Ultron suffers the most and it’s not the movie’s fault: Avengers 1 was the culmination of all the MCU films up to that point. It was something special that had never been done before. Age of Ultron is basically just “Avengers 2”. It’s also a movie that is trying too hard. It’s as if they heard the complaints about not knowing enough about Hawkeye in the last movie so in this one we meet Hawkeye’s wife. We meet Hawkeye’s kids. We spent time and do chores at Hawkeye’s house. Ok we get it, we know Hawkeye now. The Banner / Black Widow “relationship” feels tacked on. And they never seem very serious about it so it’s hard to care.  This movie has the worst universe building sequence when it takes Thor out of the action so he can sit in a pond in a cave and learn about infinity stones which we the audience have known about for a while now. And in the end Ultron is just a cylon on steroids, so you never really understand his point of view because what he wants is just crazy. Overall, this movie lacks the fun of the first Avengers and feels more like work.  That all said I like this movie a little more each time I see it. It’s good but not as good as some of the other MCU movies and not as good as it could have been.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? THERE ARE INFINITY STONES and apparently, they are everywhere, and Thor is going to go look for them. Wakanda, the place Hulk smashed, you’re going to hear a lot more about that place real soon. And the Avengers is now made up of all the supporting characters from other Marvel movies.

Ant-Man (2015)
PG-13 | 1h 57min

IMG_5094RECAP –  Scott Lang is ex con just out of prison who needs a job so he can see his daughter. Desperate his buddy Luis hooks him with a job breaking into the house of former S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Hank Pym. Unknown to Scott and Luis, Pym was only testing Scott to see if he would be suitable for breaking into his old company, PYM Technologies to stop his former protege Darren Cross from developing a formula that will allow people to shrink down to the size of an ant.  Pym gives Scott is Ant-Man suit, and together with Pym’s daughter they hatch a plan to break in and stop Cross, ending in a battle in the bedroom of Scott’s six-year-old daughter.

REVIEW –  After Ultron where everyone is so serious, it’s nice to have something a little more lighthearted and fun. Paul Rudd is really great, but he always is and Michael Pena as Luis pretty much steals every scene he is in. The universe building isn’t too overdone, we get a nice flashback with Michael Douglas in the beginning with Stark’s dad just to let you know how this is all connected to the rest of the MCU. The fight with new Avenger Falcon seems a little shoehorned in. I mean there wasn’t some place closer that had the tech they needed than across the country at Avengers HQ? But the scene is brief, and fun so I don’t mind so much. Cross seems crazy for no reason. They try to explain that it’s the shrinking without the correct gear that Pym and Lang have, but Cross never even figures out how to shrink until the end of the movie. Would have been better if they had just explained that he was always a psychopath. Also, the visuals are really cool too.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? That Cap’s buddy Falcon is looking for the guy who shrinks, and in the process of looking for him, he hears about a guy who can crawl up walls.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)
PG-13 | 2h 27min

xPztiJ3RECAP –  After a botched mission, the governments of the world want to put The Avengers in check. Iron-Man, Black Widow and War Machine are cool with it, Captain America is not. This is also happening while Cap’s buddy Bucky has been framed for the murder of the King of Wakanda (told you it’d be back), who is also the superhero Black Panther’s dad. So, Cap and Bucky go on the run to stop a guy named Zemo from activating 5 more Winter Soldiers just like Bucky. Stark meanwhile has been tasked by Thunderbolt Ross (remember him from Hulk? No? Shocking) with bringing Cap and Bucky in. This leads to huge battle at a German airport with Cap, Bucky, Hawkeye, Wanda, Falcon and Ant (GI-ANT) Man on one side. On the other Iron Man, War Machine, Black Widow, Black Panther, Vision and a 15-year-old kid from Queens named Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man. During the battle, Black Widow lets Cap and Bucky sneak off and the rest of Cap’s Team is thrown in SuperMax prison. Stark and Black Panther track Cap and Bucky to a Syberian Hydra base, and confront Zemo. But the assassins were never Zemo’s plan, it was to destroy the Avengers from within. And to finish the job, he shows Stark a video of Bucky killing Tony’s parents in 1991. Stark goes nuts trying to kill Bucky, and Cap goes nuts trying to keep Stark from killing his friend. In the end, all are broken in one way or another, Cap abandons his shield and runs away with Bucky. Stark later gets a letter from Cap apologizing for that he did and that if he needs him, call him on a flip phone. The final shot is Cap about to break all his friends out of the SuperMax prison.

REVIEW –  If you had told me in 2010 that the best solo movies in the MCU would be the Captain America ones I would have laughed in your face. Although this is hardly a “solo” movie, it’s basically Avengers 2 ½ yet so much better. And while I don’t think it’s as good as Winter Soldier, there is just so much going on in it and it never seems like  too much. All the characters have an arc and are important to the story. The only universe building are the fantastic introductions to Black Panther and Spider-Man who in 15 minutes is the best he has been in 5 prior movies. There is an earnestness to the kid that you can’t help but love. Downey also gets to really show off Stark’s dark side. The line “I don’t care, he killed my Mom” is chilling coming out of him. My only real complaint is Cap’s almost idiotic quasi-homoerotic loyalty to Bucky. So much of this could have been avoided if Cap would just turn him in. Bucky did spend 70 something years murdering people, and while it took Cap all of ten seconds to forgive him, the rest of the world, not so much. At the very least let Stark wail on him for 20-30 minutes, he killed the dude’s Mom.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Black Panther and Spider-Man are now part of MCU and they will be back. So will Cap, if you just call him on that flip phone.

Doctor Strange (2016)
PG-13 | 1h 55min

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RECAP –  Doctor Steven Strange is an egotistical surgeon who cannot use his hands after a near fatal car accident. Trying anything he can to fix them, he travels to Kathmandu to seek out “The Ancient One”, who teaches Strange a form of magic. (Yer a wizard, Stevie). A former student of The Ancient One, Kaecilius and his zealots want to unleash a dark magical being named Dormamu and draw power from the dark dimension, the same place The Ancient One, gets her ability to look like a bald Tilda Swinton in her mid-40’s. In a fight with Kaecilius, the Ancient one is killed so it is up to Strange, and his fellow wizards, Bardo and Wong to stop him. Strange does so by “bargaining” with Dormamu, he gets rid of Kaecilius and his Zealots and Strange will free him from a time loop Strange has trapped him. At the end Bardo is disillusioned with the power wizards have and leaves. Strange becomes the protector of New York.

REVIEW –  I like this one, okay. I think the big problem is we are almost 2/3rds of the way through the movie before I ever start to like Strange. He is SUCH a prick. He so mean to everyone, and it’s hard to feel sorry for him. Even when he starts learning magic he is still a prick, stealing books and doing spells he’s not supposed to, then mouthing off when he gets caught. He only starts to come around once Kaecilius and his boys start beating his ass.  But the rest of cast is cool, except for Rachel McAdams who is good, but just given nothing to do but be yelled at and apologized to after she saves Strange’s life. And Strange’s cape being like a funny side kick is fun too.  I will say my favorite thing about this movie is this is first Marvel movie where the hero outwits the bad guy. Strange wins the day because he ends up being smarter, not because he beats the other guy in a fist fight. It is a nice change of pace.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? There is an infinity stone! Strange has an infinity stone. Let’s talk about infinity stones some more before we absolutely have to in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR WHICH IS ABOUT INFINITY STONES, DID YOU KNOW ABOUT INFINITY STONES? Also, Strange has agreed to help Thor find his missing dad, as long he takes Loki back to Asgard.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
PG-13 | 2h 16min

IMG_5099RECAP –  Six months later, The Guardians are on the run from the Soverign after Rocket steals from them. After crash landing on a planet, Ego, Peter’s Dad arrives and takes Peter, Drax and Gamora off so he can get to know his son. Meanwhile in the middle of capturing Rocket, Groot and the recently recaptured Nebula,  Yondu is betrayed by his men and tossed in a cell with them. Ego explains to Peter, that he is a celestial and as his son, Peter has special powers that he wants to help him learn to use them. But actually he only wants to use Peter’s power to enact his plan to change plants he’s put on millions of planets into things that will recreate those worlds to be like him.  Yondu and Rocket arrive to save Drax, Gamora and Peter, but are attacked by Ego. Peter and Ego battle it out while Rocket and Groot try and blow up the planet’s core. All goes according to plan, except Yondu sacrifices himself to save Peter. This causes Peter to finally realize who his real father was this entire time.

REVIEW – Another great Guardians movie. Maybe it will take more viewings but as of now, I still like Guardians 1 a little bit more. Everything you liked about the first one, is back and there is more of it in this one. They really amped up Drax, who is even funnier in this one. Kurt Russell is great as Ego, starting off as Peter’s proud father and then the reveal of Peter’s role in his master plan is so well done. Chris Pratt is so great again, able to be funny while still going thru these roller coaster of emotions from the joy of finding his father to the resentment of him not being there when his mother was sick. And Michael Rooker as Yondu is just wonderful in every scene. I guess if I had to nitpick, Peter and Gamora’s “relationship” seems in neutral the whole movie. And the Yondu / Rocket parallel seems a little forced, like its only there so Rocket can learn something about himself.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Again for the Earth bound Marvel movies, nothing. No one even mentions an infinity stone, which at this point is amazing in and of itself. If you need to, you can skip this one. Maybe just watch it back to back with Guardians 1. Beyond that, I guess the only thing is that by the end Baby Groot is Surly Teen Groot.

Spider-Man: Homecoming
PG-13 | 2h 13min

spiderman_homecoming_-_screengrab_-_embed_2017RECAP –  Two months after Civil War Peter Parker has been patiently waiting for Tony Stark to call him up for another Avengers mission. With no one returning his calls, he decides to be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, solving small crimes around Queens. One night he stumbles on some bad guys trying to rob an ATM with space age weapons. He thwarts them but to prove himself to Stark he starts hunting the guys who are making them. This puts them him in the crosshairs of Adrian Toomes who has been stealing old machinery left over from the aliens in the first Avengers movie and turns them into these new fancy weapons. After botching a deal on a ferry for Toomes and inadvertently almost ripping the boat in half in the process, Stark takes Peter’s super suit away, leaving Peter to go back to his boring high school life. Part of that life is asking the girl he likes, Liz, to the homecoming dance. Except the night of, he discovers Liz’s dad is Toomes and soon after Toomes figures out Peter is Spider-Man. This leads to a showdown over New York with Spider-Man stopping Toomes from stealing a plane full of Avenger weapons. In the end Peter turns down Starks invite to be an Avenger.  Impressed by that, Stark gives Peter his fancy super spider suit back.

REVIEW –  This movie so delivers on the promise of Spider-Man in Civil War. Gone is the mopey and emo Spidey, replaced with a kid who just want to take the girl to the dance. But he can’t because he’s Spider-Man and he has to stop bad guys that want to kill him. And what a great supporting cast they give this Spider-Man. His best friend Ned is hilarious and even more excited that Peter is Spider-Man than Peter is. All his high school friends are hilarious. And is this movie is funny. It’s basically a teen comedy where one of the guys is a superhero. Not much universe building, which is great. Stark is used at a minimum and we get cool little hints at what happened after Civil War. At one point Stark talks about how Peter’s room at the Avengers compound, will be next to Vision’s and my thought was “he’s the only Avenger left”. Michael Keaton makes a great villain. All in all, the MCU and Spider-Man are in a good place for whatever comes next.

So, what do you need to know for the future movies?  Peter’s friend Michelle likes to be called “MJ”. Tony and Pepper may or not be engaged. Spider-Man can be an Avenger any time he wants. Aunt May is not too happy about Peter’s new wardrobe.

THOR: RAGNAROK – COMING SOON

BLACK PANTHER – COMING SOON

AVENGERS INFINITY WAR – COMING SOON

ANT MAN & WASP – COMING SOON 

 

THE OTHER UNIVERSES 

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