Review of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (2021)

no way homeJust finished watching Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) last night. It’s about two-and-a-half-hours long, and like a lot of superhero movies, it tries to cram too much into that space.

The movie starts out where Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) left off, with the recording of Mysterio/Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) saying that Spider-Man (Tom Holland) killed him and that Spider-Man is Peter Parker.

Peter’s life goes downhill immediately and so do the lives of his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya), his wingman Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and even Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).

Federal agents detain all of them, but in spite of all their bluster, they can’t really hold any of them except Hogan who has ties to the Stark technology used in the previous movie. Even that doesn’t stick very long.

There’s a cameo of Charlie Cox appearing as attorney Matt Murdock (Daredevil) and a cute little scene where he catches a brick thrown through the Parker’s apartment window from behind. It was a tragedy that Daredevil didn’t appear in the movie because a Spider-Man/Daredevil team up would have been awesome.

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Film Review of “Eternals”(2021)

If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi.

It was six minutes into watching Eternals (2021) when I first realized I was bored and at 47 minutes I did what I didn’t expect myself to do. I turned the movie off and returned the disc to its case.

I checked the movie out from my local public library, so it didn’t cost me a dime, but at a run time of two hours and thirty-six minutes, it would drain away that much of my life to watch. It didn’t “do it” for me.

Unlike the other Marvel movies I’ve watched, I had no connection to the original comic books. I’ve never read any of them. So there was no nostalgia to drive me forward. The movie lived or died on its own for me. Well, it died.

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Film Review of “Black Widow” (2021)

bwIf you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi.

I found the 2021 film Black Widow as a DVD at my local public library yesterday. Naturally I checked it out so I could watch and review it. I’ve heard various unflattering things about the movie, and I wanted to see for myself.

Oh, tons of spoilers follow, so if you haven’t seen the movie and want to, don’t read any further.

In no particular order:

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Comic Books, Television, and Who Are Our Heroes?

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Promotional image for the tv show “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”

So I happened to read Cora Buhlert’s review of the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier called Marvel’s “New World Order” – Some Thoughts on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (spoilers) expecting something light and entertaining. Not exactly what happened.

First of all, let me say that I haven’t seen any of the WandaVision mini-series and don’t anticipate watching this new show either. It’s not that I think they’ll be bad or I won’t enjoy them. I just don’t subscribe to streaming services. Well, besides that, I don’t have the time to dedicate myself to television shows anymore.

I used to watch all of the WB produced superhero shows, popularly known as the Arrowverse, but they were consuming so much of my free time, I didn’t have any left for things like writing and a life.

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Film Review of Avengers: Endgame (2019)

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Promotional poster for “Avengers: Endgame” (2019)

Warning: Spoiler Alert

I was unprepared for how Avengers: Endgame (2019) hit me emotionally. I knew all the spoilers (or most of them) ahead of time, both from talking with my son Michael who had already seen the film, and from subsequently reading them online. I knew Natasha/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) would die, I knew everything.

Yet, near the end of the movie, when we were at Tony’s memorial service, I didn’t just tear up, I actually cried. I don’t think my son and grandson noticed, but it was an intensely emotional sequence in the film. I’d recovered by the time Clint/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) were talking about the loved ones they’d never get back, and when Steve/Captain America (Chris Evans), aged over 100 after he went back to 1945 and stayed in the past, gave his shield to Sam/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) with Bucky’s (Sebastian Stan) approval so he could become the new Cap.

I lost it again during the credits when the core Avengers actors literally signed off, which is something I haven’t seen since the end of the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) nearly thirty years ago. I realized I was saying one last goodbye to my friends and my heroes, not just their film incarnations, but the Avengers I had grown up reading about in the comic books back in the 1960s. My childhood ended all over again.

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Haven’t Seen “Endgame” Yet and Other Updates

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Promotional poster for “Avengers: Endgame” (2019)

No, I haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame yet, and unless I go with my sons and grandson, I probably won’t see it in the theater. Yes, I’ve heard it is THE film to see, blowing away all of the other Marvel superhero movies, so I’m certainly stoked. I know my ten-year-old grandson is stoked. Hopefully, if I see it while it’s in the theaters, I’ll find a way to sit through a three plus hour film without a potty break.

I’m not particularly interested in spoilers, but given various complaints about how last year’s Avengers: Infinity War ended, I did write a commentary with a few predictions, though of course, I wasn’t (very) seriously suggesting that my crystal ball was any better than all the others.

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Why What Brie Larson Says Matters to “Captain Marvel”

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Promotional image for “Captain Marvel” (2019).

I’ve been watching the Captain Marvel (2019) controversy for a little while and I think I’ve figured out what’s going on, though I’m not sure most people have stumbled onto this idea.

As you probably know, news outlets such as The Mary Sue believe that all of the negative pre-release and now release reviews of the movie are all by men who can’t stand the thought of a powerful female superhero (hello Wonder Woman). Others, such as Bounding Into Comics say this is a total lie and it’s just that the movie isn’t very good and shoves a feminist, social justice agenda down the audience’s throat.

Fortunately, neutral reviewers such as the Associated Press give a much more accurate picture of the film, calling it rather “average”. In fact, on her twitter feed, AP reviewer Lindsey Bahr stated:

Captain Marvel can be the victim of an insane trolling and also an underwhelming movie.

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Screenshot from twitter

Bahr is right in that since the movie was released to theaters, there’s been a tremendous amount of trolling of “Captain Marvel” on Rotten Tomatoes. Now I can’t trust any of the reviews that either pan the film or praise it.

But the problem isn’t the movie. The problem is Brie Larson. Okay, let me explain.

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Why is Reviewing the “Captain Marvel” Movie So Hard?

cap marv

Promotional image for the movie “Captain Marvel” (2019).

I didn’t want to do this. I still don’t have to, but then again, there’s more hype about this movie than even last year’s Black Panther. When I was anticipating watching and reviewing that film, I was “irrationally” afraid that if I didn’t like something about it, I’d be forever labeled a “racist.” Fortunately I thought it was one of the better Marvel films, and that although it told a story of significant meaning to African-Americans, it also transcended race as the epic tale of a Prince confronting the realities of becoming a King.

However, Captain Marvel (2019) which will have its general release to theaters this coming Friday (March 8th), seems to be getting a lot more press than Black Panther, at least to the best of my recollection.

First of all, according to The Mary Sue (which leans pretty far to the left), the movie is getting tons of bad reviews pre-release, but it’s only being reviewed by misogynistic white males who hate the idea not only of powerful women, but of Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) being the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe, even more so than Thor or the Hulk (okay, I’m exaggerating slightly).

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How Heroes of Color Could Win in “Avengers: Endgame”

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Promotional poster for “Avengers: Endgame” (2019)

I know that Captain Marvel (2019) is supposed to be THE next Marvel film to watch for a lot of reasons, but there’s no escaping the sequel to last year’s Avengers: Infinity War which I had meant to review, but apparently neglected. Avengers: Endgame is due to be out in late April and is expected to answer a lot of questions, not the least of which is who stays dead and who comes back to life.

However, there’s been a lot of concern about how specifically, King T’Challa, the Black Panther, and a large number of notable heroes of color and female heroes were exterminated, suspiciously leaving only the core, white male Avengers alive.

African-American screenwriter and author Steven Barnes has discussed at length, the history of black film characters dying for the sake of making white characters more heroic, and the impact of this, not only on his own childhood, but on his teenage son Jason.

Author G. Scott Huggins also weighed in on this last January, specifically about how, while we expect T’Challa, the Wakandans, and other African-American heroes to be revived, the fact that they died in the first place diminishes them as heroes. He said:

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A Hero in Harare

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Sterkinekor Lusaka Arcades Centre in Lusaka, Zambia – found at afrotourism.com

“I want to meet this Miles Morales,” twelve-year-old Miriro murmured spontaneously as he and his eleven-year-old sister Anesu did their maths homework at the kitchen table, warm afternoon sunlight streaming in the western window.

“What are you talking about,” she replied in irritation. “He doesn’t even exist. He’s a cartoon.”

“Uncle Tongai took me and my mates to see Spider-Verse over the weekend. The movie said anyone could wear the mask and be Spider-Man.” He was grinning, his mind completely diverted from his textbook.

“You’re daft. This isn’t Brooklyn, America. It’s Harare, Zimbabwe. Just because black Americans look like us doesn’t mean we’re all the same. Our lives are different.”

“Anybody can be a hero, Anesu.”

“Be a hero and finish your studies before Mama comes back from the market and we both get in trouble.”

But it was too late. Miriro was already thinking about his new costume.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps location/image as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Harare, Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, I saw the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) with my son and my nine-year-old grandson. I subsequently published my review online and obviously still have the movie on my mind.

One of the things I’ve been considering, both with this movie, and especially with the Marvel Studios film Black Panther (2018) is that in the African nations, culturally, black people have widely varying cultures compared to African-American audiences, so the differing populations may not have as much in common with each other as people in the U.S. might imagine.

Having said that, the central message of “Spider-Verse” is that anybody can wear the mask. It was meant as a commentary about how historically, superheroes have been white, but it doesn’t automatically have to be that way. Any kid, no matter who they are, can be a hero.

I decided to put a spin on the message and say that any kid anywhere in the world also can aspire to be more than who they are, mask or no mask, even a twelve-year-old boy living in Harare.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.