Movies/TV

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is Deteriorating and No One is Going to Stop It

When you pull something off as magnificent in scope and unprecedented in scale as Marvel Studios has with their endless string of Cinematic Universe-entangled superhero flicks, you get too caught up in seeing how far it can go rather than how far it should. Herein lies the problem with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, a Hollywood juggernaut set rampaging across box office records and gleeful moviegoers alike. It’s grown to a point where people just want to keep propelling it forward for the sole purpose of maintaining its “legendary success story in-the-making” narrative, rather than forcing it to earn that title on its own through actual merit in its films. Let’s analyze the core elements that made phase one of the MCU so great and how those same elements have turned phase three into little more than a dry-heaving mess limping towards the star-studded finish line.

The Avengers

Kicking off with Iron Man, Marvel brought quite a few unique items to the table. First, they were pushing mad money behind a relatively unknown (in the public eye) B-list character. Secondly, from day one they had plans to bring him into a much bigger fold across a series of movies, culminating in The Avengers. Thirdly, they were making something topical, given the Invasion of Iraq’s prominence in 2008. Relevant, unknown and secretly ambitious? An interesting mixture, no doubt. One that paved the way for Marvel’s road to greatness.

For the first phase that ingredient list was pure and fresh, culminating in the cinematic entree of superhero fine dining known as The Avengers, the most spectacular team-up to ever hit the silver screen. But anything after that, by the aforementioned film’s very nature, was bound to start springing leaks in the hull of the S.S. MCU. Phase two was rife with plot holes across all its movies, the grossly outnumbered critic-minded moviegoers pointing out odd omissions like “why couldn’t the Hulk help Iron Man when ____ was happening?” or any number of related crossover questions that sprung up whenever a hero needed to conquer an obstacle alone even though his friends weren’t busy and existed in the same world as the movie at hand. Then problem number two started to rear its ugly head: the lack of stakes. In order to give the big heroes sequels and trilogies, Marvel had to start scrubbing any stakes from its films to ensure heavy-hitters like Thor and Captain America would always survive for another solo round or Avengers sequel. This meant that when you walked into the theater you’d already know the ending, no spoilers required. The Avengers initiative was starting to poison itself.

Topical subject matters became a crutch for Marvel, being the only element to set Captain America: The Winter Soldier apart from its relatively cookie-cutter MCU brethren. The B-list (and later C-list) characters were being developed into full-on feature films because it was quirky and therefore meme-worthy, AKA big-bucks-baiting in a world revolving solely around Twitter hashtags. Before anyone knew it, the Guardians of the Galaxy and freakin’ Ant-Man were getting solo films devoid of consequence all in the service of building up a big ‘ol MCU for the grand Avengers: Infinity War finale, a construction project still underway at this very moment. And yet, now deep into phase three, the luster is gone. The magic has faded. While audiences still gobble it up because it’s light-years better than what the competition’s putting out (looking at you, Batman V Superman), there’s a somewhat sinister corporate greed starting to overshadow the artistic merit present during the early days of the first Avengers film.

Take Dr. Strange, for example. Stephen Strange goes through the exact same internal transformation as Tony Stark did in Iron Man. And look at Ant-Man—that story’s a near carbon copy of Iron Man at every major plot beat. Marvel’s got a nice cookie-cutter formula going for turning likable B-list and C-list characters into instant A-listers, but it doesn’t hide the blatant lack of creativity. Another glaring instance of unimaginative plotting is in the usage of superheroes making cameos in each other’s movies. While Marvel never, ever explains where other characters are in times of need, they’ll call on a poorly set-up Spider-Man to join in a massive Civil War fight for absolutely no other reason than to show off the prize they got from their deal with Sony. They’re now in the business of parading heroes around for market value rather than plot, and that, combined with the assembly line nature of the MCU’s recent entries, is starting to bode ill for any true artistic innovation left in this pocket of the genre.

Similarly to Thanos, the big villain of the upcoming Infinity War movies, the only entity that can stop Marvel is Marvel themselves. If Kevin Feige can descend from his ivory tower for just a wink to look at where this rollercoaster started and where it’s headed, maybe he and the suits in charge of the operation could redirect its course towards a more savory finish line, one not even considering a still-interconnected phase five AFTER the Infinity Wars have concluded. Because where there’s a new phase, there are extended contracts. Where there are extended contracts, there are recurring characters and no stakes. And where there are no stakes, there is no point at all.

Movies/TV

Who Will Win the Oscars? Spoiler: Not White People

Winning a little golden trophy is cute and bless his heart, DiCaprio deserves one considering how much he cares.oscar-noms-main1

But here’s the truth: no one wins this year. Why? Because this is the year the Oscars go under. Next year there’ll be guaranteed “diversity” (deliberate, artificial obligatory nominations based on race and potentially gender), thus taking away the actual authenticity and prestige of the award across the board. The minute you make a designated, obligatory spot for a demographic you instantly rob your award of its meaning, of its value. This is not opinion, this is fact. If a solely merit-based award all of a sudden gets hacked down to a “check your skin pigment” award, it’s now based on something other than merit and is thus less valuable as an outstanding achievement award.

Do I have my gripes with this year’s nominations? You bet. But we all do. Whining and making them pull strings behind the curtains to instill unspoken quotas is NOT the way to go about it.

But what do I know, I’m just #whitesplaining.

That’s code for logicsplaining in 2016, I guess.

Movies/TV

Room

Everyone in the theatre was crying.

room-main-review

It might not be my favorite movie of 2015, but it deserves every award it gets. I can’t even bring myself to “review” it, if only because this is a movie beyond review. Sure, there are nitpicks that could be made, with the script and the side characters’ acting, but none of that matters. Because it distills the relationship between a single mother and her son down to its absolute purest form. That’s an accomplishment beyond review.

It makes you want to call your mom and tell her how appreciative you are of everything she’s ever done for you.

Movies/TV

Fox Confirms PG-13 Deadpool Movie Rating (UPDATED)

UPDATE (same day): Ryan Reynolds, the man himself, has confirmed the R rating. Turns out Fox does love the fans! And cruel April Fool’s Day jokes, apparently.

Original article: This isn’t the Deadpool movie rating we deserve, but it’s the one we need. Or, at least, Fox thinks so.cbhaeulviaaj5lz

Ever since the leaked release of that glorious Deadpool movie demo-footage a few months back, fans have been clamoring for a full, feature-length adventure starring the certifiably insane antihero. Hell, fans of the crazy comic book character have been unabashedly hopeful that their dream would become a reality even before the leak, probably stemming from the glimpse of potential we all saw in Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal of the character in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While the movie itself did not do Deadpool justice, as could be told from fans’ uproar which we can still hear the echoes of in 2015, Reynolds brought enough of that fun energy to the role to still make an unfavorable situation watchable. So if he could swing that, imagine what he could do in a movie that’s sole purpose is to get the character right?

Well, it looks like the phrase “right” might need to go on hiatus a bit longer, as it looks like Fox has finally confirmed the 2016 action comedy will be sporting a PG-13 rating. For the hardcore Deadpool fans out there, this has been perceived as a betrayal of all that the character stands for. There is an argument against this, which will be covered a few sentences from now, but first let us acknowledge what sort of shenanigans will NOT be occurring due to this rating:

217442-deadpool
That. That will not be happening under PG-13 guidelines. That is an image ripped straight from Deadpool #2, published in January 2013, in case you were wondering. That’s the kind of over-the-top squirm-and-smirk humor comic fans have gotten accustomed to from the Merc with a Mouth. Is it beyond gory? For sure! But that’s what the purist-end of the fans want, and justifiably so as such excess is a trademark of the character. So, in short, PG-13 will negate any possible nudity, meaning Deadpool’s trademark admiration of the female form will likely be reduced to swimsuits if anything, and that gratuitous violence will not be present. Hopefully, we at least get something on par with the test footage’s head slice-off scene, which wasn’t all that bloody or gory but is just edgy enough to meet the character’s requirements.

And right there is the argument in favor of a PG-13 rating: it doesn’t need to be insanely morbid and excessive to be Deadpool, it just needs to be more morbid and excessive than other PG-13 movies to be Deadpool-enough to appease the masses! Fox obviously does not want to alienate its teenage audience which always has and always will carry the heavier end of the box-office stick; you can’t fault them for wanting to make a profitable movie. But if you couple that with the fact that the line between PG-13 and R has been blurring lately, with the former now allowing one to two uses of “fuck” per movie and more violence than ever before, and you might just see a silver lining here. Sure, it might not be the hard R you wanted, but it might very well push PG-13 borders farther than any other movie has yet!

Besides, if you’re still discontent with the rating, just remember the date this news came out on, April 1st. It’s probably true, but we can at least tell ourselves it’s just a corporate prank for a little bit longer.