Clark Gregg

The Avengers (2012)

Hulk Smash Loki

The Avengers (2012)

Director:

Joss Whedon

Starring:

Robert Downey Jr.

Chris Evans

Scarlett Johansson

Mark Ruffalo

Chris Hemsworth

Jeremy Renner

Samuel L. Jackson

Clark Gregg

Cobie Smulders

Stellan Skarsgård

Tom Hiddleston

Gwyneth Paltrow

Plot:

Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are going to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.

Review:

After forever in the ice Captain America, Chris Evans, has been found. Which works out beautifully because Loki, Tom Hiddleston, has come to Earth to exact his revenge against Thor, Chris Hemsworth. Naturally, Tony Stark aka Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr., is pulled into things because he’s super smart and they need his help. To round things out a bit we get Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson, and Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner, who both work for S.H.I.E.L.D. to join because they know the system the best, plus, you know, they’re super good at what they do.

It was truly incredible that they were able to get all of these characters in one movie and not once did I feel like someone was slighted with screen time. They each had their moment to shine, they each had their own thing, and it all came together seamlessly. The fact that they did that with the first Avengers movie speaks to the quality of writers working on this film.

Iron Man still very much has his issues, he’s got his attitude, he desperately needs to speak to a professional, and yet he doesn’t because he’s good. For some reason Pepper, Gwyneth Paltrow, is wearing cut off blue jean shorts the first time she appears on screen which is not like anything she’s ever worn before and is kind of weird, but apparently they didn’t want her to be taller than Tony and…yeah it was stupid, but whatever.

Captain America is very much a man out of his time and is very easily pulled into saving the Earth because it’s the one thing he’s familiar with. His skill set transfers well and even though he clashes with Tony I don’t think he feels that they’re too serious clashes. While Tony reacts to him in a very juvenile way that really shows his short comings.

Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, Mark Ruffalo, is a harder sell. He doesn’t want to hulk out because he’s finally figured out how to control the monster inside, however, he’s a good man and does want to help save the world. When he’s assured they don’t want his green alter ego he joins them. His interactions with Tony are fun, they’re both super geeks, though, he is worlds more mature than Tony. I feel like if they’d done a movie together they would have worked fine together until Tony pushed him too far and The Hulk beat the ever living shit out of him.

Black Widow and Hawkeye are honestly just there because they’re the best S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. They’re really good at their jobs but I wouldn’t really call them superheroes. This movie really started the poor Black Widow fight scenes, there are so many quick cuts and close ups you honestly have no idea what’s going on and it’s disappointing to watch. Hawkeye is…well he’s a great shot, clearly smart, but I don’t really have anything else to add regarding him.

What I find interesting about the movie is you can pinpoint the exact moment when the general public’s opinion of The Hulk completely changed. He went from a character that people were bored with and didn’t really care about anymore to treating Loki like a rag doll and calling him a puny god. All of sudden people were again talking about another standalone movie for him, which thankfully Marvel has not done. In my opinion, The Hulk works as a great supporting character, but doesn’t work as well on his own.

We were introduced to another female character, Maria Hill, Cobie Smulders, that kicks a lot of ass, is basically S.H.I.E.L.D.S. second in command, and is promptly shoved aside and mostly forgotten. That makes how many characters now? Sure Black Widow has been in a lot of movies, but she is almost always a side character and about as interesting as a pile of rocks. What about Lady Sif? Agent Maria Hill? Jane Foster, Natalie Portman’s character in the Thor movies? Thank goodness Agent Carter, Hayley Atwell, got her own TV show, as short lived as it was.

The Avengers struck the perfect tone, there was just enough comedy to lighten up the potentially Earth ending consequences. The characters were each given their moment to shine, Tony proved that he can rise to the occasion and make the hard decisions without whining about it, he also proved that he can set his ego aside and acknowledge when someone else knows more than he does. It was really a great moment of growth for him, I just wish it lasted. Cap was, as always, incredibly amazing even while clearly struggling with his new surroundings. Thor needed a haircut and wash, it was too long and stringy. Mark Ruffalo was a much different Hulk than Edward Norton, but he filled the role well and worked better with everyone else than Norton could have done. It was a great movie and set the bar high for the following movies.

4.5/5

Thor (2011)

 

Thor (2011)

Director:

Kenneth Branagh

Starring:

Chris Hemsworth

Anthony Hopkins

Natalie Portman

Tom Hiddleston

Stellan Skarsgård

Kat Dennings

Idris Elba

Clark Gregg

Plot:

The powerful, but arrogant god Thor, is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.

Review:

Thor, Chris Hemsworth, is a Norse god that’s hot headed and young, though, actually he’s not young in the grand scheme of things. Basically, he’s lived the life of privilege and hasn’t had to live through what it took to get there. He instigates a war because he can’t see the bigger picture and is punished for it.

Jane, Natalie Portman, is a scientist that believes she’s on the verge of discovering something amazing to do with wormholes. She ends up hitting Thor with her van twice and they end up having a connection. I hesitate to say a romantic connection because there was very little romance here, just one scene where he explains to her about the rainbow bridge. It’s more like an animalistic lust that I can completely understand.

Loki, Tom Hiddleston, has experienced that same privilege but when faced with the opportunity to change he doubles down on the entitlement. He has always felt the competition between himself and Thor more (shit parenting there Oden, Anthony Hopkins) and when he finds out he was “adopted” it doesn’t help matters.

The brothers react in different ways to conflict. Thor is able to learn and see that there is more to life than the glory of battle, that there is collateral damage in conflict, and sometimes beating shit up isn’t the answer. Loki learns that Thor is still a better person than he is and it fucking sucks so he’s going to do all he can to hurt his brother.

I enjoyed this movie more than the previous ones for the gif reasons I posted above. It’s shallow, I know, I don’t care. Thor is a character I like because he does show growth, especially in this movie. He learns his lesson, he was hot headed before, but it came from a good place. He learned, he inspires loyalty in his friends, he cares, and he’s fucking hot.

My main complaint with the film actually came with the end credit scene. Why was Erik Selvig, Stellan Skarsgård, chosen instead of Jane? When Fury, Samuel L. Jackson, says that they’ve been impressed with his recent work, Erik replies that he’s just working with Jane’s theory. Why wasn’t she brought in then? It was her theory, she was a genius too. The fact that Loki was controlling Erik would have worked even better with Jane since he told Thor he was going to mess with her. Googling I found that Portman had a child in 2012 so they would have had to work around her pregnancy, but they do that shit all the time, and it’s not like the role was filled with action. It just feels like a missed opportunity and a slight to the character.

4/5

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Director:

Jon Favreau

Starring:

Robert Downy Jr.

Mickey Rourke

Gwyneth Paltrow

Don Cheadle

Scarlett Johansson

Sam Rockwell

Samuel L. Jackson

Clark Gregg

Plot:

With the world now aware of his identity as Iron Man, Tony Stark must contend with both his declining health and a vengeful mad man with ties to his father’s legacy.

Review:

Iron Man 2 starts with a giant celebration of Tony’s, Robert Downey Jr.’s, awesomeness. There are Iron Man Rockettes dancing, a massive adoring crowd, followed by him giving a speech about how truly amazing he is. The whole thing is outside because no building could hold his ego and that is ultimately why I don’t like Tony. He desperately needs therapy, he’s gone through some hugely traumatic shit at this point, on top of daddy issues, and yet he doesn’t seek help because who could possibly help him? His diagnosis of narcissism is not a surprise later in the film.

One of my least favorite tropes is conflict due to lack of communication, which drives most of this movie. Tony talks a LOT but it’s mostly without substance and refuses to open up to the people that love and support him. Eventually, Nick Fury, Samuel L. Jackson, forces his help upon him and Tony is finally able to solve the issues he’s facing. If there’s a lesson to be learned here it’s that you should talk to the people in your life, share your troubles, and maybe they’ll be able to help you. At the very least they could point you in the right direction.

There are a lot more hints at what’s to come in the Marcel Cinematic Universe. We’ve got allusions to Captain America and Thor in one scene alone. S.H.I.E.L.D. is also more of a presence with Phil Coulson, Clark Gregg, and Natasha Romanoff aka. Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson, having more prominent roles. We’ve seen Coulson before, but Black Widow’s addition honestly shows just how far we’ve come. She is eye candy, Happy, Jon Favreau, is constantly making stereotypical assumptions about her, being demeaning and treating her as nothing more than a pretty face. Time and time again she proves that she’s a badass and each time he’s in shock, and yet he keeps doing it. Happy was really a creep in this, more so than the first movie.

I’m not a fan of Black Widow, mainly because of her action scenes. This movie probably had her best one, or at least one of them, but for the most part they’re always filled with lots of cuts and shaky cam because a stuntwoman does Johansson’s stunts. At least in this movie her hair is long so as long as it was in her face they were able to show more.

Anyway, Iron Man was a return to the Marvel superhero movie feel I’m used to, and it set the stage for everything that’s to come in a very solid way, but I believe it was a small dip in quality from the first movie.

3/5

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Seasons 4 & 5


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Seasons 4 & 5

Network:

ABC

Creator:

Maurissa Tancharoen

Jed Whedon

Joss Whedon

Starring:

Clark Gregg

Ming-Na Wen

Chloe Bennett

Ian De Caestecker

Elizabeth Henstridge

Henry Simmons

Natalia Cordova-Buckley

Jeff Ward

Plot:

The missions of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.

Review:

I dropped Shield three episodes into season 4. Later I heard so many people talking about how amazing it was and how the last two seasons were the best and after watching several other superhero shows I decided to go back and give it another shot.

First off, I have to disagree about Season 4, it was very much more of the same for me. The virtual world they were in was interesting, but went on way too long. I never warmed up to the Ghostrider arc.

Season 4 overall, was alright, but didn’t do much for me. It just kept dragging out the relationship drama more and the big bad never seemed to be beat, but they were fighting it forever. It was draining. Just when you thought there was a resolution, they’d discover some new connection, or their “solution” would have all kinds of bad consequences.

Finally they beat it, take a breath, and then disappear. I was all prepared to drop Shield again, but the Season 4 finale had me deciding to try out at least the first episode of 5, which then had me watching the entire season.

Season 5 was, for me, when things finally got good. I love time travel, I love space, and Fitz, Iain De Caestecker, as a mercenary is something I never knew I needed in my life until now. The first half was fun, though, by the end it had gotten increasingly darker as more revelations about the future were made. They finally get back home and things just get horrible.

It was back to the constantly trying to fight an inevitable conclusion that finally wasn’t resolved until the last episode. It’s one thing to hint at something throughout a season, but having it basically be the focus for entire episodes is just draining. I just wanted it to be over. I wanted Fitz and Simmons, Elizabeth Henstridge, to be together and not fighting to survive the destruction of the world. I wanted Deke, Jeff Ward, to stop being a love sick puppy and go back to being a Dollar Store Starlord. I wanted Daisy, Chloe Bennett, to just be gone. And please, everyone, just get off of Yoyo, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, back. She made a hard decision that needed to be made and most of the team *cough* Daisy *cough* were being absolute hypocritical assholes about it.

The ending had me in tears. Not because Phil, Clark Gregg, was leaving, even though he’s one of the best characters, but because they fucking killed Fitz. But then, they didn’t. There’s a second one floating in space waiting for them to find him, because of course there is, but that’s honestly the only reason I’m going to watch the next season. I’m really hoping for a less world ending season and more of a focus on smaller things. Leave the world to the Avengers, please.

2/5

Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

much ado about nothing

Director:

Joss Whedon

Starring:

Amy Acker

Alexis Denisof

Nathan Fillion

Clark Gregg

Reed Diamond

Plot:

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.

Review:

I have to be in a certain type of mood to watch this kind of movie and receive it well. Not only was it black and white but it was full on Shakespeare. I actually like black and white movies but understanding Shakespeare does not come naturally. That being said Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite play of his, that I’ve read.

Bonus for Joss Whedon and his entourage.

3.5