Thursday, November 30, 2017

Marvel Catch Up Again- More Thor and Punisher

First a few spoilery thoughts about Thor: Ragnarok.

Because as happy as  I was about DC lightening their films...Marvel is still doing it way better..

Opening Scene:

Much like Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 the opening battle in this film was worthy of being the climactic battle in this kind of tale.  Unlike that film, Thor taking on the giant fire demon Surtur (and his army and his dragon) was not a background event.

Thor’s banter with his foe, and attempts to get the Bifrost open demonstrated the mix of humor and action we could expect from the film, but never dimmed the awesomeness.

This was Thor working with Mjolnir at full force, and taking on a mass of mythological powered opponents.   It was an epic fight that captured the Thunder God’s status as one of the most powerful heroes in all of Marvel.

The Music:

Speaking of that opening scene: Normally, I’m pretty crabby about the importance of an orchestral score running behind most kinds of genre films to capture the tone.  The overall score for the latest Thor was by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, and had much more of a techno-synth feel to it.  Considering the director was looking to channel the spirit of the 1980 Flash Gordon, the music was a perfect choice.  That reference also supports my belief that, as long as they aren’t boring, “Classically Bad” movies have a much stronger and long lasting positive influence on viewers that “Classically Good” ones do.   

To generate the proper mythological power for that opening scene, and later as a call back, the epic fights were scored to Led Zeppelin’s immigrant song.  Mr.s Plant and Page are nothing if not epic.

The Hulk:

WOOOO!  The Hulk has been pretty awesome already in the Avengers films, but we finally got a talking Hulk with the proper personality.  The Hulk is not simply a “green rage monster.”  The Hulk is an intensely angry little boy. 

That’s how he was showcased, as a little boy.  A large, excessively powerful little boy, but a little boy none the less.  He desire for the adulation of the crowds, and his playful method of training with Valkyrie were both spot on. 

His connections with Thor were the best examples though. Their banter back and forth about strength and passion in battle was a little kid playing one ups.  And the Hulk’s rage at Thor leaving him alone when the Thunder god attempted to escape, was tinged with the sadness and desperation of a lonely child losing his only friend.

Beyond those layers, his fight scenes in the arena, and later on in Asgard were pure, comic book awesome Hulk Smashness!  Yet Mark Ruffalo imparted a sensitivity to both sides of the Hulk/ Banner relationship, and the fear, hatred and dependence each has on the other.


I wouldn’t go as far as saying Loki deciding to help the evacuation of Asgard was a redemption arc for him. Thor and Loki are brothers and gods.  In spite of everything he’s done to Midgard, and Thor’s attachment to the people of earth, the relationship between them often exists well above any concerns of mere mortals. As evidenced by the classic “get help” scene, contrary to all of their differences, they work together frequently.

Loki’s actions also match up with mythological traditions.  As the god of mischief in the legends, he is just as likely to get the gods out of some jam with his wiles and guile as he is to get them into it.  Most of his myths, he often does both.  In true Marvel fashion, their partnership will set up friction between Thor and the other heroes when they meet up again.

Side note:  Anthony Hopkins playing Loki imitating Odin was hysterical.


Cate Blanchet was as brilliant as ever, adding a chilling but fun performance to back up the effects that showed her power levels.  Whether dispatching individuals like the Warriors Three, or entire armies, she did it with flair.   Sure it looked like she died along with Asgard when Surtur destroyed it.  However, as a goddess of death, she could easily come back.  Ordinarily, me suggesting deviating from the comic books is close to blasphemy.  However, given the caliber of who is playing her, replacing the classic marvel “Death” as the object of Thanos’s desire with this already cast goddess of death might be a fantastic idea to get her back into the fold.

Thor’s Transformation:

Mjolnir is a key part of Thor’s being. Internalizing the power was an admirable character path, but I’m hoping the hammer returns in the Infinity War. It’s too big of a deviation from the character, and that opening battle was far too awesome to not want to see more.

Plus the one eye, no hammer look is dangerously close to Dan Jurgens’s “King Thor” story arc and down that road lies tragic endings and weird time travel fixes.

In other Marvel News, the Netflix Marvel series of the Punisher came out.

Discounting his multiple appearances in Daredevil stories, I only have two Punisher comic books. That’s single comics, not even trades. One is a one shot, purchased because I followed the blog of the writer, Valerie D'orazio.  The other came free with an action figure.

I like Frank when compared to superheroes in the way he was originally released.  He was an antagonist, sharing similar goals but using methods they despise.  I’m not a fan of him as the main character.

To borrow a line from Mystery Men:
“That’s you’re super power?  Guns??”

However, I think I watched this series faster than any other of the Netflix Marvel shows.  The writing, directing and acting were all top notch.  Rather than the Eighties action flick glorified revenge story that some Punisher and similar over the top violent comic characters can fall into, this was multi layered, dealing with loss and many different varieties of PTSD.

The only complaint I had comes from it revealing a pretty weird variety in acceptable standards.

The violence was far more graphic than any other series…yet no one was able to utter the dreaded “F-word.”

Then there were the multiple sex scenes without any nudity.

I’m pretty good at suspension of disbelief when it comes to comic books.  Super powers, regeneration after death, and domino masks that hide secret identities: I can handle all of that.

But even I have a hard time accepting an injury that requires only a single bandage worn as a loose fitting strapless bikini top.

Aside from those odd standards and practices issues, the Punisher was one heck of a compelling story, and I hope the creative team goes on to other stories with Frank and Micro, as well as the rest of the Defendersverse.


Chris said...

Loved Thor! So much fun and yes, the Zepplin music was a perfect fit.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx for sharing. Yeah, Marvel has built themselves a sturdy enough universe to make fun films in pretty much any genre now.

Here's to the future!