Thursday, July 29, 2021

Marvel Summer- Spoilers!

 Is it really possible to talk about Loki coherently without spoilers?
Come to think of it, it is really possible to talk about Loki coherently?

I guess the success of the animated Into the Spider-Verse cleared the way for live action multiverses.  With actors who age, as opposed to characters that are images on paper, the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs a multiverse even more than comics do to preserve any kind of continuity as time passes, and new actors step into roles.

From the dark self reflective moments of Slyvie's tragic past trying to prove her existence is just as valid as any other version of Loki, to Richard E. Grant's awesome, over the top Kirby classic version's spell casting, to glimpses at some of the goofiest moments in Marvel Comics history (the Thanos Copter from the Electric Company connected Spidey Super Stories, and a Chris Hemsworth voiced Throg!) Loki revealed the power of a mulitverse setting to allow ANYTHING to happen.

Kid Loki is surely another building block toward the Young Avengers we've seen piling up.

Alligator Loki is surely...
Proof that this is one long strange trip we're going on.

It was an interesting, Heisenberg-like idea to have 2012 Loki undergo the same character development his main time-stream MCU version did by the equivalent of watching the Marvel Movies we've all seen.   It worked both in story, and for anyone coming into Loki without watching twenty-three films and several television series beforehand. 

As Stan Lee said, "Every comic book is someone's first."

Sylvie was a compelling dual protagonist, and watching her develop and evolve along different lines than a standard Loki was another high point of the show.

But really, when it comes to spoilers, we need to talk about that ending.  

I think we can all agree on two things.

1) Miss Minutes popping up (Hi Y'all!) like that made everyone nearly wet themselves.
2) An army of variant Mobiuses (Mobii?) riding Jet Skis should have been the cavalry that saved the day. (Ka-chow!!)

I stated in a non-spoilery fashion last time, that the story basically ended in Episode 5.  Ravonna Rennslayer (who has some serious Kang connections in the comics, and was played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who we know from Doctor Who so we kept calling her Tish) learned the truth and made her choice, Mobius was rescued and had a new mission, and Loki and Sylvie escaped the wasteland and entered the castle. 
A couple of tweaks and the story ends satisfyingly right there.

Instead, episode six introduced us to the next phase of MCU history.  Knowing Kang was coming, having him somehow be responsible was a good guess, if this was a comic book series.  However, Marvel has been excellent at telling self contained stories, with trails and hints left for future events that were usually not the main resolution.  I was pretty sure they'd go against expectations (Like all the Mephisto guesses in WandaVision) and have it be another variant Loki or some other character we'd met or was referenced in show.   
However, now we have entered full blown shared universe mode.

There were amusing fights and bits of heavy drama, but mostly part six was He Who Remains laying down a bunch of highly entertaining exposition.  

Once more Marvel fiddles with names.  Given his semi-retired role, dedicated to stopping other versions of himself, Johnathan Majors played a character much more like Immortus in the comics, one of Kang's many aliases running about the multiverse.  By instead picking the name of a character that showed up as a one off Thor villain plus some "What If' and other timeline bending story appearances allows them to still go whatever direction they want with this version of the character, without modifying a heavily established individual.

I'm looking forward to seeing him as multiple versions of the blue mask wearing time traveling despot..  I'd never have expected of a "fun" Kang the Conqueror, but I'm on board for it.

Black Widow 
 is much less themed on spoilers, but better safe then sorry.

The James Bond film shown at the beginning was Moonraker, which was a perfect choice to highlight the oncoming, over the top craziness as the spy story zoomed off to find a bunch of mind altered warriors on a hidden, flying base.  However, since this is set in a superhero universe instead of a spy universe, the craziness was a much better fit.

Mentally remote controlled pigs folks, that's all I have to say.

I greatly appreciated that they pulled a extra twist. It looked like loyalty to Russia/ The Red Room/ Hydra / evil in general was going to win out. However, at the end, it was a double-double-cross, using some elements from previous Marvel films to pull off, and showed that the bonds of an artificial family can grow to be just as strong as a real one.

David Harbor and Rachel Weiss were excellent as surrogate parents to Nat, as butt kicking Russian superhero spies, and as a disgruntled prisoner/ comic book mad scientist.  The Red Guardian is Natasha's ex-husband in the comics, but since that wouldn't line up with ANYTHING in the timeline they've set up previously, this counts as an excellent change, to create an entire supportive  supporting cast for her.
And wow! Marvel has got that de-aging CGI down to a horrifying science don't they.  It took me quite a while in the opener to realize they were digitally altered and not actual people.

Florence Pugh was fantastic as Yelena, just as physically and mentally tough as Natasha, but with some different skill sets, a darker sense of humor (if that is possible) but a weird bit of innocence mixed in.  Her making fun of Nat's superhero landings and posing was hilarious jab at past films.

Scarlett Johansson was amazing yet again, proving this film has come way too late. The fact that she pulled the same reverse interrogation trick on the villain that she did twice in The Avengers, and still had it be a surprise to the audience, is a testament to her acting abilities.

Dreykov, as the leader of the Red Room was a nice change after Loki (and "Kang") being so likeable, and several other sympathetic villains in the 'verse. He's an irredeemably evil, sleazy jerkface of a bad guy, who deserves all that befalls him in a satisfyingly violent manner.

I know there's some complaints that Taskmaster has been changed.  And to that I say, "Really?"  eighty-gazillion characters in Marvel comics to be fans of, and you pick a mercenary with a gimmick that matches a couple of androids in both Marvel and DC?

Hey maybe that's why they made Taskmaster's ability to copy anyone's combat style an electronic enhancement instead of a natural one?

Look, if I can handle "Batroc Ze Lepair" losing his goofy multicolored costume and outrageous accent just to make a comic book film more realistic, surely you can survive Taskmaster being converted to an elite red room agent with historic ties to both Black Widow and her enemy for purposes of story, no?

We got a complete adventure tale, with several new heroes who can come back. Plus we had O.T. Fagbenie as Rick Mason. I can definitely see "The Agent" becoming a fun to meet up with "Phil Coulson" of the more secretive underground hero set in Marvel.

It looks like there is a race on between setting up the Young Avengers and the Dark Avengers, and I am here for either one...or a battle between them.

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