Thursday, July 22, 2021

Summer Marvel- No Spoilers

This week's post about Loki and  Black Widow will have no spoilers.  
Next week, the nitty and the gritty will fly.

Black Widow is here!  And its about FREAKIN TIME!!!!

It  is completely deserving of it's status as a Marvel Universe film, by delivering the quality fun and entertainment  we've come to expect. By now It's obvious I can come up with some convoluted and pointless story of how a superhero film is connected to a "first" comic book for me.  

In this case, when I started buying Marvel Comics regularly, one of that set was Daredevil issue 222.  I ended up following just the Avengers comics at that point. However, I did fill in that era (and most others) of Daredevil later on. Plus it was written by Denny O'Neil who has written and edited comics that fill a HUGE portion of my collection.  Therefore it still counts.

It was wonderful to see a film in a theater again after all this time.  I was concerned it would sway my opinion of the film, but I know it didn't. This is because I started out a little disappointed when I thought this throwback tale was steering clear of how much less grounded in reality the MCU has gotten over time and looked to be a more straight forward spy film.

The craziness then ramped up beyond some of the more insane James Bond films in short order, with a nice bit of foreshadowing about that, and it was a heck of a ride.  As always with Marvel, the cast was phenomenal, and I hope the new good guys all come back AND they use one of the ridiculous amount of ways comic books have provided us over the years (many introduced to this continuity in the series below) to keep Scarlett Johansen showing up in their films. 

Aside- More details when we get to spoilers, but fans need to remember that the amount of movies and shows in the past thirteen years is VASTLY dwarfed by the number of comic book stories in the past 60-80 years, depending on how you count.  Revamping some of the enormous number of lesser comic book characters to better tie into the  much shorter histories of existing heroes and villains is a help, not a hinderance, in the smaller scale of the MCU.

It was nifty seeing an often used comic book type tale of the "lost story" in a movie format.   Comics use them all the time to fill in character and world building elements.  I had a worry going in since we know Nat survives to be in the other Avengers films, how could they build drama? 
The answer, goes back to the type of film it was ...
They put her in more and more loopy and  impossible to survive situations, and then the drama wasn't based on "if" she would survive but "how in holy heck are they going to show her surviving?"  
Thanks to the folks at Marvel, the answer was always: "Awesomely."

Throw in a bunch of new characters that their own priorities and "the snap" can serve as explanations for why we didn't see them in the other films and we got another excellent movie, both on its own, and as a building block for the future.

Speaking of building blocks for the future-
On television, Marvel knocked out another entertaining series on Disney Plus, once more showing that "superheroes" like "comic books" are not a single genre.  I've previously shared my  Thor "First comic" story, which includes Loki by default.

The fact that the show exists at all highlighted, yet again, what entertainment featuring actors does that comic books normally do not- modify characters based on the actor's performances and abilities.

Although, based on Tom Hiddleston's popularity, Loki in the comics has gotten far more exposure and solo comic runs recently than he's had in the past as well.

As the MCU grows stranger and stranger, I delight in seeing "normal people" becoming accepting of all the weird crap we comic fans tend to take for granted.

Alternate timelines, secret, immensely powerful, cross-dimensional organizations and agents we've never heard of, and in story reasons for retroactive continuity are all presented as "normal."  This allowed references to elements that exist in the comics but for tone, story, or plain sanity reasons would otherwise never appear on screen.   
Woo hoo!

On a meta level, this show was something else we comic fans are used to. Similar to how Infinity War  and Endgame introduced the normal folks to the comic book standard "company wide cross over"  Loki, building on Tom Hiddleston's charisma, and yet another amazing cast, led by Sophia Di Martino and Owen Wilson, sold the straights on a key element of many comic book serialized fiction stories.

Loki was a fun, if strangely arranged, adventure tale that introduced multiple new possibilities for how the universe works in live-action Marvel.    But primary plot motion really only happened for it's first five episodes. Honestly, with some very minor tweaks it could have ended there quite satisfyingly. 

Episode six really served as an introduction to the methods, conflicts and over arching themes of the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In other words, even when they are well told stories, often the main function of a comic series narrative is to introduce "The Next Big Thing!"

It's nearly impossible to talk coherently about Loki without spoilers, so come back next week! 

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