At some point in my life, I became a Marvel superhero geek. Not the comics, but the movies. In the last year I have had extensive discussions (with people other than my children) about the Black Panther, and Dr. Strange, and how the events in Captain America: Civil War will lead into what’s going to happen in The Avengers: Infinity War (including who’s likely to die), and why Marvel movies are so much better than DC movies, with the exception of Wonder Woman (short answer: they’re better written), and so on. I have also discussed how relieved I was that Wonder Woman didn’t suck (a very low bar indeed, which it greatly exceeded), and that Black Panther was as exceptional as it was, and that the person who did the visual design for Black Panther needs to win an Oscar. (I also discussed who was hotter, Chadwick Boseman or Michael B. Jordan, although really the answer is Danai Gurira Okoye.)
I even saw several of the movies before my kids did — Captain America: Civil War, Dr. Strange, and Spiderman: Homecoming, for example. I would say that I felt not the least bit smug about this, but I’d be lying. For once, not spoiling movies became kind of difficult. I usually see Disney movies before they do, but they generally don’t care.
So, just a few observations:
The Black Panther is as phenomenal as it is not because it is a great superhero movie, but because it is a great movie, period. You can watch it having not seen any other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie, and be totally engrossed. In fact, you’re better off if you haven’t seen Captain America: Civil War, because it contains the one major logical and chronological inconsistency that I have seen in the movies.
Possibly the best thing about Black Panther is the amazing women of Wakanda. Forget settling for passing the Bechdel test, they steal every scene they’re in. Given that the male leads are Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, that’s pretty impressive.
As much as I love Black Panther, and I do, my favorite of the MCU movies has to be Dr. Strange, for three reasons: 1) Benedict Cumberbatch; 2) street origami! and 3) one of the major heroic characters is … the librarian. I feel I should be more troubled about the whitewashing of the source material, though. There are a large number of Asian actors who could play The Ancient One — they didn’t need to hire Tilda Swinton. The director’s argument that there was a lot of Asian stereotyping in the comics (which was what they were trying to avoid by casting Swinton) rings hollow — is he saying they could not have rewritten the part so it wasn’t objectionable?
Having just rewatched Iron Man 2 and Captain America: Civil War, I remembered exactly why I started watching the movies in the first place. I was talked into going to see the first Iron Man movie because I love Robert Downey, Jr. What I love about him is simple: he is a very attractive man who nonetheless does not try to appear younger than he is. Downey is proof that people can still stay sexy after they pass their 30th birthday. After that, I was hooked.
Having suffered through three different Spidermen (Andrew Garfield, Tobey McGuire, and the guy who played him in the television show in the 70s), I am both relieved and happy that somebody finally got it right. Tom Holland looks like a teenager, and moves like one, and swings through the air with grace and power. Of course, I am sure that Holland was one of the leads in the West End production of Billy Elliot doesn’t hurt.
Speaking of that, Holland falls into the “actors we never realized were British (or Welsh, or Aussie) until we saw them at the Oscars” category.
Speaking of the Oscars, or awards in general, at the Independent Spirit awards I heard actress make a cutting comment about “action movies starring guys named Chris.” Which I guess covers Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth, (Thor), Chris Pratt (Star Lord in the Guardians of the Galaxy) and Chris Pine (James T. Kirk). If you stretched your definitions, that would also include Christian Bale (Batman). The next MCU movies has three Chrises in it: Evans, Pine, and Pratt. I am looking forward to it, nonetheless.
Only six weeks to go.