Tag Archives: Marvel

The Fist of Iron and Clay

Marvel’s latest Netflix series Iron Fist has its moments. There’s a fight with a hatchet-wielding gang that’s reminiscent of the hallway battle in Daredevil’s first season only a step less exciting. I don’t know if that’s because it reminded me of the earlier scene or the hatchet fight was less dramatic. But it may be that this fight would have been better in a better context. As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats.

I don’t want to write a negative review of Iron Fist. I want to love it, but somewhere in the middle I began wondering if the story could be told differently, and by the end I thought it was relying on clichés. How many master warriors or chosen heroes say they need to complete their training? Just about all of them nowadays. Did a gunslinger ever say, “I need to get back to the Broken Hand Ranch to complete my training”? This is the story of a man who has been given the mantle of The Iron Fist, living weapon, protector of a holy city against an eternal enemy.

Before I finished the series, my wife and I watched Jackie Chan’s 1994 action-comedy The Legend of Drunken Master. It’s hilarious overall and increasingly intense. The finale was amazing, somewhat comical, and exhausting. When Chan’s character confronts the strongest henchmen, a tall man who relies on kicking, you wonder if Chan can really win. I know Iron Fist is a completely different show with different skill sets, but it didn’t have fighting anyway close to this.

In many Kung Fu movies, someone confronts the hero with his gang, and they begin fighting two on one, then four on one, then eight or sixteen. A formula like that would have been perfect for a gauntlet run Danny undertakes in the series’ first half. He does start against two, but then he moves to a one-on-one of a very different nature and then another one-on-one with a type of weapons master. That last one is pretty good, but could we not bring in eight or more guys in the middle of that fight to increase the intensity?

Another common scene in Kung Fu movies is when the master happens into a gang of thugs who won’t let him go without a fight. He takes them down without breaking a sweat. Danny sweats through every fight. Maybe the writers considered similar ideas and left them in rehearsal. Perhaps they considered them cliché.

Continue reading The Fist of Iron and Clay

Bulletproof Luke Cage in 2016

The Luke Cage stories of 1972 Marvel comics are not what you see in the new Netflix series. The new writers deliver a more mature story than their source material, Sam Knowles says, in many ways.

One clear improvement is apparent to anyone who happens to see cover art from the old comics. Luke was known as a ‘hero for hire.’ He used his abilities as a way to earn a living, which in the real world makes some sense, but what other superhero does this? The mercenaries are usually the bad guys. The good guys are heroes for the sake of justice. Knowles states,

Luke’s identity as a self-proclaimed ‘hero for hire’ sets him up in opposition to white superheroes, whose racial privilege enables the narrative of ‘superhero-ness’ to be about altruism. As a result, others look down on Luke’s attitude–most obviously Dr Noah Burstein [the scientist who gave Luke his power]: “I’ve heard how you’ve helped neighborhood merchants against Syndicate protection men. For a fee / Bit disillusioning from a so-called hero, isn’t it?”

Luke Cage and the Evolution of the Superhero Narrative

The Netflix story explicitly drops this idea early on. In the beginning, Luke doesn’t want to get involved at all. His father figure, ‘Pop’ Hunter, urges him to use his gifts to help others and later suggests he hire himself out, but Luke refuses. Though he struggles with whether his efforts to help amount to kicking the criminal hornets’ nest, he continues to help those he can because it’s the right thing to do. He loves the people of Harlem.  Continue reading Bulletproof Luke Cage in 2016

The Cross in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. came to a close this month on an interesting Christological note. I’ve been a fan of the show since the beginning and never had the complaints I read from others that it was too slow, didn’t have enough super powers, and whatever else. It’s a good show, and it didn’t get canceled like Agent Carter did (which is another good show, great show even, and it stinks that it’s cancelled.) The most recent season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. focuses on a vision one of the agents has of someone’s death, and central to that vision is a cross pendant.

I doubt I can keep from spoilers.

The season opens with the vision. A ship in space, the arc of the earth through the cockpit windshield, the cross pendant and necklace suspended in air, and a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on a sleeve. No face or identifiers of who, if anyone, might be in that aircraft. We learn after a few shows that an Inhuman (a substitutionary word for “mutant” with its own extraterrestrial history) has the ability to foresee details of a death when he touches someone. This ability brings him into contact with Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet), the Inhuman agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who is working on putting together an Inhuman tactical team, and when they touch each other, they see the vision of the cross on a ship in space.

“I’ve seen the future,” she tells her team, “and one of us is going to die.”  Continue reading The Cross in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Could Skywalker be an Avenger?

Marvel’s creator Stan Lee says the people behind the Marvel cinematic universe want to make successful movies. If that means they think an ultimate fan-fic mashup like Star Wars and Avengers together will make a great movie, well . . .

“I created the Avengers by taking many of our characters and making a team out of them,” Lee tells The Big Issue. “We can have as many characters join the Avengers as we want to for future movies. That might be fun, all of a sudden Luke Skywalker is an Avenger!”

Heh. I mean, if we’re talking  fan fiction here, why not something like this?

And in news that’s not even remotely possible to be related, superhero sit-coms are coming.

The Incredible Hulk, More Werewolf than Hero

I wish I could say I thought of this myself, and maybe I did (along with you), but I never articulated it, so I can’t take credit even on my own blog.

The typical scenario Dr. Bruce Banner finds himself in, at least on film, is being the victim of gang abuse. Wrong place, wrong time or maybe he chose to stand up to someone who responded with a gaggle of thugs. They beat on him or kick him down an elevator shaft, and he hulks out.

That’s the rage-monster-as-hero idea, but Banner/Hulk is more complicated than that, as these guys point out in the middle of a long list of interesting details on Marvel’s The Avengers. If you’ve seen the movie, note #13-14. Joss Whedon sees the big guy as the beast Banner is trying to contain.

I saw a wag, making cracks about this movie, laugh at how convenient it is that Banner can control his power just when the story calls for it, but he’s missing the point. Whedon’s Hulk isn’t one who can’t be summoned; he’s one who can only barely be contained. In this movie, Banner knew he was holding a very dangerous hair trigger. He isn’t telling us, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” He’s telling us, “Let’s keep things under control, because when I get pushed over the edge, very bad things can happen.”

Movie review: Thor

I think it’s generally agreed that I’m the conservative blogsphere’s go-to guy for all matters Norse, so I felt a sort of civic duty to see the movie Thor this weekend, and to let you know what I thought of it.

Briefly put, it’s pretty good. Considered on its own terms, as a fantasy/comic book/special effects actioner, it succeeds extremely well. It doesn’t scale the heights of Batman Begins or The Dark Knight, but I’d rank it somewhere near the top. Kenneth Branagh’s direction elevates the script (not a bad one at all), and the cast is uniformly excellent. Chris Hemsworth, in the title role, will doubtless break many female hearts, and he ought to become a big star if there’s any justice in Midgard.

Thor is the son and heir of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), the high god of Asgard. Asgard, in this version (more or less based on the Marvel comic books) is explained in S.M.D. (Standard Movie Doubletalk) as one of nine dimensions, or alternate universes, or something. The “gods” are able to travel to the other “worlds” by means of the bridge of Bifrost, explained as a sort of organized wormhole (Bifrost, the rainbow in Norse mythology, is pronounced “Bye-frost” in the movie, although the proper pronunciation is “beef-roast”). Long ago the gods prevented their great enemies, the Jotuns or Frost Giants (who in the movie do not resemble in any way the big, bearded oafs of the myths), from conquering Midgard (Earth). Because of their memories of this war, humans came to regard them as divine beings.

As the story begins, Thor is about to be officially named Odin’s heir in a great ceremony in Asgard. In the midst of this, Jotun spies make an incursion into Asgard. Thor, enraged, leads a punitive expedition into Jotunheim, killing a number of the frost giants. Odin, who loves peace, appears to rescue Thor and his friends when they’re about to be overwhelmed by numbers. He berates Thor for his impetuousness and banishes him to earth (he lands in New Mexico), also sending his mighty weapon, the hammer Mjolnir, down with him. Continue reading Movie review: Thor

Upcoming: The weekend, and a Thor movie

I approach another weekend with some anticipation. I suppose I’ve gotten spoiled, but the last three weekends have all held good surprises for me. Three weeks ago I did the radio show with Mitch Berg and James Lileks. Two weekends ago my car broke down, which wasn’t pleasant in itself, but it allowed me to spend a blessed time with my former boss, and to get (on top of the unwelcome work) my car’s four-wheel drive fixed at a very reasonable price, so that I’ll be ready for the next snowstorm (which is surely coming). And last weekend I got ushered into the wonderful world of the Amazon Kindle.

God may well have decided I’ve had enough treats for a while. But there’s no harm in hoping.

Transposing my thoughts to lower case gods, here’s the trailer for the upcoming Thor movie:

Now I’ll admit it looks kind of cool. I may even go to see it.

But I’m an amateur Viking scholar, so I can’t help but be bugged by some things. The particular thing that troubles me most is the image of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) talking seriously about peace.

That’s no Odin I’ve ever met in the sagas. Continue reading Upcoming: The weekend, and a Thor movie