Sunday, August 10, 2014

Projection Booth: Marvel Cinematic Universe Villains...(spoilers??)

Obadiah Stane, The Mandarin, Abomination, Ronan The Accuser, Malekith, Whiplash, Red Skull, Aldrich Killian, Winter Soldier, even Loki.
What do all of these villainous threats to our Avengers and the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large have in common?
They were all defeated. Pretty easily.
And nearly all in the span on one movie (Loki gets two but he also gets his ass handed to him twice by the end of each movie).
What the MCU needs, nay, DEMANDS is a credible villain that stands triumphant at the end of one of these movies. It's the "Empire Strikes Back" theory where we all know that by the end of "Empire" it looks like all the "New Hope" is lost. Luke loses his hand, Han is Jabba's art deco, its all but over for the Rebels.
This dour ending what became the second act of a beloved trilogy raised the stakes for the characters the audience came to identify with.
You are left in doubt, "how could the bad guys not get what was coming to them?" It wasn't fair, but it sure as hell made you want to see the next movie to find out how our heroes persevered.
Marvel, please take notice on this. It's an easy road map. We all know you have a grand scheme and involves Thanos being behind everything but that doesn't mean he wins after every movie just because he is lurking in the shadows with his plan advancing in each installment in the MCU.
I have to stop and say I've got no clue as to what "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" is going to do, but if Marvel track record of villains is any indication of what I'm going to see, then Ultron is merely a bump in the road that leads to Thanos.
Meh. Meh. Meh.
That isn't to say that I won't be there opening weekend (which I can see is actually part of the problem reinforcing the formula) but I want to see something unexpected.
The Avengers left in shambles.
Watching another movie where a villain, who's rich backstory is truncated to make for one final 10 minute showdown is not really what I want to see nor what the Universe you've created deserves.
The formula is being copied by Warner with the DC universe and Fox with the X-Men and Spiderman series'.
If Fox was smarter with their forethought knowing that "X-Men: Apocalypse" was to follow "Days Of Futures Past", they first would have shown direct correlation from that movie's events into what causes X-Men: Apocalypse, not just that end stinger
Adding to that split "Apocalypse" into two movies with the first giving a great "how can they possibly stop him" cliffhanger. The former obviously didn't happen but the latter suggestion still could.
I believe Marvel should be beating everyone to the punch which would leave audiences both scratching their heads( guys it's ok to do that as long as you have the end game pre-determined) and salivating for your next movie. I know personally an "Empire Strikes Back" type ending on "Avengers 2" would fully renew my interest into the next 3 or 4 Marvel Universe movies the way the Nick Fury stinger at the end of the first "Iron Man" did for me when I saw that opening weekend.
That filled me with questions about all of what could be every time I went into another MCU movie. Just that little clip had my eagle eyes scouring every movie after for clues as to what it was leading towards. Now I know, so what's left to spark me to do that still?
As much as I love and come to expect stingers on the end of every movie we need more, Marvel needs to up the ante on why I should obsess over what might happen in all the MCU movies coming down the pipeline.
All of the Marvel movies are very much like television episodes where you can see the throughline even though they each can stand on their own but we haven't gotten that "oh SHIT!, how are they going to top it next season" feeling in quite awhile.
I am very much sick of the one and done villains that I don't have any time to invest in. By the time they are introduced I'm not even concerned with them because I know I'm going to see the final showdown rushed through and the respective villain exploded, vaporized or somehow neutralized. I'll enjoy the living shit out of the ride along the way but I don't expect the bad guy fight scene to be much since I already know another 4 or 5 movies have been scheduled in the coming years.
*Side note: "The Avengers" ending battle scene was pretty epic, I'll give it that*
The only way to jack up the tension and excitement for more installments is for the good guys to... lose.
You can't win every time. It makes every ending feel like getting the participation trophy in tee-ball. Everybody getting a trophy makes winning the first place trophy that much more meaningless.
The movie that came the closest to my desire was "The Dark Knight" which left me and I'd assume a majority of the audience wondering where the hell would Batman go from there,which was essentially becoming the villain in Gotham's eyes. We all know now that there was no plan for the third film to truly address that or if it did that plan was totally scrapped when Heath Ledger died. Had The Joker been able to return the same as he was in "The Dark Knight" (The Joker was caught but never definitively dealt with at the end of "TDK") we might have seen Batman deal with fighting crime while being cast as Gotham's bad man instead of "the Batman retiring and un-retiring" that we all suffered through in "The Dark Knight Rises".
I'm not some fan boy who has read every storyline and knows what should/could or will happen in the upcoming MCU movies but as fan of movies in general I want Marvel to give me back that spark or wonderment and excitement by doing something unexpected or otherwise riveting to give the future films a sense of urgency where its hard to sit still until the next Marvel superhero flick arrives.
Strong villains, heroes in real jeopardy. We can all be ok with the heroes taking a loss every now and again because we are all pretty confident that Marvel has a concrete end game for this whole universe they so meticulously set in motion all those years back.
Shock me, shock me, shock me....

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pod Radio: A Few Podcasts Worth Rattling Around Your Ear Cavities.

Much like Beatrix Kiddo rising out of The Lonely Grave of Paula Schultz, I'm back with  reviews, ideas, news and much much more pop culture word vomit. And to quote Veronica Sawyer "lick it up baby,".

Why not return with a quick few suggestions for your listening pleasure, in this case PODCASTS. All of which you can find in the iTunes store.

First I would highly recommend: "Nerdist Podcast". Hosted by Chris Hardwick of "Singled Out", "Attack Of The Show" fame flanked by friends Matt Mirra and Jonah Ray interview all the geek chic luminaries such as Marvel's Kevin Feige, Weird Al, Neil DeGrasse Tyson along with other comedy and celebrity guests. It's usually pretty funny listening to them riff on all the things that nerdy and gives some great insight into the comedy scene of the early 2000's in Los Angels. Suggested listening would be the 2013 live Comic-Con panel with Matt Smith talking about playing The Doctor for the last time and American beers.

Second on my list would be "F This Movie" which breaks down and usually heckles movies both new and old, infamous and beloved. Recorded in the Chicago area host Patrick Bromley and rotating group of friends share about new movies they've recently seen before launching into deconstruction of whichever movie has been chosen for each weeks podcast.   Insightful, sarcastic and a perfect conversational podcast on good film and bad movies. This is a podcast that is dripping in the ghost of Roger Ebert.

The third podcast and last I will go into detail about is a fairly new one. "Anxious and Angry" is the brainchild of Ryan Young best known from Minneapolis punk band "Off With Their Heads". You might assume this podcast would be themed around punk rock music and  that is about 2% correct. Mostly the topic that is covered is depression and anxiety and as a sufferer of both it's a very comforting show. Ryan talks to alot of his friends he has met through being in a band and most guests are in bands of their own but instead of spending the hour or so podcast talking about music he reads letters from listeners and dispenses advice while keeping things light and in perspective. "A&A" is pretty lo-fi as far as podcast go but it just adds to the charm. Brutally honest and sometimes heartbreaking but more often than not, it's as uplifting as a punk rock mental illness podcast can be. Suggested listening: Any episode with Stacey Dee from "Bad Cop, Bad Cop" who is Ryan's roommate.

Other recommends that I listen to on a regular basis to get me through each work day in no real order:
-IGN's playstation podcast "Podcast Beyond"
-"WTF with Marc Maron"
-"Dr. Drew Podcast"
-"We Hate Movies"
-"The Ross Report"
-"Sex Nerd Sandra"
-"How Did This Get Made"
-"The Cracked Podcast"
-" The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana"

You can find the latest 100 episodes in the iTunes store or on each podcast's respective website