While «Iron Fist» and «Luke Cage» got cancelled some days ago I’d almost forgotten that there still was a very enjoyable Marvel show to premiere that very same week:
«Marvel’s Daredevil» might have been the first attempt of bringing one of the less spectacular superheroes in a smaller scale to Netflix, but with season three the man without fear still remains the best and most solid installation of all the Marvel superhero series on the streaming service by far thanks to struggling and evolving characters and some risk-takingly spectacular cinematic moments of storytelling and montage.
But characters is what «Marvel’s Daredevil» really is all about: The show proves that Superhero stories CAN work on a smaller scale, as an action-infused drama, when done correctly (I’m looking at you «Gotham»).
The core of season three is all about family, legacy and relationships – old and new characters all get their chance to explore different angles of this underlying theme. And it’s a bliss:
Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page gets her own superb isolated episode which sheds light on her past, Wilson Bethel as Benjamin Poindexter («Bullseye») reminded me that a great character doesn’t have to be likeable and Charlie Cox as «Daredevil» proofs once again how satisfying and cathartic a tragic (super-) hero can be. But the real show-stealer (even more so than Jon Bernthal as «The Punisher» in season two) is, of course, Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk.
D’Onofrio’s wonderful, tragic, scary, phenomenal, uncanny performance as the «Kingpin« left me in awe. But even the secondary characters get a chance to shine: Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), Father Lanthom (Peter McRobbie), Joanne Whalley as Sister Maggie and Jay Ali in the Role of Special Agent Ray Nadeem all get their chance to shine or at least support the impact of the main characters’ arcs.
«Venom» surely isn’t a good movie but I still kinda liked it. It’s not so bad that it’s good but it’s a clumsy, somewhat lovable construction of uninspired storytelling, average visual effects (but pretty production design) and questionable characters saved by only one thing: Tom Hardy in the title roles as Eddie Brock and his alter ego Venom, bromancing the hell out of almost every scene they’re in.
If the rumours are true, a rushed production schedule and a late decision to not make «Venom» rated R might explain this uneven mess of a movie. The end result makes it look as if the creatives decided that if they’re not allowed to do a proper bloody version, let’s make it silly,… like a Buddy Cop movie with a hint of Screwball-Rom-Com sprinkled on top and some superfluous CGI action added for the studio and the uninitiated crowd.
And somehow, that worked for me. Like the «Tom Hardy Show» that was «Bronson» sans a good movie which would only distract and might take the focus off his performance.
I doubt that Sony really knew where they were going with this. But good for them they didn’t try (and fail again) to copy Marvel Studios’ approach and took a different way* – a strange, meandering route without any direction, purpose or destination, but still…
This silly mixed bag helps Tom Hardy’s performance to stand out even more (and somehow makes it even more enjoyable) and presents «Venom» as a strange but funny, rather forgettable, but entertaining stumble of a movie.
*) «Venom’s» mildly amusing second after credit scene – some minutes taken directly from their upcoming animated feature «Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse» – seems to confirm how truly lost they are with their remaining rights to use «Spider-Man», not knowing what the hell to do with them**.
**) At this point, I’ve given up trying to understand which studio has the right to which characters under which circumstances, but I doubt that cramming all the iterations of all the Spider-Men into one movie is the sensible way to go.
So let’s tick off that box in this year’s comic book movies list – or better: ANT🐜 off this part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe ANThology🐜.
I didn’t ANTicipate🐜 much and «Ant-Man and the Wasp» wouldn’t disappoint. It made me laugh (not as much as the first one though) and left me fully satisfied. All in all it’s pure and solid Marvel Studios ANTertainment🐜 as good as it can be for one of their «smaller» side-projects while still hinting at some bigger role for Scott Lang to play in the grand MCU scheme of things.
I won’t even address the elephANT🐜 in the room that «Ant-Man and the Wasp» is…, it’s… I got nothing there, just wANTed🐜 to put one more «ANT🐜» in there. It’s too hot to be clever today, I cAN’T🐜 even bother to give too much ANTtention🐜 to spelling in this climANTe🐜.
All I have is: Go see it, watch the two mid- and after credit scenes and let’s leave it at that ANTiclimactic🐜 review, ok?
Fine. Thank you. ANT🐜 have a nice day…
🐜) Warning: This review may contain some bad insect-related puns.
Let’s bring the Infinity War week to an end by answering the most important question: Is it any good?
Though the Marvel Studios have managed to release one feature film after the other without screwing up, they have well proven their ability to fail with some of their more underwhelming series on Netflix. So I could nothing but hope that I wouldn’t be disappointed by their climactic showdown that could set an end to all the comic book movies (which of course it won’t).
The chance of failure was not unlikely, given the high bar they kept raising in the last ten years and the sheer scope of the whole undertaking.
Well, we all knew Marvel Studios’ lucky streak would come to an end one day – A sad day.
But that day is not today. Holy fucking moly! What a fantastic ride! Oh yes, it’s good. I mean: g o o d. It’s spectacular! Thank you Marvel Studios to let your first 10 amazing years end on such a high note, giving a now grown up man all the comic book movie his 9-year-old self would never even have dreamed of.
I have often claimed to regret to be too young to have seen the original «Star Wars» when it first was theatrically released. But that’s a low price to pay to be alive and well today and be able to enjoy wonderful things like «Avengers: Infinity War».
After the disappointing «Defenders» and «Iron Fist», «Jessica Jones» remains one of the stronger Marvel Netflix series thanks to Krysten Ritter who really made the character her own.
I’m all in for female-driven storytelling and I guess it worked just fine. But I’m wondering if the best central conflict the creators could choose for our heroine this season really was the fear of turning into her mother? It’s quite the leap from codependency, rape and trauma in the first season to this.
I’m not sure why a similar thing worked much better and more effective with Tony Stark’s Daddy issues. I guess it has to do with the fact that writing a strong female superhero character is still a relatively new, even unexplored field. (Or maybe it’s just ’cause I’m a bloke).
Let’s give Jessica and the audience some credit and let her do some superhero things, shall we? There must be some middleground to this. And there might be: Though it didn’t really lead anywhere (besides avoiding the issue what might happen when the Hulk and Black Widow would «get it on»), Marvel tried it in «Avengers: Age of Ultron» when Natasha Romanoff had to deal with her inability to bear children. And she did it while saving the world.
If not, I fear that «Defenders» Season 2 will revolve around Jessica Jones’ struggle to buy a pair of new jeans that doesn’t make her look fat while Iron Fist tries to become a social media influencer.
I hate to say that I probably didn’t give enough credit for the fact(?) that Jessica Jones Season 2 might be less about her fear of turning into her mother than about coming to terms with a loved one losing the battle against mental illness…
Mea culpa… oh, look: Isn’t that Thanos over there annihilating half of the universe just cause he’s in love with a chick who happens to be frakking death itself? Men are simple…
I agree that the success of «Black Panther» (and «Get out», for that matter) is an important step in the right direction for an industry (as well as an audience) that has to redefine itself to stay relevant and acceptable today and in the years to come. Way to go!
But entertaining as it is and giving the genre a new, interesting spin once again, for a Marvel movie, the Panther seems tame, on the weaker side of things. (But I guess I’m not the main audience they where going for anyway).
This in mind, I’m looking forward to a strong female protagonist in «Captain Marvel», hoping the makers stay focused and won’t overdo it because of the ongoing #meToo discussion. (Something I won’t hold my breath for at this year’s Oscar celebrations. Given the circumstances and having seen the nominations livestream, I fear the Awards show will present itself chumming and even more unpalatable than usual).