Wandavision Episode 5 (Disney+)
Written by Peter Cameron and Mackenzie Dohr
Directed by Matt Shakman
Wandavision did something I didn’t see coming. But we will get to that in a moment. We’re now past the mini-series’ halfway point, and I think the overall premise is straightforward. As I’ve said for a while now, Wanda is the main problem here, possibly with some outside manipulation. We see some security footage of Vision’s body being reclaimed by her, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was spurred on by promises from some supernatural being we haven’t met yet. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise of the episode.
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Wandavision Episode 4 (Disney+)
Written by Bobak Esfarjani and Megan McDonnell
Directed by Matt Shakman
I’m going to be a little snarky here. I am genuinely baffled by people on social media acting surprised or wondering what the twist in Wandavision is. I don’t feel like the show has hidden much from us that can’t at the least be easily inferred. I may be biased because I carved out a large chunk of dedicated brain space for comic book knowledge & tropes long ago. Everything we have seen so far, including this most recent episode, feels is telegraphing the plot beats to the audience. It felt obvious to me who the villain was in this mini-series from the second episode or so.
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Wandavision Episode 3 (Disney+)
Written by Megan McDonnell
Directed by Matt Shakman
As promised by the trailers, this episode moves us into yet another era of the American sitcom. This time around, we’re in something around the late 1960s/early 1970s. The faux theme song has hints of The Partridge Family, while Wanda & Vision’s house’s interior is a definite nod to The Brady Bunch. We’re also introduced to the fact that Wanda is experiencing an accelerated pregnancy, going through trimesters in a matter of hours. This is something the couple tries to keep hidden from the neighbors along with their powers, but it proves difficult when Wanda’s powers go haywire as she goes into labor.
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Episodes 1 & 2
Written by Jac Schaeffer
Directed by Matt Shakman
Many people genuinely love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I am glad they have movies they can rewatch and enjoy like that. I wouldn’t count myself as someone enamored with superhero movies of any kind, though I do always give them a viewing. I am entertained by them, but I don’t think too much about the films when they are over. The most I revisit them is with my niece and nephew, who they honestly are intended for. The people who should get the most excited about superhero movies, Star Wars, and the like are little kids.
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The New Mutants (2020)
Written by Josh Boone & Knate Lee
Directed by Josh Boone
And so the 20th Century Fox X-Men franchise comes to a strange, pitiful end. Dark Phoenix came out last year and appeared to be the intended conclusion, made and edited with the end of the series in mind. However, multiple delays and then COVID-19 caused The New Mutants to make a three year trip to the big screen. The signs that the X-Men film series was over were apparent years ago with X-Men: Apocalypse, a movie that seemed conflicted about what is trying to be or how it would fit in the post-MCU landscape. I would argue that, despite a few highlights along the way, the X-Men film series was always disappointing and felt like it belonged to another era gone by.
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Written by Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Sony ran everything off the rails with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. After handing over partial control of Spider-Man to Marvel, you’d think they would just coast on that and let the money come in. However, they began looking at the other characters they got as part of their licensing deal and settled on making a Venom movie and a Miles Morales animated picture. While the Miles Morales decision made sense to me, I was a little confused about a solo Venom picture. The Venom character exists as an evil version of Spider-Man, a trope that is present all throughout comic books (Superman:: Bizarro, Green Lantern:: Sinestro, Flash:: Professor Zoom). To feature Venom without the character, he’s defined in opposition to doesn’t sound like a formula for success.
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Big Hero 6 (2014)
Written by Jordan Roberts, Robert L. Baird, and Dan Gerson
Directed by Don Hall & Chris Williams
In 2004, Pixar released The Incredibles, a superhero film ahead of the curve with Iron Man and the MCU not launching until four years later. My first thoughts after the end credits rolled were that Brad Bird and company had succeeded in making the best Fantastic Four film, which would be proven correct when Fox released the groaningly terrible FF live-action movie in 2005. Bird understood the core essence of these characters and about the fundamentals of what drives kids of all ages to lose themselves in an afternoon of comic book reading.
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Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers
Directed by Jon Watts
Spider-Man is a character who has many phases in his life, unlike Batman and Superman, who are static in their development for the most part. Right now Superman is married with a son in the comic books, yet I anticipate the time will come where the reset button is hit, and that is erased. While many a Robin has come and gone and developed in their unique ways, Batman is never changing, always returning to his starting position. When looking over Peter Parker’s life, there are the high school years, the college years, the married years; the shivers clone saga and eventual reset, the successful businessman phase. Parker is dynamic and grows yet for the movie-going public nothing quite beats high school Spider-Man. He is reflective of our foibles and awkwardness, forced to choose between a normal life and one as a hero.
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Since May 2002 there have been seven Spider-Man films released in theaters, not to mention his appearances in Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame. He’s been the star of dozens of animated television series and the star of multiple comic book titles since 1962. With the latest film hitting theaters, I thought I would give the movies my rankings.
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Dark Phoenix (2019)
Written & Directed by Simon Kinberg
If a superhero is released in theaters without the promise of a dozen sequels, does it matter if we see it?
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This is a legitimate question to ask ourselves in an age of perpetually existing cinematic universes. The X-Men franchise has always been an odd duck in the post-MCU landscape, with its muddled timelines and no strong throughline existing between films. Days of Future Past (2014) was the most successful in terms of box office crossing the $700 million line, but I don’t ever see too many people talk about how much they enjoyed that film. I found it to be okay, a competently made follow up to the much better First Class. The most successful movies in Fox’s superhero stable have the tangentially connected near-spoofs of Deadpool and Deadpool 2, with the bleak dystopian Logan not far behind. The X-Men team itself has suffered not just from a lack of continuity but in a stable roster of characters for audiences to become emotionally invested in. Nothing that Dark Phoenix does helps remedy these problems and leaves a sour taste in the mouth upon its conclusion.