“Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Season 7, Episode 5 Review!

SPOILERS FOR AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. AHEAD!

Landing unexpectedly in the 1970’s, the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. find themselves confronted with their biggest moral conundrum yet, as they begin to realize just how many alterations they’ve caused to the timeline: HYDRA is rising to power within S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ranks decades earlier than expected; characters who should be dead are still alive, well, and plotting world domination; and worst of all, groovy fashion is in (okay, well, technically that’s not their fault, but I think we can safely assume that 70’s fashion is the unfortunate side-effect of some rift in the timeline).

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Phil Coulson | tvline.com

But this is exactly what I wanted to see! When the season started off, I was very worried that the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. would somehow be able to hop from time period to time period without ever breaking anything along the way – maybe because I was still reeling from how badly-written the majority of season 6 was, and I was worried we were in for a repeat of that disaster. But we’re not: five episodes into this final season, and I can safely say that every member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is feeling heavy consequences for every action they take – and they take a lot of actions, some well-informed, some very impulsive and reckless. Curiously, looking back with the advantage of hindsight, I almost feel like Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) had the right idea when she gave the order to try and kill a young Wilfred Malick. Considering everything Malick has already done to try and take destroy S.H.I.E.L.D., that no longer seems like it was such an impulsive or reckless notion.

On the flip-side, I’m happy she didn’t get to kill him back in 1931, because then he wouldn’t be around to trouble S.H.I.E.L.D. in the 1970’s, where he manages to do plenty of damage before meeting a (literally) untimely demise. Wilfred Malick (Neal Bledsoe) is exactly the type of antagonist this season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D should have had from the outset – in fact, he’s the type of antagonist that any show should have: he’s wily and conniving, effortlessly manipulates the happily oblivious idealists running S.H.I.E.L.D. in the 70’s (we’ll get to Rick Stoner in a moment), and doesn’t play nice with his enemies. He also has a massive ego, something that tends to happen when you’re given complete control over a network of Neo-Nazi terrorists living like parasites deep within government organizations all around America. Malick’s reign over HYDRA has been extended, thanks to the timeline meddling, and he’s been able to add an extra six years to his lifespan, allowing him time to complete his master plan: a weapon, known as INSIGHT, capable of targeting and eliminating thousands of U.S. citizens suspected by HYDRA of being potential threats, either currently or in the future – Peggy Carter, Nick Fury, Victoria Hand, and even a very young Bruce Banner all end up on Malick’s list of targets. Filling out HYDRA’s ranks in this episode are Malick’s sons Gideon and Nathaniel: the former of whom hilariously tries to flirt with Daisy, not knowing that she will eventually kill him when he’s much older; and the former of whom was supposed to already be dead, but is still alive somehow. At the very end of the episode there’s also a tantalizing tease that Nazi scientist Daniel Whitehall will make his return to the show, probably while trying once again to murder Daisy Johnson and dissect her body.

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Melinda May and Phil Coulson | goquizy.com

Of course, 70’s S.H.I.E.L.D. has no idea that any of this is going on right beneath their noses – the atmosphere of the episode, despite it dealing with some very dark and dramatic topics, is fun and light-hearted, from the ridiculously over-the-top opening credits to the jokes about bell-bottom pants to the party going on at the Swordfish bar (which has been redecorated once again) and the silly INSIGHT birthday cake that someone baked for Wilfred Malick, apparently. And, of course, there’s General Rick Stoner, (Patrick Warburton) who was kind of incompetent but also pleasantly optimistic about everything. I love how he fell hard for Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) while she was disguised as the character of “Chastity McBride” in 1973, and still recognized her immediately when he saw her again three years later.

In fact, let’s start our discussion of the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. team with May, whose new power upgrade is one of the best (and most) utilized in this season so far – probably both because it’s important and can be used in a lot of clever ways, but also because it’s conveniently cheap. May just has to stand near someone and she instantly feels and imitates their emotions. She knows before anyone else when a situation is about to go downhill, and she also has a bunch of comedic moments: like when she’s in a bar, and starts unintentionally mirroring the drunken giddiness of everyone around her.

Least utilized this week are probably Daisy and “Yo Yo” Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley). The former has the advantage of being able to bounce off S.H.I.E.L.D. team newcomer Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), and her hacking skills do come in handy once or twice, especially since, as she herself notes, 70’s computers don’t have firewalls; but she only gets to use her Quake powers once. The latter, meanwhile, is still trying and failing to use her own Inhuman abilities, which have been malfunctioning for the past few episodes and don’t show any signs of being reparable: that being said, Yo Yo has had to deal with losing both her arms before, so I’m confident she’ll get through this latest struggle intact. I just want the show to do something big with her character before the end – she’s always been one of the most interesting Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and I’d hate for her to be sidelined now just because her powers are too expensive for the series’ CGI budget.

Surprisingly compelling this week is Director “Mac” (Henry Simmons), who I haven’t said much about this season because he’s mostly just been standing around and giving orders: but here, the big twist is that he can’t bring himself to give the order to flood the S.H.I.E.L.D. Lighthouse (and stop INSIGHT in so doing) because his parents are prisoners in the base and will drown if he does. Instead, Mac’s decision is to let INSIGHT launch and then attack it with missiles from the Zephyr One – that bit, to be honest, is a little underwhelming because it only takes one direct hit from them to blow INSIGHT out of the sky, but it does now expose S.H.I.E.L.D.’s position, something Mac ominously forebodes.

Meanwhile, Deke Shaw (Jeff Ward) is on his own mission: to do what he couldn’t in 1931, and finally pull the trigger on Wilfred Malick. It’s cool that he’s finally getting personally involved in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mission, and I enjoyed seeing him take the leap at the end of the episode, shooting Malick dead mid-monologue.

Unfortunately, with Malick dead, I assume we’ll have to deal with more Chronicoms – who are still, with the exception of Enoch (Joel Stoffer) – mind-numbingly boring, from their monotone outfits to their blank facial expressions. I am, however, at least mildly interested to understand why Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) seems to have some sort of technology implanted in her body, something that Enoch appears to know about and which could suggest that the Simmons we’re seeing in this season is actually some sort of LMD like the version of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) we’re also currently following. If this is a fake Simmons, then where’s the real one? Happily married to Fitz in another timeline, hopefully?

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Daniel Sousa | laughingplace.com

Finally, we need to talk about Daniel Sousa. While the episode ends with both him and Daisy Johnson as prisoners of HYDRA, he has the most time to shine throughout the episode, as we explore his character’s shock at being transported somewhat unwillingly to a new era. The “fish out of water” trope can be tiresome, but there’s something fresh and fun about the way Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is handling it with Sousa’s character – it’s humorous to watch him try and wrap his head around the concept of 70’s fashion norms (trust me, he’s not the only one perplexed by those), but it’s also interesting how he reacts to other, more meaningful things: he’s clearly confused by the team’s lack of a structured hierarchy, and he shows obvious disdain for some of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s more questionable tactics. I think he’ll be a exciting character to follow into the finale, as he could be another who, like LMD Coulson and this new, super-powered May, feels like he wasn’t given the chance to decide his own fate.

I’m beginning to suspect that the conflict between fate and free will is going to be a major element in the upcoming finale, as the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. come to terms with what they’ve done to the timeline and try to work out how to fix it – if they can. I’m just hoping that Daniel Whitehall shows up fairly quickly, because now that I’ve been reminded of just how excellent HYDRA vs S.H.I.E.L.D. fights can be, I don’t want to put up with anymore of that Chronicom nonsense.

Episode Rating: 8.9/10

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Five Ways Black Widow Could Come Back To The MCU!

Last night, I had the chance to watch Avengers: Endgame again for the first time in a while. As on previous rewatches of the film, I found myself appreciating most of the first act of the movie (where, SPOILER ALERT I GUESS?, the Avengers kill Thanos), and most of the third act (where the Avengers kill Thanos a second time). I even liked a lot of stuff in my least-favorite part of the movie, that troublesome second act that has the team split up across different timelines and try to steal Infinity Stones from history.

Black Widow
cinemablend.com

But I still cringed at the absolute worst part of Avengers: Endgame – the scene in which Natasha Romanoff, the legendary Black Widow, sacrifices both her life and years of character development in exchange for the mysterious Soul Stone, willingly leaping from that accursed cliff on the godforsaken planet of Vormir to her very certain death. Cue the outrage. Natasha Romanoff, Marvel’s first (and for a long time, only) woman Avenger, was sacrificed in much the same way as another woman a year earlier: Gamora, who was tossed from the cliff by her own father. As womens’ bodies continue to pile up at the foot of that stupid cliff, fans (and especially, female fans) asked Marvel one simple favor: could you please stop fridging women?

Natasha Romanoff’s death is doubly infuriating because it came just before her long-awaited solo movie, Black Widow, which is supposed to explore an adventure in her past, before the events of Avengers: Endgame. But many are still clinging to a desperate hope that the Widow is still somewhere out there, either alive on earth or fighting to get back home. So let’s take a look at a couple ways Natasha could come back to life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

5: It Wasn’t Really Her.

Yelena Belova
hitc.com

This theory is a bit preposterous, but still worth noting: the idea is that Natasha Romanoff’s “sister”, Yelena Belova, who will make her debut in the Black Widow film, actually traded identities with Natasha before Avengers: Infinity War, or at some other point before Avengers: Endgame. There’s a little bit of evidence that supports this: Natasha wearing Yelena Belova’s jacket in Infinity War; a shot from a recent Black Widow trailer that shows Yelena Belova on a surgical table with a strange scar around her forehead, as if her face had been removed or changed. This option is undoubtedly the least appealing, not only because it would mean that the rest of Natasha’s awesome character beats in Endgame weren’t her own, but because this only changes the identity of the woman victim. As Infinity War Captain America would say: “We don’t trade lives.” Nonetheless, expect the super-spy sisters to swap identities frequently in the Black Widow film.

4: Multiverse Shenanigans.

Gamora
reddit.com

As I mentioned previously, Gamora was the first person to lose her life on Vormir – but she has since returned, thanks to the time heist in Avengers: Endgame. Coincidentally, it was when Black Widow, Nebula, Hawkeye and War Machine traveled back to 2014 to retrieve the Power and Soul Stones that a 2014 version of Gamora was able to slip through into the present Marvel timeline, along with the 2014 Nebula and Thanos. If the Avengers wanted to bring Natasha back, they could simply find a version of her from another timeline – but that poses a whole bunch of other problems.

3: Bruce Resurrected Her.

Hulk
looper.com

One of the plot-lines left over from Avengers: Age Of Ultron that went nowhere was the love story between Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner a.k.a. The Hulk. The two characters both regarded themselves as “monsters” (let’s not even get into the reasons why), and bonded over that. But after Bruce went missing for two years and the Avengers films switched directors, that story was mostly left unfinished. Except for the fact that, when Bruce Banner finally got his hands on a fully-operational Infinity Gauntlet at the end of Endgame and snapped his fingers to bring back the people that Thanos had dusted, he also tried to bring back Natasha. This is only mentioned in a throwaway line in the film’s final few minutes, but it’s still intriguing – could Bruce have been successful? How would he know? Natasha would presumably be resurrected on Vormir where she died, meaning she’d have to find her own way home.

2: Captain America Came To Bargain.

Captain America
screengeek.net

At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Captain America takes it upon himself to go back in time and return all the Infinity Stones the Avengers had taken from time. The Space Stone went back to New Jersey, the Time Stone back to the Sanctum Sanctorum, the Reality Stone…I don’t even want to know how he somehow injected it back into Jane Foster without her knowing. But the Soul Stone is the most interesting one: to bring it back, Captain America would have to return to Vormir, to the exact moment of Natasha’s death, and hand it over to…Red Skull, I guess. But does returning the Stone mean that Natasha’s life is also returned? If Natasha is to be brought back to life, this is by far the most likely explanation as to why.

1: Natasha, Daughter Of Ivan.

Druig
en.wikipedia.org

And then we come to my theory. I’ve always believed that there’s a reason the Black Widow solo film is supposed to kick off the epic, cosmic events of Marvel’s Phase 4. But what business does the decidedly human heroine have in this universe of gods, aliens and mythical lore? Well, my theory is rooted in comic lore and a very intriguing name that gets dropped minutes before Natasha’s death. Red Skull calls her “daughter of Ivan”, and Natasha comments that he must be telling the truth, because she didn’t even know her father’s name. But who is Ivan? While there are any number of Ivan so-and-so’s associated with Natasha in the comics, there’s also another character who goes by that name, who has a connection to the events about to unfold in the MCU: Ivan Druig is the alias that Druig, an Eternal (who will be played by Barry Keoghan in The Eternals), takes when he impersonates a sadistic Russian KGB officer and the leader of a small Soviet state named Vorozheika. If “Ivan” is Ivan Druig, and Natasha is Ivan’s daughter, that makes her a demigod – similar to how Peter Quill was revealed to be the son of a living planet. Druig might have an interest in resurrecting his daughter, maybe even giving her new powers in the process. If this were the case, Natasha could hold her own in the next phase of the MCU, while her film would have a major tie-in to The Eternals that would help to get audiences excited for that film.

What do you think of these theories? Do you even want to see Natasha brought back, or were you happy with her sacrifice? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

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The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has (in)famously had a hard time establishing romantic relationships between its characters: even the few love stories that have helped to define the overarching story have sometimes gone through ups and downs, or simply collided headfirst with a brick wall and died (looking at you, Thor & Jane). And yet they keep trying to master the same old boy-meets-girl (or Norse-god-meets-girl, or boy-meets-alien, or computer-program-meets-girl) formula. That’s why, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’ve set myself a challenge: trying to find the ten most romantic, endearing, adorable couples in the MCU and ranking them.

Disclaimer: “ships” or non-canon pairings aren’t being considered on this list because that would be cheating – most MCU “ships” are at least ten times better than the majority of actual onscreen pairings. It’s simply not fair to compare.

10: Thor & Jane Foster.

The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked! 1
hollywoodreporter.com

These two had something that looked like potential – I mean, if you squinted really hard. From the moment that Thor, the Norse God of Thunder and rightful heir to the throne of Asgard, crash-landed in the American Southwest, upsetting one of Jane Foster’s pseudo-scientific experiments, Marvel tried to convince audiences that a grand and glorious epic love-story for the ages was brewing – but all the magic (or “what your ancestors call magic”) words in the Marvel mythos couldn’t force Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman to look more than remotely disinterested in each other. And after Thor: The Dark World failed to turn up the heat, or really do anything at all, Portman had finally had enough: she quit the MCU, and Jane Foster was subsequently written out of the story. In Thor: Ragnarok, it was briefly mentioned that she broke up with the Thunder God offscreen – an uncomfortably awkward conclusion to what was supposed to be a cornerstone of Thor’s entire arc.

9: Stephen Strange & Christine Palmer.

The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked! 2
marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com

I’m actually tempted to move this couple ever so slightly further up the list, because while they’re not exactly memorable, they’re also probably not as bad and/or boring as you remembered. Dr. Stephen Strange, a snobbish, arrogant surgeon, wasn’t just the on-and-off boyfriend of Dr. Christine Palmer – he was also her work-partner, and it was mentioned (though never really elaborated on) that the two had even pioneered an important new surgical technique, making the couple basically equal. And after Strange’s run-in with karma, it was Palmer who tried to help him recover his strength and rebuild his life: their heated argument about Strange’s future is the most powerful scene in the Doctor Strange movie, and carries a lot of emotional weight. Unfortunately, Rachel McAdams’ character basically fades into the background after that, and apart from being privy to a battle on the astral plane and trying (unsuccessfully) to save the Ancient One’s life, she really has nothing more to do in the story. And she’s not returning for the sequel, so I guess that’s the end of that.

8: Peter Quill & Gamora.

The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked! 3
screencrush.com

I don’t really like either Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star-Lord, an interstellar pirate armed with braggadocio, semi-Celestial powers that have proved to be entirely inconsequential outside of his own movies, and an impressive playlist of golden oldies), or Gamora (a.k.a. The Most Dangerous Woman In The Galaxy, who never actually lived up to that title before her untimely death at the hands of male screenwriters who didn’t know what else to do with her her own father, Thanos): nonetheless, I have to admit they had a spark of chemistry in both Guardians Of The Galaxy movies – and their interactions in Avengers: Infinity War, during which Gamora nearly convinced Quill to kill her (long story), are pretty emotional. There was something there! It wasn’t much, maybe, but it also wasn’t not there – much to the dismay of Thor & Peter Quill shippers everywhere. But in the end, Quill failed (because doesn’t he always?), Gamora got tossed off a cliff, and here we are with nothing left of their relationship but a sad trail of bubbles.

7: Natasha Romanoff & Bruce Banner.

The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked! 4
thedigitalwise.com

I like Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I know it’s unpopular to say this, but it’s honestly the best Avengers movie – not only because it references the events of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., but also because it successfully balances almost all of the main characters while still being able to add a couple new ones to the mix. There’s a cohesive plot, the stakes are raised, and the Avengers get to interact with each other on a more personal, intimate level than ever before. And then there’s Natasha Romanoff’s random relationship with Bruce Banner – while it’s not a bad idea, and they make a cute couple, the basis for their coupling up is based on the problematic idea that they’re both “monsters”: Bruce, because he transforms into a giant green killing machine; Natasha, because she’s…infertile? The messaging is weird and kind of sexist, especially since it would have been way easier to make Natasha’s murderous past with the KGB the reason for her guilt and self-loathing. It’s a shame, because Natasha actually did have better interactions with Bruce than she ever had with her former love interest, Clint Barton, but for better or worse their story arc was completely abandoned in Avengers: Infinity War.

6: T’Challa & Nakia.

The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked! 5
popsugar.au

While there’s certainly an argument to be made that T’Challa, the catsuit-wearing guardian of the African nation of Wakanda, is slightly more low-key and subdued than many of his co-stars in Black Panther (let’s face it, he doesn’t have Okoye’s fiery energy, Killmonger’s smoldering charisma, or M’Baku’s macabre humor), there can be no denying that his relationship with Wakandan secret agent/humanitarian Nakia is super cute. The two are a power couple, with both characters having genuine hero moments – Nakia even briefly diverts the main focus of the film away from T’Challa, and considers becoming the Black Panther herself. By the end of the film, she’s also working around the world to help extend Wakandan aid to those in need. And when they’re onscreen together, they’re presented as a healthy, sturdy relationship that doesn’t have to rely on drama, troubling gender dynamics, or sarcastic banter to be interesting. They’re basically #CoupleGoals, and I love them.

5: Wanda Maximoff & The Vision.

The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked! 6
polygon.com

Ah, the tragic story of the computer program who became a man…once, for no apparent reason, and never did so again. The Vision, a sentient computer program outfitted with a cool new body (that, unfortunately for him, came along with the Mind Stone, one of the most coveted objects in the galaxy), didn’t really show any signs of attraction to the troubled witch, Wanda Maximoff, until Captain America: Civil War, but when their romance finally kicked into gear, and the two began to bond over spicy food, things got good – and then immediately got weird again, when Wanda blasted Vision through a floor, before suddenly…ending up on the run with him in Scotland? Where Vision was suddenly able to turn into a human man, but only did so once, for reasons that were never explained? Yeah, so there’s some serious gaps in what we actually know about their relationship, but at least it ended on a strong note, with Wanda having to brutally murder her lover in an attempt to destroy the Mind Stone before Thanos could get to it, only to watch Thanos use the Time Stone to reverse all her hard work, murder Vision again, and use the Stones to wipe out half the galaxy, including Wanda herself. If it’s any consolation, the upcoming WandaVision series on Disney+ will feature Wanda resurrecting her dead partner, only to have him presumably die once again when her entire reality inevitably comes crashing down around her. Cheerful, am I right?

4: Scott Lang & Hope Van Dyne.

The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked! 7
hollywoodreporter.com

Technically, there have been two canon MCU power couples that call themselves Ant-Man and The Wasp: Hope Van Dyne’s parents, Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, and then Hope herself and her partner, reformed burglar/single father/world’s best grandma, Scott Lang. But the latter couple has the edge on its predecessor, mostly because Janet doesn’t actually show up until the end of the second Ant-Man film, and most of her flashbacks with Hank were cut out of the movie anyway. Scott and Hope share the spotlight (and the title-card) in Ant-Man And The Wasp, which focuses almost entirely on their relationship – and their exchanges of playful, witty banter, coupled with their fidelity and focus on family, make them one of the most endearing couples in the MCU.

3: Steve Rogers & Peggy Carter.

The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked! 8
themarysue.com

Specifically, their relationship in the first three Captain America films, before Avengers: Endgame happened. In the beginning, scrawny new recruit Steve Rogers and fast-talking, no-nonsense commanding officer Peggy Carter were actually quite a sweet pairing: they both had character arcs, and agency in their own stories. There was a quaint little 1940’s love story between them, but Peggy, by virtue of being in the military, wasn’t forced to play the damsel-in-distress or grieving-girlfriend-on-the-home-front roles: and in the post-war era, after Steve went down in the frigid Antarctic Ocean and was lost, she picked up her life and moved on, founding S.H.I.E.L.D. and starting a family. Her relationship with Steve after his resurrection from the ice was deeply emotional and interesting, and it was tragic when she passed away. But then to essentially reverse all the complexities of their post-The First Avenger relationship by having Steve go back in time and start all over with her, making her essentially a consolation prize for Steve after he failed to move on with his life, thus preventing her from moving on with hers? No, just no.

2: Tony Stark & Virginia “Pepper” Potts.

The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked! 9
appocalypse.co

They’re the MCU’s original duo: how could they not come in near the top of the list? Tony was a sarcastic, cynical mess of a human being; a war-profiteer who didn’t care one iota about the countless people killed daily by his weapons of mass destruction; Pepper was the very opposite, a cool, collected woman with savvy business skills and a friendly disposition. It’s a trope, and a tired one at that. But their relationship evolved into so much more than that – Tony became Iron Man, and Pepper took over as CEO of Stark Industries. They constructed the Avengers Tower in New York City. In the five years after Avengers: Infinity War, they got married and had a daughter. In Avengers: Endgame, where they even got to fight in battle alongside each other, their decade-long relationship came to an end with Tony Stark’s tragic death. In that final moment, as the former “Merchant of Death” gave up his life to save the world, Pepper stayed beside him and her face was the last thing he ever saw. I’m not crying: you’re crying.

1: Leopold Fitz & Jemma Simmons.

The Ten Most Romantic Couples In The MCU: Ranked! 10
cinemablend.com

Yes, I cheated! Fitz and Simmons, or “Fitzsimmons” as they’re more commonly known among the fandom, are not technically members of the MCU: they come from the Marvel TV division, where they made their debut on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and have endured through six grueling, torturous seasons of hardship, personal loss, tragedy and pure, wholesome romance. While they started out as the team’s two bumbling, socially-awkward scientists, it didn’t take long before the universe’s vendetta against them resulted in them standing up for S.H.I.E.L.D., and for each other, in incredible ways. Their tense, frantic struggle to figure their way out of an airtight box at the bottom of the ocean (long story) was one of the highlights of Season 1, as it showed just how powerful the two are as a team – so of course they were then split up. Jemma became an undercover spy, got eaten by a space monolith, was transported to another planet and had to survive on her own, fell in love with an astronaut who turned into an evil alien god, was possessed by the Kree, was possibly hinted to be bisexual (come on, we all know she had a thing for Daisy), and even met and defeated the demonic personification of her self-doubt: Leo lost his ability to communicate for a long period of time and became delusional, was possibly hinted to be bisexual (come on, we all know he had a thing for Mac), became a dashing secret agent, met his evil HYDRA doppelganger, fell in love with HYDRA’s cyborg overlord, and then got stuck in two different time-periods at once, which resulted in him dying but still being alive and yet somehow a space pirate in both timelines…it’s a wacky and confusing series, but their love for each other, which persists even against all odds, has always been at the heart of the story, and I would be lying if I didn’t say they’re the most romantic couple in what used to technically be part of (or at least adjacent to) the MCU.

So what do you think of my top ten, and would you have chosen differently? Did I leave your favorite couple off my list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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“Avengers: Endgame” Spoilers! Everything That Happened!

Well, this is going to be much easier to write than my non-spoiler review! Avengers: Endgame has so many twists, surprises, reveals and gasp-out-loud moments that it’s simply impossible not to talk about. So you, casual reader, have been warned! If you haven’t seen the movie yet – stop reading, leave, go see Avengers: Endgame and then come back.

So we’re just going to talk about the general plot, which has been, of course, a closely-guarded secret: I’ll probably have many other theories and interesting bits of news to share as more details about the movie come out, but for right now I think I should do my best just to explain everything that happened. It’s a very complex movie!

Endgame opens on the day of Thanos’ infamous Snap, with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) forced to witness his entire family get turned to dust, along with half of the world’s population. Then, the movie leaves him there, heartbroken and confused, so it can return to the really important stuff.

Did that sound unnaturally harsh to Hawkeye? Yes, intentionally so. He wasn’t my favorite character in this film, I can tell you.

So anyway, then we continue on, shortly after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and the murderous blue assassin Nebula (Karen Gillan) both stranded in space, getting along pretty well. Within a few minutes, they are rescued by Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) who carries their spaceship to earth, where Tony is reunited with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). Together, the remaining Avengers put together their master plan to defeat Thanos and resurrect the Vanished. Everything goes smoothly: they quickly figure out where Thanos is hiding, on a planet called The Garden. Energy signatures suggest that Thanos has in fact used the Infinity Stones he collected in Infinity War again, but no one knows why. Therefore, the Avengers head off into outer space to find and defeat Thanos once and for all.

They find him on The Garden, an undefended paradise planet where the Mad Titan has taken up gardening and cooking as his chief hobbies. The Avengers blow up his house and hold him captive, demanding to know where the Infinity Stones are. The maimed and injured Thanos informs them that he destroyed the Stones not long ago, to prevent any chance of ever undoing the Snap. (This raises some important questions, such as: how does the universe survive without these apparently crucial elements of its existence?, but these questions aren’t answered).

Horrified by this answer, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) promptly beheads the Titan and leaves the house, striding away in silhouette.

This, of course, all happens in the first act of the movie, and then the screen fades to black, and the ominous words FIVE YEARS LATER slowly appear. That’s right, the rumors of a huge time gap between Infinity War and Endgame were correct: five years of grief and despair set in on the planet Earth, splitting up the Avengers once again and causing some bizarre stuff to happen. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) rather randomly merges himself with the Hulk, combining his brains and the Hulk’s brawn to create Professor Hulk, a somewhat unusual character who might have needed just a little more CGI magic; Thor gains weight and becomes an alcoholic living in a fishing village in Norway with the last refugees of Asgard – including Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), who unfortunately has far too little to do in this movie, and Korg (voiced by Taika Waititi), who has even less to do. Conveniently, it’s never once explained how either of these characters got off the besieged spacecraft where we last saw them in Thor: Ragnarok, or how they got to Earth. Hawkeye gets a mohawk and tattoos, and decides to pursue a life of crime in the streets of Tokyo under the name of Ronin. This is honestly so irrelevant, but it’s worth mentioning because…scratch that, it’s just irrelevant. Captain Marvel heads off into space for unknown reasons. Tony Stark gets married to Pepper and has a daughter named Morgan, and the whole family settles down somewhere by a lake. Captain America (Chris Evans) joins a therapy group, which also happens to be attended by Joe Russo, Avengers: Endgame director, who makes a cameo here as a man struggling to find love in this bleak and hopeless world.

And at this moment, when all seems lost, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) shows up, saved by a stray rat. Having been trapped in the Quantum Realm for five years, Ant-Man knows nothing about Thanos, the Infinity Stones, the Snap – or the fate of his own daughter, Cassie. She turns out to be alive, in fact, but she’s now a teenager, nothing like the chirpy child that Ant-Man last knew in Ant-Man And The Wasp. His reunion with Cassie is one of the movie’s first truly emotional scenes, and sets the stage for what’s about to go down. He arrives at Avengers HQ with a new hope for the future: time travel is possible, but only by using the power of the Quantum Realm. His message revitalizes the Avengers in their darkest hour, and Captain America and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) start rounding up all their friends, seeking to reverse the Snap by going into the past and getting each of the Infinity Stones before Thanos.

Naturally, things don’t go exactly as planned. Tony Stark and Captain America don’t ever fully forgive each other for the Civil War they caused, which is one of the great tragedies of Endgame: Stark is unwilling to go back and reverse the Snap because he doesn’t want to lose everything he has now; his wife and daughter. Black Widow goes to Tokyo to find Hawkeye (or Ronin, or Irrelevant, or whatever you want to call him), and enlists him, while Professor Hulk manages to stir Thor from his drunken stupor in Norway long enough to get him back to Avengers HQ.

At this point in the movie, things are looking pretty terrifying: literally, as well as figuratively – Hawkeye looks awful in a mohawk, and Thor is not exactly the tall and muscular Norse God he once was. Tony’s hair is graying, and Black Widow’s hair is so many colors I’ve lost count.

But finally, after much trial and error (and Ant-Man getting turned into a baby, and some brief discussion about murdering a baby), the plan is ready to go. It’s best to just ignore how the time travel in this movie works – something about how changing an event in the past doesn’t actually change the future, but instead causes an alternate reality, which is itself dangerous, but not as dangerous as, say, accidentally murdering yourself in the past (a real concern of Nebula’s, as it turns out).

Tony Stark, Captain America, Professor Hulk and Ant-Man travel back to the Battle of New York, a crucial event in the first Avengers movie, in search of the Space Stone, Mind Stone and Time Stone. War Machine and Nebula (a bizarre pair, but rather endearing) set off to the planet Morag, where, in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Power Stone was once located. Thor and Rocket Raccoon hunt for Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who was possessed by the Reality Stone in Thor: The Dark World. And Hawkeye and Black Widow are sent by Nebula to the planet Vormir to find and win the Soul Stone.

I’ve already mentioned Portman, but it’s incredible how many actors and actresses have reprized roles from previous Marvel movies: Robert Redford shows up as the HYDRA operative Alexander Pierce from Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Frank Grillo is Crossbones once more, and has a truly fantastic encounter with his future enemy Captain America in an elevator very much like the one where, in Winter Soldier, he and his cronies beat up the Captain during the HYDRA takeover of S.H.I.E.L.D. This time, however, Cap is able to escape by whispering the password “Hail Hydra”, in a clever nod to the previous movies. Tilda Swinton puts on her saffron robes and bald-cap once more to play the Ancient One, who died in Doctor Strange, but is still keeper of the Time Stone during the Battle of New York, and has a great conversation with Bruce Banner before relinquishing the Stone, entrusting him with a promise to return all the Infinity Stones to the exact time and place they were taken from after they’re used to reverse the snap – didn’t I say, just ignore the time travel science? Rene Russo also appears as Thor’s dead mother Frigga, and is able to impart some wisdom to her misguided son (including, but not limited to, “eat a salad”). Their appearances here are brilliant nostalgic callbacks to the First and Second Phases of the MCU. And you never get the sense that they’re just replaying what they did in those prior films: each of them brings something new to the table. My personal favorite, though it was the briefest, was the mostly offscreen attack on Jane Foster by everybody’s favorite trash-panda, Rocket Raccoon, who runs off with the Reality Stone just in time.

Thor and Rocket are the luckiest of the team. Captain America ends up coming face to face with himself in the past; Tony Stark gives himself cardiac arrest; and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) escapes with the Space Stone, forcing Tony and Cap to go further back in time to 1970, where they have to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters: there, Tony runs into his own father, Howard Stark (John Slattery) and gives him parenting advice, and Captain America accidentally ends up in the office of his former girlfriend Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) – plus, there’s an awesome Stan Lee cameo, and young Michael Douglas playing the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym.

Meanwhile, on the planet Vormir, Hawkeye and Black Widow’s story suddenly reaches the conclusion that nobody even knew was still coming – after all, Hawkeye and Black Widow haven’t been a couple for years, and there’s never been much of a concerted effort to get them back together, or even to hint at any shared romantic tension between them. Which is part of the reason that the following plot point falls rather flat – no pun intended, as you’ll soon see. Yes, because to get the Soul Stone, you must sacrifice that which you love – specifically, you must throw the person you love over a cliff. Hawkeye and Black Widow suddenly find themselves in an emotional mess, as both of them try desperately to commit suicide and prevent the other from also dying.

The fight that follows is actually really dramatic, and I was on the edge of my seat wondering how they were going to find a way out of the inescapable scenario. But I soon realized there was no happy ending – just as Hawkeye takes the leap, Black Widow jumps on him, and both accidentally fall off the cliff. Hawkeye just barely manages to get out his grappling hook, and they find themselves hanging in mid-air. Black Widow pleads with Hawkeye, telling him that he has a family that needs him, while she has nothing to live for. Finally, she lets go of his hand and falls to her death.

And, yeah, that’s how she dies. Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff, the first (and for a while, the only) female Avenger, dropped from a cliff so she can serve as a cheap tool to move the story along. Hawkeye gets the Soul Stone, and leaves Vormir, abandoning Natasha’s broken body on the rocks – a woman deprived of a character arc for years, now suddenly is forced back into an old romance so she can get killed off at the first possible opportunity, far from her home planet, somewhere in the desolation of space where no one will ever bury her bones. It’s not just sad and shocking, it’s a death that shouldn’t have happened, and it’s already become a topic of much controversy.

It’s hard to move on from something like that, but of course Black Widow’s death is not the most significant event here: that would be too much to ask for. Her death doesn’t move the plot except to deliver the Soul Stone into Hawkeye’s hands, and the Soul Stone is just another part of the Infinity Gauntlet, which now only requires one more Infinity Stone.

We left Nebula and War Machine on the planet Morag, and here we find them again. War Machine manages to escape with the Power Stone, but Nebula is unable to get away from the planet. Turns out, she’s not the only person looking for the Stone at this time – Thanos, Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula are here too. Yeah, Thanos: this is 2014, and the Mad Titan is still on his hunt for Infinity Stones. And this other Nebula is Nebula before she turned against her father. This Nebula (we’ll call her Evil Nebula) ends up revealing visions of her own future to Thanos, who thus sees everything from the Avengers’ plan to his own death. In an attempt to change his fate, Thanos abducts Good Nebula and holds her captive, while Evil Nebula disguises herself as Good Nebula (by attaching one strip of metal to her head), and travels forward in time to join the other Avengers. This time travel stuff is confusing, but it sure is exciting.

The Avengers are reassembled at their headquarters and start inserting the Stones into their new Infinity Gauntlet. I have to hand it to Mark Ruffalo here – for an entirely CGI construction, Professor Hulk manages to convey the most despairing reaction to the news of Black Widow’s death, and he is the one who picks up the Gauntlet and wields it: immediately, he is tortured with agony as he tries to snap his fingers. He just barely has the strength. While this is going on, Evil Nebula is busy messing with the controls of the time machine, which nobody notices. We hear a snap, something goes flying up from the time machine and smashes through the ceiling, and then all is silent.

Until Hawkeye’s phone starts ringing. For a fraction of a heartbeat, I thought it was somehow (impossibly) Black Widow on the line, but no, it was Hawkeye’s wife, Laura. Outside, birds start singing. But just as you thought you were out of the Soulworld –

The entire building explodes. That thing that Evil Nebula summoned through the time machine? That was Thanos’ spaceship, and he arrives in full glory, blowing up Avengers HQ and crushing everyone under rubble and debris. Far below the building, War Machine and Rocket Raccoon are frantically struggling to escape while Professor Hulk holds up the ceiling of a collapsed room. Hawkeye grabs the Infinity Gauntlet and runs, but quickly realizes he’s being chased by Thanos’ horde of alien monsters. He ends up running into Evil Nebula, who tries to take the Gauntlet from him, and there’s a confrontation in the tunnel with him, her, and also Good Nebula and Gamora herself, who has decided to betray Thanos. Evil Nebula gets shot, which (oddly) has absolutely no effect on Good Nebula, and they all get out of there safely.

Meanwhile, Tony Stark suits up as Iron Man and goes to find Thanos himself, followed by Captain America and Thor. There’s a lot I could say about the confrontation with Thanos, but I’ll keep it brief. They start fighting, obviously, and things starts going badly. Tony gets tossed aside, and Thanos grabs Thor’s own weapon, Stormbreaker, and drives it slowly but surely into Thor’s chest.

And then, suddenly, Captain America jumps in wielding – double take – the Hammer of Thor, Mjolnir, the hammer that can only be wielded by one who is worthy. Thor speaks for everyone when he yells excitedly “I knew it!”. The theater burst into applause at this moment. This is a moment that Marvel fans have been waiting for since it was teased in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and only now have we finally received the payoff. The next few moments are just a blur of lightning and thunder as Captain America goes up against the Mad Titan wielding Mjolnir and his vibranium shield – which soon gets broken to pieces by Thanos’ battle-ax. Thanos steps back and admires his handiwork, and then begins to monologue, as he always does in these types of situations, talking about how he once thought he could save the world. But, he realizes now, there is no chance of that anymore. The world – the entire universe, in fact – must be remade. Entire armies of alien monsters and the full force of the Black Order disembark from Thanos’ spaceship and march towards Captain America, who stands alone against them all.

No words can ever express my shocked, baffled joy when I heard the long-silenced voice of Falcon (Anthony Mackie) saying “On your left” to Cap, as a ring of glowing orange light suddenly opened in the air next to the lone hero. First on the battlefield are Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) representing the country of Wakanda. The Vanished are returning. Falcon appears, and Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), and M’Baku (Winston Duke), and then another portal opens: and there’s Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Drax (Dave Bautista), Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and Spider-man (Tom Holland). Wong (Benedict Wong) is there, and Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Valkyrie, Korg, and Pepper Potts herself. Every Marvel superhero is gathered to fight alongside Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. Ant-Man rescues the Avengers trapped under the building, and so he, War Machine, Rocket Raccoon, and Professor Hulk all join the battle as well. Hawkeye, Nebula and Gamora show up too.

The following fight is the greatest battle in a superhero movie, ever. Every character here has so much depth and so much development that’s been established over so many movies – you know each and every one of them as if they’re old friends, as they charge into the fray. The Infinity Gauntlet is the focal point of the battle, as one hero after another grabs the precious object and tries to get it away from Thanos: even Spider-man has it at one point! You’ve never seen a fight scene with this many characters, this many character arcs coming to a conclusion. There are some great moments here: an especially notable one, in my opinion, was the grand entrance of Captain Marvel herself, as she hurtled through the earth’s atmosphere and plowed through Thanos’ spaceship, before leading all of the Marvel heroines into the thick of the fight. Women were the standouts here: from Gamora’s fantastic reunion with Star-Lord (whom she doesn’t even remember), to Scarlet Witch’s encounter with Thanos, who mockingly tells her that he doesn’t even know who she is. “But you will,” she responds, as she tears away his armor and easily disarms him.

But, alas, these good things cannot last. Thanos gets the Infinity Gauntlet at last, and prepares to snap his fingers and destroy the earth. But Captain Marvel grabs his hand and holds his fingers apart with superhuman strength, as she absorbs power directly from the Gauntlet – so Thanos simply punches her with the Power Stone in his other hand, and sends her flying. The last duel is between him and Tony Stark, the rematch of their fight in Infinity War. Things seem hopeless, and Thanos isn’t oblivious to that fact: “I am inevitable,” he boasts.

Tony realizes he’s unable to get the Infinity Gauntlet off the Titan’s hand – so, using his wits, he simply grabs the Infinity Stones and fits them into his own armor. “And I am Iron Man,” he says, and snaps his fingers.

You know what happens next. You have to know. The Stones are too powerful for anybody to wield, much less a mortal. Tony lives just long enough to see that his sacrifice was not in vain, as Thanos and his minions fade away into dust and vanish. Surrounded by his friends, and with Pepper at his side, Tony Stark, who started these ten glorious years of Marvel history, slips away. The battle is won, but it cost us everything. The world has been saved, but not for Tony. The arc reactor implanted in his chest that has kept him alive all this time…goes dark.

After that, there’s really not much left to say. There’s a funeral, of course, for Tony, and all the Marvel characters are in attendance. Characters get fitting conclusions, for the most part. Thor passes on the rule of Asgard to Valkyrie, who looks particularly majestic and resplendent as she accepts his offer and becomes Queen. Thor then sets off with the Guardians of the Galaxy as they go to look for Gamora, who mysteriously disappeared during the battle. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 obviously has a lot of explaining to do. Spider-man goes back to school, which is presumably where Spider-man: Far From Home will pick up when it comes out a few months from now. Captain Marvel’s whereabouts are currently unknown. Ant-Man’s family is reunited. Hawkeye returns to his wife and children.

And as for Captain America, he gets the most bittersweet ending. He feels it’s his duty to go back in time and return all the Infinity Stones to their proper timelines, so as to avoid, you know, the destruction of the universe. He’s only gone for a few seconds, but it’s a few seconds too many. He returns as an old man, and informs his comrades, Falcon and Winter Soldier, that he was actually gone for years: he lived out the rest of his life with his old girlfriend Peggy Carter, and he finally got to dance with her – after ten years of waiting, it finally happened. Now, as an old man, he’s passing on the Captain America mantle to someone new: he chooses Falcon, Sam Wilson, to be the new Captain. And there the movie ends.

This is only a synopsis, of course, not a full review, but I hope it’s illuminated some aspects and made everything a bit clearer to understand. I’ll have more stuff to share about Avengers: Endgame probably in the coming days and weeks. The fates of each of the characters definitely deserves more attention, so I’ll be exploring that in greater detail very soon! Stay tuned!

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“Avengers: Endgame” Spoiler Free Review!

"Avengers: Endgame" Spoiler Free Review! 11
themarysue.com

Visionary directors Joe and Anthony Russo have done it again, but this time, they’ve really done it.

In my opinion, it would not be an overstatement to say that Avengers: Endgame raises the bar for what can be done with superhero movies – something that has become nearly impossible as films utilize more and more revolutionary storytelling techniques. But Endgame shows what can be done when ten years of story carried over twenty-two movies crash together in a brave, brilliant and fitting fashion – and unfortunately, so much of it is spoilery, this review is going to have some pretty major holes in it, which will only be filled in when you see this film.

And trust me, you should.

If you thought last year’s Avengers: Infinity War took every story strand of the MCU and tied them all neatly together, you’d be wrong. Avengers: Endgame does that, and, unlike Infinity War, gives us a very final, very conclusive way to end this phase of the Marvel Universe – an ending that will make you gasp out loud, it’s that good. Where Infinity War snubbed characters such as Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Endgame gives all of the original Avengers enough time to shine in the spotlight. And as for the fate of the universe, well…you’ll just have to watch the movie and find out about that!

There’s a certain urgency about watching this film: spoilers are already drifting out there on the internet, waiting to ensnare the unwary traveler. Go as soon as possible, before you have any of the massive surprises spoiled for you – these are things that truly deserve to be seen for the first time on the big screen. Certain scenes, certain reveals, are mind-boggling only because I was able to go into this movie completely unspoiled, knowing nothing of what to expect.

Now a lot of people have been worried about the length of Endgame, which clocks in at three hours and two minutes. In my opinion, the movie positively flew by, and didn’t feel like it dragged or slowed down at any time. The pacing is fast and crisp. There are also conflicting reports about whether you should stay through the (very long) credits to see what’s at the end. I think that the credits themselves are quite beautifully done, and should not be missed, at least the first few minutes of them. As for the little surprise at the end – well, it’s possibly worth it, but it might not be as it seems, and it might not be what you’re expecting, either. So I won’t say too much.

What can I talk about, then? The plot premise, obviously, is a big spoiler, as the trailers and marketing have (rightly) kept it all pretty vague – don’t trust everything in those trailers, by the way. But let’s see: the music, of course, is quite good, composed by Alan Silvestri once again, and the cinematography is excellent and beautiful. The CGI is incredible, especially on certain characters who I’m not entirely allowed to talk about here.

Characters I am allowed to talk about here include Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who has an interesting new angle to his personality that you’ll either love or hate: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), whose return is quite refreshing at first but, at least for me, quickly wears off: and the newest addition to the team, Captain Marvel, played by Academy-Award winner Brie Larson, who brings a lot of spunk and energy to the movie even in dark times, and has some very cool scenes. Everybody has something to do in this movie, and no one feels sidelined or thrown-in for the sake of it. Even War Machine (Don Cheadle) finally gets a decent showing. Endgame has great purpose, and knows it. Everything is leading up to one thing, and that thing is-

A spoiler. Sorry!

Do yourself a favor, though, and watch this movie. The surprises are real, the shocks are extraordinary, the gasp-out-loud moments are frequent. You will not be disappointed, whether you’re looking for a drama or a fun action-movie, tragedy or comedy. This movie literally has everything, and I don’t say that lightly. Avengers: Endgame has forever changed the game with superhero movies. In my opinion, this is the peak of Marvel’s success: if, someday, the MCU can replicate this awesome achievement with another movie, they will be the luckiest studio ever. Because this is not an easy movie to forget, and it’s also a movie that demands to be talked about in depth, with no boundaries. Which is why I hope you’ll join me for my Spoiler Discussion, which will hold nothing back! But before you do, go see the movie!

"Avengers: Endgame" Spoiler Free Review! 12
forbes.com

Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. I’m adding Avengers: Endgame to my list of favorite movies today, and for good reason. This is the end of an era, the end of a beautiful story, but it manages to be even more than that – it’s just a fantastic movie overall!

Movie Rating: 10/10

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“Avengers: Infinity Wars” Movie Review!

With Avengers: Endgame only a few days away, it makes sense to revisit the first part of the Infinity Saga – Avengers: Infinity Wars, one of the greatest movies of the past year and the beginning of the end of the current phase of the MCU. This movie is such a monolith of pop culture that it could be easy to overlook the fact that, first and foremost, it’s a film just like any other, and should be reviewed as such. So here’s my comprehensive and complete analysis of everything in Avengers: Infinity Wars that you need to remember before going into Avengers: Endgame, plus everything you need to know about Infinity Wars itself, as a film.

SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity Wars ahead. Obviously.

So, in case, you’ve forgotten everything that happened (how could you?), we’ll start out with a brief summary of events: the film picks up where the 2017 film Thor: Ragnarok left off, with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) among the last survivors of an attack on their spaceship. It is soon revealed that the attackers are led by none other than the Mad Titan Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin), who is hunting for the six incredibly powerful Infinity Stones that have been scattered across the universe. Having already been armed with the Power Stone, Thanos is able to force Loki to divulge the location of his next target, the Space Stone – which, unsurprisingly, turns out to be in Loki’s possession. During the ensuing fight, The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) gets sent hurtling off into space, headed for earth, and Loki gets strangled by Thanos. The spaceship blows up (with Thor inside, still cradling his dead brother’s body), and Thanos and his minions go their separate ways, pursuing the other Stones.

This opening scene is fantastic: it sets the mood for the rest of the film (grim and tragic), and kills off two characters very quickly – Loki, and Thor’s best friend Heimdall (Idris Elba). It also sets up some important questions for Avengers: Endgame – (1) is Loki really dead? (2) What happened to two other characters, Valkyrie and Korg, who were on that spaceship before the attack? (3) Is this whole thing really Thor’s story?

These questions don’t have answers yet, but there are a number of good theories out there: (1) Loki was holding the Space Stone during the fight, so it’s possible he was able to use it to escape across the galaxy, leaving a clone of himself to die. (2) It has been confirmed that Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) escaped the attack, and that she will be returning for Avengers: Endgame – it’s still a mystery where she went, though, or what her purpose in Endgame could be. The fate of Korg (voiced by Taika Waititi) remains unknown. (3) This question has been asked a lot. Infinity Wars starts with Thor, and it ends with Thor (more on that later). The heroic Asgardian god doesn’t actually have very much to do throughout the film, but in Infinity Wars he was undeniably the only Avenger with a clear motive to stop Thanos. And it’s worth noting that Infinity Wars and Endgame are just two halves of one movie, according to the directors, Joe and Anthony Russo. If Thor was the protagonist in the first half, will that carry through into the second? I’d suspect not. While Thor is a crucial member of the team, Endgame truly belongs to Iron Man and Captain America. That’s my opinion, and you’ll see why in a minute.

But enough about Endgame! Back to Infinity Wars: so we follow the Hulk as he crashes through the earth’s atmosphere and rips a hole through the roof of the New York Sanctum, interrupting a conversation between Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) about deli food and metaphysics – the Hulk, however, has now turned back into his human self, Bruce Banner, and is babbling about Thanos. Strange and Banner decide to awkwardly interrupt an intimate moment between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). They themselves are then interrupted by Thanos’ minions landing in New York City, looking for the Time Stone, which just happens to be owned by Doctor Strange himself. This alien invasion also interrupts a certain school field-trip to MOMA, during which Peter Parker (Tom Holland) escapes out of a school-bus window and goes to help Tony Stark. Things don’t exactly turn out well, however, and Doctor Strange gets captured and sucked into a spaceship, where alien telepath Ebony Maw (voiced by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) attempts to perform surgery on him but is interrupted by Tony and Peter, who have crept aboard the spaceship. Using techniques learned from Aliens and a good amount of help from Doctor Strange’s magical cloak, the heroes manage to toss Ebony Maw out into the freezing depths of space, and hijack the ship.

And, of course, there are more hints about Endgame here too: most notably the fact that after Tony gets on the alien spaceship, he makes a call to Pepper – as the connection goes out, Pepper tells him either “I’m going to-,” or “I’m going too-“. The latter seems more likely when one takes into consideration that Gwyneth Paltrow posted a photo of herself from the Avengers: Endgame set wearing a superhero suit. Could we see Pepper suit up and fly off into space to follow Tony in Endgame, or is she going somewhere else? Or is it just a misdirection?

Now, obviously, we’ve still only discussed Thor and Tony Stark, and Infinity Wars wouldn’t be much of an Avengers film without Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye – which is exactly why Infinity Wars is not a proper Avengers film in my opinion. Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) get maybe five or six minutes of screentime each, while Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) doesn’t show up at all. Instead, we get a fast but admittedly impressive fight scene in Scotland as Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) defends her robot boyfriend Vision (Paul Bettany) from getting a certain Mind Stone ripped out of his forehead by Thanos’ minions, who interrupt them during a romantic moment – what is with all the interruptions in this movie? Nobody can finish a conversation without having magic doctors pop out of portals or aliens stab them through the chest! Thankfully, Captain America and Black Widow spend their five minutes of screentime rescuing Scarlet Witch and Vision and then ferrying them to the nation of Wakanda, where they hope the genius inventor Shuri (Letitia Wright) can separate the Mind Stone from Vision’s body by non-life threatening surgical methods.

By now, the plot is literally jumping everywhere in the universe. The Guardians of the Galaxy find Thor still alive, floating in space, and rescue him: he promptly steals their escape-pod and flies off with their captain, Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and their talking tree, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). Meanwhile, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) takes the remaining Guardians on a suicide mission to stop Thanos from getting his hands on the Reality Stone…which fails…massively. Thanos’ daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) tries to kill him, and then, in desperation, calls on Star-Lord to kill her – which also fails, massively. So the Reality Stone now belongs to Thanos, and so does Gamora, Thor is lost in space with a raccoon which he thinks is a rabbit, Tony and his crew are looking for Thanos, Thanos’ minions are hunting Vision, Scarlet Witch is having a crisis because Vision keeps telling her she needs to kill him, Black Widow and Bruce Banner have literally two lines of dialogue to address their entire romantic history, and those two lines are, respectively, “Bruce” and “Nat”. And meanwhile Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) is getting a new metal arm that has absolutely no consequence on anything that happens later in the story, and – oh god, not flashbacks too!

(Actually, the flashback is one of the best scenes in the movie, as Gamora reminisces about her first encounter with Thanos. Young Gamora learns to balance a knife on her fingertip while her people are systematically slaughtered by firing squad in the background – beautiful, heart-wrenching stuff, and all complimented nicely by some beautiful music).

Eventually, the plots and subplots start to come together, after a rocky first act. Gamora agrees to lead Thanos to the Soul Stone, located on a desolate planet, where (surprise, surprise) the movie has time to reveal that Red Skull is still alive, even though he has absolutely no consequence on anything that happens later in the story. Though presumably there’ll be more time to deal with the effects of this reveal in Endgame, where we might see a final showdown between the Red Skull and his arch-nemesis Captain America. Thanos learns that the Soul Stone demands a sacrifice before it can be won: specifically, that which you most love. Thankfully, Thanos came to this planet with Gamora, the only person he ever truly loved! Thankfully there’s a giant cliff nearby that is just perfect for throwing people off of! Thankfully the so-called “fiercest woman in the galaxy” chooses this moment to resort to trying to ineffectively punch Thanos’ arm as he throws her off of the aforementioned cliff!

With four of six Infinity Stones now in his grasp, Thanos promptly heads to his ancient homeworld of Titan to go deal with Tony Stark and Doctor Strange, who by now have run into the other Guardians of the Galaxy. On earth, the nation of Wakanda comes under attack from Thanos’ minions while Shuri works frantically to try and get the Mind Stone out of Vision’s head. Meanwhile, Thor is skiing around a frozen star (okay, fine, he’s lighting the forges of Nidavellir or whatever, but it looked like skiing to me). And…Peter Dinklage is an awesome actor, but this movie is already overcrowded with characters – did we really need a giant Peter Dinklage manning the forges of Nidavellir and loading us down with boring exposition? The only interesting part about this sequence is the fact that there’s an Infinity Gauntlet up there in Nidavellir, which may or may not be important in Endgame.

But finally…we get to the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Thanos arrives on Titan and uses the full power of his own Infinity Gauntlet to wreak havoc on the planet. What follows is one of the best fight-scenes in any movie, ever: nanotech weaponry, a moon pulled from its orbit, Doctor Strange transforming into a Hindu deity, the robot assassin Nebula (Karen Gillan) crashing her own spaceship straight into Thanos – and all of it is in vain, because idiot Star-Lord goes and starts punching Thanos in the face while they have the Titan sedated. Seriously, Star-Lord?

After that, the rest of the movie is just tragedy after tragedy. Doctor Strange gives Thanos the Time Stone in exchange for Thanos sparing Tony Stark’s life. There’s apparently a reason for this: Doctor Strange looked into the future and saw only one outcome in which the Avengers win the Infinity War. But to win, Tony Stark has to live, and Thanos has to get the Time Stone.

And Thanos doesn’t waste a single moment before teleporting to Wakanda and going after Vision – whose operation has not been going well. The poor robot literally gets thrown out of a window, on a surgical table, down a cliff. And then (finally) Scarlet Witch puts an end to the whole thing by blasting him in the head and destroying the Mind Stone.

Good thing Thanos didn’t literally just receive the ability to turn back time!

As if having his surgery rudely interrupted by aliens and getting killed by his own girlfriend wasn’t enough, Vision then has to endure being brought back to life and killed again – as Thanos simply reaches into his forehead and plucks out the Mind Stone.

Nobody saves the day in this movie. Not Doctor Strange, who tells Tony sadly that it was “the only way”. Not Tony himself, who is still recovering from having a very large piece of metal shoved into his chest. Not even Thor, when he finally shows up in Wakanda wielding an incredibly ugly ax. Thanos gets what he wants: a fully-powered Infinity Gauntlet that allows him to wipe out half of all life with a snap of his fingers – which he does, without hesitation. The audience is forced to watch in horror as beloved characters turn into ash and disappear: Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-man, Star-Lord (serves him right), Scarlet Witch, etc, etc. Who gave Marvel the right to do this?

Even worse, who gave Marvel the right to use such sloppy CGI on the Hulkbuster suit that Bruce Banner wears during the Battle of Wakanda? And for that matter, the Battle of Wakanda is filmed in such a boring fashion that it’s a crime all in itself: boring color palette and boring choreography make that fight scene one of the most forgettable in any recent Marvel film.

I’m not trying to look for fault in the film, of course. The film is quite good, overall. But the storyline is all over the place, and certain characters (ahem, Star-Lord) did not need anywhere near as much screentime as they got, while other characters (ahem, Captain America) got little to no screentime, when they should have been stars. Hopefully, everything will be resolved in the second half of this still very incomplete movie, which is only a few days away now. Half of the Marvel universe is currently dust, the villain has won and is relaxing on some paradise planet, and the Avengers are all split up across the galaxy.

Let’s hope Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) can do something about this problem when she arrives on earth…

Movie Rating: 9.5/10

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“Avengers: Endgame” Predictions!

My most-anticipated movie of 2019 is just around the corner – literally, it comes out next week. I feel, therefore, that now is the time to make some predictions before we enter the endgame. Specifically about the very type of prediction that no one wants to talk discuss: namely – who’s gonna bite the dust?

Cheerful! Let’s get into it, shall we?

Tony Stark (Iron Man): High Chance of Death. Tony started this entire ten-year journey, and it would be fitting if Tony ended it by going out in an act of sacrifice, to prevent the horrible premonition he had in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the one where he saw all his friends lying dead around him, victims to some horrific massacre. Since The Avengers, Tony has known that it will be his fate to go up against an enemy of cosmic proportions, and that enemy has been revealed to be Thanos. Their first fight, in Avengers: Infinity Wars, didn’t go so well for Tony, and it kind of resulted in him being lost in space with no food, slowly running out of oxygen. Assuming he survives that, we’ll see him return in Endgame with new purpose and determination. However, it’s also worth noting that if Tony didn’t die, he could get married to Pepper (something that’s also been foreshadowed), and retire from the spotlight, passing on the torch to a new generation of Marvel heroes without having to die.

Steve Rogers (Captain America): High Chance of Death. The thing about Steve is that he’s basically been warning us since Captain America: The First Avenger that he is prepared to give his own life to save those he loves. And he’s made no secret of the fact that he wishes he could be with Peggy Carter, who died in Captain America: Civil War. Another possibility is that he might go back in time to the 1940s and live out the rest of his life then, though that would massively damage the existing timeline. It’s more likely he dies to bring back all those who were dusted in Infinity Wars, and there are already hints of that: his sidekicks, Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson, will be getting their own Disney Plus streaming show soon, and actor Chris Evans has said multiple times now that he wants to move on from the MCU.

Nebula: Dead. No doubt about it, the murderous blue android will not make it out of the endgame alive. She will also, I believe, be the one to kill Thanos. Her entire character arc has been leading up to this confrontation (though, as with Tony, the first time around didn’t go so well), and she desperately wants to murder her genocide-obsessed father: you know, after he pitted her in cage-fights against her own sister, and replaced her body-parts with metal every time she lost. There has to be a reason she’s still here, and more notable Guardians of the Galaxy like Star-Lord or Drax are not. She’s going to kill Thanos, and she will die in so doing.

James Rhodes (War Machine): Dead. I don’t see Rhodey having much of a purpose in Phase 4 of the MCU, and I assume there’s a good reason they left him alive in Infinity Wars, so he could die in Endgame, valiantly. Hopefully he goes down in an appropriately epic way.

Bruce Banner (Hulk): Moderate Chance of Death. I think this one is a definite possibility. Bruce is a sweet, innocent guy who really doesn’t stand a chance against the Mad Titan if he can’t transform into Hulk. I’m expecting Endgame to deliver quite a few surprises, but I don’t think all of them will necessarily be good: if Thanos kills Bruce before the mild-mannered scientist can turn into Hulk, that will enrage us all – we’ll want Thanos to die. And the thing is: Bruce doesn’t have to be fully dead. We know Professor Hulk could be happening in Endgame: that being the combination of Bruce Banner and Hulk into one creature, a hybrid of Bruce’s intellect and personality with the Hulk’s body. What better way to make this happen then to have Bruce’s body be killed, but his mind is transferred into the Hulk as he dies? I’m sure they could find some pseudo-scientific cause for that. Besides, Professor Hulk will allow Mark Ruffalo to stay in the role as a voice-actor, so it’s not like we’d be losing him entirely.

Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow): Moderate Chance of Death. We know already that a Black Widow solo movie is in the works, so it shouldn’t seem likely that the rogue KGB agent will be meeting an untimely fate in Endgame, but it is worth noting that the Black Widow solo movie is rumored to be a prequel. What if Black Widow explores Nat’s past after she’s dead, as some sort of nostalgia trip for the audience? That would be weird. I’m not discounting the possibility that Black Widow will use Nat’s death in Endgame as some sort of framing device, but I’m gonna bet that she survives.

Clint Barton (Hawkeye): Low Chance of Death. I really should put him higher up on the list, but I don’t honestly think he will die, despite all the hints in the trailers that he’s some sort of bitter vigilante going up against Thanos to avenge his family (who, let’s face it, are almost definitely dusted). And the very reason I don’t think he’ll die is just that: his family. It would be way too cruel if his family were to come back to life only to find that Clint had died. Besides, the rumor is that he’s also getting a Disney Plus show, where he’ll be training the next Hawkeye, Kate Bishop – I think he’s safe.

Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel): Alive. She’s not gonna die. She just got her first solo film and it turned out to be a billion-dollar success…hmm, wait, why does that sound familiar? Oh yeah, that’s what we said about Black Panther before Infinity Wars, and look what happened to him. But, frankly, I don’t see the same fate awaiting Captain Marvel: she will have to come out of Endgame looking like the face of the MCU moving forward. Carol, in my opinion, will also stick around on earth for a while after Endgame, so we have a chance to get more accustomed to her.

Rocket Raccoon: Alive. Somebody’s got to stick around for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, am I right? At the moment, Rocket doesn’t even seem to have much of a purpose for still being alive, so I can’t really see a purpose for killing him.

Scott Lang (Ant-Man): Alive. He’ll live. He may not be getting a third solo film (or, at least, one hasn’t been announced), but he’ll live. He appears to be crucial to the Avengers’ entire plan, since the Quantum Realm, where he’s been trapped since Ant-Man and The Wasp, looks to be a major part of the story. I actually just rewatched that very film, and I must admit that I would be down for another Ant-Man film, if only for the incredibly fun action-sequences. So I hope he lives.

There are my predictions for who will die in Avengers: Endgame. Write your own thoughts in the comments: do you agree with my ratings?

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Avengers: Endgame TV Spot!

The raging debate over whether we would be getting a new Avengers: Endgame trailer today, the same day that tickets for the movie officially go on sale, can finally be laid to rest. We got one precious minute of material, almost all of it new, and it is stunningly beautiful. Let’s jump right into this.

We start out with a lovely panoramic shot of the Avengers HQ – the sun is sinking, the place looks pretty normal. And yet, all is not okay here: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and War Machine (Don Cheadle) are busy discussing what they’re going to do – Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is seen sitting outside in the rain, looking absolutely miserable. Black Widow’s getting a solo movie next year: she should look more happy! Then again, her solo movie is a prequel to all these events, so she could also die in Endgame.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is shown staring into a bathroom mirror – since he appears to have just shaved, this could explain where and when he loses the infamous beard that he sported in Avengers: Infinity War. He also looks sad and grim. On him falls the task of trying to figure out how on earth they’re going to defeat Thanos.

There’s the same great shot of the Avengers Quinjet flying low over a brightly-city – New York? I’ve also seen speculation that this is Hong Kong, but I’m more inclined to believe the heroes are heading towards NYC for whatever reason. Another shot later on in the trailer also seems to point to that.

While Tony’s voice-over begins to tell us that it’s “not about how much we lost – it’s about how much we have left”, we see Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) comforting the cold android Nebula (Karen Gillan). Clearly, Nebula is pondering something, but there’s a shot later in the trailer that better illustrates this, so I’ll talk about it there. These scenes of our remaining heroes trying desperately to help are so touching – and so brilliant. They give us the feels, and that’s a good thing. The emotional punch this movie is going to pack is really going to hit critics too, I believe. I wouldn’t be surprised if the more character-driven storyline and the heavier and darker material get this movie a few Oscars of its own next year.

Oh, and of course the very next shot is of Pepper reuniting with Tony: this trailer is determined to make me cry. We knew Pepper had been spared from the Decimation because of some posters released, but it’s still startling to see her here.

The next scene! Oh, it’s so beautiful! So we have Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) himself, flying over New York City in the daylight, and he seems to be looking for something. He’s wearing his Mark 85 suit – special thanks to my friend Naglfar over at the SuperHeroHype Forums for pointing that out to me.

There’s a few clips of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), sporting some new arm tattoos, and Black Widow again – and then there’s the same scene from the end of the last trailer, with Thor summoning his kingly weapon Stormbreaker, which flies right past the head of a very unfazed Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Then we’ve got a stunning money-shot of almost all our Avengers standing together: Hawkeye, War Machine, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Nebula, Rocket Raccoon, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and Black Widow. The only notable absences are Thor and Captain Marvel.

But nothing will prepare you for what comes next: if you’re very wary of any spoilers, you might want to leave now, but honestly this is just so wonderful and so awesome to see onscreen that I can’t not mention it here.

 

Still here?

Tony and Steve’s reunion is a thing of beauty. They appear to be standing in a street in New York City, also in the daytime, and Tony asks simply, bluntly: “Do you trust me?”

There’s hardly a pause before Steve responds. “I do.”

The two shake hands.

It’s so simple, but so heartfelt. This scene is definitely going to be one of the defining parts of the film itself.

The last minute of the trailer is incredible and fast-paced, so get ready. I don’t think you’re entirely prepared. It starts with the Guardians’ spacecraft shooting across the far distances of the galaxy – but onboard is one of the finest teams ever assembled: Captain Marvel and Rocket Raccoon at the helm, Black Widow (oddly, still sporting her short blond hair from Infinity War), Steve Rogers, War Machine and Thor. This shot is so cool – I can’t wait to see how Captain Marvel fits into this group.

Next, Marvel decides to hit us with the feels again, showing us Tony Stark as he looks down at a photograph of himself with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) who was turned to dust in Avengers: Infinity War. It drives the point home – the Avengers have to do something, anything, whatever it takes, to get half of the population back. We don’t know how, we don’t know what it will cost, but we know it has to be done.

Suddenly, Tony looks up from the photo: this scene is perfectly edited, because Thanos’ voice-over starts speaking a moment before he glances up. The Titan is grim and brutal: “You could not live with your own failure,” he intones, and the audience collectively wants to kill him. But our hopes are shattered by a terrifying vision of Thanos’ vast mother-ship, an enormous thing lurking in space. The sight of it is depressing, to say the least – but one of our Avengers seems to recognize this place.

Nebula. Her dark eyes are impassive as she stares up at the enormous ship – she is of course the daughter of Thanos, and her sister was killed by him. If anyone is going to deliver that fatal blow to the Titan, it’s got to be her: she was literally torn apart by him, and had parts of her body replaced by metal scraps. She’s a dangerous, uncontrollable creature, and I personally cannot wait to see what happens when she gets her last fight with her father.

Immediately after that, we see Thor and Rocket Raccoon both looking shocked: where they are is unclear, but it almost appears to be the same house where we last saw Thanos, at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Perhaps Thor and Rocket go here to find the Titan, and are met with some startling news – perhaps this voice-over from him is actually delivered here, in this scene?

Steve Rogers, our beloved Captain America, is seen lying on the ground in a place filled with fire and debris, gripping his shield. He’s been knocked down, but we know from the previous trailers that he will get back up at least one more time. Hopefully it’s not his last time.

There’s a blinding flash of blue light (which almost looks like the Bifrost, but is probably the Space Stone) and Thanos himself appears, arriving in this desolate place. “What did that bring you?,” he asks, and then finishes his own statement:

“Back to me.”

Tony, Steve and Thor march side-by-side, slowly, to face him. And the trailer ends.

Oh, so much to discuss, so much to just stare at in horror and wonder. Who’s gonna die? Who will live? Does anybody live? What happens now? Are the Avengers going to face Thanos in battle: sure seems like it. Well, we can’t know until the 26th, but thankfully…

Tickets for Avengers: Endgame are on sale now!

Trailer Rating: 10/10

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Avengers: Endgame Trailer 3!

The end of the MCU as we know it is almost upon us, and we have our first full length trailer for the movie that will bring it all crashing down into ruin and despair. Blood will be shed, heroes will die, Natasha Romanoff’s hair will change color again. Very few of our questions about this movie have been answered by this tantalizing teaser, which is the way I like it: honestly, I think at this point we don’t even need another trailer for Avengers: Endgame – the less we know, the more we are excited to find out.

So here it is! The trailer is so atmospheric, so dark – the opening scenes are black and white flashbacks to previous MCU movies: Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor. Voice-over is provided by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). The first new shot in this trailer is at 0:38, and here we see Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) training a girl with a bow and arrow. Fans were quick to jump to the conclusion that this girl was none other than superheroine Kate Bishop, an archer from the comics who ends up taking the name Hawkeye herself. However, it seems more likely she is Hawkeye’s daughter, Lila Barton. Whoever she is, though, I have no doubt that she and the rest of Hawkeye’s family (who can be seen in the background) will be dusted in this scene, and this is where we’ll see the lovable archer’s transformation into the grim, sword-wielding, mohawk-wearing assassin that he is in the very next shot, at 0:43, where we see him meeting Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Here, he is Ronin, one of his darker aliases from the comics. Something to note about this scene is that he and Black Widow hold hands – could we see them get back together? Clearly, there are still some romantic feelings between the two. (And I’m here for it – those two were made for each other, and no one can tell me otherwise).

At 1:12, after a heartbreaking montage of characters from Avengers: Infinity War being turned to dust, we see Black Widow’s new look – her hair has grown out quite a bit, and looks quite good, part red, part blond. The fact that it’s grown so long, though, is reason for us to believe that some time has passed between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Some have speculated there could be a five-year gap between the two movies.

Blink and you’ll miss Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) at 1:14. This poor guy, who was sidelined in Avengers: Infinity War, definitely needs more screentime to make up for that – but so far, we’ve seen very little of him, and no hint of whether he can transform into the Hulk yet.

Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) shows up for the first time in the trailer at 1:18, staring in bewilderment at posters that read MISSING. Last we saw Ant-Man, in Ant-Man And The Wasp, he was trapped inside the Quantum Realm: I believe this is just after he’s escaped, and he’s come back to find half of the world’s population missing – possibly including his own daughter, Cassie Lang: though others speculate that Cassie will be in Endgame, played by Emma Fuhrmann, and will be a superhero in her own right.

At 1:21, we see the Avengers’ Quinjet flying over New York City: interestingly, in the previous teaser we saw NYC looking very dark and lifeless, but here there are city lights shining.

Black Widow and Hawkeye still look pretty close in the next shot: seriously, can these two just GET BACK TOGETHER ALREADY?

Unfortunately, Hawkeye seems to be in danger: we see him running down a tunnel filled with fluorescent red light, running through water – and then suddenly the tunnel is filled with an explosion of fire. I don’t know how he’s going to make it out of that situation, or why he’s even in that situation to begin with, but I’m terrified for him.

1:29 shows us two old friends: Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and War Machine (Don Cheadle). They seem to be gearing up for war. Rocket’s interactions with the other Avengers is something I’m looking forward to – I can only imagine how serious characters like Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Black Widow will deal with him.

Speaking of Steve, he looks pretty surprised to see Hawkeye in the next shot: granted, I would be too, if I saw someone with that haircut. I’m not sure exactly why losing his family would inspire Hawkeye to cut his hair into the ridiculous style, but, I mean, you do you, Clint.

In quick succession, we see Ant-Man at Avengers HQ (looking less than cheery), Thor powering up Stormbreaker, and Nebula (Karen Gillan) charging into a fight with a battle-cry: could she be taking vengeance on her father, Thanos, for what he did to Gamora (Zoe Saldana) in Avengers: Infinity War? I can’t imagine how she’ll take him on, since he’s armed with the Infinity Gauntlet, and she’s got…batons. But she is pretty formidable – though I’m not sure if she could top her incredible entrance in the third act of Infinity War, where she literally drove a spaceship straight into Thanos (which, by the way, didn’t even slow him down: Nebula, you gonna die).

Hawkeye’s back in the tunnel at 1:39, now wielding his bow again – somehow, I can’t imagine he’s facing off against Thanos in this scene (the tunnel doesn’t seem large enough to fit the gigantic purple Titan, first of all), but if not, then who is he up against? There have been rumors circulating for months that Thanos won’t be the main villain in Avengers: Endgame, or that he might even team up with the Avengers against another threat. Could Hawkeye be coming face to face with some greater villain? (And if so, will he make it out alive? Armed with a bow? Yeah, no.)

There’s a scene from the previous teaser of Black Widow target-shooting: though again, when does this scene take place? Here, she has long, fully blond hair.

At 1: 44, we have Steve Rogers, fully geared-up in the Captain America suit, looking very angry about something. Please, let it not be that Tony Stark has just died. I can’t take that kind of pain. I know that somebody has to die, but just…let it be, like, I don’t know, Drax. Oh wait, he’s already dead. Well, just, don’t take Tony Stark or Steve Rogers, please!

This shot of Steve is followed by a clip of a very tiny Ant-Man leaping through a bizarre landscape that seems to be composed of…a pencil, water, and a power-cord? I have no idea where he is, but if I had to bet, I’d guess either of two things: one, most likely to me, is that this is at the beginning of the film, and we’re seeing Ant-Man escaping from the Quantum Realm. Two, less likely I think, but more terrifying, is that this some weird fight sequence where Thanos is wielding the Reality Stone – which, if you remember from Infinity War, had the power to transform bullets into bubbles, among other things. Either way, things don’t look good for Ant-Man.

Finally, the money-shot of the Avengers walking (destination: unknown) in their new Quantum-Realm suits. The suits are fantastic, and look great. Steve is leading them, and behind him are Tony Stark, Black Widow, Nebula, Ant-Man, War Machine, and Hawkeye – I think Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is behind Black Widow too, though it’s kind of hard to tell. They look absolutely great, and this seems to confirm the theory that the Avengers would be going into the Quantum Realm – or back in time – to try and reverse the Snap that wiped out half the population of the universe. Some think they’ll be going back even further than that, to the Battle of New York from the first Avengers, for instance, and this would seem to be backed up by the fact that Steve Rogers is wearing his old Captain America suit in the shot at 1:44.

The title – Avengers: Endgame lights up in brilliant purple, and the screen goes black. Is the trailer over? No, wait, I don’t think so…

Thor is walking towards a woman who has her back turned. She turns to face us – CAROL DANVERS! Yes, Carol Danvers, a.k.a Captain Marvel, (Brie Larson) is here, in Avengers HQ, and, boy, does she look fantastic or what? She stares back at Thor steadily as he extends his hand past her shoulder, testing her reflexes: his axe, Stormbreaker, flies into his hand.

Carol just barely flinches, and glances down at Stormbreaker with some curiosity.

Thor grins. “I like this one”, he says, and the screen goes black.

Just from that one scene, I already know Thor and Carol’s dynamic will be one of the best parts of this movie: Carol’s new wardrobe, also, looks to be pretty snazzy – she looks quite glamorous. I wonder if they’ll be friends, or perhaps…more than friends?

Okay, so April 26th needs to just arrive now, so that I can see this movie. I’ve got a lot of questions, like, why isn’t Thanos shown or even mentioned in the trailer – he also was absent from the second teaser, and only his armor was seen in the first teaser. What is the plan that the Avengers have for bringing back half the population? Will they time travel – where to, or when to? How do Tony and Nebula go from “lost in space” to “wearing fancy new outfits, walking alongside the other Avengers on earth”? What is going on?

And do Hawkeye and Black Widow end up together?

Trailer Rating: 10/10

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Captain Marvel Review (SPOILERS!)

It’s time to talk about everything that happens in Captain Marvel, so if you’ve not seen the film yet – don’t go any further!

Captain Marvel Review (SPOILERS!) 13
denofgeek.com

Still here? Good. Let’s dive right in.

So there are several surprises in the movie, obviously: Carol’s backstory was completely unknown to us, so piecing it together is not only an incredible journey but also uncovers a lot of interesting stuff; the truth of the Kree-Skrull War; the history of the Tesseract; a surprise villain; and a very shocking end-credits scene. Not to mention some hints as to what might come next. Let’s break it all down.

For anyone who was confused during the movie, here’s what happened, in chronological order:

Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) was a USAF pilot in 1989 when she and her friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) found work testing new aircraft designed by a member of Project PEGASUS: Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening). Lawson had created a lightspeed engine core for her aircraft which harnessed the power of the Tesseract, the Space Stone – it seems she worked for S.H.I.E.L.D and thus was able to get her hands on the powerful artifact, which allowed her aircraft to fly at seemingly impossible speeds, and even into space. What no one knew, however, was that Dr. Wendy Lawson was a rogue Kree agent, who had discovered that her people were fighting an unjust war against the Skrull shapeshifters: the lightspeed aircraft were designed to be powerful enough to end the war. The Kree found her, however, and intercepted Danvers when she and Lawson were flying one of the test-crafts. Forced to make a crash landing, Danvers and Lawson were injured, but Lawson attempted to destroy the lightspeed core before it could be taken by the Kree. Before she was able, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) the Kree pilot who had downed their plane, shot and killed Lawson. Carol Danvers, however, was able to destroy the core – but not fully. She absorbed the power of the Space Stone when she blew it up, and was then knocked unconscious. Yon-Rogg, seeing this, took her back to the Kree planet of Hala to try and harness the power she now possessed. By the time we see her in Captain Marvel, Carol has no memories of her past life, and has been completely brainwashed by the Kree.

Captain Marvel Review (SPOILERS!) 14
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The obvious shocker here is that Carol Danvers received her powers from the Space Stone, which could mean that, like Vision and the Mind Stone, she is inextricably linked to that Stone’s power. How will her own powers be affected by the fact that the Space Stone now resides in Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet? There are differences between this and the situation with Vision: Vision was created by the Mind Stone, given life by it, and when it was taken from him, he died. Carol, however, only got her powers from the Space Stone, and seems to retain them without needing the Space Stone at all. However, this does not rule out the possibility of a link between Carol and the Space Stone in Avengers: Endgame. She should be capable of wielding the Stone, for instance, and that would be quite an interesting possibility.

On a side-note, it’s cool to learn just a little bit more about the Tesseract, between its appearances in Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers. Before Captain Marvel, we all thought it had just been in S.H.I.E.L.D hands up until the time Loki stole it. Little did we know it had started an intergalactic war, created the most powerful entity in the MCU, and been carried around in an orbiting laboratory, a lunchbox, and the insides of a Flerken, in between those two movies.

Speaking of the Flerken, that was one surprise I saw coming: it had been all but spoiled for me months ago, when toys were revealed that showed a muzzled Goose the Cat. Considering that there is only one species of alien in the MCU that takes the form of cats and has tentacles that explode from its mouth, it was pretty easy to guess that cat was a Flerken, especially when early reactions said that Goose stole the show.

The next surprise has to do with the Skrulls: throughout the first half of the film, we think we should be siding with the Kree, even if they are a bit warlike, and their leader, the Supreme Intelligence, is downright creepy. At any rate, it’s quite easy to see that the Skrulls are the bad guys: they’re green aliens who can shape-shift, and they take Carol captive in an ambush. They strap her into a device that makes all of her memories visible to the Skrull leader, Talos the Tamer (Ben Mendelsohn). Like, seriously, with a name like Talos the Tamer, how can you not be a villain?

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But they’re not. Turns out, the Skrulls are the victims of brutal oppression at the hands of the Kree, and they have been scattered far and wide across the universe. Talos himself is looking through Carol’s memories because he’s trying to find Dr. Wendy Lawson’s laboratory, where she was keeping Skrull refugees safe from the Kree. Not only that, but the Skrulls are also incredibly funny, and Talos himself is just hilarious. The Skrulls become instantly likable, especially after we see Talos reunite with his wife and daughter, who have been waiting for him for years.

At the end of the movie, when Carol has defeated the Kree, she promises to help the Skrulls find a new home: we see them vanish into the darkness of outer space, but their destination after that is still unknown.  Where will the Skrulls go? Will the Kree find them? And what about Secret Invasion, the comic-book storyline that everyone and their mother thought was going to be started in this movie: the story where Skrulls infiltrate the Avengers for evil purposes? Well, there are definitely still opportunities for that to happen, even with the Skrulls on the good side for now. It’s possible that other Skrulls could challenge Talos’ peaceful goals, and want to continue their war. It’s also possible, as Grace Randolph of Beyond The Trailer speculated, that Talos’ daughter, who was featured prominently in the film, could turn down a dark path and initiate the Secret Invasion.

Now let’s talk about some other things that I found noteworthy in the film: at the end, when Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) has been foiled in his attempt to blow up most of the western side of the United States, Captain Marvel hovers above the earth, daring him to try again. This immediately brought to mind the Alpha Flight storyline, in which Captain Marvel and a team of other superheroes act as Earth’s first line of defense against extraterrestrial threats. Whether this will be expanded upon in a Captain Marvel sequel remains to be seen, but I would be here for it.

There’s also two things relating to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in this movie that are worth talking about: well, three, really, if you count the fact that we learn here that Fury cannot bring himself to eat toast that is cut diagonally. But we see how he lost his left eye, and how he came up with the name “The Avengers Initiative”. The answer to the first question is simple – perhaps too simple: his left eye was scratched out by that angry Flerken cat Goose. The answer to the second question – well, to call it a question is misleading, since I’m not sure anyone was really asking for an answer, but we got one anyway and I like it – is that Fury was inspired by the name of Carol Danvers’ plane, “Avenger”. It was a very cool scene, right at the end, when the Avengers theme started playing. A great way to finish a great movie.

However…it wasn’t technically the end. There’s a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene, which we’ll talk about now: the mid-credits scene is actually from Avengers: Endgame. So firstly, you remember that in the post-credits scene for Avengers: Infinity War, we saw Nick Fury desperately trying to page Captain Marvel, before he was dusted. Turns out that pager was found by the remaining Avengers and brought back to the base, where we see it still beeping. Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle), and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) are all gathered together when the pager suddenly stops sending out its signal: but as Black Widow tells them to charge it up again, she turns around to find…CAPTAIN MARVEL! Yes, Carol Danvers, standing right behind her, looking very serious and no-nonsense. It’s a scarily good scene, and really sets us up well for Avengers: Endgame, where we know we’ll see Captain Marvel and the Avengers face off against Thanos.

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Oh yeah, and the post-credits scene? Typical Marvel prank: it’s simply Goose throwing up the Tesseract, which he had been carrying around in his stomach during the final act of Captain Marvel. We know from that scene that Nick Fury will thus be able to recover the Tesseract and put it into the secret base where Loki, years later in The Avengers, would steal it, setting off a chain reaction of events. It’s amazing how much the Space Stone has caused in the MCU, and I am curious to see if there’s a reason for that. Could the Space Stone – and, by extension, Captain Marvel – be the key to defeating Thanos? Only time will tell.

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