A love letter to MCU from a fan with no ticket

Dear MCU,

Hope this letter finds you in good spirit. I know you are too busy to respond, but I wanted to let you know what you mean to us.

The millennials needed a major pop culture boost. We were fatigued to drool over dated fandoms. We needed something of our own.

And we got one. The mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Read more: “Thank you, Marvel” – a fan looks back on 10 years of the MCU

The Messiah

Before MCU, comic book adaptations on the silver screen were always dissed by the producers. We sure had some darling flicks at the turn of the century such as Sam Raimi’s Spiderman and the X-Men trilogy, but they were deemed as nothing but potboilers. One 20th Century Fox executive even went on to say the genre ends with X-Men: The Last Stand, there is no future for this kind of rubbish. But tables were meant to turn. With the release of Batman Begins in 2005, superhero movies got a wholly new facelift. Chris Nolan aptly destigmatized Batman movies. But something was missing. We were half expecting some messiah would step in to make some superhero flicks featuring our larger than life heroes.

Finally, the messiah came and conquered.

His name is Kevin Feige.

The mastermind behind the monumental success of MCU. He pitched the idea of an inter connected movie franchise spanning decades. The major reason DC could not win in the theaters on par with Marvel because they couldn’t hire someone like Feige.

The big bang

It all started with Iron Man in 2008. The very idea of post-credit scenes in superhero films was entwined in this movie, and I missed it the first time. Nick Fury sneaking inside Stark mansion to approach Tony for a superhero team-up? It felt surreal. Who could have thought the possibility of one behemoth superhero movie like the Avenger (2012)? Four separate franchises were following a pathway to culminate into one historical motion picture.

The summer Avengers was released, I didn’t go to the theatre to have cinematic experience of some sort. I was just so happy to see four of my poster heroes fighting as a team. But the movie made our jaws drop, eyes bulge and hairs on our back raise in respect. It is arguably (one of the) greatest comic book adaptation till this day and years to come. A big hug for director Joss Whedon. I felt sad when he had to deal critically with Disney execs over creative issues. The man wanted Spiderman and other characters to appear in Age of Ultron. Instead, he got Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Can we blame him for his exasperation to direct the highly anticipated sequel?

On the darker side

The MCU has its fair share of haters too. Loki is the only grade A villain in the whole universe. I am intentionally excluding Winter Soldier, he doesn’t really count as a foe, does he? Thanos should not be compared with other names whatsoever. So where does it put MCU in the radar?

Cool action movies on steroids with unimpressive baddies? Maybe.

The directors who have worked relentlessly for phase 1-3 deserve a round of applause. The Russo brothers deserve something more, like a gigantic bouquet the size of a hulkbuster suit.

The people who made it happen

MCU succeeded with flying colors. One key reason is the casting. The people who played their respective characters in the movies, were meant to play those parts. Can you imagine Tom Cruise as Tony Stark? He almost bagged the role of this fancy billionaire if former cocaine junkie Downey Jr didn’t show his relentless passion to make a comeback in Hollywood. He gets 50 million per movie now for playing Iron Man.

And last but not least, we want to gleefully remember the masters who drew and wrote about the characters and universe. You guys rock! Stan Lee was fateful to see his creations on the silver screen. I wish other artists were as lucky as Stan the man. Jack Kirby (and many more) creators never got the due money or respect they should have gotten.

Before I manage to survive the adrenaline rush Avengers: Endgame has to offer, this is my token of love for the movies I will re-watch for the rest of my life.

Read more: A roadmap to Endgame: Everything you need to know

Yours truly

A fan with no ticket

5 Bangladeshi graphic novels you must read

Graphic novel is a wonderful medium where art and literature interplays. Often deemed as a pulpy and lesser creative form, graphic novels have gained momentum in the past 20 years or so. Often mistakenly labelled as comics, graphic novels deal with deeper subject matter and perplexed illustrations. They are bigger in length as well.

Bangladesh too has a thriving graphic novel scene confined in a limited readership. It is great to see publishing houses like Panjeree and Dhaka Comics are catering to the local fans and publishing new graphic novels frequently. If you have never read a deshi graphic novel, here is an essential reading list to get you started with. These 5 titles are a testament that our local writers/artists are rivalling with their Western counterparts, with what limited time and resource they have.

#1 Ruhan Ruhan (রুহান রুহান)

Genre: Sci-fi

Publisher: Dhaka Comics

Credit: Muhammad Zafar Iqbal (story), Mehedi Haque (illustration)

Summary: Ruhan Ruhan is set in a nihilistic and dystopian planet where people have no sense of humanity whatsoever. Ruhan, was fatefully kidnapped and deported to the planet ‘Gruzan’. A gang of savage businessmen throws him two options- either engage in a win-or-die gladiator match or be a guinea pig of human anatomy replacement. Ruhan is no ordinary guy, he defies the corrupt system and reclaims humanity. This graphic novel is a 5 part series; the last issue is scheduled to hit bookstores this year.

#2 Laily (লাইলী)

Genre: Comedy/romance

Publisher: Panjeree

Credit: Shahrier Khan (Story and illustration)

Summary: Laily, the titular character, is a drop dead gorgeous girl of her neighbourhood. After a 10 year hiatus, she returns to the area where she grew up. In no time, a neighboring engineer, a gangster and a journalist fall for her. With a heavy dose of Dhallywood-ish humor, Laily tackles all the hopeless romantics come what may. This is by far the best comedy graphic novel by a Bangladeshi artist. Although I might be opinionated, you’ll thank me later for recommending Laily!

#3 Shurjer Din (সূর্যের দিন)

Genre: Liberation war

Publisher: Pragati

Credits: Humayun Ahmed (story), Ahsan Habib (illustration)

Summary: Shurjer din chronicles the life of a group of teens amidst the tension of the liberation war. The main characters go through a crisis as their regular life comes to a standstill following the events of 1971. I highly recommend this graphic novel to pre-teenagers. Adapted from a Humayun Ahmed novella, Ahsan Habib’s illustration breathes sentiments of our glorious liberation war in this gem. This is a suitable starter for young readers who find war stories complex.

#4 Poncho Romancho (পঞ্চ রোমাঞ্চ)

Genre: Anthology

Publisher: Dhaka Comics

Credits: Kazi Anwar Hossain (story), various artists (illustration)

Summary: Kazi Anwar Hossain is a name synonymous with thriller/adventure books in Bangla. Back in mid 70’s, the legendary ‘Kazi Da’ adapted 5 stories by foreign writers, giving them an appropriate local setting. The book came out titled ‘Poncho Romancho’ featuring stories named Onno konokhane, Jhamela, Cancer, Ostad and Porokiya. Almost four decades later, Dhaka Comics adapted this anthology collection as a graphic novel. If you are a Sheba Prokashani fan, this one will definitely send nostalgia down your bloodstream.

#5 Cube (কিউব)

Genre: Sci-fi

Publisher: Panjeree

Credit: Shahrier Khan (story and illustration)

Summary: Geologist Joy Ahmed is employed in the coastal city of Cox’s Bazaar. He was having an ordinary life but soon things escalade when he stumbles upon an alien race. Aliens come to earth to scout a mysteriously powerful thing called ‘cube’. Whoever possesses the cube gains super power. Joy finds a cube as well as his love interest. But he will have a hard time defending his city as the extraterrestrial threat looms large in picturesque places of Chittagong.

That’s all for now, folks. I insist you to read Bangladeshi graphic novels. Without our support, it’s very hard to be a professional in this medium. As the local comic readers grow, we can dream of a day when fan-favourite titles will become live action movies. We’ll have our own Avengers or Tintin, someday!

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse puts a refreshing spin on a familiar hero

In a world inundated with superhero films, it’s difficult for a new contender to make its mark. Especially so if it’s a Spider-Man film following six predecessors. There’s something different about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, however, that makes it stand out from the pack. Part of it is the unique animation style, but it’s also the fact that it’s a fresh take on a familiar hero.

An enjoyable storyline

The story focuses on Miles Morales, a biracial kid who receives powers similar to Peter Parker’s and struggles to follow his legacy. On the way, he is assisted by an older Peter Parker who has fallen down on his luck, along with a cast of other Spider People.

The interplay between the different heroes is a joy to watch, and Miles is fleshed out well enough with an appropriate focus on his family and life. The heroes are opposed by Kingpin, who is a menacing and hulking brute trying to reunite with his family. The themes of a family are resonant in this film, as are loss and responsibility.

Visual treat

The true star, however, is perhaps the outstanding visual style, which has plenty of comic book elements such as dialogue boxes and sound effects. It’s a refreshingly unique style that stands out in today’s crop of animated movies, and here’s to hoping it pops up more in future films of this calibre. The city is gorgeously realized, and the action is vibrant and fun.

Favourite Characters

On the character side of things, the mentor-student relationship between Peter and Miles is nicely handled. Peter’s laid-back nature contrasts nicely with Miles’ more earnest personality. Spider Gwen and Spider-Ham also stand out from the cast, as does Spider-Man Noir, thanks to a delightful turn by Nicolas Cage.

Verdict

The movie is not without its problems. For instance, it could have fleshed out its antagonist more, although it does feature a new twist on Doctor Octopus. Nevertheless, writers Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman have crafted a fine addition to the Spider-Man mythos. There is news of a follow-up to Into the Spider-Verse, and if it’s as good as this one, then that’s certainly something to look forward to in the future.

Originally published on Upthrust.

Watch Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse in STAR Cineplex. Get your tickets from here.

Aquaman: A strong comeback for the DCEU

When we sat down to watch Aquaman, right after its release in STAR Cineplex, little did we know that Jason Momoa in an orange suit would deliver such a glorious chapter in the DCEU.

After Justice League and the countless behind the scenes drama that constantly mar the DCEU, fans can be excused for being a little sceptical about its next instalments. But let us assure you, Aquaman is not your average DC flick. It is perhaps the first decent DC movie in years. For fans of Jason Momoa, the actor, you’re in for a treat.

The Premise

Aquaman: A strong comeback for the DCEU 5
Nicole Kidman as Queen Atalanta

Aquaman starts out being straightforward. No drama, no twist, jumping straight into the story. The childhood of Arthur Curry and the conflict between Atlantis and the surface world. The immortal story of a journey of a king to claim his rightful place. Aquaman delivers all of it in a skillful method. Aquaman is surprisingly true to its comic origins. Yet, so very original that it brings a fresh flavor to the entire comic book movie genre.

Technical aspects

Aquaman: A strong comeback for the DCEU 6
Amber Herd plays Queen Mera

Director James Wan can be lauded for his mastery with the camera in the dynamic action shots. 2 and a half hours of explosive action, chase scenes and underwater world exploration did not deliver a single moment of boredom.

The massive world of Atlantis that was built for the movie is absolutely praiseworthy. A fresh perspective to world building was much needed for fans of pop culture.

The 3D experience of Aquaman’s underwater world in STAR Cineplex was one of a kind.

The Verdict

Aquaman: A strong comeback for the DCEU 7

A DC film that in our humble opinion, delivered. Finally.

Aquaman was more than just a comic book movie. It was a Sci-Fi adventure, a treasure hunting mystery, a journey of a king, the mythical tale of becoming of a hero. James Wan’s visual masterpiece passes every test with flying colours.

With a 4 out 5 rating from us, Aquaman breathes life into the DC movie universe. And crafts the path for a better class of DC movies in the future.

Aquaman is playing in Star Cineplex as we speak. Click the button below to secure your seat in the next show.

Avengers: Endgame trailer breakdown

Marvelites are having a pretty great week. A great Captain Marvel trailer dropped on Monday. Let me tell you, she looked mighty fine. Nintendo announced the return of the long-dormant Ultimate Alliance game franchise at The Game Awards on Thursday. A new Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer is supposed to arrive very soon. And as if to slap a whole cake on top of a cherry, the Russo brothers practically shadow dropped the new Avengers: Endgame trailer on Friday. The trailer reveals very little. But when has that stopped us from going through these a dozen times and look for clues? Let’s jump in.

Here’s the trailer, just in case you do indeed live under a rock.

Tony Stark is stranded in space

Marvel MVP Tony Stark isn’t off to a good start here. He is marooned aboard the Benatar, the Guardians ship. With food and Oxygen rapidly running out, earth’s greatest defender is desolate and helpless. We see him turning his helmet on to record a farewell message to Pepper Potts. The lighting is somber because who can bid a sad goodbye in harsh fluorescence? Him mentioning the end being part of the journey is sure to tug some heartstrings. He is also wearing a similar shirt from the first Iron Man when he was imprisoned by the Ten Rings. A great visual callback to his initial plight in a no-win scenario.

Avengers: Endgame trailer breakdown

Tony’s rescue is a hotly contested topic. We can only but speculate. Does Pepper Potts don the Rescue armor from the comics herself and go after her man? Will Captain Marvel pick him up during her return journey to earth following Fury’s SOS? Does Thor open a Bifrost with his Stormbreaker weapon and save him? Alas, we might have to wait till April for the answer. Or at least until the next trailer.

But what is Nebula’s story?

We also see Nebula hanging about the ship reminiscing and being all sad. There’s another very curious frame in the trailer where she gently caresses someone’s shoulder sitting in the ship. That is very out of character for her. Is she saying goodbye to Tony before leaving the Benatar? Or that is a completely different character at another point in the movie? Marvel has been really deceptive about these in the past. So rule nothing out.

Point Break is pissed

Thor Odinson proved last April that he is the mightiest of the Avengers. Maybe that is why it pains him the most that he could not stop the Decimation. Yes, that is what the head honchos at MCU decided to call the Thanos Snap. This revelation arrives thanks to Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War: The Cosmic Quest Volume Two: Aftermath by Brandon T. Snider. Man, the name of this book needed a Snap as well to cut it down to half.

Anyways, back to Thor. Just look at him. This man right here is ready to get out on that stage and shred Thanos in a rap battle.

The Thanos-crow

The only character who is happily content in the trailer is Thanos. And why wouldn’t he be? He brought balance to the universe, in his own twisted way. Moreiver, as a great comic throwback, we see his armor strung like a scarecrow. He doesn’t need that anymore, because his job is done. In the comics though, Thanos is retreating in disgrace more than gloating over a hard-won victory. But a nice touch nonetheless.

Is Shuri alive?

This is a very important question. The fate of another character hangs in the balance because of her. Last time we saw Shuri, she managed to salvage most of Vision’s data before getting knocked unconscious. If she survived the Decimation, she could be paramount to bring at least one of the Avengers back. Interestingly though, the trailer reveals a scene where she is put under the “missing” tag along with some of the dusted heroes.

That could mean she was slain along with her brother. Or she might be alive but not working with the remaining Avengers yet. I mean, it was them who brought war and death to her home. Does she have her own agenda now? Time will tell.

Hawkeye…or Ronin?

We finally get a glimpse of Clint Barton after his absence in Infinity War in this trailer. Only…he isn’t Hawkeye anymore. He is in the shoes of another comic book character called Ronin. There are some other characters like Echo who operated under this cover identity. But Clint’s stint was more prominent in the comics.

The reason he wasn’t active during Infinity War because of his plea deal with the government. He had a family to protect and care for. Something tells me in his thousand yards long stare here that they might not have survived. Hence, his blatant disregard to government contract.

For reference, here’s the comic book version of Ronin.

Ant-Man is out of the Quantum Realm

This might be the biggest revelation of the trailer. Last time we saw Scott Lang, he was journeying into the Quantum Realm with the help of the Pym family. In a tragic sequence of events, Scott got stuck there after the Pym collective turned to ash. How he got out may end up being the single saving grace for the Avengers family, and the world.

Now Scott was using his trusted friend Luis’ van for the Quantum Realm incident. It might be possible that Luis survived the Snap and came back to rescue Scott through the radio. Or Scott could have gained powers due to excess exposure to the Quantum Realm ala Janet Van Dyne. But that’s unlikely because it didn’t help Janet herself.

Time travel is a safe money bet. Right as he’s venturing into the Quantum Realm, Scott is told by Janet van Dyne: “Don’t get sucked into a time vortex.” That seems to be a pretty on-the-nose warning but also one clear enough for a dope like Scott to eventually realize might be the key to him escaping his predicament. We’ll see.

Speaking of time travel

As the leaked set photos suggested earlier, time travel is definitely playing a big role in Avengers: Endgame. We see a hint of that in the trailer as well when we see Captain America in his winter soldier suit.

Avengers endgame trailer breakdown

We don’t know what’s cooking, but Cap certainly isn’t donning this particular old suit for no reason.

So, that’s it, folks. There is a long five-month wait before we close out on the first decade of MCU. It’s actually a good thing the trailer left out crucial plot points. This lets us converse and speculate about our heroes’ struggle to save a universe torn apart. After all, as the name reveal tells us, it’s about undoing the tragedy that has left them…disassembled.

Stan Lee, Marvel’s real superhero, dies at 95

Stan Lee, the legendary writer and publisher who created numerous iconic comic characters for Marvel had died in a Los Angeles hospital on early Monday morning. He was 95 at the time of his death.

In his lifetime, Lee co-created popular comic characters like the X-men, Spiderman, Hulk and many more. He, with his co-artists and writers, notably Jack Kirby, catapulted Marvel into a media giant from a small comic venture.

Born Stanley Martin Lieber on Dec. 28, 1922, he grew up poor in Washington Heights. In 1939, Lee got a job as a gofer for $8 a week at Timely Comics. Two years later, for Kirby and Joe Simon’s “Captain America #3,” he wrote a two-page story titled “The Traitor’s Revenge! He used his pen name, Stan Lee.

Stan lee dies

In 1961, Lee and Kirby launched their own superhero series, The Fantastic Four, for the newly renamed Marvel Comics. Hulk, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Daredevil and X-Men soon followed. The Avengers launched as its own title in September 1963.

When his Marvel characters were made into movies, he almost regularly had cameos in them. And it had become a norm in recent times to wait eagerly for a witty Lee cameo in an MCU movie.

Loved by fans worldwide, Stan Lee’s legacy will be left in the timeless characters that he created.

Captain Marvel and the case for feminist Superheroes

Captain Marvel is arguably the most powerful superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie is the first female-led and female co-directed entry. Her gender and its significance aren’t lost on anyone, and especially Marvel.

‘The future is female’, is clearly on the cover of the September issue of Entertainment Weekly. The feminist slogan, synonymous to empowerment, was famously used by Hilary Clinton after her defeat in the 2016 presidential elections. According to the Washington Post, the phrase was first seen on the merchandise of lesbian separatists that operated out of a New York bookstore in the 70s. The meaning has certainly evolved as has Captain Marvel.

From girlfriend to the powerful heroine

Originally, she was known as Ms Marvel

Captain Marvel became a rallying point in Marvel Comics since Carol Danvers took on the mantle in 2012. Like other Marvel heroines, such as Sue Storm and Natasha Romanoff, Carol Danvers’s character evolved and gained agency over the ages. Her role shifted from the original Captain Marvel’s girlfriend to being an empowered Ms. Marvel in the 70s.

Journalism, Headaches, and Mind-Rapes

Ms Marvel
Marvel, seriously, why??

In those initial years, Danvers’ story was filled with growing pains.  She was depicted to be an ambitious career woman, who stood up to her editor when he wanted to fill his women’s magazine with fluff pieces. She would open discussions about equal pay. However, she would retain no memory of her adventures as Ms. Marvel ( among the other pseudonyms of the heroine); she would faint, and then Ms. Marvel would take over. Ms. Marvel felt incomplete and the story felt choppy.

It was then, when Danvers was yet to find her ground, that she was struck with the gravest injustice of her character history.

In 1980’s Avengers 200, Danvers found out that she was sevens month pregnant. She had been kidnapped by Marcus, who had impregnated against her will. Danvers was justifiably angry at being violated in such a way. Her fellow Avengers teammates reacted through confusion rather than support. And then, egregiously, Danvers became a victim to Stockholm Syndrome and returned with Marcus to his home dimension.  Instead of intervening on their teammate’s behalf, the Avengers mishandled the situation, stood by and watched, hoping for the best.

“If the point had been that…these other Avengers are callous boors, okay then, I may disagree with the point, but if David Micheline followed through on it, it would have made sense,” Claremont wrote in The X-Men Companion II. “But it seemed to me, looking at the story, looking at the following story, that he was going for: ‘This is how you respond to a pregnancy.’

Cosmos, Alcoholism, and Legacies

Binary
Carol as Binary

It took an array of talented writers to rehabilitate Danvers throughout the next couple of decades and infuse a sufficient amount of pathos into the character. Through Chris Claremont, Danvers discovered new, cosmic powers and adventured in space, as Binary. Then, her powers burned out and she returned to the Avengers as Warbird, proud but weathered by past scars.

Under the guidance of Kurt Busiek, Danvers experienced burnout, depression and eventually descended into alcoholism. With the help of former alcoholic Tony Stark, Danvers slowly proved her worth in the team, reclaiming her Ms. Marvel moniker and becoming a core part of the New Avengers and then the Mighty Avengers in the mid-2000s.

Danvers eventually ascended to the Captain Marvel role in 2012’s series of the same name, penned by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Danvers strived to go “Higher, Faster, Further, More”. Captain Marvel was both ambitious and caring, driven as much by the search of glory, as selfless ideals. She battled a brain tumor, aliens, and goes off into space once again, this time with her cat in tow.

Kamala Khan, the next Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel is inspired by her.

Brie Larson Steps into Big Shoes. Can She Fill Them?

Captain Marvel
Is that Carol’s cat in the bottom left corner? You tell us, readers.

Obviously, Captain Marvel that is set to appear in the theaters will be more streamlined and have a less convoluted backstory. However, she has controversial aspects to her backstory, adding complexity to her feminist rise. Brie Larson is aware of that. In February 2017, she talked about the many opinions and judgments that she has to face. Even Captain Marvel’s hairstyle has become a point of contention.

“I feel like this is a big conversation and every day I have people yelling at me on Twitter like you better have long hair, or you better have a mohawk, or you better wear the helmet, or you better not wear the helmet, so someone’s going to be mad.”

Bigger Picture

In general, in Trump’s America, the backlash against feminism and identity politics grows stronger. Of course, Marvel, being a global company, will retool the messages in the film in a way that’s palatable to international masses. That being said, the audience will notice the modern subtext, especially by conservative detractors.

The first trailer featured Danvers crashing into a Blockbusters, interacting with a young Nick Fury and punching an old woman in a subway train. Danvers’ military past, as well as her ties to the Kree, are emphasized, along with her potent cosmic powers.

The trailer shows that, underneath all the subtext of a feminism and a female superhero, we still have a fun, intriguing premise that can make for a good movie. Let’s hope that doesn’t get lost on either side of the feminist divide. Captain Marvel comes to theaters in 2019.

An earlier version of this article was posted on Medium and Upthrust. 

Venom: not as bad as critics say

HiFi Public recently checked out a screening of Venom, thanks to Star Cineplex. We, just like everyone else on the internet, thought it would not turn out to be a good one. Critics on the internet, such as renowned reviewers on IGN, did not praise the movie. Coming out after watching a screening of it, however, we feel it has been a better movie than most said it was. SPOILER WARNING as we’ll be talking about a few details of the movie not shown in the trailer.

Plot

Venom movie review-HiFi Public

The plot takes a back seat in the first ever Venom movie. It’s not quite as engaging as many of the better MCU films such as Winter Soldier. There are no plot twists, nothing groundbreaking harlot-wisest wise, it’s a pretty run of the mill affair. It’s worth noting that the Venom movie, even though associated with Marvel, does not tie into any of the MCU movies. At least, not in any way that was explicitly mentioned. The story of the movie revolves around the Life Foundation. They sent a spaceship out for recon, which found millions of alien life. These aliens are called symbiotes, just like in the comics.

As the spaceship returned with samples of said life, something goes wrong. One of the symbiotes, later revealed to be Riot, is a leader of the species. This Riot manages to break out of it’s container and infect the Captain of the shuttle, Jameson. If that name sounds familiar, that is because he’s the son of Spider-Man’s biggest critic, J. Jonah Jameson. The plot revolves around the Life Foundation killing homeless people in the name of science. Eddie Brock, disgraced reporter thanks to a run in with the Life Foundation’s CEO, finds this and goes to investigate. This is when he bonds with Venom, and the movie becomes a completely different genre.

Up until this point, the movie was not a comedy. Sure, there were jokes here and there, but the movie seemed serious. Venom, however, is not. He is a funny symbiote who in his words is a loser on his home planet. This is when the movie truly picks up. This also marks the point when we stopped caring for the plot.

Characters

Venom movie review-HiFi Public

Eddie Brock is played exceptionally well by Tom Hardy. Hardy really shines in this movie and makes the role his own. He also voices the Venom symbiote. Venom is the most interesting character in the movie. Even though the trailers make him out to be a badass, he really is not. He’s a real softy on the inside. Even though his original mission is to go back to his own planet and bring an invasion force, he changes his mind because of growing fond of Eddie and his world.

The rest of the cast is just kind of there to support these two protagonists. Michelle Williams plays Anne Weying, Eddie’s ex and his love interest in the film. Riz Ahmed plays a competent antagonist in Carlton Drake. The role could have been better if he was given a better script. Overall, this movie is a story of Eddie and Venom trying to work together, and in a buddy cop way that really works.

Action

Venom movie review-HiFi Public

The Venom symbiote really shines in the action scenes. The CGI is done well, but it’s nothing special in this day and age. The main gripe I have about this movie is it being rated PG. Without an R rating, it’s exceptionally difficult to portray Venom’s violence. Tom Hardy has mentioned that 40 minutes of the movie has been cut, scenes that he said were his favourite. This makes me think that an R rated directors cut could be on the way, which would be a way better movie than the family friendly Venom. The movie does a good job of making Eddie look clueless as Venom takes over. Venom also looks like an idiot at times, but never when he’s fighting.

Verdict

Venom movie review-HiFi Public

Venom is a deeply flawed movie. It has many problems that many superhero movies suffer from. The Venom symbiote is introduced almost halfway into the movie. The characters, aside from Eddie and Venom, are woefully underdeveloped. The ending is also a glorified CGI battle that many have loathed in recent years. The trailers of this movie also did a bad job in portraying that it would be closer to Deadpool than The Dark Knight. Yet, it is a stunningly entertaining movie. We enjoyed watching one of our favourite anti-heroes finally get the right treatment on the big screen. It was a movie that never took itself seriously, yet handled the symbiosis of Venom and Eddie with a surprising degree of maturity.

All in all, it’s a better movie than the critics give it credit for. A solid action-dark comedy, we would give this movie a 7 out of 10.

Watch it on Star Cineplex. It’ll be running this entire month.

Iron Fist gets better in second season, but is still not as great as it could be

Danny Rand is the Iron Fist. If you don’t know it yet, he would have gladly told you so in his previous appearances in Iron Fist Season One and The Defenders.

But now Danny Rand is a changed man: more humble, driven and ready to accept help from his friends. The change makes for a season two that is markedly better than the first outing but still leaves much to be desired in the wake of a powerful second season from Luke Cage.

More Competent Storytelling

The second season benefits hugely by dispensing with the Hand, whose presence has infected and dragged down many previous seasons of Netflix’s Marvel content. It also does away with the boardroom drama and corporate intrigue, so if you are one of the few people who liked that, then tough luck.

The majority of the season takes place in Chinatown, as Danny steps into the role of protector to honour Matt Murdock’s memory. Instead of literally following in Daredevil’s footsteps and beating the holy hell out criminals, Danny tries to keep the peace between rival gangs with the support of Colleen Wing, while Davos, his old frenemy from K’un Lun, returns to settle old scores.

Iron Fist

Danny Rand’s character is better, but he is still outshined by this supporting cast. Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) is calm and mature as ever, and as the season progresses, she slowly steps into the limelight as she explores her own past. She is joined, sometimes, by Misty Knight (Simone Missick) who instantly lights up the screen with her commanding aura and charm. Finn Jones, however, remains unconvincing in his role as the Immortal Iron Fist.

The Meachum siblings also return, dealing with the fallout of their father’s betrayal in different ways. Joy (Jessica Stroup) teams up with Davos and the cast’s newest addition, Mary Walker (Alice Eve). Eve delivers a terrific performance, though her character’s mental illness isn’t always portrayed in realistic terms. Ward is dealing with his lifelong abuse by his father by trying to open up to his loved ones and trusting them more.

New showrunner M. Raven Metzner (Falling Skies, Heroes Reborn) focuses on a streamlined story backed up by a core, robust cast. He also does a good job with fight scenes, which are a big step up from the shaky fights and obvious doubles of last year.

A Down-to-Earth Focus

The focus, this time around, is the idea that one needs to be worthy of the Iron Fist, and that Danny isn’t living up to the mantle. Davos taps into some real-life criticism when he accuses Danny of being a white tourist who co-opted K’un Lun’s culture and power by denying Davos from battling the dragon, Shou-Lao. Joy is lashing out against both Ward and Danny, but she still loves Ward too much to hurt him directly. She assists Davos in stealing the Iron Fist away from Danny.

The series both benefits and suffers from this simpler focus. In a show where the main character has a glowing fist that he gained from punching a dragon in the chest, there’s still a disappointing lack of dragons. The season is shorter, too, at ten episodes instead of the usual thirteen. It prevents the show from growing stale, but at the same time, there was no episode where it truly gained steam.

The series also suffers from the lack of a powerful and magnetic antagonist. Davos (Sacha Dewan) is a good secondary antagonist, but he lacks the screen presence to be a proper foil for Danny. Last season’s Harold Meachum and Bakuto were marginally better, but they are still far off from the likes of Wilson Fisk, Kilgrave and Cottonmouth.

Colleen Wing is perhaps the true star of this show. It remains to be seen how the show will handle her new role going forward, but Jessica Henwick has done a good job so far with what she has been given. Her chemistry with Simone Missick is noteworthy and points towards the possibility of a Daughters of the Dragon spinoff down the line. As it stands, Iron Fist earns the title of the most-improved show of Netflix’s Marvel line-up. The second season moves the story towards more interesting directions and hints towards exciting things to come.

A Somber Second Phase for Netflix

Netflix’s post-Defenders line-up, so far, has taken a muted approach to storytelling. That worked well enough in establishing Punisher’s own series, but Jessica Jones’ second season got too tangled in exploring thorny family issues and experimental superpowers that make people go insane. As it stands, Luke Cage’s stellar second outing is the true standout of this second phase, with Iron Fist being a distant second.

If you saw Iron Fist’s second season and found it wanting, don’t worry: Daredevil Season Three and Punisher Season Two aren’t that far off. Daredevil, in fact, lands at Netflix in October.

5 Bangladeshi superheroes you should know about

The age of superheroes is upon us. The last decade or so has seen almost as many comic book adaptations as the last century. Bangladeshi artists and storytellers may not be creating as much content as their western counterparts, but we can boast a couple of superheroes with roots in Bangladesh:

Shabash

Shabash, a parodycreated by Samir Rahman and Fahim Anzoom Rumman, satirizes superhero culture but uses its tropes against it. The atomic mango powered hero is often lazy and unmotivated. Shabash is more likely to take selfies, go on rickshaw rides than fight supervillains. Its sister title is more well known and deals with fighting social stigma.

Ms Shabash

The Magnum Opus of the duo, Ms Shabash is a world apart from the lazy Shabash. Shabnam, the investigative journalist, moonlights as the atomic mango powered superheroine who faces societal issues head on. Her alter ego rejects marriage proposals sternly, yet respectfully.

She battles villains like Whitewash, who gives herself superpowers through a lab accident. This is a nod to the struggle and stigma of being dark skinned in many Asian cultures such as Bangladesh.  Her fight with a battalion of robo-aunties via a dance-off was among the many memorable story lines and characteristic of the quirky but socially aware tone of the series.

Rishad

Created by HiFI Public’s very own Navid Hossain, and pencilled by Mehedi Haque, a legend of the Bangladeshi art scene. Rishad, 21, tries to leave home and make it on his own, but is stopped by destiny as he wakes up with a metal arm and a robotic eye. An epic tale of heroic-ism and deception follows. Hopefully a sequel is in the works, so we can see more of the gorgeous panels  

Enigma

Enigma is a character created by Paul Jenkins and Mark Buckingham, first appearing in Peter Parker: Spider-Man (vol. 2) issue #48.

Yes, THAT Spider-Man.

The young Tara Virango lived in the Bangladeshi village of Malpura when AGK inc. massacres the village by exposing it to a nano-virus that they were commissioned to make by the CIA. Tara survives the nano-virus, but lives with superhuman abilities. She moves to New York and adopts the alias Enigma, emulating a Buddhist goddess. Long story short, she and Spider-Man teams up and fights the evil AGK inc.

Even though she does not have her own comic, we hope that she is part of the wave of Marvel giving lesser known superheroes screen time (we can forsee a Netflix one-off appearance soon).

Read more: How to destroy your cinematic universe

Kali

Set in Dhaka, Kali is portrayed as a common woman with a vigilante alter-ego, roaming the streets fighting bad guys. Model-actress Azra Mahmood plays the titular role in the web series, which is directed by Amit Ashraf and released on the web platform Bioscope Live. By day, Amaya is a niqab wearing NGO worker, by night, an unmasked vigilante going by the name of Kali. Her commitment to fighting social injustice is motivated by her experience as a victim of an acid attack.

Special mention: Bizli

Bizli is a superhero that debuted in a movie of the same name this year in April. This was marketed as the first original superhero film written and produced in the country. Bizli, played by producer Bobby, is born with super powers like flight, super speed and lightning. Illiyas Kanchan plays her protective father, Dr. Alam. An evil scientist named Dr. Jerina, played by Shatabdi Roy, wants her powers for her own gains. While clichéd, the film is still the first big budget superhero movie made by a Bangladeshi, and so the efforts are applauded.

Honorable mention to the DC superhero Montpellier, appearing in three issues of The Shade, who was born in Bangladesh and later moved to Spain to become a superhero.

5 Bangladeshi superheroes you should know about 9

We hope to see so many more in the coming years!