“Mr Scorsese, you are a great filmmaker but you’re terribly wrong about the MCU”

First things first: regardless of what anyone says about your favourite film franchise, it will not diminish in value in your heart.

This was a necessary reminder to myself as I began to pen this article hoping to defend my unwavering love of MCU against comments made by the filmmakers of the most legendary films I know of including The Godfather and Taxi Driver.

When the likes of Scorsese and Coppola disparage everyone’s favourite superhero universe, it may sting at first but you can accept it, agree to disagree with it and leave it at that. But what might be worth exploring is the Hollywood cinema landscape, where it stands as of today, the role that Marvel plays in shaping its experience and what may have lead Oscar-winning filmmakers to make such comments.

Martin Scorsese: “That’s not cinema. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being,”

I remember watching Iron Man in 2008, the first time in the theatre. I loved every second of it and left enthralled. I was hooked from then onwards. This is the case for thousands of other fans but it is also true that Marvel fandom craze has increased exponentially with the never-ending release of one blockbuster film after another with captivating storylines, mature character developments and finally the integration and overlap of different superheroes’ lives and their ensuing character conflicts and chemistries in the Avengers films.

Since 2008, the MCU has seen award-winning actors and critically acclaimed filmmakers taking part in its films. Right from the very start with the likes of Robert Downey Jr. to Benedict Cumberbatch of more recent years. The franchise has also seen Hollywood giants such as Cate Blanchett and Jake Gyllenhaal take leading one-off roles in their films.

I say this because the kind of mainstream, general mass adoration that the MCU enjoys, objectively one wouldn’t think that it would attract a certain brand of “serious” actors. At the same time, when Marvel manages to secure established artists, it is a validation of the quality of content being produced by the studios we love to love. Not to mention that nearly all Marvel films have received favourable critic reviews.

Understanding the MCU effect

To put into context the cultural significance of MCU, Todd Phillips has been quoted saying “You can’t beat Marvel — it’s a giant behemoth. Let’s do something they can’t do.” To his immense credit, he has managed to make a film that is critical of many aspects of society, including its treatment of the poor and mentally ill and subsequently displays the horrifying reality that might in. Aided by Joaquin Pheonix’s soul-crushing performance, many have been compelled to called Joker a masterpiece.

Read more: Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix gets the last laugh!

It is not just nagging children and their parents who are forced to pay attention to Marvel’s latest releases. Instead, the franchise has been successful in making people from all backgrounds heavily, emotionally invested. As a result, the effects have forced players in the surrounding film industry to put MCU at the forefront of their minds.

Where does the cinematic value lie?

There are are a  few things to consider here. One that there is truth to Scorsese’s words about Marvel movies having a “theme park” like quality to them. It is every bit a larger than life experience that all but immerses the viewer into the superhero worlds themselves.

However, the fact that it is all these things neither necessarily diminishes the cinematic value of these films nor its effectiveness in storytelling. Captain America: Civil War struck a chord with the public in terms of the push and pull countries across the world experience with authorities and governing bodies. Most people will tell you that Thanos’ reasoning in the last two Avengers movies made sense to them.

At the end of the day, yes, the films are black and white.

You have the heroes to support and you have the monsters to be defeated. But through them, nothing prevents the authenticity of stories and the connection people feel to them from emerging.

Being somewhat of a film nerd, I have spent hours reading and watching interviews of various actors, directors and writers. If there is one thing I have learnt, it is that those who make the films which might make you laugh at their nonsensical premises, maybe some of the most intuitive and intelligent people you come across who are also more attuned with their audience. There is a particular kind of skill, intelligence and art to creating something that has the possibility of resonating with the majority and this is something that gets wildly ignored.

Even a movie that is filled with what may seem like pointless action and romance that doesn’t fit into the storyline can still manage to dole out a message to the public that is incredibly timely and important.

Bollywood director Rohit Shetty’s (known for films such as Golmaal and Dilwale) latest film Simmba is a perfect example of that. In the movie, a corrupt police officer played by Ranveer Singh goes through a change of heart and is compelled to fulfil his responsibilities when he learns of a rape case. Ultimately, the movie delivers some powerful dialogue in favour of women’s rights and harsh steps needed to be taken against sexual harassers.

Read more: Everything that’s wrong with Kabir Singh and why you should not enjoy it

Coppola: “When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration.”

I find it ironic that these stalwarts make such comments about films which are supposed to be a public service completely oblivious to how they come off as gatekeepers to a community of storytelling. It is unnecessary to mention it, but I will get the fact out of the way that they are entitled to their own opinions.

Historically we have seen established greats in any field be critical of the things that manage to garner mainstream attention. It has happened in literature, it continually occurs in visual art and so it shouldn’t be surprising that MCU is now facing this backlash. However, I would normally expect such filmmakers to completely ignore the existence of movies which they do not believe qualify as cinema.

The fact that Avengers: Endgame stands as the highest-grossing film of all time cannot be ignored in this scenario. The previous record-holder, Avatar, did not have 14 films to its franchise to garner this kind of response. Additionally, it has been said Scorsese had to fight his way through to get funding for his latest film, The Irishman starring Robert De Niro.

By the people, for the people?

I will make another case for this line of criticism. It is glaringly true that quality art is not necessarily rewarded with money in our world. This is an issue we find ourselves grappling with on the daily and will especially resonate with those who want to see better films being produced in our very own Bangladeshi industry. At the end of the day, the content that gets mass-circulated are the ones that the public wants to see.

When Coppola says that we expect to be inspired and learn something from the movies we watch, he is a hundred per cent correct.

What is incorrect is his implication that Marvel films fail to do any of that.

I can understand how it may seem that way to someone like him, but the reality is that he falls in an incredibly tight minority. Many people will agree that you require a certain level of education, awareness of films and literature and mental acuity to truly enjoy “high-thought” films. As sad as it may make you, there are too many people today who are not the correct audience for those films. Does that mean what does cater to an audience that is merely different, should be stopped from being produced? Surely not.

MCU will endure and so will cinema

The fact remains that Marvel films continue to touch hearts and inspire millions of people. Equally, there are those who are unaffected by them and expect movies to tell more nuanced stories with less definitive takeaways. While constructive criticism can guide actors, writers and directors to improve upon their work should they choose to, mere disqualification of a certain brand of movies can serve no purpose other than being a voice of one’s personal opinion. In any case, Marvel fans will look forward to Marvel continuing with what they do best.

Read more: What the future of Marvel looks like with Kevin Feige in control

As for those who see the truth in Scorsese and Coppola’s words, Marvel films alone cannot be the sole object of their scrutiny. Rather, a much larger and explorative discussion must be had on the structure of the Hollywood industry and how it can be equally rewarding to diverse forms of storytelling.

What the future of Marvel looks like with Kevin Feige in control

Marvel has gone through several changes throughout its history; with the film rights of many characters sold back and forth between different companies. The Marvel that once was has since evolved into a giant decade-defining cultural phenomenon, not least of which is due to Iron Man which came out in 2008, setting the tone for an unprecedented number of commercially successful movies with favourable critic reviews. A large part of this success is attributed to the late legend Stan Lee. The other part is said to be due to Kevin Feige, then President of Marvel Studios.

On October 15 it was announced that Kevin Feige has been newly assigned as the Chief Creative Officer of Marvel.

This means not only will he continue to be the creative head of Marvel Studios but he is also at the top of the chain of Marvel Entertainment and Marvel Comics. It can be seen as Marvel highlighting Feige’s importance in the company following his near-flawless run with the MCU movies since 2008. Now, Feige will directly answer to the co-chairmen of Disney, Marvel’s parent company.

Avengers: Endgame which went on to be the highest-grossing film worldwide, ever, surpassing Avatar, was a conclusion to many die-hard fans’ journey in the MCU through the lives of its different superheroes, all almost equally lovable, inspiring and somehow believable. Yet as announced in the comic con a few months ago, there remains a lot to look forward to in Marvel’s future.

It is reasonable and perhaps rightly ambitious for the decision-makers at Disney and Marvel to try and convert their success from blockbuster films to other avenues of entertainment and media.

Read more: The DCEU: Does it exist? How the Joker’s success influences it.

Marvel Television

Previously, Marvel television reported to Marvel Entertainment while Marvel Studios reported directly to Disney. For these corporate divides, there has been a lack of continuity among the storylines and the universe in the television shows and the films. For example, Agents of SHIELD Season 6 was released after Avengers: Infinity War, in which half the population of Earth was reduced to dust. However, none of this was referenced in season 6 of the TV show.

Given that now, Feige will be overseeing all aspects of Marvel creative output, there is likely to be overlaps between the characters from films and TV shows along with more streamlining of content.

It has not been long since streaming services have become a cultural need globally. With the rise of Netflix and Amazon Prime, television content has seen a revolutionary change in its development, quality and structure. Even five years ago, it would be difficult to imagine 21 time Oscar nominee Meryl Streep to be acting on television.

It makes sense for Marvel to shift resources and invest in web series and television shows.

Shows such as Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Daredevil though have received love from fans and critical praise, none of it amounted to the level as can be expected and hoped for the studios responsible for MCU. Now that Kevin Feige will be in control of Marvel Entertainment instead of making any accommodations for external studios such as ABC, it can be assumed that a better future lies ahead for Marvel TV.

Wanda Vision, The Falcon and Winter Soldier and Hawkeye (pending confirmation) are some of the shows that have been announced to be in production. It will be interesting to see how these characters who seem larger than life on the big screen will translate their performances for shorter runtime episodes, but longer narratives and character arcs. Undoubtedly most fans will be excited to be treated with the increased screen-time to watch their favourite heroes act. At the same time, others will be cautious to see how some of these bold moves will actually follow up to the staggering stories and acting left by the MCU alums. For example, will McKee be able to win over everyone’s hearts as Chris Evans was able to? A large role behind setting Marvel apart from other superhero films has been the absorption of the characters’ essences by the actors into their off-screen lives. In whatever moments we did get to see the likes of RDJ, Evans, Holland, Cumberbatch, Ruffalo, Hiddleston and Hemsworth in their own skin, they seemed every bit as we imagined them as their superhero characters.

Upcoming Marvel films

In case you missed it, here’s the list of upcoming movies for phase 4 in MCU:

  • Black Widow (2020)
  • Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (2021)
  • The Eternals (2020)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2021)
  • Black Panther 2 (2022)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3
  • Blade

Blade reboot

For fans who have been following MCU since the early days, the announcement of the rebooting of the film “Blade” is an iconic one.  This time it will be played by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali. This has given rise to some speculation and surprise as he has already played a different character in the MCU. In Luke Cage, he appears as Cornell Smith or otherwise known as Cottonmouth, a rival to the show’s protagonist. While there have been other instances of actors playing different roles in MCU, they have been minor roles such as Alfre Woodard who played a sorrowful mother Captain America: Civil War, and also a gangster in Luke Cage.

Fans will also wonder whether this creates an opportunity for other actors who have played different characters in the past to come back in new roles. But if Marvel has made one thing clear in the past, it is that it takes the job of casting very seriously.

While some have expressed concerns over the lack of continuity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since this is the first time an actor who has played the role of a major antagonist will star as the superhero in a film, it has already been decided that the current shows in production for Marvel will not be continued for long in the future. They have either been cancelled or are set to wrap up in the upcoming months. Instead, these changes and announcements made at San Diego Comic-Con all point to the fact that the upcoming phase of Marvel films and TV shows signify a new beginning for MCU with more streamlined content and continuity extending between the different storylines.

The launch of Disney+, Disney’s own streaming service is being combined with the release of these new shows which are bound to see greater reach and impact than previous Marvel shows. One of the astounding aspects of Marvel has been its sheer bravery in tackling the character developments and stories of a wide range of superheroes. It is indeed something to look forward to if it means we will catch a glimpse of the same ambitions in the TV shows.

Diversity in the MCU

Thor

Natalie Portman as Thor alongside Tessa Thompson as King of Asgard will be a force to reckoned with. Additionally, Thompson will be the first Marvel LGBTQ superhero. As of March 2019, Captain Marvel is the one and only female superhero centric film made by Marvel which followed the massively successful DC’s Wonder Woman in 2017. It can now be hoped that more Marvel films will be made focusing on the strengths, eccentricities and uniqueness of women. Given the fact that there is no scarcity of superhero men for children to look up to and emulate, it is high time that young girls are offered the same possibility.

Black Widow

Black Widow who is already a character that has won and broken millions of hearts is finally, deservedly getting her own origins film. Set to release in 2020, fans who remember the fleeting moments of her past we were shown in Avengers: Age of Ultron, will look forward to discovering more about her real life, back story and how she came about to get the name “Black Widow”.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be the first Asian American superhero film played by Simu Liu, known for playing in the Canadian sitcom, Kim’s Convenience. Shang-Chi is said to be produced with a similar motive behind that which made Black Panther a cultural phenomenon in terms of representation for minorities. Shang-Chi is a superhero originally created in 1972 when kung-fu films were made immensely popular in America by actors such as Bruce Lee.

Eternals

The ensemble cast of The Eternals, yet another Marvel movie in production, includes Kumail Nanjiani, a Pakistani-American actor which may be the first time we a see a Brown actor as a major superhero character. Aside from that, Marvel has been pushing them hard as the big supergroup next to the Avengers. While most of that was due in part to make up for the absence of X-men from their film universe; the purchase of Fox has landed X-Men back at Marvel. So it will be interesting to see where that takes the Eternals project.

Directors of the Upcoming Films

It is said that diversity will be promoted behind the screen as well for Marvel films as the directors of the upcoming announced movies feature women and people of colour. We hope the dedication to diversity is a dedication to quality as well.

Disney now has Fox and X men

While Fox has managed to produce some gems that will forever remain in fans’ minds, most people will be itching to see the complex X-men characters’ immense potential to be tapped into by Marvel studios. Though there have been no conclusive announcements as such for X-men movies in Marvel Studios yet, this will definitely be an arena to look into for Marvel’s future.

Marvel Comics

Things are looking up for Marvel comics since Feige is clearly a comic book fan. Ike Perlmutter who previously had more control does not share the same reputation. However, avid comic book readers share some concerns.

Some fear that in a bid to make comic book sales increase, Marvel might consider rebooting and reviving the comic book universe entirely. While this has happened before for certain storylines, most readers feel that it is worth continuing the previously written stories.

It is also feared that due to the massive success of MCU, certain changes are being reflected upon in the comics.

The style has been said to aesthetically resemble the MCU throughout the more recent issues. It is sad if the comics start imitating the films since the films in the first place owe their roots, stories and characters to the comic books.

It would be interesting to see how Marvel can attract the potential comic book readers among the MCU fans with the changes it could make, keeping in mind that the original, hard-core fans of Marvel comics are a completely different kind of audience.

Aside from being heartbroken by the ending of Avengers: Endgame, many fans were also fearing whether this was some sort of a goodbye to Marvel as a whole. But with all their new announcements in San Diego Comic-Con followed by the promotion of Kevin Feige, Marvel has made clear that not only will they continue their run of great storytelling, but they are about to diversify and branch out which is sure to bring forward a much-anticipated phase 4.

Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix gets the last laugh!

“My life isn’t a tragedy it’s a fucking comedy!”  – Arthur Fleck 

Love him or hate him, but Joaquin Phoenix is Gotham’s new Clown Prince of Crime!

Todd Phillip’s reimagining of the iconic comic book villain is a disturbing look into human psychology. One that will leave you feeling increasingly unsettled as the story unfolds.

Read more: How to destroy your cinematic universe

The Plot

Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix gets the last laugh!

Set in 1981, the film follows Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City. 

Other characters who play a significant role in Arthur’s descent into madness are eccentric talk show host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), Penny Fleck (Frances Conroy) Arthur’s Mother who is both mentally and physically ill and Sophie Dumond (Zazie Beets) Arthur’s love interest.

Joker isn’t your typical action-packed popcorn flick. But a cinematic journey that gives us a chilling insight into the Joker’s origins while still paying homage to the Batman mythology.

A unique take on Joker

Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix gets the last laugh!

While Heath Ledger’s Joker in the Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was a representation of anarchy and social unrest, Phoenix’s interpretation of the role deals with themes of alienation, depression and personality identity and a character that audiences can sympathize with on a more realistic level.  

While we’ve generally come to understand the Joker from the Batman movies as a psychotic, mass-murdering criminal with complete disregard to human life, Phoenix adds another layer of depth to the character, revitalizing the Joker as a symbol of discrimination and a reflection of the daily oppression we struggle within society.   

The verdict

Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix gets the last laugh!

The film itself is a refreshing break from the star-studded CGI superhero movies we’ve generally been accustomed to in recent years and DC has done justice by introducing a story that is entertaining but at the same time pragmatic and grounded. 

All things considered, Joker is not for the faint-hearted.

It’s a fascinating character biopic and a gripping tale on a character we’ve all known more or less since childhood. It doesn’t have the jaw-dropping moments of Infinity War or Justice League. But Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-worthy performance alone enough satisfies your appetite by keeping you at the edge of your seat from start to finish. 

Joker is now running in Star Cineplex and Blockbuster Cinemas.

How to destroy your cinematic universe

The concept of a shared cinematic universe where a series of movies would be connected with each other with its own individual plot and an overall arching story that would lead to big pay off in another movie down the line was created by Marvel Studios with the after credits of 2008’s Iron Man.

This paid dividends for the then fledgling and now the juggernaut in the Cinematic World.

With success comes a host of competitors that will try to give a shot at the successful idea.

However other than Marvel and in a much smaller capacity The Conjuring movie series, no one has been able to crack the code for a successful cinematic universe.

Whether due to sheer incompetence, greed, not understanding the strength and weakness of the properties and just not having a plan, there are a number of factors studios can cause for a studio’s cinematic universe to crash and burn even before it lifts off the ground.

Overestimating your strengths

Destroying your cinematic universe-HiFi Public

One of the fundamental reasons why a cinematic universe blows up is because most studios do not evaluate whether or not their properties, for example, can be adapted into a cinematic universe format.

The properties must have enough depth and characters that could be organically be stretched out into multiple movies without feeling forced. Marvel, DC and even Star Wars can pull this off because there are numerous stories written about those characters from many different writers in many formats, that the studios can simply pick and choose which one to go for.

For most studios they don’t have that luxury and instead of creating a traditional good first movie and then follow up with great sequels, they announce a cinematic universe with whatever IPs they have. The biggest example being the Universal Monster Dark Universe Cinematic Universe that was poorly thought out and it crashed and burn with only one movie in its slate. The 2017 reboot of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise.

Time will tell whether the planned WB Godzilla Kaiju Universe, Hasbro Transformers and their other toy line up universe will meet the same fate.

Not having a plan or direction

Destroying your cinematic universe-HiFi Public
Credit: SyFY Wire

One of the most baffling events that came out of the entertainment world is the DCEU or as it is now known Worlds of DC in general.

From hiring directors and them leaving midway through production, from Zack Snyder’s total control of it and then the Execs of WB taking control from him, from various movies being announced that no one asked for and then getting cancelled these developments clearly shows that WB never had a solid game plan for their cinematic universe and that indecision clearly shows in their movies as well.

With the exception of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Shazam, all the Worlds of DC branded movies either underperformed in terms of critically and commercially or both and generally they are seen as inferior to the MCU.

Read more: Shazam is the new magic word for DCEU!

The planning and the logistic behind the MCU is something that most studios don’t take any heed to it. That is one of the core reason why cinematic universes crash and burn even without getting a chance to fully form because the studios expect to land on the moon first before properly figuring it out how to get out of earth’s orbit in the first place.

Pacing and patience

Destroying your cinematic universe-HiFi Public
Credit: USA Today

For the all the talk about the MCU success most fail to see the one crucial step they took that no one up to now did. They never announced from the get-go that the First Iron Man movie was gonna be the start of their cinematic universe. They focused on making a great movie that can stand on its own first and then gave the small teaser of their plans in the end credit scene.

Read more: A love letter to MCU from a fan with no ticket

This was done so that they can create goodwill at first with the general audience and then in the subsequent movies slowly start to reveal their master plan cumulating in the First Avengers Movie and now their phase four.

Compare this with DCEU BVS which was tasked the monumental task of Introducing Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor and the entire Justice League in one sitting and also other numerous Easter eggs that were supposed to lead into other movies.

Sadly what resulted is a bloated mess of a movie that didn’t have any direction and character motivations and some scenes were done purely to tease the other future movies which created a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie that lacks focus.

Not exploring alternate options

Destroying your cinematic universe-HiFi Public

This article already talked a great length about the MCU when it comes to cinematic universes, however, there is another name that can be added to that list, The Conjuring Universe.

Rather than making the mistakes above they simply went on a different direction than all of the rest of the Marvel Imitators. They simply made one good movie and then created a sequel and based on the audience reaction on the sequels secondary villains or tertiary characters they made spinoffs about it and slowly in a matter of years created a cinematic universe of their own.

While the Conjuring Universe cannot be compared to Marvel in terms of financial and critical and cultural significance, at least that cinematic universe is done right.

The Lesson that can be taken from the conjuring universe is that other than the previous lessons above is sometimes a cinematic universe from the onset is not a must. You can simply create a good movie, have goodwill and slowly from there through sequels or spin-offs or prequels organically have a cinematic universe.

Not every series of movies need to have all the characters team up, in the end, to fight a big bad in the ultimate team-up movie.

Marvel reveals its Phase four. Includes Loki, Blade and more!

MCU fans assemble! Earlier today at SDCC, Marvel Studios announced its phase four of films and tv shows. Phase four deals with the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame and several prequels that we surely are excited for. Some of these include the reprisal of fan favourite Blade and the possible reprisal of Fantastic Four and X-Men series.

Here are all the films and tv shows in chronological order as they will be coming out in phase four:

Black Widow (May 1st, 2020) 

Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Fall 2020)

The Eternals (November 6th, 2020)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021)

WandaVision (Spring 2021)

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (May 7th, 2021)

Loki (Spring 2021)

What If (Summer 2021)

Hawkeye (Fall 2021) and 

Thor: Love and Thunder (November 5th, 2021)

Phase four has some really interesting stories in the box for us. We will see the origin of Black Widow and Hawkeye and the movies will most likely explore their infamous Budapest mission that they keep mentioning!

We will see Anthony Mackey don his Captain America suit and shield in Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Shang Chi will introduce the real Mandarin. (Yeah, we want to forget Iron Man 3 too)

Thor: Love and Thunder will give us Jane Foster wielding the Mjolnir as the female Thor.

And What If will be a non-canon animated series that will be an alternate take on the MCU universe. Like, what would happen if Loki had found Thor’s Hammer!

Speaking of Loki, we are getting a Loki TV show! Yay.

We eagerly look forward to Disney’s D23 conference next month for more information!

Spider-Man: Far From Home is a fun trip that lives up to expectations

The wall-crawling Avenger is back to close the phase 3 of MCU. This time the stakes are higher and some unanswered questions are addressed. This is a spoiler-free review, so keep reading.

Read more: A love letter to MCU from a fan with no ticket

Spider-man: Far from home takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame where the Avengers re-snapped the universe. So fan expectations were unusually high. Does Peter Parker deservedly carry on the legacy of his mentor Tony Stark?

Far From Home, the sequel to Homecoming, easily bests its predecessor.

Homecoming ignored repetitive things like the death of uncle Ben, the hardship of Aunt May and the origin story of Peter Parker becoming a superhero.

However, Spider-man: Far From Home ups the ante and tries something that has never been done with this character. Peter is on the verge of becoming a responsible individual, only to be hindered by teenage angst and identity crisis. For the first time, a Spider-Man film did not take place entirely in New York.

Destination Europe

Spider-man: Far From Home is a fun trip that lives up to expectations

The world mourns the death of the fallen Avengers, but life goes on and Peter is prepping for a Euro trip with his school buddies. He wants to leave behind his spandex life and spend some quality time with MJ. Unbeknownst to him, aunt May packed his luggage with a suit (which will come in handy later in the film).

Peter plans to ask out MJ in Europe. The high schoolers visit Venice, Paris and other landmarks but the Euro trip goes haywire when a supervillain named the Elementals start destruction in Venice. Peter and his friends were just off a boat. He left his suit in the hotel room. with a pair of web shooters his utmost effort to stop the antagonist was not enough.

Spider-man: Far From Home is a fun trip that lives up to expectations

That’s when the fan-favourite Mysterio aka Quentin Beck arrives in the scene. He teams up with Peter but almost single-handedly stops the destruction. We see a glimpse of Mysterio in the opening scene of the film, where Nick Fury and Maria Hill acts as a witness.

Fury coerces a reluctant Peter to suit up and go to his secret lair. Peter finds out Quentin Beck is working with Fury to take down the Elementals. Quentin hints of a multiverse, claiming he came from Earth, just not the one Peter lives in. Throughout the movie, other versions of the Elementals make an appearance. These villains were loosely based on old Marvel characters like Hydro-Man and Molten Man, giving fans a scope to replenish some comic book memories.

To be honest, it is hard to write a no spoiler review of Far From Home, without telling enough about the plot. There’s deception, old enemies and loads of surprise to keep you on the edge of your seat. Peter inherits a pair of high tech glasses named Edith (courtesy of Tony Stark), capable of worldwide surveillance and destruction. Edith plays a central role in the movie, putting Peter on the forefront of enemies he must stop.

An entertaining thrill ride

John Watts returns in the director’s chair, and he does a good enough job to give Spider-Man the opportunity to shine as an Avenger when the world is at stake. The brilliant cast is the heart of the show, you will be occupied with laughter, emotional turmoil and gasping for more throughout the movie.

Spider-man: Far From Home is a fun trip that lives up to expectations

Tom Holland is impressive, but Jake Gyllenhaal’s first outing as Mysterio is something to die for. Samuel L Jackson is as charismatic as he was in the other MCU entries and seems like he’s not leaving the Marvel world anytime soon. Zendaya plays an unconventional MJ, putting a refreshing vibe on the character. Jacob Batalon’ Ned Leeds is the quintessential friend Peter needs by his side. He is super funny and provides some essential jokes to make the audience smile.

There are two post-credit scenes that might just be the best part of the movie.

Far From Home is the last MCU movie of 2019 and albeit an unmissable one.

Get your tickets from Star Cineplex to watch Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Thanos google search: Genius marketing?

The long-awaited conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is upon us. Avengers: Endgame is about to/has hit theatres, depending on where you’re living. It truly is the end of an era, as more than a decade of storytelling reaches its climax.

Avengers: Endgame is perhaps the single most important cinematic landmark in recent history. And it is great to see Marvel and Google throwing out some compact but fun details to lead up to the big deal.

Go to google and search Thanos. A small infinity gauntlet icon can be noticed beside the usual webpage.

Click on it, and the page randomly scrolls down to different weblinks and snappily(kek) eradicates them.

Small easter eggs like this go a long way for hyping the monumental occasion. Sure, trailers and teasers have their place and have honestly taken on a lot more importance than they used to due in no small part to Marvel.

But you can’t help but wonder if this is the future of marketing. Little things like these go to show the effort and enthusiasm those in charge have put into the project. It has its way of speaking to the fans, and like any conversation, the fans feel inclined to reply.

We have waited long for the culmination of the Avengers plotline. And the Thanos gauntlet trick shows that the people involved with the project are just as excited as we are. Now if only the figured out a way to eradicate the spoiler people.

Marvel’s Avengers Endgame launches in theatres on 26th April. We are sure you have gone through much to acquire tickets. So go earn your stay. And for those of you who haven’t gotten tickets yet, we feel you.

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

A roadmap to Endgame: Everything you need to know

With the hype of not only Marvel fans but also, DC fans, if you have decided to go for the cherry on top which is Avengers: Endgame then we understand your distress upon watching all the movies so far. However, we know how tricky it can get to decide to opt for something that ends the whole saga of Marvel Cinematic Universe series of different superheroes and their endless battles which leads up to the final movie.

If you cannot watch the 22 vastly articulated films which lead to Endgame itself, do not worry because we have a short road map which might help you catch up with the marathon!

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

IRON MAN (2008)

The marathon essentially starts with 2008’s Ironman starring Robert Downey Jr. however, not all the details would help you catch with the drift, but it is the starting of something beautiful. We see Tony Stark embarking on a journey of protecting the civilization with this creation and invention of explosives and weapons for mass destruction. The presentation of the relationship of Tony Stark and Pepper Pots is just as important for us to notice, as it carries a significant importance to Ironman himself.

THOR (2011)

Get ready to be distracted by Chris Hemsworth’s luscious locks and hard abs because there is no actor better to play the role of thunder god, the mighty hero from Asgard. What is important for us to see is the role of Thor, his hammer and him ascending to Earth as it leads to multiple more parts as weel.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011)

This movie is not only known for a step towards the marathon but it also is very well known for its representation of the World War II and role of women through the relationship of Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter, one of the founding agents of SHIELD. In the movie we see a skinny soldier turned into a hero-like representation of America, thanks to the ‘super-serum solder’ administered by the U.S Government. Why this movie, gets more attention is because The First Avenger showed the very first Infinity Stone which is called “The Tesseract”.

MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS (2012)

If you skipped Thor and The Incredible Hulk, this movie will help you to catch up with the details before they team up to battle a “Tesseract wielding Loki”. The film also shows us the importance of various main heroes who were previously cameo characters such as the Black Widow and the Hawkeye himself. However, this movie shows the core team of Avengers and a glimpse of the famous ‘purple evil alien’ we all know as Thanos.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)

Captain America’s transition from a S.H.E.I.L.D vigilante to a well-known superhero is beautiful transformation. But what is worth noticing is Cap pledges allegiance to his friend to the government, ultimately tearing the Avengers apart.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)

The MCU production now jumped from one planet to the other to bring us closer to Thanos himself. The movie represents Star Lord’s ability to hold an Infinity Stone as a part of his lineage. The Power Stone is kept for safekeeping in Xandar which is destroyed off-screen.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron..Ultron..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel 2015

The movie which was hyped in Bangladesh not only for the Marvel fans, but also because it showed a scene of the Chittagong shipyard which quickly stirred more attention on social media. The movie might not be as entertaining as the first but it is important to see the creation of Vision by the power of the Mind Stone in Loki’s scepter. Here we also see one of the important characters known as Scarlet Witch.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016)

Tony Stark and Steve Roger’s previous concerns come to a head because of Bucky and people’s unease with the group of superheroes destroying and creating chaos around the city to demolish problems they were responsible for. We also get to see introductions of Black Panther and Spiderman.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017)

If you decide to skip the movie because of the bare minimum relation it has with Endgame, you could. However, one of the reasons why this movie is recommended is to see the relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker as both of them grow a beautiful bond which extends to one of the most emotional scenes in Avengers: Infinity War.

THOR: RAGNAROK (2017)

Now the story line of Thor might be repetitive leading to a cycle of losing and gaining power of thrones, but what this movie concentrates on, is how Loki gets his hands on Tesseract, the introduction of Doctor Strange and the destruction of Asgard which leads the refugees to run into Thanos.

BLACK PANTHER (2018)

One of the most anticipated movies last year was Black Panther itself as it was the leading movies in MCU to represent black empowerment so uniquely. The movie is the introduction of the superhero T’Challa and his community in Wakanda which we will also see in the movie Avengers: Infinity Stone.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018)

If you haven’t watched all the movies, as a hardcore fan of MCU would, we assume that this movie might have stirred your interest with the yearlong memes and theories. Now, if you have not watched this movie, we strongly urge you to get a bowl of popcorn and sit through it all because both Infinity War and Endgame were shot and written simultaneously. We won’t spoil this much for you but it will spark a lot of questions in your mind, this we can guarantee.

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018)

One of the many reasons why fans speculate this movie came after Infinity War was because he might play a major role in saving the world from Thanos. And the fans were not wrong. The post credit scenes of the movie take place after Thano’s snap and the consequences of Civil War. Do keep in mind that the Ant Man and its sequel plays an important role in the Endgame.

CAPTAIN MARVEL (2018)

Captain Marvel is initially known as Vers, a Star Force Agent from Kree race. She carries some powerful abilities such as super strength, physical endurance and the power to shoot blasts of energy with her fingertips. The Kree previously portrayed as villains before in Guardians of the Galaxy and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. With the strong 90s vibe and complex storyline Captain Marvel will not disappoint you.

The release of Avengers: Endgame is on the 26th of April and get ready to stand in the never-ending line and tackle the hyped fans for popcorn and drinks because this year will be the most awaited year, as the journey comes to an end. So, are you ready for it?

Marvel, Netflix and the future of streaming

If you subscribe to a video streaming service, it’s quite possible that you don’t have much to complain about regarding things to watch. Online video streaming services have firmly and quite rightfully put the nail in the coffin of cable TV service for a long time now. Having a lot of movies and TV shows on demand is quite appealing, it turns out. The cable model was too inefficient and expensive compared to streaming, and thus a mass exodus occurred which saw a millions of viewers switching to streaming services, completely disrupting the cable market. And now the streaming market is about to be disrupted as well. The irony is it’s doing it to itself.

Shutting down beloved shows

Marvel, Netflix and the future of streaming 1

It wasn’t too long ago that Luke Cage and Iron fist, both parts of Marvel’s extended TV universe, were pulled from Netflix. These cancellations could have been attributed to the shows’ quality, which didn’t exactly agree with everyone. But the shock came with the most recent cancellation of Marvel’s Daredevil, the oldest and inarguably the most popular of Marvel’s TV shows on Netflix. And that it occurred after a critically acclaimed third season added to the surprise. “Why is this happening?” is the question that haunts the viewer.

Well, a statistic from Jumpshot suggests despite the great quality of Daredevil’s third season, viewership for the show had gone down by almost a third compared to the earlier seasons. But thing is that viewership was still nothing to ignore. It would only get more popular because of how good it was. The real reason lies in a much larger issue. Disney, Marvel’s parent company, plans to launch its own streaming service, Disney+.

Disney pulling out

A direct competitor to Netflix?

Disney’s plans to launch their own streaming service constitute a multitude of problems. First of all, Disney+ will be a direct competitor to Netflix. This makes having one of Disney’s shows on their platform basically serves as an advertisement for a rival company. Moreover, Disney is adopting an aggressive approach to this service. They are gobbling up all the IPs it can get its hands on. It is unlikely that we’ll get to see these shows on their streaming service. Disney has made it quite clear that Disney+ will be a PG-13 rated family friendly product. No R-Rated movies or shows on it, those will be released by Hulu of which Disney currently owns 30%.

Too many services

Disney’s decision gives light to a bigger issue, the influx of streaming services. Netflix has always had solid competitors in Amazon Prime or Hulu, but now it’s about to have a lot more. Disney has already announced its plans. Then there’s NewTV by DreamWorks which plans to provide original 10-minute shows, DC Universe, the heavily rumored Apple TV. These along with existing services like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon and HBO are about to flood the streaming service cyberspace and seriously confuse your wallet.  

The struggle for consumers

Statistics from PCMag.com

Now all this competition should sound like a win for the consumers. Yet, there are multiple reasons why this might be actually very bad. For a person with varied taste, this is actually the worst kind of news. The most recent struggle between Disney and Netflix indicates that the streaming service industry is becoming a zero-sum game. Relationships between distributors are already evidently getting worse and it will probably morph into a battle for distribution rights. Disney’s acquisition policy is just the tip of the iceberg of how studios are looking to acquire rights to distribute movies and TV shows exclusively. Every studio seems like it has tied down some product and it’s only available legally if you are subscribed to their streaming service. If you are a fan of both Star Wars and Narcos, you need to have both Disney+ and Netflix subscriptions to watch both.

Loss of variety

Netflix has attempted to produce originals for their subscribers that one couldn’t watch anywhere else. They’ve spent around $13 Billion in 2018 only on original content. And for a while, each competitor was producing original content that was great. But as the industry grew, virtually every premium channel has its own paid subscription app.

As competitors increase, the world of entertainment is becoming more partitioned.

There is no all-in-one solution anymore, not even a most-in-one solution. Of course, there are a lot more choices now, but each choice is becoming more decentralized.

This will only worsen in the future. Each competitor will attempt to launch its own unique variety of shows and movies. No entertainment entity will have a wide choice of entertainment in one place. There has already been an increase in piracy which can be partially attributed to this cause. There might be many more adverse effects we will observe as the golden age of streaming comes to an end.

Not good news for users

More competitors may sound like lower prices, but there’s a bare minimum. Below this amount companies aren’t willing to produce, so costs won’t be lowered too much; at least if Disney+ and the rumored Apple TV models are any indication. The future is still uncertain. For now, all we can do is give a nervous welcome to the Punisher and Jessica Jones series continuations as they reach their second and third seasons respectively; and bid a confused farewell to Daredevil, where the journey began and apparently has started to end.