DC’s latest superhero film Aquaman reviewed and discussed!
By now, I’m fairly confident everyone has seen the blockbuster hit Avengers: Infinity War and some of you might be on multiple viewings (I’m on three and counting). It’s an incredibly enjoyable film that serves as the first act in a two-part conclusion to over a decade of world building and movies from Marvel Studios, and for me, it hit the nail firmly on the head when it comes to entertainment, amazing action sequences and sheer fun. It also did very well at raising the stakes to hitherto unseen proportions (yes I did really just say hitherto unseen) as well as bracing the audience for the inevitable; the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is set to change, and drastically. These films have essentially been a big budget TV series strung out across ten years. The so far untitled Avengers 4 will be the end of “Season 3” and this is where the bell of change will be rung.
What Do We Know?
Speculation is, of course, nothing without some facts to fuel the fire and in typical Marvel fashion, we don’t really know anything about how Avengers 4 will unravel. We do know however that we’re getting two films beforehand; Ant-Man & The Wasp and Captain Marvel, the latter of the two will become significantly important to the plot and outcome of the Avengers film. Before that though, the latest Ant-Man instalment should be the lighthearted relief we all need after the gut punch that was the ending of Infinity War, the trailers so far have leaned on the comedy aspect of the movie, which will surely be delivered in spades. As for Captain Marvel, not much is known at present other than it will be set in the 90’s, which likely explains the modified beeper Nick Fury whipped out at the end of Infinity War’s post-credits scene to contact Captain Marvel.
What I think
So with those limited facts in place, let’s start with the next film set to come out; Ant-Man & The Wasp. As already established, this will be the comedic relief we require post finger snap. It’s also fairly obvious that the majority of this movie will take place before or during the events of Infinity War, however, I have a feeling that the end of the film could line up exactly with Thanos’ snap and we see one or more of the characters fade away. My feeling is Wasp gets turned to dust and this is what sparks Scott Lang to join up with the remainder of the Avengers in the fourth film and figure out a way to un-do what Thanos achieved. (More on this later).
Now for Captain Marvel. I’ve got a basic knowledge of her power set from the comic lore, but essentially she could stop the Hulk with her little finger. The point is, she should be a match for Thanos. Delving a bit further into the comic book backstory, in the original run of “The Infinity Gauntlet” a character called Adam Warlock gets hold of the Infinity Gauntlet that we saw Thanos equipped with, and manages to put a stop to all of the conflict. While this character has been teased and confirmed by Guardians director James Gunn, his absence from Infinity War makes it unlikely that he will feature in Avengers 4. Instead, I think this role will be given to Carol Danvers; Captain Marvel. Similar to Warlock, Danvers has been missing in action and I think it’s a fair assumption to think she’s locked in a cosmic conflict far from Earth (hence the strange appendices on the beeper Nick Fury used). But why haven’t we seen her yet? Surely if she’s so powerful, she could have quelled the events that took place in New York and Sokovia with relative ease? This is my lingering question heading into her solo movie and one that I’m sure will be answered, but my instinct is to assume her adventures take utmost priority over Earthly matters and Fury was quite content to let his Avengers deal with the threats to Earth, until now.
Avengers 4 Predictions – Ant Man’s Involvement
Circling back to Ant-Man and how he can be a catalyst for change for Avengers 4; there have been leaked set photos showing Ant-Man, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Captain America in what looks to be New York and more specifically, set during the crisis of the first Avengers film. So what on Earth is going on there? Well, diving further, the team appear to be using a device affixed to their arms, and I have two theories on this. The first and perhaps more boring is that they are using Tony’s BARF contraption to re-visit the event and see if there are any clues as to how to take down Thanos, which is plausible but not as exciting as my second idea; they’ve gone back in time using the Quantum Realm. If you recall from the first Ant-Man, the Quantum Realm is a dimension accessed by the original Wasp who shrunk herself to sub-atomic levels in order to disable a Soviet missile; the price paid was heavy, however, as she continued to shrink for all eternity in a realm where space and time are irrelevant. Let’s stop there and focus on that part; if space and time are meaningless than it’s not a stretch to imagine this strange dimension can be used as a tool to travel back in time if manipulated correctly. I believe there will be a plot within Ant-Man & The Wasp whereby Hank Pymm (the original Ant-Man) will again embark on a journey to find his long-lost wife and thus open the door for exploration within this fascinating realm. Leaping further still, the attachments on the arms of the Avengers seen in the set photos could be the tools that they have used to enter the Quantum Realm and thus go backwards in time, again to learn about Thanos or even re-write history, perhaps destroying the mind and space stones that were present on the battlefield that day?
What About the Dead Heroes?
“Mr Stark… I don’t feel so good.” We all got a lump in our throats when Peter Parker croaked out these words as he was about to fade away into nothing, followed by an emotional breakdown and desperation to cling on to life before Spider-Man was wiped out before our eyes. Once he and Black Panther were “gone” I knew this would be reversible. There’s simply no way Marvel axe two of their biggest stars right now, plus Spider-Man 2 has already been announced and while yes, plans can change, it’s unlikely that particular one will. So this is where things get somewhat tricky. To my mind, it’s difficult to undo all of what Thanos achieved without completely undermining him and his efforts and the struggle of the first act of this two-part conclusion. There needs to be a satisfying way to bring back the newer Avengers, but before that, let’s remind ourselves of what happened. Thanos snapped his fingers and our heroes turned to dust. But briefly, before the dusting happened, Thanos was transported into the Soul Stone and came face to face with Gamora. What does this mean? Is Gamora still alive? How did she end up in the Soul Stone? Let’s take a pause here and rewind slightly. Again I’m going to lean on the comic lore here for some explanation. Within the pages of the story, the Soul Stone actually houses the Soul World, which is where many of the heroes get trapped, and where the aforementioned Adam Warlock actually resides and eventually joins up with those locked in this dimension. So if we take that information and apply it to the current MCU, I think it’s entirely possible that our “New Avengers” will be locked in here, along with the rest of everyone else who died and will figure out a way to get out, thus giving them their first chance to bond and gel as a team. One such hero, Doctor Strange could well be the link tying in all of the teams; he can astral project his form to Tony Stark et all and they can concoct a plan together to get free and finally all be united against Thanos instead of fractured divisions attempting to attack the Mad Titan in isolated pockets. I think this is where we’ll get the ultimate money shot of the entire ensemble of heroes standing together against Thanos with the Avengers theme blaring in the background.
How Does it End?
While we’re having this epic faceoff, I think this will be the introduction of Captain Marvel and she’ll rip the gauntlet straight off of Thanos and wield it herself, banishing the Titan away using the power of the Infinity Stones to reverse the damage caused, before herself removing the gauntlet and taking it away for safe keeping. I think the team deserves a heroic send-off like this and the film could end on an overwhelmingly positive note, with all of the team gathered at Tony and Pepper’s wedding before the old guard such as Captain America, Tony Stark, Black Widow, Thor and Hulk bow out gracefully to usher in the new era of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Conversely, however, it could go the other way in the form sacrifice. Perhaps the Soul World requires a trade of sorts and thus the heroes must sacrifice themselves to save the new crop, i.e. Tony Stark for Peter Parker, Steve Rogers for Bucky etc. It’s a darker variation of the above, in that the old guard still get to bow out, but I don’t think this will be happening, as it could cause a certain amount of resentment for the new team as they would only be there because one of our favourites had to go.
Quick Fire Minor Predictions
Alright, those are my big thoughts, but here are some other quick things I think could be happening;
- Tony Stark is the new Director of Shield (set photos has him in Shield attire)
- Hulk will finally come out, perhaps due to an unrivalled amount of rage such as Black Widow dying?
- Captain Marvel will fight Hulk to control his rage
- Tony and Steve will finally reconcile and it’ll be wonderful
- Vision will be “reborn” with his all-white attire
- Hawkeye will be back in action following the death of his family, post “snapping”
- Thanos won’t be killed, but will instead retire to life as a farmer (as happened in the comics)
- Steve Rogers will be relinquishing the title of Captain America, one way or another
That about wraps it up. I adored Infinity War and I can’t wait to see the conclusion to this thrilling saga, I truly have faith that the writers and creative team will do it complete justice and we’ll be able to look back on this past decade in years to come as a truly amazing period of cinema history which took the comic book genre out of obscurity and into the mainstream.
We have arrived at last to the culmination of a ten-year journey that has spawned multiple films, sequels and of course, massive team up movies. When Avengers: Assemble was released in 2012, I couldn’t believe it. To me, seeing comic book heroes from multiple films co-exist in the same universe and fight against a singular foe was nothing short of spectacular; it had never been done before and it truly felt like a comic book had been brought to life. Of course, the film was an enormous success and continued to fuel the very profitable and entertaining freight train that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Their competitors have failed spectacularly in their attempt to try and jump on the bandwagon and create a cinematic universe overnight and as such, Marvel Studios (owned by Disney) are not only setting the bar, they are the bar.
It’s no surprise then, that excitement and anticipation for the latest film (Avengers: Infinity War) has reached fever pitch. Everywhere you look, you see the iconic symbolism and characters plastered on billboards, posters and even illuminating towers. This has filtered down to the public, myself included and I simply can’t remember being as excited for a film since X-Men: Days of Future Past. (Full disclaimer, X-Men are my favourite comic book heroes bar none, period.)
The first trailer is something I’ve probably watched over fifty times by now, and each time I never fail to get goosebumps as the “Avengers Theme” blares out at the climax of the trailer. It’s been an ever-present in the films and is the perfect backdrop to the epic visual image of the heroes charging into battle.
Death, Darkness, and Doom
With that said, however, there is a slight cause for trepidation. The trailers, clues and other such media are all hinting at this film having serious consequences; i.e. big character deaths and a villain that is not going to be taken lightly. It’s foolish to compare Thanos to anything we’ve seen before in terms of antagonists, but my cause for concern comes from Ultron. All the marketing and trailers centered around a very dark tone, with Ultron being portrayed as a huge threat that would cause our heroic team to be really against it. The first trailer really epitomizes this for me and I believe many others felt the same, which is why some fans were left disappointed with the film, as they weren’t served what they thought they ordered. Instead of a menacing, dark and serious villain, we got a quick-witted James Spader voiced robot trading quips with Tony Stark. Although there were consequences (Quicksilver dying) this wasn’t as impactful, as he was a new character. The trailers and “reading in between the lines” had Hawkeye earmarked as the sacrificial lamb, but this clever misdirection from Marvel kept the true death a secret, albeit a somewhat underwhelming one.
The point is that yes, the media so far is nothing short of amazing, but I’m going in with expectations slightly tempered, as I’ve been burned before. I’m hoping that Thanos is going to live up to all that we expect, after all, ten years is a hell of a time to build up a villain, so he should be foreboding and powerful at the very least. My prediction is that he will be given plenty of screen time to flesh him out and may even have a backstory that garners sympathy from the audience in some way. Complex villains are always the best, the layers and depth of character are far more interesting than a bizarre CGI monster suddenly appearing and wrecking everything for no real reason. (Okay, last shot at DC taken, promise).
Something that will lead to this development of Thanos is that he will kill Nebula, his daughter. I know I sound confident, but I think her death will serve as a pivotal plot device to portray how unforgiving and powerful he is, as well as giving his other daughter, Gamora a reason to go all out against him. Unfortunately for the Guardians, I can also see Mantis being axed, again to add some emotional weight and gravity to the situation. Her sweet relationship with Drax will be heavily leaned into in order to really hit the point home and I think it’ll be a heart-wrenching moment for the audience.
Ready for more death? Good. Pepper Potts is next. It’s a gut feeling, not really based on much, but there’s something about the first trailer that points me to this. When Thanos punches Iron Man, the body language and mannerisms look quite feminine to me. So my theory is that Thanos transported Pepper to that location in order to again, demonstrate his power and cruelty to us and in the last moment, Tony is able to affix an Iron Man suit to her to give some protection – much like he did in Iron Man 3. This is probably the least likely of my predictions, but one I’ll stick by nonetheless as it will again have gigantic ramifications, especially if it happened fairly early into the movie and really help set the tone for what’s to come.
Captain America. This seems to be the one death that everyone is sure about and I’m not going to buck the trend here; I think this is the end for Steve Rodgers. Being a fan of wrestling, there’s often “real world” events or facts that can help one deduce the outcome of a storyline, and I think the same thing could be happening here. Chris Evans is reportedly done with these films after Avengers 4, which follows Infinity War, so my theory is that he will appear in the fourth Avengers film in some kind of flashback/time travel capacity, but his present-day body will be very much broken and crushed by our big bad and this will lead to how I think the film finishes; a snap of the fingers on a fully completed Infinity Gauntlet and fade to black. Half of the Universe wiped out, just like that.
Loki. I have a bad feeling for Thor’s adopted brother. Again, possibly a red-herring from Disney, but in the trailer, Thanos has Thor’s head in his hand and I believe he’s making the God of Thunder watch Loki’s execution at the hands of the Black Order, who we also see attempt to pry the Mind Stone from the forehead of Vision, who I think will actually survive, rescued by Captain America and Scarlet Witch who then flee to Wakanda for medical assistance, and to mount a formidable defence.
Moments to Make Your Mouth Drop
Okay, so while that’s a lot of bleak moments to endure, I think this movie will also more than balance this with an outrageous outlay of amazing action sequences and scenes, one of which will take place in Wakanda. There are three things I would love to see during this battle. Firstly, I want to see Hulk explode out of the Hulkbuster armour. I very much think it will be Bruce Banner operating the Hulkbuster, as he doesn’t wish to turn back into the Hulk again. However, at some point, I think he gets overwhelmed and is being torn apart, literally, and that’s when our favourite green rage monster appears to cause havoc. The next moment that would make me wide-eyed with joy would be seeing Thor appear to somewhat save the day. Picture this; the Avengers are completely overwhelmed, Cap is on the verge of death at the hands of Thanos, yet there’s a grin emerging on his face. A puzzled Thanos asks why he’s smiling and Rodgers simply says “thunder” and that’s when we get a wide shot of the battle and an enormous lightning storm strike, with Thor descending into battle, flanked by the Guardians in their gunships with “Immigrant Song” echoing in the background. With Thor’s arrival, we would see the tide of the battle turn and to amplify this, Tony Stark arrives with Doctor Strange, Spiderman and whoever else is left. What follows is a beatdown on Thanos by the entire team, in a sequence similar to Civil War, where Bucky and Cap’ hammered Iron Man. Of course, it wouldn’t actually defeat Thanos, but offer a great visual nonetheless.
It’s crazy to me now, but prior to Thor: Ragnarok, I was getting a bit of “Marvel fatigue”. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was okay and Spider-Man: Homecoming didn’t really grab my attention, but then after Ragnarok I was back in and now I’m fully on board. I compounded this with a recent watch of many of the Marvel films and now Friday simply can’t come soon enough. Let’s see what happens and hopefully, we’re all blown away. What do you think will happen? Let me know below or reach me on social media!
The Marvel machine manufactures another solid film with Black Panther, but whilst critics have been raving, I was left a little unfulfilled. Lately, the Marvel films have dwindled in importance from “can’t miss” to “catch on DVD later.” With that said, there was certainly plenty I enjoyed, including the majority of the characters, the setting and the score (which felt very appropriate as the backdrop to the mystical Wakanda). Something was missing, almost like the soul (yes, a pun on the absent Infinity Stone). Much like the aforementioned stone, it was hinted at, but not fully fleshed out and things were skirted over.
To expand, the introduction of the Black Panther and its history was wrapped up in a segment at the beginning that lasted a few minutes, which for me was too rushed and simplified. I had the impression they wanted to just get on with the story with minimal time spent on the “origin”, which I can understand to a certain degree, yet for me, Black Panther was never a staple of my Marvel childhood like the X-Men or Spiderman, so having a bit more history and exposition would have helped.
On that note, as Black Panther has never been at the forefront of my superhero knowledge or investment, my expectations for this film were quite tempered; I wasn’t predicting it to be as good as Iron Man or Captain America: The First Avenger or even Thor: Ragnarok, and it wasn’t. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For me, this film needed to establish Wakanda as a unique entity and build it almost in the same way as a character, and I think this was achieved with aplomb.
Helped with a fabulous score that felt true to the African heritage without being overbearing, Wakanda was presented in all its glory. The technology made sense, the scenery was majestic and the people felt authentic and real. This brings me on to the cast, who I thought were all incredible. The fierce women by the side of the King all played vital roles and transcend being “strong female characters.” They were simply strong characters. Their impact on the film can’t be underestimated and it’s another stride forward for women in Hollywood.
Black Panther manages to blend modern day issues, such as immigration and world aid, with ancient culture, dreamland tech, and family problems. This for me is the film’s greatest achievement, as it held a poignant relevance that isn’t necessarily explored in other titles in the Marvel Universe, whilst still feeling part of the familiar world we’ve been shown so far. Circling back to the family fall-out, I thought this was handled brilliantly and added another layer to the former King of Wakanda and helped complicate the narrative as it spawned us a villain (Killmonger) who was sympathetic. The best villains are the ones that believe they’re doing the right thing, and from a certain point of view, you could argue that giving the oppressed and underprivileged assistance to rise up is coming from a place of goodness, rather than outright evil world domination, mustache-twirling, and puppy killing.
As a side note, Ryan Coogler (director) and Michael B. Jordan (who portrayed Killmonger) continue to be an excellent pairing together. Jordan is one of the brightest stars of today, turning in outstanding performances consistently, and it’s no different here. Which is why I was so disappointed when he was killed off in the end. I had hopes he would survive and be in Infinity War, helping the good guys defend Wakanda and be part of that running shot towards the camera; Marvel often swindles us by removing characters for trailers (Spiderman in the running shot for Civil War for example), but alas it seems this time it won’t happen.
On the subject of the villain, it’s time to start delving into the problems I had with this film. Despite liking the antagonist, it still fell into the familiar Marvel trope that we’ve seen; the bad guy is just a mirror reflection of our hero. Think Ironmonger, (Iron Man), Yellowjacket (Ant-Man) and Abomination (The Incredible Hulk). If they’re not this, then they’re dull, one dimensional and not fully fleshed out (Malekith from Thor: The Dark World and Ronan the Accuser from Guardians of the Galaxy). Marvel have seriously struggled to give us compelling enemies, perhaps only really succeeding with Loki, who at this point is practically an anti-hero. This is also a fear I have for Thanos, yes the trailer looks convincing, but the same dark tone was presented to us for Age of Ultron and again, this was a let down of a “big-bad”.
The standalone Marvel films are also pretty formulaic; hero starts off bright eyed and bushy tailed, adversity (suspense is never there, more on that in a moment), baby-face comeback, villain vanquished, roll credits and the two extended scenes. It’s a formula that gets results I suppose, but a change up would be welcome. Logan, for example, was drastically different from many modern day superhero films and was a real breath of fresh air because of it. Back to suspense; when T’challa was hurled off the edge of the cliff, was there anyone who honestly believed that was the end of him? Apart from the fact that he’s the main character, we’ve seen him appear in the Infinity War trailer, which happens after this film, so there’s that. Again, it’s a part of the formula and there’s never any real stakes involved. Once more, I hope Infinity War changes this and gives us some big deaths that will impact the Universe and have us as an audience guessing once more.
Another issue for me was killing off the compelling villain, Ulysses Klaue, portrayed by the legendary Andy Serkis. His character had an unstable nature, coupled with a threatening vibe that made him someone not to mess with, yet he was finished off by Killmonger in an empty airfield. A mistake certainly, as I felt this enemy had more to offer and could be a continued thorn in the side of the King, perhaps not during Infinity War, but after. Alas, this is another missed opportunity (unless everyone is revived by the Soul Gem, which would be both awful and funny at the same time).
A sense of urgency was also lacking in this film. There weren’t any real-time constraints on anything, apart from Martin Freeman’s character (who is forgettable and quite frankly, third-rate) being shot at by a plane, but honestly, if he had been killed, who would have cared? This meant that the climactic fights didn’t have any real bearing on anything, apart from seeing the women yet again kick some serious ass, some cool armored rhinos popping up and seeing T’Challa exert his power by casually blowing away many of his foes with his charged up suit, but in terms of having me on the edge of my seat? Unfortunately not.
To wrap up then, whilst I certainly enjoyed the movie and will happily heap praise on the characters, and by extension, the actors (save for Martin Freeman), there was something missing for the film to climb into the upper echelons of greatness. It, therefore, sits firmly in the “good” category for me and I am excited to see more of Wakanda, which we’ll get in the upcoming Avengers ensemble film, so that’s a bonus. The comedy was good throughout and the film certainly did its primary role of world building and giving us some depth into another main character, but it just wasn’t quite on the level of some of the other entries into its lore.