The End of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is dying. While the next few movies; Captain Marvel, the Avengers: Infinity War sequel and Spiderman: Far From Home will go on to be great financial hits. We are much closer to the end of the MCU than we are to the beginning. It was a great 10-year run, starting with Iron Man in 2008 with 20 films building towards the next Avengers movie where we see how the Avengers are able to defeat Thanos and restore the half of the universe he wiped out with a snap of his fingers. The problem is… where do they go from here?

The MCU has three basic problems:

  1. Its stars are aging out of their roles. Chris Evans has already announced he’s hanging up the shield and won’t be back as Captain America. Robert Downey has been retiring as Iron Man for years now but it looks like this will be his last shot. If you look at what Tony Stark looked like in the first Iron Man and then see a recent photo. It’s hard to picture him in the role for another 20 films. Same with Mark Ruffalo when playing Bruce Banner. It was just announced that Scarlett Johansson is finally getting a Black Widow movie but the clock is ticking on her as well. Part of what made the MCU work was the credibility of the actors in their roles. Chris Hemsworth looks like he could be Thor for real, but playing an immortal requires he not visibly age. That’s gonna be hard to pull off. While an occasional role in the MCU has seen an actor replaced, Col. Rhodes (War Machine) and the Red Skull. It’s the continuity of the actors and them growing into their roles that have helped make the whole MCU work and that’s coming to an end.
  2. Some of the best stories from the comics have been used up. Marvel Comics provided over 50 years of material to harvest and they have cherry-picked the best of those stories. Even though they generally didn’t do a great job with most of the villains (Loki and Thanos excepted). We’ve seen the majority of the best villains these heroes faced over the years and they killed several of them although, in the movies like the comics, anything is possible and they just might return. After Thanos, who makes a credible foe for the world’s greatest heroes to face? We haven’t seen Kang yet although time travel will allegedly be a feature in Avengers 4. We’ve seen Ego briefly come and go. The Skrulls and Kree will be a feature in Captain Marvel. There is still Secret Wars, but a major event like Infinity War which was the focus of attention for ten years will never be seen again. There is some hope with Disney gaining the rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four which they would have incorporated long ago if they could have. That brings the possibility or a better Dr. Doom and a Galactus that isn’t a cloud but still leaving one last problem.
  3. The MCU has depended too much on multiple characters. With the exception of maybe the original Iron Man and the first Captain America. Marvel has put multiple heroes in almost every film. Iron Man 2 gave us the Black Widow and hinted at War Machine. The first Thor gave us Hawkeye. The films kept adding more and more characters. Captain America: Civil War might as well have been an Avengers movie. Some of the best stories ever in the comics were based on a battle of the hero alone against whatever he faced. Daredevil fighting way outside his class against Dr. Doom, Thor alone vs. The Celestials. We likely will never see that type movie in the MCU because the powers that be will insist on added star power. With the two Infinity War films, what will Marvel do next, unless they recreate from the comics the wedding of Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four and all hell breaks loose? There is a precedent in movies of adding more and more characters until eventually, they jumped the shark, which is monster movies. What started as a few Frankenstein, Mummy, Dracula and Wolfman movies begat Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman and Frankenstein Meets Dracula. They led to House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula, each featuring several monsters. The death of the age of monster movies was announced when we got Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, then they met The Mummy and finally The Invisible Man. After the next segment of Infinity War, there’s a good chance we’ll be a lot closer to Abbott and Costello than a new enemy that will captivate us as we enter the next phase of Marvel films.

The end of the MCU will not be immediate. After the next Avengers film breaks all records known to man. Spiderman: Far From Home will do well. Black Panther 2 won’t recapture the magic of the first film but may still reach a $Billion which isn’t chump change. Dr. Strange 2 will do well but not equal the first movie. There is still money to be made on superhero films, but not the kind of money to pay out $15 million to actors like some of the major stars are getting and Scarlett Johansson is alleged to be receiving for her announced Black Widow film. That doesn’t even include Robert Downey money which exceeds that amount. The MCU won’t die because they can no longer make movies the public will want to see. They won’t be able to afford to make the kind of films they’ve made the last decade when the worst they could expect was to break $600 million in sales.

I grew up reading the comics on which the MCU is based. Seeing these characters realistically portrayed in movies has been a dream come true. I’m going to enjoy the run while it lasts but despite the best-laid plans of Kevin Feige, et al. The end is near.

How Black Panther Got Roseanne Fired And Why Others Need To Be Careful

Roseanne Barr made a racist tweet and within hours, ABC canceled her show. Her show was leading in the ratings and making lots of money, and none of it mattered. And it’s all because of the Black Panther movie.

Although ABC made an announcement about Roseanne’s tweet being, “inconsistent with our values,” I don’t know how credible that is. Long before she tweeted about Valerie Jarrett being the offspring of an ape, she referred to Susan Rice an an ape in 2013. ABC knew who and what Roseanne Barr was when they green-lit her show. They simply decided that what they really valued was money.

Roseanne has made several statements in the past couple days saying, “I am not a racist,” and “I have never been a racist.” I don’t doubt that she believes that in her heart. She and many others have redefined racism in their own minds such that almost nothing qualifies. Even her apology was racist, she said she was only joking about Valerie Jarrett’s looks when calling her an ape. But back to Black Panther.

The Black Panther movie just dropped $1.3 Billion with a capital “B” in box office receipts in theaters worldwide, stepping on toes and snatching edges while doing so. With the sequel in the planning stages, ABC’s parent company, The Walt Disney Company, has to be concerned with its ability to renegotiate to bring back Director Ryan Coogler, and get it’s mostly black cast to return including Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong and Letitia Wright and to ignore Roseanne’s racism as they discuss their salaries and future relationships with the company. Black Panther may have made some of them stars, but their marketability will now travel. It might get a little harder to say, “Wakanda Forever” with the bitter taste of Roseanne’s tweets in their mouth.

I wish I could say it was the threat of an economic boycott of ABC. They probably had as little to fear from that as the NFL did over Colin Kaepernick. They do need the ability to get deals done and to at least appear to have some of those values they referred to. If Black America ever did wield its economic strength like a sledgehammer, it would be something to behold! Quite a few celebrities are building their brand on “not being politically correct” or “telling it like it is.” They would be well served to pay attention to what just happened to Roseanne Barr. Just because your President seems to be getting away with it on a regular basis, doesn’t mean that you can or that he won’t eventually get his.

Wakanda Forever: Black Panther’s Dora Milaje Get Their Own Comic Book!

After the box office dominance of the Black Panther movie. The magic continues, specifically Black Girl Magic with the announcement that the female warriors of Wakanda, the Dora Milaje, are getting their own comic book.

Marvel editor Wil Moss announced the Dora Milaje will be getting a series of one-shots with them teaming up with other Marvel superheroes, the first featuring Spider-Man. Writing the story will be Nnedi Okorafor with art by Alberto Alburquerque.

Okorafor said about the upcoming work, “The comic will be a chance to break the characters out and have them act on their own while ‘they’re not under the shadow of the throne,’ I’ll be focusing on the humanity of the characters, not just their strength in combat. You feel that you can relate to these characters, and feel they are real, not just iconic, but also human.”

The Dora Milaje will be seen next on film in Avengers: Infinity War alongside the Black Panther and all the Avengers. The film officially opens April 27, 2018 worldwide.

Black Panther Movie Review: The Biggest, Bestest, Baddest, and Blackest Movie Ever!

My son saw the Black Panther movie at a special showing his organization put on, the night before the nationwide opening on February 16th which is when I went. I babysat his two children while he and his wife attended, garbed in African attire as was everyone else at the sold out showing. When he returned, he refused to tell me anything about the film, knowing I’d be seeing it the next morning. He described the spectacle and experience of the event. The only word he used to describe the movie itself was, “awesome!”

Now my son knows his superheroes and the entire Marvel Universe. He grew up reading the comics, watching the cartoons, discussing them with his father who had read the comics in his youth. He doesn’t throw out the phrase “awesome” lightly. He could and has dissected a movie, describing how it strayed from the original characterizations and where the filmmaker sold out for a joke or took a short cut to achieve an end. We’ve disagreed on movies before but not this time, other than “awesome” vastly understates the magnificence of this film and its potential for transforming the way people look at films forever. The film was all that I hoped for, more in fact. It was more than I ever imagined it could be. This was the best movie I’ve ever seen and had the later shows not already been sold out, I’d have watched it again on the spot.

Let me start by saying what the movie is not. It isn’t a film whose primary purpose is to advance the overall agenda of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) which has been building towards the Avengers: Infinity War for the last ten years. The movie is completely stand alone and while it references the death of Wakanda’s King T’Chaka which took place in Captain America: Civil War. It was only referred to in the context of this film and wasn’t promoting an outside agenda.

It was not apologetic for Africa, for blackness, and in no way suggested that Wakanda was inferior to any nation in the world. It highlighted the greatness of Wakanda, and while the moral struggles were a huge theme in the film. There were heroes throughout the film, black heroes not imbued with super powers who did the right thing when required, willing to sacrifice themselves for a greater cause. And it gave as much credit to #BlackGirlMagic as anything I’ve ever seen. None of the women had super powers yet they risked all for what they believed in. Your daughters will leave the theatre wanting to be like them!

The film was as African a thing as can be found outside of Africa itself. While a few scenes were set in London, South Korea, and Oakland, CA. Even those scenes were about Africa. Of the two major white characters, one disappeared in the middle of the film and the other was introduced as a “colonizer.” The settings were amazing, I’ve never seen a superhero film that I thought of in terms of Academy Awards other than those related to technology, and yet I can see this nominated for Best Picture, Best Soundtrack, Best and Supporting Actors, and more. There were a couple times I found tears rolling down my face because the majesty of a continent and its people were being portrayed as never before.

I had some fears before seeing the film that we were being set up for watching the brilliance of Wakanda and all it represents to those who have never heard Africa spoken of in other than negative terms; demolished in the next Marvel movie in less than three months. The Avengers: Infinity War film comes out May 4th and may well destroy the very nation which took my entire lifetime to come to fruition. Maybe it’s just too much for the existing power structure to allow for the greatest country in the world to be a small nation in Africa instead of the United States? For the next 76 days, Wakanda represents the best of what Earth has to offer. Let’s hope it survives. Now it’s time to have a conversation with my son that’s been a lifetime in coming.

Everything You Need To Know To Get Ready For The Black Panther Movie

On February 16, 2018, the Black Panther will hit theaters in the US. It already has eclipsed all pre-sales of tickets for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies, topping Captain America: Civil War within 24 hours. The title character, T’challa (Chadwick Boseman) was introduced to Marvel film fans in that Captain America movie which left us with T’challa cryogenically freezing Cap’s WWII pal Bucky who is a fugitive from the world and needs a new arm as well.

If you are unfamiliar with Black Panther from the comics or simply need a refresher. Here’s what you need to know before taking your seat at the theater. The movie has much to do to set up for Avengers: Infinity War in which Boseman will also star so get your backstory down now.

The character, Black Panther, debuted in July 1966 in Fantastic Four #52. In that book, T’challa, the King of the fictional nation of Wakanda, invited the Fantastic Four to Wakanda in which turned out to be a test of his powers against theirs, preparing for a destined battle against Ulysses Klaue (Klaw), the man who killed his father the former king, T’chaka. T’chaka died differently in the movie universe but either way it made T’challa the new King of a great nation. Together, the Fantastic Four and T’challa defeated Klaw with the Panther doing most of the heavy lifting and T’challa vowed to use his powers to serve mankind.

What powers you might ask? He received enhanced abilities through a secret ancient Wakandan ritual. He has genius intellect, martial arts skills, super quickness. Great strength and he might just be the richest man in the world as well, owing to the natural resources of Wakanda including Vibranium, the substance from which Captain America’s shield was made. When Bucky gets a new arm, I’m thinking it will be made of vibranium as well. Over the years T’challa’s been associated with The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Defenders, Fantastic Force, Illuminati, and the Ultimates. In the comic world, he was married to Storm of the X-men which never could have happened in the movies but since Disney is getting the rights to the X-men characters previously owned by Fox, we may see the two of them kicking it in the near future.

Being King of Wakanda has its privileges, Wakanda is perhaps the most technologically developed nation on earth and he has an all-female bodyguard crew called the Dora Milaje. They serve the King, speaking only in the obscure Wakandan language of Hausa, allowing them to speak in the presence of others without being understood. The film will introduce us to members Okoye (Danai Guriya of Walking Dead fame) along with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). Angela Bassett will portray T’challa’s loving stepmother, Ramonda, and Forrest Whitaker will play, Zuri, an elder Wakandan statesman. He also gets a vibranium laced costume which will absorb most of the things that would kill lesser men, and is still, possibly the richest man in the world.

Of course, there are haters as well. We know Klaw will return, no doubt with some lethal enhancement taking the place of the hand that Ultron sliced off in the last Avengers movie. This will make him appear more like the original Klaw who added a sonic-blaster after young T’challa disintegrated his hand after Klaw killed his father. We’ll also meet Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan), a fellow Wakandan with all the physical abilities of T’challa who thinks that it is he that should be king. A former ally of Klaw in the comics, we don’t know if that carries over to the film but both will be coming for T’challa at some point.

When introduced in the comics, every stereotype you might imagine about Africa and black people was employed but the Black Panther was still the first major black character in Marvel. The Panther got woke when he was brought to life by black writers Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin and most recently Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxanne Gay, and Nnedi Okorafor, and artist Brian Stelfreeze, among others. None of that gave the Panther comics commercial success but we now see the film is being well received. The movie will have perhaps the blackest overall cast of any projected blockbuster ever. Get your tickets!

%d bloggers like this: