Endgame – It Took A Lot

11 years, 22 movies, 1 epic saga.

I am fresh off my first viewing of Endgame ( Yes, I plan on seeing it multiple times) and am honestly blown away at the work the Russos did with this film and their previous entries in the MCU. These two guys went from having their biggest directorial accolades being the paintball episodes of the TV show Community to directing Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War & Avengers: Endgame!

This is going to be a lengthy post where I discuss many of the amazing points of Endgame and the things they did well to help set up the future of the MCU.

SPOILER ALERT!

Seriously… SPOILERS that will ruin Endgame if you haven’t seen it yet!

FINAL WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD!

TIME TRAVEL

I would just like to say that I, like many others, called it right form the get go that the entire problem would be solved with the use of Quantum Time Travel! Now that that’s out of the way, time travel?!? I mean it had to come into play at some point, but they never mentioned it until Ant-Man and the Wasp, and even then it was a blink and you’ll miss it moment from Michelle Pfeiffer. Despite all the pop culture references that both Rhodey (Don Cheadle) and Scott (Paul Rudd) make to previous time travel films, Endgame makes it’s own rules in regards to that. Vulture Magazine does a great job of explaining the school of thought that went into to Endgame’s time travel, their article is here:

https://www.vulture.com/2019/04/how-does-time-work-in-avengers-endgame.html

For those that don’t want to read it all I’m going to give an abridged version…

Linear time. That is the method of time continuity utilized in the MCU.

This goes against every single previous film where various characters established that by influencing something in the past, that drastic changes could happen in the future, think the Butterfly Effect. This also brings into the effect of the “grandfather paradox” wherein you travel back in time and meet a girl (or guy or person or sock puppet… I don’t judge) and end up having an offspring. This child grows up to become your parent who then goes on to have you, who grows up to go back in time and complete the loop. Or you go back in time and accidentally kill yourself by some freak accident or on purpose, this erases you from the timeline and your future self ceases to exist because you died earlier in the timeline, Looper is a prime example of this.

Banner quashes this notion right away as they begin meddling with their time travel experiments. “If you travel back into your own past, that destination becomes your future, and your former present becomes the past, which can’t now be changed by your new future“; this is the explanation he offers when Rhodey suggests going back and killing baby Thanos. Basically, even if they went back and killed Thanos as a baby it wouldn’t change their future because the ‘snappening’ already occurred. By killing Thanos it would create an alternate timeline where the snap didn’t occur. This explanation helps to establish early on that this won’t be an easy fight for the Avengers. Time travel tends to be an easy out for a lot of difficult situations and while yes, it can very well be, the fact that they can’t just go back to a previous time and beat Thanos means that they need to find a different way to win, and they do, kind of. They still use time travel to go back and get the stones, but they take them from points in time where they were not actively being used, also resolving to return them to the exact moment when they were taken so as not to upset the flow of time and create an alternate timeline.

The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) explains this to Banner when he goes to the Sanctum Sanctorum to get the Time Stone from Strange. She explains that when a stone is taken out of “its reality” this creates a diverging path on the time stream which makes an alternate timeline. Banner reasons with her that Strange had to know this would happen which was why he gave up the time stone to Thanos in Infinity War. The Ancient One finally agrees stating that since Strange is destined to become the greatest Sorcerer Supreme, he must’ve know what he is doing.

Stone Retrieval

This portion of the movie made me extremely happy when I saw it. Obviously, because of each of the stones being at different points in time and locations in the universe, small teams had to be made to grab each stone. I’m going to break them down into their locations:

New York, 2012: Iron Man, Captain America, Ant-Man and Hulk

This squad had to travel back to the Battle of New York and try and abscond with two separate stones following their victory. Cap ended up having to fight his past self and beat him to obtain the scepter/mind stone. Tony and Scott nearly had the Tesseract/Space Stone but an untimely entrance from an angry Hulk let Loki use it to disappear. This led to Tony and Steve going further back into the past to get the Tesseract and more Pym particles to make the trip home. Having the future crew slinking around the post battle New York trying to steal the stones made for a great “Time Heist” as Ant-Man so aptly put it. We were also given a nice little nugget when Cap gets into the elevator and takes the scepter from the Strike team. I was preparing for another epic elevator fight but Cap just leans in and whispers in Sitwell’s ear “Hail Hydra” letting him walk away with the scepter no questions asked.

Asgard, 2013: Rocket and Thor

Arriving on the day of Malekith’s attack on the fabled city, “fat Thor”, as he has come to be coined by the fans, and Rocket need to sneak up on Jane Foster and steal the Aether/ Reality Stone out of her using a menacing looking needle. Thor has a panic attack and runs away because of his failure in stopping Thanos previously. He meets up with his mother and she instantly recognizes him as her son from the future, because and I quote “I was raised by witches boy”. She helps Thor to realize that it wasn’t his fault and that he did everything he could while Rocket plays a very weird game of secret agent following Jane around trying to poke her. When they finally get the Aether and are ready to leave, Thor calls Mjolnir to him proving he is still worthy of his Godhood and the power he wields.

Morag & Vormir, 2014: War Machine, Nebula, Widow and Hawkeye

The Morag crew lie in wait for Star Lord to do his entrance from the first Guardians film to the tune of “Come and Get Your Love” playing on his walkman. They ambush him and knock him out stealing the Orb/Power stone before he or Korath and his necro soldiers could get it. As they leave, Nebula malfunctions and is then abducted and has her place switched with her past angry and relentless self.

The Vormir crew were doomed from the start. We as fans knew what the cost of obtaining the Soul stone was, but Clint and Nat didn’t. Watching them bond and take comfort in each other’s company on the way there and act like nothing has changed was saddening. They met with Skull and were told the same thing Thanos was in Infinity War, in order to obtain the stone they must lose what they hold most dear… a soul for a soul. Natasha ended up making the sacrifice play so the team could get the soul stone.

Avengers Assemble

They get the stones, they put them on the gauntlet and Hulk puts it on and snaps his fingers. Nothing happens. Then, 2014 Thanos and his invasion Army show up and attack the Avengers compound, decimating it. Thor, Cap and Iron Man decide to take the fight to Thanos and hopefully kill him so they can reset the timeline. The battle gets intense with Cap picking up Mjolnir showing, that like many have suspected since Age of Ultron, he is worthy of the power of Thor. Even two hammer wielders are not enough and the trinity is beaten with Thanos shattering Cap’s shield. As Cap stands, bloody, exhausted and beaten facing down Thanos, his Children (Corvus, Ebony, Proxima, Cull) and his invasion army, he gets a call over his comm from Sam (Falcon) saying the cavalry is coming. Dozens of sling ring portals open and the people of Earth, sorcerers, Wakandans and heroes newly revitalized emerge onto the battlefield and stand with Cap. He stares Thanos down and gives a rousing “Avengers Assemble!”The heroes charge forward and the battle starts.

Throughout the battle each hero is given their own little bit of the spotlight while the good guys and their allies are playing a game of keep away from Thanos. Several of the heroes have heartfelt reunions like Tony and Peter showing the stakes they were all fighting for. The game of keep away intensifies as Thanos grows enraged at the heroes tactics. Peter takes the gauntlet, activates his instant kill mode and runs through the battle. Panther and the Wakandans deal blow after blow but somehow Thanos gets closer to the gauntlet. Wanda stares Thanos down for what he did to Vision and begins beating him and crushing him with her powers, the ship fires on his position further decimating both sides of the battle. Captain Marvel shows up in a new suit with a new haircut and takes the gauntlet from Peter. She teams up with every female hero and they blitz through the battlefield to get the gauntlet to Scott to hide in the Quantum realm. Thanos destroys the Quantum tunnel leaving the heroes with only two options, kill him or use the gauntlet. Despite their efforts, Thanos gets the gauntlet and Tony tackles him. As Thanos throws Tony off and snaps his fingers he says ” I am inevitable” (*cough* Agent Smith *cough*). When nothing happens he looks at the gauntlet to see all the stones gone. Tony pulled them all off and set them into his armour. He looks at Thanos and replies with ” and I… am Iron Man” as he snaps his fingers. Thanos and all his troops and children turn to dust with Tony bringing back everyone that had previously been snapped out of existence. Tony dies of the toll using the stones took on his body, but he died a hero for the entire universe.

Passing the Torch

This is it, this is the end of the path he started us on. It began in 2008 with Tony and Iron Man, it ended in 2019 with Tony and Endgame. During the funeral service for Tony where we see all the heroes and their families who are alive because of him and his actions, we are also shown a (now teenage) Harley Keener, the kid who helped Tony in Iron Man 3, attending the memorial service solo. Happy is having a tough time with Tony’s death and talks with Tony and Pepper’s daughter Morgan, who asks him for cheeseburgers. Happy smiles and tells her that her dad loved cheeseburgers as well vowing to get her all the cheeseburgers she could ever want.

Steve and Bruce use a now rebuilt and smaller Quantum platform to send Steve back in time to return all the stones to their original points where they were taken, thereby setting the timeline on its correct path. Steve however never returns. When Sam and Bruce freak out trying to find a way to bring him back, Bucky spies and old man sitting on a bench overlooking the lake. He tells Sam to go talk to him and as Sam approaches it’s shown to be an old Steve Rogers. He tells Sam that after he sent the stones back he decided that the future wasn’t for him and returned to the love of his life Peggy. They got married and grew old together. He then bequeaths the Captain America shield (now fixed because it was taken from an alternate timeline) and gives it to Falcon naming him the next Captain America.

I spoke with my oldest friend, Malcolm Cottle, about his thoughts on the movie and we both felt that it would’ve meant more to Steve’s arc to give the shield to Bucky. He went through so much trouble to get Bucky back and then he just gives his mantle and prized possession to some guy he met a little over 2 years ago? Doesn’t make sense. I know Falcon is the current Captain America (in the Marvel Comics) but I think it should’ve gone to Bucky so he could help to redeem his past deeds as Winter Soldier.

CONCLUSION

I honestly can say that I loved this movie. I thought it was a great ending to the story that began all those years ago and helped to set up the new crew as the Avengers. Obviously I am sad to see the original 6 go, but their story has been told and they need to make room for different characters. I would rate the movie a solid 9.9/10. I take off 0.1 points because they killed Widow and Bucky didn’t get the shield, but other than that I really don’t have anything to complain about at this time. I’m sure that through some subsequent viewings and some deliberation something may come up but at this point as long as you can wrap your head around their time travel rules, this movies is perfect!

“Whatever It Takes” – Avengers Endgame

I spent a large portion of the week waffling over two separate ideas for this week’s post and then my oldest friend Malcolm sent me a golden nugget that I could use… the new Avengers Trailer! Now for those who haven’t seen it, this isn’t a regular teaser like the last one they published, with all the heroes looking defeated, this is a full blown trailer! Check it out below:

Oh boy! So many goodies! Let’s dive in!

THE TRAILER

This one like the previous teaser starts with an exposition by Tony as he drifts through space following the defeat of the Avengers on Titan. He reminisces about how everything started with him 10 years ago (which we now know is false, thanks Captain Marvel) and how it’s going to end with him alone in space. He expands on how he has let Pepper down and hoped he would be able to pull one last amazing surprise out of the bag for her (implying his evading certain death on multiple occasions), but this time he sadly won’t.

While this exposition is going on we are shown black and white shots of Tony after he crashed during his initial escape from the Ten Rings in Iron Man from 2008. The interesting thing is that despite the rest of the shot being black and white, every instance of red is vibrant to show a great contrast.

Black Widow and Ronin/Hawkeye

We switch perspectives to see Steve’s beginnings with Peggy Carter voicing over saying ” The World has changed… none of us can go back. All we can do is our best… and sometimes the best we can do is to start over”. We are then shown shots of Steve in a support group for survivors of the snappening and a nice wholesome shot of Clint Barton (Hawkeye/Ronin) teaching his daughter how to shoot an arrow like him. This is a great shot that further highlights Clint as a family man and a nice Easter Egg to female Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) in the current Marvel comics. The final shot of Steve’s sequence comes from Peggy’s funeral where he was a pallbearer. Again, with keeping in the theme of Tony’s exposition, it’s in all black and white except for the colour red on the flag draped over Peggy’s casket.

Hawkeye training his daughter

Thor’s exposition comes accompanying black and white shots of Asgard, his father and him, and him watching as the other heroes disintegrate following the snappening. The colour red is again amplified in the bleak black and white frames.

We shift back to Steve saying that he has been telling everyone they should move on, but then he finishes with saying “…some do, but not us”. The colour returns to the trailer to show him sitting at a table in Avengers HQ with Black Widow and Bruce Banner. We see Scott Lang standing in front of his ex wife’s/ daughter’s home which looks like it hasn’t been touched in a while and staring at some missing flyers posted to the telephone pole.

Widow delivers a great line saying ” Even if there’s a small chance, we owe this to everyone who is not in this room, to try.” We are shown some various scenes of the heroes looking angered and resolved that they are going to try to set things right.

Steve responds by saying “We will. Whatever it takes”; which is echoed by Widow, Hawkeye, and Tony voicing over shots of them each individually. The Avengers theme blares through the trailer as we finally see the Avengers walking through the hangar at the Avengers HQ wearing their white Quantum suits. Cue the title card! The purple Avengers symbol is now being put together as the title ‘Endgame’ appears in a flash of purple light.

The final shot of the trailer shows Thor walking up behind Captain Marvel, her turning around and standing her ground as he calls Stormbreaker to him. When she smirks at him as he stands there resting on his hammer he looks up to the others in the room and says “I like this one”.

MY THOUGHTS AND PREDICTIONS

Oh boy. This trailer gets me super excited to see this movie! Although, for the first time in a LONG time, I will not be able to see it opening night. I’m going to have to wait a full 4 days before I’ll be able to see it! I digress…

First thing that’s very evident from this and the previous teaser is that despite having lost everything the Avengers are not going to let this slide. That should be evident, because they’re the Avengers, but this shows that while they may accept that they finally lost a fight, the war is far from over.

Captain America in his Quantum suit with Nebula in background

It’s sad to think that this is going to be the last time we see the original Avengers on screen together. We know all of their contracts have officially run out. There may have been some back room extensions on certain contracts (Scar Jo and her Widow solo film), but Chris Evans has stated that he is officially done as Captain America. RDJ is amazing as Tony Stark but let’s be honest, Marvel can’t afford to keep him around much longer. We have Captain Marvel and Black Panther set to take over as the leaders of the team following the departure of the founding members. They will be joined by newcomers: Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Scarlett Witch, Ant-Man, Vision and maybe Hulk will stick around.

One theme that is running throughout the Marvel comics is the belief that the Avengers are invincible. This belief is held by the population of Earth and even some of the Avengers themselves, that no matter what happened they will pull through because of who they are. The MCU has taken this concept and incorporated it into their version of the team.

Infinity War showed us that while they may be Gods among humankind, they are far from infallible. Thor’s hubris led to Loki’s invasion of Earth, Tony’s narcissism created Ultron and despite their best efforts, they could not stop Thanos from getting all the stones and causing the snappening. As I’ve said before, they may be down, but they are far from out.

Tony said it best in Avengers from 2012, ” You’re missing the point. There is no throne. There is no version of this where you come out on top. Maybe your army comes and maybe it’s too much for us, but it’s all on you. Because if we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damn well sure we’ll avenge it.

BONUS

Rocket and War Machine

My new favourite power couple from this trailer is Rocket and War Machine! I don’t know what they’re looking at in this scene, but if Rocket is smiling it’s either really really good or really really bad, there is no in between…

Avengers:Endgame is released on April 26, 2019. See you next week!

Gender Disparity In Comics – Why We Need More Female Characters

With the release of Captain Marvel this week, I thought it would be a good time to discuss a topic that has been a hot button issue for many fans over the years, female inclusion in comics. Both Marvel and DC have some great female characters that have become mainstays in their franchises; Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, Captain Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Jessica Cruz Green Lantern and Thor (yes, Thor is a woman now) are all amazing female characters that have not really received their time in the spotlight. Wonder Woman received a phenomenal film directed by Patty Jenkins starring Gal Gadot; Harley Quinn was in the Suicide Squad portrayed by the amazing Margot Robbie; and now Captain Marvel is making her big screen debut starring Brie Larson. The only problem is that all of these films are very recent, as in within the past 6 years, which is a huge issue. There have been female led comic book movies in the past but they were few and far between and most were not well received. Women have been present in comics for decades and they’re only now being recognized as equal members of their respective universes? Why? I can’t answer for the past, but their modern inclusion has a lot to do with the movement of society to recognize women as equals. Which goes in part with the second (and probably the the bigger deciding factor, for studios at least) female heroes are becoming more and more popular, which in turn… means more money. And everyone loves money…

Captain Marvel – Carol Danvers

This week I’m going to dive into the evident lack of female characters and how that’s changing in big ways.

THE OLD DAYS

It’s not a secret as to what exactly female characters were used for in comics before the modern push of equality. With the exception of a few, like Wonder Woman or Susan Storm, they were mostly relegated into one of either two camps: 1. Eye candy for the male readers or 2. Love interests for the male superheroes. Let’s take a look at the DC Superheroine Power Girl as an example of the first camp.

Power Girl is a Kryptonian from an alternate reality. She is the cousin to Superman and goes by the name of Kara Zor-L. She is for all intents and purposes the alternate version of the main Earth Supergirl. She is known for having a busty figure along with a very skin tight, long sleeved unitard with a gaping hole on her chest. She first appeared in 1976 and was drawn by artist Wally Wood. When he first began work on her title, Wood was not happy with being relegated from a position he really wanted to work on Power Girl. He noticed that most of the editors weren’t even paying attention to the things he submitted, so he began to draw Power Girl with increasing cleavage size each issue to see how long it would take to get noticed. Power Girl grew in popularity and it took about 8 issues before someone finally commented on the size of her chest, at which point Wood stopped expanding her assets. She remained as her busty well known version for many years and became a sort of hallmark for female figures in comics. Eventually, in 1992 in an issue of Justice League Europe, Power Girl explains why she chose her revealing costume (the skin tight unitard with the “boob window”); she actually responded with a very body positive and progressive response “[It] shows what I am: female, healthy. If men want to degrade themselves by staring, that’s their problem, I’m not going to apologize for it. ” Despite some artists changing her costume and trying to draw her in more realistic proportions, the changes never seem to pan out. These changes are always met with criticism by fans and she’s always restored to her large chested unitard wearing self.

Power Girl – Classic costume

Any good story has a love interest, it’s a fact. The Godfather, Inception, Departed, Star Wars, Big Lebowski, even The Lion King all have love stories as apart of their overall narratives. Romance can help to serve as a resonant point for fans and allow them to connect to the material through either personal experiences or personal desires. The only issue with including romances in the likes of comics is that for a LONG time, most of the main characters were males. This didn’t automatically mean that all female characters have to be relegated to love interests, but looking at the demographic of the readers, they were. There are a lot of female comic fans, but the male readers far outweigh them and as such, the Publishers cater to the largest fan base. This meant having women with unrealistic body proportions relegated to love interests and damsels in distress. There is no one company that did this, Image, DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse are all guilty of the same thing. Sue Storm, Mary Jane Watson, Janet Van Dyne, Star Fire, Carol Ferris, even Lois Lane were all secondary characters that were meant to be love interests for their male hero counterparts despite being some of the smartest and strongest women in comics. Hell, Carol Ferris literally became a supervillain because of her love interest, Hal Jordan Green Lantern, and their on again off again romance. I’m all for a good love story if it’s done properly, but I’m not a fan of taking either established female heroes/characters or making new ones specifically to be a love interest. It’s 2019, come on.

LACK OF FEMALE CHARACTERS

Harley Quinn main title run

This goes hand in hand with the previous point of love interests. There was/is a disturbing lack of female characters in mainstream comics. For years, the only female member of the Justice League was Wonder Woman until they added Black Canary in 1969. Janet Van Dyne/Wasp was included in the initial roster of the Avengers but she was relegated to secondary fiddle to her husband, Hank Pym/Ant-Man. Now I will say that the Avengers did always include at least one if not two female members, but again, they VERY RARELY ever took center stage and were normally always tied up in some sort of love plot. One of the most popular female characters in modern comics, Harley Quinn, started as a sidekick/love interest to the Joker in the Batman Animated Series. Since her introduction in the show, she has grown massively in popularity and has her own comic line. As a former psychologist, her comics lean heavy into her battle with her own mental issues, her acknowledgement of these issues and her working to make herself healthy.

One of the major pushes in the last few years to bring gender equality into comics actually came from Marvel with their introduction of a female Thor. Thor Odinson, as an Asgardian, is veritably ageless, so the only way to have him stop being The God of Thunder was to kill him or have him lose his power. Marvel didn’t want to kill off one of their more powerful and popular characters, so they did what I think was the best thing, and had him lose his power. The inscription on his hammer reads “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor”, and in support of the modern feminist movement had Jane Foster, Thor’s former lover and terminal cancer patient, pick the hammer up and assume the title of Thor God of Thunder. Thor has gone on to have some great adventures, was asked to join the Avengers, and even made the ultimate sacrifice to protect Midgard. She was since brought back by Unworthy Thor and Odin because they felt she deserved another chance.

Female Thor a.k.a. Jane Foster

As I said, there has been a large influx of prominent female characters in comics but they’re not all being given their own titles. Sure we have the staples like Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Spider-Gwen; but most are still just background characters. In the MarvelNOW! publications, they had an amnesiac named Tamara Devoux assume the title of Captain Universe when the unipower made it’s way to her and chose her as its avatar. She had been in a coma for 10 years and had no memory of how she came to be in that state before becoming the embodiment of the universe itself. She became one of the most powerful forces in Marvel Comics and she wasn’t given her own title? Really? Come on…

BIG CHANGES

In recent years, major and independent comic companies alike have made a huge push for gender equality in their published works. While the top individual comic sales are predominantly male centered titles like: Batman, Action Comics, Amazing Spider-Man, Venom, and Return of Wolverine; the top 10 most purchased graphic novels and collections of 2018 feature a large amount of female led titles. Of the top 10 graphic novels in 2018, 5 of them featured women in lead roles. Saga, which earned itself 3 spots in the list is an epic space fantasy series published by Image Comics. In fact, all of the top graphic novels of 2018 are published from the same company, Image comics. Saga is the story of two characters on opposite sides of a galactic war that find love and risk all odds to raise a child that could end the conflict. It has received amazing reviews with Comixology giving it a 5/5 as well as Comicbook Roundup giving it a 9/10. It won a total of 13 awards from 2013 to 2018 with several others going to Fiona Staples for her artwork and to Brian K. Vaughan for his writing.

Saga vol. 1

Not only are we seeing more female led comic titles, but there are more and more female creators being added to existing titles as well. Creators like Kelly Thompson, Gail Simone, Seanan McGuire & Joëlle Jones are all making huge strides in the industry and delivering some great content that fans love. Margaret Stohl has been working on Captain Marvel since 2016 and her work has been regarded as some of the best the character has seen since G. Willow Wilson created her. Wilson is actually currently heading up the run of Wonder Woman for DC Comics and has been killing it with her stories in their Rebirth initiative.

For those who might not be interested in the print form, we are also seeing a large influx of female led movies and female created movies. Wonder Woman by Patty Jenkins was one of the best comic book movies in the past 10 years and her highly anticipated sequel should garner just as much praise. We are finally getting a Captain Marvel movie which releases tonight across North America starring Brie Larson who made news recently by calling for more equality in the interviewer selections by the press for their exclusive film interviews. We are also getting another addition to the DC Comics movie universe with Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) which just finished principal photography and is going into full production mode very shortly.

New 52 Wonder Woman

Despite the strides studios have made recently, we are still a far way away from true equality in comics and comic media. We need to purchase more female led/created content so that the studios realize that that type of material is not only wanted, but highly sought after. Hopefully soon, we can get the studios to update their some of their archaic thinking and move towards the elimination of gender disparity in comics.

That’s all for this week! See you next week!

Secret Empire – Captain America’s Greatest Betrayal

“We were supposed to be heroes. We were supposed to stand for something. It’s hard to say when it all started going wrong, but at some point, we let the fight become about us, not the world we’d sworn to protect. We found ourselves divided, and under siege. So many threats, so many dangers but the one that would end us, was the one we trusted the most.

Funny how the world can change in a day. How something so horrible can sneak up on you so quickly. And Stark was right. We’d won so many times against impossible odds. We started to take it for granted. Started to believe we were destined to come out on top. But something felt different this time.

We’d been pushed beyond our breaking point, slowly, methodically. And just as we were thinking we’d almost survived it, they struck the real blow.

As the battle began, there had already been suspicions. Whispers. Some knew who it must be, Hydra’s New Secret Leader. There was only one person who could’ve orchestrated all this, after all. Even still, they refused to believe… Until they saw it with their own eyes.

And so we fought. We fought because we believed we were right… And we fell because we were wrong.

We thought we were there to stop him, but the truth is… We were right where they wanted us to be. They had made plans for us… Found ways to turn our most powerful against us, again and again.

Later, when the stories were told, they’d all remark on the same thing.. how quickly it happened. We thought we were so strong, so unbeatable. That we could never collapse so quickly. So completely. So when we did, all we could do was watch it unfold, helpless as the day we were born. And with the world slipping away around us, we gazed into the face of our enemy, finally seeing them for what they really were.

They were stronger.

They were more powerful.

In that moment…They were worthy.”

Victorious Cap lifts Mjolnir

This was the moment, the moment when all the readers of Marvel Comics and the heroes contained within knew, that the world they knew had changed forever…

Captain America has been one of the most stalwart comic characters in all of history. He never wavered in his beliefs and he could bring out the best in everyone regardless of circumstances. So why did Marvel use this opportunity to make him evil? To answer that we have to go back to the prelude to Secret Empire.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The First thing you have to understand is that the history that we know since the beginning of Marvel Comics publication, was in fact false. The Nazis and Hydra were the victors of WWII. Captain America was a double agent trained by Kraken and Madam Hydra to act as the Allies’ saviour while secretly providing the Axis with information that could be used to win the war. This worked for pretty much the entire war before Cap’s double nature was discovered, and resulted in a much different world than we know. The ace in the hole was this, The Cosmic Cube. Now after the allies had driven Cap away, they had discovered the Cosmic Cube and its reality warping powers. (The Cosmic Cube and the Tesseract from the MCU are two VERY different artifacts).

Following his exile from Allied territory, Captain America had arrived to Japan high up in the mountains and entered a cave where he was greeted by his father figure/trainer Kraken. Kraken explained that this was where Hydra had begun and where it will continue its legacy. Captain America is led inside where he sees a pool and an old man stirring the waters. He is shown a vision of the allies preparing the Cosmic Cube to alter history and he is told that by submerging himself in the pool he will be protected from the change. Kraken went on to say that he would wake up in a world unfamiliar to him but that he would retain all of his memories and ideals.

As the allies began their change, Captain America submerged in the pool and was bombarded with memories and history that collided with his own. He awoke in a world where the allies had won and where he had been lost in the arctic for 70 years following his foiling of Red Skull’s final plan.

Now while there were various ticks and nods to Cap’s true nature through the beginning of the run by Nick Spencer. If you read the culmination of the previous 2016 event titled Avengers: Standoff! Cap’s change came as less of a surprise (Red Skull influenced the sentient Cosmic Cube ‘Kobik”, to rewrite Cap’s history making him a champion of Hydra as it restored Cap to his youthful appearance). In the first issue of Marvel’s new Steve centered comic run titled Captain America: Steve Rogers,is when his allegiance alteration is confirmed. In the final panels of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 (July 2016), Steve pushes his longtime ally Jack Flag from an airplane to fall to his apparent death, Rogers then turns to Dr. Selvig and says “Hail Hydra”.

Cap’s official turning point

WHAT CAME AS A RESULT

The opening to Secret Empire showed us one of the most complete and utter defeats of the Marvel heroes we have ever seen. The Guardians of the Galaxy, The Ultimates, Hyperion, Quasar, Captain Marvel and her Alpha Flight Space Program are trying to stop a Chitauri invasion of Earth and are fighting a losing battle. While they can beat the Chitauri en masse, the aliens just keep coming in endless waves. Iron Man and Iron Heart are attempting to repair the planetary shield to stop the invasion but they are not having any luck. The Defenders, Uncanny Avengers and some of the X-Men are attempting to quell a breakout from the Supervillain rehab center Pleasant Hill, with some success. One of the SHIELD helicarriers has gone missing and Hydra forces are waging a large attack against SHIELD all around the globe.

Nitro (the supervillain famous for starting the Civil War event, the REAL one, not the MCU version), exits the facility and proceeds to detonate himself in downtown New York City causing massive damage. The rest of the villains are teleported away while Baron Zemo and Blackout drop the entirety of the island of New York into the Darkforce dimension bringing on an endless night. The President then awards Steve Rogers (the Director of SHIELD) control over the United Stated military to help combat these threats. Once Steve has the power of the United States Armed Forces behind him, he sets his plan into action. He activates the planetary shield locking Captain Marvel and the ‘heavy hitters’ outside the planet at the mercy of the Chitauri. He crashes the missing helicarrier, now filled with Hydra soldiers, into another helicarrier and uses the hypnotic suggestion of Dr. Faustus to cause the defending SHIELD agents to become hypnotized and unwilling to fight. Iron Heart and her Tony Stark AI realize that the next target would be Washington D.C and have all the heroes rally there to defend it. Hydra sieges the city in an attempt to destabilize the government and the spirit of the American people. Steve Rogers, Now Hydra Supreme Commander, arrives and asks the Avengers to stop fighting and join him. When they refuse, his army moves in and attacks. He uses undisclosed methods to take out Thor, Vision and Scarlet Witch while the rest of the heroes are slowly beaten, one by one. As he stands victorious above them he reaches down and lifts Mjolnir high into the air. 

RAMIFICATIONS

This turn for the The Captain left a sour taste in a lot of fans mouths. Not only did they take one of the greatest heroes in all of comics and turn him into a Nazi, they also ripped down everything he stood for just to get some more sales and provide even a small semblance of competition to DC Comics with their Rebirth Initiative.

The bit that really stuck with most fans was the blatant disregard for the original creators of the character. Joseph Henry “Joe” Simon born Hymie Simon and Jack “King” Kirby born Jacob Kurtzberg, who created the character, were both of them members of the Jewish faith, both of their families having experienced persecution at the hands of the Nazis in WWII. By turning their creation of a man who stood for what was right and fought for the little man, literally against the Nazis, into a Nazi commander who took over the world, showed blatant disrespect to them.

Steve Rogers as Supreme Commander of Hydra

With all the backlash that Marvel experienced after writer Nick Spencer affirmed that this was not some trick, and that this was the original Captain America, they were (in my opinion) forced to rectify the situation. I won’t spoil what they did, but it kind of just sugar coated the entire ordeal and really ended up making the entire event a terrible run. Not only did they sugarcoat the run, but they kept the Hydra Cap! He still exists in the main Marvel universe (Earth-616) and is going to stir some shit up later on, they foreshadow that at the end of the run.

There’s a lot of things that I’m not a fan of with this event but one thing I can say for sure is that despite its flaws, it’s incredibly well written. The exposition and character development in this story is top notch, and as made evident from the opening speech of this post which was taken directly from Issue # 0, it delivers some hard hitting dialogue.

Cap vs. Cap

When all is said and done, the main betrayal of Captain America is not to any one hero, his long time friends and allies or the universe as a whole, it was to the fans and the legacy of the character. Marvel has worked very hard to rectify this situation and bring the faith of the fans back. I know that, personally, I haven’t purchased any Marvel comics since the release of Secret Empire because of how far out in left field they took it. I will be purchasing in the future, especially the new Moon Knight run but with their new Legacy imprint, I feel like they’re finally listening to the fans and going back to what worked for them for decades.

Hydra Cap armoured for battle

That concludes this post! check back soon for my review of Aquaman and Bumblebee!

Avengers: Endgame – Trailer Breakdown & Plot Prediction

Earlier this morning we were gifted with an early Christmas present, the new Avengers trailer! Originally it was supposed to be released on Wednesday earlier this week; however, due to the untimely death of past President George H. W. Bush, it was pushed to today to accommodate his televised funeral service in Washington. I was not familiar with his policies and and acts as president of the United States  but from what I understand he did a lot of good for the country and he will be sorely missed.

Onto the trailer!

Ever since the ‘snappening’ at the end of Infinity War, fans have been speculating as to what will happen to the defeated team. With Ant-Man and the Wasp, we were shown a probable solution to the Avengers’ problem of dealing with a fully powered Thanos with all the Infinity stones, Quantum Time Wells. In the post-credit sequence of Ant-Man and the Wasp, original Wasp (Janet Van Dyne) was coaching Scott on what to look for in the Quantum Realm. One of the anomalies that she cautions against is Quantum Time Wells, which (I think) is how the Avengers are more than likely going to beat Thanos. 

Let’s breakdown the trailer…

We start with a lonely Tony recording a voice message in hopes that Pepper will one day see it and know that in his last moments he will be thinking about her. He states that his oxygen will run out by the next day and power a few days after that, but he wants her to know that in his final days she was all he could think about. Which shows a lot of personal growth for Tony, ever since we were first introduced to him in 2008’s Iron Man he has been a fairly narcissistic person. Pepper was the one person that he could care about and who he wanted above all to protect. 

Tony recording the message for Pepper

The title card for Marvel Studios got a bit of a redo since the ‘snappening’ and now shows the title discarding into dust much like some of the heroes did after the snap.

We are shown Thanos’ armour arranged on a stand to represent a scarecrow as Thanos walks through a field of alien plants still wearing the damaged gauntlet. Apparently after Thanos murders half of the life in the universe he decided to become a farmer?

Thanos scarecrow

We are shown some exterior shots of the Avengers compound while Widow is summarizing what Thanos did to a startled Bruce Banner. We see a shot of a now beardless and groomed Cap shedding a tear for either Bucky or his friends and allies. Banner is amazed at everything that happened and see all the people they lost as their faces begin rotating through a wheel on the holo-screen in front of him.

Cap sheds a tear for the fallen

We get a shot of the empty Avengers compound and then more shots of the survivors from the ‘snappening’ as they mourn their friends and loved ones. We get a nice voice over from Captain America as he states that they all lost someone either friends or family and that they all lost part of themselves when it happened. 

Ronin

We cut to a shot of a hooded figure cleaning a bloody sword on their sleeve while Widow watches in a town somewhere in Asia. The figure removes their hood and mask to reveal Clint Barton who has adopted his Ronin alias. Cap’s voice over then says “This is the fight of our lives” as we see him looking at the picture of Peggy Carter he keeps in his compass. Inside of a Quinjet, Widow turns to him and says that their plan will work while Steve says ” I know it will, because I don’t know what I’m going to do if it doesn’t”.

Cap in Quinjet

We then get the title card for the movie where the avengers “A” is being put back together from broken stone on a purple background. The Avengers title appears on the screen with the subtitle “Endgame” appearing out of a purple flash. The final shot of the trailer shows us Scott Lang arriving at the Avengers compound and talking to the security camera asking to be let in. He introduces himself as Ant-Man and that they would remember him from the airport in Germany. Cap stands up with a determined look in his eyes asking if it’s an old message with Widow stating “No, this is at the front gate”. We then get a purple title card stating April 2019 with the ‘A’ in April as the Avengers ‘A’. 

April 2019

My prediction of the plot is as follows:
Scott Lang arrives along with Clint who has assumed the Ronin persona to the Avengers compound where Captain America and Black Widow are thinking up a counterattack. He explains how everyone (Hank, Hope & Janet) were wiped out and he needs to get them back. Cap and Widow will then explain what happened with Thanos and they will take some time coming up with a plan.
Tony is floating in space in the Milano (Peter’s ship from Guardians of the Galaxy) but without any fuel or knowledge of how the hip works/to fix it, he is set to drift in the void between Titan and Earth. He will be found by Captain Marvel who is answering Fury’s call from the post-credit scene in Infinity War. They return to Earth where the remaining Avengers and those that survived the ‘snappening’ are formulating their plan. 
Thanos is a farmer? and he is happy at what he has down knowing the universe will spin on. Though he knows something isn’t quite right.
The remaining Avengers decide to use Quantum Time Vortexes to go back in time to the battle of New York from the first Avengers film. Tony poses as a SHIELD security agent in order to help break Loki out so he can tell them where Thanos is. The original avengers and the new squad ally together during the battle of New York. The new squad are responsible for protecting the city while the original crew head through the wormhole to confront Thanos on the Chitauri station when he doesn’t have any of the stones.
In the climactic battle the portal will need to be closed . The original crew will still be fighting Thanos and they’ll make the sacrifice to hold the line while the new squad closes the portal to Earth, stranding them in Chitauri space. Cap and Tony will make a final stand against Thanos with both dying in the fight. With Thanos being defeated and not lasting to get both the power and space stones, the other stones are then returned to their rightful places and the timeline is reset. 

There you have it! My breakdown of the trailer and my prediction of the plot. I am super excited for this film and hope that it’s going to be even better than Infinity War was! See you next time!

Civil War II – Underwhelming and Unnecessary

** This article contains spoilers for Civil War II, Infinity and Marvel Now! Avengers

 

With the release of Captain America: Civil War the better part of the world knows the cause and fallout of the MCU version of the event that divided Marvel comic readers down the middle. The original Civil War from 2006-2007 was a one of the most talked about Marvel events of all time, and it’s fallout can still be felt in some of their printings today.  With something as significant as the Civil War, why did Marvel feel the need to sully the memory of it by creating a cheap second Civil War with literally no reasoning. For those unfamiliar with the story behind Civil War II it goes something like this:

With the release of the Terrigen Mist by Black Bolt at the end of Infinity came a new wave of Inhumans. The mists have become a sort of storm front that moves about the Earth causing people with the dormant Inhuman gene to basically cocoon until they emerge mutated into a fully fledged Inhuman. One such instance created the Inhuman known as Ulysses. His powers were that he was able to see the future, though it was unclear how reliable his visions were. Captain Marvel and her followers think that the potential for someone to commit evil is enough to warrant their arrest prior to the act; Iron Man and his followers think that you need to wait for the crime to take place before acting and that they need to test Ulysses powers before blindly relying on them.  This causes a split among the heroes of the Marvel Universe and the subsequent Civil War II.

The event comes literally stepping on the heels of Marvel’s previous event Secret Wars which was the culmination of the Hickman run of Avengers which saw the end of the Marvel Universe as we know it. While most fans were still reeling from the Secret Wars and trying to digest the meaning behind the event, they were force fed this half baked story about the fate of the new Marvel Universe.

There are some great points in this arc that really highlight the characters and their beliefs, but mostly it’s a lot of cat and mouse chasing, with whining on both sides. In addition to the fairly cookie cutter plot from the first Civil War, there’s the unnecessary shock value of the deaths included in the arc.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

To start off the issue we are greeted with the brutal slaughter of War Machine. I say brutal slaughter because that’s all it was, there was no finesse in it; during a confrontation with Thanos (who had teleported to Earth to retrieve the cosmic cube) he punched War Machine through his middle effectively separating his spine from his body. There was no overall goal for it, there was no sacrifice, he was killed because they needed a reason to set Iron Man and Captain Marvel against each other. When Iron Man found out what had happened he did the only rational thing he could do, kidnap Ulysses from Attilan and start a global manhunt for him. Not long after this and the reclaiming of Ulysses by the Inhumans we are greeted with the second and frankly useless death from the run.

War machine death

The second death comes in the form of Bruce Banner (aka The Incredible Hulk). During the debate between Iron Man and Captain Marvel once they had recovered Ulysses; the debate got heated and Ulysses collapsed on the ground. He said he had a vision of the Hulk killing all the heroes and laying waste to the city of New York. Understandably afraid of the kind of devastation the Hulk could wreck, all of the heroes ( like literally everyone on both sides of the conflict) pay Bruce Banner a visit at his secret lab in the middle of rural USA.  After a brief confrontation with Banner he is struck in the head by an arrow that kills him instantly. The culprit is discovered to be Hawkeye who fired the arrow from a tree on the edge of the woods near the farm.

hawkeye kills Banner

During the following trial it was revealed that Hawkeye had been approached by Banner several months before and given the arrow with the instructions that if he (Banner) were ever going to change again that he was to use it.

why-hawkeye-killed-bruce-banner-civil-war-ii-3

This is easily the death that was thrown in merely for shock value to add further stakes to the conflict (Hawkeye being on team Iron Man and She-Hulk being on Team Captain Marvel). During the trial for the murder when asked why he did it Hawkeye recounts this story as well as adding that he saw his eyes fleck green (which is a precursor to Banner changing into the Hulk) which nobody else saw.

The Third and final death is probably the one that is the most ridiculous of the lot.  IN the final confrontation at the capitol in D.C. Iron Man and Captain Marvel clash in the skies above.  Ulysses had another vision that showed Spider-Man (Miles Morales) killing Captain America (Steve Rogers) by beating him to death on the steps of the capitol. Captain Marvel arrived to arrest Spider-Man for a crime he hadn’t committed yet, while Iron Man arrived to stop her. Iron Man generated a force field around Captain America and Spider-Man to stop Captain Marvel from taking either of them and then takes the fight to Captain Marvel in a new suit.The battle ends with Captain Marvel dismantling the suit around Tony and delivering the final blow. Tony crashes to the ground apparently dead. It’s later revealed that he is merely in  a coma from which he might never wake up from. Beast and several others put Tony into a stasis chamber to keep him alive and well until he wakes up.

iron-man-vs-captain-marvel-civil-war-ii-3

The entirety of this run was made solely to draw in more readers and to jostle the roster of existing heroes around to allow for a more diverse Marvel line up. With the death of Iron Man, Riri Williams (a female African American teenager) was set up to take over the Iron Man mantle. Instead of giving her a back door introduction in an event she had very little to do with, she should’ve been introduced and been mentored by Tony before this happened. That would give her the drive to take over as Iron Man until he recovers.

All in all this was a fairly disappointing event and it could’ve been done a lot better and waited longer before releasing it. As I said before Secret Wars had just finished and then this arrived making the entirety of Secret Wars seem like a bad dream while this was the real crisis. While I enjoyed the characters and some of the banter it didn’t capture the grandness that the first Civil War did. I would rate it a solid C- just based on the fact that apart from the deaths I mentioned above there is absolutely no reason to read this story arc. This was supposed to be the shock that brought Marvel back to the forefront with DC who had been squashing Marvel in comic sales with their Rebirth re-launch and it failed. This is one of the very few races that DC is actually kicking Marvel’s butt.