What was your favorite moment from the movie? Lev Akabas: Every single time that Thor called Rocket “Rabbit.” Also the ending. I know some may criticize it for taking the easy way out with a cliffhanger or exploiting cheap emotion, but it was also genuinely surprising. I’ve been consistently entertained by Marvel for the past ten years, but truly surprised? It’s been a while.
Though Marvel announced Avengers: Infinity War in October 2014, in many ways the title for the 19th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a long time coming. Yes, the film is loosely based on Jim Starlin’s 1991 comic The Infinity Gauntlet (and its subsequent sequel The Infinity War) but even more so, the title is indicative of Marvel’s ongoing battle to tell cohesive and compelling crossover stories as its roster of heroes exponentially expands with each film. This conflict began back in 2008 when Nick Fury uttered to Tony Stark, “You’ve become a part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.”
With Infinity War, you can tell that its directors, the Russo Brothers, are trying to live out Thanos’ goal by making this film “balanced as all things should be.” Yet in their egalitarian attempts to give every character and plot thread a chance in the spotlight, Infinity War both does too much and consequently not enough. In its best moments, it is able to pull off the impossible, drawing together different franchises for a smorgasbord of action, spectacle and adventure.
Anyone who knows me knows me to be a huge Marvel fan, and knows that in the past few weeks I have not stopped talking about Avengers: Infinity War. And while I’ve been marveling at how far the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come in terms of character development and universe-building in the past ten years, I also can’t stop thinking about the one thing they’ve made very little progress on: LGBTQ+ representation. To give it some context, in May of 2008, Iron Man brought about the beginning of what we know today as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In November of the same year, California passed Proposition 8, which reinstated the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Here we are, ten years later in 2018.
For many shows, from thrillers to dramas, mystery is just one force keeping the audience interested. In Noah Hawley’s Legion, however, uncertainty is the foundation on which the rest of the story’s world is created. Its narrative is as unreliable as the broken mind of its protagonist, David Haller, played by Dan Stevens. Legion’s wildly inventive first season followed David, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, as he battled for control of his mind and explored his unknown, seemingly unlimited power. Technically, Legion is a superhero show.
What was the best moment in Black Panther? Jonvi Rollins: Black Panther taking Killmonger to watch the Wakandan sunset. The moment perfectly exemplifies the “good heart” of the title character while farther humanizing his adversary. The paths of the men finally converge as Panther takes steps to understand, through Killmonger, his duty to others outside of his nation. Andrea Yang: T’Challa’s second visit to the spirits of the past Black Panthers, in which he speaks to his father again and makes a decision about what kind of king he wants to be.
“You are a good man with a good heart. But it is hard for a good man to be king.”
These are the deceased T’Chaka’s final words to his son T’Challa before the latter is crowned king of Wakanda, an African nation that poses as a third world country, when in reality it is one of the most technologically advanced societies in the world, thanks to the natural resource of vibranium. Throughout the Black Panther, T’Challa has a hard time accepting the contradiction of this statement: there is a disconnect between the man he is and the king he must be. As a whole, the film questions (and answers) its own permutation of T’Chaka’s proclamation: can a good superhero film have heart and explore themes of race, power and privilege, or will its genre conventions — namely CGI spectacle and quippy one-liners — reduce it to simply being blockbuster entertainment? Black Panther shows that the two can be harmonious; Ryan Coogler’s film is at once a celebration of blackness, a sobering analysis of the responsibilities and obligations that people of privilege and power have and a dazzling superhero film in its own right.
Black Panther hits theaters everywhere tomorrow. The buzz around the movie is electric, as evidenced by its formidable social media presence, record-breaking box office projections and ubiquity in the thinkpiece realm. Though the reviews are glowing, what seems to be propelling this global phenomenon is not the movie itself, but its materiality to the world as it is today. In the comic book world, the word “retcon” is a common portmanteau for “retroactive continuity.” It refers to the reframing of past events to serve a current plot need. For example, TV shows often retcon characters’ backstories in order to explain their present actions.
I’m writing this review disappointed and I’m surprised to say it’s not with the movie. To be totally honest with you I was ready to cash in this review (not that I’m paid for these). In a lecture today the professor said the specifics of the slides wouldn’t be on the final so like any upstanding, journalistically-ethical Cornellian I totally checked out, ripped a page out of the back of my notebook and hammered out my opening paragraphs. I had this whole thing written where I compared the Marvel and DC matchup to a football game where DC was being forced to throw it deep on first down. I expected DC settle for a field goal with Justice League after Wonder Woman put them squarely in the red zone.
Just What the Doctor Ordered
Nick Smith, Sun Staff Writer
I’ve diagnosed myself with the flu. I don’t have a cough or a runny nose but I did skip class yesterday morning and I’m pretty sure that means I’m deathly ill. In my defense, I did have a fever and I’m ready to forward my doctor’s note from Gannett (I’m not calling it Cornell Health) to any unconvinced readers (Mom). Similarly, Thor, at least in terms of solo movies, isn’t doing great. Though the character has faired well in various other Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances, Thor (2011) was alright by virtue of the character’s novelty and Thor: The Dark World (2013) felt like a clunker.
After a semi-successful trilogy by Sam Raimi and two over-the-top films from Marc Webb, it seemed like everyone’s neighborhood wall crawler was going to put up the cowl for good, while studios battled over whether Spider-Man should be portrayed as an emo teenager or an emotionally challenged Tobey Maguire. Yet, who would have thought that thirty minutes of Tom Holland donning spandex in Captain America: Civil War was a sign of better things to come? Holland’s performance earned him stripes for his own solo movie in the form of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the title of which references the eponymous high school dance and is symbolic of Spider-Man joining the larger Marvel family owned by Disney. As with anyone who has to interact with new relatives, Homecoming can feel awkward and terse as it attempts to navigate and connect with past films, but once it finds its own footing, the movie flips into high gear. In the end, the latest Spidey excels as a greater extension of the Marvel Universe, and also as a solid stand-alone feature buoyed by a stellar supporting cast, infectious humor and a fresh, contemporary high school setting.