Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022): Marvel’s Phase 4 Ends with a Fine, But Not Perfect, Sequel

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is directed by Ryan Coogler, who also directed the previous “Black Panther” installment. This film stars Letitia Wright (Sing 2, Black Mirror), Lupita Nyong’o (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 12 Years a Slave), Danai Gurira (Treme, The Walking Dead), Winston Duke (Us, Person of Interest), Florence Kasumba (Wonder Woman, The Lion King) Dominique Thorne (If Beale Street Could Talk, Judas and the Black Messiah), Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You, Chewing Gum), Tenoch Huerta (Mozart in the Jungle, Narcos: Mexico), Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Sherlock), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, Onward), and Angela Basset (Akeelah and the Bee, Soul). This film is the sequel to “Black Panther” and follows Wakanda as its people attempt to defend their home from the king of Talokan, Namor.

I have always wondered what a “Black Panther” sequel could look like, especially given how successful the first film was. If you are Disney and/or Marvel Studios, there is no way you would just sit pretty after earning a billion dollars at the box office. Sure, you might pop a few bottles. But once you are done drinkin’, you must soon be back to grindin’. Although my wonder supposedly peaked towards the end of 2020. For one thing, the predecessor’s lead, Chadwick Boseman, passed away. This brought a gigantic question. What is going to happen to T’Challa?

On December 10, 2020, the world got its answer. During a Walt Disney Company Investor Day event, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced that the character of T’Challa would not be recast and the sequel would explore other characters in Wakanda. While I am under the philosophy that actors can be replaced to a degree, I understand the tough decision that had to be made here. Boseman’s character was more than a guy who looked cool on screen, he was a symbol for the black community.

While there have been other black protagonists and superheroes on-screen, very few had the impact that Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther did over recent years. If you ask me, I liked the first “Black Panther,” but I did not love it. That said, I recognize there are plenty of people who do and I nevertheless celebrate how the film remains a symbol for a specific audience. I still remember where I was when Chadwick Boseman died, sitting in my room, browsing on my phone. While this may not be my first idea for a “Black Panther” installment, I like that the film went for an angle where art somewhat imitates life.

This movie dives into how the Wakandans live after the death of T’Challa. The execution of this is brilliantly realized and delivers certain segments of the movie that I consider to be phase 4 highlights. If I were to judge this movie simply as a tribute to Chadwick Boseman, I would give it two thumbs up. Unfortunately, there is also the rest of the movie. Some of which is solid, some of which is not.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is by no means a bad movie, but I think it comes down to the classic saying in regard to sequels. It goes bigger, but it does not make it better. It goes to new places, introduces new characters, but the execution is not as stellar as it could be. The first movie succeeded partially because of how it handled the character of T’Challa as a protagonist. As mentioned, he is not here for obvious reasons. Sadly, while the tribute to Chadwick Boseman delivered the feels, something was missing because T’Challa’s character was not replaced with another actor. What may have been missing is an escape. Because the first film at its core, even in its more dramatic moments, is fun. Kind of like the recent “Thor: Love and Thunder,” there are clashing tones that do not mix together all the time. This tries to be a traditional MCU movie with some of the flair of the original “Black Panther,” but falters because it unsuccessfully mixes this with a grieving process for T’Challa, and the actor who played him. This is not to say all of it did not work. Some happier moments worked. Some sadder moments worked. But I did not feel as happy or sad as this movie maybe wanted me to feel by the end of it.

It is time to talk about the villain, which in regards to MCU movies, are often considered a weakness. Thankfully, for the case of “Wakanda Forever,” Namor is serviceable. Although not perfect. While Namor had his moments, I think if you were to compare “Black Panther” and “Wakanda Forever” side by side, the first film clearly has the superior villain with Killmonger. His fleshing out was better, Michael B. Jordan gives a compelling performance, and I had a bit of an emotional attachment to him by the end of the film. Namor is threatening and there are some highlights with him on screen, but his motivation did not feel as prominent as it could have been. The best thing about Namor is how our heroes deal with him. There is a particular scene past the halfway mark into the film where from the heroes’ perspective, I got a sense of what they must have been thinking, what they were feeling. While 2018’s “Black Panther” did a good job at handling both the perspectives from the protagonist and antagonist, I think the former’s perspective was done better here than the latter’s.

A lot of Marvel movies, including good ones, often fail to deliver on the villain. I was not a huge fan of Ronan in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but the movie nevertheless worked for me. But almost every time the film slips on the villain, I am still onboard when it comes to understanding and rooting for the hero. I feel like I am given enough justification to continue liking them, to keep cheering them on. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” while its villain is not a dumpster fire, is no exception to this rule. That said, when I say that I am siding with the protagonist in this case, the movie comes to a decision as to who “the protagonist” is, but much of it does not resemble a centered story. There are so many things going on in this movie that until the end, it almost feels like there is no main character. There is ultimately a main character, but at times, it feels like there is not. The movie feels overstuffed, which I hate to say, because I liked some of the concepts in it.

For me, the highlight of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is Angela Basset. I liked Angela Basset in the original “Black Panther,” but her portrayal of Ramonda in this sequel is an improvement over the original in every way. Part of it is because the script gives the character a reason to perhaps have a more prominent presence on screen, and when it comes to the Wakandan society grieving over the loss of their king, I often connected with her based on her position in said society, in addition to knowing that her child is gone. Going back to what I said about art imitating life, Basset’s performance, alongside others in this film, came off as more than the characters going through their own reality. At times, Basset seemed to channel herself in regard to her connection to Chadwick Boseman. I bought into Basset’s performance, and as sad as Boseman’s death is, it may have enhanced Basset’s ability to deliver an excellent screen presence, one that could potentially be a talking point this awards season.

This movie is 161 minutes. Just over two and a half hours. At moments, I felt the runtime. Some of the exposition, specifically in regards to Namor, went on for way too long and I almost tuned out. In addition to being a “Black Panther” film, “Wakanda Forever” also somewhat doubles as an ad for Disney+ with the addition of Riri Williams, also known as Ironheart. Other than that, another notable flaw, and maybe this is just the case of my theater, maybe not, the sound mix was not perfect. There were select lines of dialogue that were hard to make out. It is not “Tenet” bad, but as far as the MCU goes, this is probably the first time I can recall having a problem like this during one of the movies in this series. Then again, I just turned 23 a little more than a week ago, therefore this is a possibly a sign that my hearing could be slightly deteriorating. Do not grow up, it is a trap.

If I had to compare “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” to anything else right now, it would have to be, of all things, the television series “Impractical Jokers.” …Hear me out.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” much like the most recent iteration of “Impractical Jokers,” loses one of its core cast members, tries to reinvent itself while also keeping certain elements audiences are familiar with, and fails to recapture some of the magic of what made its previous material great, but through a situation that it cannot fault itself for. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a film that I would have been terrified to be a part of if I were a higher-up at Marvel. I know “Black Panther” is a popular IP and there is no question as to whether or not a sequel should be made. But my question from the beginning was how the heck the story could go on without the title character.

If you look back at films like “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” you would notice in the posters and marketing that the subtitle is a tad bigger than the title itself. The same is true for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” One could argue this is coincidental, but I would contend there is a reason why “Black Panther” is tiny and “Wakanda Forever” is enormous. This film, while it is ultimately a “Black Panther” story, is ultimately about the Wakanda community. How they come together. How they deal with grief. How they engage in politics. There is no way this film would not have had “Black Panther” in its title. Because if it did not, it would probably lose money. Although at the end of the day, this is part of what I mean when I say the film is overstuffed. Again, there is almost barely a center character. If anything, Wakanda itself is debatably the central character.

Now that I have seen all of phase 4, one of the commonalities during some of phase 4’s stories is the concept of grief. If you ask me, despite being an example of art imitating life, I think “WandaVision” and weirdly enough, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” had better execution when it comes to grief. Maybe it is because of my connection to one specific character either during the story itself or in previous installments and how they end up dealing with it. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” dealing with grief was perhaps unavoidable because of a real life event. There are moments, especially towards the film’s end, where grief comes into play that continue to stick with me. But part of what made “WandaVision” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” more fulfilling is that I knew who to root for. Wanda and Peter Parker. Of course, “Wakanda Forever,” a movie where, again, Wakanda itself may as well be considered the central character, presents a scenario where an entire society is mourning. But because the movie had an overabundance of characters and things going on at times, it becomes less powerful for me.

Although if there is one thing “Wakanda Forever” does well despite its flaws, it would be consistency. “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the previous MCU film, was like a seesaw in terms of tone. At certain points, it is as goofy as can be. At others, it is wildly dramatic. There is almost no in between. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” again, like “Thor: Love and Thunder,” clashes in terms of tone, but it is probably the most somber MCU film to date while also having pinches of much needed fun in between. Much like many other Marvel movies, there are moments of levity, but the film itself is a consistent downer. From scene one, the movie does everything it can to remind its audience that not everything is happy go lucky in Wakanda. Much like “Wakanda Forever,” “Love and Thunder” made grief a paramount topic. The film however goes too extreme on both ends to the point where it fizzles the goldilocks zone. While “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is more depressing than the average MCU film, including other movies that have their downer moments like “Eternals” or “Avengers: Infinity War,” it is at least both steadily, not to mention believably, sad.

Although because this movie is sad, does not mean there are no ounces of joy to be had. In addition to the recently mentioned levity, which is noticeably not as prominent as say “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” I liked the chemistry between Shuri and Okoye. The action, during this film’s collection of sequences, is well-done and kept my attention throughout. There is even a segment where someone catapults into the air via fish. I do not remember if it was a dolphin or a whale. I would have to watch the movie again, but that caught me off guard. This has to be arguably the craziest cool sight I have witnessed in a comic book movie since that one scene in “Aquaman” where an octopus plays the drums.

With all this sadness though, some of you might ask, can you bring your family and children to this movie? After all, Marvel movies, in addition to being box office hits, are also traditionally fine options for large groups like families. Even for children despite the usual PG-13 rating. To answer the question, I would say yes. This may not be as fun as “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Although there is nothing absolutely offensive, nothing overly gory, and despite the film’s serious nature, there is nothing in it that I would think would instantly turn off younger viewers or the parents trying to entertain said younger viewers.

Before we move on, without giving a ton of detail, there is a fantastic joke in the movie about MIT. You will know it when you hear it. It got a good laugh out of me, and I think many people reading this will react similarly.

In the end, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” while still a decent movie, is a step down from the original. It is the neither the best or worst film of phase 4. It is somewhere close to the middle. The film is ambitious, but cannot quite fill the massive void that Chadwick Boseman left. I admire that “Wakanda Forever” took the risk of killing off one of its core characters and making that a backbone as to where things go in the film. Unfortunately, it led to a movie of both hits and misses. Is the film worth watching? The answer would be yes. It has its flaws, but in a thumbs up/thumbs down world, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a thumbs up, not to mention a 7/10.

Well, that is the end of phase 4! If I have to be honest, while this is not my favorite phase in the MCU, I will give it credit. Unlike phases 1, 2, and 3, every movie that came out in phase 4, had some semblance of decency at minimum. In phase 1, I was not a fan of “Captain America: The First Avenger.” In phase 2, I did not like “Thor: The Dark World.” In phase 3, I disliked “Captain Marvel.” Phase 4’s movies, from “Black Widow” to “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” were all entertaining, fun, and worth watching. They all had flaws, but they were also worth watching. I have no idea what phase 5 is going to be like, but I hope that like phase 4, the movies continue to be solid.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is now playing in theatres everywhere including premium formats like IMAX and Dolby Cinema. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the brand new Searchlight Pictures film “The Banshees of Inisherin.” I just watched the film this weekend, and while I look forward to reviewing just about every movie I see, I mean it with this one. I cannot wait to review “The Banshees of Inisherin,” I hope to drop it soon.

If you want to see more of my thoughts on phase 4 of the MCU, check out my reviews for “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Eternals,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” and “Thor: Love and Thunder.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?” What did you think about it? Or, what are your thoughts on Marvel’s phase 4? What is your favorite movie or television show from the timeline? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022): Taika Waititi’s Second, and Slightly Less Worthy, Thor Outing

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is directed by Taika Waititi, who also directed the franchise’s previous installment, “Thor: Ragnarok.” This film stars Chris Hemsworth (Men in Black: International, Rush), Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari, Batman Begins), Tessa Thompson (Men in Black: International, Annihilation), Jaimie Alexander (Nurse Jackie, Blindspot), Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe (Gladiator, Cinderella Man), and Natalie Portman (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, V For Vendetta). This is the fourth installment to the “Thor” franchise, the 29th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first instance where a character in said universe gets a fourth standalone movie. In this… THORth installment, Thor reunites with Jane Foster, who is now worthy. The two join forces with Valkyrie and Korg to defeat Gorr the God Butcher, a white being whose aspiration is literally in his namesake, the widespread elimination of all gods.

MCU phase 4 is like having a demanding girlfriend. You love her, but you also want to get away from her. Although when you think you are about to leave, you just keep coming back because you cannot see yourself attached to something else. I am not saying I hate the MCU right now. I thoroughly enjoy the MCU, but as I’ve said in my reviews for “Black Widow” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the whole universe, while still entertaining, is almost homework in disguise. When I was watching “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” I had fun, but I felt like I was being tested on how much I remembered “WandaVision.” You could almost make an argument that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” tests your memory on seven different “Spider-Man” movies at once across three different universes. To be fair though, I am not of this demographic, but I would imagine the general audience would not need to watch all of those other shows and movies in order to understand what comes after. However, their experience would only be enhanced if they did.

There is a notable audience that tends to enjoy “Thor: Ragnarok.” I consider myself a fan of the film after a couple watches. It is not up there with the original “Thor,” but anything is better than “Thor: The Dark World.” If you liked “Thor: Ragnarok,” there is a solid chance you might find joy in “Thor: Love and Thunder.” This should not come as a surprise, as Taika Waititi helmed both pictures.

Waititi may be most responsible for Thor’s current success. If we did not have “Ragnarok,” his arc in followup “Avengers” titles “Infinity War” and “Endgame” may have slightly less meaning. But the best thing about his storytelling abilities is his tendency to perfectly balance light and darkness. I saw “Thor: Love and Thunder” with my dad. When we walked out of the theater, he affirmed, grinningly, that the movie had “something for everyone.” He may be right. After all, this film has comedy, action, drama, and even horror. Without going into specifics, Christian Bale is, on occasion, utterly terrifying as Gorr the God Butcher. The MCU is often criticized for its lackluster antagonists, and phase 4 is no exception to the rule with Taskmaster from “Black Widow” being a prime example of how movies are only as good as their villains. Gorr the God Butcher is not quite Thanos, and if we are judging “Thor” villains, I even think I have a softer spot for Hela in “Ragnarok.” But when you take a character like Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher and place him in a story where Zeus strips gods in public and threatens others by not allowing them to come to an orgy, it is an odd combination. But somehow they make it work.

Speaking of things that work, let’s talk about Chris Hemsworth as Thor. While it took awhile for me to warm up to Thor kind of being the butt of a joke sometimes, I have come to learn that Chris Hemsworth has tremendous comedic chops. Even when the script does him no favors like in “Ghostbusters” (2016), he still manages to give the performance his all. He will practically do anything to make the character of Thor come off as fun. It’s almost like what they are trying to do with Aquaman in the DCEU where he has a somewhat godly presence, but at the end of the day, you might want to flock to the bar with him. It is why I consider Party Thor to be one of the standout characters in the Disney+ series “What If…?”. At the same time though, this movie can be used as an example in regard to jokes going too far. And I do not mean offensive, I mean the joke tries too hard or it goes on longer than it should.

This movie has some weird, but also simultaneously hypnotizing comedy gags. Thor literally talks to his weapons. There’s even a love triangle between them. Not what I would have written but… Okay. Jane Foster spends a portion of the film trying to come up with an epic one-liner that was somewhat hit or miss. There are these goats in the film that feel less like an attempt at comedy and more so a homage to outdated Internet memes. Sure, when they were first introduced, I laughed. But as the movie went along, they became progressively less funny.

One of the biggest surprises in “Thor: Love and Thunder” prior to its release was the return of the recently mentioned Jane Foster. Natalie Portman is a great actress between her work in movies like “Black Swan” and “Annihilation.” Despite the shortcomings of the dialogue, she also did her best in the “Star Wars” prequels. Speaking of shortcomings, one of the flaws of the first two “Thor” films is that her character did not have a ton to do. I liked her better than Kat Dennings’s character, most specifically in “Thor: The Dark World,” but nevertheless. Mostly, she was almost just there to be the love interest, and that was the character’s biggest service to the story. This time, she is an equal to Thor, or Mighty Thor, as she calls herself. That is, if Thor really is the Thor he once was in say “Thor: Ragnarok” or “Avengers: Infinity War,” because he has evolved, slowly but surely, into one of the MCU’s goto gags in recent years. When he was not fighting in “Avengers: Endgame,” the movie focuses on him in a dad bod, playing “Fortnite,” and drinking heavily. That movie’s humor adds substance to its story, much like some of the jokes in “Thor: Love and Thunder.” It is weird to think how much this character has tonally evolved since 2011.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” has some good humor here and there, but I think of all the Marvel Studios films so far, this is the one I think feels the most kiddy out of them all. It is weird to say because the film has a butt shot of Chris Hemsworth and an ongoing orgy-related threat, but this was one of the first times I can remember watching an MCU film and having it feel this much like a Saturday morning cartoon. I am not saying I did not experience Saturday morning cartoon vibes in the MCU before. “Thor: Ragnarok,” the “Spider-Man” movies, and “Guardians of the Galaxy” are all great examples of this vibe. But in the case of those films, the Saturday morning cartoon vibe, minus say “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” was presented more effectively, perhaps more maturely.

While this fourth “Thor” movie flashes back to its predecessors and revisits multiple characters across various stories, I can say that a notable positive I can give to “Thor: Love and Thunder” is that it does not require any prerequisites. You can go into this movie not having seen a single “Thor,” “Avengers,” or MCU installment and have a good time. Yes, the Guardians of the Galaxy show up, but it is not like they are going to test you on the complexities of Groot’s language or something. This is a contained story from start to finish and while it may be referenced later in the MCU, it does not come off as a tale told by gatekeepers. Ultimately, “Thor: Love and Thunder” may be the most stupid fun movie the MCU has given us so far.

If have to be real though, despite this movie being stupid fun, it kind of comes with a caveat. Before “Thor: Ragnarok” came out, the “Thor” movies were comparatively serious. They had their jokey moments. The first film is a fish out of water story that lends itself to tons of humor, and it worked. The second movie had many comedy attempts, but I can only recall one or two that stuck the landing. With “Ragnarok” and now “Love and Thunder,” we have Taika Waititi’s zany touch. I was not particularly fond of the humor in “Ragnarok” when I first saw it, but after rewatching the film, I warmed up to it. Therefore, during this movie, I was looking forward to seeing what the attempts at humor could be. Compared to “Ragnarok,” they’re a bit flat. Once again, some work, but the ones that do not happen to stand out. The goats were funny the first time, but maybe not the fifth or sixth time.

When I think of “Ragnarok,” certain hysterical moments come to mind. “Get help” is one of the funniest gags in recent action movies. The chemistry between Thor and Banner, Hulked up or not, is worthy of my attention. Stan Lee’s cameo where he cuts Thor’s hair is not only crucial to the plot, but gutbusting. So, what does Taika have in mind for this movie? A rock n’ roll-infused opening action sequence where Thor, almost egomaniacally, saves the day. There’s literally a moment where he stops two vehicles from running into him by doing a split. The image is still in my mind. In the moment, I thought that split was hilarious. But it also makes me realize how dramatic of a shift these movies have taken over the years. The first two movies are mature, with the original almost successfully capturing Shakespearean drama vibes. “Thor: Ragnarok,” while still having maturity in it, contains many comedy gags that nearly conflict with some of the movie’s darker moments. The same can be said for “Love and Thunder,” but the comedy is a bigger star than before.

Note how I said bigger, not better. There’s a difference.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” reminds me of “The Fate of the Furious.” I say so because like “Love and Thunder,” I had fun with “The Fate of the Furious,” but there is a certain amount of absurdity in that film that feels more leveled up than say “Fast Five” which jumped the shark, but was comparatively believable. “Thor: Ragnarok” was a ridiculous fun time with great humor and some logic-defying, but still entertaining moments. As the saying in Hollywood goes, bigger is better. Or is it? Because if you liked “Thor: Ragnarok,” chances are that this movie has twice the silliness. While laughter is the best medicine, this movie shows that comedic overdoses may be possible.

Before we dive into the final verdict, I want to talk about the visual effects of “Thor: Love and Thunder.” I am not going to dive into the recent news regarding visual effects employees struggling to work for Marvel. That is another issue, perhaps for another time. But on the surface, most of the visual effects in this film matches the recently mentioned Saturday morning cartoon vibe. Everything is bright, colorful, vivid, and sometimes gargantuan. I do want to note though that there have been some concerns about Marvel’s visual effects as of late in movies like “Black Widow.” I think if you are in the general audience, you might not care. I will admit, it has been awhile since I have seen “Black Widow” to give a detailed comment. However, I remember some of the effects in that film are surprisingly inferior to say “Captain America: Civil War,” which came out five years before. “Thor: Love and Thunder,” for the most part, looks great. But as far as “Thor” movies go, it might be the worst looking one yet if you pinpoint select shots.

While I said I will not dive too deep into the struggles of working in visual effects, I think we are seeing a sign that the MCU is becoming too crowded and overstuffed with content. I am enjoying phase 4 of the MCU. I have yet to see a completely terrible film. One or two series were hit or miss, but others were good. “WandaVision” was a fantastic debut for the MCU on Disney+, and “Ms. Marvel” was also really charming. The MCU has so many shows and movies now that it also has so many deadlines to consider. This year we have already seen two shows that ran for six-episodes and a couple movies. That is a lot of work, and it is not over yet because “She-Hulk” quickly approaching to Disney+ and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is scheduled to hit theaters this fall. I had fun with “Thor: Love and Thunder,” but by the standards of the MCU, this is not as good as I would hope for. Although the MCU has its occasional off day with movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” I just hope this is a slight bump in the road. But the MCU also did not have this much content going on at once at those times. I know some would disagree, but I would happily sacrifice all the upcoming Disney+ shows if it meant we were going to get a few consistently great MCU movies. I am sure Marvel has a plan, but is it too big of a plan? I hope not. But my worry is that the further along we go down the MCU timeline, the more signs we will get that this whole conveyer belt will unveil itself. Let’s hope that this does not happen.

In the end, “Thor: Love and Thunder” was good, but it is also my least favorite film of MCU’s phase 4. While not the worst of the “Thor” films, “Love and Thunder” nevertheless fails on arguably the same mission in which “Ragnarok” succeeded. Sure, there were a couple laughs here and there, and as far as “summer blockbusters” go, you could do far worse. Just look at “Jurassic World: Dominion.” Although “Love and Thunder” has quite a few negatives that stand out significantly. Natalie Portman was badass enough that I might want to buy a Mighty Thor Hot Toy. But I just wish I could see more of her. I wish I could have seen more of Gorr the God Butcher. This is one of the shortest Marvel movies yet, which could be beneficial to your bladder, but that’s were the benefits stop. Overall, the film feels rushed. I heard they shot some extra footage that never made it into the film, and Taika Waititi does not want to make an alternate cut with said footage, but for all I know, that could give some much needed fleshing out to certain aspects of the story. I would never want to put pressure on a filmmaker into making something they do not want to make, but as a viewer, I would be intrigued to see some of what I originally couldn’t see in some fashion. Maybe as a Blu-ray bonus feature. I am going to give “Thor: Love and Thunder” a 6/10.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is now playing in theaters including large formats like IMAX and Dolby Cinema. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my review for “Thor: Love and Thunder,” then be on the lookout because I have more reviews coming soon! Stay tuned for my thoughts on “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” and “The Gray Man.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Thor: Love and Thunder?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite of the “Thor” movies? I’m a purist, I would have to go with the 2011 “Thor” directed by Kenneth Branagh. Leave your opinions down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022): An In Your Face, All Over the Place, Alternate Reality Craze with America Chavez and Doctor Strange *SPOILER-FREE*

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is directed by Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man) and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Power of the Dog), Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla, Wind River), Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Lion King, 2012), Benedict Wong (Annihilation, Raya and the Last Dragon), Xochitl Gomez (The Baby-Sitters Club, Gentefied), Michael Stuhlbarg (The Shape of Water, Call Me by Your Name), and Rachel McAdams (Game Night, Mean Girls). This film is a sequel to the 2016 film “Doctor Strange,” it is the 28th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and follows the titular wizard as he joins forces with America Chavez on a reality-spanning journey to save the multiverse from impending doom, whilst also seeking the help from Wanda Maximoff and Wong.

The first “Doctor Strange” was a fun movie, and arguably the most visually stunning Marvel Cinematic Universe film at the time it came out. I went to see the film in IMAX 3D and had no regrets. Looking back, the climax was not that memorable, and neither was the film’s main antagonist. The latter is typical of these MCU films so why should I be surprised? I frankly feel the same way about “The Incredible Hulk,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” among a few other movies in this universe. The villains do not always work, but at the same time, the movie is not about them. The movie is about the hero. And when it comes to establishing a great hero, the original “Doctor Strange” does that. The character has also been a highlight in other MCU titles where he is not the main focus, most recently “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Coincidentally, given that movie’s success and how much it have could have possibly teased what is to come in later MCU installments, including this one, I had high expectations for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to the point where it may have been my most anticipated movie of the year, if not in my top 3.

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 12: Director Sam Raimi speaks at the “Oz: The Great and Powerful” panel during Comic-Con International 2012 at San Diego Convention Center on July 12, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)

Plus, get this, Sam Raimi has returned to direct comic book movies again! I ADORE Sam Raimi’s work on the “Spider-Man” movies, even the third one. Yes, I liked it. I don’t care. If you are not going to respect my opinion then I will put some dirt in your eye. How much do I like those “Spider-Man” movies? In addition to liking “Spider-Man 3,” totally digging the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie, and literally claiming “Spider-Man 2” to be my favorite comic book movie ever, I could think of few people more capable of helming a movie like this than Sam Raimi. In addition, the film from the start was said to have horror elements. Raimi has experience in the genre with movies like “Evil Dead” and “Drag Me to Hell,” so this added up to be a movie fit for Raimi’s chops. Danny Elfman is also here doing the score! He and Raimi have been partners for years! This is not Elfman’s first MCU rodeo, because he also scored “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” but I will say, having seen both films, his score for this movie is better than his 2015 counterpart.

What did I think of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?” I think the film definitely lives up to its name, that being madness. But I also think that when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is one of its more inferior installments. For the record, I was not one of those people looking for the most obscure cameos imaginable. That is not why I wanted to go see this movie. Yes, we have some cool moments from heroes like Captain Carter, which was shown in a couple television spots, but at the heart, this is a “Doctor Strange” movie and it does not distract itself from that. Just about every factor and decision that goes into the film’s script revolves around or is affected by Strange himself. The movie does not teeter away from that. In the same way, I would say from a directorial standpoint, this is very much a Sam Raimi film. From a directorial point of view, this is better than some of the other recent Marvel movies if you ask me. Even though I liked each installment in the Jon Watts “Spider-Man” trilogy, I feel like Watts did not have a distinct style by the end of the third film. His tendencies felt basic and there were some choices by the end that I would have changed. In the same way, I feel like “Black Widow” came off as a basic blockbuster shot on green screen. Cate Shortland, despite her best efforts, did not exactly reveal an individualistic touch I could grasp. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” even though it obviously has Kevin Feige’s showrunner-like ideas brought to the table, is very much a Sam Raimi film. Between the action and scares, it definitely has that Sam Raimi touch. Heck, Bruce Campbell’s even in the movie! I won’t say where or how, but he’s in it!

This sequel is as much of a visual feast as its predecessor. In fact, why wouldn’t it be? It is a multiverse-spanning movie, allowing for infinite visual possibilities. There is this one scene where we see America and Stephen jumping from one multiverse to another and it is a literal acid trip. Let me say, I am not one who chooses to partake in any heavy drug-related activities, but if there were a movie out right now that I would call a perfect choice for such activities, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a contender.

Speaking of activities I would mainly recommend for adults, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” presents a possible first in the MCU. If it is not a first, it is something that definitely has not happened in a long time. Every MCU movie so far has been PG-13. The TV shows have always been TV-14. So if you are a teenager, chances are you can probably handle what is on screen. But that does not mean that select younger viewers cannot watch this content either. I know some families have gone to see MCU movies in the theater. Kids often like these movies. Having seen “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” this is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I would recommend parents consider leaving the kids at home for. I am not saying that kids cannot watch it. If they want to watch this movie, there is nothing wrong with that. But all I am saying is that parents should be prepared for what this movie has to offer, because this may be the least kid-friendly MCU movie yet. It is definitely more kid-friendly than the R rated DC action-adventure “The Suicide Squad,” which came out last year, but you have been warned.

What do I mean? There is tons of violence that rises above the levels of what the MCU has depicted thus far, including some gorey moments. Once again I go back to the notion that this is the first movie in this universe to truly have elements of horror. Sure, there are moments in the MCU that could be considered dark. We’ve seen Asgard fall in “Thor: Ragnarok.” We see Peter Parker fall to his lowest point in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and it is emotionally charging. The ending of “Avengers: Infinity War” is a potential setup for heartbreak. But “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is the first truly scary MCU film. I am not saying it is the scariest movie ever, it is most certainly not. But there are elements in the movie that made me feel like I was watching something like “The Conjuring” instead of an action flick. This is not a bad thing, I really like the way this film went about it.

But I will say if you like massive, loud, and well-shot fantasy action, this film does not disappoint. The effects are amazing. There is not a lot of insane quick cutting. There are a variety of battles in this movie that give you a different flavor every time. These are probably some of the few action sequences I have watched in the MCU that had me feeling icky inside. Perhaps in a good way. But that ickiness did not take away from the excitement and joy I had in others.

I was surprised on how much I liked the chemistry between Doctor Strange and America Chavez. Their relationship is essentially the foundation on which this movie builds itself upon. Despite coming off as perhaps the most visionary of the Marvel superheroes, Strange is still humble, and it shows through his interactions with Chavez, whose knowledge of the multiverse is revealed to be greater than his. Because even though Strange has some knowledge, experience, and has made claims on how certain actions will be a benefit to the greater span of the multiverse, Chavez invites Strange along for a ride while also showcasing how multiversal jumping has practically become normal for her.

As for America Chavez herself, she is portrayed by Xochitl Gomez, who is only in her teens. I would like to see more from Chavez if possible, and I think Gomez did a good job portraying the character. I would like to discover what she does next in her career if she never comes back to Marvel.

But of course we need to talk about Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. Not only do I continue to buy Cumberbatch as this character, but I have to give major credit to everyone behind the makeup for Cumberbatch, because this movie unveils different looks for the character, and not just to sell toys (that too), but when you have a movie where you have more than one Doctor Strange from more than one universe, you are going to have to get clever with how you handle one actor, should you choose to handle one actor, which this movie did. His character partially hinges on some off screen events that come into play with this film, where we reveal Rachel McAdams’s character of Christine Palmer no longer in love with Strange. She is marrying someone else, and while Strange is able to live with himself, this plays a heavy role in the plot as we span through the multiverses.

Although, I will not go into much detail, and this brings me into one of my most prominent complaints of the movie. When I reviewed “Black Panther” four years ago, I claimed that it contains arguably the most forced kiss in cinematic history. Similarly, I think “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” contains one of the most poorly conceived lines I have heard in the MCU, because it frankly feels out of character for Doctor Strange, even though it matches up with events that happen in the movie. It sounds more like something out of a cheesy romance novel than what this movie and its characters have to offer. It is one line, but it nevertheless bothers me.

I want to talk about my core worry for the MCU, and how it is only growing. I am not one of these people who claims they have comic book movie fatigue, but if there is one thing that has been on my mind these past couple years, it is not only how much content we are getting, but also how said content potentially affects the greater span of the universe. If you read my review for “Black Widow,” I touch on this by saying the movie contains a particular moment that sets up or teases a television show for Disney+. The reason why that was a concern for me was because for over a decade, the films have been organized and told through one medium, and now that we have television into the mix, it is only going to make things more convoluted, and as a viewer, I feel like I am starting to watch Marvel content for homework. In fact, I went to see this movie with my dad, who I invited to my living room to watch “WandaVision,” which is great television by the way, prior to seeing this film. I knew going into the film that “WandaVision” would be somewhat connected to how everything unfolds. After all, Wanda is in the movie, and we see some references to the show as well. Having seen this movie, I think if you do not watch “WandaVision,” you may be fine. The movie does its best to catch you up. But I think your experience will be heavily enhanced if you tend to seek it out. This is why I am somewhat concerned about the MCU’s future, because let’s say they decide to make a “Moon Knight” movie. How much of the TV show would I have to remember by then to fully enjoy it? In fact, the marketing kind of reveals that this movie is connected to “What If…?” of all things. The cartoon MCU show. We live in crazy times. And no, you do not have to watch “What If…?” to understand or appreciate this movie despite there being connections to the show.

Although on the note of possibly having to watch “WandaVision” before seeing this movie, I do want to talk about Wanda herself. Previously, she has been in multiple MCU movie installments thus far as a heroic figure, and of course in “WandaVision” she finally became the center of attention, allowing actress Elizabeth Olsen to unleash her almighty chops. There are few characters in the MCU that I feel as bad for as Wanda. She watched her partner die twice, succumbed to the Blip, and felt so bad for herself and her former love interest to the point where she wanted to take control of an entire town and make life revolve entirely around her. That said, as this film’s main antagonist, the Scarlet Witch, she pulls no punches. While I did feel bad for Wanda some time ago, my emotional connection has lessened now that she continuously uses power for what she sees fit, but at the expense of someone who does not deserve a certain fate. I do not think Wanda is my favorite antagonist of the MCU, but she is definitely up there.

In the end, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is not the best MCU film, nor is it the worst. But if you want my thoughts on this film compared to the first “Doctor Strange,” I think I like the original better. I will definitely be going back to watch this film again when I have time. I think it could at times be a proper tech demo for a new television. This film also has one of the best uses of music in a Marvel film to date. And I am not just talking about the score itself, but there is a scene where music heavily comes into play, and it is hypnotizing. Danny Elfman for life! This feels weird to say, but this may be in contention for my least favorite Sam Raimi comic book movie. I know what everyone says about “Spider-Man 3,” but I frankly had fun with it. I have to think about whether I like this film more or less than “Spider-Man 3.” That is not to say “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a bad movie. I liked it. I am also not saying Raimi did not put enough effort into the directorial vision of this film. The on-screen story was well executed. But I am also noticing that Raimi’s worst comic book movies are the ones that are likely heavily influenced by higher powers. Sam Raimi did not want to put Venom in “Spider-Man 3” despite Avi Arad’s wishes. Similarly, the MCU has its own stories and threads from other content that have been interweaved into this film. Even though I mentioned that this movie feels like a Sam Raimi film, it also has the Kevin Feige effect where Raimi appears to have less creative freedom (to be fair though, he did not write the film, “Loki” writer Michael Waldron did) than he did in other works of his. I am still onboard with the MCU, but I am noticing more and more that as stories continue to come up and as threads constantly tie together, convolution and possible oversaturation feel inevitable. I cannot wait for “Thor: Love and Thunder,” but I also think as we get more content, it is starting to feel like too much is happening at once. That said, I enjoyed “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and I am going to give it a 7/10.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now!

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see me talk about a movie perhaps way more incompetently than I do today, feel free to check out my review for the 2016 “Doctor Strange.” This was one of my earlier reviews and I made it when I was still developing a style, but if you want to read it, go ahead. Also, speaking of “Doctor Strange,” if you want to read a more competent review of a movie where he appears, feel free to check out my thoughts on “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” And it is spoiler-free for the ten people reading this who have neither seen or heard of the film. Next week, I am seeing “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” so stay tuned for my thoughts on that! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?” What did you think about it? Or, which “Doctor Strange” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021): This Ring-Filled Story Had Me Engaged Until the End

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy, The Glass Castle) and stars Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience, Taken), Awkwafina (Raya and the Last Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians), Meng’er Zhang (Oliver Twist, Finding Destiny), Fala Chen (The Undoing, No Regrets), Florian Munteanu (Creed II, Bogat), Benedict Wong (Raya and the Last Dragon, Annihilation), Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians), Ben Kingsley (The Jungle Book, Gandhi), and Tony Leung (Infernal Affairs, In the Mood For Love). This film is the 25th feature-length project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is about a guy named Shaun, also known as Shang-Chi, who reunites with his family and faces his past as he encounters the ten rings organization.

The Marvel train can’t stop, the Marvel train won’t stop. And honestly, despite a couple duds over the years like “Thor: The Dark World,” I am glad this train has yet to grind itself to a halt. Even though they were not perfect, I enjoyed the few Marvel shows we’ve gotten over the past number of months. I will also say that I enjoyed “Black Widow.” But additionally, as I watched some of this content, part of me became a tad worried, because I had a feeling regarding Marvel that I last felt in 2017 when “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” came out. While both movies had their moments, I think both “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” brought some level of disappointment to the table. And honestly, this feels weird to say, I may have had mixed feelings on “Thor: Ragnarok” too, even though I did find joy in it. Much like 2017, the 2021 Marvel slate has given viewers a fair share of “good” but it has yet to deliver that one gem that is comparable to say “Thor” or “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Let me tell you something, I’m going to confirm straight out of the gate, “Shang-Chi” is not my favorite comic book movie of 2021. It’s got some tough competition with James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” which received my first perfect score of the year when I reviewed it, but I think that Marvel greatness is coming back with “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” I would say that as a Marvel fan, I was excited for “Black Widow” when they first announced it, and they executed it in a way that could please a Marvel fan like myself. But with “Shang-Chi,” I think it is going to do a better job at getting a wider audience to appreciate it over time. This is not just your standard Marvel movie with all your heroics, big booms, and such. This is a story that I feel could appeal to almost anyone. I would be SHOCKED if anyone comes out of this movie giving it a 1/10. Why? Because at the end of the day, this movie has one fun scene after the next with dozens of cool ideas and likable characters along the way. While I would not call this movie the next “Back to the Future,” I would put it aside that film in terms of accessibility to all audiences. Because that film is sci-fi, romance, comedy, adventure, and action all in one. It has a little something for everyone and each “something” is done to perfection. “Shang-Chi” I would say is a fine mix of action, mythology, comedy, family drama, and adventure.

I have never said this about any Marvel movie. Maybe with the exception of “Guardians of the Galaxy…” I would show this to my mother someday. For the record, she is *not* in the target audience for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know the MCU can appeal to a wide number of people (Look at “Endgame’s” box office!), but these movies were not ever something that would appeal to my mother specifically. Maybe if I was 8, dad was busy, I could not go to the movies by myself, or if we had some sort of family outing, she would have gone to see one of these Marvel films with me, but I would be surprised if she went to one of these films because she wanted to or if she had any excitement to check one out. I would not be surprised if I had to maybe bribe my mother to watch this film on one occasion or another, but if my mother asked me, “Would I like ‘Shang-Chi?'” My answer would be a “Yes.” And part of that is because of the heart of the film. The heart being, Simu Liu and Awkwafina as Shaun and Katy. These are two people who have been best friends for years and to me they are arguably the most fun pair in recent cinematic history. While I will say that “The Suicide Squad” is still my favorite comic book movie, not to mention favorite movie in general of 2021, I think “Shang-Chi” is going to arguably end up being this year’s biggest crowd-pleaser.

Speaking of, shoutout to Simu Liu for giving a great performance as the character of Shaun. I have not seen much of Liu’s work. I know he is one of the starring roles in “Kim’s Convenience,” which I hear is a really good show, but I have not seen much of it. Frankly, Liu’s performance as Shang-Chi, which to me, evoked a vibe between fun and brooding, made me excited to see what else he could do in the MCU. As for “Kim’s Convenience,” who knows? Maybe I’ll get around to it. But I have way too many things on my plate when it comes to content and life, so we shall see. Also, the man is quite the action star! In the first half of the film, there’s some choreography that comes off as butter smooth. It feels natural, exciting, and fast. I love it! There’s not much evidence in the film that Liu ever needed a double while doing the action scenes, which if anything, pleases me to no end. One of my favorite action stars today is Tom Cruise because he will take any opportunity, practically to meme-worthy points, to do his own stunts. I’m glad that Simu Liu is taking an opportunity to do the same.

You want action? This movie’s got it! This movie does what Marvel does best and delivers one of its finest examples of quality. “Shang-Chi” does a great job at mixing epic action with gutbusting humor, and this is heavily exemplified in the bus scene. The scene is simple. Shaun and Katy are on a bus together, a guy comes up to Shaun, wants his pendant, and he just starts busting everybody in this magnificently fast series of punches and kicks. I won’t go into what makes the scene funny, as I had no idea what was going to happen going in so I’ll let everyone else do the same. However, what makes this scene so awesome is that it sort of grounds the movie despite being in something as fantastical as the MCU. There’s not really any superhuman crap going on here. Well, kind of… There’s some suspension of disbelief that could be brought to the table. It’s just martial arts and trying to survive. Not only is this a breathtaking scene from the heavy duty stunts and eye-popping camerawork, but it also does a good job at progressing the story of the film and establishing a key point of Shaun and Katy’s relationship. Katy’s reactions to this incident could not have been written any better.

Now, you may have seen in the trailer that Wong of “Doctor Strange” fame was going to make an appearance in “Shang-Chi.” If you wanted to know, Wong is in the movie for a number of minutes, but he does not have too much of an impact on the plot from start to finish. He’s in the fight club, he’s in the movie a little later, won’t say when, but if you are a fan of Wong, which I am, I’m sure that his appearance in this film won’t disappoint. Honestly, this movie made me like Wong more, because it did a good job at making him show off a fun personality. Here it is shown that Wong seems to be the kind of guy that you would not mind going out and a having a few drinks with.

As far as origin stories go, “Shang-Chi” excels. In fact, it is up there with “Thor” as one of my favorite origin stories of the MCU. When it comes to the story of this film, much like “Thor,” one of the core aspects of the film is the family drama a good number of the characters experience for themselves. Much of “Thor” was a battle between two brothers trying to impress their father, and in “Shang-Chi,” it’s a situation where the main protagonist is doing whatever he can to disassociate himself with his father. The family drama in “Shang-Chi” had my attention all the way through because I cared about the characters and there comes a point where Shang-Chi’s past catches up to him and he seems to regret everything that happened in his childhood. This is what makes him a broken hero, not so squeaky clean, and much of the backstory and flashbacks regarding what made Shang-Chi who he is happened to be incredibly compelling.

Oh yeah, Awkwafina is a goldmine in this movie. I already mentioned that the relationship between Simu Liu and Awkwafina in “Shang-Chi” is one of my favorite relationships in recent cinema, but part of what makes that relationship blossom is Awkwafina’s performance in the film as Katy. She feels so hyperactive, fun, and the real life version of caffeine! I already admire Awkwafina as a performer, just look at what she did in “The Farewell,” one of my favorite movies of 2019. But “Shang-Chi” proves that one of her strengths is comedy. And honestly, she’s having one heck of a year as far as her resume is concerned, because I already loved her in “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which turned out to be at one point, what I would consider to be the year’s best film. While I will say I like “Raya and the Last Dragon” a bit better than “Shang-Chi,” I think “Shang-Chi” will be a better reference to Awkwafina’s talent as a performer as it gives her a space to be dynamic and all over the place. I went through this entire movie wanting her to be my best friend, I think that is the best thing I can say about her. Honestly, if there is one thing I want after seeing “Shang-Chi,” it’s not just more of Katy, it’s more of Awkwafina in general. After seeing her in this film, I went from liking her, to legit wanting to treat her to lunch.

The flaws present in “Shang-Chi” are minimal. Again, I go back to my “Back to the Future” comparison, this is a film that I think just about anyone could enjoy, but it does not mean it is perfect. Before posting this review, I saw this film twice, and both times, I walked out saying the same thing, which is weird to say as a Marvel fan. This film becomes way too extravagant towards the end. You know how a lot of Marvel movies by the end like “The Avengers” or “Iron Man 3” will end in this big climactic battle? Everything is balls to the wall and flying in your face! CGI is everywhere! You can feel the production budget right in between your eyes! “Shang-Chi,” much like those movies, has that. But in the case of “Shang-Chi,” even though the film is by no means small, it feels weird seeing this big climactic sequence when the first half of the film feels natural and clean in terms of its action scenes. I will not do a deep dive into the second half of the film, but a lot happens and sometimes it can be overwhelming. It’s good stuff. Sometimes it’s great stuff, But when you take the fight choreography in the beginning of the film and compare it with everything towards the end, I find it to be a weird change of pace, even though it does at times match the opening scene, which by the way is an incredible opening scene, one of the best in the MCU. My question to myself is, if the story and characters were unlikable, how much would my opinion differ? It’s just something I want to keep on the backburner.

If you read my review for “Black Widow,” one of my complaints about that film, even though I liked it, is that at times, it felt like it was trying too hard to set up other MCU content. And this also brings in a growing complaint, or concern depending on how you look at it, that I have with the Marvel Disney+ shows like “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” My worry for the future of the MCU is that I will either have to watch a movie to understand what goes on in a television show, or the other way around. I am accustomed to seeing all of the MCU’s content on one specific medium, specifically feature films. As much as I like some things about the MCU shows, watching the MCU is starting to feel like homework. That’s not the case with “Shang-Chi,” and I say that for a couple reasons. First, the movie in general kicks ass. Second, the film feels like a contained story. Sure, it has Abomination in it. Sure, it has Wong in it. But “Shang-Chi” focuses best on being a great movie first as opposed to being a commercial for other MCU content. If you are not an MCU fan and want a place to start, I would not stop you from watching this first. It’s fun, action-packed, hilarious, and it has a little something for every viewer.

Also, I want to just say two words… Hotel. California.

In the end, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is one of the best movies of the year, and also one of the easiest to recommend to people. Going back to what I said about “The Suicide Squad,” which to be clear, is currently my favorite movie of the year, perhaps by a long shot. That is a film that I immensely enjoyed, arguably because it was made for someone like me. When it comes to “Shang-Chi,” there’s obviously a target audience, but I would not mind showing this movie to someone outside of that target audience and seeing what they think of it because I think they would get a kick out of it. The action is big, the pacing is fast, and I am looking forward to seeing more of Shang-Chi in the MCU. As for his pal Katy, I would like to call her my new best friend. I’m going to give “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” an 8/10.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is now playing in theaters everywhere and it is also available in 3D and IMAX.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Malignant” which has been out for over a week. Take this statement however you want, but I’ve had a lot of thoughts on this movie. Let’s just leave it at that. Also, just recently I went to a local theater to check out “Copshop,” so I will have a review on that coming your way as well. If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings?” What did you think about it? Or, what upcoming Marvel project, I’ll even include television shows, are you looking forward to the most? For me, it’s “Eternals.” The concept sounds engaging, the cast is incredible, a lot of it is done on location, and Academy Award-winning director Chloe Zhao is the director. THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Black Widow (2021): Natasha Romanoff’s Solo Marvel Movie Finally Arrives

“Black Widow” is directed Cate Shortland (Somersault, Lore) and stars Scarlett Johansson as the title character in her first solo movie after appearing in various MCU films since 2010’s “Iron Man 2.” Also joining Johansson is Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Fighting with My Family), David Harbour (Suicide Squad, Hellboy) O-T Fagbenie (Maxxx, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), William Hurt (Into the Wild, A History of Violence), Ray Winstone (Point Break, Beowulf), and Rachel Weisz (Denial, The Favourite). This film follows the Avenger Black Widow as she confronts a conspiracy tied to her past. The film follows her on the run not only for her life, but she’s also fleeing from her mistakes, and is set between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Sorry to use the cliché phrase, but it’s finally arrived! I’ve wanted to see a “Black Widow” solo film ever since the early 2010s. Not only is she one of the standout characters of the MCU, but of all the characters that started in this universe as part of the supporting cast, I think Black Widow is arguably the one who I wanted to see more of compared to any other. Hawkeye? Who cares? Granted, I thought he was a shining star in “Avengers: Endgame,” but early on in the MCU, I thought he was the least compelling of all the hero characters. There are times in “Iron Man 2” where I honestly think Scarlett Johansson shines more as an action star than even Robert Downey Jr., the film’s lead. Naturally, when they first announced that a “Black Widow” movie was happening, I was incredibly giddy. I thought it was a solid way to get to know more about a character who has displayed some spotlight over the years, but never took all of it for herself.

I will admit, the first trailer, while good, left me a tad uneasy by the end because those who saw it may remember the big action sequence in the end where the laws of physics are those of Middle Earth times five. In fact, I will say, that sequence was fun and worth the ticket price for the big screen experience, but it is also something that comes off like a video game. Now, video games over the past number of years have become experiential to the tenth degree, and so have our movies, but this movie by the end of it throws a middle finger to reality just for the sake of looking cool. Granted, it’s the MCU, which has a lot of fantastical elements. But this is something I would expect more out of a “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie as opposed to a movie like “Black Widow” where in comparison, it is a bit more grounded. However, this brings me to my next notion.

First off, I liked “Black Widow.” It was a fun time and I do recommend it to fans of the character, Marvel, and even general moviegoers who have not dipped their toes into the MCU all that much. If you cannot leave your house for whatever reason, by all means check the movie out on Disney+. It is worth $29.99 on top of your subscription fee, but I am sure if you watch it, you’ll have a decent time. If you want an experience, check this thing out in theaters! One of the big trends that has been going on in Hollywood and movie fandom is the desire or building up of anticipation for people to get back to the cinema. We’ve seen films like “A Quiet Place Part II,” which was good, alongside “F9: The Fast Saga,” which was bad, do that already. Both films have performed decently at the box office and evidence suggests that “Black Widow” has come out of the gate stronger than both of these films. Cinematically, “Black Widow” reminded me of the “Mission: Impossible” movies. Spies gone wild with crazy action sequences that for the most part are well choreographed.

The best part of the “Black Widow” movie is not even the action itself, which is one of the first things I think of when it comes to Marvel. Many of the universe’s films including “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Ant-Man,” and “Avengers: Infinity War” come packed with some of most memorable action scenes of the past decade. In the case of “Black Widow,” the best part is arguably the family dynamic between Romanoff and the people from whom she has distanced since her younger years. Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh have near perfect chemistry and they felt interlinked like little cogs in a clock in every other scene. I think Rachel Weisz was an interesting choice to play Natasha’s mother, and the execution pleased me. Although the best part of Natasha’s family has to be David Harbour as Alexei, also known as Red Guardian. Every other utterance from Harbour in this film is candy to the ears. Harbour is perfectly cast and as of right now, I do not think I can imagine anyone else taking this role from him.

I think we are at the point in the MCU where characters who have had less spotlight are getting their chance to put themselves in the driver’s seat. We’re obviously talking about Black Widow in her solo movie, but the Disney+ shows have revealed what happens when you let characters like Wanda Maximoff and Bucky Barnes take the wheel. I have no idea if there will be an end date for the MCU, but I would love to see a Red Guardian solo film at some point. Make it happen, Disney. He is probably my favorite supporting character of the film, and I love David Harbour’s portrayal of said character.

But let’s not take anything away from the star of the show, Scarlett Johansson. I have loved her iteration of Black Widow since I had a first glance in “Iron Man 2.” While we do get elements of Johansson’s past performances as the iconic character, this movie did a really good job at taking a character who I liked, but I also acknowledge has barely been humanized. Part of the reason why I liked Black Widow as a character is that there was a balance between badassery and sensuality provided within what was written for her. But in actuality, I barely knew anything about her. The movies didn’t really need to explain much at the time, but we’ve gotten to a certain point where we know so much about everyone else who had the lens enhanced on them so much, that it was time for Black Widow to take a turn. This movie is a perfect evolution for this character with a backstory that falls in line with her identity and it still has that MCU craziness that people tend to seek nowadays. I contend to this day that Natasha Romanoff as a character is someone who I would want to date. I mean, it’s Scarlett Johansson. Come on. But the point is, the character for a long while is someone who I did not know everything about, but I’ve seen enough of her that would make me ask her questions about… Well, her. Having learned about her now, I might think her family is a little crazy, but nevertheless. I’m glad we got this movie. This gave me the chance to learn more about Natasha herself, and thankfully, even though this movie could have arguably been nothing more than a cash grab, the story feels neither flimsy or slapped together. Everything from start to finish makes sense and has a purpose in the movie. Well, everything except physics.

The MCU over the years has become known for its humor. In a lot of cases it works, but I will also say that movies like “Thor: The Dark World” tries hard to be funnier than it actually is. When it comes to humor, “Black Widow” lands somewhere in the middle, which works for the character at hand because when it comes to the MCU and humor, I have more or less put those two ideas together and linked people like Tony Stark or Peter Parker or Nick Fury. Natasha Romanoff usually came off as stern or serious, and this has honestly been one of her more defining traits as a character. In fact I’d say most of the humor in this movie, as possibly implied, comes from David Harbour in addition to say Florence Pugh. There’s also this fun segment of the film dedicated to Natasha’s signature pose, which I liked partially because it mocks the traditional idea that superheroes don’t just kick-ass, but they have a tendency to show off while doing so. That and maybe it is something for the action figures to show off. Think of the “Deadpool” “superhero landing” scene but it is described for more than just ten seconds of screen time.

Unfortunately however, one of the biggest deterrents of “Black Widow” is a common complaint people have had over the years through a number of MCU films, the antagonistic side in this film is underwhelming. Taskmaster was beyond disappointing! Taskmaster is very much a character with all style and quite frankly, nearly no substance whatsoever. The film seemingly tries to give substance to the character, I could see where they may have been going with it. But I could not even come close to caring about the character to begin with so when the time arrives that the movie tries to persuade me to care, I just shake my head. Taskmaster kind of reminds me of Darth Maul if you sucked all the coolness out of him. Because remember how in the “The Phantom Menace,” Darth Maul had very little dialogue? He barely did anything except wield a kick-ass double lightsaber and some cool tricks? Taskmaster is basically Maul if you went out of your way to make me snooze while I laid my eyes upon the character. Sure, Taskmaster has the Red Room, which sounded like it could have been interesting, but I guess this is why we can’t have nice things. I will say, Maul is not the worst MCU villain. That honor likely goes to Malekith from “Thor: The Dark World,” but wow! Taskmaster was one of the highlights of the film’s marketing and they bricked it!

At the same time though, one of the strengths of the MCU, even when the villain is not exactly menacing or compelling, is that the script takes as much time as it can to make you effectively care about the hero. When it comes to Natasha Romanoff, that is no exception. Part of this is established in the first ten to fifteen minutes where we see Black Widow as a kid. I feel like Black Widow as an adult has had this way about her where she always hid what she was thinking and some of, but not all, of her emotions. Seeing her as a kid not only provided a thrilling start to the film, but made me care about the character when we got to see her as an adult.

Although I want to address something that has been bothering me. I love the MCU, but I’ve had a number of concerns regarding it over the past number of years. I feel like one of my biggest concerns culminated with the recent release of all the Disney+ shows. Without going into spoilers, “Black Widow” seems to be starting a trend that I did not exactly expect to see as early as we did, where we apparently have setup in one of the Marvel movies for one of the TV shows. At least that’s the impression I got. I know in the TV shows there also seems to be setup for the movies, but keeping this in mind, it kind of concerns me because it takes me, a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, and feel more like I am watching all of these films and TV shows as homework as opposed to reasons involving enjoyment. While I have no proof, my biggest concern for Marvel and Disney is that they will force me to watch the movies to understand the TV shows and watch the TV shows to understand the movies. “Black Widow” did not exactly support my concern 100%, but there is a scene in the film that enhanced it. I remember years ago I was talking about how Marvel would crank out two, three movies a year. I thought we would see a breaking point from that, but apparently the majority of them are at least good. Now I’m concerned between all the movies and TV shows we’re getting that we will see some sort of clog entering the MCU in terms of quality. Again, I could be underestimating Kevin Feige. I could be underestimating Marvel. I could be underestimating Disney. I could be underestimating all the directors. I could be underestimating all the writers. But at the same time, I believe I have a reason to be concerned. I will also state that this may be a “me problem.” I just like having one particular medium to follow in order to weave every story and moment together. This is why I like the fact that the DCEU movies have rarely crossed ties with any of DC’s TV shows. They’re two separate things with special identities that only they could associate with. Again, this may be a me problem, but if I were in charge of the MCU, part of me would want to come up with a “me solution.”

On that note, there is an end credit scene in “Black Widow.” This should not come as a surprise to MCU diehards. But nevertheless, if you’re watching this movie, stay for the credits.

In the end, “Black Widow” is a fine welcoming back to the realm of the MCU movies, but it comes with its flaws. Scarlett Johansson once again proves that she is a great pick to portray the Natasha Romanoff character. And speaking of which, I would say that her younger counterpart, Ever Anderson, may have a nice future of talent ahead of her. At the same time though, it feels like it covers many of the MCU’s basics but doesn’t do much of anything special with them. As much as I liked phase 2 in the MCU, it had quite a few villains that I did not fall in love with. Taskmaster feels like they are a villain that belongs in the phase 2 crowd. And again, I love the MCU, but part of me feels that it is becoming increasingly overwhelming and now that there seems to be an emphasis on tying the MCU movies and TV shows together, it is a cause for me to be concerned. Again, this is something that I cannot say is fully concerning me, it is something I’d have to wait and see as we move along. But nevertheless, I’m wondering if the MCU could potentially be hitting an unbreakable ceiling. I’m going to give “Black Widow” a 7/10.

“Black Widow” is now playing in theaters everywhere including IMAX and you can also catch the film on Disney+ with Premier Access for a $29.99 fee on top of your subscription.

Thanks for reading this review! Tomorrow, we venture to the weird waters of world’s end to fetch back witty Jack! Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” the third installment in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and the conclusion to Gore Verbinski’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy. I just watched the film on Sunday and I cannot wait to share my thoughts with you in my latest installment of the Scene Before exclusive review series, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews.”

As for new releases, this Sunday I will be going to watch “Space Jam: A New Legacy” so I will have a review up for the highly anticipated film next week as it releases in theaters and on HBO Max. I will admit, I was not a massive fan of the original “Space Jam.” I did not grow up with it, in fact I just watched it for the first time recently. Here’s hoping this sequel will be better. If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow either with an email or WordPress account! Also, be sure to like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Black Widow?” What did you think about it? Or, what movie are you looking forward to most in the MCU’s phase 4? For me, it’s gotta be “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” The way things are looking, some serious s*it is probably about to go down. Let me know your pick down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man Is BACK IN THE MCU!

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! So next week, I’ve been thinking about seeing “Joker,” the latest of the neverending trend that we like to call “comic book movies.” And I’ll tell you, the movie looks pretty freakin–WAIT A MINUTE! HOLD THE PHONE! SPIDER-MAN JUST RETURNED TO THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE!

This information, to me, came completely out of the blue. I was just enjoying my Friday off from school, summing up my thoughts on the latest movie I’ve gone out to see, when all of a sudden, I’m on social media, and a Variety article comes up with a headline that at this point looks too good to be true. Once I saw the headline “Spider-Man Will Stay in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” there was only one thing to do.

DO SOME CARTWHEELS AND ALERT THE FREAKING MASSES!

I try to maintain a level of professionalism on this website. There are definitely signs that may suggest otherwise, but that’s because I want my blog to be fun, not boring, not unoriginal. I want everything to stand out. So with that in mind, THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I’VE HEARD IN MY LIFE! HELL TO THE FREAKING YEAH! BOOM!

Now, let me just say, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero of all time, and if you have not been following my favorite superhero of all time in the news recently, you’d know that Disney and Sony had a little scrap. For some years now, Sony had the ability to spend money on a new Spider-Man movie, but Marvel Studios (owned by Disney) helps out in making those movies come to life and in return, their side gets a portion of the money, all of the merchandising rights, and a couple of chances to show Spider-Man off in other movies they happen to be making. Sony also gets the chances to retain rights to solo Spider-Man filmmaking as they have already come out with films like “Venom” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” But this was recently interrupted because Disney asked Sony for greater permission on the content, but Sony said no.

The original deal had Sony making 95% of the box office totals on films that would eventually be known as “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” This means for those movies, Disney would gain 5% of the box office. After the exciting news of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” becoming Sony’s highest grossing movie ever, it was a great sign that the deal seemed to have worked out. Both Disney and Sony are making money on Marvel Studios films, Disney is getting merch money, and Sony gets to make money on their own “Spider-Man” films outside the MCU. But Disney asked for Sony to co-finance and split profits on upcoming “Spider-Man” films. Sony wasn’t satisfied with Disney’s new proposal, so they were no longer involved with the MCU. But, a “Spider-Man 3” was still planned. So they were going to make the movie on their own, without Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s involvement, which seemed kind of difficult because if you ask me, Spider-Man currently represents an enormous part of the MCU’s current storyline. With several main characters we currently know having disappeared, Spider-Man may be the next crucial main character for Marvel’s phase 4 and on. He was taken under the wing of Tony Stark, he tried to make him proud from time to time, and now he is trying let Stark’s legacy live on. This separation would have been bad because Sony probably couldn’t use any of Marvel Studios’ other properties or characters if they needed to, and future Marvel Studios films would probably have to come up with some lame or cheesy excuse as to why Spider-Man is not with the Avengers.

Related image

Did he have too much homework?

Is he busy with The Daily Bugle?

Did he not feel so good? I mean, come on!

Nevertheless, as of Friday, Sony and Disney have reunited with new terms that may seem to work out for both of them. And that was one thing that I personally was worried about, because as much as I want Spider-Man in the MCU, I understand why Sony left, and I would have rather had Sony leave the way they did as opposed to having them go along with the 50/50 terms because that means they lose control, or at least partial control of their biggest property, and let’s face it, if this were a game of Film Studio Monopoly, Disney would be winning. They own Boardwalk (most of Marvel), they own Park Place (Lucasfilm), there are hotels on both properties, and you might as well say that they own Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Pacific Avenues, all of which represents the remains of 21st Century Fox, and they are starting to build on those properties as we speak. If Sony were playing this game, they’d be better off landing on the go to jail spot over and over again. I’m not saying they are in danger of going out of business, but still. Luckily, things are being kept in check, because while the deal is no longer a 95/5% difference between sides, it is now 75/25%, with Sony gaining most of the profits. And while this may seem like a significant increase right now for Disney, it may be worth it in the end. Because Sony is still putting some of their eggs into the basket of their own Spidey content, including “Venom 2” which is currently in development.

Despite how much I may point out how Disney is making “too much money,” there’s not much wrong here with Disney wanting more money for these “Spider-Man” films. They’ve done their part when it comes to inserting soul into the character. But I think this deal should probably not go much higher, because Sony is the one distributing the film, and they are the ones paying for it to be made. I personally think 25% is the highest that I would be OK with Disney earning for these movies. Because if they are allowed to earn anything greater, then they might as well be snatching “Spider-Man” from Sony. Yes, Disney technically owns Marvel, but Sony is also in a position where Spider-Man movies are “their thing” and will probably end up being their greatest asset for the time being. It would be like Universal giving up “Fast & Furious” or Paramount giving up “Mission: Impossible” or STX Entertainment giving up “Bad Moms.”

I should also point out that in addition to this whole reunion, the spreading of joy and good news across the movie fandom, Sony put out a post recently of a little announcement that I think you all might enjoy.

One word. Hype.

I honestly almost couldn’t be happier because while Disney is still increasing their control on Spidey, it’s not like they’re hogging the entire plate. Sony gets to keep the rights, and Marvel Studios gets to keep Spider-Man in the MCU. And even if it is just for one more movie, it would help me as an audience member in getting some closure after the AMAZING mid-credits scene of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” What mood am I in right now? Well, look down below!

I feel like dancin’ like I just don’t care! Booyah!

Thanks for reading this post! I just want to remind everyone that “Joker” comes out next weekend. Now, I want to go see it next weekend. I have time to go see it next weekend. But chances are, I’m not going to. I will say though, I do have tickets booked for the second weekend! I’m going to see “Joker” on Friday, October 11th in 70mm! Hopefully I can get a review up by the end of Columbus Day if I go see it then for the first time, or Indigenous Peoples’ Day depending on your preference, I cannot wait to check it out! As for this next weekend, I am not sure what’s going on. Maybe I’ll watch “The Fanatic,” the new John Travolta movie that just came out, because I kind of want to talk about it. It just seems like it would make for good material, so we’ll see what happens. Be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account if you want to see new posts in your WordPress feed, or if you just want to subscribe with an email, you will be notified of new posts immediately through email. Stay tuned for more great content, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, what are your thoughts on the latest news regarding Sony, Disney, Marvel, and Spider-Man? Are you happy to see him back in the MCU? Do you think a better deal could have been made? Or are you disappointed? Did you want to see what Sony could have done with Spider-Man without Marvel Studios? Leave your thoughts and opinions down below and I’m not sure about you guys, but bring on “Spider-Man 3!” I want it now! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

“This is terrific, Peter Parker’s story took a dramatic turn in ‘Far From Home’ and I could not be happier we will all be working together as we see where his journey goes.” -Amy Pascal (Producer, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING and SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME)

Marvel Cinematic Universe PHASE 4 Plans Announced

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Hey everyone! Jack Drees here! You thought we were in the endgame? Think again, because, to my lack of surprise, as well as others perhaps, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not going anywhere, and as part of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Kevin Feige and crew have officially announced their gameplan going forward in regards to movies and television. While I could not make it to San Diego this year (just like every other year), I had the pleasure of receiving a number of these announcements through social media, which is something Captain Marvel should have brushed up on by now.

This first announcement, doesn’t relate to what some would call “phase 4,” but it happens around that certain timeline and takes place in the same universe, so why not leave it in? Anyway, as you may or may not know, Marvel is finishing up their series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..” It’s a series that I tried watching when it first started, but for one reason or another, I just couldn’t latch onto it. It just didn’t work for me. The show will begin its seventh season during the 2019-20 television season, and will air for 13 episodes. However, if you are caught up with the series, you’d know that season 6 is still in progress, so the show still has time left before ABC dusts it away from its current lineup.

Speaking of television, Marvel in general is seemingly changing the norm of how they release their television programming. Before now, they would release various MCU-related content on ABC such as the recently mentioned “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Agent Carter,” and the short-lived “Inhumans.” Netflix also had a fair share of content, all of which was recently cancelled such as “Iron Fist,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” and to what I believe is to a lot of people’s surprise, “Daredevil.” These platforms, for all I know, could lose the ability to air new Marvel content for awhile whereas the TV channel Freeform, and streaming services Hulu and the yet to be released Disney+ are going to be the big three for some time. Speaking of Disney+, Marvel announced a plethora of shows to be exclusively released on the upcoming service.

For the record, Disney+ is expected to be released during the fall. So just a reminder, none of these shows will be available on day one.

The first show to premiere on Disney+ is going to be “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” As you can tell by the title, the series revolves around the known characters played by actors Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. It is expected to start filming October 2019 and premiere in August 2020. While there are not many details about the series just yet, Mackie and Stan have previously wanted to do their own spinoff film at some point, particularly in the style of a buddy cop story. So who knows? Maybe this series could have some sort of comedic buddy vibe. But only time will tell.

Moving onto 2021 programming, up next we have “WandaVision,” which is short for the characters Wanda Maximoff and Vision meshed together. This series is going to star actors Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as the characters we have previously come to know throughout the Infinity Saga. Although I must point out. This takes place after “Avengers: Endgame,” and Vision died in “Infinity War” only to never come back to life. So my question is… How will they allow him to return? Let me guess, time travel. Because now if the Marvel universe has a problem. Boop! You got a time machine! Want to save Nick Fury from losing an eye? Boom! You got a a time machine! Want to stop Tony Stark’s home from being destroyed like it was in “Iron Man 3?” Boom! You got a time machine! Want to give Captain America the most advanced pop culture lessons of his life? Boom! You got a time machine! Granted, there’s probably more to it, but a time travel element would not be surprising. The show will hit Disney+ in Spring 2021.

Also coming in Spring 2021 is a “Loki” series. Without going into much detail, because this does involve a spoiler for “Avengers: Endgame,” which as of writing this, is still in theaters, it will involve a Loki of the past. That’s all I’ll say. The series will of course star Tom Hiddleston. I don’t know if I am going to watch any of these series, but I think out of all the series on this list, I feel like this is the one I’d be least likely to watch. It almost seems like an idea from a think tank meeting (even though a number of these shows feel the same way). “Remember that mysterious guy from ‘Thor’ who keeps dying and coming back to life? Nobody knows if he’s good or evil? Let’s not deal with any new characters, let’s use this guy some more! Yay!” The way I wrote that sounds generous, but when I imagine it, it sounds like a business meeting all involving out of shape guys in suits smoking cigars.

OK… I take my last statement back, this is a series I’d probably watch. Granted, I don’t want to pay for Disney+, I don’t see any reason to. Plus, as someone who wants to avoid witnessing Disney’s plan for world domination put into action, I want to spend as little money towards them as possible. Although I kinda do want to go to Disneyland to see Galaxy’s Edge the more I think about it. Nevertheless, the next series is “What If…?” For those of you who don’t know, “What If…?” is a franchise that creates and realizes perhaps unlikely or alternate scenarios related to Marvel characters. Some examples from comics include: “What if the Fantastic Four all had the same power?,” “What if Captain America had been elected president?,” and “What if Jane Foster had found the hammer of Thor?.” While I’m not getting Disney+, if they are ever to release any of these shows on DVD or Blu-ray I am very likely to pick up “What If…?” simply for the concept. The stories presented in the show will not affect the MCU’s timeline, but merely exist just to answer questions through the power of imagination. It is simply something that just provides a unique take of some sort.

Hawkeye in the MCU is an “interesting” character to say the least, because just about every time he appeared in an MCU movie when he first started, I did not care about him as much as the other characters. Then I saw “Endgame” and thought he was one of the best characters of the whole thing. Coincidentally, of the upcoming shows on Disney+, “Hawkeye” is one of them. Also, according to what I have gathered, this series will introduce Kate Bishop, who in the comics is the first woman to earn the Hawkeye title. She’s also a member of the Young Avengers. Here, this show will seemingly spend some time on allowing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye to pass the torch to this younger character. The question is… Will I care about her? Or will she just be another boring bow and arrow fetishist?

That’s it for TV shows. I’ll probably watch NONE of them. Mainly because I feel that the way that everyone is trying to push streaming service upon streaming service towards the consumers is going to eventually make streaming as a whole a significantly worse deal than cable. My family and I have not cut the cord, and honestly, I’m happy. Especially considering how I still have my game shows (streaming IS NOT a good alternative if you are a game show fan for the most part), plus it’s nice to watch a new episode of a show and have it feel like an event, whereas an episode or two of a show, or a whole season, drops on Amazon or Hulu and it’s almost like you unintentionally DVRed something. Plus, I enjoy my livetweeting. It makes me feel like I am part of a community. Another reason why I’ll probably miss out on all these shows is because I REVIEW MOVIES DAMMIT! Movies are a top priority of mine and because I watch and review them excessively, I barely have time for TV. And speaking of movies, let’s reveal what Marvel has planned for that realm of entertainment in phase 4.

First up for movies is a project that I think a good number of people know has been in full swing, “Black Widow.” The plot and details are mostly unknown at this time, but Scarlett Johansson, the woman that I have a crush on who says she should be allowed to play trees, well then, if that’s the case… Vin Diesel? Watch out, you might be fired soon! She is returning as the title character who we have seen in several parts of the MCU such as the “Iron Man,” “Avengers,” and “Captain America” franchises. From speculation, I would imagine this would take place long before the main events of the MCU, kind of like in “Captain Marvel.” I am also willing to bet this will be a grittier film in the franchise (even though they aren’t going for an R rating), while also trying to be fun. After all, Black Widow isn’t really a superhero, kind of like Iron Man, she just plays with toys. And based on what we have seen from her character in comics and movies, this is very likely to be a spy flick. If you ask me, this is not my most anticipated spy-related film of next year, I’d reserve that spot to “Tenet,” directed by Christopher Nolan, but I’ve been eager to see a “Black Widow” solo film for quite some time, so I’m excited!

Plus, ScarJo is a dream girl. Just saying. The film will be released on May 1st, 2020.

Up next is a newcomer to the MCU, specifically, “Eternals.” Some big name actors in the film include Salma Hayek (Grown Ups, Desparado), Kumail Nanjiani (Stuber, Silicon Valley), Angelina Jolie (Kung Fu Panda, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), Richard Madden (Rocketman, Game of Thrones), among others. It is going to be about a bunch of eternally living beings who have spent infinite portions of their lives fighting a force of evil referred to as The Deviants. One character, Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff is going to be the MCU’s first deaf hero. The film will be released on November 6th, 2020.

The third movie is one that I personally think will be a mega hit at the box office. It’s not to say the others won’t be, but if “Black Panther” from phase 3 has proven anything, it’s that if you put a “visually different” person at the forefront of a superhero project, people will see it. That’s because this movie we’re talking about is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” I don’t know if the final product will have a title this long, but only time will tell. Then again, it’s not as much of a mouthful as say “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” The main reason why I’d say this film has a bonkers chance of success is because Shang-Chi is Chinese, and in this film, he is going to be played by Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu. Not to mention, based on comic-related images I have seen, this movie could be a visual treat. Another thing to consider is the Chinese movie market. If this movie is as visually impressive as I think it will be, not to mention as honorable to the Chinese culture as I think some would want it to be, I think a lot of people will go see this in the theater. China, at least to my knowledge, seems to go to a lot of spectacle type films. Some historical examples that come to mind include “Transformers; Age of Extinction,” which to be fair, was partially shot in China, and “Warcraft.” While “Transformers” is popular in the United States, “Warcraft’s” domestic returns led to its underwhelming final box office total despite making more than twice its budget. But it couldn’t reach the total $450 million needed to completely break even. But if anything has been proven, Marvel is an automatic success in the United States. In the US and Canada, “Black Panther,” a culturally significant film for the African community, managed to make over $700 million, which for those countries specifically, is actually more than “Infinity War.” But with the massive potential for winning over China and perhaps other somewhat related Asian communities, plus Marvel’s domestic success, it has a chance of being possibly a bigger success than “Black Panther.” The movie is scheduled for a February 12th, 2021 release.

Another film I saw coming was “Doctor Strange 2,” and we got it! But it technically has a more specific title, “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” Based on what I’ve heard, Scott Derrickson could be coming back to direct this sequel. It is also suggested that Benedict Cumberbatch and Benedict Wong, or in this case, just for fun, I’ll call them Team Benedict, will be returning to reprise their roles. One thing that I found interesting though is that Wanda Maximoff will be in the be in the movie as well, and it will be tied directly to the Disney+ series “WandaVision.”

OK… You gotta be kidding me. I know people give flak to DC for how they do their movies, but at least you don’t have to watch a freaking TV show to perhaps understand or comprehend what is happening in one of the DCEU’s films! Guess I’ll just read the Wikipedia entries for the WandaVision episodes, because I ain’t paying for Disney+. But one thing that does intrigue me, is the notion that this is going to be a more horror-esque movie compared to a lot of the other MCU installments. So who knows? Maybe this could have a wacky funhouse vibe, or maybe be the MCU’s version of “The New Mutants.” Although now that I think about it, “The New Mutants” could possibly end up being another version of this movie depending on how many more times it gets pushed back. Man, that movie premiere is gonna be one big realistic version of a FaceApp demo. This is definitely a movie I would want to see on an IMAX screen, maybe in 3D. Because I saw the original “Doctor Strange” in IMAX 3D, which made for one of the best visual trips of 2016. This film is expected to drop into theaters May 7th, 2021.

But my one request for this movie. JUST GIVE A MORE MEMORABLE VILLAIN. Then again, it’s Marvel, it’s not their strong suit.

When 2015 first started, the YouTube channel RedLetterMedia made a video where they jokingly predicted that we’d eventually get a fourth “Thor” movie called “Thor 4: More Thor.” Believe it or not, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” used that title in their show. Unfortunately, we’re not getting “Thor 4: More Thor.” But we are getting a fourth “Thor” movie titled “Thor: Love and Thunder.” I have mixed thoughts on this movie, because I REALLY enjoy 2011’s “Thor,” probably more than I should. I know some people don’t like it, but I enjoyed Thor’s character arch and Loki was a solid villain. Granted, the followup in 2013, “Thor: The Dark World,” is in the conversation to be my least favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. And even though “Thor: Ragnarok” was… “better,” it’s not what I wanted. I thought it was too comedic, and some of the jokes didn’t land. While it is visually stunning, somewhat appealing from a story perspective, the tone just didn’t work. Basically, Asgard is in a state beyond repair in this film. It could have been dark, gritty, maybe a little funny, but not like it was “Deadpool” for kids. I don’t think Taika Waititi is a bad director, in fact, I thought he would be a better suit for something like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but he did a “Thor” film instead. It just didn’t stick the landing for me. I’m hoping “Thor: Love and Lightning” will be better, but from what I can imagine, it could be tonally similar to the previous “Thor” installment, which if that’s the case, I’m just hoping that the story actually fits the tone.

One thing that could be interesting is that Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, is making a comeback. And similar to a comics storyline, Foster is going to be taking on the mantle of Thor. And based on visuals presented from San Diego Comic-Con, it looks like her character will be holding Mjölnir at some point during the film. As long as Kat Dennings doesn’t show up to play her character from “2 Broke Girls” everything should be rather fine and dandy. The film is predicted to be out November 5th, 2021, so I demand there should be at least one reference to “V For Vendetta,” ESPECIALLY since Natalie Portman is returning!

Now let me just say, I have no idea when these next films are going to be released, part of me is willing to bet that one or two of them, are not even in phase 4, but Marvel Studios chairman Kevin Feige has confirmed that these movies are in development, therefore we are going to cover them. So let’s continue!

Remember the 1998 film “Blade?” Guess what? Marvel is getting to do another project with the character. I personally can’t say I have seen “Blade,” but part of me is willing to imagine that this will be a somewhat different take on the character because the original trilogy was rated R, whereas all the MCU films so far have gotten a PG-13. If you ask me, I would not mind seeing an R version of the character in the MCU, kind of like with Black Widow, but you cannot have everything. One thing that does intrigue me though is that Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Green Book) is attached to playing the lead role. He’s a fantastic actor who has a ton of range, and he actually pitched this sort of idea to Marvel Studios through a call. Coincidentally, Ali has been attached to a couple of alternate recent comic book-based products including Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Netflix’s own MCU show, “Luke Cage.”

There’s not much to say on this next film, but I KNEW this was gonna be made at some point, perhaps soon. Why? Because again, it made SO MUCH money. I guess this is what happens when Disney remakes “The Lion King” for a new generation. Wait… I’m talking about “Black Panther 2.” There’s not much to say about this movie yet, but Ryan Coogler suggested that he’d write and direct this film, which does intrigue me because I thought he did a rather decent job with the first one despite its flaws. So… what Disney movie are they gonna retread next? Are they gonna do “Dumbo” because Black Panther is learning to fly for some reason? Are they gonna do a film in the style of “Wreck-It Ralph” where it is revealed that Wakanda is in an arcade cabinet? Are they gonna do one like “Frozen” where Shuri or Okoye just breaks out into an annoying catchy tune? By the way, screw “Frozen,” that movie can rot in hell!

Up next is a film that was supposed to come out in 2020, but based on recent controversy, that’s not happening anymore. Specifically, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” This is a film that I am honestly curious to see, because while I imagine this could potentially be a capper for a trilogy, director James Gunn has previously exposed that this installment is not meant to be a powerhouse of emotion. It is still going to be fun and lively. But if you have been following the news in terms of film recently, you’d know that Gunn was fired by Disney/Marvel over the resurfacing of less than family friendly tweets. Tweets that even he admits, he’s not proud of. If you ask me, I believe James Gunn is a competent director, who may have deserved the criticism that he received, but I’m not sure if Disney should have gone as far as firing him, especially when you consider how much he has changed over the years in terms of his outlook. Nevertheless, I am quite curious to see how this upcoming “Guardians” film turns out, and I do have a shortlist of soundtrack ideas, but I think I should save that for another time. The movie is not expected to begin filming until 2020, but that’s because James Gunn is currently doing a DC movie, specifically “The Suicide Squad.”

Here’s another no-brainer, “Captain Marvel 2.” When your film has the sixth biggest opening of all time, you know you have to make a followup. I’ll be honest, the first “Captain Marvel” did not work for me. I thought the chemistry between Fury and Danvers was kind of hit and miss. The scene where “Just a Girl” plays honestly, while I guess it was trying to be empowering, felt really off for an action scene that was most likely trying to be kick-ass. The final fight, which I imagine was trying to be funny, just ended up being questionable to me. And don’t even get me started on Goose the Cat! But, we are getting another movie, and I’m honestly hoping it is better than this one, but only time will tell. I like Brie Larson as an actress, but when she plays Captain Marvel, she honestly sounds like she’s only been in straight to DVD content. Come on, Brie! You won an Oscar for “Room!” Show me the magic! She did alright in “Endgame,” but she was not in the movie that much so there is that to consider. Then again, I’m a straight white male. So is my opinion even valid to begin with?

Another film on the list of “in development” is a third “Spider-Man” movie. By the way, by the time you finish reading this post, five more “Spider-Man” movies will be released, because they keep cranking them out! I finally saw “Spider-Man: Far From Home” the other day, and honestly, after seeing that film, I’d say a third one HAS to be made. And without going into detail, Kevin Feige suggested that the mid-credits scene from that film implies the third film will involve “a Peter Parker story that has never been done before on film.” And it does not surprise me that this is happening. I believe Sony is already satisfied with making their own “Spider-Man” movies in their universe and still enjoys the success they can get from spinning their webs in the MCU. Nevertheless, can’t wait. But if I had any requests, make sure the word “home” is in the title. That way I don’t have to end up confusing “Spider-Man” trilogies and can refer to this as the “Home” trilogy. Seriously! Even if it simply means that there is a minute of the two of the film where we find Peter Parker watching a Mets game, and for that reason it is called “Home Run,” it would still work because the other two movies have the word “home” in their titles too!

The next two films are a couple of projects that I think a lot of people have been asking for. Why? Because Disney just acquired 21st Century Fox recently, meaning they have retained the rights to a couple of big name franchises. One example is “X-Men.” I have no idea how the film will present itself. If anything, it is definitely going to be a complete reboot, staying away from the timeline Fox originally showcased to audiences since the early 2000s. After all, while I didn’t go see “Dark Phoenix,” probably just like everyone else in the world, maybe that movie tarnished the franchise enough to say, “Screw it, it’s over.” But some movie franchises or IPs are like Jenga, you can end the game by collapsing the tower, but you can always start a new one by rebuilding it. Maybe “X-Men” has a place in the MCU. And honestly, if a couple of the phase 1 heroes are going away, I think this is the perfect time to add in new heroes, because if they were still there, I’d honestly worry about clutter in the MCU. Granted, even with them showing up now, that is still a worry. But I also have a slight intrigue as to what this mega franchise can bring to the cinematic universe.

Speaking of Fox, one other franchise they once had, not to mention wasted, is “Fantastic Four.” Since Marvel has the rights to them, they can now possibly… NOT screw it up this time… Hopefully? I imagine it’ll be good, but I’m keeping experience in my back pocket. It’s in different hands, but for all I know, despite its popularity in the comic book world, maybe “Fantastic Four” is simply cursed as a movie franchise. But I am curious about this film and how it’ll turn out, and perhaps a little more excited about this than “X-Men.” Will Dr. Doom be the main villain again? Will the movie have the four in the middle of its title? Or… How about this? How about we get Chris Evans to play Johnny Storm again? Do it just to get some other character in the movie for a second. Maybe the group will be going around New York City grabbing lunch or something and they run into Peter Parker walking with Ned, which leads to Peter pointing at Johnny saying, “Hey! You look like someone I know!” I highly doubt that will happen, but it certainly would make for a proper more realistic “What If…?” scenario. Plus, with Stan Lee gone we’re gonna need new cameo ideas.

That’ll probably do it for all of the MCU-related announcements for phase 4, and again, a lot of these films and TV shows are in development. So who knows? One could get pushed back, maybe one gets cancelled. Perhaps it ends up being a part of an eventual phase 5. Nevertheless, I’m excited for a large number of these projects, and hopefully they will all end up being good! Also, James Gunn, I know it is a little late, but welcome back. I want to know, is there something I’m missing from this list? I think I’ve covered all the ground, after all I have 4,000 words inserted into this thing! Or, what is something that you want to see from the MCU as a TV series, as a movie, as a concept? It doesn’t even have to be for phase 4 if you want it someplace else. Let me know down below! Thanks for reading this post! Pretty soon I am going to be reviewing Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which is out this upcoming weekend. I’m going to one of my local theaters for their first screening of the film in 35mm, can’t wait! Also, speaking of Tarantino, be sure to stay tuned for my final installment in my Quentin Tarantino review series, “The Hateful Eight.” Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, if you could do me a favor, like this post, share it around with those you know, it really helps me out. And speaking of that, like my Facebook Page! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Captain Marvel (2019): Not That Marvelous

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“Captain Marvel” is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Sugar, Half Nelson) and stars Brie Larson (Room, The Glass Castle), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes On a Plane), Ben Mendelsohn (Ready Player One, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Blood Diamond), Lee Pace (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Lincoln), Lashana Lynch (Fast Girls, Brotherhood), Gemma Chan (Mary Queen of Scots, Crazy Rich Asians), Annette Bening (American Beauty, 20th Century Women), Clark Gregg (The New Adventures of Old Christine, 500 Days of Summer), and Jude Law (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Closer). This film is the 21st installment in the cinematic universe. Good luck with your marathons, newcomers! “Captain Marvel” is about a soldier from another world who has memories of her past on Earth. As she is sent down to Earth, or as her planet’s kind calls it, “C-53,” she must combat a foreign force who can disguise themselves into other people and save the universe from further destruction.

OK… Here we go. I went into this movie rather excited. I must point out though, it is not because I am seeing the movie, but because I got to see it in the historic Chinese Theatre. This was kind of a dream of mine and I was waiting to go away to see this movie instead of seeing it on its first two nights just to make the experience special. And it was! When it comes to my familiarity with Captain Marvel, it is admittedly lower compared to other superheroes. But regardless of how familiar audiences and I are with this character, Disney and Marvel had an excellent marketing opportunity on their hands. They have never done a movie with a woman in the lead role before, so after almost eleven years of making MCU films, this is the first time this was being done. Unfortunately, it was not good.

Let me just get some things out of the way. I’m straight, I’m white, and I am a male. I am well aware that my physical and internal qualities that I can’t change, unless I go through surgery, puts me in the position of associating with the most hated type of person on the planet. So… reviewing this movie is hard. But I will say some things that I actually found to be good about the movie. This movie is kind of a crowd-pleaser. Much like a bunch of other MCU films, it had many attempts at humor, some of which totally worked. Some of the action is flashy and the visuals are very colorful. Speaking of that, the deaging done on Samuel L. Jackson is top-notch. And there are tons of callbacks to the 1990s that take up a portion of screentime.

Blockbuster Video, as seen in the trailer, plays a big role in the film. There’s a couple moments where people were laughing because of how 1990s technology worked. There was the use of Dial-up, CD-ROM had its share of screentime, and as I imagine some people expected, pagers were used in the movie.

But as a story, the movie is cliche, which would be fine because “Wonder Woman” was actually cliche and that film was actually pretty kick-ass, but the thing about “Wonder Woman” which made me not care for “Captain Marvel” is the difference in pacing. “Captain Marvel,” in reality, was a somewhat boring movie. Granted, there were parts that were exciting and entertaining, but there was a part of me that didn’t care about what was going on, I didn’t give a crap about the Kree, and after watching the movie, there are perhaps some parts that I feel like I am going to forget about in less than a month.

Let’s talk about Brie Larson in this film. I like Brie Larson as an actress. She’s very talented, she’s won awards, and she is in one of my favorite movies of 2015, “Room.” Also, I just watched “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” a movie featuring said actress, and that was one of the best films I’ve seen in recent memory. Brie Larson has a tendency to sign on to play good roles. Granted, this doesn’t always happen (watch “The Glass Castle”), but she usually has a keen eye for her roles. In fact she joined a movie that I am rather excited for the more I hear about it, “Just Mercy.” Knowing how the world of Hollywood tends to work, or at least having an illusion as to thinking I know how it works, Brie Larson definitely saw potential in a role as her particular character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Based on the legacy of said universe, I could definitely see potential. However, the execution of her performance was… I don’t know how to say this… Very off and on. The elements are all there for a decent Captain Marvel performance at the very least. A lot of the mannerisms done in the movie are all right for said character, and there is some range presented in terms of personality. But I feel like Brie Larson was at times directed to act a certain way that just didn’t work. It felt like watching multiple characters in one to the point where it is almost easy to assume Captain Marvel had multiple personality disorder. The performance just kind of didn’t work for me, which is absolutely disappointing because Brie Larson is practically an A-list actress. She won an Oscar for crying out loud! There are some moments where I found Captain Marvel to have some charisma behind her, some emotions to display, and others where she is just stoic. While there are times where such emotions (or lack thereof) can work for the movie, it is hard to tell exactly if everything flows as properly as I would hope. Speaking of proper flow…

One of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Not only did it make a rather unknown comic book IP become known and loved by millions, but when the first movie came out, it was actually pretty unique as far as comic book movies go. And one way that statement can be supported is through the movie’s soundtrack. Not only is it fun to listen to, but it has practically had an association with the movie in a way that many other soundtracks don’t. While “Captain Marvel,” unlike “Guardians,” doesn’t rely on a soundtrack for music all that much (maybe except for 90s’ references), there is this one moment where a pop song can be heard. I won’t go into much detail, but it is during a fight. If the crew behind this film was trying to capitalize on the success of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” then I can totally see that. But it didn’t f*cking work. In fact, that “Guardians”-esque moment, might just be the most cringeworthy part of the entire movie. And for those of you who know what I am talking about, I don’t know if you will agree with me, but this is just how I feel. In fact, it totally wouldn’t surprise me if some of these songs were put in because of “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” popularity because Nicole Perlman worked on this movie, earning herself a story credit. For the record, she was a writer behind “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

I will give some credit to Samuel L. Jackson however because like usual, he did a fine job as Nick Fury. And I will give even more credit to whoever deaged him. Sticking with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” theme, one of the highlights of the truly disappointing “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was the deaging CGI done on Kurt Russell. It was nice to see Nick Fury not only have hair, but believable looking hair. Jackson’s performance as Fury was definitely worth buying for how such a character would behave in the 1990s. However, without going into spoilers, there is something that happens in this film that references something in the future, and it takes place during the end of the film (no, not during the credits, around the climax). It is absolutely crucial to Fury’s character. The way that this film manages to go about it, managed to get a big laugh from the audience, but I thought this GIF would sum up my thoughts on this whole situation.

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Now imagine a part of my brain saying that for an eternity, and you have my thoughts on this moment towards the end of the climax.

And I gotta say, I feel like I am in a weird place as I review this movie. I am a straight white male. I have nothing against women having their own superhero. What I am against however is when people think take the idea of gender equality and twist it to make one gender look better than the other, and I will say, despite “Captain Marvel’s” numerous flaws, not to mention its overall lack of memorability, one of its strengths is that it made a woman look good as a role model, while not exactly putting guys down. If you have ever seen me talk about the 2016 “Ghostbusters,” chances are you know my thoughts on that movie, and none of them are good. One thing I absolutely hated about the 2016 “Ghostbusters” movie is that it went out of its way to display moments that practically make just about every man in the movie look like idiots. There’s a secretary played by Chris Hemsworth who literally makes Patrick Star look like a genius. They ruin the reputation of Bill Murray. And there’s a scene where the ladies shoot a giant ghost in the nuts. There are no moments where I feel like if I had a place in the “Captain Marvel” movie’s universe where I’d have an IQ below 40. Thanks, “Captain Marvel!”

I don’t really have too much more to say in terms of my own originally gathered thoughts, but I will point out that when it comes to “Captain Marvel,” I feel like this movie manages to disappoint me in more ways than I would imagine. While the villain in this film could definitely be worse, I feel like we are going back to phase 1 and even phase 2 MCU, because the villain here was just not memorable. And speaking of villains I don’t really find to be all that great, Ronan the Accuser apparently had a few moments in this film! Like… OK… More “Guardians of the Galaxy” stuff, whoppity do! I have no idea why you even needed much of Ronan’s presence in the movie, but somehow he’s here! Then again, his appearance, much like the film’s main antagonist, could definitely be worse.

Also, another thing to consider about “Captain Marvel” is that this is the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now that we have gotten to this point, it is getting harder to impress me because a viewer, it almost feels like I’ve seen everything. Granted, there are some unseen things in “Captain Marvel.” This is the first female-led film in the franchise, this is the first film to take place mainly in the 1990s, and it is also the first film where we get to see a cat play a significant role.

By the way, if anyone wants to know my thoughts on Goose the Cat, I thought he was funny, but I don’t think I liked him as much as other people. Although I imagine this character is going to inspire some people to create some funky, psychedelic t-shirts, which if that is the case, I can’t wait.

However, going back to my main point, I have been a follower of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years. And with following, comes knowledge, and having a competent knowledge of the MCU, to MAYBE hold my own in a related trivia competition, makes me realize that a lot has happened over the years. There are times when material might just seem like something we’ve seen in the past, but with a different name attached. “Captain Marvel,” the more I think about it, just seems like a newer, inferior version of “Thor” with elements of “Captain America: The First Avenger” intact. You have this god-like being who is trying to find their identity or place in the universe, and part of it takes place in space, while another portion is set on Earth. Plus, it is another fish out of water story.

Also, before we get into the verdict section, I will point out a statement from MCU executive Kevin Feige.

“Captain Marvel, she is as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie. Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we’ve ever had.”

Having now seen “Captain Marvel,” I am definitely not going to deny that Captain Marvel is powerful as hell. However, as far as her character being the most powerful of all, that is still up for debate. At least from my point of view. And speaking of which, there is a climactic moment towards the movie that was probably played for comic relief, but it also made a certain moment feel rushed and kind of cheap. More powerful does not always mean more exciting. And I say this whole “power” thing is up for debate for one reason and one reason only.

Can Captain Marvel do this? I’ll wait… I’ve got years of my life left, which give tons of time to provide an answer.

In the end, I hate to say it, but “Captain Marvel is one of the worst movies of the MCU. Granted, that statement might not say all too much as very few have actually gotten a low score from me. I go to the movies for memorable experiences, and many of the MCU’s installments have provided said experiences. I basically put my money on the table for “Captain Marvel,” because again, I went to the Chinese Theatre, which is MILES from where I live, and I literally mean MILES, because I am from Massachusetts. The Chinese Theatre is states away! I had a good time, and I would love to come back. After all… There is a “Star Wars” movie coming out soon… But the whole experience would have been perfect if I went to see a better movie, and “Captain Marvel” was just not that great. I am happy for women who are getting a hero they want to look up to, but I am not judging “Captain Marvel” completely as a feminist piece, I am judging it as a film. As a film, “Captain Marvel” is visually appealing, which is not surprising at this point for a comic book movie. It is pacing-wise, perhaps the worst of the twenty-one films presented in this series. And I felt that I wouldn’t pop this in my Blu-ray player right away if I had the chance. There is a mid-credits scene worth staying for, and there is another scene that happens towards the end. It is honestly unneeded, but if you like your end credits scenes, there’s your update. I’m going to give “Captain Marvel” a 4/10. I honestly don’t know if this grade is going to stay where it is. Because I honestly didn’t like this movie, but part of me had glimmers of enjoyment. And part of me also wonders if I am being generous because this movie stars a woman. I didn’t find myself to be angry throughout the film, so maybe this is technically a 4/10 for me. Only time will tell if this grade manages to stay where it is. And I gotta point out something regarding this “Captain Marvel,” DC did this type of film better! How often do I get to say that? Maybe they screwed up on “Suicide Squad,” the effects on “Justice League,” and keeping a singular vision alive, but they managed to do a female-led film better than Marvel, and that is an accomplishment for DC if I have ever seen one. “Wonder Woman” over “Captain Marvel” for sure, if you ask me! Thanks for reading this review! I actually wanted to make an announcement regarding April, while most of the month is uncertain in terms of content (although an “Avengers: Endgame” review is a undoubted guarantee), I do have a confirmation for you all. For those you who follow the director Terry Gilliam, you may be familiar that he worked on films such as “Brazil” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Recently however talk has been going around regarding his new film, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” For those who have ever heard of this film, you may be aware that production for it actually took decades to complete. Why? Total and utter disaster, that’s why! Anyway, here in the US, it is playing in several theaters for one night. Courtesy of Fathom Events, I have scored a ticket to one of these shows on April 10th! Next month, expect a review from “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” and if it takes forever to complete… Who knows? It could be just like the movie and go through several failures regarding production! Be sure to follow Scene Before with your WordPress account or email to catch that review and more great content! I want to know, did you see “Captain Marvel?” What did you think about it? Or, have you been to the Chinese Theatre? What did you see? What was your experience like? I personally enjoyed it, minus the movie. But I want to hear about your experience! Let me know about it in the comments section! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

91st Academy Awards Recap

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Before we dive into this post, I would like to kick off by offering my sincere apologies. Part of me wanted to do a post on my hopes and predictions going into this year’s Academy Awards show, but unfortunately, I literally lacked any time in the world to do such a thing. Apparently paying for my education is not enough to make my head spin, I need to be handed a bloated supply of homework as well! I wasn’t given this during the Super Bowl (REALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT THAT SHOW), so why should I get it on Oscar weekend? Anyway, earlier this week, I watched the 91st edition of the Academy Awards. I went into it with a few expectations. However, there was a part of me that thought this show was going to SUCK, and I even say that with my picks winning. Fortunately, that was not the case!

The first red flag in my sights for this year’s show is that there was no host this year. You guys may already know that Kevin Hart opted out at a point and nobody else happened to sign on. They did however announce names for a bunch of celebrities who will be present to give random speeches and nominee presentations. While not all of them were great, they did have a number of them which I was actually able to appreciate. And I can’t even believe I’m saying this.

Melissa McCarthy actually made me laugh! Throughout my 3 year experience of blogging on Scene Before, McCarthy has appeared in the #1 spot for my worst films of the year lists not just once, but twice! Although sometimes I kind of fail to give her credit where it is due, because there are a couple of occasions where she did make me laugh. When she played former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on “Saturday Night Live,” it was literally a plethora of some of the most gutbusting moments that I’ve encountered in the show’s recent years. McCarthy’s appearance during the Academy Awards ceremony was perhaps on the Sean Spicer level of funny. McCarthy comes out to present the Costume Design award. Doing so in this costume that is quite possibly inspired by “The Favourite.” She gives this speech about some of the best costumes and how they are not meant to have distracting elements. It’s just spectacular. So spectacular in fact that I almost forgot that Melissa McCarthy was a recent Razzie winner!

I will admit, when it comes to other celebrities, there are not that many other speeches worth pointing out. Although there is one moment where I appreciated John Mulaney’s line “I want these people to like me to a degree which I find embarrassing.” It’s not to say that they were bad, but there was not many others which I happened to find as interesting as say Melissa McCarthy.

When it comes to having no host, I was somewhat surprised, because I was highly skeptical going in on whether or not such a thing was going to work out. Turns out it did! Before this recent Oscars show, I thought to myself that this was all going to be a trainwreck. Without a host, it’s toast! Not anymore! But if the Academy were to announce for the 92nd show that they aren’t getting anyone to host that year, I’d just say, “Fine, whatever, you do you.” I wouldn’t care if there’s a host. Would I want a host? Certainly, but I’d be open to another Oscars show where nobody hosts. Because a couple of benefits to having no host is that the show focuses more on the awards, and it allows a diverse amounts of celebrities to present themselves to an audience. Because let’s face it. Not everyone likes Jimmy Kimmel, not everyone likes Seth MacFarlane, not everyone likes Ellen DeGeneres. Having one of those people host puts them in a certain spotlight, and even though certain people like The Oscars, they might not be satisfied with the person who may as well be taking up the biggest portion of the show’s screentime. Almost every celebrity onstage had their moment, and it allowed for a quick pace that was respectful. Granted, I am the rare find in the wild that does not mind staying up for eternity while watching The Oscars. However, there is a part of me that realizes that The Oscars is being shown to “everyone.” And there is a vast majority of people who want to see certain things throughout the show. The hostless ceremony is a good way to keep time short, and have the awards delivered as immediate as possible.

By the way, I recently saw this killer tweet from recent Academy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel:

I love you, Jimmy.

Now let’s move onto the awards. Had I done a prediction post a little bit ago, this would definitely be the main focal point. I’m not going to dive into every single award, but I am going to go over the ones that I found to be highlights.

Believe it or not, I have actually managed to expand my award palette this year, because just recently, specifically on February 9th, I went to a local theater in the Boston area because they were showing all of the animated short films that earned a nomination this year. They showed the five potential winners, along with some others that the Academy found to be “highly commendable.” Now I actually had a favorite of these films, but before I do that, let’s give out the nominees.

  • Bao- Domee Shi, Becky Neiman (WINNER!)
  • Weekends- Trevor Jimenez
  • Animal Behaviour- Alison Snowden, David Fine
  • One Small Step- Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
  • Late Afternoon- Louise Bagnall, Nuria González Blanco

Now keep in mind, I actually have watched all of these films from start to finish. I actually had been exposed to “Bao” prior to seeing all of the four other films. The reason why that is is due to how it was presented before Pixar’s “Incredibles 2,” making it Pixar’s short film to present this year. I kind of liked “Bao,” but it is something that I think would not appeal to everyone. I understand the message behind it, but in reality, there are a couple of animated shorts on this list that I found to be more interesting. For example, “One Small Step.” Granted, this may be coming with a little bit of bias since I am a nerd, and nerds like space. I still found the main character’s journey to be intriguing and sort of, pun intended, down to Earth. But my personal favorite out of all of these is without question, “Animal Behavior.” This film was made in Canada, and might I just say, this film reminds me of how awesome Canada is. It gave us Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Alex Trebek, Howie Mandel, and now… “Animal Behavior.” “Animal Behavior” takes a bunch of different living creatures and puts them all in a therapy session. One of the main characters is a gorilla who is in extreme denial, and often gets very angry. The results of this film, hilarious. One of the best jokes has to do with the mantis, because for those who are unaware, praying mantises eat their mate during intercourse. There are certain parts of the short where we see that sort of thing come into play, and overall it left me feeling very impressed. Plus, one thing that made this film different compared to all of the others, is that they were all trying to be serious. This one, while still having some sort of message intact, it still goes for as much comedy as possible. Kudos to the brilliant writing! Granted, the Academy goes for more serious material, and I do respect that, but I feel like was more impressed by the comedic efforts of “Animal Behaviour” as opposed to the serious efforts of “Late Afternoon” or “Bao.”

Moving onto another category, it’s Best Documentary! Let’s look at the nominees!

  • Free Solo- Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes, Shannon Dill (WINNER!)
  • RBG- Betsy West, Julie Cohen
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening- RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes, Su Kim
  • Of Fathers and Sons- Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias N. Siebert
  • Minding the Gap- Bing Liu, Diane Quon

Wait, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” wasn’t nominated?! F*ck this! Moving on!

Let’s try a different documentary category! Best Documentary Short! Let’s look at the nominees!

  • Period. End of Sentence.- Rayka Zehtabchi, Melissa Berton (WINNER!)
  • Black Sheep- Ed Perkins, Jonathan Chinn
  • End Game- Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
  • Lifeboat- Skye Fitzgerald, Bryn Mooser
  • A Night at the Garden- Marshall Curry

OK, these look much better. I haven’t seen any of these films, but they sound much better. Now I am not going to call one of these films superior to all of the others, all of my opinions related to such a thing would technically be invalid. But, the victory speech, holy f*ck. Quite possibly the best speech of the night!

“I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything! I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” -Rayka Zehtabchi

“A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education!” -Melissa Berton

Enough said. Period. End of sentence.

Another category that stood out to me was Best Visual Effects, mainly because there was one movie that I felt should win, but didn’t win. Granted, the winner to me has extremely competent visuals, but the reality is, I had my pick. Here are the nominees.

Ryan Gosling in First Man (2018)

  • First Man- Paul LambertIan HunterTristan MylesJ.D. Schwalm (WINNER!)
  • Avengers: Infinity War- Dan DeLeeuwKelly PortRussell EarlDaniel Sudick
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story- Rob BredowPatrick TubachNeal ScanlanDominic Tuohy
  • Ready Player One- Roger GuyettGrady CoferMatthew E. ButlerDavid Shirk
  • Christopher Robin- Chris LawrenceMike EamesTheo JonesChris Corbould

Let’s take some things into perspective. While I kinda hated “Solo,” I could see it being nominated for visual effects. I didn’t want it to win, but still. “Christopher Robin” was an alright movie, nothing really that special. But then again, I have a bare attachment to “Winnie the Pooh.” The CGI characters were not bad though. “Avengers: Infinity War” was probably my second or third pick to win, right along with “First Man,” which did win. Aside from all of the huge scale glory happening everywhere on screen, you also have to give credit to the effects team for creating Thanos. To me, Thanos is up there with Smaug and Gollum as one of the greats when it comes to CGI character creations. Now with that being said, “READY PLAYER ONE” WAS SNUBBED! Granted, I already awarded “Ready Player One” myself because I now do the Jackoff Awards, but I would have given a thumbs up to the voters had they let “Ready Player One” win! Let’s take another set of ideas into perspective. “Avengers: Infinity War” has comic book style action, random computer effects flying everywhere, and a well done CGI character. I’ve seen that before. In fact, “Christopher Robin” had several of those. Granted, I liked “Infinity War’s” effects better, but still. “Solo” had several effects that I’ve seen in many other movies, and when it comes to the “Star Wars” franchise, it’s not even my favorite movie in terms of visuals. While I will say that “The Last Jedi” is actually worse than “Solo” as a movie, which I am honestly shocked to say. It actually looked nicer! “Solo” has its moments, but when comparing it to the rest of the franchise, it’s in between Obi-Wan and Anakin, because ya know, it kinda has the middle ground. For “Ready Player One,” I wanted that to win, because I felt it was the most visually unique movie of the year. Not only did it manage to visually create its own characters, but it actually recreated segments from other works of art! There is a scene in the film that actually takes place in a location from “The Shining.” Not only that, but you have two different worlds being dealt with in the movie, meaning there are two different places to insert various visuals. The effects team, personally, outdid themselves! I am not a crybaby over “First Man” getting the gold, but at the same time, I’m also wondering why it even got it because “Ready Player One” was just a unique trip. And this goes back to my recent statements. I’ve seen visuals like “First Man” in the past. I’ve seen it in “Apollo 13.” I’ve seen it in “Gravity.” I’ve seen it in “Interstellar.” Although at the same time, I said after I saw the movie that it was not my favorite movie of the year in terms of the story, but from a technical perspective, it was definitely the most well made movie of the year. So while it is not my #1 pick for visual effects, they are by NO MEANS incompetent. Granted, that comment I made after I saw “First Man,” that likely changed overtime after I saw “Roma,” but nevertheless.

Another highlight of the night, for anything but good reason (for the most part) is Best Makeup & Hairstyling. Here are the nominees.

  • Vice- Greg CannomKate BiscoePatricia Dehaney (WINNER!)
  • Mary Queen of Scots- Göran LundströmPamela Goldammer
  • Border- Jenny ShircoreMarc PilcherJessica Brooks

As I once predicted, “Vice” came out on top. The makeup might actually be the best part of the entire movie. So I was excited to see it win. Then… I saw the speech. The three winners practically did not even know what it was they were supposed to say. They had a paper in front of them, which is fine, I have nothing against that, but at least put a little preparation into your speech! At least, have a plan! Visualize! Get together on a Google Hangout or something! I mean, it was slow, it was like watching three people who had recently received amnesia! I’m just waiting for them to get hit in the head with coconuts and suddenly talk like they’re Peter Griffin after he drank Red Bull! They almost didn’t even remember anybody’s name! Ah well, still, congrats I guess.

Anyway, moving onto another category, which I guarantee has a better speech, let’s go onto Best Animated Feature. I do think it is a somewhat unnecessary category, given how it sort of diminishes the art of the animated movie as a whole, but I still want to talk about it. Here are the nominees!

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse- Bob PersichettiPeter RamseyRodney RothmanPhil LordChristopher Miller (WINNER!)
  • Incredibles 2- Brad BirdJohn WalkerNicole Paradis Grindle
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet- Rich MoorePhil JohnstonClark Spencer
  • Isle of Dogs- Wes AndersonScott RudinSteven RalesJeremy Dawson
  • Mirai- Mamoru HosodaYûichirô Saitô

Out of the five films listed, I have seen every single one except “Mirai,” but then again, it wasn’t really marketed around here so I don’t really have much to say about it overall. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was not only enjoyable, but it honestly shocked me to no end. Because let’s be real, I thought the marketing was, *snobby voice* an abomination! I thought that movie was going to be the most obvious cash-in from Disney this past year (somehow I forgot about “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”). Turns out that it is not only a good movie experience, but also a great parody on the Disney company! Just watch what Vanellope has to go through in the film to see what I mean! Then we have “Isle of Dogs” which is the only stop-motion film on the list. Over these last months, Wes Anderson has grown on me a bit as a director, and his work in this film supports my statement. Plus, I actually hate dogs, so the fact that I like this movie actually says something! “Incredibles 2” is a worthy sequel to what is, quite literally, my favorite animated film of all-time. Not only is it a part of my childhood, but it is just a well crafted movie. For awhile, it was my favorite film of the year, that is… until the release of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse!” And might I just say, JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED! Because two people behind “Spider-Verse,” specifically as writers and producers, have also worked on “The LEGO Movie.” That is one of the best movies of 2014, and probably one of the best animations I’ve ever seen. And not only did that movie not win an Oscar, it didn’t even get nominated! Sure, it was nominated for Best Original Song due to the presence of “Everything Is Awesome,” but that’s not even the best part of the movie! Heck, that wasn’t even the best song in the movie! Ah well, catchy tunes can be catchy. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller get an Oscar! They didn’t have to wait as long as say Kevin O’Connell (sound mixer who waited 21 times), Roger Deakins (cinematographer who waited 14 times), or Glenn Close (actress nominated 7 times and still waiting), but they’ve each got one! “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is one of the best superhero movies of 2018, and I’d even say it’s better than “Black Panther,” which actually received more nominations than this movie! Speaking of which, let’s talk about that.

Based on the results of the recent Academy Awards show, “Black Panther,” my fourth place pick this year for superhero films, managed to take home three Academy Awards. None of them were in super major categories. Granted, one of them was score, which to me, is usually a major factor on whether or not your movie is in my top movies of the year for some reason. If I remember your music, chances are I’m going to like your movie. Now, “Black Panther” is nowhere close to being my favorite superhero flick of 2018. But with that in mind, I still gotta give the movie respect, because it did something for comic book movies that has never been done before. Over the years, several movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have received nominations for the Academy Awards. Some include “Doctor Strange,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “The Avengers,” “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Iron Man 3.” None of them have ever won an Oscar. Just this year, “Black Panther” changed that. Because it won 3. While I would say that for every of its categories for which the film was nominated, I was actually rooting for other films, including “The Favourite!” That actually says something because that film was nominated for best picture and I’m still not happy about it to this day! Nevertheless, it won three awards, which to me, shows that the Academy is getting more serious about the action movie genre and the comic book movie genre. They have progressively been doing such a thing in some of their more recent ceremonies with movies like “The Dark Knight” and “Logan.” Although, when it comes to comic-book based films, this is probably the best year Oscar-wise because with the MCU’s first three wins ever, they have another nomination on top of that (Avengers: Infinity War). Plus, as recently mentioned, “Spider-Verse” won Best Animated Feature. In fact, “Black Panther” was one of the eight movies nominated for Best Picture this year. I’m not saying I want more inclusion from comic-book movies, but I love how the Academy is recognizing that comic-book movies can be more than just entertainment. They can be works of art. Maybe I don’t see “Black Panther” the same way as they do, but I see where they may be coming from with it. Although I will say, I’m white. Just pointing that out. Congrats to the comic-book film genre.

Another highlight in terms of awards including some of the acting sections. Starting with Best Supporting Actor, here are the nominees!

  • Mahershala Ali- Green Book (WINNER!)
  • Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
  • Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
  • Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Ah, seems very familiar. I nominated four of these people for the Jackoffs. If Timothée Chalamet was nominated here than that would be five. But whatever. And just like the Jackoffs, Mahershala Ali won! Ali to me is deserving of his win because of the range provided in his performance. Sam Elliott is great, the same can be said for someone like Sam Rockwell. But they seem to play the same character the whole movie. While Ali is technically one guy during the movie, he almost seems to play two. You have this robotic priest, and I won’t go into much more detail, but he reveals more emotion as he develops. Ali is well deserving of his award if you ask me.

Moving onto Best Supporting Actress!

  • Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
  • Marina de Tavira (Roma)
  • Amy Adams (Vice)
  • Emma Stone (The Favourite)
  • Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Out of all of these, I have interestingly witnessed all of these performances EXCEPT Regina King, which is too bad, because I heard good things about “If Beale Street Could Talk.” And I was watching the Red Carpet buildup before the Oscars started, and having seen people commentate on the broadcast, this made King’s win no surprise because it was practically a lock. Out of the ones I’ve seen, my personally favorite without a doubt has to be Amy Adams. She transformed into her character in “Vice!” I will give credit to “The Favourite” in the acting department, especially when you consider two of its actors are nominated in the same category, but it does not save “The Favourite” from being a less than satisfying movie. As far as Marina de Tavira goes, I almost wonder why she was nominated to begin with. I’m not saying she performed badly in “Roma,” in fact she did a great job. But it’s kind of surprising considering how she was never really nominated for the same role anywhere else during this award season.

Now onto Best Actress! Here are the nominees!

  • Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
  • Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
  • Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
  • Glenn Close (The Wife)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Melissa McCarthy? What the?! It’s raining cats and dogs! I’ve seen three of these performances, and while there is a part of me that was able appreciate Olivia Colman as a performer in “The Favourite,” I found the performances from say Lady Gaga and Yalitza Aparicio a bit more compelling. And part of my reasoning behind such a statement may be because the two aren’t known for their acting. Gaga is primarily a singer, which also kind of means she has an advantage in her role. But what really wowed me is Yalitza Aparicio, because this is actually the first acting job she ever did in her entire life. For a first-time actor, you’d expect them to give a C performance, maybe a B performance at best. But this to me was no doubt, an A+ performance! And to be honest, part of me was expecting Glenn Close to win. Plus it would have been fascinating because she has been waiting awhile for her award. But if you have seen the Jackoffs, you might be able to gather my opinion on this. TONI COLLETTE WAS SNUBBED!

Lastly for acting, we have Best Actor. Here are the nominees!

  • Rami Malek- Bohemian Rhapsody (WINNER!)
  • Bradley Cooper- A Star Is Born
  • Viggo Mortensen- Green Book
  • Willem Dafoe- At Eternity’s Gate
  • Christian Bale- Vice

To me, Malek’s win was a no brainer. I was appreciative of this performance because of how it was able to transform this actor into a beloved celebrity of another kind. Granted, it is all him, because part of it was due to someone else doing his vocals and I think costume design and makeup go into play with my appreciation as well, but still, he was my pick to win. My second pick would have been Bradley Cooper because he had to learn to sing for his role, and it actually paid off! Out of these performances, I will point out that I’ve seen four of them, the one that I didn’t see is Willem Dafoe, but I also liked the performances from Bale and Mortensen. If I had to choose between them, I’d say Mortensen was the better performer, but if Bale had won, I would have loved to have seen his speech. Because when it comes to the crew on “Vice,” one terrible speech was already provided in the Makeup & Hairstyling category, but had he gone up, I would have been interested to see his speech. I say so because he gave perhaps my favorite speech at the Golden Globes this year, specifically where he says this:

“Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration on how to play this role!”

HAHAHAHAHAHA! How often do you hear that?! While that might make certain people upset or offended, I thought personally that was one of the highlights of that show.

We have a few more categories to go over, a couple of which include the screenplay categories. Here are the original screenplay nominees!

  • Green Book- Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly (WINNER!)
  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
  • Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Vice (Adam McKay)
  • The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara)

I’m sorry, “The Favourite,” while it has some memorable lines, the screenplay was not even close to being something special. In fact, that’s one of the biggest problems I have with the movie, because this story was trying its best to be compelling, but it felt more drawn out than I expected! And I will admit, I am guy who is willing to appreciate film no matter what kind of movie we are talking about, but even for me, this was too slow! I think the biggest problem was the chapter layout. Because when I first saw it, I thought the chapters represented a three or five act structure, if I recall correctly, it was like nine. I am with “Green Book” as  the winner however. It’s a good story with compelling characters, and some quirkiness behind it too. Then again, it is hard to avoid expecting a good script from a guy who worked on “There’s Something About Mary.” If it weren’t for “Green Book” winning, I would have either picked “Roma” or “Vice.” With “Roma,” it was a script that took a bit of time to get me fully intrigued, but once I was hooked, I was not able to let go. It was investing, emotionally charged, and is capable of showing the occasional unpredictably of life. “Vice” however is rather interesting to me because while it was based on true events, it was able to have some satirical fun. One of the best written scenes of the year comes during the middle of the film where the acts like it is about to end saying the characters live happily ever after and never get in politics ever again. GEN-I-US!

As for the adapted screenplays, here are the nominees!

  • BlacKkKlansman- Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmont, Spike Lee (WINNER!)
  • A Star Is Born- Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?- Nicole HolofcenerJeff Whitty
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs- Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
  • If Beale Street Could Talk- Barry Jenkins

Surprisingly, while I’ve seen a number of things in the listed this categories this year, this is a category where I’ve seen only two things. To be specific, “A Star Is Born” and “BlacKkKlansman.” I missed out on “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” As far as “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” goes, it’s on Netflix and I have don’t Netflix, nor do I ever plan to get it. Enough said. Luckily, of the two I did see, I nominated both for the Jackoffs in this exact category. Granted, I gave the 1 up to “A Star Is Born,” but “BlacKkKansman” is also worthy of your support. Interestingly, and if you watch the movie, this shouldn’t really come as a shock, Spike Lee’s speech was rather critical of Donald Trump. Let’s see how President Orange responded.

REMINDER: This guy won multiple Razzies this year!

A couple more categories to go, let’s move onto Best Director!

  • Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
  • Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)
  • Adam McKay (Vice)
  • Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)

“The Favourite” might just be one of the best worst movies of all time, because I can clearly tell people are giving their 110% effort throughout the production, but it just didn’t work for me. The directing in the film is actually not that bad and I see why it received a nomination. In fact, all of these directors are worthy of their nominations if you ask me. Although there is no questioning it. Cuarón directed the hell out of “Roma.” Based on how he did this movie, the project felt extremely personal, and the direction felt like everything came right out of his mind. Nothing felt like it came from an outsider or a studio. I am well aware that in life you can’t always get what you want, but it’s nice to get what you want when you are look at things from a directorial point of view. Plus, Cuarón had his hands full with this film. Not only did he have a credit for directing, but he also has a credit for the screenplay, the editing, the cinematography, and even as a producer. He did a lot for one film! He’s like Tommy Wiseau, only difference is that Cuarón was able to create a critically successful movie. I hate Netflix, like with a burning passion, but I will give them credit for quite possibly saying “You know what Alfonso, you’re so f*cking talented. Make whatever movie you want!” I’m imagining something like that went on behind the scenes.

Two more categories to go, let’s pay attention towards the Best Cinematography category! Here are the nominees!

  • Alfonso Cuarón- Roma (WINNER!)
  • Lukasz Zal- Cold War
  • Matthew Libatique- A Star Is Born
  • Robbie Ryan- The Favourite
  • Caleb Deschanel- Never Look Away

And to my lack of surprise, Cuarón takes this award too! If you have seen my last Academy Awards recap, chances are that you’d know that cinematography was probably the category I was most passionate about that year. The reason was due to how one of the nominees was Roger Deakins, who FINALLY won an Oscar for his work in “Blade Runner 2049!” This year, I don’t really have the same passion for that category, but I was able to appreciate a couple of the nominees. “Roma” is a movie that I thought was technically brilliant, and its cinematography absolutely showcases that. SUPER GLAD IT WON! That movie had many shots that made me wonder how they even came about! Netflix, PLEASE. Release a Blu-ray for “Roma!” I want my bonus features! In fact, for the Jackoffs, that movie also won Best Cinematography. Speaking of which, I also nominated “Cold War,” which is unique because it featured a 4:3 aspect ratio, and like “Roma,” it’s in black and white. When I reviewed “Cold War,” I felt that the film’s technical specs were something I could appreciate more than the film’s story, and the cinematography was the biggest standout to me. I can approve of “The Favourite” being nominated, but when it comes to “A Star Is Born.” Some of the shots were nice, but I don’t see why it is nominated. Maybe the set design and the lighting stood out to me, but standard shots are not the biggest standout when it comes to “A Star Is Born.” In fact, a similar movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” actually comes to mind when I think of this nomination. There are a number of shots that truly immerse me into the film. This is especially true during the Live Aid scene. The extended run through the audience set the mood entirely for that scene alone. There are certain shots that give you a sense of scope, it’s almost mind-boggling. As for “Never Look Away,” I never saw that movie, so I have nothing to say about it.

And now, for Best Picture. This year there were eight nominees. Out of all of them, I actually had something that I truly wanted to win. Last year I wanted “Dunkirk” to win, but I also missed out on many of last year’s Best Picture nominees. This year however, I actually saw all eight of them. If you wanted to know my pick for Best Picture this year, it was “Roma.” What a f*cking movie. Anyway, here are the nominees!

  • Green Book- Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga (WINNER!)
  • Black Panther- Kevin Feige
  • The Favourite- Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday and Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Bohemian Rhapsody- Graham King
  • A Star Is Born- Bill Gerber, Bradley Cooper and Lynette Howell Taylor
  • Vice- Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay and Kevin Messick
  • Roma- Gabriela Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuarón
  • BlacKkKlansman- Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee

I’m gonna do this by talking about the movies that didn’t win first. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther?” You can honestly forget about those two! The pacing in “The Favourite” is horrible and “Black Panther” is not even the best comic book movie of the year! A lot of people go around saying that film is “socially important,” but that has nothing to do with how good a movie is. Just because your film has a black person in it, it doesn’t make it good. What matters is how it was executed. You know what comic book movie was socially important? “Wonder Woman!” And that’s a masterpiece compared to “Black Panther!” AND it wasn’t nominated for any Oscars for its respective year! When I like “Aquaman,” “Deadpool 2,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and “Avengers: Infinity War” more than “Black Panther,” you can probably tell what I’m trying to say here about it. “Vice” was pretty good, but ultimately lacking in some sort of substance that didn’t seem to be there as I watched the movie. I appreciate the work that went into it, but some parts of the movie were better than others. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is sort of interesting. I think it is a good tribute to Queen and Freddie Mercury, but it is ultimately just that, nothing more. Sure, there’s good cinematography and a rock solid performance from Rami Malek, but it doesn’t really change the game. Then there is “A Star Is Born.” I thought Bradley Cooper did a great job with that movie because he had a lot to do on it, and not just as a performer. Although when it comes to his performance skills on that film, that’s probably the best part because of how he needed to not just talk, but play an instrument and sing. “BlacKkKlansman” may have been a well written, well directed, and well acted film. But even if you remove all of those qualities from the table, you still have a great concept. An African-American police officer pretends he’s white and infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan! And it’s based on a true story!

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When it comes to the two films left to talk about, I already said what I need to say about “Roma.” It is such a masterful movie. Plus, it partially made me change my mind about how serious Netflix could possibly be in the movie theater industry. Granted, they still have some ways to go, just ask Steven Spielberg, but they’re making progress. I really wanted that film to win, and I actually had high confidence that it was going to win this year. Then Julia Roberts gets onstage, and says the words “Green Book.”

Did not expect that.

But you know what? It’s cool, that was my second pick anyway! I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding “Green Book” right now, it almost reminds me of “The Greatest Showman.” Part of me might regret watching “Green Book” for that reason alone, but I also have to keep in mind that when I did see the film, I enjoyed what I saw. I thought the screenplay was well done. The chemistry between the main characters went together like bread and butter. And the acting is superb! “Green Book” may not be my pick for Best Picture, but it was certainly worth a watch. It’s got some serious parts in it, but it is almost like a feel good story at times. It’s nice to see the formation of two unlikely friends. Plus, it’s one of those rare times where product placement WORKS. Will I watch “Green Book” again sometime in the future? Most likely. It is a fun watch, and definitely worth your time. Congrats to “Green Book!” Congrats to all of the other nominees!

Thanks for reading this post! The 91st Academy Awards was definitely a surprise! I was expect a mediocre show at best, and it turned out to be pretty good. Would I like a host next year? Certainly. But I am also now open to the idea of a hostless Oscars ceremony. Now that I’ve seen it, it worked out! I gotta give massive respect for the Academy for including all of the awards, and I also want to give a shoutout to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper for an awesome performance of “Shallow!” You guys rock! Speaking of which, Queen, great opening! Well done! When it comes to my future content, I will be doing a review of “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World!” And also, as of writing this, Scene Before is now three years old! It just turned three recently, I want to do something for the three year anniversary, but if I actually manage to do something, it probably won’t be up soon, because college is keeping me busy. Like, insanely busy. I have some ideas, who knows? Maybe I’ll do the same thing as the two year anniversary? But only time will tell! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see the 91st Academy Awards? What are your thoughts? Any snubs? Great moments? Do you agree with everything? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

What the Heck is Up With Justice League (2017)? *PART 2*

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last November, I asked a question to the world. What the heck is up with “Justice League?” I made a post with that title where I talk about various incidents that have been going on involving the crew of the then upcoming “Justice League” movie. To view this post, click the link below!

WHAT THE HECK IS UP WITH JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)?: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/what-the-heck-is-up-with-justice-league-2017/

Although before we go any further with our current post I just want to get something out. Why are you here today on the Internet? I figured it was because you wanted to waste some time and avoid cleaning your room. Come on now! Your mother’s about to walk in and she’s gonna freak out! Well, allow me to once again introduce, Genevieve and Paul. Check out some earlier posts for less recent introductions. They are on the Internet for multiple reasons, but one of them is to tell the story leading up to their conception. The explanation of the conception journey is gone over in a little thing I like to call “What The IVF?.”

“WTIVF?” is a new series on YouTube where Genevieve and Paul go through the struggle of having a kid. The struggle being, well, making a kid. Each episode features a new adventure between the two where they encounter unfortunate realities in sex, testing, math, examinations, costs, and needle injections that end up hurting harder than a simple step on a LEGO brick! The video you see up above is the third episode in the series. The past two have been sexy, but now things are getting awkward! Paul is on a mission for science, but he has no idea what he’s in for! If you enjoy this video, be sure to like it, share it, subscribe to the “WTIVF?” channel, hit the notification bell, leave a comment, all that jazz! I’ll post links down below to their social media profiles including their YouTube, so check em out and tell them that Jack Drees sent ya over!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

Judging by the title of this post, you might be thinking, “What crazy hijinks is being cooked up this time?” Well, I can tell you. This post may be asking what the heck is up with “Justice League,” but it is also going to be asking what the heck is up with the Detective Comics Extended Universe? As you may know, “Justice League” is the fifth movie in the DCEU. It takes all your favorite DC superheroes and places em all together in one movie. Together, they join forces and try to take down the evil Steppenwolf. I reviewed “Justice League” almost a week after it came out and if some of you read it, some of you may call that the real part 2 to this series, but that’s not the main focus of the post. My very own thoughts were more important. Whatever the heck is going on does get a load of attention, but my main intention was to review the movie. Here however, we need to about the utter s*it that’s being happening lately.

As mentioned in my review, “Justice League” made a combined domestic and international total of $278.8 million on its opening weekend. While that is certainly a lot of money for a film in general, it’s kind of underwhelming if your film is called “Justice League.” This whole topic gets crazier when you realize that “Thor: Ragnarok,” which was out two weeks prior to “Justice League,” made so much more on its opening weekend worldwide (approx. $427 million). “Thor: Ragnarok” is an action-comedy that has less superheroes and less money put into it. Having seen both movies, I will even say that PERSONALLY, “Justice League” is the better movie. And I might be a bit generous when I say that because I now own the 4K and I rewatched it. Some of the effects look like they were from a college student’s film. I had believe it or not, a better time watching “Justice League” than I did watching “Thor: Ragnarok,” but it doesn’t mean I can’t point out its flaws.

I will also have you know that I paid more money to see “Justice League” in the theater than I did when I went to see “Thor: Ragnarok,” and I brought more people with me to see it. I went with a companion to see “Thor: Ragnarok” on opening weekend, and they ended up going another time in the future with their family. I didn’t, but adding that in, I guess some logical sense can be made behind “Thor: Ragnarok’s” overall total. Not to mention, they didn’t go see “Justice League.” Although I will say that I went with one more person to see “Justice League” than I did for “Thor: Ragnarok” and to my knowledge, neither of them have seen “Thor: Ragnarok.”

With that being said, that basically covers the extremely early events of “Justice League” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” and now, both theatrical runs have lead up to this point. I now have a 4K Ultra HD Best Buy exclusive steelbook for “Justice League” and I don’t have one copy of “Thor: Ragnarok.” One week after the “Justice League” movie came out on 4K and other home video formats such as Blu-ray and DVD, I found out some news that Marvel may be popping drinks over, and news that’s leaving DC rolling their eyes. “Thor: Ragnarok” made a total of $853,968,214 right now. “Justice League” just finished its theatrical run, and its total came out to $657,924,295. Keep in mind, that recently mentioned number, is objectively, a lot of money. Although judging the two movies and what they contain, the idea of a “Justice League” movie making as much as money as it did against a punier movie such as “Thor: Ragnarok” is what’s called a surprise and a f*cking half!

My personal opinion on both films aside, “Justice League,” according to many people, was not as good as it could, would, and should have been. When you take the movie and put it in that sort of viewpoint, it can be said that “Justice League’s” total against “Thor: Ragnarok” is valid, but part of me wonders what this means overall for the DCEU. Let’s take a look at the worldwide totals for every movie, including “Justice League,” released in the DCEU thus far.

MAN OF STEEL: $668,045,518
BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE: $873,634,919
SUICIDE SQUAD: $746,846,894
WONDER WOMAN: $821,847,012
JUSTICE LEAGUE: $657,924,295

This does beg a question, where does the DCEU go from here?

The DCEU is obviously going to have to make some choices from here on out. After all, with all the popularity Marvel is getting at this point, it’s getting harder and harder each and every day to compete with them.

One thing I’ve heard as a suggestion is the possibility to reboot. I do think this is a good idea, but also a bad one. Let’s start with the positives.

If you reboot, you have an opportunity to reorganize and readjust your vision to only make POSITIVE products. Let’s face it, there are numerous souls who weren’t satisfied with various DC films. The lack of satisfaction towards those films could have lead to the downfall of “Justice League.” Also, I usually try to promote movies and support them for being different, but one thing that’s an odd choice for DC, is that barely any of the heroes who happen to be in the Justice League thus far, had their own movie released prior to “Justice League.” Superman had one, Batman had one, Wonder Woman also had one, but not The Flash, Aquaman, or Cyborg. Sure, you can also make the point that not every Marvel superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe had their own film released before “The Avengers.” Although judging by the time, did you really think putting out a Hawkeye film before “The Avengers” would have gotten everyone flocking to the theater? Everyone would probably go see it now, including me even though I think Hawkeye’s as useless as a rock paper scissors match to determine what time it is. I will say however in DC’s defense when it comes to making money, forming the Justice League and actually putting out that movie prior to releasing standalone films might be an interesting strategy to get people who liked seeing certain heroes in “Justice League” in their own films. That way, instead of going to see “Justice League” only once after maybe ignoring some prior installments, they have some awareness of a character existing in the universe and their existence intrigues them enough to go see their standalone film. Maybe, just maybe, to fully determine the idea of this reboot thingy, we should wait and see what “Aquaman” makes at the box office. Besides, it’s not like Marvel didn’t do something like this before. They briefly introduced Black Panther and Spider-Man in “Captain America: Civil War” and the two went onto getting successful standalone movies down the road. Plus, another thing that keeps coming to my attention is that DC is constantly announcing project after project, but these projects never seem to go anywhere. Marvel seems to maintain a steady pace and seems to focus on the present. They sprinkle in some ideas about what can be done in the future, but they don’t seem to have the clutter that DC has. This is the great thing about Marvel president Kevin Feige. The DCEU always seems to be scrambling and doesn’t really know where to go next, but Marvel always has a path. Now let’s talk about something I usually consider a positive, but point out its flaws.

My usual philosophy when it comes to movie-making is that someone’s vision should be fulfilled, and when it comes to that, I’m mainly talking about the vision of the director. When it comes to Marvel, you can see that the directors of those films unleash what they view as figments of their own imagination, and they ultimately have a vision of where their movie should start and where their movie should finish. But the thing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that the visions of the director, doesn’t play as big of a part in the series as much as producer Kevin Feige’s. If you look at all the Marvel movies, they all don’t feel like they’re in their own little area. While they technically are, they all have a tone, story, and feel that reminds you they’re in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. DC’s movies, when it comes to directing, come off as a bunch of people who try to make their own food, they bring it to a big banquet and see who takes it or considers it the best food of all. If you compare the styles of Zack Snyder and Patty Jenkins, you might notice that their movies are written a bit differently, tonally speaking they’re not exactly similar, and they seem like a movie only they or a few other people would make for themselves. I’m not against them having their own thing for now, but if this universe gets to a point where a major storyline plays in future films, it’s gonna have to get more collaborative.

Now let’s talk about one big con when it comes to rebooting. Who are gonna play the roles of the heroes? Well, if they’re gonna do an all new universe with the same exact heroes that have been introduced thus far, I do think they should recast Christian Bale as Batman, but separate it from the “Dark Knight” trilogy universe. Although since that’s probably unlikely to happen, I’ll be a bit more realistic.

BATMAN: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Stronger)
SUPERMAN: Wes Bentley (Interstellar, The Hunger Games)
WONDER WOMAN: Deepika Padukone (xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Chennai Express)
THE FLASH: Timothée Chalamet (Interstellar, Call Me by Your Name)
AQUAMAN: Whatever bloody person has long blonde hair or can put on a blonde wig, this one’s really freakin’ hard. Or if someone can find Patrick Swayze’s ghost that would work too.
CYBORG: Dexter Darden (The Maze Runner, Joyful Noise)

While you can reboot, recast, and therefore start something new and fresh, it’s going to affect the current universe’s positives. Not only do we have a surprisingly great Batman (Ben Affleck), one that’s actually beloved by moviegoers and comic book fans, but we also have a fantastic Wonder Woman. Some people may beg to differ, but I personally thought Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is what made “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” worth watching. Not Batman, not Superman, but once I walked out of the theater, I thought Wonder Woman was the s*it. And no, not because she was sexy. Although that’s bonus points. To prove to you how much I truly loved Wonder Woman in that movie, I went to Rhode Island Comic Con in 2016 and she was there. I stood in a line for five hours JUST to meet her and get an autograph. It was a fast paced line, but I did get to talk to her. She was pregnant at the time so I took a moment to congratulate her, and she thanked me. Not only did I love Wonder Woman as a character in this universe, but people, mainly girls, were hyping up the standalone “Wonder Woman” film like crazy. I was too, many people were skeptical of how it would turn out, but I knew this was going to be something special just based on how the character was portrayed in “Batman v. Superman.” And judging by many people’s opinions, it was. I might even think that the standalone “Wonder Woman” film, might even be better to me on a personal level than a gigantic number of the MCU films. If you reboot, you’ll lose a short-lived legacy of Gal Gadot inspiring girls all over and if the Wonder Woman who replaces Gadot doesn’t live up to her, some folks are going to be disappointed. It’s not to say that rebooting can’t work. Batman’s been rebooted multiple times and people had not much of a problem behind it for the most part and Spider-Man’s recently been rebooted for the MCU and people seem to like that. Although if this reboots, it needs to follow a collaborative path or something. Don’t copy Marvel beat for beat, otherwise you’re just an imitator. Develop your own path, and have people follow it. Hire qualified directors and writers, perhaps ones with lots of experience, and despite having a path to follow, allow directors and writers to add their own flare to the table. Have a collaborative effort while still promoting imagination.

I honestly don’t want the DCEU to end and reboot. But based on all the announcements that’s been going on lately and the total confusion-fest that some call news, it looks like it’s either heading that way, there’s gonna be another DC movie universe going on at the same time, or something else that I don’t even know at this point due to an increasing headache I’m getting from looking at all of this! At this point! I should change the name of this post to “WHAT THE FLYING F*CK IS UP WITH JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)?!” When it comes to news, this is the Trump administration of movie news. A lot comes out and it’s sometimes just bonkers. I’m a DCEU defender, I know it’s not been great thus far, but I do see potential if the right people are hired to do each job, a more collaborative effort is put into each product, and while I don’t want each movie to be the same, I want the movies to feel like they know they’re in the proper series. I don’t want a reboot, some others seem to feel the opposite way of me, but this is where I stand. Although before we put this post to rest, I’ll say something that can get some people talking. “Black Panther” has been out for weeks now, but I’ll say, the movie’s been out for a month, and it already passed above the $1 billion mark. Its current worldwide total is at $1,211,644,236. Years ago, if some Gandalf-like wizard came out of a portal and told you that “Black Panther” will be out for a matter of days, and it will make more money than a very recent “Justice League” movie, you’d laugh your ass off. Am I right?!

So I want to know, why do you think “Justice League” made as much money as it did? What do you think the future for the DCEU will be? There are future movies coming out such as “Aquaman,” “Shazam,” “Flashpoint,” and “Wonder Woman 2.” The fate of these films may be uncertain and the fate of the DCEU may depend on the reception and box office returns of these installments, so let’s hope the results are positive! Thanks for reading this post! Pretty soon I’ll have my review of “Tomb Raider” starring Alicia Vikander. I went to see the movie hours ago, and I have quite a bit of things to say about it. Also, I can assure that by the end of the month I will have my review up for “Mission: Impossible” starring Tom Cruise to kick off my “Mission: Impossible” review series. Stay tuned for more great content! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!