Is Captain Marvel pressuring you in any way?

The Marvels (2023) In contrast, it seems, to many, I didn’t have a strong beef with Captain Marvel. It simply felt a tad tepid, going through the motions in “punching up” a formulaic plot with a functional retro-nostalgic (’90s) setting and an overpowered but really rather dull superhero(ine). It was the first example of an MCU title that felt entitled, one that had done nothing to earn its status, either through preceding reputation or by dint of star power/personality. Which was doubly injurious to its rep, trumpeted – belatedly, given it arrived a decade down the line – as the

He lets me crash in his dimension sometimes.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023)   Oh look, another “to be continued”. I’d hoped such wannabe cash grabs had permanently floundered after the post-Potter, post-Twilight finales failed to milk the desired returns (The Hunger Games’ appeal dipped after Catching Fire, while Divergent stumbled so badly, it didn’t even get its Allegiant Part II). We’ve already seen Fast X this summer, and there’s still Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part I to come. All of them bloated and overlong to, a greater or lesser extent. Into the Spider-Verse was a sharp, punchy animated breath of fresh air and Spider-Man: Across the

I thought you said a merman was after you.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)   Far from yielding the disappointing box office some have suggested – it currently tallies at about half a billion less than the original movie – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s performance really ought to be regarded as quite impressive. Quite impressive that a movie as poor as this should nevertheless muster almost $800m worldwide. Whatever the faults of the year’s preceding MCU releases – and both Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder abound with issues – they were not, by and large, exercises in tedium. The shoddy pacing, pitiful

What a classic Thor adventure. Hurrah!

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)   Thor: Love and Thunder is very much the mess general responses have suggested, compounding the problems exhibited by Thor: Ragnarok when it came to juggling the soberer subplots. Except that here, the soberer subplots are all over the movie like a rash, and Taika Waititi is all at sea, as all he really wants to do is lark about and play as many whacky characters as possible, under the vain illusion (see also M Night) he’s a really dynamite, multihyphenate phenomenon. Love and Thunder is both less successful (if you can call Raimi’s movie

You’d be surprised how many intersectional planes of untethered consciousness exist.

Moon Knight (2022)   Now, this is an interesting one. Not because it’s very good – Phase IV MCU? Hah! – but because it presents its angle on the “superhero” ethos in an almost entirely unexpurgated, unsoftened way. Here is a character explicitly formed through the procedures utilised by trauma-based mind control, who has developed alters – of which he has been, and some of which he remains, unaware – and undergone training/employment in the military and private mercenary sectors (common for MKUltra candidates, per Dave McGowan’s Programmed to Kill). And then, he’s possessed by what he believes to be a

Drank the red. Good for you.

Morbius (2022)   Generic isn’t necessarily a slur. Not if, by implication, it’s suggestive of the kind of movie made twenty years ago, when the alternative is the kind of super-woke content Disney currently prioritises. Unfortunately, after a reasonable first hour, Morbius descends so resignedly into such unmoderated formula that you’re left with a too-clear image of Sony’s Spider-Verse when it lacks a larger-than-life performer (Tom Hardy, for example) at the centre of any given vehicle. Dr Morbius: As a result of my procedure, I have the overpowering urge to consume blood. Human blood. In the wake of Spider-Man: No Way Home, there was talk that

The Illumi-what-i?

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)   In which Sam Raimi proves that he can stand proudly with the best – or worst – of them as a good little foot soldier of the woke apocalypse. You’d expect the wilfully anarchic – and Republican – Raimi to choke on the woke, but instead, he sucked it up, grinned and bore it. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is so slavishly a production-line Marvel movie, both in plotting and character, and in nu-Feige progressive sensibilities, there was no chance of Sam staggering out from beneath its suffocating demands with anything

You have a very angry family, sir.

Eternals (2021)   It would be overstating the case to suggest Eternals is a pleasant surprise, but given the adverse harbingers surrounding it, it’s a more serviceable – if bloated – and thematically intriguing picture than I’d expected. The signature motifs of director and honestly-not-billionaire’s-progeny Chloé Zhao are present, mostly amounting to attempts at Malick-lite gauzy natural light and naturalism at odds with the rigidly unnatural material. There’s woke to spare too, since this is something of a Kevin Feige Phase Four flagship, one that rather floundered, showcasing his designs for a nu-MCU. Nevertheless, Eternals manages to sustain interest despite some very variable performances, effects, and

Gods don’t have to choose. We take.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)   The ultimate superhero crowd-pleaser? I think so, pretty much. He’s everyone’s favourite superhero – well, aside from those who prefer Bats, who are, of course, nuts – and it’s replete with by-and-large, the right kind of fan service, fan service that pays off far more than it drops the ball. Nevertheless, Spider-Man: No Way Home still isn’t the best Spider-Man movie. It might only be the second-best Tom Holland Spider-Man movie. It gets what it gets right really right: all those multiverse past Spidey characters. Well, except for the one(s) who were rubbish anyway. But the side effect is the parts that made MCU

Oh hello, loves, what year is it?

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)   Simu Lui must surely be the least charismatic lead in a major motion picture since… er, Taylor Lautner? He isn’t aggressively bad, like Lautner was/is, but he’s so blank, so nondescript, he makes Marvel’s super-spiffy new superhero Shang-Chi a superplank by osmosis. Just looking at him makes me sleepy, so it’s lucky Akwafina is wired enough for the both of them. At least, until she gets saddled with standard sidekick support heroics and any discernible personality promptly evaporates. And so, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings continues Kevin Feige’s bold journey into