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

There is no God! That’s why I stepped in!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)   When it comes to the James Gunn avatar, this isn’t simply a case of maintaining the “business as usual” illusion we’re seeing with other recently-dead directors. Affleck, Spielberg and Tarantino can be dusted off for the odd individual project, but Gunn has been installed as the head of a studio. He is, to whatever eventual end, being used as signage. And signage with specific regard to the superhero genre. Whether that’s to ensure the final nail in its coffin (and so crumble Hollywood to rubble in the process) or to use him

I feel like I’m hugging Godzilla.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)   Audiences weren’t exactly showing up in swarms – by MCU standards – for the Ant-Man movies anyway. This was, perhaps, down to the character, or to the personable nondescript-ness of Paul Rudd, or the comedy-first angle of a superhero who can shrink down very small or grow very large. Scott Lang is more of a goof than a hero, so making his movies ever more ensemble in aspect – now daughter comes too! – was perhaps inevitable. But that aspect, combined with the more serious, ponderous even, visit to the Quantum Realm in

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

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

If I ever met Huey Lewis, I’d be a wreck.

Hawkeye Season One   Of the Marvel Disney+ series thus far, this was the one that had the least going for it on paper. Overtly Woke credentials – teen girl assumes the mantle from a self-confessedly toxic male – in combination with nigh-on the least interesting member of the Avengers. Although, obviously, that one’s a dead heat with Natasha Romanov. And yet, surprisingly, Hawkeye is easily the most satisfying of year’s TV foursome (I’m not including What If… ?) The key is the relationship between Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton and Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, the eager young wannabe sparking off the guilt-ridden grizzled

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