The age of superheroes is almost over. On this blog as well as in the MCU.
The Avenger’s Endgame movie will be hitting German cinemas tomorrow and I will be there at the midnight showing tonight. I did want to reminiscence about superheroes so much more in these two months and my reason for slacking off must sound absolutely ridiculous to people who aren’t obsessed with anything. But truth be told, the press tour and the promotional materials and most of all, the fan theories coming at me from all sides have been pretty overwhelming. These characters have been part of my life for like a decade and I know their world as well as I know my own. So the knowledge that most of them won’t make it and that the MCU will forever be different are pretty stressful.
Right now it’s like a fight between my emotional attachment to the characters I’ve grown to love and the general superhero fatigue that is setting in from sheer overload. The superhero genre has grown so much in the last decade and it seems like every other movie coming out is a superhero movie. The first part of this is great because it opens up the possibilities for storylines beyond the Save The World By Punching Things trope. The second part is getting pretty annoying because there doesn’t seem to be much else out there these days. I feel like a tipping point will be reached soon, where people are truly fed up with superheroes dominating the screen.
The MCU will be changed drastically after Endgame with most of its original heroes gone and I can’t help but feel like Marvel and Disney are making this cut on purpose. My best bet is that they anticipate the superhero fatigue taking over and set up Infinity War and Endgame to bow out with the biggest impact possible. I think that the new roster of heroes will be a little less super, a little more human and a lot more diverse with storylines to match. I’m thinking of the royal Black Panther, the very normal guy Ant-Man, or the Russian spy thriller that Black Widows origin story is hopefully going to be. They are not Golden Boy Chrises and as much as I love those, I’m glad of it.
As for DC, the direction seems a little unclear, as Warner Brothers seems to cling to the overly dramatic and dark DCEU for the most part. Not to make a second Wonder Woman and Aquaman movie after the success of the first ones would be foolish but to recast Batman and make yet another Joker-centered piece seems desperate. I have high hopes for Margot Robbie’s Birds of Prey movie following the female villains of the DC universe but it might just crash and burn like Suicide Squad did.
But now, let me introduce a new concept that I think I might employ more often in the future when there is just too much good stuff to review for a two-month window. I hope I’ll find a name for it soon but for now it is what it is: A list of stuff worth mentioning even though I didn’t get to make a whole post about it. I am very bad at editing down things so I’m sure this format will come in handy. Just short reviews, but a bunch of them. In the world of superheroes that means, stuff I’d highly recommend to restore your faith in superheroes. This time around, I definitely meant to write a post on each of these but you know that didn’t happen. In the future, I hope to have this format as more of a Further Reading list.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
This one, I feel particularly bad about for not writing a whole post as it is my favorite superhero movie ever. Period. It is the second Captain America movie and features him, the Black Widow and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency. It also introduces Falcon and obviously the Winter Soldier. It’s storyline is about espionage, evil infiltrating the agency and a global threat on a government level – it’s gripping in a thriller kind of way and keeps coming around with twists and turns in the plot line. But what makes it so special is the friendship-theme in it. Cap and the Widow make for a great team – without any unnecessary romance – and the Falcon comes in as the absolute good guy – no questions asked. The storyline around the Winter Soldier is absolutely heart breaking in a good way, which is sadly all I can say without spoiling anything. The movie got a plot that’s more dystopian government thriller than standard superhero stuff and the characters’ journey together is super believable and emotional. Watch the trailer here.
The grittiest of all superhero movies. To me, Logan was somewhat like Endgame on a smaller scale. The X-Men’s Wolverine played by Hugh Jackman was the first superhero I ever remember. Wolverine was the backbone of the X-Men franchise (also based on Marvel comics but thus far a separate world from the MCU) for 17 years. I kind of forgot about his impact on my childhood once the MCU-obsession took off, so the feelings hit me hard and unexpected halfway through this movie. Through the X-Men saga, Wolverine (aka Logan aka James Howlett) is the perfect superhero and the exact anti-superhero in one: With retractable metal claws, superhuman strength and self-healing properties, he is basically indestructible. But he is also a foulmouthed loner who doesn’t play well with others and does – in general – not care about saving the world (spoiler: he ends up doing it anyways very often). Most of the X-Men and Wolverine movies are very typical superhero stuff, with lots of giants fights and really powerful people on both sides of them. Logan is different. It’s about a man aged by countless years of fighting his demons and villains of all sorts. It shows him broken beyond repair, trying (very unwillingly as always) to save everything. It is a farewell to the character and a truly devastating end to his saga. To me, it was extremely emotional but looking past that, I can say with an objective eye that it is a groundbreaking film for the future of the superhero genre. It is dystopian, gritty and very real in its desolate feeling to a point where you forget it is a superhero movie at all. Its somewhere between classic Western and Mad Max: Fury Road if you’d ask me. Definitely something for anyone who doesn’t like the polished, colorful guys in spandex. Watch the trailer here.
Another one from the ranks of the X-Men. Technically at least. Deadpool is a special case because he does belong in the X-men universe but he is not actually part of it as of now. The movie was produced relatively low budget for a superhero flick by Ryan Reynolds who also plays the lead character and had a heavy hand in all stages of production simply because he loves the character. And it shows. Deadpool is a promising character to begin with but what Reynolds and his team made him into is frankly genius. Major props to 20thCentury Fox for letting them to all of it as well. Deadpool is just as much perfect superhero and ideal anti-hero as Wolverine is: He is an ex-mercenary with all the training and has regenerative properties that make him pretty much un-killable (I do not like to use the word immortal) but he is also a jaded smart ass who follows his own goals and own moral compass which can be questionable at times. The story is a very personal one, with Deadpool looking for the people who made him into the monster (his words) he is. But it is the extremely funny and macabre way he is going about his business that makes the movie great. His ability to break the fourth wall and to talk to the audience directly adds to it as much as the soundtrack (which I still listen to often) but the star of the show is his self-deprecating humor. The pairing of great fights with classic physical comedy is also unexpected yet great. If you don’t mind a little splatter and a lot of F-Bombs, you will enjoy Deadpool as a comedy – if you like superheroes or not. Watch the trailer here.
Three is the charm when it comes to Thor movies. Obviously part of the MCU from the beginning, Thor started out as a very high-fantasy franchise with most of its aesthetic being very medieval. That all changed with the third film – which can be viewed as a stand alone in my opinion. Director Taika Waititi did a great job re-imagining Thor as a colorful, fun space saga. This is a superhero movie at heart – with a powerful villain, the destruction of worlds etc. but it is also just very fun to watch how the mighty God of Thunder is turned into a space-age gladiator for the entertainment of Jeff Goldbloom (aka The Grandmaster, but really, Jeff Goldbloom at his best). There are a diverse cast of aliens, an unexpected Hulk and two of the most badass females in the MCU: Hela, the Goddess of Death and Valkyrie, the last of an all-female special forces unit. The movie has some of the best comedy and one of the best soundtracks in the MCU and is just a firework of superhero fun. You’ll love it if you like energetic comedies and scenes almost too big and colorful even for superhero movies. Watch the trailer here.
What can I say, I love a gritty superhero. This Netflix series is sadly not part of the MCU but part of the Defenders series construct which encompasses four individual superhero series ( Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil) as well as a team-series where they meet up to form the Defenders. They all have in common that they are not saving the world as a whole but are each micromanaging a part of New York City. I have not seen the meet-up series and only parts of the others but I am in love with the two seasons of Jessica Jones available. She is very much an anti-hero like Wolverine with superhuman strength, limited healing properties and maybe even the ability to fly. She is haunted by an abuser from her past who also happens to mind-control people. Since her demons are internal as well as real, she doesn’t cope with life too well, which makes her a great character with a lot of depth. She is a strong woman who is still vulnerable and cares deeply about her few friends – which are all interesting characters in their own right. It’s a great show to binge-watch if you love thriller-dramas, gritty visuals and broken characters. Nothing is polished with Jessica Jones. Watch the trailer here.
Apparently, I do love comedy and gritty superheroes. But aside from all these movies and shows you need to watch, I also have two recommendations that more hands-on and bring the superhero world to real life.
There are currently a few different Marvel Exhibitions on show throughout the world and I was lucky enough to catch the MARVEL: UNIVERSE OF SUPER HEROES exhibition in Seattle before it moved to Philadelphia. I can just say that it is a gigantic collection of information, props, costumes and memorabilia on all things Marvel and especially the MCU. It will be awe-inspiring to any fan to see original comic manuscripts alongside the actual suits worn by the Avengers. I cannot recommend it enough. Aside from this exhibition, I know that at least one other exhibition is touring the world. It went up in Singapore last year and I’m sure it will pop up somewhere else again soon.
SUMMER OF SUPERHEROES @ DISNEYLAND PARIS
The Summer of Superheroes is an event that takes place over a couple of months at the Walt Disneys Studios park next to Disneyland Paris. It opens in May and runs through most of the summer. I was lucky enough to go at the right time for it last year and I will also be going this year – the program is supposed to be altered slightly but I guess most of it will still be similar. I absolutely loved the Marvel characters parading through the park – Loki strutting around was so on point and Cap taking pictures with little fans melted my heart. There was themed food that I obviously had to have and the Spiderman burger was actually pretty good. The merch was sadly mediocre at best and the superhero Mickey ears were extremely cheaply done, so I’m hoping for an improvement on those this year. There was an outdoor show with a dance off between the Guardians of the Galaxy which didn’t have any wait. But the biggest superhero attraction was the greatest fail: a stage show around an Avengers mission. Maybe I’m in too deep with the movies and all but it just seemed very lazily done. The storyline and the individual Avengers powers did not match up with the MCU and most of the special effects were poor quality. I expected more from Disney, especially because it was an hourlong wait to get in.
Well, that does it for the superhero master post. I will see you here next when I’m in tatters after Endgame.