The Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps on rolling. Though one stage of Marvel’s superhero epic reached a conclusion of sorts with Avengers: Endgame, the overarching story continues with Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home. (Technically, Phase 3 of the MCU ends with this film, according to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.)
If there was any question of where Far From Home fits in the MCU timeline, the movie’s new trailer makes that clear. (I speculated on the latest Amusement Park Podcast that it must take place between Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War, but was obviously wrong.) So clear, in fact, that Tom Holland issues a spoiler warning before the preview begins. If you haven’t seen Endgame, don’t watch this trailer because it gives away a major development from that film, one you won’t want spoiled.
Sad to hear that Peter Mayhew, known largely as the actor who portrayed Chewbacca in five Star Wars films, passed away this week at the age of 71. Yet Mayhew’s death occurring two days before “Star Wars Day” (May the 4th be with you) probably resulted in even more attention and appreciation for his career than it otherwise may have received.
But maybe not. Chewbacca was a beloved, iconic character in the most famous movie franchise of all time (well, until Marvel and the Avengers came along). Mayhew’s death was going to be news. But a community came together online and in person, due to social media and Star Wars Day, to express their affection, which made it just that much more special.
Growing up with Star Wars (though I often recap my love of comic books and superheroes more), Han Solo was the coolest character for me. Roguish, charming, a little bit unethical, but ultimately noble. He wore a slick vest and piloted the best starship in the galaxy. Yet as I got older (and old), I developed more affection for Chewbacca. And not just because I often express myself with roars and grunts too.
I don’t do very well with catch-up projects on TV shows and movies. Oh, I’ll binge through a bunch of episodes if I’m behind on a show. I just finished off the last five episodes of Manifest last week, after NBC renewed it. (That reminds me: Renew The Rookie any time now, ABC.) Up next are Doom Patrol, Arrow and The Flash.
But when it comes to catching up for a refresher, I’m not often successful. For instance, I didn’t rewatch the previous seven seasons of Game of Thrones before Season 8 began. And I won’t have watched all of the Marvel movies again — not even the three Avengers films — before seeing Avengers: Endgame this week.
There are too many TV shows and movies that I haven’t watched to devote that time to stuff I’ve already seen. Killing Eve, for instance. Star Trek: Discovery. The second seasons of Westworld, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. There’s that new Ultraman series on Netflix. That reminds me, I also haven’t watched Season 3 of Queer Eye. There are so many more. Oh, and the show I’m probably most embarrassed never to have watched: Breaking Bad. Yeah, that’s right.
I keep saying this isn’t a newsletter and have posted that content here instead. But the reasons I haven’t really followed through on trying to do a newsletter is a) not having anybody sign up would be kind of depressing and b) I’m not writing enough at other outlets to have anything to collect here.
Plus, I’m already asking people to subscribe to The Podcass, which friends and followers have been supporting nicely, and I’d really like that to do well. At some point, you all will just get sick of me tugging on your pant legs, right?
But here’s the thing: I miss the old days of blogging. With me writing less professionally, I need an outlet and I’m enjoying writing for fun again. The era of Blogger, LiveJournal and Tumblr has passed, but the spirit of blogging still seems to exist, if not the interactivity and sense of community. Maybe it’s just in newsletters and podcasts now.
So here we go. This is becoming a newsletter. I’ll try to get this out on Thursday or Friday, since a lot of newsletters go out on Sunday. Please subscribe to Overzealous Recycling at tinyletter.com/casselberry. And thank you in advance.
There’s a scene about midway through Hellboy in which a giant sword goes through a monster’s head, virtually splitting it in half, unleashing a reservoir of blood, and showing some of the soft tissue underneath the skull. While taking in that moment, I thought to myself, “I think that’s what watching this movie feels like.”
I was rooting for the 2019 reboot of Hellboy. It was going to be too easy to dismiss this movie and say Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman did it better — twice — without even seeing this new version. But the wave of early reviews seemed to confirm what so many feared when this project was announced. Was there really any point to reviving Hellboy if there wasn’t anything new to offer?
Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t have a problem with remakes and reboots, even if they’re being made too often now. (Saying “Hollywood is out of ideas” is an opinion that’s run out of ideas.) Popular characters and franchises are always going to be mined for new movies and TV shows if a newer angle can be taken. And if new digital effects and moviemaking techniques can tell those stories better than their previous versions, it might just be worth doing.
I’ve been wound really tight through most of the past week. This probably won’t surprise those who know me well. I tend to be a seether, to swallow irritation and annoyance until the kettle finally boils and shrieks to let that heat out.
It’s not one of my better character traits; I know that. I constantly need to do a better job of addressing things in the moment or shortly thereafter, rather than letting them build up. I feel like I’m better than I used to be, but when I do finally air my grievances, it can come across as a surprise to the recipient. I didn’t let on that I was feeling that way.
I always think I’m letting displeasure be known, but it probably gets lost under my default surly setting. So there I go, like Anger in Inside Out or Yosemite Sam with guns a-blazin’, if you’ll indulge a much older reference.
With one magic word, Shazam! keeps the fun train rolling for the DC cinematic universe. DC was already on the right track with the success of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but taking a chance with a B-list (maybe even C-list) character who had a chance to reach a younger audience might have derailed that momentum.
Some fans and critics might feel like DC’s big-screen product won’t be fully established until the big names like Batman and Superman have been restored, and the cinematic universe is on a path to getting the band together in another Justice League film. But Marvel seized the superhero movie pedestal with lesser characters and by creating a slow build that stoked anticipation for a big payoff.
Another reason that Marvel has succeeded while so many other studios and franchises have failed in trying to build a cinematic universe is its realization that many different types of stories and genres could be featured within a superhero universe. Movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man resonated with audiences because they were comedies as much as blockbuster spectacles. Humor has always been the honeypot for these movies.