Director Ryan Coogler had a thin line to walk for his sequel to Black Panther.
Following up 2018’s mega-hit that was unlike any Marvel superhero we’d seen before, reaching out to audiences and cultures that previously felt underserved by blockbuster entertainment, would have been difficult enough. Coogler had an opportunity to direct a sequel to 2015’s Creed, but passed on it to jump into the Marvel sandbox and bring comic books’ first Black superhero to the big screen.
Topping himself and continuing the story of Wakanda’s King T’Challa was going to be much more difficult — logistically and emotionally — after the death of star Chadwick Boseman two years ago. How could Marvel and Coogler, along with the amazing cast and crew that brought the fictional African nation to vivid life, keep the story going without the Black Panther himself?
Out of respect to Boseman, Marvel decided that T’Challa wouldn’t be recast. That was probably the correct decision, especially so soon after the actor’s death. Asking fans — and those who worked with Boseman — to accept a new face in the role would have been difficult. (Though during the past two years, sentiment — online, anyway — has turned toward recasting and advancing a character that was so iconic, so important to audiences.)
So Coogler and writer Joe Robert Cole (who collaborated on the first film’s screenplay) embraced the real world’s intrusion on Marvel mythology and acknowledged Boseman’s death in the story by giving T’Challa much the same traffic fate. As a result, Wakanda Forever serves as a tribute to the actor, allowing fans and colleagues to mourn and perhaps find closure with the loss.
“Your ancestors called it magic, but you call it science,” Thor said to Jane Foster in Marvel’s first Thor movie (2011). “I come from a land where they are one and the same.”
Whatever it’s called, the magic is gone. At least for the God of Thunder’s run under director Taika Waititi.
Thor: Love and Thunder has some beautiful visuals, creative set pieces, and compelling character arcs, especially for Natalie Portman’s Foster. But the story trying to hold them all together is too weak to build a satisfying film that ranks among the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What makes this so disappointing is that Waititi’s previous Thor film, 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, was such a refreshing change of direction from the other Marvel movies with its fast pace, outlandish color palette, and bold designs influenced by legendary artists like Jack Kirby, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Moebius. (The new wave soundtrack by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh added to the alien atmosphere.)
I’m just guessing that Ned Beatty wouldn’t want his role as Otis, Lex Luthor’s bumbling sidekick, in Superman: The Movie to be the first thing mentioned when looking back at his career. (I’m imagining Alec Guinness rolling his eyes when he was immediately attached to Obi-Wan Kenobi by so many when he passed away.)
But maybe Beatty wouldn’t have minded either. Generations of fans remember him fondly in that film and it provided much needed comic relief among Christopher Reeve’s big blue boy scout and Gene Hackman’s megalomanical villain (who bullied poor Otis a bit too much). There are worse legacies for an actor to leave behind.
Apparently, August 1 is Spider-Man Day? Not sure when that decision was made, but the internet tells me it’s because Spider-Man’s debut in Amazing Fantasy #15 was in August 1962.
It’s surely not a coincidence, then, that someone — somewhere — restored the original teaser for the 2001 Spider-Man movie in high-definition for the occasion.
What’s the big deal? Unfortunately, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center are prominently featured in the teaser. After what happened on 9/11, that just couldn’t be shown anymore. The teaser has been available since then, but the quality of the video wasn’t very good — until now.
So if you’ve never seen it, this is the first time Spider-Man appeared on the big screen. It was just enough to ignite excitement for the movie coming the next year:
Superhero movies were still an uphill climb for audiences in 2001, so clever teasers that looked like a different kind of movie were the gateway to win people over. No, this wasn’t a Michael Bay-esque helicopter heist film! It’s Spider-Man!
Anything was now possible! A guy crawling up walls! Swinging through New York City — between those skyscrapers — on his webs! This was no longer something comic book and movie nerds dreamed about for 20-plus years!
Now that we live in an era when four or five superhero movies are released each year, this seems like such a long time ago. Spider-Man has now appeared in 10 live-action films, including Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. It’s always special, but there can only be one first time, right?
And, uh, 18 years ago is indeed a long time ago, Old Man.
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.