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.)
Carol Danvers has been a C-list character in Marvel Comics for most of her 50-year history. Only within the past seven years has she held the mantle of Captain Marvel that sells her as a pretty big addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Danvers has a convoluted comic book history, one that surely made her difficult to distill into something simpler for a movie. Yet like Tony Stark before her, the lack of a signature storyline made Danvers a blank slate for Marvel Studios and the five writers (including Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Nicole Perlman and Inside Out‘s Meg LaFauve) who took a crack at Captain Marvel‘s story.
A comic book overhaul in 2012 by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick (who appropriately has a quick cameo in the movie) made Danvers a tougher, more accessible character fueled by all of the doubts and obstacles encountered throughout her life. That perseverance is what pushed her into becoming an elite fighter pilot and gave her the edge to stand as an equal with Captain America, Iron Man, and the other Avengers.
Have we already been doing this for a month? Four episodes says we have. The fourth edition of The Amusement Park Podcast is now available.
This week, we respond to Entertainment Weekly‘s Captain Marvel reveal, ask if there’s just too much damn TV to watch, review Operation Finale, Searching and Juliet, Naked and share what we enjoyed from the past week.
You can listen or download below:
This is the week we get our website up and running. I can feel it! In the meantime, you can listen to episodes and find subscription links over there. Maybe we’ll have some blog posts too. Really!
You can find us on the following podcast platforms:
Every time a new Marvel movie comes out, there seems to be a compulsion to rank it among the previous superhero blockbusters. That sets an awfully high bar for Ant-Man and The Wasp, which doesn’t seem quite fair. Should it really be compared to a massive crossover epic like Avengers: Infinity War?
None of the Marvel movies are “small,” but the smaller scale here is an ideal follow-up to Infinity War‘s galaxy-spanning scope and grave stakes. Much of the speculation leading up to Ant-Man and The Wasp — from sites that needed content — focused on where the story fit in relation to the Avengers’ battle with Thanos. Does it take place before Thanos and his cronies attack Earth? Does it deal with what happened after Infinity War?
While this is obviously a sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man and sort of a sequel to Captain America: Civil War — at least with the repercussions of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) deciding to help Cap out in his philosophical conflict with Iron Man — it’s also a fairly standalone story that isn’t largely constructed as a setup for bigger films to come. Yes, it takes place before Infinity War, but those events are eventually addressed. (You know better than to leave before the credits are finished with a Marvel movie.)
The one big plotline left dangling from Ant-Man was the fate of the original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne (played in this sequel by Michelle Pfeiffer). During a mission with the OG Ant-Man, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Janet sacrificed herself — shrinking to sub-atomic size and getting lost in the Quantum Realm — in order to disable a nuclear missile. But Lang showed that it was possible to return from the Quantum Realm, inspiring Pym to find the wife whom he believed was forever lost.