owlmoose: (avengers - captain america)
The previously-discussed MCU rewatch has begun! We powered through Phase One on Tuesday night, first watching Captain America: The First Avenger, then a few clips from Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Thor, and finally The Avengers. And we were up way too late for a school night, but it was worth it. Although I don't know that I got anything particularly new out of it, it was fun to watch my friends making new connections and to explain the significance of things. My obsessions expertise, being put to good use!

One thought I do want to share is this: I no longer really think that Thor is optional to a good understanding of the MCU. If nothing else, The Avengers makes way, way more sense after you've spent some time getting to know Thor and Loki, both individually and in the context of their relationship. If you're going to skip something, make it Iron Man 2 (although you might want to check out some of the scenes between Tony and Rhodey, and Tony and Nick Fury). Thor is officially back on the required watching list.

Next up is Winter Soldier (yay!) and Guardians of the Galaxy (...oh, all right). I'll be sure to report back.
owlmoose: Closeup of Melinda May (marvel - melinda may)
I took a break from the Marvel rewatch project because I had vague hopes that I might get in another viewing of Age of Ultron before wrapping up Season 2 of Agents of SHIELD. But when it became clear that Ultron wasn't going to happen before the premiere of Season 3, I went ahead and watched those last few episodes, then never got around to writing them up on their own. So my commentary on them is included below. Note that the following post includes spoilers for the first episode of Season 3. Content note, cut for spoilers. )

One of the common complaints about the first season of Agents of SHIELD was its focus on Phil Coulson as its main character. I had my own reservations about whether the character could or should anchor the show, and during the original broadcast airing I felt that at least some of my fears were realized. As a secondary character, I enjoyed Coulson very much -- he would walk on from offstage, be competent, and walk off again. It hurt when he died, but it was only a twinge, not a mortal wound. When word came down that he would not only come back to life but be the lead character on AoS, I was actively annoyed. For one thing, I'm not a fan of the "death is never forever" meme that permeates comic book stories, because death has no meaning when we know that it can be reversed with the stroke of a pen, and I was disappointed to see the MCU play this card so early in its run. But I was also frustrated because, in an extended Marvel universe with so many opportunities for diversity, they were chosing to make yet another media property centering around a middle-aged white guy. It wasn't surprising, I suppose, but it still disappointed me.

Except not really, because on rewatch, it becomes clear that Coulson wasn't the true focus of the show after all. The first two seasons of AoS tell the superhero origin of Daisy Johnson (aka Skye aka Quake), and almost everything that happens to Coulson in Season 1, and many other major plot points along the way, are in service of her story.

Cut for S3 spoilers and length )

A few more thoughts on the final episodes of Season 2:

No spoilers for S3 in here. )
owlmoose: Closeup of Melinda May (marvel - melinda may)
This next batch of episodes takes me up to Age of Ultron, which is of course just now coming out of theaters -- it's playing in literally one theater near me, and it's not one I can easily get to. And it's not out on streaming until September. Boo.

Anyway, the show. The thing I love most about this stretch is the discovery that the first two seasons of Agents of SHIELD are Skye's origin story. Spoilers, length )

Still haven't decided what to do next. But for right now, it's time to go see Ant-Man.
owlmoose: (marvel - trip)
Even though I already watched Agent Carter for this project, I thought the mid-season finale would be a good point to take a break and pull together some thoughts.

And they are behind this cut. )

I'll be moving right along to the next batch of episodes, leading up to Age of Ultron; I'm not sure what I'll do at that point, since I'm not sure I'll have the chance to catch it in a theater again. I suppose I could take a break for Daredevil, which I have yet to watch (I'm not sure where it fits in the chronology -- does anyone know?), or Ant-Man, which I'll probably see next weekend (I know, I know, but Hayley Atwell is in it, which is an automatic theater trip for me, yes even if it's just a cameo). Maybe AoU will still be in the last gasp of its theater run by the time I get to that point.
owlmoose: (avengers - natasha)
Now that the second season of Agents of SHIELD is up on Netflix, I've decided to pick up this project where I left off, with my third viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy.

This is not a particular favorite of mine -- it's a fun ride, easily the most humorous of the MCU films, and I enjoyed it while I was watching. Chris Pratt is always charming, and like everyone I fell totally in love with Groot, but the film's frat-boy attitude gets wearying, fast. Basically, I stand by everything that I said the first time, except that Ronin has grown on me as an antagonist. In particular, I would no longer say that Ronin was a worse antagonist than Maeferoth: he might be a bit annoying and over the top, but he has a much stronger personality, and I got a better feel for his motives the third time around. I still wish we had gotten more on Nebula and the Collector, and I hope we see them both in later movies.

Cut for Agents of SHIELD spoilerish stuff )
owlmoose: (marvel - peggy serious)
I've made no secret of the fact that I think Agents of SHIELD got much better as it dealt with the fallout from Winter Soldier. As I mentioned in my post on the first part of the season, the pacing of the earlier episodes feels better in retrospect than it did at the time, but it still suffered from having to draw out too little story over too many episodes. When HYDRA comes out of the shadows in "Turn Turn Turn", the plot picks up steam, and (with the exception of the mostly terrible episode about the cellist -- although the Skye vs. Ward plotline almost saves it) barrels ahead to a satisfying ending.

Thoughts, feelings, and errata. )

Overall I liked the whole season better the second time around, although this latter chunk didn't have as far to improve. Now that I'm not longer under time pressure, Guardians of the Galaxy is up next, and I'm curious to see what new connections, if any, I can make to the rest of canon.
owlmoose: (marvel - steve profile)
I love this movie, okay? Just pure fangirl squeeish love. Marvel might have been able to make a more perfect follow up to Cap 1 and The Avengers in terms of what I wanted as a Steve Rogers fangirl, but I have a hard time imagining what it might have been. So I have a hard time being objective. Also, I've written about this film before, both right after I first saw it and on my second viewing, in the context of a smaller rewatch (TFA, Avengers, and the first two post-TWS episodes).

I took exactly two notes as I was watching, one about how seamlessly Steve and Natasha work together, despite their contrasts in personality and style, and one about Jasper Sitwell. A few thoughts on Sitwell. )

As for the rest, well, what can I say? The character development of Steve, Natasha, and Nick Fury follow just right from the rest of the series. Pierce and HYDRA make for the best MCU antagonists so far (except for Loki, of course). Sam is exactly the right new character at the right time -- someone outside all the power structures we already know, able to bring a fresh new perspective and be a friend to Steve. The business with Bucky carries the perfect amount of emotional punch. Cut for future movie speculation. )

And so this project takes a pause in the same place it began, with fangirling over a Captain America movie. Appropriate, I think. :) There's more to rewatch, and I think I probably will continue, but for now I have tickets to Age of Ultron tomorrow at 10pm. See you on the other side.
owlmoose: (marvel - peggy hat)
Strictly speaking, I should have watched and posted about the first seven episodes before The Dark World, but at the time I didn't think I was going to have time to watch all of the show before May 1st. I still might not, but I found myself with some time on my hands over the past few days (thanks, cold that knocked me on the ass for awhile). So I started rewatching from the beginning.

I generally enjoy Agents of SHIELD -- it doesn't do everything right and I have my issues with it, but I've never seriously considered quitting it, like I know other people have. Because it rewrites the rules of its own universe a couple of times a season, I've long been curious about how it would stand up to a rewatch, and the answer is: surprisingly well.

More thoughts, spoils everything through the end of Season One, including Winter Soldier. )

There are other things I could talk about -- the other characters, the race issue (which is absolutely an issue, at least in terms of African American males, but that would rate its own post, and I want to see how Ultron and the rest of Season 2 play out before I make any overarching statements anyway), the ethics of bringing people back from the dead, the Guardians of the Galaxy connections -- but this post is already long and I'm ready for some Steve time. So that's all for now.
owlmoose: (avengers - assemble)
The first and only other time that I'd seen this movie was in the theater, and I never got around to buying it on disc. (I do own Iron Man 3, but mostly for the Agent Carter short, which I didn't look at for the rewatch mostly because we don't yet know where it fits in the overall timeline.) Not because I don't like it -- I do, and like the first Thor movie I think it's somewhat underrated. But I don't feel the need to watch it again and again like I do some of the other films.

That said, I enjoyed revisiting it, even though I didn't really notice much in the way of interesting new connections. Pretty much everything I said in my initial reaction shot holds. On reflection, I wish they had given Darcy and especially Sif more to do, and not shoehorned Jane into the damsel role for so much of the film, and though I'm always complaining about comic book movies and how they never kill off characters for real (I'm especially looking at you, Phil Coulson) cutting for a spoiler ). The other thing I neglected to mention in my initial post is how flat the villains were. Any Thor villain is going to suffer in comparison to Loki, but we get so little of a window into Malekith, his character or his motivations (beyond your standard "revenge" and "let's destroy the world because we can", which are so generic that I don't think they really count) that it was impossible to care about him. Such a waste of Christopher Eccleston.

I've actually watched a good chunk of Agents of SHIELD Season One in the last few days, so look for a post on that soon. And then: Winter Soldier, yay!
owlmoose: (avengers - natasha)
My approach to the Marvel Cinematic Universe changed drastically once I got into the fandom. Before Avengers, I enjoyed the movies and always made a point of seeing them in the theater, and to a certain extent I considered them a single canon and watched them with an eye to what had come before, and what might come next. But getting fannish about them, reading tons of meta on Tumblr and elsewhere, chatting about them non-stop with friends, brought me to a very different level. Suddenly, whenever I watch an MCU film, it's not just about that film, but all the others as well (and the TV series, once Agents of SHIELD came around). It's no longer just a series to me now; it really is a universe.

And so, as with the Avengers, I feel like I've already seen everything there is to say about this film, a film I enjoyed a lot but with some very conflicting feelings. Very little has changed, really, from the initial reaction shot I wrote within a day or so of watching it -- I love Rhodey in this film, I'm happy that the Battle of New York had real consequences for Tony that can't be brushed off, even months later; I'm excited by the choices they made with the Mandarin. My mixed emotions mainly center on the treatment of Pepper. More. )

At this point I don't think I'm going to be able to watch much, if any, Agents of SHIELD, but we'll see how it shakes out. Either way, I think Thor 2 is next. I haven't watched that since I first saw it in theaters, so it should be fun.
owlmoose: (avengers - assemble)
And now we get to the entire reason I'm even here. Iron Man might have been the instigator of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I'd been watching from pretty much the beginning, but my first viewing of The Avengers was the event that took me from "person who enjoys a series of movies" to full-blown fangirl. Not until The Avengers did I start writing fic, poring through reams of meta and writing my own, squeeing non-stop over gifsets on Tumblr. A combination, I think, of a few things: a fun and appealing team dynamic, the characterization of Steve Rogers hitting just the right notes in my fic writing brain, an exciting new pairing in Clint/Natasha, and having a whole bunch of people on Tumblr to fangirl with. Fandom is at its best as a community experience, and it's not often that I've been catapulted into the rush of a new fandom with so many other people at once. (The closest I can think of is Cinders, and that was on a much smaller scale.)

Because I am so fannish about this movie, and I feel like I've spilled quite a lot of virtual ink on it already (though mostly on Tumblr, therefore making it somewhat difficult to find), I'm not sure how much I have to say about this rewatch, but a few thoughts.

Is there anyone who hasn't seen this movie and would care about spoilers? Well, I'll cut it just in case. )
owlmoose: (avengers - a little help)
I don't understand why people don't like this movie. It's one of my favorites in the series: fun story, good balance between funny and tragic, several excellent female characters are front and center, and Darcy Lewis is possibly the most entertaining character of all time. I think the acting is top-notch, the writing is pretty good, and the balance between Asgard and Earth is well-struck. Basically, this movie is possibly the most underrated of the MCU films, and I will defend it to my dying breath.

Have my feelings on Loki, among other things. )

I feel like I ought to have more to say, but I forgot to take any notes, and it's Avengers time! I'm sure later movies will trigger other thoughts.
owlmoose: (avengers - natasha)
I watched Iron Man 2 on Thursday, shortly after writing up my Incredible Hulk post, and found that I took almost no notes while watching it. I probably should have waited longer to watch it after the first Iron Man, since I sort of expanded my thoughts on that movie into things that happened in this one, so going too deeply into all that feels repetitive. But, a few things:

Cut for spoilers, length, etc. )

That's about it, really. On to Thor, probably sometime next week.
owlmoose: (avengers - a little help)
The Incredible Hulk is the MCU film I'm the least familiar with, by far. I've only seen it once before, it's the only one I didn't see in the theater, and it's the only Phase One movie I don't own. Also, I first watched it after seeing The Avengers, so I didn't already have it in mind as backstory.

My impression remains that, although the film is officially part of MCU canon, it stands a bit apart from the rest. The recasting of Bruce Banner contributes to that, of course, as does Banner's lack of involvement in most of the other movies. But I also suspect that it wasn't really written with the rest of the series in mind -- it came out just over a month after Iron Man, and the MCU wasn't really a thing at that point, so I suspect those two movies were developed independently. And the later films don't treat TIH as a bedrock of MCU canon in the same way they do Iron Man. Consider The Avengers, and how it brings together elements from so many of the other films. The primary antagonist comes from the Thor mythos, and the MacGuffin is out of Cap's canon. Iron Man 2 introduces Black Widow, provides our first real interaction with Nick Fury, and gives us a glimpse of the inner workings of SHIELD. From TIH, we get the Hulk himself, but none of his context: no friends, no enemies, only the briefest glimpses of what happened to him in that space of time, and the ending seems to be wiped almost clean away.

For length, mostly, though there are some spoilers too. )

I do wonder if anything from Bruce's backstory as it's told here will ever find its way back into the MCU. General Ross, Betty, Blonsky/the Abomination, and Stearns are all characters who could return and add to both the canon and Bruce's place within it. I'm okay with Bruce having a story that's only told within the big team pieces, but it would be interesting to see the people connected with him being a part of the larger scheme of things, too.
owlmoose: (avengers - assemble)
If it seems like I'm moving through these quickly, it's because I might be starting a short-term job sometime soon, and I don't know how much free time I'll have after this week. And when I get my teeth into a project, I like to keep moving on it. Pacing myself has never been one of my great skills. ;) If I get way ahead of schedule, maybe I'll watch more episodes of Agents of SHIELD.

So, Iron Man! Where it all started. It's easy to forget, so many years and films later, that without the commercial and critical success of this movie, we wouldn't even have a Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think I've probably seen this more times than any other MCU film (except maybe The Avengers), in part because it's the oldest, in part because it's on TV a lot, and in part because it's T's favorite film in the series, so it's the one he's most likely to watch. I might also argue that it's the best film of the lot, in terms of a piece of filmmaking, except for CA: TWS -- it's certainly one of the more tightly written, the pacing is excellent, and it has one of the better villains in Stane. Even now, after TWS, this is my benchmark superhero film, the one against which all others are judged.

And yet, much as I like it, Iron Man isn't a movie I was fannish about when I first watched it, or for some time after. I paged a bit through my archives to see if I'd ever done a full write-up of Iron Man, and as far as I can tell I didn't even mention the Marvel Cinematic Universe on LJ/DW until I watched The First Avenger, and even that was a throwaway -- I didn't get truly sucked into the series until The Avengers. (Perhaps not surprisingly, my first Tumblr reblog tagged "iron man" is a character study of Tony based on that movie.) But of course it is a part of my fandom now, both individually and as part of the greater whole. I might be a Steve girl, but that doesn't mean that I don't see Tony's charms, especially as played by Robert Downey, Jr. (who might as well have been born to play Tony Stark), or love Rhodey to bits, or ship Tony/Pepper and Tony/Rhodey (and all three of them together) like it's going out of style.

So that's the background; now some thoughts about the actual movie, and its relationship to the rest of the series.

Spoilers for, like, everything. )
owlmoose: (marvel - peggy carter)
I re-watched the last three episodes of Agent Carter on Saturday (partially as a palate cleanser for Interstellar, which wasn't bad, but it was about a million years too long and aspects of the science are beyond mockable. Gorgeous, though; we probably should have seen it in the theater, the spectacle might have helped made the tedious parts more bearable). A scattering of further thoughts:

Cut for spoilers. )

As of this writing, we still don't know whether Agent Carter is coming back for a second season, and I don't expect to hear until May or so. Word is that renewal is on the bubble, so fingers crossed! I do of course, have a wish list for future seasons: Peggy in a position of power -- I'd really like to see the early days of the SSR becoming what we now know as SHIELD. More women. More characters of color. Waaaaaay more female characters of color. More Angie! An excuse for Jarvis to come back. Peggy and Daniel, Peggy and Angie, and a handling of both relationships with respect. More Dottie. More Howling Commandos (and maybe we could arrange to get more of the film cast back this time?). A cameo from Colonel Phillips (please, please). But above all, what I want is more. More Agent Carter, more of this awesome show that I love. Okay, Marvel? Let's do it.
owlmoose: (marvel - peggy carter)
I devoured the first five episodes yesterday. They were even better the second time through, and I'm excited to get to the rest. (Although it occurs to me that it was maybe a mistake to schedule this project at the same time that Daredevil is coming out.)

I realized today that I never did write any Agent Carter posts after my initial reaction shot, so I'll start with some general thoughts first.

So, this show is really great. Peggy Carter was already one of my favorite characters and this show has just cemented her onto my all-time list. Jarvis is wonderful, I love their dynamic. I adore Angie, and the way her relationship with Peggy helps ground Peggy into the real world, outside the pressure cooker of the SSR. I appreciate Sousa -- it's nice for Peggy to have a colleague who's a little better than the others, someone we can see as a future possibly ally and friend (and love interest? Although so far the show has been framing Angie as the most likely candidate for that role, which is fantastic), but he has decided flaws, of the sort that make him more interesting and well-rounded as a character. I even find myself liking Dooley and Thompson a little bit more this time through. I wouldn't say that I like either of them, but I like how their characters grow, the bits of backstory we get, and how they start seeing Peggy for the skilled agent she is -- although you get the sense that they're thinking her as an exception to the rule, not developing a new-found respect for the abilities of women. Basically, what I'm saying is that there are very few one-note characters here, and I really like that.

Rewatch thoughts:

Cutting for spoilers )
owlmoose: (marvel - steve profile)
I've been thinking for awhile that I wanted to rewatch the MCU, see where it hangs together as a single story -- and where it falls apart. With the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron looming fast upon us, I decided I'd better get started if I wanted to finish before May 1st. Bearing all that in mind, April 1st seemed as good a time to start as any. So here goes!

Rather than release order, I'm going to go in story chronology order, which means starting with Captain America: The First Avenger, then Agent Carter, then Iron Man. I suppose, if I were super strict about it, I'd have started with the prologues to Thor 2 and Thor, then skipped the beginning of TFA with Steve being found in the ice, but that's more work than I wanted to deal with. Also more than I want to deal with: watching an entire season and a half of Agents of SHIELD. I'm up for rewatching all of AoS Season One at some point, but not crammed in the space of a month along with several movies and a mini-series. I'll probably limit myself to a few episodes, maybe the post-Winter Soldier arc. I'll probably also skip Guardians of the Galaxy, because I don't own it and word is that it doesn't really tie in with AoU. (I suspect it'll become more relevant once we get to Inhumans.) But maybe I'll watch it if I have time.

Naturally, projects like this are more fun if you share them with other people, which is why I plan to write it all up as I go. Also, if anyone would like to join in (at whatever level and pace you find comfortable), feel free! I'd love to hear what other people's thoughts are on the series as a series.

Okay, now that we've set the scene, on to Captain America!

Ramblings, musings, and a little bit of squee behind the cut. Also spoilers for everything. )

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