Thursday, February 9, 2017

Comic Book TV recap (2/6/2017 - 2/9/2017)

As Gotham and Lucifer take an extended break, Legion debuts this week.

Supergirl: "The Martian Chronicles" - M'gann realizes a white Martian is after her and she and J'onn discover it has breached the DEO. It's disguised as someone there, but who?

The Flash: "Untouchable" - Wally practices phasing through solid objects as a new villain arrives who can cause items to rapidly decay, including people. And he has his eyes set on the West family...

Legends of Tomorrow: "Turncoat" - The Legion of Doom brainwashes Rip to kill George Washington. The Legends recognize this as a trap and try to stay one step ahead of them. To make matters worse, all power on the Waverider has shut down, including Ray's suit while he's shrunk and Firestorm can't merge. Rip boards the ship, intent on getting a piece of the Spear of Destiny, and now altered by the Legion of Doom, he isn't afraid to take out anyone in his way.

Agents of SHIELD: "BOOM" - As Coulson meets the woman who AIDA is based on, Radcliffe's goals for the Darkhold and the LMDs becomes clear. Daisy and director Mace deal with a new Inhuman who causes explosions.

Arrow: "Bratva" - Arriving in Russia, Oliver and Team Arrow run into a face from Oliver's past who ends up compelling Oliver to take on a rival of his. But how can they do this and retain their status as heroes?  Meantime, Rene Ramirez (Wild Dog, played by Rick Gonzalez) and Quentin work together to prepare for a media interview after Quentin's trying times recently.

Legion: "Chapter 1" - David Haller (Dan Stevens) is in an institution for his schizophrenia, but it doesn't seem that simple as David finds himself slipping into realities that exist wholly in his mind and having telekinetic fits. This first episode of eight begins to tease what is going on with David with some very cinematic visuals.

Riverdale: "Body Double" - Archie tells the police that he heard the gunshot that supposedly killed Jason. Betty convinces Jughead to get involved with investigating the mystery. After being made the latest victim of a cruel slut-shaming prank, Veronica rallies the girls to refuse to accept this treatment. Betty plots revenge.

Powerless: "Wayne Dream Team" - Van Wayne bemoans that he isn't in the "Wayne Dream Team" photo and attempts to fix it. Emily feels that her coworkers' obsession with a superhero fantasy league website is interfering with productivity and reports the situation to HR, causing an intense filter software to be activated on all work computers. Just hope no one discovers that Emily is responsible...

Justice League Dark - The latest DC animated movie finds members of the main Justice League finding civilians seeing other people as demons and attacking them. Sensing that there might be something strange afoot, Batman seeks the help of mystical powered heroes: John Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Swamp Thing and Etrigan the Demon to solve the mystery of what's going on.

This one's very good in showing how this team works together as well as weaving a good plot and introducing who these characters are. Good one, DC.

Deadpool - Last year's R-rated super anti-hero hit was one of the best Marvel movies ever made. And it was from 20th Century Fox. Budgeted extremely low at $55 million, it became Fox's highest-grossing Marvel-based movie ever (not adjusted for inflation). And it's easy to see why, it openly embraces its origins—although the origin story and some characters are altered—and has a great time with it with humor and energy the audience can easily pick up on.

The film introduces us to Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a mercenary who falls in love with a woman named Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), but when he discovers he has extensive cancer, he tries an experimental cure offered by a secret organization led by Ajax (Ed Skrein) or—as Wade discovers his birth name—"Francis." After mutating with enhanced healing and regenerative powers and becoming horribly disfigured, Wade escapes, donning a red bodysuit and going by "Deadpool." Afraid to confront Vanessa, Deadpool hunts down Ajax, ending in an action-packed finale co-starring not one, not three, not ten, but two X-Men!

The Invincible Iron Man - This animated film (from the Marvel/Lionsgate partnership) offers a somewhat different take on Iron Man's origin. Tony Stark and James Rhodes investigate stolen shipments of weapons by Stark Industries. Being captured by a cult who are trying to bring the return of the Mandarin, Tony and Rhodey have to build a suit of armor to escape. But back in New York, Tony discovers that odds are stacked against him. Sneaking into his own company, Tony makes use of several armored suits to prevent the return of the Mandarin.

The animation is serviceable, these were really to tell a story rather than to stun. The big problem with these animated Marvel movies is that they don't really do a good job of introducing the characters. These are better enjoyed by people who already know the characters, which limits the audience.

Iron Man - Okay, NOW we're talking! This is the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios decided to hang onto the rights to the characters that they still had and create an interconnected universe with them. The first two movies were released in 2008.

Careless playboy genius and weapons manufacturer Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is critically injured and captured by a terrorist organization in Afghanistan. Now living with an implant in his chest to keep shrapnel from reaching his heart, Tony is forced to make a weapon for them. However, he secretly builds an iron suit that he eventually uses to escape. Returning home, Tony has a new outlook on life that sets a new direction for his company and his personal activities. However, there was more to Tony's capture than he realized and he'll have to suit up again.

Being Marvel Studios' first big movie, it's strange how much it seemed to be just another Marvel character adapted successfully for the big screen like Spider-Man or X-Men but was actually preparing for the larger MCU, specifically introducing in a small way an organization called S.H.I.E.L.D.. They weave a good story around Tony and the villain of the story, pace the action of the movie perfectly, and do some really beautiful shots. Although I do like starting my MCU re-watches chronologically with Captain America: The First Avenger, it was nice to take Iron Man on its own and appreciate what they'd done.

The Incredible Hulk - This one is kind of the black sheep of the MCU. It is not quite as fun as the other MCU films, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) was recast before he appeared in the series again, and add in that the movie is the only MCU film not outright owned by Marvel Studios. None of the characters aside from Bruce reappear until Captain America: Civil War. Still, it shares with its predecessor a lot of beautifully done shots and good pacing.

Bruce Banner is hiding out in South America, trying to keep a low profile as he tries to work remotely with another scientist to find a cure to the gamma radiation (and unbeknownst to him, an attempt to recreate the super soldier serum that created Captain America). However, Col. Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) is on the lookout for Banner, but strikes by the armed forces cause Bruce to turn into a huge, green muscled rage-fueled monster of a man. Bruce makes his way to New York where he reunites with his girlfriend Betsy Ross (Liv Tyler), but when a special operative named Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) tries to recreate Bruce's accident to become more powerful than Bruce's alter-ego, Bruce realizes that the answer is not to seek a cure, but to embrace it.

There's a bit where the army uses a S.H.I.E.L.D. database and Tony Stark himself pops up right before the end credits, but the effects of The Incredible Hulk on the MCU seem to be slight, but with word that Betsy Ross might reappear in Avengers: Infinity War and General Ross having returned to the MCU recently, perhaps it might get more love soon. Don't write it off.

Iron Man 2 -  The sequel to Iron Man and the third entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets a lot of negative criticism from fans. It builds on Tony and his relationships with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), James "Rhodey" Rhodes (now played by Don Cheadle). The main plot is to celebrate a new period of global peace, Tony revives the Stark Expo. However, the government wants to weaponize the Iron Man armor, but Tony doesn't want to turn it over. Enter competitor HammerTech, run by Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), who enlists the help of Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) who has a vendetta against Stark after Tony's father had his own father deported. To top things off, the palladium core in Tony's arc reactor in his chest is slowly poisoning him. Oh, and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) are keeping a close eye on him.

A lot of criticism has come from the movie introducing Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) who gets hired as Tony's assistant Natalie Rushman as well as the reappearance of S.H.I.E.L.D., claiming this takes away from Tony's story. However, I respectfully disagree as I feel Tony's story in the film is told well enough, and S.H.I.E.L.D. and Natasha take up relatively little of the just over 2 hour runtime of the movie.

That said, the movie probably comes off a lot better now that I'm watching it as part of an ongoing series. I didn't watch the movie in theaters, and by the time I had a better idea of how to appreciate it after my initial DVD viewing, it was four years later. The stuff with Tony's dad which felt pointless to audiences in 2010 winds up paying off as we meet Howard Stark in Captain America: The First Avenger, seeing him again in Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War as well as the Agent Carter TV series. And the plot with the government wanting Tony to turn over his technology to them or create an equivalent is cast into a new light when the senator demanding it is revealed to be a secret member of HYDRA in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So, as the sequel to Iron Man, it may disappoint, but as a chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it does the job very well.

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