After just under a decade of consistently producing some of the best blockbuster entertainment each year, you can be pretty sure that you’re in for a good time if you go to see a movie with the Marvel Studios title card in front of it, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – the fifteenth(!) film in the ever expanding franchise experiment that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe – offers no exception to that. Fans of the first film are going to find a lot to enjoy here, and while this review may come across as very critical at times, it’s important to take that alongside the knowledge that despite being noticeably more flawed than its predecessor, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is still an entertaining, engaging film in its own right, and one that I personally enjoyed very much.
The latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange, has finally arrived worldwide. For me, this was the movie I was most looking forward to — Doctor Strange is one of my favorite Marvel characters, and I was really interested to see how Marvel handled the introduction of magic to their universe. Would they be able to put together a movie so different from their previous movies, and pull it off? Would they chicken out on the whole concept of magic, like they did with Scarlet Witch? Would we just get more of Thor‘s “its not magic, it’s science”?
In the end, I wasn’t disappointed, I was satisfied, but I wasn’t exactly blown away. Doctor Strange is a good, solid, entertaining movie, and it handles the subject matter very well. But when you stack this movie up against the rest of the MCU, it’s going to suffer a bit. I think that’s an unfortunate but inevitable comparison, because the movie is a great movie on its own merits, but Marvel’s raising our expectations pretty high lately, so it’s going to happen.
I give this movie a 8/10. To see why, and to see exactly how Doctor Strange stacks up against it’s siblings, and why you really should go see it, keep reading. (Warning: I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum, but there’s a few things that will come up as we go along.)
In a previous blog post, we examined the history and future of the various DC Comics cinematic franchises that make up what I (apparently alone) am calling the DC Cinematic Multiverse. But DC isn’t the only company to have a massive tangle of cinematic universes under its belt. It’s long-time rival Marvel has been even more prolific when it comes to adapting their material for the large and small screen. Unlike DC, though, Marvel gave up control over much of it’s catalog during the dark times (the 1996 bankruptcy and subsequent reorganization), resulting it several different studios having access to bits and pieces of the Marvel world. To this day there is still a lot of confusion over who has what rights, who can be in which films, and on-screen with who else, and which films belong to which shared canon.
Note: As with the DC post, I am mostly ignoring the animated parts of the Marvel multi-verse. There have been 36 (to date) animated shows and about a dozen animated movies. In general, with two notable exceptions, these shows all exist in their own separate universes, with their own separate designations in the Marvel reality catalog, and otherwise play no role in the live-action TV or movie worlds.
So, as we did with DC, lets see if we can make some sense of of the tangled mess that is the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse.
Most people (myself included) thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Daredevil. It wasn’t perfect by any means, hampered by an increasingly meandering story as it went on and a finale that dropped the ball in a multitude of ways, but as an introduction to this new part of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe? It did a good job of setting the tone for the rest of the Netflix shows, something followed up by and capitalised on by the significantly better Jessica Jones.
Although the second season of Daredevil fails to reach the heights set by Jessica Jones, it’s still an improvement over the first season in nearly every way – primarily thanks to the way that show-runners Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez seem to have listened to and acted on criticisms of the first season. The most obvious strength that the second season has over the first is also the most simple – the second season of Daredevil has enough going on to actually justify it’s length.
There are two fairly distinct stories at play in the second season of Daredevil. The first sees the introduction of fan-favourite character Frank Castle (also known as The Punisher) to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a murderous vigilante who is terrorising Hell’s Kitchen as he seeks revenge for the death of his family at the hands of criminals. The other sees Matt reunite with Elektra Natchios, an old girlfriend from Matt’s time in college who is significantly more dangerous than she may appear at first glance.