Tag Archives: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Like Across the Spider-Verse, we planned on seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 as a family. Christine likes these ones, too. But, Aiden ended up going with his girlfriend. Liam saw it with some friends. Christine and I got busy at the end of the school year and I thought I might have to wait until it came to Disney+.

Then, Father’s Day arrived. We usually don’t do much for Father’s Day. I’m not big on these, or really any, holidays other than the fall and winter ones. Those ones are awesome and worth celebrating. I just wish Halloween lasted longer like the others do. Anyways, I did what all dads do on their day. I fell asleep on the couch for an afternoon nap. When I woke up, Christine said, “Liam and Quinn want to take you to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 for Father’s Day.” Well, count me in.

The Decent

Not Enough Cosmo: Look, I get that not every character gets to be a main, or even primary supporting character. But, they shafted us with the criminally underused Cosmo. I appreciate the screen time and the dedication to the running “bad dog” gag. We also laughed when the three of us compared the dog to our own, Lilo. I just wanted more.

It’s Over, Man: Hey, I also understand that all things (good or bad) must come to an end. And, this ending works. It doesn’t mean that I have to be happy about it. I liked the Guardians from my introduction to them in the 1990s. I always gravitated to the oddballs back then and they were the oddest. When Gunn brought them back in the movies, I geeked out hardcore. Vol 2 shot to the top of my MCU list and it’s still top 5. So, yeah, I will miss the group going forward.

The Good

Adam Warlock: The Soverign started with big bad potential in Vol 2, became a gag when they actually fought, and then redeemed themselves in the post credit scene by introducing Adam Warlock. He, in true Soverign fashion, came onto the screen as a flash of indestructable light, then got punked and exposed as a mere child, and finally saved the day in the end. I laughed audibly when they referenced “The Creation of Adam” in that scene.

Gamora: I think I read somewhere that James Gunn disagreed with the direction of Gamora’s character. Maybe the article meant the Guardians in general. I don’t remember exactly. Respectfully, I disagree with Gunn. I liked seeing Gamora back. They made it fun by having her join the Ravagers, I’d like to think as a way to honor Peter’s heritage there. Then, she and Peter start to rekindle something and that just hits me right in the “warm and fuzzies”. Hopelessly romantic, that’s me.

The Great

Story: While not as engaging as the second movie, I still liked (well, “liked” is a stretch) learning Rocket’s story and connecting the dots. While I understand the High Evolutionary filled an integral part of the plot, I honestly didn’t see what all the hype was about. People kept comparing him more favorably against Kang from Ant-Man. I think they just wanted another reason to shit on that movie. Because, honesly, I didn’t see that the High Evolutionary was any better than Kang. In fact, as I watched the movie, I thought maybe they were setting him up as a version of Kang. Maybe that gets revealed in one of the next movies. I already said I enjoyed the Peter and Gamora story and the Cosmo “bad dog” saga had me in stitches. Finally, Kraglin working to keep the legacy of Yondu alive (complete with a “force ghost” scene) made me cheer. Overall, a great story.

Themes: Vol 1 dealt with family and how, in spite of what people say, you choose your family. Vol 2 focused heavily on father/son relationships and that’s solely why it holds such a high place in my rankings. This one, as much of the media I consume lately, brought to light past trauma and how we deal with that and (hopefully) move on. I understand that we all, well, understand more about the role that trauma plays in our lives and how toxic the effects of that trauma can be if not dealt with. I, personally, talked about some of that in Noob’s Book Club especially with the death of my father. So, thank you James Gunn (and, unrelated to this but still relevant, Alanis Morrissette) for helping me and my family heal.

The Verdict

I still like Vol 2 just a tiny bit more than this one. The focus of fathers and sons, with the song played just in case you missed the theme, made me focus on the kids in my own life and how I can be a better father to them. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, with it’s theme of trauma also came at a good time, but I’m actually on the other side right now, so it only made me feel better about where I am versus where I was.

Top 10 of 2021: Our Favorites of the Year

Introduction

We unintentionally took 2 months off this year. We played the least amount of games by far this year than any of the other years since starting the page. I can’t explain either of those. It also defies explanation how, in spite of them, we had one of our best years as 2 Guy Gaming. I heard someone say that they just blame everything on Covid. So, let’s go with that and continue with our Top 10 of 2021.

Top 10 of 2021 (Honorable Mention)

  1. Atari 2600 – If I remembered earlier to hook it up, this might have actually made the list. Instead, I just hooked it up the other day and played through a few games of Circus Convoy. The games are so simplistic, but o much fun. Look for this to be on the list next year.
  2. Jackbox Party Pack 8 – I talked about this one in the last article. We played it a couple of times as a family and had an absolute blast. I would have liked to have gotten it working on Christmas to play with a larger group, though.

Top 10 of 2021 (#10-6)

10. Comic Books – Like most of my hobbies, I lost the time I used to devote to comics. I dedicated more time to my job (which, if you’ve been reading the other page, you know didn’t ultimately pay off) and family (worth the investment always). Comics were the first to go. Still, I collect them and enjoyed the storylines when I stopped. I will pick them up again at some point.

9. Football – I swore of the NFL about a decade ago. I simply found less and less enjoyment from watching. Perhaps, as a result, I leaned more heavily into college. It helped that my friend Craig liked college football. More recently, Chris texts me about the NFL. As a result, I watched more the last couple of years and enjoyed it.

8. Hades – This might be higher on the list if I played it before today. As it is, I think being number 8 solely on the recommendation of Chris is pretty good.

7. Geocaching – I found a cache on a whim during our trip to the museum with Quinn in late summer. That triggered something because I started hiking/caching after school and on the weekends. Then, I got the silly idea to try for a full year (366 days) streak of finding geocaches. I’m currently at 118 days. You can follow those adventures here.

6. Dungeons and Dragons Duet – When we tried playing D&D as a family a few years ago, it met with limited success. I wasn’t prepared to be an entertaining and engaging DM and, frankly, maybe the family just didn’t enjoy the game that much. Quinn did, though, and on a whim I bought him some D&D dice. I have also been reading a page on how to play 2 player D&D, called Duets.

Top 10 of 2021 (#5-1)

5. Battlegrounds – I have a love/hate relationship with Hearthstone. Every now and then, it evolves to hate/hate. However, I admit they did something right when they designed Battlegrounds. It takes little time or brain commitment and is a good way to kill 10-15 minutes.

4. Magic the Gathering Arena – In spite of the fact that I played less games this year, I still logged in to MTGA on a daily basis to complete quests and get my “free” loots from the reward track.

3. Disney + – From the best show to come out in recent memory, WandaVision, to the Covid shortened and potentialy ruined Falcon and the Winter Solider. From the Mandalorian to the new Book of Boba Fett. From What if to Hawkeye. I even splurged for their premier access to be able to watch Cruella after prom earlier this year. As with most things, Disney took the streaming service and improved it by leaps and bounds.

2. Marvel Movies are Back – We saw Black Widow in the theaters. Christine, high on girl power, enjoyed that one more than the rest of us. I liked it, but it wasn’t necessary and a huge let down after the last two Avengers masterpieces. Then, we just saw the new Spider-Man movie. Those who say it is the best Marvel movie ever are engaging in hyperbole (both Infinity War and Endgame are better stories and movies), but it is the best live action Spider-Man.

  1. Commander – I wrote several times in the last few months about my adventures in Commander. Chris and I finally played face to face while eating pizza and watching Alabama destroy Georgia in the SEC Championship. He Alabama’d me in the games, but it inspired me to improve my decks for the rematch next month.

The Verrdict

As you see, even though we weren’t active on the page as much this year, we still found time to do the things we enjoy. Maybe this will inspire us to do more of them and write more and, who knows, podcast (inside joke, haha) more. Or, maybe this is one last hurrah and we fade into obscurity. Only one way to find out. Stay tuned.

We Love Wandavision (Part 1)

Introduction

I already reviewed the first 4 or 5 episodes of WandaVision on the page. Searching for the post to add the link confirms that it was 5 episodes of the show. The title is not a lie. This show took our family by storm and became must watch viewing from episode 1. We love WandaVision Part 1 implies that there might be more than one article in this series. While I can’t promise that’s the truth, I have a lot to say about this show.

Based on this post on my Facebook, others have a lot to say, too.

While it may seem awkward, some of the sections in this post will come in the form of reactions to the responses I received on that post. Since the page doesn’t quite have the reach I always hope it will, I can’t respond to anyone here. Hopefully some of you reading out there will have some of the same reactions and it will feel like we are having a conversation about this really great show.

In this post, I plan to address the first couple of episodes, the overall theme of the show, the fan theories that almost all went kaput, and where do they go from here? Before we get too far into it, though, a word of warning. I neither care nor respect the culture of “No spoilers”. I won’t actively spoil anything, but I won’t be careful about what might be considered a spoiler. You’ve been warned. Let’s see why we love WandaVision Part 1.

Those First Episodes

What is with this show? Why are they ripping off Dick Van Dyke? Where’s Hulk Smash?

I probably addressed this is the previous article. But, we are nothing if not thorough around here. I constantly repeat myself in case an article picks us up a new reader or two. Several people in my orbit (and by orbit, I mean one of them is a famous individual who I follow on social media) came away from the first two episodes disappointed.

Having possibly watched two of the most epic movies ever made (Infinity War and especially Endgame are in my top 10 movies of all time, MCU or not), they wondered why two of the most powerful heroes from those movies now played house in black and white complete with the messed up dinner and messed up magic act in the talent show trope. I implored the friends over who I believed I might actually have influence to stick with the show. It will pay off, I promised.

I’m not going to be disingenuous and say that I’m not here to gloat. I’m totally here to gloat. After all, it’s the sole reason for this post. Whereas other comic book “fans” went off about Mephisto this and X-Men that, knew. I knew about pain, suffering, loss, and grief. Let’s just leave it at that. I knew.

The Overall Theme of the Show

The show finally accomplished what Marvel has been trying to do since they rebooted their most popular heroes in the early and middle 2000s. It brought a new audience into the Marvel universe. My wife, Christine, who often sneered at us when we talked about how excited we were about the latest Marvel cinematic offering and went out of her way to avoid the movies like the plague, bought into this show from the first scene. The mother of one of Aiden’s friends also found herself watching the show with her son.

Here’s the thing. They both became curious about the backstory behind these characters. We ended up watching Infinity War and Endgame to give the most recent history. Then, Christine actually asked to go back to watch the chronological order of the movies. We are currently at an impasse because she wants to skip Iron Man 3 and the 2 GotG movies and our boys aren’t letting her. Hopefully, soon, we can resume because the GotG are my favorites, but I’m staying out of it.

The mother mentioned earlier said she had some of the same questions as Christine, so I summed it up for her thusly. Wanda is a witch. Vision is an extremely powerful AI given humanoid form. They are in love. Vision is killed by Thanos who looks to balance the scales on a cosmic level. Infinity War and Endgame, if you want the backstory, but not crucial. Her brother was killed by another villain named Ultron. That’s Age of Ultron, again not crucial. Driven a bit crazy by the death of her brother and lover, she created this alternate reality to have the life denied to her. And, guess what. Yep, gloating time again. I mean, honestly, people, it’s in the bloody title.

Fan Theories that Ultimately Fizzled

I admit that I paid little to no attention to these. Along with Star Wars, there is a sect of Marvel fans that became insufferable about the MCU and tolerates no deviation from the comic stories that they know and love. It started with organic web shooters during the Toby Maguire era. Like most of these underground internet communities, it grew into an unnatural den of anger and suffering.

Though, I admit to flirting a bit with the dark side after Spider-Man 3. It took the Avengers to get me back on board with the MCU.

Regarding WandaVision, the two most prominent theories I saw were a retelling of House of M, but instead of wishing mutants out of existence, Wanda wishes them into the MCU. With the acquisition of FOX, this made some sense. Then, FOX Quicksilver showed up and it looked like the old boys might have stumbled onto some inside intel. Alas, that rabbit hole proved too deep and Quicksilver is just our husband Ralph.

Apparently Mephisto fan boys (and girls?) exist because that’s the other one I heard bandied about from the beginning of the show. This one made the least sense to me. I suppose they derived inspiration from the Spider-Man story “One More Day” (I think that’s the one where Mephisto deals with Peter to give him back Aunt May, but takes everything else), so I give them credit for doing their homework. However, nothing else added up. My jaw dropped at the Agatha reveal like anyone else, but it made more sense that a rival witch showed up to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings than Mephisto and his meddling ass.

Where Do They Go From Here?

I won’t do an “explained” type post, though it would probably get me more hits if I did.

The protagonists “won”, Agatha rests in a flesh prison of her own design (Admittedly, not the fate I wanted for her, but an appropriate end all things being equal), the Vision is whole again, and Scarlet Witch (yes, they finally gave her name!) went the Thanos route and retired to a mountain retreat. I mean, yeah, she’s astral projecting and reading from and old gods cursed magic book. But, baby steps!

I’ve been trying to figure out Scarlet Witch’s character arc since the beginning of the show. It feels like they have been setting her up as a big bad to be redeemed. That only left when the redemption might actually happen. At the end of episode 9, it appeared that Wanda was at peace with her decision and willing to move on to bigger and better things. As a colleague noted, in the end credit scene, she looked to still be a little bit bad. Back to square 1.

What I can say for sure is that she will most likely be in a post credit scene in Spider-Man to set up for her next big starring role in Doctor Strange. Also, no matter her role in that film, it always seems like even when she tries to do right or good, it ends up blowing up into unintended consequences. Thanks for reading my recap of WandaVision Part 1. Stay tuned for a possible part 2 and maybe even a part 3 and 4 after watching the series two more times between now and next year when Doctor Strange releases.

Not sure what’s going on in our WandaVision Part 1 review? Go watch the show on Disney Plus! Know exactly what we’re talking about? Come watch it again with us!

We Love WandaVision Episode 5

Introduction

Why start with WandaVision Episode 5? Are you one of the people who questioned the initial premise? No, but I can name several people who did. People I respected as intellectual and even one who works in the industry. Wait, what? Do you have connections to people in entertainment? Well, technically, yes. A former student is living and working in California and a friend from a message board is a stand up comedian and bit actor in some TV shows and movies.

In spite of the success of the previous Presidential administration, I still believe this.

Instead, I speak of Wil Wheaton, who posted on his Facebook page that he felt the first two episodes wasted the potential of the characters and the time of the audience watching. He nearly gave up on the show because of it. Also, a friend said that he lacked confidence in the show’s creators to make it more than an homage to classic television sitcoms.

In all honesty (there’s that word again), I simply didn’t even consider doing a review of the show until this morning when I went back to bed after discovering we had a 2 hour delay remote day. As I fell asleep, I thought about the article that I planned to write, a review of Kaldheim cards because the set released this weekend. For whatever reason, the idea popped into my head to write a review of WandaVision Episode 5.

How Did We Get Here? (Spoilers Abound!)

Episode 1: Wanda Maximoff, one of the most powerful magic users in the Marvel Universe, and Vision, probably the most powerful Artificial Intelligence in that same universe, live in a 1950s sitcom loosely based on Bewitched. Haha, get it? WandaVision! Perhaps, a bit too on the nose. What’s this at the end, though? Someone is watching this television show. Are they controlling the show?

Episode 2: Now, on to the 1960s and a wacky plot point about the gumming up (literally) of Vision’s innards and a magic show potentially gone wrong. The twist (well, there are several) revolves around Wanda’s sudden pregnancy. With it, comes another oddity. A beekeeper exits from a manhole. Wanda says simply, “No”, before turning back time. Fade to color as the 1970s enter.

Episode 3: Wanda’s pregnancy is progressing…and quickly. The doctor’s car conveniently breaks down so that he and his wife can’t go on vacation. Pregnancy is causing Wanda’s powers to go wonky. Babies arriving! Vision goes supersonic to get the doctor. He still isn’t fast enough. When a stork arrives to indicate that the babies are imminent, a neighbor shows up to deliver the babies and drop the bomb on Wanda about her brother. Wanda ejects the neighbor, Vision meets the babies, and agents surround the ejected neighbor. After this episode, a small brained individual on the internet made fun of me for pointing out that it looked like things were about to get real. Haha, he mocked, that stork sure was something.

Episode 4: We see who has been watching. We also learn the identity of the beekeeper. The neighbor who delivered Wanda’s twins is revealed to be working with them both. What could easily have been a filler episode ends up tying up several loose ends. It also opens new cans of worms. Told you, GTFO of here, rando on the internet. It’s about to get real.

WandaVision Episode 5

After episode 3 or 4, Christine asked to watch Inifinity War again. That led to us watching Endgame and then Captain Marvel. We showed her the chronological list of the movies. So, our Super Bowl marathon this year ended up being Captain America and Iron Man. Only two movies because they are so damn long. We rounded out the marathon with WandaVision Episode 5.

Aside from that, the point is that I explained the main plot points to the movies and the television show. I got the idea and expressed to a couple of friends, that I should do a Cliff’s notes for the MCU. I said that I’m sure it already exists, but the show is bringing in new viewers and maybe this can be the thing that finally gets me some notoriety. Apologies for that bit of indulgence.

What about this episode stuck with me for two days and led to this article? Well, we are now in the 1980s and stuck in a show resembling Family Ties. The twins age up twice in this episode and threaten to do so again at the end when their new dog ends up dying (rough, I know). Vision gets a glimpse of the world beyond Wanda’s control. Wanda interacts with the agents outside of her sitcom. The final reveal is the biggest mind eff so far when Pietro shows back up. But, that’s not all. It’s the Fox Studios actor playing Pietro.

As I posted on my Facebook, “Holy ess….”

The Verdict

Hot damn. I loved this show from the beginning. Like I said, I always knew there was something underneath the sitcom setting and honestly couldn’t believe that people thought, “That’s all there is?” Well, the first payoff was huge and with only 3 episodes left, I can’t wait to see what they do to bring it all together. Granted, that will only lead to more set up for the movies this year and next. Honestly, though, I’ve been looking for a reason to get excited about the the next phase of the MCU. Wanda, showing her power once again, has done just that.