Tag Archives: Anthony Mackie

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021) TV Review

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes/Winter Soldier/White Wolf
Wyatt Russell as John Walker/Captain America
Erin Kellyman as Karli Morgenthau
Danny Ramirez as Joaquin Torres
Georges St-Pierre as Georges Batroc
Adepero Oduye as Sarah Wilson
Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo
Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter
Florence Kasumba as Ayo
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
Director: Kari Skogland

Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) are a mismatched duo who team up for a global adventure that will test their survival skills — as well as their patience.

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Following immediately onwards after WandaVision, Disney and Marvel released their next MCU series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I didn’t know what the plot was about, I just knew it was going to involve Falcon and the Winter Soldier teaming up to deal with something, simple enough. Overall I liked it, much more than I was expecting to, even if looking back on it there are at least a couple of notable issues.

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There are going to be a lot of comparisons between WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier a number of times in this review. With regard to overall quality though, WandaVision has higher highs and does more special things, but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is more consistently good and generally doesn’t really have a notable drop in quality throughout. Compared to WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is much shorter at 6 episodes instead of 9. However, each episode also lasts between 50 to 60 minutes. That means that you have enough in each episode, so you actually feel like things are happening. There are no points where you feel cheated when an episode cuts to credits. To a degree, it does feel like a Marvel movie just at 3 times the length. So in a way like Wandavision, it’s a show that really could’ve benefited from having all the episodes released all at once and watching a number of them at a time, but in a different way. For WandaVision, it is because the episodes are short and for Falcon and Winter Soldier, it’s because they are all part of this one story and so they all felt continuous (not to mention every episode follows on directly from where the previous episode finished). That could lead to the question of “why didn’t they just make it a movie?”. However, if it was a movie it wouldn’t have gotten into much depth as it did, whether it be the plot, the characters, or the themes. The plot was stretched nicely across all 6 episodes, something is always happening, and it also makes sure to slow down for important character moments and development. The plot had me quite invested, every week I was looking forward to watching the next episode of the show.

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The first episode is really more setting the stage of things to come, with a glimpse of the antagonists, and establishing the current lives of the lead characters. After that point though, it really picks up, and you’re locked in with this story. It doesn’t do anything special necessarily as far as the MCU goes, it’s mostly familiar territory. Many of the twists weren’t that surprising, but I learned to not place too much stock or anticipation into those twists and just follow the story for what it was. There are some surprise appearances from other MCU characters that actually gelled well with the story instead of just being there to remind you that they exist. The actual conclusion as to be expected is another MCU climax, but this actually feels in line with the rest of the show. Something worth noting about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is that it actually touches on topics. including politics and racism. The results are a bit of a mixed bag (see the Flag Smashers for more on that), and quite often it just dances around the politics. There are some moments where it does work, mostly when they stop and actually be direct about it instead of being vague. Looking at the series as a whole, it doesn’t really say anything meaningful by the end, and its own politics is pretty confused. Generally, it didn’t bother me and again some parts were done well, it’s just something where you notice more issues the more you think deeply about it. The tone is a little over the place, at times quite dark, and at times very humorous. It’s not terrible but it is noticeable from time to time. I am actually curious to see where many of the characters and the plot continues on from here. Just so you know, the last two episodes have mid credits scenes that are worth sticking around for (or fast forwarding to at least).

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The acting from the cast is quite strong. First you have Anthony Mackie as Falcon/Sam Wilson, and Sebastian Stan as Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes, both of whom are showcased much better here than in their past film appearances, and you get to learn much more about them. In the first episode alone, you get to see more of their lives and it does a great job at showing you that these characters have a lot more to them than just being the sidekicks of Steve Rodgers. With Sam Wilson you get to learn about him and his family life, and you also see his conflict after the end of Endgame in which Steve Rodgers gave him the Captain America shield. It’s in the first episode so it’s not much of spoilers, but he gives up the shield, and as a result someone else is made Captain America. You can probably tell what happens with him by the end of the season, but I think it was a great arc for him, and it was probably the show’s strongest aspect. I liked him much more as a character after seeing him in this show, and I’m actually looking forward to his next appearance. As for Bucky Barnes, you also learn more about him as a person. You actually see that he’s still haunted from being the Winter Soldier and trying to make amends, at the same time he has much more personality now beyond just being ex-Winter Soldier. I also liked Bucky much more as a character after this show. Mackie and Stan play off each other quite well. They have the quips and banter that you would expect in an MCU project, but by the end of the show, you do buy the friendship between the two characters.

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Daniel Bruhl returns to the role of Zemo from his last appearance in Captain America: Civil War. Zemo in Civil War was a decent enough albeit underused villain, unique in just being a normal human without any powers but still being able to break apart the Avengers. Getting this out of the way, he’s not the villain of this series and he’s in a different sort of role. His dynamic and interactions with Sam and Bucky are great, and Zemo himself turns out to be an entertaining and interesting presence, especially with his mindset and perspective. He definitely steals just about every scene that he’s in. There’s definitely potential for him to have future appearances in other MCU projects, and I’m looking forward to them. Wyatt Russell plays John Walker (also known as US Agent in the comics), the new Captain America, who is surprisingly one of the most interesting characters in this show. While at first it seemed like the show would have him as just Evil Captain America or something else cartoonish, this show actually shows him as a complicated person and more someone who is not right for the role rather than being the absolute worst. Russell plays the character quite well, and in the hands in a lesser actor he could’ve come across as rather 2 dimensional. I’m interested to see more of him in the future too. Emily VanCamp also returns as Sharon Carter from the previous two Captain America movies. She’s not in this show a ton, but enough to play an important part. She was a decent inclusion, and it was nice to see her actually be somewhat relevant to the plot, interested to see what role Carter plays next in the MCU.

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The biggest standout problem with the show is the villains. The villains are a group called the Flag Smashers, and here they are yet another one of those villains who have good intentions, but use bad methods to do them, Disney particularly likes using that trope a lot. Honestly for the first few episodes I thought there was going to be some twist in which it turns out that they aren’t really the main villains of the show but no, they’re the antagonists after all. The Flag Smashers don’t have a clearly defined ideology, just vaguely leftist and anti-government. It honestly does feel like the writers were trying to position them as the Antifa stand-in (which doesn’t work on multiple levels never mind them not even being an organisation or group really). In the first episode, Sam’s military friend gives some exposition about what the Flag Smashers believe in, and it’s something about how they believe in a world without borders (which was written with the intention that this is somehow bad?). Literally the only thing about the Flag Smashers that are bad is just that they are violent and take their stance “too far”, it’s nothing inherently about their ideology. A lot of their actions especially towards the end of the show that result in the harm, death, or danger of innocent people seems very contrived and forced, and were just hard to buy. The random acts of violence really did feel like the writer’s wrote themselves into a corner by making their goals too reasonable and so just added them in just to make sure that we don’t like them too much. Erin Kellyman plays Karli, the leader of the Flag Smashers, she does perform the role quite well and the character did seem to have some complexity and conflict especially with the interactions with Sam in the middle part of the season. However, she and the rest of the Flag Smashers are kind of held back by the writing. I was willing to give them a pass for most of the season because I thought there would be some kind of further development in them or the plot, but when it got to the finale it was pretty clear that they weren’t going to change. By the end, the Flag Smashers were by far the weakest part of the show. As it turns out, supposedly a lot of their plot got re-written and edited because it originally revolved around a bio weapon or virus… and given COVID they changed it. It is quite unfortunate, because I’m pretty sure that keeping that aspect might’ve at least added some further depth or development to these characters that are meant to be the antagonists to the main characters.

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On the whole, the show is directed quite well, with Kari Skogland being the director for all the episodes. It is shot like a big budget Marvel movie, which was actually quite distracting when watching it at home on the small screen. The action sequences are great, and actually more intense than expected, certainly on the higher end of the PG-13 rating. Henry Jackman who composed the scores for the last two Captain America movies return to compose the score here, and once again its pretty good.

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There’s some faults to be seen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier thinking back on it. Some of the themes and topics it doesn’t quite nail the landings on, and the main villains weren’t handled the best. However, on the whole I quite enjoyed the show. I enjoyed most of the characters and performances, I was engaged with the plot, and there were some thrilling and satisfying moments. With the ending, unlike WandaVision, it seems like the show could have another season. Whether it be through a second season, a different show, or a new movie, I’m looking forward to seeing the story and these characters progress further.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Retrospective Review

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow/Crossbones
William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.

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Captain America: Civil War was a movie I was meaning to re-watch for some time now. Every time I thought about Civil War, I just got this incredibly underwhelmed feeling. I didn’t dislike it but after greatly anticipating it, I was relatively disappointed by it. Now that it’s been years and I decided to give it a rewatch in the lead up to Endgame, I was hoping for a turnaround on it like what happened with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. While I definitely do like the movie more than when I last watched it, I still have some issues with it, and it’s a real shame because there are a lot of parts about the movie which are legitimately great.

As this is a retrospective review, this will be spoiler filled, it’s the only way I can talk in depth about what I think about the movie. Generally, at around 2 hours and a half the movie is paced pretty well all things considering, and I was surprised that most of the humour didn’t detract from the more dramatic moments. The highest praise that I can give in terms of plot is the third act, which is largely done well. None of the ‘twists’ really hit hard at all for me but I really liked certain reveals, such as the subversion of the randomly introduced extra Winter Soldiers as just red herrings. You really feel the emotion with every character, Rogers, Stark, Barnes, T’Challa and even Zemo, and it was all handled very well. There are a lot of great parts to Civil War as well, however they also don’t handle it in the best way and so it detracts from the movie. For example, while I liked the idea of the Sokovia Accords, the introduction of them in the movie was pretty messy. One explosion during a mission by the Avengers is what sets off the creation of the Accords, which is something I really don’t get. There’s even a bit where during a meeting, General Ross showed a montage to the Avengers of the amount of destruction that the past films have caused, considerably higher casualties and damage, however this one relatively smaller even is what got the world thinking “these guys need some oversight”. It wouldn’t be so bad if almost all of the MCU movies didn’t have some large destruction during it and most people just brushing it aside easily. Age of Ultron was the most destructive, so it was the perfect Segway into Civil War. I’m not quite sure why they didn’t directly link it with the Sokovia events (you’d think they would given the title of the Accords), after all it’s what led Tony Stark and Zemo to make their decisions over the course of the movie. With all that being said, I do like the debates about the Accords with all the characters, and they do make some interesting points. I do like how they managed to make the change from ‘superhero registration’ to ‘Avengers Oversight’, the superhero registration thing definitely wouldn’t work in the MCU, even the large amount of characters that exist in it would be too small for an event of that size.

The problem is that despite all this, this still ends up being a movie about Bucky. Both of the major ‘versus’ battles, the Airport scene and the Cap, Iron Man and Bucky fight at the end, are all surrounding Bucky. While people are split into ‘teams’ because of the Sovokia Accords, they aren’t battling because of their positions on it, that’s just a background event that coincidentally splits them on the sides fighting during the airport scene. It feels like there was no point in having it in the story, even without the Sokovia Accords, the idea of Bucky Barnes being framed and on the run with Cap trying to protect him would’ve worked well (on a side note though, wasn’t that invested in the Bucky Barnes story in this movie either). I’m not making this a MCU vs DCEU thing, but it’s worth pointing out that once WB announced that they would be making Batman v Superman, Marvel gave the Russo Brothers the go to do Civil War. I don’t know for certain what their plans for the third Captain America movie were beforehand but I’m guessing it would’ve been more consistent than what we got at least. As for the impact of the Sokovia Accords on the other movies, I guess it’s mentioned briefly like in Ant Man and the Wasp and maybe some of the other movies, but all in all really didn’t have too much impact on the other characters and movies that much. The reason I’m mentioning this is because I’m wondering how much impact Civil War really had on the MCU, and it doesn’t seem to have much, there really weren’t many consequences, any problem that was raised, many of the characters seemed to bounce back from pretty easily. Even when Rhodes crash landed at the end of the airport battle and needed exo-sketal leg braces to walk again, in Infinity War he’s back flying and fighting in the suit like nothing ever happened. The only thing that was really impacted was the relationship between Steve and Tony, which was fractured during the last act of the movie. The thing is that at the end it almost feels like they resolved it and that they regret fighting each other at the end, and they aren’t at odds with each other anymore, as evidence by that message from Cap at the end and Tony’s lllleaction to it, so even then it doesn’t feel significantly damaged. Not to mention by the time the events from Endgame come around, what happened between them in Civil War will be relatively unimportant in Endgame considering The Snap and the aftermath. That last bit however is just speculation, maybe Endgame addresses those events (I hope so at least).

The cast generally do a good job in their roles. Chris Evans once again does a commendable job playing Captain America, though I can’t help but feel like he was robbed of a proper conclusion to his trilogy. While The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier were definitely Captain America movies, Civil War doesn’t feel like that, even if he definitely is the main character of it. His story arc was relatively weaker as well and he didn’t seem to go through as much in comparison. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Don Cheadle as War Machine and the rest of the Avengers cast that appear here do well once again. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Paul Rudd Ant Man feel shoe horned into the movie just for the airport scene (even if both actors played their roles as best as they could), but at least Hawkeye has a reason for being there, with him repaying a favour to Scarlet Witch after the events of Age of Ultron. Ant Man was just sort of put there in the scene with really no motivation behind his actions. When I first watched Civil War, I was very mixed about Tom Holland as Spider-Man, he just felt so out of place. Now after watching Homecoming I’m much more into his version of Spider-Man and so he came across better here, however like Ant Man, still feels a little forced into this movie just for an action scene. I think the part that annoys me so much about his appearance in the airport scene is because he’s only there because Tony Stark wanted another person to help him stop Cap, if he at least knew what was going on and why everything was happening, it would’ve been a lot more tolerable. Let’s just say that I liked him a lot better in his Peter Parker scenes, based off those scenes along he’s a perfect Peter Parker. Robert Downey Jr. gives one of his best performances as Iron Man, even if his sudden change in character was a little shaky. For whatever reason I guess he never realised that people died in Sokovia and it took Alfre Woodward’s character to confront him about her dead son to actually realise it. With that being said, Downey is fantastic in the role as usual and was one of the highlights from the movie. Chadwick Boseman made his strong debut as Black Panther here, and it was actually a great storyline for him, with him starting out wanting revenge for the death of his father and when he does find the man responsible, he chooses to stop him from killing himself. It’s by far the best character arc/story in the movie, as well as the best character in the whole movie. Daniel Bruhl is the main villain Zemo and a lot of people have questioned whether we even needed a villain for the movie, given that it’s mainly Cap vs Iron Man, while I get that perspective, he set the events of the movie into motion and I was fine with him. It’s a very different kind of antagonist compared to the other villains, with almost all of them being super powered beings, and if not that they’d have powerful suits or something. He’s much more of a human based villain, very intelligent and making well laid plans and successfully breaking The Avengers apart (sort of). Also he’s driven by revenge, and it’s a revenge story you can really buy. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot to him outside of that, however Bruhl did such a good job at playing him that I’d be open to seeing him again in another movie (even if I don’t think there’s much more you could really do with him).

Most of the Russo Brothers’ direction is pretty good here. The action scenes are mostly good and I appreciated it a lot more than the last time I saw them. The opening action scene in Lagos was better than I remember it being, it is a little too shaky but still good. There’s the Bucky chase scene with him, Captain America and Black Panther, also very good. Most of the other action scenes were also well done. The final fight is one of the highlight action scenes from the MCU, you really feel the weight of every blow and it was all handled very well. The cinematography is not as grey as a lot of people have said it was, it’s actually pretty good for the most part. The score by Henry Jackman is also much better than I remembered it being, with most of the themes being quite memorable, even if some of his other scores are a little better.

The one scene you’ve probably noticed I left off mentioning was the Airport Scene, it’s so far removed from the rest of the movie and I have so much to say about that I had to dedicate an entire paragraph talking about it. Generally, it is widely known as one of the best scenes in Civil War and one of the best scenes of the MCU. Many people have described the scene as the cinematic version of smashing action figures together, and I can’t think of a more apt description, though you can probably tell where I’m going with this that I mean it in a bad way. It honestly brought down the movie for me, it doesn’t feel like it belongs in the movie at all. The tone is completely different, even if the some of the other action scenes have some humour, it still managed to maintain a sense of tension and weight throughout, just like what the Russo Brothers did with The Winter Soldier. This scene on the other hand was like cheesy ‘fun’ comic book mayhem that doesn’t particularly progress the story like the other action scenes did. Really everyone is pulling their punches too (except for Black Panther of course, who’s trying to kill Bucky), so you feel no tension whatsoever. Even on a technical level it’s a bit of a downgrade from the rest of the movies. As I said earlier, most of the movie isn’t that grey but this particular scene definitely is, it’s not visually appealing to look at, even with all the battles that are going on. Most of the CGI in the movie is actually pretty good but in that scene, it is hit or miss, whether it be the green screen backgrounds, Giant Man or even the effects on Iron Man and War Machine. The best part about the scene I guess is that it does show off everyone’s abilities well, particularly Scarlet Witch and even War Machine gets to show off more than in previous film appearances. Despite its issues, on its own the scene isn’t terrible, and it would’ve fitted in a much more lighthearted movie, like the first Avengers. In Civil War however, it doesn’t belong there at all and the movie would’ve been better if it didn’t have it.

What gets me about Captain America Civil War is that there are some legitimately great parts to it. Even if you remove the frustrating Airport scene, it’s got some issues in its story which keeps the movie back from how it could’ve been. It’s not bad by any means, it’s decent, just unfortunately with a lot of problems. With talk about how Endgame makes the previous MCU movies even better in hindsight, I really hope that it’ll retroactively improve Civil War too.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Time: 149 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/White Wolf
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Peter Dinklage as Eitri the Dwarf King
Benedict Wong as Wong
Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Pom Klementieff as Mantis
Karen Gillan as Nebula
Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer
Zoe Saldana as Gamora
Vin Diesel as Groot
Bradley Cooper as Rocket
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan/The Collector
Josh Brolin as Thanos
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin). On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

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Avengers: Infinity War wasn’t just one of the most anticipated films of 2018, it’s also one of the most anticipated films ever. I’ll admit that in the lead up to the release of this film, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, the Russo Brothers directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, one of the best films in the MCU. On the other hand, they also directed Captain America Civil War, and while it was decent it was rather underwhelming compared to what it could have been, and felt a bit disappointing. Even without taking into account their previous movie, there was still a lot they had to achieve: they have to handle so many characters, and this is the culmination of about a decade’s worth of films building up to it. It is easy for Infinity War to end up being a disappointment. So I went in with my expectations in check, expecting a decent and entertaining movie. However, Infinity War truly blew me away, The Russo Brothers have truly achieved something amazing here.

I need to preface that although there is a lot of things I want to say, there’s a lot about this movie that I can’t say. So I will do my best to avoid spoilers. First thing that is worth noting is that unless you are heavily into the MCU movies, you probably won’t enjoy this as much as other people. Not just because of the amount of backstory in the other movies, but also because of the characters and build up, it might not feel as impactful. As a fan of the MCU and someone who likes all of the movies, I was thoroughly satisfied with the story here. All the moments that were meant to be impactful, really was impactful. I wasn’t spoiled at all before watching Infinity War and there were a lot of surprises, I won’t reveal any of them here because they really were effective. This movie does jump around with places and characters and with that the tonal and style shift is very apparent and it actually works. When it jumps from Thor or any of the other Avengers characters to the Guardians of the Galaxy, it really feels like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie.Infinity War is around 2 hours and 30 minutes long, making it Marvel’s longest movie. The pacing was done very well, I never got bored once. It was actually hard to get bored because there was so much happening, so much to take in. Most of the characters get to do something but some get more focus and attention than others. While this means a lot of characters not getting as much development despite the long running time, that is of no fault to the Russos, it’s a very difficult task to balance out all these characters, and what they have done here is truly commendable.

There is something I know that will concern some and that is the use of humour here. The MCU has recently been having a lot of humour, and sometimes that humour kind of diffuses some of the drama, and for Infinity War, it seemed like it would negatively affect a lot of the emotional moments. There is a lot of comedy here, and it really does work, it worked for me at least. If you’re worried about the humour ruining some of the drama or not, don’t worry, it doesn’t. During the truly impactful moments, no humour is playing during that scene. Besides, the tonal shifts, the jumping from different places is jarring already so it wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Speaking of impactful moments, there are a lot of them here, some of the most memorable in the entire MCU. I’ll just say that if you were disappointed by the lack of things happening in Civil War, you will be pleased by what happens here. And the ending…. I’m not even sure I can describe it. All I will say is that it is a very bold decision and I applaud the Russos for going in this direction. Now make no mistake, this movie isn’t called Infinity War Part 1, but it is a part 1 of 2 movies. Some of this movie’s quality and ambitious quality could change depending on the decisions made in part 2. On a side note, there is one (not two) end credits scene, I won’t say what it’s about but it does get me really hyped. It also (unlike some other MCU films) really feels like it belongs after the credits as a teaser instead of being easily insertable into the end of the actual film.

The cast to Infinity War is absolutely massive, I could probably take up a whole paragraph just listing the entire cast list and who they play. One thing that The Russo Brothers had said was that Thanos, the big villain of Infinity War, was the main character of Infinity War and I didn’t really believe it. I have to say that they were completely right, he has the most screentime of all the characters and the entire film is surrounding him. Thanos has been built up for 6 years, ever since The Avengers in 2012, he seemed like he wouldn’t live up to all the hype that has been built all around him. However he absolutely delivers. Josh Brolin delivers an incredible motion capture performance (the motion capture on him is amazing, more on that later) and really makes this character work. Something I wasn’t expecting from him is that they don’t treat him like a villain, he has reasons for doing what he does. From what I heard his motives differ from the comics but it worked in this movie at least. Thanos not only might just be the best villain in the MCU, but he’s also one of the best comic book movie villains. Threatening, powerful, interesting to watch and surprisingly full of depth, Thanos more than lives up to the hype. All the other actors do quite great in their roles. Most of the other main characters get to have at least one moment to shine. However, some characters are more utilised than others. It’s quite possible that the characters that you expect or want to have a lot of screentime or things to do doesn’t really end up doing that a lot. Stand outs include Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and Zoe Saldana as Gamora.

The action sequences are really great, Infinity War has some of the best action sequences of the entire MCU. In the Captain America movies, the Russo Brothers’ often used some jump cuts in their action scenes, and while most of them worked well, it was a little too much. That was cut down a little bit in Infinity War, there’s still a little cutting in the fight scenes but the jump cutting was lessened. Most of the special effects looked good. There are occasionally parts that didn’t look so great, one of the big large action sequences in the third act had some minor CGI issues (mostly in the background), and certain things like occasionally Iron Man’s suit look a little fakish. One impressive CGI aspect however is the motion capture work on Josh Brolin to create Thanos, motion captured and CGI comic book villains are rather common nowadays but the effects here make him among the best, every expression on Brolin’s face is translated by the motion capture, it really enhanced his performance.

Avengers: Infinity War was more than a good movie, it was a great movie. I don’t know where I would rank it among the MCU, but I can say with certainty that it’s top tier Marvel, top 3 at least. I will need to rewatch it so I can be absolutely sure about my thoughts because there is a lot to take in (plus, the quality of this movie will depend on how part 2 fares). What I can say is that it’s entertaining, funny, impactful, shocking and ambitious, and I was more than satisfied with what I got. Stay away from all spoilers, there are so many surprises that you don’t want to have ruined for you. I can’t wait till Avengers 4.

Detroit (2017) Review

Time: 143 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Cast
John Boyega as Melvin Dismukes
Will Poulter as Philip Krauss
Algee Smith as Larry Reed
Jacob Latimore as Fred Temple
Jason Mitchell as Carl Cooper
Hannah Murray as Julie Ann
Kaitlyn Dever as Karen
Jack Reynor as Demens
Ben O’Toole as Flynn
Nathan Davis Jr. as Aubrey
Peyton Alex Smith as Lee
Malcolm David Kelley as Michael Clark
Joseph David-Jones as Morris
John Krasinski as Attorney Auerbach
Anthony Mackie as Greene
Director: Kathryn Bigelow

In the summer of 1967, rioting and civil unrest starts to tear apart the city of Detroit. Two days later, a report of gunshots prompts the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Army National Guard to search and seize an annex of the nearby Algiers Motel. Several policemen start to flout procedure by forcefully and viciously interrogating guests to get a confession.

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I’ve been meaning to watch Detroit for a while. With a talented cast that included John Boyega and Will Poulter, as well as it being directed by Kathryn Bigelow, there was a lot of potential, especially with it being based on true events that took place during the Detroit Riots of the 60s. I also heard some pretty good things about it. Detroit was really impactful and was really great overall, it is a credit to the great performances and Bigelow’s fantastic direction.

Before you watch the movie, you should know that despite the title, Detroit isn’t about the Detroit riots, it mostly takes place in the Algiers Motel during the Detroit riots. The opening of the movie was a little questionable, with a lot of backstory dumped through the use of a very out of place animation. Detroit is around 2 hours and 20 minutes long, which was a little too long. I get that the first act is meant to set up events and the third act is supposed to conclude these events but they did feel a little stretched out. However, I will say that maybe it’s because I expected almost all of the events to just take place at the motel, it takes over 40 minutes for the events of the Algiers Motel incident to actually start. The second act is definitely the strongest act of the whole movie, from start to finish it has you riveted. You really feel right there where everything it is happening, it is very intense and can be really hard to watch (which it should feel).

Acting from everyone is fantastic. John Boyega once again proves himself a talent to watch, here he plays as a cop who has to almost be neutral when all these events are going on, he gives a very subtle performance and he deserves a lot of praise for his work here. The actors who played the real life people in the hotel like Anthony Mackie and Jason Mitchell were good, out of all of them Algee Smith was the stand out. The actors who played the cops like Jack Reynor were also great. Will Poulter is the stand out performance however, stealing the show from absolutely everyone as a racist and violent cop who really takes charge during the whole incident. He really deserved more recognition for his performance, if all you know Poulter from is as the kid from Narnia 3 and Maze Runner, that will change after watching him in Detroit. He was intimidating and scary at times but he also felt uncomfortably real, Poulter was a real screen presence. Definitely deserves a lot of praise, really everyone really deserves a lot of praise, they all gave great performances that added to the film.

Kathryn Bigelow is a great director and once again she brings her A game here. She brought to Detroit her shaky cam from her previous films Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker and it works here (more so than other movies with shaky cam) because it adds to the movie. You really feel like you are there when all the events are going ahead. The cinematography also supports everyone in this movie. Bigelow also does very well at making sequences feel uncomfortable and tense and she doesn’t hold back at all. Honestly much of the credit to this movie’s success should go to her, she did great work here.

Unfortunately, not enough people saw Detroit, given its box office failure. It’s a real shame because most people missed out on a great movie. There were some incredible performances and Kathryn Bigelow directed this very well, creating an riveting impactful film. It’s a tad too long and I wouldn’t say that it is as great as some of Bigelow’s other films like Zero Dark Thirty or The Hurt Locker but all in all it is really good. It’s not an easy watch, and I don’t see it having much rewatch value but I do recommend giving it one viewing at the very least.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Review

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Captain America Civil War

Time: 147 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Paul Bettany as Vision
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter
Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow/Crossbones
William Hurt as Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.

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Captain America: Civil War was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is my favourite movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the directors of that movie, the Russo Brothers, are returning for this film. Not only that but it featured most of the Avengers. Ever since its’ release, Civil War has been met with critical acclaim. After seeing this movie, I can say that it is good, it does have a lot of great aspects from the excellent acting, entertaining action scenes and many moments of the story making a big impact. Overall I think that if you liked the other films in the series, you should definitely check Civil War out. But there are a lot of aspects that could’ve been improved that would’ve made the film significantly better.

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In terms of the pacing, the first act was quite slow as it set up the story, by the second act though it picks up, however I will say the film definitely does feel its length of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Even though I would’ve preferred the overall story go in a different direction (which I’ll talk about later), I thought that the final act was done quite well, it actually goes quite dark, much darker than I’d expect it to be. One thing that was quite unfortunate was that most of the story was quite predictable. For example, there is a revelation in the final act that was supposed to be significant, however I could see it coming within the first few scenes of the movie. However the story was still decent enough and kept me interested throughout the movie. Another thing I should mention is the humour. Some of the humour worked quite well and was entertaining, other times it didn’t, sometimes the jokes didn’t hit, sometimes there were too many jokes and sometimes the jokes even interrupted actually emotional scenes. This was quite unfortunate as these moments could’ve been much better without the poorly placed humour.

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There is an issue I have to mention. One of the main selling points of this movie is that it will have the Avengers fight against each other. I should warn you, don’t go into this movie expecting the Civil War storyline just slightly changed. In the first act the Sovakia Accords (the agreement for government oversight over the Avengers) does play a part and the film does well at illustrating both sides. Even though coming into this movie I was on Steve’s side, there were some points made by Tony which were quite valid. However by the 2nd act the film almost ditches that plotline and the mains source of conflict between Steve and Tony are no longer related to the Accords, it’s related to Bucky. So it almost feels pointless calling the movie Civil War other than the fact that it gives an excuse for most of the characters to return and to draw attention to it because it’s the name of a significant Marvel storyline. It would’ve been a lot more ambitious to stick with this setup and have them fight each other because of their ideological differences. Another result of the need to make the Avengers fight each other is that some of the characters don’t really play a significant part of the story. Some of the characters like Hawkeye and Ant Man are in this movie simply for the airport scene and they seem to feel quite out of place, but they are still good in the couple scenes they’re in. As I said earlier though, the plot is done reasonably well, it’s just that I think that it would’ve been better in taking it in a different direction.

Marvel's Captain America: Civil War L to R: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2016

Almost all the Avengers return and they are great, it’s surprising that most of them have their own mini arcs in the movie. There are a few notable stand outs. The first is Tom Holland as Spiderman. It is way too early to tell whether he’s the best Spiderman as we haven’t seen him in his own movie, but I can at least say that he is a good Spiderman (CHECK BOTTOM OF REVIEW FOR UPDATED THOUGHTS). Another standout was Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. One of the best parts of the movie is that it set up his character quite well, he was one of the most interesting characters in the story. He’s actually one of my favourite Avengers now and I can’t wait to see him in his own movie in 2018. Now there is one performance which I think isn’t getting enough attention and that is Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, who steals this entire movie. The few moments in Civil War where I felt emotionally impacted by a scene featured Downey Jr, and it was him who made the scene significantly better. I know that he has a reputation of just playing himself in this role, but here he proves how great of an actor he is and how well cast he was. This is the best performance I’ve seen from him since Iron Man. Now there’s one character that’s going to divide people and that is Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) who is the main villain. On one hand he’s not the most memorable villain and he’s absolutely nothing like the character in the comics, but on the other he is written quite well, with actual reasons behind his actions. He could’ve been made better by not having him in the movie (since there doesn’t really need to be a villain for Civil War) or by having him in more scenes and making him more memorable. But either way, he’s still one of the better Marvel villains, though that’s not saying a lot.

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The action for the most part is good. The first scene has a lot of unnecessary shaky cam which made the action hard to comprehend but the rest of the action is pretty steady and easy to be entertained by. The airport scene, which has been hyped up quite a bit is decent enough and showcased all the Avengers’ abilities and skills greatly, Ant Man for me stole that entire scene. I’d be lying though if I didn’t say I wasn’t underwhelmed after all the hype. There were a couple of problems I had however, first is that there were far too many jokes that felt like an overload, especially when it came to Spiderman. It did feel really odd for the Avengers to be cracking jokes while beating up their former friends, in fact they didn’t seem that concerned that they are now divided and fighting each other. Another complaint is some of the CGI, it works quite well in most of the film but there are a couple moments of bad CGI, both of which were in the airport scene. One is Spiderman, although his action was good the CGI on him looks incredibly fake. The other is, where I swear the filmmakers photoshopped Downey’s face onto an Iron Man suit, but those are really the only times that the CGI was fake. The best action scene however for me is the final fight in the last act. As I said the final act goes quite dark, but the fight scene is a lot more dirty and rough than you’d expect, the direction of that scene is the direction I wanted the airport scene to go in.

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Despite many of my problems with it, Captain America: Civil War is still one of the better Marvel movies. It has great action scenes, very good performances and some ambitious ideas, some of which I never expected at all to come from this movie. It’s just some of the aspects of the plot that weigh down the film. It felt like it could’ve gone further than it did, some of the humour didn’t land and the direction of the plot could’ve been handled a lot better. I have a feeling that a lot of that is due to the fact that the Russos’ had so much that they had to handle, that not everything integrated perfectly. I do think however that this movie is worth watching, I just don’t think it’s as flawless as some are making it out to be.

UPDATED THOUGHTS ON SPIDERMAN

My thoughts on Civil War are pretty much the same as in this review. However something that had changed was my thoughts on Spiderman.

After watching Civil War I didn’t really know what to think of Holland’s Spiderman, I had mixed feelings. I ended up just saying that I liked him in the review (as I wanted to get the review up as soon as possible), which was a bad idea. I felt like I should’ve waited to collect my thoughts before posting the review. So months later, here are my current thoughts on him:

I loved Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, I have only seen one scene of him but out of all the Peter Parkers, he’s my favourite. That’s absolutely impressive. I did not expect that.

As for his Spiderman… I have mixed feelings. He was honestly quite annoying to me, and not in a good way. There wasn’t really any moment in the Airport scene (the only scene in Civil War where you see Spiderman) which made me like him, not one joke that worked. However I don’t think it was the way that Holland played him, Spiderman just wasn’t used well in the scene or the movie for that matter. He feels completely forced in and wasn’t given much depth. He didn’t even work on an entertaining level.

Now I will say that Holland will have a lot more to work with when his solo movie comes around. I felt like if Spiderman was integrated throughout Civil War and had his own arc like Black Panther, I might’ve liked him. The best thing I can say about him in Civil War is that Holland shows potential. He definitely has the potential to be the best live action Spiderman. But we’ll just have to see.

Ant Man (2015) Review

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Ant Man

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne
Corey Stoll as Darren Cross
Bobby Cannavale as Paxton
Michael Peña as Luis
Tip “T.I.” Harris as Dave
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Wood Harris as Gale
Judy Greer as Maggie
David Dastmalchian as Kurt
Michael Douglas as Hank Pym
Director: Peyton Reed

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

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Ant Man has been receiving quite a lot of scepticism before its release. Not only was this concept hard to pull off but Edgar Wright’s separation from the project concerned many. Despite this, Ant Man manages to rise above all its potential problems and makes for a great and refreshing addition to the Marvel universe. Ant Man proves once again that Marvel can take a concept that is hard to pull off but actually manage to succeed in delivering.

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..© Marvel 2014

The first thing you need to know is that Ant Man is not a big movie. Go into Ant Man as if you are seeing a heist movie as opposed to a save the world type of movies like Age of Ultron. It’s actually kind of refreshing, it can get a little tiring being bogged down by the large scope and stakes of some of the big movies. It is also a very funny movie, this might actually be the funniest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (either this or Guardians of the Galaxy). Although Edgar Wright has left the project, you can tell from a lot of the scenes, writing and dialogue his work. I would’ve liked to have seen what Wright had in mind for this film but it is still pretty good. Peyton Reed has directed this movie quite well, despite my doubts of his choice of helming this movie. The last thing to know is that Ant Man has 2 credit scenes, so be sure to stick around for them.

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Paul Rudd is great in this film, this is probably the best performance I’ve seen from him so far. He really transitioned into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with ease and I look forward to seeing more of him as Ant Man. Michael Douglas was perfect casting as Hank Pym, it is one of his best performances in a while. Evangeline Lilly was also great as Hank’s daughter, I could really sense a lot of history between her and Michael Douglas. Michael Pena was great and he provided a lot of great comic relief. Villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (for the most part) aren’t that good and while Darren Cross, the villain of this film isn’t that fleshed out, its actor’s Corey Stoll’s performance that makes him one of the better antagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Like with the script, you can definitely see Edgar Wright’s style here, like with its fast editing. The effects to show Ant Man shrinking look really great and the film really takes advantage of its opportunities to create some really great, entertaining and at times hilarious scenes. This film is actually worth watching in 3D, it really does enhance and make the experience much better and that’s not something I usually say about 3D movies. The climax of this film is very enjoyable and it gets very creative and entertaining.

I said in my anticipated movies of 2015 that if Marvel can pull off Ant Man and make it great, I’ll be pretty much sold on any movie that they make, no matter how ridiculous a premise it may sound. They have done that with Ant Man and have made it much more. Looking at this film (and the end credit scenes) I’m excited for Marvel’s next films. So far it looks like today, Marvel can do no wrong (well at least movies by in the Avengers universe).

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Review

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The Avengers Age of Ultron

Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Evans as Steve Rodgers/Captain America
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch
Paul Bettany as Jarvis/Vision
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/The Falcon
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Idris Elba as Heimdall
Stellan Skarsgård as Erik Selvig
James Spader as Ultron
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Director: Joss Whedon

When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron (James Spader) emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for a global adventure.

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Avengers 2 was one of my most anticipated films of 2015, the first Avengers is one of the best superhero movies and did the impossible, combine many superheroes together in one movie and somehow made it work. Making a follow up to one of the most successful comic book movies is no easy task. Fortunately, this film manages to easily surpass that, I’d even say that I liked it slightly more than the first one. If you liked the first Avengers, you’re definitely going to enjoy this.

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The plot is well planned out and is entertaining all the way through. Although the plot is darker than the first movie, it still has the humour present in the first Avengers to lighten the mood. A lot of that has to do with the dialogue and the interactions between the characters which have some of the funniest moments. One thing that worked in the favour of this movie over the previous film is that the world and the characters are much more developed. I was hoping for some more Captain America: Civil War links but there were definitely some events here which will probably tie into that film. One thing left to mention is that there is one mid-credits scene, so you don’t need to stay to the end of the credits. It is quite exciting and although it’s not relating to Captain America 3, it’s making me even more excited in how the plotline will pay off in the future.

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As usual, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner continue to be great in their roles and as I said before, they are developed even more. One standout is Hawkeye, in the previous films he hadn’t really had much development but he makes up for it here and is now at the level of depth of the other Avengers. The new actors also do pretty well in their roles. Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen hold their own against the other avengers. James Spader gives a menacing and entertaining villain performance as Ultron. Some people complain about the Marvel villains and how most of them aren’t that strong, save for a couple like Loki and The Winter Soldier. I can tell you that Ultron is one of the best that this universe has had so far. Without spoiling too much, Paul Bettany gets to play a bigger role than in the previous movies, he’s great and I’m excited to see what part he plays in future Marvel films.

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The action scenes as usual are done very well, they up the stakes especially in the last act, making it bigger even than the battle of New York in the previous movie. My favourite action scenes were the Hulkbuster vs Hulk scene as well as the final battle, I’d even say that they are some of my favourite action scenes of the year so far.

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Since Iron Man, Marvel movies have never disappointed me. I even enjoyed some of the lesser films they released (Iron Man 2). If this year’s Ant Man impresses me, I’ll pretty much be 100% confident that every Marvel movie will be awesome. I’ve heard that this will be the last Marvel movie that Joss Whedon will be involved in, and all I can say is that this was a great film to leave on.