Marvel Cinematic Universe

Reflections on the A-Z Challenge 2019 Edition

Slightly later than planned, but here’s my reflections on this years A-Z in April Challenge.

This was my sixth year taking part and it was my easiest A-Z in April in years. I think that was down to the topic. I love the MCU and its characters, so I found it really easy to write about them. In fact, I found it so easy that I got all my posts written and scheduled before the end of the second week of April! I haven’t been that organised during this challenge for years.

My favourite posts to write were all the ones in the Iron Man fam; Pepper Potts, Rhodey, Happy Hogan, Harley Keener and, of course, Tony Stark. I had so much fun pouring all my thoughts and feelings about Tony Stark into that post and it’s a piece of writing that I’m proud of. I wrote and scheduled all my posts before seeing Avengers: Endgame so I feel like writing about my favourite characters was almost therapeutic as I was so anxious about what would happen to them in that film.

My post popular A-Z posts were the ones for Carol Danvers, Okoye and Goose. I guess people like strong women and an awesome cat!

I replied to all comments pretty quickly (for me anyway) though unfortunately I didn’t visit that many blogs at all. While I got all my posts scheduled ahead of time, day to day life stopped me finding the time to look around other people’s blogs. I’m even more grateful for the people who stopped by my blog, liked or commented on posts, and even hit that follow button as I did little to return the favour last month.

I feel like the last few years when I’ve written these reflection posts I’ve said, “I’m not sure if I’ll take part again next year” and I feel the same way once again. It’s just that as I take part in the A-Z Challenge again and again, I feel like I’m running out of themes of things I could write about – and enjoy writing about too. I think I enjoyed this years A-Z Challenge more than the last couple because my topic was something I am so enthusiastic about and get so much joy from. If I hadn’t written about my favourite characters from the MCU, I don’t know what I would’ve chosen to write about and if I had thought of something I doubt I’d have had as much fun writing it as I did with this theme.

I hope all of you who took part in the challenge had fun and a successful A-Z in April. Thanks to those who stopped by my blog and liked or commented – it always means a lot. For more information on the A-Z in April Challenge visit the website.

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SPOILER REVIEW: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Right. Here are all my spoilery thought about Avengers: Endgame, I highly recommend not reading this if you haven’t seen the film. My spoiler-free review is here.

I probably haven’t mentioned everything I noticed or wanted to say because there was so much and I see new things every time I see it. I’ve seen Endgame three times now and still think it’s an incredible end to a series of 22 films. My comments are a mixture of stuff that happened in order, and character focussed stuff. This post is probably a mess so you’ve been warned. (more…)

Z is for Helmut Zemo

It’s the last day of the A-Z in April Challenge and I’m going to end it with a villain that arguably damaged the Avengers the most. Pre-Thanos that is.

Helmut Zemo is a former soldier from Sokovia, who wanted to avenge his family’s death during the Sokovia incident. He wanted to do this by destroying the Avengers, but knowing he was just a man going up against superpowered people, he had to be smart about it.

And that’s the thing, Zemo is really very smart and a brilliant strategist and manipulator. He’s patient, knows how to put a plan together and stick to it, while using the latest developments in the world e.g. the Sokovia Accords, to his advantage.

You could say that Zemo’s plan wouldn’t have been as affective if Steve had told Tony about his parents’ death before being forced to watch the footage of it. if Tony had known there’s probably less chance of him flying off the handle. But Steve didn’t tell Tony, and Zemo’s plan to destroy the Avengers worked.

I think Zemo was a brilliant villain and he’s one that actually achieved what he set out to do. He destroyed the Avengers by turning the two main leaders of the team against one another. He broke the Avenger a part. Friendships were destroyed, some members of the Avengers were on the run and wanted by the UN, and the rest were just hurt and alone.

I think he’s a fascinating villain and I’m pleased that he’s still alive. I think he’d be a great villain to make an appearance again at some point in the future. Although, he’s played his best hand with the secrets about Tony’s parents’ death. Unless he’s managed to dig up something else on various members of the Avengers, I’m not sure he would have the same impact. Maybe it’s because I like Daniel Brühl so much so would like to see more of him in the MCU.

REVIEW: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

After the events of Avengers: Infinity War the universe is in chaos as half of all life has been wiped out. Those that are left behind struggle to move on and assemble once more to try and undo Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) actions and bring back those they’ve lost.

Avengers: Endgame is incredible. This film is so impressive in terms of plot, character and spectacle. There are so many surprises in Endgame. There’s twists and turns and what you could call fan service moments, but the way the film never manages to lose its way is admirable. It is three hours long, but you don’t notice that runtime at all. There are quieter moments in the film but that’s when it’s more character-focused and they are no less compelling than when these characters are trying to save the universe.

Compared to Infinity War which, while there were stakes it was also a lot more jovial film, Endgame is definitely more character focused. That’s not to say there isn’t action sequences or jokes or exciting moments, but after the events of Infinity War, the characters who survived are not who they once were. They have all experienced loss, they are all hurting, and they are all going through the various stages of grief – with some getting stuck on certain stages longer than others. The characters don’t just brush off what happened and that makes the catastrophic loss of life even more affecting.

The entire cast are amazing. The relationships these actors have made in real life, make the character relationships even more poignant and every character gets their moment in the spotlight. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) gets more screen time and character development compared to previous films, and Renner really gets to show not only what a great actor he is, but also what a layered character Clint Barton is. Captain America (Chris Evans) is more central to the story compared to Infinity War and Paul Rudd gets to show off his dramatic skills as Ant-Man while still never losing who that character is.

Avengers: Endgame is the finale to an eleven-year, twenty-two-movie saga. It’s the culmination of all the films that have come before it and it manages to pay homage to them while still being a satisfying conclusion – the third act really is indescribable and is unlike anything we’ve seen before in a film of this scale.

Really Avengers: Endgame does mark the end of an era. While the MCU will no doubt continue, Endgame is the finale to this story arc and what a finale it is. 5/5.

FYI I will post a probably very long spoiler-filled review of Avengers: Endgame in the next week or so. I have a lots of thoughts and feelings to get out.

Y is for Ho Yinsen

When you look back on the MCU, one minor character that really has had a lasting effect on a hero is Ho Yinsen. He is such an important character!

Yinsen was held captive with Tony Stark in Afghanistan and it was Yinsen who saved Tony’s life. He’s the one who put an electromagnet in Tony’s chest, stopping the pieces of shrapnel getting to his heart. Yes, Yinsen’s version was with a car battery and once Tony was on his feet, he figured out how to make the system better with a miniaturised arc reactor, but Yinsen came up with the way to save Tony’s life first.

Yinsen was intelligent, he was a scientist and surgeon and he could speak multiple languages, so he was more than capable to help Tony build the first Iron Man armour. He helped motivate Tony to resist their captors and do something about the terrorists having so many of Tony’s weapons. “Is this the last act of defiance of the great Tony Stark? Or are you going to do something about it?” was just the sort of no-nonsense pep talk Tony needed. Yinsen was also incredibly brave as he willingly sacrificed his life so Tony could escape.

Tony went and saved the villagers of Gulmira, Yinsen’s village, once he’d made the Iron Man suit. I’m not saying Tony wouldn’t have saved any village he heard about on the news, but there were definitely more of a personal stake there for him. Yinsen’s last words to Tony was not to waste his life and I like to think Tony took that to heart.

X is for Xtras

X is always a difficult one for the A-Z in April Challenge. In previous years I’ve written about the X-Men or Charles Xavier but as they are not a part of the MCU (yet anyway) I’ve had to cheat a bit this year. These are all the extra characters who I love that got pipped to the post by a different favourite.

Clint Barton
Now some of you who have been following my blog for a while might’ve been surprised not to see Clint featured in my A-Z of favourites this year, because Clint Barton is my ultimate favourite whether that’s in the MCU, comics or animated TV shows. But I had featured him in my Favourite Characters A-Z in April in 2016 so I thought I’d give some other favourites the time to shine. I do still love him a lot though. He’s funny and highly skilled but he’s still a very breakable human on a team of superhumans and I love that about him.

Michelle “MJ” Jones
There’s a lot of cool characters in Spider-Man: Homecoming but I did have a soft spot for Michelle even before it was revealed that she’s going to be the MCU’s version of MJ. She’s weird, smart and funny. I like how she’s a bit of a social outcast who likes her own company, but she still finds friends. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her personality come through in future films.

Nick Fury
Fury is the ultimate spy and I love that about him. Having Samuel L. Jackson in the role was one of the best decisions ever made in regard to the MCU. He brings all these layers to Fury. Fury can be funny (loved seeing more of that side of him in Captain Marvel), cutting, secretive and very smart. His secrets have secrets! One of my favourite sequences in the entire MCU is when Fury’s car is attacked in Winter Soldier, I just love seeing Fury being the action hero/spy that he is even though he’s climbed the ranks of SHIELD.

Hela
You got to love a female villain that causes death and destruction with style. I like how Hela’s back story doesn’t excuse what she is. Yes, her father used her to take over different worlds and defeat their enemies, but that death and destruction was still in her nature. She wants to rule Asgard and get what she thinks she deserves and uses her intelligence and magic to do it.

Rocket
Rocket is probably my favourite out of the original Guardians of the Galaxy crew. He’s sarcastic and mean and pushes people away because he’s not used to being cared about. But when he does get close to his friends, his family, he loves them deeply. I think the animation that brings Rocket alive is incredible as I’ve often found myself getting teary eyed over that damn raccoon.

W is for Wanda Maximoff

I really do love Wanda a lot and I especially like how she’s grown into someone who’s more comfortable in their powers and who they are as the series has progressed.

I do think Wanda should be held accountable for her actions. In Civil War it’s clear she’s not ready to be out in the field and so while she did save a lot of people, she inadvertently hurt and killed others. However, she’s still learning and trying to do the right thing and atone for her mistakes.

Wanda is seriously one of the most powerful characters in the MCU. I think she’s up there with Thor and Carol with regards how powerful and potentially dangerous they are. I mean, she held back Thanos who had five Infinity Stones at the time while simultaneously destroying a sixth Infinity Stone! She’s so strong and badass and amazing! But as well as being a badass, she’s sweet and caring and loving too.

I’ve got to take a moment to mention one of my favourite character dynamics in the MCU – Wanda and Clint’s relationship. He’s like a surrogate dad to her and I love how they talk to one another and protect each other in battle. Wanda’s way stronger than him with her powers, but because of her past she isn’t so confident or aware of the world compared to Clint so they can help each other out when they need it. Also, I totally believe Wanda’s has gone and babysat Clint’s kids while he and his wife go out for dinner more than once.