Directed by Peyton Reed — Screenplay by Jeff Loveness.
Trilogies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe aren’t really trilogies. You can’t watch the Iron Man or Captain America trilogies without knowing what happens in the Avengers films. Or, of course, you can, but it would be a strange exercise as those trilogy films eventually reference other films, are reliant on those other films’ setup, or are direct continuations of a film that isn’t technically in that very trilogy. This has also been true of the Ant-Man trilogy. If you just watch Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp (both directed by Peyton Reed), you’ll definitely have some questions about why Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is under house arrest and about what the hell happened in the 2018 sequel’s mid-credits scene, in which most of the cast suddenly disappeared (thus stranding Scott Lang in the so-called Quantum Realm). Similarly, those who have decided to live under a rock (or simply ignore every other Marvel movie — including two of the biggest films of all time) would probably be really confused as to what happened between the 2018 sequel and this 2023 sequel. I suspect very few people would find themselves in that situation, but I mention all of this because the interconnected nature of the incredible achievement that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) can be both very exciting and confusing depending on who you ask.
Directed by Ryan Coogler — Screenplay by Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole.
How do you follow up on one of the most popular superhero films of the last decade, when the incredibly magnetic actor portraying the titular iconic character is no longer with us? Such was the seemingly impossible task for Ryan Coogler when he sat in the director’s chair for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. As I sat down to watch the film, this was the big question that was on my mind. Chadwick Boseman, the charismatic actor who passed away in 2020 due to a private battle with colon cancer, was such an amazing screen presence, and he was the focus of that first film, and you definitely miss him in the sequel. However, it must be said that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever actually does work quite well in spite of the big missing link. One of the reasons why it works is because the presence of a gaping hole at the center of it is an intrinsic part of the plot in more ways than one.
Show Created by Jessica Gao — Directed by Kat Coiro and Anu Valia.
The first Disney+ Marvel Cinematic Universe series, WandaVision, was released in early 2021. Now, in October of 2022, Marvel Studios has fully released eight different Marvel series on the Disney streamer. While I’ve enjoyed watching all of them, I really do think that many of them would’ve been better as films, as these shows — like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier — still swear by the classic Marvel template. Honestly, I think only WandaVision, Loki, What If…?, and Ms. Marvel were right to be made into series rather than films. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, however, is the kind of story that feels appropriate for the streamer as a series. It doesn’t take the overarching Marvel storylines all that seriously and, even though I’m a fan of the MCU, that feels really refreshing.
Directed by Taika Waititi — Screenplay by Taika Waititi & Jennifer Kaytin Robinson.
When it was first announced that Chris Hemsworth was going to play ‘Thor’ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), I don’t think anyone expected him to be the first Avengers character to have four solo movie. Although, to be honest, back then I’m not sure anyone expected Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe to go this far. Since the 2011 Kenneth Branagh film Thor, the titular character has been going through some changes. I still quite like the original film. The sequel, Thor: The Dark World has become a bit of a punching bag in the franchise, with it receiving a lot of criticism time and time again for the tone, the visuals, and the forgettable antagonists. Thor went from being a Shakespearean inspired (by way of Branagh’s influence) Norse God to being a space viking and true comedic lead thanks to Taika Waititi who, with his immensely popular Thor: Ragnarok, reminded everyone of Hemsworth’s fantastic comedic talent, while reinventing the character at the same time.
Show Creator: Jeremy Slater — Show Directors: Mohamed Diab and Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson.
My most anticipated Marvel Studios Disney+ series thus far was, without a doubt, Moon Knight. Ever since I first started reading comic books about him on Marvel Unlimited several years ago, I have been waiting for the chance to finally see this character in live-action. When it was announced that two of my favorite actors — Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke — were going to be in it, my excitement for the show reached a fever pitch. I’ve now seen the show, so how is it? Well, overall, it’s quite good, but it still suffers from some of the early Marvel-Disney+ problems that we saw in many of last year’s Marvel Cinematic Universe shows.
Disney’s Marvel Studios — the masterminds and architects of the global cinematic sensation, the Marvel Cinematic Universe — now also spends a lot of time on TV/Streaming shows due to the arrival of the streaming service Disney+, which Disney knows can thrive on several shows aimed at the Marvel and Star Wars fandoms. In the first year with MCU content straight-to-Disney+, Disney and Marvel Studios gave us four live-action series and one premier animated show. In this article, I’ll take a look at each of the ‘first-year’ shows in bite-sized reviews.
Directed by Sam Raimi – Screenplay by Michael Waldron.
Let’s be honest here. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), arguably the most popular film series of our current time, is really more a series than a selection of films. Martin Scorsese has referred to superhero films like those as theme park rides (which I still contend isn’t as dismissive as it has been received by the internet), and, with its cliffhangers, easter eggs, references, and overarching character arcs, it is becoming increasingly difficult for these films to stand on their own. Some of these Marvel movies, for better or worse, don’t even try to stand on their own (like Avengers: Age of Ultron). Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness is one of those films.
Directed by Chloé Zhao — Screenplay by Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, and Kaz Firpo.
Although their films are immensely popular, it isn’t every day that Marvel Studios work with Academy Award-winning film directors, which makes Eternals special even on paper. Chloé Zhao, the Chinese-born acclaimed filmmaker behind Best Picture winner Nomadland, did, however, choose to have a major superhero blockbuster film be her follow-up to her poetic Oscars-favorite. In my experience, Zhao’s films (of which I think The Rider is probably her best work), which often feature non-actors, are defined by their open landscapes, contemplative themes, and an unshakable feeling that her narrative films are documentary-like. Therefore, this superhero epic is almost certainly her most accessible film, but it is also true that it feels different than most Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films. Frankly, while there is a lot that I like here, I think Eternals ended up being a little bit too ambitious for its own good.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton — Screenplay by Destin Daniel Cretton, Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984), and Andrew Lanham.
The future of the movie theater industry has been the source of much debate in film fan circles during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. Films have had their theatrical release delayed, some films have been released on premium-video-on-demand, such as Disney+ with Premiere Access, at the same time that they have been released in theaters, while, in the United States, most if not all Warner Bros. films from 2021 have been released in movie theaters and on HBO Max for no additional cost on the very same day, which was the case with The Suicide Squad. So, in addition to the fact that movie theaters have to accept the ongoing pandemic, movie theaters now also contend with subscriptions, streaming services, and premium-video-on-demand.
Now, it would appear that movie theaters have also begun to fight back against this trend with the one thing they can do, which is to refuse to release a studio’s film in theaters. Strangely, although it, unlike Black Widow, has not been released on Disney+ with Premiere Access, major theater chains have stuck by their Disney boycott with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In Denmark, I think only about ten theaters are showing it currently, which is a real shame because Shang-Chi is rad and well-worth the price of admission.
Directed by Cate Shortland — Screenplay by Eric Pearson — Story by Jac Schaeffer & Ned Benson.
After numerous delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow is finally here. Out now in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the first film in its so-called Phase Four — which also already includes Disney+ series WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki — but it is also the first theatrically released Marvel Studios product in two years (since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home).
My fellow Marvelites and so-called True Believers can now rejoice as the wait is finally over. However, while I’d say the film is quite good and, at least to some extent, worth the wait, I also have to say that it is clear as day that this film is ‘out of time’ in more ways than one, which makes the film feel quite strange even though it is ‘just’ a long-awaited solo film with a beloved character.