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There will come a time many years from now when film historians will analyze Marvel Studios, and some of them will rightfully conclude that Thor: Ragnarok won over critics and fans despite its forgettable script. Producers gave the world a $180 million stick of cinematic bubble gum and the world cheered.
Once upon a time, superhero fans watched Thor movies in which actor Chris Hemsworth and his supporting cast attempted to channel literary classics like Beowulf. Director Kenneth Branagh infused Thor (2011) with tinctures of Shakespearean tragedy, while Alan Taylor churned out similar work on Thor: The Dark World (2013).
All that is over with the arrival of director Taika Waititi, who has the first “family-friendly” Marvel Studios/Disney movie that drops an “orgy” reference into a scene involving the cosmic equivalent of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous “Lolita Express.”
Thor: Ragnarok is essentially two movies mashed into one. Half of Ragnarok involves a ancient prophecy in which Asgard is captured by Thor’s sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) and ultimately destroyed by a giant demon named Sutur; the other half deals with an exiled Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) fighting as a gladiator on a planet ruled by Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). The god of thunder and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) end up stranded on the planet as well, but they soon find a way to escape through “The Devil’s Anus.”
The two brothers are helped along the way by a disillusioned Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and the whole thing is tied together by a series of jokes that often follow (i.e., undermine) dramatic scenes.
In short, Ragnarok is a film that doesn’t take itself seriously — even as it sometimes asks the audience to do so. It is a movie that is seemingly so terrified of being parodied at the MTV Movie Awards that it decided to deny them the opportunity. Chris Hemsworth, at times, seems as though he’s parodying himself playing Thor. Potential moviegoers simply need to imagine a Batman movie in which the actor was required to alternately channel Joel Schumacher’s notorious Batman Forever (1985) and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008).
“Even when you had two eyes, you still only see half the picture,” Odin (Anthony Hopkins) says to Thor during a near-death experience. “Are you ‘Thor, the god of hammers’? Hmmm? That hammer is to help you control your power — focus it. It’s not your source of strength. […] Asgard is not a place, never was. This could be Asgard. Asgard is where our people stand. Even now — right now — those people need your help.”
“I’m not as strong as you,” Thor replies.
“No. You’re stronger,” says Odin.
The exchange is meant to be poignant, but it comes after nearly two hours of improv and slapstick comedy — it’s hard to appreciate Hopkins’ turn as Odin when the audience is still wondering how a thinly veiled masturbation joke involving Thor’s hammer made it into the finished product.
The question that fans of the genre need to ask themselves after the joke-a-minute Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 and now Ragnarok is this: If a superhero movie struggles not to inject a gag of some kind into every heartfelt moment, then what does it say about the audience? What does it say about our culture?
If you’re looking for a Marvel movie that most closely resembles Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), then run out an see Ragnarok before it leaves theaters. If you expect your god of thunder to possess a Game of Thrones gravitas, then stay far away.
Editor’s note: Check out my “Thor: Ragnaflop?” live-stream if you want to hear almost two hours of Thor-talk.
There are times when I wish that I never made the leap to YouTube and instead stayed on my little old blog churning out content for people who understand things like nuance. My reaction to Spider-Man: Homecoming highlighted that fact quite nicely yesterday.
Your friendly neighborhood blogger said that he loves the movie and wants people to see it, but that a weird scene involving “MJ’s” comment on slavery was a social justice-y sucker punch out of nowhere. I then used that scene to discuss real-world “MJ’s” populating college campuses and influential circles of activists across the nation.
Translation: “Doug is an SJW! Doug is triggered! Doug can’t enjoy anything that includes a whiff of SJW politics.”
Below are my videos on the old web-head’s return to the big screen. As always, if you enjoy the content then be sure to subscribe. And if you too think I’ve gone full “SJW” then go for it in the comments section. Let me know! I find this conclusion fascinating.
Here is the full review with one major spoiler for those who haven’t seen the film.
The world is only days away from Spider-Man: Homecoming, but the Spidey buzz got real over the weekend when Sony Pictures producer Amy Pascal blindsided Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige during a promotional event. She directly contradicted previous statements by Mr. Feige that Sony’s “Venom” and “Silver & Black” (Silver Sable and Black Cat) would not be connected to the MCU.
Ms. Pascal said:
“Well, those movies will all take place in the world that we’re now creating for Peter Parker. They’ll all be adjuncts to it. They may be different locations, but it will still all be in the same world. They will all be connected to each other as well. […] There’s a chance [Tom Holland will appear]. There’s always a chance.”
The look of utter disbelief on Mr. Feige’s face — and one monstrous swallow — are proof that he severely underestimated how devious the woman can be.
It also proves that Mr. Feige would be wise to take some advice from yours truly, perhaps the only one who warned that his “deal” with her to get access to Spider-Man was his very own “One More Day” moment.
Yes, that’s right, Amy Pascal is Kevin Feige’s personal Mephisto.
I wrote on Feb. 10, 2015:
“Question: Will Amy Pascal become Kevin Feige’s Mephisto? […] It will be a sad day if Kevin Feige’s name is attached to future Spider-Man failures because of Amy Pascal’s intransigence. While Spider-Man fans should be thrilled that the character will show up in future Marvel Studios movies, they should seriously ask themselves if Marvel made a deal with the devil when total victory was within reach.”
Marvel Studios had Sony on the ropes. Through Sony’s own moronic moves under Pascal’s leadership, the studio ran its reputation into the ground. And while it’s great that the world will now see Spider-Man in the MCU for Avengers: Infinity War, there is no doubt that individuals like Ms. Pascal are petty, vindictive, and untrustworthy.
The Sony hacks by North Korea demonstrated it, and the point was hammered home further by the viral video.
The good news is that Kevin Feige is about 10,000 times more intelligent than anyone at Sony. He will likely come out on top in the end. The bad news is that Sony’s suits know this and will subject Marvel Studios to all sorts of public and private pain for the ignominy of taking orders from their betters.
Cross your fingers that Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t a train wreck, but if it is then just watch this video with Ms. Pascal to remind yourself who is to blame.
At what point does a man look in the mirror and say to himself, “I’m politically unhinged and I need help before I sink into an ideological abyss and drown.” If your name is Joss Whedon, now would be a good time to ask that question.
For those who haven’t been paying attention to social media today, you missed the moment when Warner Bros.’ Batgirl director decided it would be a good idea to use teenage cancer survivors as a cudgel with which to beat President Donald Trump. Seriously. We have reached the point in Mr. Whedon’s life when children who somehow survived countless rounds of chemotherapy are fair game as weapons in a rhetorical war against political enemies.
Warner Bros. executives, if you’re listening, I have a question for you: Do you really want a man who is this unhinged — a man who brings this much baggage with him — at the helm of a big-budget superhero film? If so, then you too might want to consider getting your heads examined.
Check out my latest YouTube video to see Joss Whedon publicly demonstrate how easy it is for a man to die inside from ideological hemlock poisoning. Then, when you’re done, take a moment and vow never to emulate his behavior. You’ll be glad you did upon your own deathbed.
Question: What happens when a man plays with political gamma radiation for far too long?
Answer: Just like Hollywood director Joss Whedon, he turns into a rage monster who will destroy anyone in his path to achieve ideological ends.
I covered Mr. Whedon’s slow-motion descent into partisan madness on this blog for years, but a new segment on my YouTube channel has officially launched with the name Whedon Watch.
If you’re interested in seeing how talented men often go from artistically inspired to hulking partisan hacks, then check out my latest YouTube video. Given that Mr. Whedon shows no signs of pulling back from a poisonous void, I fully expect there to be many episodes of Whedon Watch in the years to come.
Hollywood director Joss Whedon has been on a slow-motion political implosion for about six years, but last week it became much more obvious when he wished one of his fellow Americans were raped — by a rhino. Yes, as bizarre as it is for your friendly neighborhood blogger to chronicle this sad turn of events, on some level it is not the surprising. After all, Mr. Whedon also began using coup-like rhetoric after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
If you want more details on Mr. Whedon’s embrace of Ultron-level hate, then check out my latest YouTube video and let me know what you think in the comments section below. And, if you like the format, then be sure to subscribe for regular updates.
It was only a few weeks ago that your friendly neighborhood blogger said he was looking forward to Zendaya’s performance in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but now the actor had to complicate matters by playing one of the worst race cards of all time.
CNN reported Thursday:
Zendaya has alleged a grocery clerk of racism after refusing to sell her $400 in gift cards.
The “K.C. Undercover” actress posted a Snapchat video Tuesday about a shopping experience in which she said a clerk told her she couldn’t afford the gift cards, and tossed her wallet.
“The lady that was helping, I don’t think she was a huge fan of our skin tone,” Zendaya said.
“This is what we deal with…” — before a male friend in the video added, “Because we’re black.”
A store manager came over and eventually helped Zendaya, 20, complete the gift card purchase.
The store eventually clarified (for those who have lived under a rock for several years) that there are limits to how many gift cards can be purchased on a single credit card. The wealthy entertainer — who should know by now that criminals who steal credit card information prompted such rules — was initially denied a $400 purchase.
So here is the situation: A Hollywood star who looks as white as Joseph Gordon Levitt walks into a Vons grocery store. She looks like some random teenager, plops down a credit card, wants to charge $400 on gift cards, and then gets upset when the store clerk looks at her like she’s crazy.
Is it more likely that the clerk — who must deal with black people in California every single day — is racist, or is it more likely that a spoiled Hollywood star wasn’t recognized and then treated (ironically) just like everyone else?
I will go with the latter option, but I’m open to convincing in the comments section below.
Note to Zendaya: People are sick and tired of the race card. It doesn’t work.
Sometimes, what you perceive as racism is just people behaving rationally to your immaturity or moronic behavior.
Sometimes, what you perceive as racism is just someone having a bad day.
Sometimes, what you perceive as racism is nothing of the sort because the person on the other end of the conversation thinks you look like a small white child.
Note to Sony and Marvel Studios: Tell your future “MJ” that it may be okay to be a diva on the big screen, but that doing so in public just makes Spider-Man fans less inclined to see her work.
And so it begins — the great new excuse to call people “racist” for the next year.
News broke on Thursday afternoon that Zendaya will be playing the iconic role of Mary Jane in next summer’s latest Spider-Man movie, Homecoming.
The Wrap reported:
Zendaya will be playing long-time Spider-Man love interest Mary Jane Watson in next summer’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” two individuals with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.
Diehard Spidey fans have long speculated about whom the 19-year-old Disney Channel star would portray in Sony’s high-profile reboot of the superhero franchise, starring British actor Tom Holland as a teenage Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man.
Also Read: All 43 Marvel Movies Ranked From Worst to Best, Including ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ (Photos)
At least one recent draft of the script has Zendaya’s character dropping several clues to her identity as Mary Jane, one of the most familiar love interests in the Marvel superhero’s universe — and played by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi‘s 2002-07 movie trilogy starring Tobey Maguire as the webslinger.
Zendaya, the star of the Disney Channel series “Shake It Up!” and “K.C. Undercover,” was cast back in March to play a “key role” as a character named Michelle.
Your friendly neighborhood blogger has plenty of thoughts on Sony’s movie, but what concerns me most is the knee-jerk reaction by race-obsessed goons to label anyone who wants to see a beautiful redhead on the big screen as “raaaaaaacist.”
One of the first race-runners out of the gate was Devin Faraci of the website Birth. Movies. Death. He worries about the “next racist fanboy outrage,” (because honoring source material is apparently ‘racist’ nowadays).
The comments section of websites like The Wrap (You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy) was just as bad.
Ah, yes, all those “racist white nerds” who like their Blades and Rhodeys black and their Mary Janes white with red hair…they’re so weirdly racist!
The good thing about Sony’s habitual screw-ups when it comes to…pretty much everything…is that at this point fans only want to see a good movie. My prediction is that Zendaya — who is certainly beautiful — will do just fine.
It’s hard to do a worse job than Kirsten Dunst, so as long as Zendaya captures the essence of MJ’s character then most long-time fans will forgive the studio’s deviation from the comics.
It is much harder to turn the other cheek, however, with writers who salivate at the chance to spit out charges of racism over the slightest disagreement.
What do you think of Zendaya’s casting? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think it was strange of Sony to keep it a secret for so long if the casting is not supposed to be a big deal? Let me know in the comments section below.
Update: Dan Slott decided to weigh in on the issue, and he was in rare form with his Straw Man arguments and specious claims. I cover it in the comments section, but decided to take a screenshot of the embedded tweets since he has a habit of deleting them when things get out of hand.
Hollywood has bowed before China for years now, but for numerous reasons its power players refuse to publicly acknowledge their Communist overlords. Reuters did superb reporting on the subject in July 2015, and fans of the MCU remember all too well the decision to make Mandarin a white guy for 2013’s Iron Man 3.
The release of Marvel’s Doctor Strange trailer put a giant spotlight on the latest capitulation to China — the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One — and now the studio is in full spin mode. Marvel released a statement to Mashable on Tuesday that laughably cast its creative servitude in a self-congratulatory way:
“Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.”
Do not buy the diversity pivot. It is a cheap illusion, which is doubly sad because a film about Doctor Strange deserves top-notch propaganda smokescreens if studio executives decide to go that route.
Here is the truth, given by Doctor Strange co-writer C. Robert Cargil during an appearance on the Double Toasted podcast:
“Every single decision that involves the Ancient One is a bad one. And just like the Kobayashi Maru, it all comes down on which way you’re willing to lose. …
He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bulls**t and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political. If we decide to go the other way and cater to China in particular — if you think it’s a good idea to cast a Chinese actress as a Tibetan character, you are out of your damn fool mind and have no idea what the f**k you’re talking about.”
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Cargil, at least his statement comes from the heart.
One can appreciate the honesty of a man who says it all comes down to cold, hard cash. Marvel Studios resists stating the obvious because to do so sends a depressing message to fans: Fidelity to a character’s integrity ends where China’s censorship bureau begins.
Is Tilda Swinton a great actor? Yes.
Will she do a good job with the role she’s been given? Highly likely.
Will Marvel throw its own characters under the bus if communist thugs threaten to block the movie from China’s market? There is no doubt about it.
As I said April 14, Marvel’s track record for making quality movies is impressive and will probably continue with Doctor Strange. It’s just a shame that it is willing to sacrifice its own creations at the alter of political correctness and the almighty Yuan.