My Top 5 Marvel Movies

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This isn’t just my top Marvel movie, this is one of my top 5 movie movies. It makes my very short list of “perfect” movies that I have seen. I’ll write about those another day. This is the one movie poster that I own, and I’m proud of that fact.

Everything about this movie is perfect. The character introductions and reveals. Seriously, Steve giving Sam Wilson “on your left” is the best character introduction ever. The pacing. The horror of realizing what is actually happening. The road trip Steve and Nat take. The combat sequences (oooh, so perfectly choreographed and executed). The jaw-dropping moments (Fury’s car chase, elevator scene, fighting the Winter Solider on the highway!!!). This movie just makes you tingle from head to toe!

This movie features my favorite 3 Avengers: Steve, Nat, and Sam, and has the political thriller genre running strongly in its veins. The build-up and payoff are satisfying on every level possible. The quiet moments of reflection and resolve perfectly complement the big moments of sudden horror and “eat your failure” moments that get shoved in the villains’ faces.

But the best part is how this movie enables even the little guys to be the hero. That’s a big part of who Steve Rogers is, he believes in the little guy. He never sees himself as above someone else, and he’s all about using his gifts and strengths to lift others up. That’s true leadership, and his leadership brings Hydra to its knees. I love the throwing off of false morality and heroism, call crap what crap is and truth what truth is.

This movie is brilliant, unapologetic, heroic, and full of normal people doing amazing things because they believe in doing what’s right no matter the cost. It’s a movie of revelation, friendship, humor, glorious action sequences, and an extremely strong character heartbeat that keeps everything grounded.

2. Avengers

I never get tired of this one. The feeling I have when I watch it is something I haven’t felt so much with the more recent superhero movies. Things were simpler at this time, clearer, more fun.

And dang, if this movie isn’t just the most fun. Unlike DC (really? Justice League before the origin stories?) Marvel took the time required to properly develop a superhero team-up worth our while. We knew everyone, already loved them and wanted to see what would happen when we threw our favorite characters into the blender together.

Half of this movie is spent with everyone showing their worst side. They clash, misunderstand each other, or have their most vulnerable spots rubbed. It’s a hot mess. A beautiful hot mess. A hilarious hot mess. A delightful hot mess. I love this hot mess, and so does Agent Coulson.

Coulson. Y’all, Phil Coulson is enough of a reason to fall in love with this movie all on his own.

The hot mess almost completely falls apart (except Nat, she’s surprisingly put together minus that slight Hulk panic attack, but that’s Nat.). And then they come together with such a great show of humility, respect, and teamwork. It’s inspiring.

The pure glory and unabashed superhero swagger of this movie are unparalleled. From the soundtrack to the superhero poses and power moves, it’s just delicious. Absolutely delicious. And The Battle of New York is something I never tire of. Never ever. Never.

Even though it’s one giant glamor scene to the next, this movie still never sacrifices character development and interpersonal growth. Some of the best friendships, pairings, character clashes, and important Marvel moments are birthed in this movie.

And shawarma. Have you ever wondered how much shawarma sales spiked after this movie came out?

3. Ant-Man and the Wasp

If you just did a double-take, I ask that you rewatch this movie. See if you don’t finish your day feeling happier, fuller, and inspired to be a little bit more “out there”.

How can anyone spend time in the company of Paul Rudd for a few hours without coming out feeling happier? I’m also quite fond of Evangeline Lily and would like to see a LOT more of her. There’s not a single actor in this movie that I do not enjoy.

This movie arrived at a time in my life when I didn’t have as much to laugh about. It was a heavy time. This movie came right into the middle of my heavy, pulled me out of it, and gave me the gift of laughter that was grounded with heart. I literally felt like I’d gone through some healing for the 2+ hours I sat in the theater and laughed.

Scott Lang is one of my favorite characters. He’s an everyman. He’s us. He’s cool, but not so cool that he’s not also totally in awe of anything cool that comes his way. He wants to brag about knowing “Cap”. He’s going to learn online close-up magic sing karaoke and play a fake drumset.

Ahem, this is where I pause and I point out that Scott Lang lives in San Francisco and sings karaoke and is a cool dude. And Shang-Chi ALSO lives in San Francisco sings karaoke and is a cool dude. If these two don’t meet and team up I’m going to riot. I don’t care if people are worried that the combination of Luis and Katy might create a nuclear explosion, it’s worth it.

Infinity War (one of the 3 Marvel offerings in 2018) was a miserable watch. It had nice moments but mostly it was just echoing the heaviness and grief I was already dealing with in my own life. And while Black Panther was an absolute masterpiece, it was an extremely intense movie to watch. I wanted a break. I wanted to feel grounded again. Ant-Man movies are always more grounded (literally) and single-minded than other Marvel movies. Scott isn’t always trying to solve a whole world problem, sometimes he’s just trying to save one person. Hope and Hank just wanted to save their Janet. Bill Foster just wants to save Ava. Scott just wants to get his life together and to stop letting his loved ones down. Luis just wants their business to succeed and is willing to buy oatmeal packets to make it happen. Jimmy Woo just wants to be as cool as Scott (just wait a few years, Jimmy, then you’ll be cool all on your own).

Ant-Man and The Wasp takes a group of very sincere people who are flawed, sometimes dysfunctional, and throws them into a scenario that is both lighthearted, serious, and beautiful. It’s just about people loving people. There isn’t even a truly big “human” villain in this movie, the biggest battle is against Time. I love that even Ghost is redeemed.

This movie literally healed places inside of me and was salve on a very sad soul. I love it. I can watch it without feeling dragged down by larger Marvel events, it’s just perfect. The weight and enormity of the MCU has become a heavy burden at times, but Ant-Man and The Wasp never feels that way.

And who doesn’t need to see a hot wheels-sized car chase through the streets of San Francisco that also includes a larger-than-life Pez dispenser being hurled at the bad guy’s car? We all do, that’s who.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

I am not someone who likes or supports crass humor. I do not personally support every statement/joke/or attitude expressed in these movies. And I don’t recommend them for children. Morally gray characters are a line I think you have to walk very carefully and can easily take too far. But when they are done well they end up teaching you a lot.

The Guardians are definitely a mixed bag, but I learn a lot from watching them. Yondu is not someone I would hold up as a role model, neither would I hold Peter Quill up as a role model (Chris Pratt is another matter. Love him.) These people are desperately flawed, often annoying, and they know how to push each other’s buttons. They are not the crew you would invite to an elegant gathering or your child’s preschool show-and-tell.

Here’s the thing about the Guardians though, for how little sense they make, for how awkward and messy they are, I just love them. I saw Volume 1 and I was like…What. Is. Happening…oh crabapples! Suddenly I’m crying and have a huge lump in my throat. And that dang, that raccoon on screen worming his way past my emotional guard is in reality just a puppet. A PUPPET!

I kid you not, the characters most guaranteed to make me cry are the Guardians. I could see that special moment that was coming, the hand-holding that reminded Peter of his mom that was going to contain the Power Stone that followed the dance-off that was going to save Xandar! The fact that the previous sentence is the actual plot is really a thing of beauty.

But Vol. 2. Volume 2. Wow.

For the first 2/3s of the movie, I was like, “What are we doing here? Nothing means anything. Everyone is losing their mind, being a jerk, or all over the place. Sylvester Stallone is definitely still a knockout, but beyond that, why am I here?”

And then I hit the last 45 minutes, and it all came together and I saw it and was mindblown. Oh, wait! This whole movie has been all about meaning! It’s been about love, forgiveness, and healing. It’s been about friendship, sisterhood, fatherhood, giving yourself permission to love and be loved. Letting go of the things that keep people from getting close to you. It’s about loving people with their flaws and through their painful, vulnerable times. It’s about understanding what truly matters in life! It’s ordinary people loving each other, and that love creates an extraordinary strength that defeats the inflated, twisted agendas of those who think real meaning is about power and self.

Ego with his sick, twisted expansion missed the true meaning of everything that was right in front of his eyes. He could have stayed with Peter’s mom. They could have loved each other. He could have enjoyed being a dad. But he was blind to the meaning of anything, and he went so far as to destroy the beauty that did exist. He killed his children. He killed Peter’s mom. So Peter is gonna smash that perverted creep in the face with a giant Pac Man and doggone! I’m going to enjoy watching it!

I think the clincher moment for me in this movie was watching Peter mourn Yondu. I do not like Yondu. I still don’t “like” him. Yondu is unpleasant to me, but there are a lot of Yondu’s out there, and they are worth something and they need to be told so. They need to be seen and loved too. When Peter was grieving Yondu, I heard something in his voice. “I had a pretty cool dad.” I don’t think Chris Pratt was just being Peter Quill at that moment, I think he was being Chris Pratt. Chris lost his father far too soon, and I think at this moment he was being given the gift of feeling his own loss and love on screen. That was a very intimate moment that I felt lent gravity to the movie, and I felt honored that he was willing to share that with us.

I love the Guardians because on paper they make no sense, they are so messy, and yet they love so hard and they don’t quit. I can respect that. I learn so much from them that I don’t from other characters. I know the love they are learning to have comes less easy for them than it does for other characters. I was highly displeased with the Guardians’ portrayal in both Infinity War and a lot in (only Nebula and Rocket were handled well) Endgame. I felt they were not treated with the respect and growth their characters had earned. I’m hoping Vol 3 can fix some of these problems.

But yeah, I like my Guardians. I like them a lot.

5. Shang-Chi

It does not hurt that this was the first movie I’d seen in theaters since Far From Home in the summer of 2019. You know, a thousand years ago before the Dark Ages of Covid and everything else that has happened since. I didn’t mean to stay away from the theater so long, it just happened that way.

Shang-Chi was a treat that I got to go see with my mom as a celebration for my 25th birthday. I’d had a really good feeling about it going in, but wow. Wow, was I ever right!

This movie is amazing. I mean, AMAZING! It’s been a while since we’ve seen a completely new character with no prior introduction in the MCU make their debut. Shang-Chi did it and did it so well I’m still amazed. Nothing about this story was wasted. Every aspect of the movie, from the script to the humor to the costuming to the martial arts was all working in harmony to tell a very fantastical, very human story.

I loved the fantasy elements. I loved the bright colors. I loved how Chinese legends and otherworldly elements were seamlessly blended with some very American-tasting characters/conversations. I LOVED the characters. Shaun and Katy are what got me out of movie blog retirement.

This movie was powerful in its messaging, handled flashbacks with fine dexterity, and never lost the momentum. It used visual symbolism as well as honest dialogue extremely well. You could see the character growth portrayed in multiple ways. The story had deep moments of trauma and darkness, but they were well-integrated alongside moments of hope and humor.

Also, I just think Shaun is really cute. Like, REALLY cute.

I also like where he landed at the ending. His choice to stay true to the beauty and light inside of him, while also acknowledging the skills and history from both sides of his family was a more sustainable, mature approach to life. A lot of people think in terms of black and white and they don’t take the time to pick through the pieces of what’s worth keeping vs what you throw away. Living with extremes is usually an exhausting and dead-end way to live. It’s certainly NOT how you successfully woo the magical rings away from your father in a one-on-one battle.

It was nice to see a new origin story that felt like a Marvel movie, but more like the old ones used to feel. Exciting, fresh, making you hungry for more.

I don’t know if you’ve picked up on this yet or not, but I have some MCU fatigue. Endgame was a big movie, no one can deny that, but I was disappointed in many regards. The need for the story to keep getting bigger and bigger than the last thing has caused a lot of complications and overwhelm. Some things have been done that can’t be undone and I’m not happy about it. Often when a story grows to this point, it can get out of control. I am not enjoying the MCU the way I used to when things were simpler and more defined. Perhaps it’s naive or silly to expect/want it to feel the same way it did when I first started. I’m not the same person I was in my teenage years any more than the MCU is the same “world” it once was. I would say where I am now is I try to focus on individual chapters/characters more than just the world as a whole.

And that’s why I loved Shang-Chi, it was a fresh start with someone new that I have no baggage with. He was a character I was 100% happy to root for, and even his introduction to other big characters like Wong, Captain Marvel, and Bruce Banner was far more honest. They told him what he was in for right up front. “Your life has just changed and it’s never going back.” “Welcome to the roller coaster.” That’s exactly how I feel about life in multiple areas, so I could relate with those statements a lot. I have 0 martial arts skills and a very normal human origin story, but on an emotional level, I connected deeply with large parts of Shaun’s story.

Honorable Mentions: Spider-Man Homecoming and Far From Home

I haven’t seen No Way Home yet. I’m honestly very sad at some (not all) of the choices made for the movie, I don’t see how leaving Peter friendless and family-less is beneficial. One of those things I could swallow even if it tastes bad, especially the death part because it was an unexpected thing for Peter. But to leave his friends in the dark? To lose them not just as Spider-man, but also as Peter Parker? To do both? Why??? How does that make sense? Why is that “necessary”? Why should he have to lose Happy after he lost his mother and father, his uncle, Tony Stark, and now Aunt May????

What are we learning here? It’s “safer” or “nobler” to be on your own? What people don’t know can’t hurt them and it’s better that way? That’s crap and we know it. Marvel has proven it time and again, together is better. Family is better. Stick together, make it out the other side or die protecting each other. It’s worth it. #avengersassemble

The only reasonable thing I can think of that would justify causing Peter separation from everyone is Sony is hoping for another trilogy. Otherwise, I think it’s inexcusable.

But yeah, I love Peter Parker. I love his humility and his kindness. His stories are so easy to learn from and he’s so endearing. That’s why the Spider-Man movies get an honorable mention from me.

These are my top 5 Marvel movies. I chose them because they are movies I still want to watch more frequently. They are ones that still echo in my mind and I know I will enjoy them. I watched them and had a uniquely warm experience, or, they came at a very pivotal moment in my life and touched me more deeply than other chapters of the MCU.

These movies are not necessarily my most nostalgic Marvel movies (Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor have that honor). I like many installments in this series (Age of Ultron is a highly underrated Avengers film). And Captain America: Civil War has some of the best footage in the MCU. And the Marvel Disney+ series is a whole other ball of wax. But when I sat down and I thought about it, these were the 5 that rose to the top. I found my answers both expected and unexpected.

So, what are your top 5 Marvel movies? Why are they your top 5?

Thor 4, Why I Don’t Want It

Yesterday it was announced that Taika Wahiti (Thor: Ragnarok) would be directing the fourth installment of the Thor movies, starring Chris Hemsworth…

…wait, the fourth installment??? Did we actually ask for a Thor 4?

Without a doubt, there are going to be fans who are excited about this. Not all fans feel negative about the road Thor’s character has taken. Those fans are having a really great day right now, and I do not begrudge them that.

(Y’all, if Captain America 4 were ever announced you would hear me give the squeal heard around the world, so I get it).

I, however, am not at all pleased with where Thor ended up when the credits rolled in Endgame.

Please, stop disrespecting Thor even more than you already have.

I was a fan of the first two Thor movies. His first film was actually my introduction into the MCU and I loved it, I loved him.

angry thor

His transformation from Grade A royal jerk to a compassionate hero was lovely. I liked him and Jane together. I loved how powerful he was. I thoroughly enjoyed his involvement in both The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Ragnarok was a deep disappointment to me. To drastically change the tone of Thor’s storytelling and practically obliterate all ties to his earlier movies on the third installment of his series was awful to me. It felt like someone had accidentally picked up a Guardians of the Galaxy script and a “Thor” movie was made instead.

That being said, even I can admit that Ragnarok was a proper continuation of Thor’s character arc. Ragnarok pushed Thor to a place that 4 previous movies hadn’t been able to get him yet.

Thor became the king.

It was a nice arc and Ragnarok was a vital part of that.

thor background.jpg

Thor: He learns what truly makes a hero, he learns humility and kindness. He uses his might to protect rather than ravage. He begins to have an appreciation for humans. He learns what worthiness actually is as he becomes worthy of the hammer. It’s glorious.

The Avengers: He grows beyond just an almost patronizing appreciation “I must protect these infants” for humans and learns to see them as comrades and equals. He joins a team rather than fighting alone. He chooses what is right over family loyalty.

Thor 2: Again, he chooses what is right over family loyalty. His father is an idiot, Thor goes against his father and commits treason because it is right. He chooses to love someone even though it may devastate him later on. And he chooses to be honest with his father about his lack of desire to be king.

thor and his father

Age of Ultron: Thor sees the beginning pieces of Thanos’ plan as well as the future of Ragnarok. This sets him off on a journey of discovery across the cosmos and sets a lot of things in motion.

thors vision

Ragnorok: Through the exposure of Loki’s deception, Odin’s death, and Hela’s unleashing on Asgard, Thor has to finally step up to the plate to become who he was born to be.

thor gladiator

He loses everything, his father, his hammer, and his dignity as he is reduced to being a gladiator for sport. It’s a lot of hits at once. He feels very low but he refuses to give in to grief as his desire to take care of his people and do right by them is stronger. #hero

Against all odds, Thor makes it back to Asgard where has to fight his sister, the goddess of death, without his hammer. He is mighty but at this moment she is mightier. Until he ends up in a vision where his father reveals the truth, “Are you Thor, the god of hammers? The hammer was only to help you channel your power.” And the final bit of encouragement that we have all known about Odin and Thor, “I’m not as strong as you.” “No, you’re stronger.”

Next up is the most epic takedown and my favorite part of Ragnorok (THIS IS THOR) where the god of Thunder blasts his sister and her armies with his lightning because THAT’S who he is!

Ragnarok ends where Thor has to allow the destruction of Asgard in order to save the true heart of Asgard, his people.

He is down one eye but looks very regal and handsome as he is crowned king and takes his “throne” aboard a borrowed ship among the surviving Asgardians and a ragtag group of friends. His brother is at his side once more and we hear the same coronation music we began this journey with back in 2011. It was really, really nice.

thor in arena.jpg

  • Thor had to gain humility and perspective before he was ready to be king.
  • His knowledge of the greater universe enabled him to be exactly what Asgard needed when they needed him most. Odin could never have been what Thor is.
  • He forgave Loki and paved the way for them to rejoin as brothers and friends.
  • He brought Valkyrie back from her drunken despair and gave her purpose.
  • He saved Bruce and destroyed Hela.
  • He had to grow beyond the hammer and he did an awesome job. And it was THEN and only then, after all of this learning and connecting with other people that he became the king he was born to be.

Infinity War: Enter, Thanos. Thanos never played fair, so, I don’t blame Thor for any of this mess. To me, the Thor of Infinity War was the most glorious Thor I have ever seen. He was the perfect combination of all that he had been and all that he was becoming. He WAS the god of Thunder, his arrival on the field of battle in Wakanda is one of my top 3 moments in that movie.

infinity war thor

Thor still made mistakes (GO FOR THE HEAD) as did all of our heroes. And I knew Thor needed to have a meltdown at some point. You cannot lose literally everything and never break down.

Endgame: Thor tries to defeat Thanos, and while he does kill him, the damage done by that Purple Abomination cannot be undone. So Thor disappears into New Asgard and becomes a drunken pile of a depressed man.

chunky thor

Believe it or not, I was actually pleased with this. I needed Thor to be human enough to fall apart after all of the hellish things he’d been through. I felt that this was appropriate, all the more so for how handsome and grand he is. That beer belly didn’t bother me, the tears in his eyes just made me ache more.

Thor is brought back into the action by his friends who still believe in him. He contributes what he can to the plan, and then he goes back in time with Rocket (love this pairing) to the day his mother died in order to retrieve the Reality Stone.

I loved this part. I felt like it restored some of the first two Thor movies to us.

Thor is totally falling apart, and Rocket has to be the one to save the day. #thisracoongetsitdone

Oh! But that scene with Thor’s beautiful mother, Frigga! I loved, loved, LOVED that scene! I have always felt that she was an underused character, a rich well of untapped potential. Odin was a mostly rotten father, but Frigga? What a mother!

thor and his mother

Thor needs his mama, that great and mighty god of Thunder who has fallen so low just needed his mama to look into his eyes and actually see him.

He needed her to gently brush back his matted hair as if he’s still arrayed in royal robes and love him as only a mother can. She listened. She encouraged. She blessed him, and she told him with so much love and compassion to eat a salad. It was such a gift, that scene.

And that moment gave Thor the courage to face the final conflict against Thanos. He is still worthy, Mjolnir still comes to him. It’s a beautiful moment of encouragement for anyone who has ever faced grief and depression.

thor depression

He fights the battle well and we see once more, the god of Thunder is still with us.

thor endgame battle.gif

Thor is among the victorious Avengers who are still standing when the dust settles *sobs* and he returns to his people in New Asgard to begin a new life as their king. He’s been humbled and is raw, but he is still a worthy hero and he deserves a second chance, what a triumph…

…oh wait, no, he actually decides to become a homeless man and go traipsing around space with the Guardians?!?!

He leaves New Asgard in the hands of Valkyrie whom we have only known for a movie and a half? Didn’t he already give up a chance to be king once before, only to take the throne in Ragnarok because he was finally ready???

You mean to tell me that I just went through 6+ movies of bringing Thor to this incredible place of a complete arc where he actually became his own kind of king despite every obstacle —only to have him be treated like some half-eaten leftovers that the filmmakers wanted to put in the freezer to reheat later???

Thor + Starlord for about 5 minutes = funny.

Thor + Starlord for a long time = disrespecting both characters.

thor and starlord

Starlord was already given a raw deal in both Infinity War and Endgame. He was treated like a laughingstock and idiot. Is he sometimes an idiot? Absolutely. Has he been through horrible things and grown immensely as a character and made grown-up/mature/hard decisions on behalf of other people? YES! WATCH HIS DADGUM MOVIES! He’s saved the Galaxy twice!

And Thor, Thor is funny, but he is NOT a laughingstock! Stop it!

Both of these characters deserve to be worth more than just a laugh.

And as for Thor 4?

If Thor had actually made the harder choice to go back to New Asgard, face his people in humility, and try again, I would actually be looking forward to Thor 4. I am curious about this New Asgard, how the Asgardians and the humans interact.

Thor has almost become a child of two realms, Earth and Asgard, he would make a neat king. Would he find someone new to love? Would some more of those “ancient enemies” that the Asgardians seem to have a cabinetful of show up and we could see an awesome alliance of Asgardians and Norwegian fisherman against Said Ancient Foes? What is living in New Asgard like in 2023?

Thor’s choice in the final moments of Endgame was not only out of character for him, it pretty much stabbed in the back a beautiful character arc that has been in the works for 6+ movies.

I was so, so, so disappointed. Thor is one of the Big 3, both Steve and Tony had stunningly gorgeous arcs that ended appropriately for their characters. And Thor was left as a homeless man.

the big three endgame

Dear Marvel, I don’t know if you are trying to replicate the success of Ragnarok or what, but I sincerely doubt that’s ever going to happen. Too many people are disappointed, too much has happened. Let a dead thing lie, don’t try to stir it up again.

Marvel is more than welcome to prove me wrong, I wish nothing but the best for the people involved in this film. I’m not a crazed jerk who starts uttering death threats just because I don’t want a movie.

I just cannot fathom why Thor 4 would be their first choice when we have so many other, fresher characters to work with. You think Thor (who is a strung-out character) is a good use of your resources when you are literally the top dog right now???

ragnarok is it though.gif

#yesijustwantedtousethisgif #youwouldtoo

I have to wait on another Ant-Man and the Wasp but you have time for Thor 4???

For the first time in my life, I don’t want another Marvel movie.

So, are you #TeamThor4 or are you #NoMoreThor? What do you think the next installment will be about? Were you excited to hear about Thor potentially joining the Guardians? I’d love to hear any and all opinions.

 

 

The Important Role Food Played In Avengers Endgame

Endgame was without a doubt the most “human” Avengers movie to date.

Everything from the different, non-superhero music “Dear Mr. Fantasy”  in the opening credits scene to the fact that Natasha Romanoff spent most of her non-Voromir scenes wearing comfy lounge-wear set a different tone for this story.

After everything that has happened over the past decade, the Russo brothers wanted a heavy emphasis on FAMILY in this story.

We’ve always been told to see our characters as a family. They have acted as a family with the teasing/inside jokes, and shared living spaces (yes, Vision, we’ve talked about this, you still need to knock on Wanda’s door before entering).

We’ve also seen them hurt each other and break one another’s hearts. We’ve seen the damage that can result from a family being broken apart. Civil War felt like a personal punch to the gut.

The Russo brothers confirmed that had the Avengers all been united in Infinity War that they would have actually beaten Thanos. It was possible, they had the power. But they were fractured, fighting on separate fronts, therefore they lost.

It’s a sobering reminder to us how important unity is and just how powerful families walking in unity can be.

We lost everything in Infinity War, but we also gained something that was Thanos’ ultimate undoing…

We got our family back, and this time they were stronger for the breaking.

One of the chief ways the Russo’s communicated this idea of togetherness and family was through a very visual feature.

Food.

I have never seen a Marvel movie that has this much eating in it. Sure, we’ve gotten cute moments of eating before. The famous “Shawarma” scene from the first Avengers is probably the most memorable one.

Food is necessary for our continued existence, but even more than that, food is a part of who we are.

When someone dies, we bring their family food. When a new life enters the world, we bring food.

Weddings are celebrated with food. Birthdays, sporting events, parties, and holidays as well.

People enjoy food together on dates, during long work hours, late night snacks, last minute taco runs, etc.

Food can also be used as an escape. Food can mark times and seasons as well as locations.

Food is comfort. Food is tradition. Food is artwork. Food is memories. Food is home. Food is a new adventure. Food is family. Food is gathering. Food is escapeFood is healing. Food is normal. Food is special. Food is celebration. Food is personal. Food is uniting. Food is provision. Food is safety. 

Food is the common thread that ties a whole life together, the good, the bad, and the glorious.

Avengers: Endgame was meant to tie all of the previous threads of the MCU together just as it was also meant to tie our characters together more strongly than ever before.

Every film is a conglomeration of many parts. If the set guy doesn’t do his job as well as the lighting lady does hers, the whole movie suffers. The musicians have to create music that illuminates the story. The actors have to bring the lines the scriptwriters wrote to life. The director has to see a million details and arrange how they come together in order to create a masterpiece.

No detail is too small. It is no mistake that there was so much food shown in this story, it was an excellent use of setting+props+actions to communicate the keyword, the solution, the most important theme for this entire story.

Together.

We open the movie to Clint Barton having an archery lesson with his lovely and strong daughter. In the background, his sweet wife is fixing hotdogs for lunch while the boys play catch. It’s calm, peaceful, and homey.

hawkeye farm scene

Clint pays no attention to the ankle bracelet he is wearing, it’s a forgotten object of his other life. This place, these people around the picnic table, this is his life, his heart, his home. Hotdogs at the picnic table, it doesn’t get much more normal and relatable than that.

One moment his wife is calling out for condiment orders, the next moment Clint’s entire family is dust. A very normal, familiar scene is turned into a horror show as he runs around screaming their names. The normalcy is polluted by the tragedy and shock.

Natasha Romanoff sits at an empty Avengers headquarters and talks to all of her super friends across the galaxy, trying to keep the whole universe safe at once.

And she’s making a peanut butter sandwich. A girl still has to eat, it is a strange juxtaposition. A woman in lounge pants making a peanut butter sandwich while managing intergalactic tensions and listening to the horrendous crimes her best friend Clint is committing in his grief.

She can barely choke the sandwich down, the peanut butter and the lump in her throat and her chest are in conflict with each other. #youcantcryandeatpeanutbutteritsscience

Steve Rogers drops by, and after threatening him with the sandwich Nat affectionately slides it across the table towards him. It’s a comfortable, casual kind of hospitality that shows their intimate friend/sibling relationship and trust.

nat and the sandwich

Scott Lang arrives in a flurry, he’s excited and he’s hungry. “Is that anybody’s sandwich? I’m starving!” #ilovethismansomuch

He downs the discarded sandwich in between sharing his brilliant idea to use the Quantum Realm to bring everyone back.

One sandwich tied together multiple characters. It was a strangely normal object in the midst of abnormal circumstances. It connected heavy grief, deep friendship, and new hope.

The hope of a new possibility. The sandwich connects the old mindset, the ruins of the previous era to the birthing of the new one that will drive the entire rest of the story for this movie and all that follow.

Tony Stark comes out of a very normal-looking cabin (normal for a Stark) to go bring his messy-haired little princess in for lunch. It’s such a darling domestic scene that highlights everything we ever wanted for our beloved Ironman.

A car pulls up, Steve, Nat, and Scott get out and interrupt the moment. Tony pours them some sort of healthy “smoothie”? A homemade smoothie likely made from the same vegetables we saw growing in the garden between the cabin and Morgan’s playhouse. They talk “quantum physics”  and saving the world, and Tony invites them to stay for lunch. They have to decline and leave to go talk to Dr. Banner.

tony and morgan

Later on, Tony is doing his dinner dishes in yet another scene of beautiful domesticity. The great Tony Stark does dinner dishes, AND in a moment of distraction, his own water sprayer attacks him. I loved that moment. He may be a genius/billionaire/superhero but even he gets attacked by his own water sprayer! #beentheredonethatandsohaveyou

He pulls up the specs to play with the idea of time travel while drinking another health drink (a neat callback to his famous green chlorophyll drinks) and munching on nuts.

Tony falls into his chair in shock at the discovery that this plan could work…only to be interrupted by Princess Morgan who wants juice pops. He tucks her in later and finishes off the juice pop.

 

Almost Tony’s entire story is summed up and highlighted by the use of food in these scenes. A callback to his earlier green drinks that were once upon a time his attempt to give himself a few more days to live in Ironman 2. 

His new life is such an opposite to the previous days of flashy towers, unhealthy sleep and eating habits, superficial relationships and constant noise.

This new life is deep, rich, simple, and pure. It’s wholesome and nourishing, just like the kinds of food we see around the Stark household. The juice pop is playful and childish, but it represents Morgan, therefore it’s utterly precious in it’s meaning.

Tony tells his wife that he may actually be able to save the world, all the while he is still playing with the stick from his baby girl’s juice pop.

This moment is huge for the Starks. Rather than jumping the gun, Tony actually has a calm and honest conversation with his wife that shows the vast growth and maturity of him as a character and of their relationship as a couple.

Pepper also shows huge growth as she actually listens to him, lets him know that she knows who he truly is, and gives him permission to pursue this new direction, knowing full well that she may lose him as a result. Tony is at peace when he makes this step, and he’s in unity with his wife. That peace enables him to unify with the rest of his family.

I believe that is why Tony is so incredibly successful this time around. Home and family were rooting for him now, he wasn’t reacting anymore, he was making conscious choices.

That sweet cabin with its vegetable garden and playhouse and two lovely ladies and a freezer of juice pops, that is why Tony Stark was able to defeat Thanos.

After thinking that Tony was out of the picture, Steve, Scott, and Nat go seek out Dr. Banner/aka Professor Hulk…and they meet at a diner.

The Dr. Banner of old would have been horribly uncomfortable in this casual, well-peopled setting, he would have felt exposed and nervous and been unable to relax. This time around Banner is fully in his element. He’s downing giant bowls of eggs and sausage and taking time for cool selfies with the neighborhood kids.

hulk at teh diner

It’s stinkin’ adorable. This big, green “Hulk” sitting at a little diner table eating eggs and sausage talking Quantum Physics, Time Travel, and selfies with his pals. Oh yes, and we noticed the “looks” he and Nat were trading. #youthoughtwewouldntnoticebutwedid

The small American diner is a common experience many of us have had throughout our entire lives. It is in this setting over eggs and sausage that part of our team comes together and begin a bizarre plan to save the world.

In previous movies, these kinds of plans were usually made dramatic surroundings, be it the Avenger’s Tower or the ruins of New York streets. The only thing that comes close is Nat and Steve enjoying breakfast at Sam’s house while they make a plan to take Hydra down. But that moment was still a reactionary thing.

Good, high quality food requires excellent planning, preparation, and proper execution. Just like good food, this Time Heist the Avengers have to pull out cannot be a haphazard plan, this is their Sistine Chapel. This is their Great Wall of China. It’s their masterpiece.

Our heroes have had to react after the fact so many times over. In their line of work, that’s often the only way to do it and maintain some balance of freedom. Like Cap says, “I thought the punishment came after the crime.” It’s hard to anticipate every threat without aiming a whole gun at the world.

But this time around they have had five years to sit and think about Thanos’ crime. This time they have a chance to take a breath, assemble the pieces of their plan carefully, do their research, and launch from a place of preparation.

This isn’t a quick breakfast before or shawarma after, this is a fine, full meal that our Avengers have planned. Most of our characters have grown immensely over the past 5 years, they have nourished different parts of themselves that were always on hold before.

Scott Lang is sitting outside about to enjoy a lovely taco when suddenly all of his toppings are blasted out of his shell by the arrival of the Milano bringing Rocket and Nebula. He stares open-mouthed (oh how I love this man) only to be called an idiot by Nebula (WHY? Cause he’s excited to see a spaceship? I call that charming, sister, get over yourself!) And then he’s scared half to death by the arrival of Rhodey, who thoroughly enjoys calling him “Regular-sized man.”

I was so panicked that Scott would be left a laughingstock with no taco, but then Hulk walks by, beams at him, and gives him not just one taco, but two. Scott beams back. It’s one of the most adorable moments of the whole movie.

hulk gives taco

Hulk/Banner is so chipper, so benevolent, for how heavy some of the other parts of the movie are, Banner’s turnaround was really refreshing to me. This moment showed just how far he’s come, how at peace he is with himself. It also cemented the fact that Scott is an accepted member of the family now, he gets to share their tacos.

Tacos are playful and celebratory. Both Professor Hulk and Scott Lang provide some of the lightest moments in this movie, they were bouyant characters who lifted it up even as the subject matter and parts of the storyline were really heavy.

We see food used in a negative context with Thor. From the bulging beer belly to the pizza that looked non-to-fresh (where did he even get pizza in New Asgard?), we see that Thor has not been nourishing himself well in the past five years.

chunky thor

I do not judge him, that man had taken more hits of grief one after another than almost anyone else leading up to Thanos. His personal crash dive was inevitable and made him more “human”. But food has had a negative effect on him, it has become an escape as well as a prison to him.

Even this very shocking change in our handsome god of Thunder made this movie seem more normal. We have experienced grief, and many of us have medicated with food, and some have medicated with alcohol.

But just like we try to bring those broken brothers and sisters back into the fold, so our Avengers family bring their broken brother back home. He may feel unworthy, but they have not forgotten who he is. They still need him, they still want him. It’s a beautiful thing.

Gathering together in unity around a feast of ideas, personalities, abilities, and experiences; this is how the Avengers save the world. Together.

The most prominent scene involving our Avengers and food is around the dining room table during the Time Heist planning montage. It’s an utterly charming montage of people sprawled all over furniture, storytelling, note-taking, and yes, eating noodles.

I loved, loved, LOVED this quick scene. No, I didn’t appreciate Rocket giving Scott such a hard time for his excitement over space. GUYS! Would you all give this man a break? Part of what I love about Scott is his open-eyed wonder and enjoyment of all the super stuff around him. He’s exactly how I would be if I suddenly became a superhero but I was still me. He’s adorable.

scott endgame

But we see most of the team taking in some delicious looking Chinese takeout. Thor is at his drinks again. Rocket is walking on the table as he shares about the Power Stone, and no one blinks an eye. Hulk is eating a giant carton of ice cream that given the color and ingredients we can only assume it is Ben and Jerry’s Hulk Hunka Burning Fudge flavor mentioned in Infinity War.

They are all so…weird.

Rocket is on the table. He’s a raccoon with a deadly shot, brilliant mind, and sassy mouth, and specific cleanliness standards just like any other raccoon. Thor, King of Asgard, the god of Thunder is wearing a dirty hoodie and drinking cheap beer. This dude can literally fly and channel lightning through his body.

Billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist-now-husband-father Tony Stark. Serum-super WWII hero Steve Rogers.

Nebula, an alien/cyborg who really needs to see a counselor. James Rhodes, former military-rule-stickler turned Avenger who gets around with his robotic legs.

Scott Lang, a brilliant thief who can become smaller than comprehendible or the size of a giant. Natasha, formerly a ruthless killing machine turned into the biggest, sweetest heart we’ve ever seen.

Clint Barton, husband, father, expert bowman, samurai assassin? And Professor Hulk. He’s huge, green, playful, and sophisticated.

They are so weird, but they are teammates. They are partners. They are a family. They have gathered together as individuals carrying their own griefs, their own burdens, their own regrets.

They also came to carry each other’s burdens as well, to stand side by side and fight not just for their own sakes, but for the sake of their loved ones and millions of strangers.

A family dinner with the Avengers means that the earth is about to shake. Good is about to happen. Darkness is about to fall from its throne. This family is gearing up to take down evil and bring life together.

avengers planning endgame

The final mention of food is the one that brings us full circle in this decade of films. It’s the part of the movie that got me the hardest.

Cheeseburgers.

Dangit, Happy! I cried harder when Happy got choked up than at any other part of this movie.

Cheeseburgers. Cheeseburgers.

Cheeseburgers marked the turning point of Tony Stark. The moment he came back from captivity in the Middle East the first thing he asked for was cheeseburgers, and a press conference.

Tony had come back from the Middle East a changed man. He saw a bigger picture now, he was not just living for himself anymore, he had decided to use his incredible gifts to make the world a better place. “Don’t waste it.” 

Tony didn’t. He made a heck of a mess along the way, he made a lot of mistakes, hurt some people, but oh man, he did NOT waste it.

The sweet moment where Happy is cuddling Morgan on the front porch and being a kind, fatherly figure to her was such a precious, gut-wrenching moment.

Like father, like daughter. Morgan just did something really hard, and she’s setting out on a new journey that is going to be hard, she wants cheeseburgers. #somebodyhelpmemyhurtiswounded

cheeseburgers

This movie is a masterpiece. It brought together so many precious stories, so many beloved characters, so many hard and triumphant moments. It used imperfect characters to bring heartache and healing.

It gave us redemption, second chances, and a new future. It encouraged us to walk out of those theater doors as changed people, changed for the better.

The use of food in this movie was like a thread in a rich tapestry, a bit of theme music on low volume, present but subtle.

It added to the richness and the purpose of this story and appealed to our personal experiences. It reminded us of old and precious memories and gave us new ones. It marked times and seasons, it tied our characters together and drew them even closer to us, the audience.

Endgame is unlike any movie I have ever seen in my life. I don’t know if you could replicate that level of amazing. Like a fine meal, there are so many layers to be addressed.

I left the theater feeling very full in my heart. Some parts of the feast that was Endgame were sweet, others were bitter, some were salty. But regardless, I walked away feeling full.

Future filmmakers should take notes from the excellent use of food in this movie. It was not a 100% necessary element, but it was used effectively to flesh out a story in an unforgettable way.

Thank you, Anthony and Joe Russo, you gave us a feast.

Endgame: Sam Wilson the New Captain America

Dear Chris Evans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infinity War Part 1: 4 Ways It Was Awesome

Regardless of it’s reception, no one can deny the major impact that Avengers: Infinity War had on superhero fans around the globe.

A wailing cry went up starting April 27th and I don’t think it’s stopped since. Watching so many people you love like family dissolve into dust is kind of awful (yes, I’m thinking about our sweet baby Peter Parker right now).

I saw the movie and didn’t have much of a reaction (except for my baby Peter Parker because that was just cruel). It was so intense, really chaotic, and kind of disjointed feeling to me. I also know that a whole lot of the people who are currently dead can’t stay dead because their Marvel contracts still have a long life on them. So I didn’t panic when they died, because I know that most of them are coming back.

And c’mon, no one in their right mind actually thought Marvel was going to just kill off our brand spankin’ new Spider-Man? Peter Parker is not only one of the most beloved superheroes of all time, but Tom Holland’s most recent rendition stole the world’s hearts immediately. He’s a fresh new character who we have the pleasure of watching evolve. It makes 0 sense to kill off an asset like that. I mean LOOK AT THIS ADORABLE FACE!!! I have full confidence that we will be enjoying Peter Parker for many years to come.

spiderman

It’s taken me a while to process Infinity War. It is an unfinished story, so I decided to not draw too many conclusions right away. I won’t completely know what I think of it until Avengers 4 comes out May 3, 2019.

I’ve drawn a few conclusions, however, and I wanted to share some positives as well as the negatives I have found. Today we will focus on the positives, the next post will contain the negatives.

I’d love to hear your take in the comments section, so when you’re done reading let me know what you thought of Infinity War now that the dust has settled (oohhh, too soon?) and you’ve had months to process. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

4 Ways Infinity War Was Awesome

 

1. THOR

I was NOT a fan of Thor: Ragnarok by any stretch of the imagination. To me, it felt that Taika Waititi pretty much worked his tail off to literally erase any traces of of the previous Thor material. Old friends and characters were killed off without ceremony. New and very serious threats (Hela) were introduced with no warning or time to feel fear.

And Thor was made a laughingstock so many times. The level of slapstick/downright stupid/crude humor was embarrassing to me. I felt 0 chemistry between Thor and Valkyrie as characters, be it platonic or a potential romance. The Hulk was confusing. I felt like Loki was mocked, etc.

Needless to say, Ragnarok was a deep disappointment to me. But, Thor in Infinity War?

Perfection! The Russo brothers managed to bring back the regal bearing and crazy-awesome might of the Mighty Avenger. Thor is a prince, a king! He’s a glorious warrior with a huge heart and a charming sense of humor.

Though I may not have been a fan of Ragnarok, I know many Marvel fans were. The Thor of Infinity War was a beautiful blend of the Thor from the previous films as well as the good changes to Thor from Ragnarok.

Let’s just say it, that self-generating lightning thing is the bomb…

Infinity War gave me the Thor I always wanted. When he touches down in Wakanda, giant new hammer blazing, I thought I was gonna explode. Yes! Welcome the King of Asgard, the Mighty Avenger!

infinity war thor

2. I Am Groot, I Am Steve Rogers, Rocket and Bucky

When you sit back and think about it, these Marvel movies are totally bizarre. How in the heck have a tree that says 3 words and a tiny raccoon made me cry so much?

Two guys who are biologically pushing 100 are physically only in their late 20s-early-30s?

A fully functional AI android who is deeply in love with a girl who can manipulate matter and minds because she was exposed to a magic space stone?

Yeah, this is WEIRD.

Occasionally we get to see our characters have an out-of-body moment where they become self-aware and go, “This makes no sense.” Like Hawkeye’s beautiful and brilliant speech in Avengers: Age of Ultron . 

city is flying hawkeye

But it’s been a few years since this all began. By now the characters have stopped asking why. The world is getting wackier by the minute and honestly, they’re tired. They are just so tired. Too tired to ask why anymore. They don’t ask, they just do now.

I felt that attitude was beautifully captured in two moments during the chaotic melee of Wakanda. Did that sound negative? Yes, it was meant to, but more on that in the negative post.

Steve and Thor have a cute little bro-to-bro exchange while fighting those disgusting creatures of Thanos. It’s old work buddies catching up. And then the talking, sentient tree we all know as Groot comes up. The old Steve Rogers would have said,

“You know I really miss the days when the weirdest thing science had created was me.” Captain America/Steve Rogers, Age of Ultron

But not the new Steve. He’s been around enough now. He’s too tired to ask why anymore, just rolling with the punches now.

Thor: “This is my friend, tree.”

Groot: “I am Groot.”

Steve: *doesn’t even blink* “I am Steve Rogers.”

work buddies in wakanda

By extension of this same thought, I didn’t think I could handle it when Bucky just plucked Rocket Raccoon up and they turned in an epic, bullet-spitting circle. There was no conversation leading up to this, no introduction, no,

“How is a raccoon wearing armor and shooting a gun that is at least his full body weight?”

Just a natural assessment,

“Small raccoon is causing big-time damage. Partner with small shooting raccoon.”

Audiences who know and love both characters see an even bigger picture as Bucky and Rocket actually have quite a bit in common. They would be good buddies.

But they don’t know any of that. They are just accepting life as it comes and making the most intelligent decisions they can at the moment.

Which makes it all the funnier.

rocket and buck

3. Anything Peter Parker, but especially how his well-rounded movie-watching career saved their bacon.

Again, this is why Peter Parker is gonna be around for years. This boy is GOLD!!!

madeup names

Peter already showed his ability to think on the fly in Civil War when he helped bring down Giant-Man using the AT-AT trick from the classic Hoth battle in The Empire Strikes Back. He may be making things up as he goes, but it’s working!

The fact that Tony, Peter, and Stephen Strange were able to rid themselves of Squidface-full-of-himself out there in space just by copying a classic thriller film is just the best thing ever.

And we can thank Peter Parker for it. Every moment that he is in this film is pure delight, with the exception of his slow and devastating decay as he gasps for air in his adopted-daddy Tony’s arms.

no idea tom holland

4. Enter, Captain Marvel

Sometimes the best way to announce something HUGE is to do it without even saying it. To hint at. To put in a quiet, subtle and chills-inducing moment that is surrounded by chaos. A moment that whispers, “…she’s coming…”

The end credits scene with Maria Hill and Nick Fury did just that.

captain marvel

I’ll give a few honorable mentions to some other parts I loved.

-Peter Quill and Gamora’s tender interaction in this movie was what I have been dreaming of since I fell in love with that wacky crew of Guardians back in 2014. It was deep, real love. Two people who know the good and the bad about each other, and they still choose love. I enjoyed their scenes so much.

-Gamora really stole the show if you ask me. Her past is so intricately intertwined in this movie, her scenes with the Guardians, and her scenes with Thanos were packed with powerful emotion.

-Bad Boy Steve. Mmmmmmhhhhmmm. His entrance in Scotland with his best friends/Secret Avengers at his side was kind of a glorious moment for me. That trio are my favorite Avengers, and I desperately want to know more about what they have been up to (more on this in the negative post).

-Dr. Strange heading out to order lunch. It was so crazy normal compared to literally everything else in this movie.

-Tony’s dream where he had to pee. If someone says this hasn’t happened to them at least once they are lying.

-Rhodey hanging up on Secretary Ross while his illegal buddies hang out in the background. I hope Ross dissolved and is accidentally never brought back.

-Loki getting to say the lineWE HAVE A HULK. It just felt right. I am honestly disappointed Loki is never coming back, I think hearing the rest of his story would have been neat.

-The fact that our original 6 Avengers are still standing. I know that every single character left alive was left alive for a very specific purpose. We’ve added so many new and wonderful characters to the mix over the past 6 years since The Avengers was released in 2012, but I have to say, I am deeply excited and curious to see why we were left our original 6. There is something meaningful and powerful there.

So, what were the good things you felt about Infinity War? What moments made you laugh, or just touched your nerd soul in the right spot? What character interactions did you enjoy the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Other posts you may like…

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Exactly What It Needed to Be

The Ultimate “ASSEMBLE” Collection

Wanda Maximoff’s Room: Backstory in Less than 3 Minutes

 

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