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The ReeL

MARVEL UNIVERSE

Editor: Daric Cottingham

Was Black Widows Big


Reveal In Avengers 2 Too
Much Information?

This past weekend, Marvel fans across


the country flocked to the theaters to
finally catch the highly-anticipated Avengers sequel. And like most Marvel movies,
it did not disappoint in providing exciting
action, quirky humor, and in depth looks
at our favorite superheroes. But this time
around, the franchise shifted the focus
onto characters who arent
often given the same attention as the leaders of the
group, namely Black Widow.
Weve known Black Widow
since 2010s Iron Man 2,
when Natasha Romanoff
posed as Tony Starks
assistant before finally
revealing her S.H.I.E.L.D.
alliance. Scarlett Johansson
has reprised the role in a
number of movies, but in
Avengers: Age of Ultron, the
character had her biggest
reveal yet.
There are going to be
some major spoilers ahead,
as we go deeper into exploring what happened with Black Widow in
Age of Ultron, so if you havent seen the
film quite yet, nows your chance to turn
back.
Age of Ultron gave us an intimate look
into the life of Hawkeye, and Black Widow, two characters who have often been
set up mainly as sidekicks up until this
point. We got up close and personal with

CAPTAIN AMERICA:
THE WINTER
SOLDIER

Hawkeyes home life, but when it came


to Black Widow we entered much deeper
waters, into her mind and into her past.
The conversation arises when Natasha
and Bruce Banner are discussing the idea
of running away together. Banner is still
a bit shaken up from falling under Scarlet Witchs spell, and going all savage
Hulk on an innocent city.
The team has just been
welcomed into the home of
Hawkeye, adorable children
included, and the desire
to have a normal life is a
concept the entire team
struggles with at some point
throughout the film. So,
as Banner and Natasha
discuss this idea, Banner
snaps that he will never be
able to give her a normal life
or children. To that, Natasha
responds with an intensely personal admittal, that
she can not have children,
since being sterilized was
part of her spy initiation,
essentially done to ensure that there was
no chance of turning back on a job (and
a child would do that). That brings us to
the question of the hour: Is this too much
information? After some thought, we have
multiple answers, because on one hand
it might be too much information, but on
the other hand, maybe the real problem is
that its not enough.

There are two post-credits sequences in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and it would be
useless and unwise for me to spoil either. One of
them will make no sense to you until youve seen
the film. The other made no sense to me and I
HAVE seen the film. I couldnt explain it if I tried,
because it is merely set-up for the next Marvel
movie. The audience I was with seemed to know
what was going on (there were gasps). Whatever
it is, it must have been pretty damn good.
I cop to being in the dark about the minutiae
of the Marvel Universe. Outside of Spider-Man,
which I read as a kid, everything I know about superheroes Ive learned from their movies. My problem with many of them is that they only preach
to the choir, operating under the assumption that
everyone in the audience knows all the hymns.
Its a lot easierand lazierfor a screenwriter to
simply do a roll call of characters and events while
letting fans fill in all the blanks. Sometimes the
onscreen information is so sparse that the studio
should pay you for doing all the work. Plus, the
slavish devotion to lore sometimes comes at the
expense of making a good movie.
With that said, Captain America: The Winter
Soldier is a very good movie, the rare film in this
genre that serves as both entry point and continuation. For a change, you can walk in cold and you
wont be too lost. The actors inject some welcome,
unexpected emotion into their characters. Despite
the fight
sequences occasional visits
to the Jason
Bourne/Cuisinart school
of editing, the
action scenes
are suspenseful. And the
story has a hint
of the 70s era
paranoia films
that starred
Robert Redford
and Warren
Beatty.

The True X-Factor

Guardians of the
Galaxy, Unlikely Heroes.

You wouldnt know it to look at me


now, but there was once a time when
I had quite a bit of expertise in the
Marvel Universe. I came as close
to tearing up while reading a comic
book as Ill ever do when the Scarlet
Witch finally married The Visionas
eloquent an argument for marriage
equality as genre fiction has ever
essayed, by the way. I did, I must admit, check out well before the entity
called The Guardians of the Galaxy
turned up in said universe. I bring
this up because there are some MU characters in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy that I did recognizesuper-evil
demigod Thanos, Drax The Destroyer, and one or two others I
guessbut I ultimately found that it was that particular continuity, the need to tie this movies adventures into something larger,
that made the movie lag a bit.
In many respects, Guardians, directed and co-written by indie wit James Gunn, and starring buffed-up former schlub Chris
Pratt and Really Big Sci-Fi Blockbuster vet Zoe Saldana (here
dyed green as opposed to her Avatar blue), is a fun and relatively fresh space Western. Think Firefly pitched at 15-yearolds, with a lot of overt Star Wars nods. And super-irreverent
dialogue that is, more often than not, genuinely funny. The
wisecracking by the characters played by Pratt (a kind of junior
Han Solo) and voiced by Bradley Cooper (whose Rocket Raccoon, who is, yes, a genetically altered raccoon) is so incessant
viewers of a certain age might wonder whether this movie has
been put through the Whats Up Tiger Lily dialogue-replace-

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a better than but not substantially


different from other superhero movies. Its as visually indistinct and
paint-by-numbers-plot-driven as most Marvel Comics-based projects,
especially the gaggle of recent Avengers-related films. That creative
deficit is a major problem in Days of Future Past since it follows
characters who travel in time to prevent a future apocalypse. Thankfully, theres just enough right in Days of Future Past to offset whats
wrong. Director Bryan Singers confident direction mostly compensates for familiar comic book movie problems, including bald expository dialogue and forgettable action. The storytelling has such momentum that you dont have time to realize that the story lacks urgency.
The movie starts in the future. A murder of mutants led by benevolent Charles Professor X Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and frenemy Erik
Magneto Lehnsherr (Ian McKellen) conspire to save both human
and mutantkind from shape-shifting, killer robot Sentinels. To prevent
the Sentinels from becoming government-sanctioned weapons, the
mutants send Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973 to stop
Raven Mystique Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) from murdering
the Sentinels creator, Bolivar Trask (Games of Throness Peter
Dinklage). And in the process, Logan is forced to motivate and re-unite
younger versions of Raven, Xavier (James McAvoy), and Magneto
(Michael Fassbender).
Unfortunately, the obstacles that stand in Logans way and the
stakes that hes fighting for arent particularly well-developed. Days
of Future Past moves so fast that you might think Dennis Hopper
posthumously strapped a bomb to it, and yet the relentless forward
motion proves a mixed blessing.

IRON MAN 3: A Must


Shane Black, who made his bones writing "Lethal Weapon," "The Last Boy Scout" and
other crash-and-burn action films, was the perfect person to take on "Iron Man 3," and not
just because he worked with the franchise's star Robert Downey Jr. on 2005's "Kiss Kiss,
Bang Bang." The new film's not great, but it's consistently involving because the tonal
shifts are so abrupt. One minute it seems to care a great deal about what's happening, the
next it's sneering at the notion that anyone could care about anything that happens in a
movie.
For a franchise on the brink of fatigue, this attitude seems just about right especially
considering that all of the Iron Man movies are more self-aware comedies than dramas,
with overlapping, often improvised-sounding dialogue and winks at the audience which
suggest that the filmmakers are fans of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's affable Road series.
This is the kind of film in which the hero can swear revenge against the villain for injuring
his friend, then a few scenes later earn big laughs from the sight of Tony Stark in Iron Man
regalia tottering down narrow stone steps like a drunk drag queen in nosebleed heels.

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