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Posts Tagged ‘The X-Men’

“That’s not how quantum physics works” Tony Stark

Since Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) the multiverse seems to be the latest trend in sci-fi/fantasy.  Despite Avengers: Endgame telling us there was no such thing as the multiverse, it has become an important part of the MCU first on TV in Loki and What If…? But now on the big screen Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, despite the fact the multiverse makes no sense, at least in the way depicted in this movie. 

As much a Sam Raimi movie as an MCU movie.  It has been suggested he was given more creative freedom than on the Spider-Man movies, and it shows.  While it fits within the franchise the tone is closer to Rami horror than his previous foray into superhero movies.  The idea of possession and reanimation are straight out of Evil Dead as is the Darkhold, that they may as well have called the Necronomicon.  To top it all off there is a great Bruce Campbell cameo.  The fulcrum on which Phase Four is placed, and probably the introduction to phase five as it opens the door for characters who weren’t previously available in the MCU due to complicated rights issues. 

The MCU is beginning to feel like a comic book, not just something based on a comic book.  It is common in comic books for larger stories to be told across multiple titles.  As well as Endgame and the previous Doctor Strange, this movie references Spider-Man: No Way Home, WandaVision and What If…?  The latter most significantly despite being the least seen.  At the centre of the film we have a new character America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) a character with the ability to travel the multiverse.  A fun character that works well playing off Strange.  If they don’t find a way of using her, she could be reduced to a human MacGuffin a little like Ava Starr / Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) in Ant-Man and the Wasp.  This would be a shame.  Just to make those of us who have been with the MCU from the start feel old, Gomez is younger than the franchise.  Born in April 2006, the same month Jon Favreau was hired to direct Iron Man some months after the franchise was conceived. 

Ultimately as you can probably gather from what I have said, that I enjoyed the movie.  However, there is an issue, it makes absolutely no sense.  I am not talking about the fantastical side of the story, you have to suspend disbelief to what any movie, I am saying the multiverse as seen here doesn’t make sense.  There are far too many theories on how a Multiverse works, but within the MCU the suggestion seems to be that they are Quantum.  A quantum multiverse creates a new universe every time a diversion in events occurs.  This is similar to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.  In these theories the alternate universes are endless as each decision, each flap of a butterfly’s wings will create a new branch.  Therefore, in theory, it is possible that in some universes a character could have a doppelganger.  However, this could only happen if the changes that made the new branch happened after the character was conceived.  Given that on average, each time men ejaculate they release nearly 100 million sperm, and each sperm would result in a different person, or no pregnancy at all!

 If we concentrate on what they call Earth-838, we know that there are certain characters that exist (or existed) in both this universe and the MCU Earth-616 (did I get those the right way around?): Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen).  The first deviation we know happened is that Peggy Carter became The First Avenger, possibly in the way seen in What If…?.  This one would imagine would have a different outcome to the war and Hydra.  What we do know is that it appears that the creation of Shield didn’t happen.  The power in this world is The Illuminati. (Forget Dan Browns conspiracy fiction, there really was an Illuminati.  The Bavarian Illuminati, founded on 1 May 1776 in Bavaria.  An Enlightenment-era secret society, their goals were to oppose superstition, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power) Given that this major diversion from the timeline happened somewhere around 1941it is likely that a lot of these characters would have been born.  That’s before we get to Wanda’s children.  How did a variant of Wanda have the same children as the ones created by Wanda in the fantasy in WandaVision? 

Shortly after Doctor Strange came another multiverse movie, Everything Everywhere All At Once.  Written and directed by Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert based on the Modal realism theory.  The title refers to the “villain” of the movie, who has the power to see and feel everything everywhere all at once.  This results in the belief that nothing really matters, in any universe and the plan to suck all of the multiverse into an infinite void of nothingness.  This is an interesting point, as it has often been a criticism of the use of time travel and multiverses within stories.  It reduces the stakes.  As is often said, No one stays dead except Uncle Ben. In this movie our hero (Michelle Yeoh) doesn’t exactly travel between universes, the way it is used is a little different to anything.  Receiving universal critical praise and doing exceptionally well at the box-office, it is a better and more fun movie than Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

Around the same time as seeing these two movies I read a book The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.  This gives a more believable multiverse within its own fantasy.  The protagonist, Nora chooses to take her own life.  She wakes up in the library of the title, where she is given the choice to live a different life, the life she would be living had she made a different decision in the past.  As she steps into the different lives it becomes clear that the decisions she makes effect not just her, but all the people around her.  The promise, when she finds the life in which she’s the most content, she will remain and live out that that life.  There is no great surprise, the message and the outcome are clear from very early on.  If we are not to multiversed out by then, there will be a movie adaptation, StudioCanal and Blueprint Pictures optioned the film rights a week before the book was published in 2020. 

The presence of Reed Richards/ Mister Fantastic (John Krasinski) and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) suggest this is the door that will bring The Fantastic Four and The X-Men into the MCU.  But, it is a door they cannot close!  This is going to require some creative storytelling so we don’t end up with all MCU stories being multiverse movies, as much fun as they have been they could get very boring very quicky.  The more we explore it the less sense it will make, and lets not forget, we no longer have Tony Stark to tell us “That’s not how quantum physics works”. 

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Already the most talked about movie of the year so far, the one thing we don’t need is another review of The Avengers. Therefore I am going to try and avoid reviewing the movie other than to say I have seen it, and I loved it. So what follows are just a ramblings and thoughts on the franchise and where it is going. To begin with, lets get one thing straight, the new UK title Marvel Avengers Assemble is a bit of a mouthful and is frankly crap so from this moment on I will refer to the movie as The Avengers.

Making a movie of The Avengers must have seemed like a good idea, but how do you bring together a disparate group of characters in a coherent story? By starting with a series of movies involving the individual characters gives a strong base and also solves the problem of protracted introductions of multiple characters. The problem, it builds expectations of the fans and risks alienating the uninitiated. The greatest challenge is probably containing Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark / Iron Man who could run away with the whole movie, but there is even more to it than that. How do you use Bruce Banner and The Hulk within the team? To add to this problem Mark Ruffalo is the third Bruce Banner in less than a decade, do you introduce him again or go with an assumed back story? Then you have Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who have made fleeting appearances but have not had their own movies, they also seem to lack any supper abilities. Slotting the two fish out of water character, Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) into the mix also has its challenges. If you can solve all these problems you then need a suitable villain. The X-Men movies accomplish this by using multiple villains to pair off against the heroes, this works for them but The Avengers are a very different group to The X-Men. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was a great choice, having already been introduced in Thor we already know his back story. He is also an interesting villain with a typically comic book agenda.

Where do you start a project like this? The director. It would have been easy to pick one of the successful directors of the earlier films: Jon Favreau (Iron Man), Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger), Kenneth Branagh (Thor), but the avengers needs to be its own movie not an Iron Man or Thor sequel. My interest certainly increased when Joss Whedon’s name was attached to the project. To put it simply, Whedon just gets it. Treating the group as a dysfunctional family whose personalities get in the way whenever they are put in a room together. This clash is what makes the movie funny, but it is also the basis that makes the team work as just that, a team. The key to the success is the relationships, as a group of individuals they are defined by the way they interact. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are like bickering siblings, but Iron Man and Captain America are a proficient team. The biggest beneficiary of the Whedon effect is Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow who is promoted from little more than eye candy in Iron Man 2. She is funny and sexy and is a surprisingly deep character. There has to be some mileage in giving Black Widow an origin movie of her own or possible one shared with Hawkeye. Given his background of ass kicking female characters (Buffy/River/Echo), Joss Whedon would be the perfect director to take it on.

One of the first things I noticed about the film was the unusually narrow aspect ratio (1.85:1), the fact that I completely forgot this within a few minutes suggests it wasn’t important and the chosen format worked. I have read that Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey chose the ratio to help frame the unusually tall characters like The Hulk along side normal and short characters. It has also been mentioned that Joss Whedon favoured this ratio of the more normal wider ratios with his climatic Manhattan, sequence in mind.

Given the least back-story I wondered where Clint Barton / Hawkeye would fit in to the story. He is actually really important to the plot and along with Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow give the team and the movie a grounding. It all helps in the meteoric rise of Jeremy Renner, I had little idea who he was a few years ago, I vaguely remember him in 28 Weeks Later and S.W.A.T. and have no recollection of him in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. His breakthrough performance came in The Hurt Locker where he received a much deserved Oscar nomination. Clearly Hollywood was just as impressed as I was, he has found his way into three big franchises. As well as Hawkeye in The Avengers he also landed a part in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol that is rumoured as a future replacement for Tom Cruise as the main star of the franchise. Later this year he will appear in The Bourne Legacy, possibly the first part of a new trilogy.

With a positive response from critics and a strong box-office this will not be the only time we see the Avengers assemble, but here dose the franchise go from here? Avengers 2, Iron Man 3, Captain America 2, Thor 2, The Hulk 3 (or rebooted)? Probably all of the above. As mentioned above I would also like to see a Black Widow and/or a Hawkeye prequel/origin. There is also space for a Nick Fury stand alone movie. Not to mention all the other Marvel Characters who could appear. The most obvious would be Spider-Man, this probably isn’t possible at them moment as Sony currently own the rights (along with Ghost Rider). A similar problem exists with Fox who hold: The X-Men, Daredevil and The Fantastic Four. This isn’t a bad thing as I am happy to see the Avengers and X-Men universes kept apart.

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