The Marvel Movie Decade: A Blog Retrospective

This Friday night, 7/22/11, I will most certainly be going to the movies. Captain America: The First Avenger premieres, and along with it comes the inevitable post-credit scene. In this case that scene is more than just a vague sequel setup; this time it is an official trailer for next summer’s superhero team-up extravaganza, The Avengers. Grainy footage of this teaser hit the internet earlier this week, as grainy footage is wont to do, but all of the vaguely watchable versions have been taken down by Marvel copyright claims as of today.

Avengers, be it good, bad, or terrible, is truly going to be something special. It will mark the first time in movie history that one of the grand traditions of the comic book, the all-star superhero team, will make its way onto the big screen. With the exception of Mark Ruffalo, who will be the third actor in a decade to play Bruce Banner/The Hulk, all of the main actors in this movie have already starred in films dedicated to the solo exploits of their respective characters. Marvel has been explicitly building toward Avengers for the past 4 years, but the approach of Captain America got me thinking about how next summer is really the culmination of a decade of Marvel movie dominance.

Since the superhero movie craze really started to build up steam in the early part of the 2000s, nearly all of the successes in the genre (and most of the failures) have been based on Marvel Comics characters. The only notable exception is Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman franchise. Superman Returns and Green Lantern were both considered failures for DC. The Hellboy films have a following (and I’m part of it), but they didn’t set the box office on fire.

This has been a big change of pace from Marvel adaptations that pre-date the streak. In the late 70s, Marvel was best-known as the inspiration for the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno Incredible Hulk TV series. During the era when the best offerings of superhero cinema were Richard Donner’s Superman and Time Burton’s Batman films, Marvel’s movies served up stuff like this (skip to about 5 minutes in):

As for why Marvel has been so clearly on top in more recent years, there are several possible reasons — there’s the timing of a generation of filmmakers and movie-goers who grew up when Marvel was the best-selling comics publisher; there’s the producers who have a serious plan for what a Marvel movie should be; it’s even possible that the Marvel Universe’s birth in the tumultuous 1960s made it perfectly suited for this past decade of global unrest and upheaval.

Whatever the reason, for a (debatably) grown-up Marvel geek and movie nerd like me, it’s been quite a ride. So I’ve decided to take on a little project over the roughly 9 months remaining until Avengers debuts in May 2012. I am going to go back through the Marvel movie decade in chronological order, blogging my thoughts along the way. I am going to watch the great, the good, the bad, and the awful. There will even be some first-time viewings, as I elected to skip some of these when they were new based on word-of-mouth.

Here’s the roadmap:

  • Blade (1998)
  • X-Men (2000)
  • Blade 2 (2002)
  • Spider-Man (2002)
  • Daredevil (2003)
  • X2 (2003)
  • Hulk (2003)
  • The Punisher (2004)
  • Spider-Man 2 (2004)
  • Blade: Trinity (2004)*
  • Elektra (2005)*
  • Fantastic Four (2005)
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
  • Ghost Rider (2007)*
  • Spider-Man 3 (2007)
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Punisher: War Zone (2008)*
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • X-Men: First Class (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (supposedly 2011; we’ll see what happens when the execs see the final cut …)

*These are the movies I’ll be watching for the first time as a part of this project.

Obviously this is actually slightly more than a decade; 14 years in total from Blade to Avengers. But for reasons I’ll get at least a little bit into in my next couple of posts, I think of Blade as a sort of prologue and X-Men as the real beginning of the Marvel movie phenomenon. But that’s 25 movies at roughly one every 3 weeks.

I hope at least a few people will read this and decide they give enough of a shit about what I think to follow along (or are at least in sufficient need of an excuse to waste time on the internet). I really hope at least one or two people decide to join me and share their thoughts in the comments.

So until next time, in the words of Smilin’ Stan, “Excelsior, true believers!”

Lost Season 6 Episode Titles

Watching bits of “The Incident,” which was on as a bit of background noise tonight, really drove home to me just how anxious and worried I am about being let down … but, of course, I’m still incredibly excited for it to start.

6×01 – LA X Pt. 1
6×02 – LA X Pt. 2
6×03 – What Kate Does
6×04 – The Substitute
6×05 – Lighthouse
6×06 – Sundown
6×07 – Dr. Linus
6×08 – Recon
6×09 – Ab Aeterno

Drop-Everything Movies

Haven’t blogged in a while, blah, blah, blah, simple first post in a while.

So The A.V. Club ran a Q&A about Drop-Everything Movies, the movies where “it doesn’t matter that you’ve seen it 13 times already, nor does it matter what point in the movie it’s at: You immediately stop flipping to watch ’til the end, even if it’s 4 a.m.”

I thought this was an awesome topic for a Q&A, and I noticed in reading professional critics reponses that these movies are not neccesarily what you’d list when you asked someone their favorite movie (although they might be). My personal drop-everything movies are RoboCop and Unforgiven. I asked my Twitter and Facebook friends what their’s were, and here are the compiled responses:

  • Elise Carr: “Dirty Dancing. lol I know, I know.”
  • Donna Hacking: “Waterboy/Moonstruck”
  • Alex Rivera: “Last dragon. Karate kid for some reason. And the Breakfast club.”
  • Beth Strobridge: “The Godfather Parts I & II and Drumline. Yeah, I said it.”
  • Joe Monzo: “JFK”
  • Chris Walter: “Saving Private Ryan, Field of Dreams, Halloween.”
  • Andy Willson: “anything with john wayne.”
  • Bill Greenwood: “Totally ‘The Fugitive.’ If I see even a second of that, I can kiss my next 2 hours goodbye.”
  • Dave Costill: “forest gump.”
  • Kyle Taylor: “Goodfellas. Even when it’s censored w/ commercials.”
  • Mike Schmidt: “Better of dead and anything with Clint Eastwood or John wayne.”
  • Ryan Phillippi: “Rocky 1-4 makes drop what im doing. Along with Halloween, Goodfellas (on dvd lol), ghostbusters, back to the future, n Shawshank.”
  • John Kuhlen: “2001 or 2010.”
  • Tanya Kuhlen: “Love Actually, Goonies, and The Breakfast Club.”
  • Perry Davis: “Shawshank.”
  • Joe Posten: “Tombstone, Top Gun, any Kevin Costner baseball movie, Searching For Bobby Fisher…”
  • Matt Butler: “ghostbusters… There’s always time for ghostbusters.”

If you are reading this and you haven’t shared your drop-everything movie(s), leave ‘em in the comments section.

LOST Rewatch Schedule

I pulled this out of the ether of the interweb … this accounts for S5′s DVD release on 12/11/09, and finishes up the rewatch the week before S6 is most likely beginning.

July 5-11
S1E01/02 – Pilot, Parts 1 & 2
S1E03 – Tabula Rasa
S1E04 – Walkabout
July 12-18
S1E05 – White Rabbit
S1E06 – House of the Rising Sun
S1E07 – The Moth
S1E08 – Confidence Man
July 19-25
S1E09 – Solitary
S1E10 – Raised by Another
S1E11 – All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues
S1E12 – Whatever the Case May Be
July 26-August 1
S1E13 – Hearts and Minds
S1E14 – Special
S1E15 – Homecoming
S1E16 – Outlaws
August 2-8
S1E17 – …In Translation
S1E18 – Numbers
S1E19 – Deus Ex Machina
S1E20 – Do No Harm
August 9-15
S1E21 – The Greater Good
S1E22 – Born to Run
S1E23/24 – Exodus, Parts 1 & 2
August 16-22
S2E01 – Man of Science, Man of Faith
S2E02 – Adrift
S2E03 – Orientation
S2E04 – Everybody Hates Hugo
August 23-29
S2E05 – …And Found
S2E06 – Abandoned
S2E07 – The Other 48 Days
S2E08 – Collision
August 30-September 5
S2E09 – What Kate Did
S2E10 – The 23rd Psalm
S2E11 – The Hunting Party
September 6-12
S2E12 – Fire + Water
S2E13 – The Long Con
S2E14 – One of Them
September 13-19
S2E15 – Maternity Leave
S2E16 – The Whole Truth
S2E17 – Lockdown
September 20-26
S2E18 – Dave
S2E19 – S.O.S.
S2E20 – Two for the Road
September 27-October 3
S2E21 – ?
S2E22 – Three Minutes
S2E23/24 – Live Together, Die Alone, Parts 1 & 2
October 4-10
S3E01 – A Tale of Two Cities
S3E02 – The Glass Ballerina
S3E03 – Further Instructions
S3E04 – Every Man for Himself
October 11-17
S3E05 – The Cost of Living
S3E06 – I Do
S3E07 – Not in Portland
S3E08 – Flashes Before Your Eyes
October 18-24
S3E09 – Stranger in a Strange Land
S3E10 – Tricia Tanaka Is Dead
S3E11 – Enter 77
S3E12 – Par Avion
October 25-31
S3E13 – The Man from Tallahassee
S3E14 – Exposé
S3E15 – Left Behind
S3E16 – One of Us
November 1-7
S3E17 – Catch-22
S3E18 – D.O.C.
S3E19 – The Brig
S3E20 – The Man Behind the Curtain
November 8-14
S3E21 – Greatest Hits
S3E22/23 – Through the Looking Glass, Parts 1 & 2
November 15-21
S4E01 – The Beginning of the End
S4E02 – Confirmed Dead
S4E03 – The Economist
November 22-28
S4E04 – Eggtown
S4E05 – The Constant
S4E06 – The Other Woman
S4E07 – Ji Yeon
November 29-December 5
S4E08 – Meet Kevin Johnson
S4E09 – The Shape of Things to Come
S4E10 – Something Nice Back Home
S4E11 – Cabin Fever
December 6-12
S4E12 – There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1
S4E13/14 – There’s No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3
December 13-19
S5E01 – Because You Left
S5E02 – The Lie
S5E03 – Jughead
December 20-26
S5E04 – The Little Prince
S5E05 – This Place Is Death
December 27-January 2
S5E06 – 316
S5E07 – The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham
January 3-9
S5E08 – LaFleur
S5E09 – Namaste
S5E10 – He’s Our You
S5E11 – Whatever Happened, Happened
January 10-16
S5E12 – Dead Is Dead
S5E13 – Some Like It Hoth
S5E14 – The Variable
January 17-23
S5E15 – Follow the Leader
S5E16/17 – The Incident, Parts 1 & 2

About the Lost blogs …

So last week was the best of the season, and tonight was pretty damn good too. I haven’t gotten around to blogging about last week, nor am I blogging about this week, because:

A) Someone else’s vacation about work has me slammed and too mentally run down to want to do more writing. Elise has been even more slammed than I have, so if you have sympathy for someone, direct it her way.

B) Then I got pretty sick this weekend in a generic sickness way (sinuses, headache, sore throat, body ache, etc.). Still getting over that.

C) We’re dealing with a pretty stressful family situation right now that makes it hard to think straight about pretty much anything.

Still, awesome couple of episodes, and I hope to be writing about them and discussing them with anyone interested soon.

Lost 5.6 “316″

I am clearly wrong and have made this up in my goofy little head, but I thought that Jack and Ben talked about Locke’s death being a suicide in a previous episode. Ah, well, moving on …

Well, moving on …

Wow, where do I start?

It was an episode that actually raised some fresh questions for the first time in a while. What happened to Aaron? How did Sayid come to be arrested yet end up on Ajira? How did Hurley get there? Can Ben actually return to the Island? And did he pull a Manson Family on Penny and little Charlie before doing so?

The overwhelming sadness of Locke’s short suicide note was like a punch in the gut. If only Jack had believed him back on the Island, he never would have had to sacrifice himself.

I’d like to thank the writers for finding a reasonable way to keep Frank Lapidus around as a character. I figured he was done because there was no good reason for him to still be around, but I wasn’t happy about it, because I like Frank.

OK, so my thoughts about the last scene: The Left Behind people must have stopped randomly jumping in time as soon as the O6 hit the Event. There still could have been a delay between when the O6 hit the event and when the woke up on the Island, allowing the Left Behind to get a feel for what year it was when they stabilized before they actually find the O6 again — some time in the 1970s. They are trying to blend in as Dharma workers because Dan wants to get at the wheel beneath where the Orchid is being built. It doesn’t explain the Ajira water bottles being in the wreckage of the 815 beach camp in the future, but its my current line of thought.

Honestly, as much as I liked the episode, my brain is having serious trouble processing it right now … which is generally a sign of an awesome episode of Lost.

Lost Season 5: Titles for the Rest of the Season

First, a quasi-spoiler alert: If you think knowing the title of the episode ahead of time is a spoiler, then don’t look at the list below. If you’ve already looked at the list and are now mad at me, deal with it.

I personally like knowing the titles ahead of time; it intrigues me to speculate on their implied meaning. Most of these are confirmed in that they come from IMDB, although the last two come from TV.com and are therefore not entirely out of rumor status.

Beginning with tonight’s episode, the remaining titles are as follows:

5.6 “316″
5.7 “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”
5.8 “LaFleur”
5.9 “Namaste”
5.10 “He’s Our You”
5.11 “Whatever Happened, Happened”
5.12 “Dead is Dead”
5.13 “Some Like It Hoth”
5.14 “The Variable, Parts 1 &2″ (total of 3 hours)

If “Some Like It Hoth” turns out to be the correct title of that episode, it officially has my vote for Best Title Ever.

Another Read/Unread Book List

From Techfun:

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

Instructions:

1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total.

How many have you read? 27

1.   [   ] Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
2.   [X+] The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien
3.   [   ] Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
4.   [   ] Harry Potter series JK Rowling
5.   [X] To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
6.   [X] The Bible
7.   [   ] Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
8.   [X+] Nineteen Eighty Four George Orwell
9.   [   ] His Dark Materials Philip Pullman
10.  [   ] Great Expectations Charles Dickens
11.  [   ] Little Women Louisa M Alcott
12.  [   ] Tess of the D’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy
13.  [X+] Catch 22 Joseph Heller
14.  [X] Complete Works of Shakespeare (Most of it, at least)
15.  [   ] Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier
16.  [X] The Hobbit JRR Tolkien
17.  [   ] Birdsong Sebastian Faulks
18.  [X] Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger
19.  [   ] The Time Traveller’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger
20.  [   ] Middlemarch George Eliot
21.  [   ] Gone With The Wind Margaret Mitchell
22.  [X+] The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald
23.  [   ] Bleak House Charles Dickens
24.  [*] War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
25.  [X+] The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
26.  [   ] Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh
27.  [*] Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28.  [*] Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
29.  [X] Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
30.  [   ] The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
31.  [*] Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
32.  [   ] David Copperfield Charles Dickens
33.  [X+] Chronicles of Narnia CS Lewis
34.  [   ] Emma Jane Austen
35.  [   ] Persuasion Jane Austen
36.  [X+] The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe CS Lewis
37.  [X] The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini
38.  [   ] Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis De Bernieres
39.  [   ] Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden
40.  [   ] Winnie the Pooh AA Milne
41.  [X+] Animal Farm George Orwell
42.  [   ] The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
43.  [*] One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44.  [   ] A Prayer for Owen Meaney John Irving
45.  [   ] The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
46.  [   ] Anne of Green Gables LM Montgomery
47.  [   ] Far From The Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy
48.  [   ] The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
49.  [X+] Lord of the Flies William Golding
50.  [   ] Atonement Ian McEwan
51.  [   ] Life of Pi Yann Martel
52.  [X+] Dune Frank Herbert
53.  [   ] Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons
54.  [   ] Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen
55.  [   ] A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth
56.  [   ] The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57.  [X] A Tale Of Two Cities Charles Dickens
58.  [X] Brave New World Aldous Huxley
59.  [   ] The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Mark Haddon
60.  [*] Love In The Time Of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61.  [X] Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
62.  [*] Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
63.  [   ] The Secret History Donna Tartt
64.  [   ] The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
65.  [   ] Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
66.  [X] On The Road Jack Kerouac
67.  [   ] Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
68.  [   ] Bridget Jones’s Diary Helen Fielding
69.  [   ] Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie
70.  [   ] Moby Dick Herman Melville
71.  [   ] Oliver Twist Charles Dickens
72.  [X] Dracula Bram Stoker
73.  [   ] The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett
74.  [   ] Notes From A Small Island Bill Bryson
75.  [*] Ulysses James Joyce
76.  [*] The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
77.  [   ] Swallows and Amazons Arthur Ransome
78.  [   ] Germinal Emile Zola
79.  [   ] Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
80.  [   ] Possession AS Byatt
81.  [*] A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens
82.  [   ] Cloud Atlas David Mitchell
83.  [*] The Color Purple Alice Walker
84.  [   ] The Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro
85.  [   ] Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
86.  [   ] A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry
87.  [X] Charlotte’s Web EB White
88.  [   ] The Five People You Meet In Heaven Mitch Alborn
89.  [X] Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90.  [   ] The Faraway Tree Collection Enid Blyton
91.  [*] Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
92.  [   ] The Little Prince Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93.  [   ] The Wasp Factory Iain Banks
94.  [*] Watership Down Richard Adams
95.  [*] A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
96.  [   ] A Town Like Alice Nevil Shute
97.  [X] The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas
98.  [X] Hamlet William Shakespeare
99.  [X+] Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
100. [   ] Les Miserables Victor Hugo

Lost 5.5 “This Place Is Death”

Perhaps the best part of tonight’s episode, for me, was the implied tragic moment referrenced shortly before Charlotte dies. At some point in his personal future but in the Island’s past, Dan Farraday, the very man who explained to everyone else that it’s impossible to change the past, will see a young Charlotte and not be able to stop himself from pleading with her to never come back to the Island, so that she won’t die. But he will know, even as he is doing it, that he fails, because he’s already lived through his own failure to save her.

And perhaps the most intriguing part of tonight’s episode is the question of what the Smoke Monster does to people that it doesn’t kill. Is it the same thing that happens to the actual dead bodies? Had Rousseau’s crew entered the same state of existence as Christian Shephard? Presumbly the temple that the Monster pulled the one scientist into is the same temple that Ben had Richard take the Others to when he knew the Freighter Folks were coming.

I loved Ben’s little freakout about how much he’s done for the O6 and how ungrateful they are. It was a nice little character moment for Michael Emerson.

I’m guessing that when we see Locke tracking down the O6 next week, he’s going to be back in wheel chair again because of those broken legs.

So when the Monster comes out of the temple to grab the one French guy, it took on a little more of a shape than it usually has. I thought it looked vaguely like a bear. Did anyone else notice that, and if so, what did you think it looked like?

Lost 5.4 “The Little Prince”

Time travel is a bitch, indeed.

The problem with not getting to write the blog until a couple of days after the episode is that things become a little more jumbled in my head, and I start to think more about the preview for next week than the actual episode. Also, while I didn’t think the episode was bad, it just wasn’t as chock full of mythology as the previous episode. Although I suppose more actually happened.

Obviously the biggest revelation is that Jin is still alive and is with Rosseau’s crew 16 years before the 815 crash. I have mixed feelings about Jin’s survival: I like the character, but I thought the death was interesting in the way it developed Sun. Then again, it probably would have proved difficult for the writers to get Sun back to the Island any other way.

Speaking of trailers for next week: Could Ben know Jin is still alive because he met him 19 years earlier? How much might Ben have known about his own fate the entire time if that is the case?

Is Ajira Airlines the way the Oceanic 6 get back to the Island — another plane crash?

So, overall, decent episode, but after “Jughead” it doesn’t inspire a lot of thought.

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