No, Avengers Endgame Is Not Fat Shaming

*****SPOILERS FOR ENDGAME*****

You have been warned, if you’re reading this and you’ve not seen Avengers Endgame that’s your fault.

For a number of years I’ve struggled with my weight, wanting to lose it, putting the effort in, shedding a few pounds but ultimately failing for some reason. It’s a frustrating thing to want to do something but losing that momentum after a short while. I became lazy at some point and after 25, it’s piled on. For a long time I was ashamed at this happening to me, constantly blaming myself and the choices I made. Frankly I assumed my friends and family wouldn’t like me as much. What I didn’t realise until later is that I was still the same person. Still the same slightly annoying, funny (in my humble opinion) and chatty nerd I have been for as long as I can remember.

No amount of weight gained or lost will ever change that or how people see me and care about me. The same can be said for Thor, when we first see him in Endgame he’s the hero we’re used to seeing; confident, brooding and muscular. Hemsworth embodies Thor to a point that, like Rober Downey Jr. as Iron Man, there isn’t anyone else you can imagine playing the God of Thunder. It isn’t until later that we see the toll certain events have taken on him. After slicing off Thanos’ head in the first 20 minutes and failing to undo the Snap thanks to the destruction of the stones, each Avenger goes their separate ways. Five years pass when Groot and Banner/Hulk (Bulk?!) pay him a visit at New Asgard. The reveal of an unkempt and heavier Thor was certainly shocking and played for laughs at first, however after this there is a tremendous amount of pain and pathos.

There was a point when Thor was a one note character, the muscular hero who would always vanquish the villain somehow and do it in style. The worst we saw him is when he briefly pined after Jane in Thor: The Dark World only to be reunited with her soon after. Other than that not a hair was out of place on this God of Thunder. Even when his mother died in Thor 2 and then his father in Thor Ragnarok, very little emotion was shown. Not until his third solo outing did we see a slightly different side to him in part thanks to Hemsworth himself as well as director Taika Waititi, both of which wanted to take the character in a different direction. Stripping him of his signature hair, hammer and home did just that. It also gave Hemsworth a chance to show off his comedy chops, something which be clearly has a natural talent for. Then in Infinity War, we see how hard he’s had it during his chat with Rocket (aka rabbit) where he laid out all who had died and how it’ll help him kill Thanos. It didn’t. What it eventually did was push Thor into depression, PTSD and alcoholism. Think about that for a moment, one of the most powerful beings in the universe had severe mental health issues. No matter what caused it, it really can happen to anyone. Power on the outside doesn’t mean power within.

There are a couple of unfortunate comments in Endgame’s three hour runtime such as Rocket calling him tubby and Rhodey claiming he has Cheese Whiz coursing through him. Whilst it feels in character for Rocket, Rhodey’s off handed comment felt very jarring and unnecessarily harsh. Some may argue that this sort of treatment continues throughout Endgame however it seems to lean more on the alcoholic Thor who is suffering from PTSD. He breaks down right after hearing the name Thanos, he is reliant on beer, grabbing Banner with one hand and still clutching a beer in the other. Not only has it taken its toll on his physical form, his mental state has been severely damaged as well. Not killing Thanos when he should have meant half of the universe died, that’s one hell of a burden to bear.

As he continues with his narrative through the film, he’s subjected to other types of name calling including Lebowski but this comes from the nicknaming Tony Stark. Never does it feel like fat shaming. If anything there is a growing concern for Thor starting when we see him after the 5 year time jump, he’s desperate to be who he was as he clings onto his past when he mentions Jane, and that he is the one who killed Thanos. The pain within him comes out as he continues to drink and can barely hold a sentence together struggling to find the words.

There are two key sections which turn things around for him, both of which help him accept who he is rather than who he’s supposed to be. They are the scenes he spends with his mother when travelling back to Asgard in 2013 and the final battle. Seeing her for one last time knowing full well that she was about to die was a blessing for him and that’s how he took it. It’s here that Thor comes to terms with his failures, suffering and grief. Yes he killed Thanos but not when he should have. His death didn’t change anything and it’s this which causes him to retreat inside himself and drink himself into a depressed and bloated state. Some final words of wisdom from his mother (Rene Russo reprising her role) as she reminds him of who he is and that this hasn’t changed despite how difficult it may be to see. One lift of his hand as he summons Mjolnir and realising that he in fact still worthy is a beautiful cherry on top of a perfect scene.

Then the final fight. The one thing that they could have done which would have ruined it is making Thor ab-tastic again. Keeping him at this size is a clear indication this is who he is now, and that no matter how big or small you become, you are always worthy, you are always powerful, you are always mighty. And apparently lightning can plait your beard!

Endgame changed a lot about the MCU and the Avengers, killing off two of the original members, giving Captain America a happy ending and showing us a smart Hulk. The biggest shock and pleasant surprise came in the shape of Thor. Pushing the character into places we had never see him go, having to deal with the toughest time he’s ever had, coming through the other side and joining the Guardians of the Galaxy. A bold move which didn’t involve killing off the character. With Hemsworth reportedly signing on to carry on his Marvel life into Phase 4, as well as his now more developed character it’s nice to know we’ll have a familiar face sticking around.

Keep. It. Reel.

Super Bowl TV Spot Round-up

Every year two teams get together for a game of American football which fans of the sport watch all around the world. Why? Well, because you get new footage from amazing films, that’s why!

Gather round people, here are the best TV spots released during last night’s Super Bowl LIII including the likes of Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, Captain Marvel and Us. Fun fact, Jordan Peele appears two of the spots and directed one of the others, so I think we can all agree he’s the real winner, right?? Who actually won? Erm… *Googles Super Bowl* someone called Pat Riots. He sounds like he needs to calm down. Anyway, here are some kickass TV spots to get you excited for some of the upcoming films and TV shows being released this year.

Avengers Endgame

After the first trailer in which Tony is drifting in space whilst a plan on earth is about to be executed,m we see Stark and Nebula working on what I’m assuming is a way back home. Shots of the team getting ready as Black Widow trains and Cap seemingly has his shield once more. Chances are this is it for the original line up of the Avengers. They will be going out with a bang.

Captain Marvel

Coming a month and half before Endgame, the MCU has its first ever female lead film with Brie Larson taking on the role of Captain Marvel. Watch as she goes higher, further and faster. Try to keep up.

Toy Story 4

Bo Peep returns in this spot for Toy Story 4 in which she and Woody are waiting for Buzz however he’s been caught and is now a prize at an amusement park game. Trying to escape Buzz is quick to make enemies in Bunny and Ducky. Good luck with that!

Handmaid’s Tale

The third season of The Handmaid’s Tale is coming with Offred/June on a mission after managing to escape at the end of the second season. Check out the explosive spot, and sorry for the spoiler!

Twilight Zone

That’s right, it’s coming back. Jordan Peele nareayea and produces the latest iteration of the famed TV series which has spooked people for decades. Admittedly I’ve never seen any of these but they sound so fantastic so I’m curious to see how it’s handled this time.

Hanna

Based on the film of the same name Hanna shows how you can stretch an hour and 51 minute film into an entire series. I’m being quite cynical about this because I personally thought the film was excellent, whereas this looks as if it’s just copied it. I will reserve full judgement until after I’ve seen it but still…

Fast & Furious presents: Hobbs & Shaw

If you saw the trailer which came out a few days ago, this isn’t anything new but certainly worth a watch because it has to be one of the most self aware and hilarious trailers I’ve seen in a long time! Hobbs & Shaw being forced to team just to perform some ridiculous feats is border line genius! Very excited for some big dumb fun.

US

In his follow up to Get Out, Jordan Peele takes a seemingly basic trope with a family taking a trip and some unwanted visitors. However as you can imagine it’s not as simple as that. This looks, frankly, fucking terrifying! I’m looking forward to what Peele has in store for everyone this time around.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

Yes, that really is the title. And yes there are three. How greedy of them right?? From Guillermo del Toro (no he didn’t direct it, he wrote and produced it, so that’s something) comes a new horror story about a group of kids who have to face theirs fears in order to save their hometown. It’s a pretty frightening set of spots, check them out and see what you think.

Game of Thrones

Sorry about that, no new footage at all but an advert for Bud Light with a hint of Game of Thrones thrown it. Don’t get me wrong I would have LOVED to have seen some sort of trailer for the final season but this is a pretty fun way to promote both.

Keep. It. Reel.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: What Makes A Good Villain?

Until recently, Marvel has had a serious villain problem in that they were essentially all the same and their goals rarely differed from some form of world destruction and mass death. Besides Loki, this is all they ever wanted which seems odd in such a successful universe where their heroes have been developed to a greater extent.

Loki’s reign of terror, occasional and brief as it’s been stems from knowing he was completely unwanted by his family and adopted, not because of love. But because one man thought it could bridge between two warring civilisations. He was wrong and Loki is soon revealed to be the villain. You can feel and share in his pain when he yells to Odin “TELL ME!” to Odin in Thor. These gut wrenching two words tells us all that we need to know about how he wants to be accepted but knows deep down never will be. Tom Hiddleston’s Shakespearean-esque performance gave Loki the depth required for someone who is a desperate as this and it’s something we’ve not seen much of in the MCU until recently.

So what exactly makes Loki so good at being bad? Why do we all almost side with Kilmmonger’s quest? Is Michael Keaton’s working class villain the perfect portrayal of what we would all do in his shoes? A villain is only as good as what he allows him or herself to be, this is what makes them who they are.

Evil Plot

As I mentioned, a lot of these plots include multiple deaths, destroying as much as possible and an end goal of taking over the world. After seeing this countless times, it has become a derivative plot device for multiple villains. Frankly, it’s boring! It’s where the MCU has suffered greatly, bad guys like Ronan the Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Malekith (Thor: The Dark World) want control for no real reason besides power plus they weren’t exactly fully fleshed out characters so it just added to he boredom. 

Recently with Killmonger (Black Panther) and Vulture (Michael Keaton) it seems as if the MCU is doing away with these old tropes. Killmonger wanted what was rightfully his in Wakanda and Vulture was a working class man providing for his family whose lively hood was taken away from him from the higher ups. The pair of them were developed in smart quick ways within one film which goes to show that it is possible to do this. You not only have an vested interest in their personal missions, you sympathise with what they are going through and you almost want them to succeed.

Human Characteristics

The reason people love Loki so much isn’t because he’s so terrific at what he does, it’s because he does it with a cheeky grin across his face. Whether he’s concocting a plan, in the middle of a plot he’s hatched or just quipping to irritate someone, he has a sense of fun about it. It’s a personality trait which people gravitate towards, if you’re laid back, relaxed, seemingly happy, then you create more admiration for yourself. This is exactly what Loki does, whilst wanting his plans and schemes to succeed there’s an element of fun. He clearly enjoys being a trickster and despite being a mass murderer, we all still love him. 

Others were comparatively one dimensional, looking at Obadiah Stane (Iron Man), he transcends the norm before going full-on typical villain. He’s been wanting to be in charge of Stark Industries for years and when Howard Stark dies, this should have been shot. But when Tony returns to take over the empire, it thwarts any plans he had. It’s understandable but he then becomes far too generic and whilst his plan isn’t quite world domination, he still wants to rule via death and destruction.

Layered Personality

Having an original plot and some human characteristics will only get you so far. But where do these things come from? What makes you develop that scheme and make you more interesting than most? Well it’s all to do with the bad guy’s personality, it’s what gives each villain something that makes us relate to them. A perfect example of this is Vulture whose main goal is to be the breadwinner for his family. He’s an everyday hard working guy and when it’s taken away from him, it’s hard not to sympathise. Loki being in pain (we mostly see this in Thor and Avengers) is a trait that makes up seem more human. This side of his personality coming from what he’s known about his true parentage all this time. 

These villains are pretty diverse with cathartic performances but the one who, unlike others is understated is Zemo (Captain America: Civil War). He plots to tear the Avengers apart from the inside after his family are killed in Sokovia during the event of Age of Ultron. No doubt that they are to blame, but the best thing about this is how meticulous Zemo is in his plan and the calm manner in which he conducts himself. The complexity of his plot comes to a head with Captain America, Iron Man and Bucky all ending up in one place. It’s smart, ruthless and intentionally cruel. Above all of that, he like the best bad guys is human. He has a relatable tale and Daniel Brühl’s nuanced performance captures what a man can do with patience and determination.

In that all important final battle with your adversary, you need to have some qualities which redeem your character. Aspects about yourself which make you a lot more rounded than your bog standard villain. Killmonger, Loki, Zemo and Vulture all succeed in creating well-rounded, ambitious villains which is what I’m hoping for in Infinity War. We’ll have to find out what Thanos is holding when he comes knocking.

Keep. It. Reel.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Alternative Artwork

Every time a new Marvel film comes out, the marketing is once again ramped up to an almost ridiculous level. Avengers: Infinity War is no exception with more than 30 posters released so far and another week to go until it’s release, who knows how many more we will see? Frankly I’m hoping none because the quality has been pretty poor. From the ensemble cast posters, the mini team-ups and the digitally enhanced individual images, it’s not hitting the notes which the trailers have.

A lot of the time independent artwork is much better than what we see being launched by the studio. It seems that it’s mainly to do with the fact that multiple people are having their say no matter how little they know about creating something visually pleasing to the eye. Here are just a few examples which are much better than the official posters. If you’d like to see more work like this, each piece has a link to the credited artist below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Avengers: Infinity War – Trailer Breakdown

It’s been 10 years in the making and when Marvel began with Iron Man in 2008, they had no idea where they were going. However, the consistent success and being able to go deeper with characters by developing their stories more, they have arrived at Infinity War. 

Classically, in the comic books, Civil War is bigger than Infinity War, however they’ve taken a different route when culminating these characters in one film. By the time it’s out, there will have been 18 films part of the MCU something that no one thought would happen. Here’s the trailer, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Beginning with a statement from a number of the Avengers, it’s what Nick Fury said to get his team together in Avengers Assemble, desperately clinging onto what was left of his mostly disbanded team by telling them about a plan to bring together a group of remarkable individuals. A plan known as the Avenger Initiative. Fury, Iron Man, Vision, Thor, Black Widow all share lines from statement, as we see each of them in separate shots. During this montage there’s a human Vision in the form of Paul Bettany with Scarlett Witch, perhaps this is real however it’s more likely that it’s a dream sequence. In the comics they develop a relationship which is heavily hinted at here.

There’s also a confused looking Bruce Banner who seems to have crashed into Sanctum Sanctorum with Doctor Strange and Wong. There’s even a reunion between Banner and Black Widow hinted at, something we all can’t wait for. We then see Wong, Strange, Banner and Tony Stark again in New York’s Sanctum Sanctorum, shortly after Stark leaves and then a brief shot of Peter Parker and his Spidey sense kicking in as he see a round contraption in the skyline. 

Showing war torn streets and then Loki handing over the Tesseract to Thanos who reveals himself just as Spider-Man shows off his new suit which we first saw in Homecoming. Thor shows up, as does Steve Rogers (I have NO idea if I am to call him Captain America any more, should I? Is he Nomad now?? Not a clue!) as he dodges and grabs a spear thrown at him by Proxima Midnight, one of Thanos’ Black Order. It’s a welcome return for Rogers who comes out of the shadows sporting a sexy beard as Black Panther demands that someone gets him a shield.

During the trailer, we see plenty of fights and battles which is what you expect from a film with the word War in the title. There’s a team up including Rogers (long hair flowing as he runs and punches. I think I have a new man crush), Falcon, Okoye, War Machine, Hulk, Black Widow, Bucky and Black Panther an army with them. 

The Hulkbuster armour makes an unexpected reappearance and both Tony and Peter get beaten badly by Thanos himself. It’s a brutal trailer which gets worse for the Avengers as we see Vision’s stone being almost ripped out of his head and Thanos loads his Infinity Gauntlet with just a few stones. No scenes with Stark and Rogers, however it’s assumed that they have kissed and made up by now, but who knows how??

Frankly we see everyone including a brief teaser at the end with Thor with one eye meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy, however a couple of notable absences include Hawkeye and Ant-Man who have been Luke Skywalkered! It’ll be curious to see why they aren’t in the trailer, especially Ant-Man who isn’t in the ComicCon poster either.

All in all it’s a very interesting trailer, showing most of the characters we have all come to love battling Thanos and co. who has a power that they be never come up against before. Deaths of the Avengers, especially in its original line up are to be expected, however whether that’ll happen in 2018’s Infinity War or in the as yet Untitled Avengers 4 out in 2019 remains to be seen. 

The Russo brothers have taken the helm with this being their third MCU film once again working with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Avengers: Infinity War is set for an April 27th release in the UK and May 4th in the USA. 

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Doctor Strange set to appear in Thor: Ragnarok 

When the MCU began, it made perfect sense to have stand alone films, with just one protagonist fighting against the odds. However as this universe has developed and grown into what it is today, this can no longer be and Marvel understands this. Black Widow showed up in Iron Man 2 and in Captain America: Winter Soldier, with Falcon making his debut appearance in the later. Next year Spider-Man is teaming up with Iron Man and now it’s been announced that Doctor Strange will be joining Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok.

Benedict Cumberbatch has finally been confirmed for the film in which he is reprising his Stephen Strange character and joining a huge ensemble cast which already includes Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hiddelston. This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise due to the after credits scene in 2016’s Doctor Strange where he and Thor had a chat over a beer. Fans were hopeful to see him appear on the third Thor film and their wish has come true.

Thor: Ragnarok is released in October 2017 and directed by Taika Waititi.

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New Avengers artwork and DVD case.

The Avengers are Assembling, again. Now I I hope you aren’t quite sick of the super hero lovefest I’ve been having here on Neel’s Reel Deel because here is some great new artwork and a stunning collectors edition case for the release of Marvel’s The Avengers Assemble. Each piece of artwork is for the discs included for the solo films of all the characters plus the bonus “Phase One Archives”. So in this mammoth boxset, you will get Iron man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, The Avengers Assemble as well as the bonus disc of “Phase One Archives.” Very exciting, so much so that I wish I didn’t have any of the film so I could buy this box! Probably the most amazing looking case for any sort of DVD / Blu Ray release, just take a look, it’s beautiful. Well happy buying and watching!

Iron Man 3 – the first image

Iron Man 3 - the first image

Iron Man and Iron Man 2, I feel, have set the bar high for the next instalment. Not that this image gives us much but we can see Robert Downey Jr. in familiar territory at his workshop and it’s also a chance to get excited so soon after The Avengers for a new Marvel instalment. With this Captain America 2, Thor 2 and The Avengers 2 being announced recently, as well as Mark Ruffalo signing up for 5 more Hulk films, it looks like we can rest easy, the world will be safe for quite some time.

A super year for super heroes!

We will never forget the unfortunate and lacklustre comic book films that have come out in recent years including Green Hornet (2011), Green Lantern (2011) and the terrible Superman Returns (2006) but what some may forget is that the studios would never have made these without the aide of Spiderman and X-Men who released their first films 2000 and 2002. They were both huge hits at the box office and comic book fan united and wanted more. Who knew what they’d get some years later is the studios scraping the barrel for film. Even the reboot of Superman films was badly executed. It did to the Superman series what Batman & Robin did to the Batman collective.

But now we find ourselves in 2012, the year of three huge superhero movies, one of which is the concluding chapter in what has already been a brilliant trilogy. Another is a reboot which the fans are more excited about than the original. The final film has already become one of the greatest successes at the box office and This year sees three highly anticipated films released including The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises, with the latter arguably being the most popular release this year.

The Avengers

The Avengers has been in the making since Ironman of 2008, where Nick Fury makes an appearance after the credits and visits Tony Stark to tell him about the Avengers initiative. Since then, in The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America, small hints and clues have been dropped using Nick Fury and the ever brilliant Agent Coulson to start the rumours of The Avengers. A film with more superheroes than you will ever see in one film, unless DC get their finger out and make The Justice League. It’s clear to see why this is a huge release for 2012.

Whilst enjoying The Avengers, please take a minute for poor Spidey  who is not one of The Avengers, despite the fact that they all come from comic super power Marvel. However don’t feel THAT bad for him, after just 5 years since Spiderman 3, he’s been given a reboot. This is no ordinary reboot however, this is one that the fans wanted, the one that gets more to the root of who Peter Parker really is and what happened to his parents. We will also see the character Gwen Stacey introduced, who is a refreshing change from Mary Jane. Andrew Garfield takes up the role of Peter Parker / Spiderman and looks as if he is more suited to this than Tobey Maguire, who I never felt fit the part in the way that he should have! I’m sure I can expect some backlash from that comment!

Now we come the The Dark Knight Rises. The legend that will end this year is the legend we’ve been waiting for 4 years to return. Four years after we saw Batman take the fall from Harvey Dents crimes, he returns. But what he returns to we will have to wait and see. From the three trailers, what we do know is that Bane is his new enemy and he’s causing havoc and devastation in Gotham. What has happened to Batman, we don’t know but chances are when it comes to both brains and brawn, The Dark Knight has finally met his match. This is the third and final Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale Batman flick that we will see. After breaking the the billion dollar barrier at the box office, The Dark Knight has set the bar incredibly high, but knowing what Nolan can do, chances are he’ll Rise above it!

Man of Steel

So a great year for some great some films, and there will be more to come. The Amazing Spiderman 2 has already been announced as as The Avengers 2 and 3. Without a doubt, this will be a super year. And for those of you worried about Superman, fret not dear friend! Take a look above, this is the first images from The Man of Steel, pencilled in for a release in 2013, with Christopher Nolan’s creative input as Executive Producer, working with Zack Snyder as Director, this should have you looking forward to another super year for superheroes.