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.

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James Gunn Reinstated For Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3

It was the job that no director would want to take over and the film that looked as if it would never be made but it’s been said today that James Gunn is back. Months after being fired for offiensive jokes shared on Twitter a few years ago, Gunn has returned to Marvel to complete his trilogy with Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3.

According to Deadline he was re-hired a few months ago after a lot of talks being held within Disney. Walt Disney Studio president Alan Horn met with Gunn on multiple occasions to discuss his firing and reversed the decision after he made an apology. Gunn was fired after alt-right journalists dug up tweets from his past which joked about subjects including rape and paedophilia. Shortly after, the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy released a joint statement in support of Gunn, with Dave Bautista threatening to walk several times if they didn’t at least use his script. Fans were mostly on his side but some did not agree with his jokes and were glad to see him go.

On a personal note, I’m glad he’s back. Whilst the second GOTG film wasn’t as good as the first, it’s a trilogy a lot of people want to see completed by Gunn, especially after surprising movie goers which the superb first Guardians film. In case you’re interested I wrote an opinion piece about his unfair sacking here.

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Firing James Gunn Is Ridiculous And Hypocritical

Over the weekend James Gunn was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3, the third film in the soon to be trilogy of this team of criminal misfits. He was currently in the process of writing the script with the aim of shooting it next year. His sacking was due to tweets from 2008 – 2012 which were dug up thanks to a right-wing website Daily Caller. His tweets were jokes which included subjects such as pedophilia and rape. Yes I can see why you’d find these offensive but this is not a sackable offence.

I realise that some of you will not agree with me but firing James Gunn is an utterly ludicrous decision. Back in 2012, the year he was hired to write and direct the first Guardians film, he apologised for these jokes and we moved on. Disney continued to employ him and he received a large amount of praise for his MCU work. So why is it exactly that he is having to apologise for a second time and has now been fired by Disney? It’s because we now live in an incredible overly-sensitive society where people are offended by the slightest provocation. Despite saying sorry it was brought up and people were not happy with him. It’s been six years since he apologised the first time and now he’s been hung out to dry because Disney bowed to public pressure. This is like paying your debt to society and then getting flung back into prison years after being released. 

In 2012, the fact that Gunn apologised most likely meant that Disney and Marvel knew what he had said and continued to employ him anyway. What has changed then? He still tweeted what he did back then and, until he deleted them they were still up this year. By the way this is the company who still employs (and therefore enables) Johnny Depp and who was somehow allowed to appear in Hall H at the recent San Diego Comic Con.

At the moment Disney is trying to buy Fox, a company who owns the Deadpool character whose films consist of risque jokes and innuendos. There seems to be a blind spot floating around and not everyone is being held to this standard. Would they change Deadpool to make him bend towards their values? Something tells me they wouldn’t thanks to how much money this characters earns at the box office. It’s all about the money after all, am I right?? Speaking of values, here is what Walt Disney Studio Chairman Alan Horn said in his statement, “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.” So these tweets are “indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values” but when Depp has video footage of him being violent and abusive towards his now ex-wife this is completely inline with your “values” is it Disney? And whilst he’s cleaned up his act now Robert Downey Jr doesn’t have the best history for behaving within these values. His imprisonment and past with drugs should go conpletely against Disney. Yes it’s in the past but so is what James Gunn said. 

The most awful thing about this is we cannot let things go as a society, as soon as someone unearths old comments and behaviour there is almost no saving them from the scrutiny they will be under. They may have paid their debt, apologised and put it behind them but there will always be someone looking to oust them once more. These are not things that he did, they are jokes he told. People move on from their previous views and change, it’s what we all do. 

It’s been wonderful to see the amount of people supporting Gunn in the days since his firing including cast members of Guardians, people he knows, others he’s worked with as well as his own brother. But when are studios going to stop listening to what others have to say and actually make these decisions themselves. That’s not what happened here, it got out of hand thanks to the unfortunate power of Twitter trolls and the decision was made before they even told Gunn. It’s inexcusable and it’s time for a change. 

We are with you James. We support you. We admire you. We are Groot. 

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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.

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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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My 100th Post

This is my 100th blog post. It’s been a long road to get to this point but I think it’s been worth it. Recently I’ve started to follow more and more bloggers on WordPress as well as Twitter and it’s one hell of a community. There are some really wonderful film blogs out there, some very alternative ones, some interesting mainstream ones, those which cover classic films, the ones who love the indies. I urge you to check them out, here’s a few links to some really good ones I’ve seen.

http://letsstartwiththisone.blogspot.co.uk/

http://lukesfilmblog.com/

http://mrmarakai.wordpress.com/

http://legallybod.wordpress.com/

http://adashofcinema.com/

http://emptyscreens.com/

http://moviewise.wordpress.com/

I have done a lot too, been to so many things, events, cinemas, just had a great time since I started this blog. I’ve been to the London Film Festival twice (first time getting to meet Marion Cotillard and then meeting Ralph Fiennes), visited the brilliant and gorgeous Aubin Cinema, returned to the IMAX twice in one year (once for the Dark Knight Rises and once for Gravity), finally made it to the Rooftop Cinema Club in Shoreditch, been to the Harry Potter World at the Warner Brother Studios in Watford, watched countless films, bought countless DVDs (my collection recently surpassed 400), went to my very first film marathon at the Prince Charles Cinema, went to the awful Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, got to go to the James Bond in Motion exhibition, Sundance London’s first and second year and the VFX Festival which I didn’t even know existed until a few weeks before I went.  Here’s a few photos from the past two years

For this post, I wanted to include something a bit random and special. Vue Cinemas have kindly provided me with a link to this make-up tutorial to create a high street look similar to that of Angelina Jolie’s in Disney’s new film, Maleficent. A really good video tutorial with the talented Marcos Gurgel who has worked on several diverse projects including The Voice, Strictly Come Dancing, and on titles such as Radio Times, Sunday Times and OK! magazine. He has recently worked on shows during London and Paris Fashion weeks. Have a look below

I also wanted to include a few other images which I’ve seen recently, it’s a mix of all odds and sods, some new films, posters, random images of actors and the Batman exhibition opening in LA. Fingers crossed they bring that here.

As for the future of this blog, don’t worry this isn’t where I will sign off for good. In fact not a tall. I’ve got plenty of ideas coming up including an online film festival, visiting more unusual cinemas, going to more film festivals in London and around the country, interviews with those who are up and coming in the movie industry, once again staying up for the Oscars and just so much more I don’t want to tell you about just yet!

Thanks for reading and as ever, Keep. It. Reel

News from Comic Con: The superheroes are still coming.

Comic Con news just in: new Marvel Comic films are on the way, including second installments of Captain America and Thor, both of which have foregone the usual numbers and opted for full titles. Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be with us on 4th April 2014, whilst Thor: The Dark World will be out on 8th November 2013. The rest include Ironman 3 which is out on 26th April 2013, Guardians of the Galaxy will be released on 1st August 2014 and Ant-Man does not currently have an official date as of yet.

So lots on the way for comic book fans, we’ll see if they can live up to the hype, especially Ant-Man which has had some footage shown at Comic Con. It starts with two agents at the end of a long white corridor, from which we pull back behind an air vent to reveal Ant-Man. Tiny, red and black suit, a mask. Simple. He jumps through the vent, runs along t he corridor and zaps into a normal size. The agents draw their guns. Ant-Man changes back into his small self and leaps into the mouth of one of the agents and knocks him out. He then grabs the tie of the other, flips him through the window and changes back to normal size. He enters an elevator and shrinks back down again.

We’ll see what this holds and how the others do against the magnitude of comic book films that are also in production right now, which includes two more Garfield Spidermans, Man of Steel with Christopher Nolan’s creative input as producer and more from The Avengers. It’s going to be a fun geek-filled few years.

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