Tag Archives: thor

Being a Male MCU Fan in 2022

Table of Contents

About Me
She-Hulk
Ms. Marvel
Dr. Strange M.O.M.
Moon Knight
Hawkeye
The Eternals
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Friends,

I’ve seen a lot of complaining about the MCU since Thor (2011). While that film did deserve some panning, the greater significance of those criticisms was that they were the first I remember of many, many, many criticisms to come for the Universe and its offerings.

From whence did a general distaste for the MCU come?

Red Letter Media is where I first really began hearing about superhero movie burnout (I wanna say around their review of Ironman 3 (2013) ….goofy ass film that it was, but kinda good still), and while I can apprehend that frustration in the abstract, it seems like an ungenerous lead weight to hang around the neck of every new superhero film or series.

To be clear, I love RLM’s reviews and have watched most of them. That said, there are times I disagree with them. And if I’m being honest, this post was prompted more by the Facebook group, Red Letter Media Endless RichEvansPosting (and who knows who’s running that group!) than any recent review I watched of theirs. But the tale of the memes there is that beyond generalized superhero fatigue, there are some irksome woke politics being bandied about in a polarizing way.

I have devoted a lot of time and attention to digesting the MCU stories (some of them repeatedly) and so I feel I am as qualified as anyone to speak on them.

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Who am I? (Skip to next section for reviews)

If you’ve been reading this blog since its inception in 2013 (or if you go further back to the 2011 blogspot days (The Most Interesting Blog in the World) you’ll know that I have been at odds with woke politics on some level from Trump v Hillary onward. Since that summer of 2016 (‘Summer of Sam [Hyde]’) I have kept my edge and avoided mental and moral docility with a steady diet of Jordan Peterson, Million Dollar Extreme, The Joe Rogan Experience, Hermetic philosophy, stand-up comedy, and right-wing politics & meme groups (what can I say, the left can’t meme…).

Being an unmarried 30 something male during Trump v Hillary was like being a suburban white kid when The Marshall Mathers LP dropped; the gravity was inescapable and it made me feel righteous and justified (it still kinda does). The legacy of TvH is a complicated one because Trump was telling us things that were true but which also needed scrubbing before they could be adopted productively (by me). ‘Scrubbing’ is a pretty sterile term so I’ll cal it what it is: From Summer 2016 until Summer 2019 I dealt with feelings of resentment, hate, misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism, self-harm, and longing for catastrophe. In reality I was learning to have worth and set boundaries, but anyone who puts up a boundary, whether a picket fence or border wall, must seem like an intolerant tyrant to someone else.

(*Note: With regard to the MCU and Star Wars (another universe I had grown up with), there was all manner of cuckoldry afoot during these years (Captain Marvel, Solo, the Sequel trilogy, Black Panther) and such blatant disregard for what I wanted to see was irksome—whether I was ultimately right or wrong.*)

Still, I wasn’t quite worth anything yet—I was still exhuming deeply embedded bullshit in the core of my being—but the fences were up at least. What I later realized (right before doing peyote in January 2021) was that doing ayahuasca (Jan 2016) had put me on a multi-year path of self-discovery where I had to purge deeply entrenched emotions, traumas, pathological anatomical structures, and misapprehensions about the world.

Ayahuasca truly sent me to hell, and anyone who got close to me during those first few years thereafter got caught up in my hell.

I did keep going though. Looking back on some of the ideas I held at the time and the things I said, I’m glad I was able to vomit them up in the nerf’d space that is social media, rather than going out and acting them out for real.

Playing guitar started to turn things around for me in 2018, while subsequent psychadelic experiences kept the tempo of self-discovery brisk. Thankfully, those and other concurrent and earlier investments in self began to appreciate and the fences I had established now actually protected something of value. Possessed of said value (at least by my own estimation) I felt a lot better about the world and unlocking the gates of the fences more liberally.

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Now that you know who I am…..

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Over the last few weeks I have been watching She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. I like it and I’m going to continue watching it. Have there been missteps? From my perspective, yes, but at the same time I know women and they misstep and/or say cringe shit all the time so its actually kind of realistic.

How likely is it that a chick lawyer is gonna have a RBG bobble-head in their office? Pretty goddamn likely.

How likely is it that an empowered woman is gonna reference possible murder as a consequence of not keeping their cool? Pretty goddamn likely.

If I met Jennifer Walters at a bar we would probably butt heads and I might be provoked into saying something sexist like, “Calm down, pussycat!

Listen pussycat, smile a bit.

I don’t think that makes me bad or her a feminist martyr, but I think it does indicate that the higher the level of verbal sparring you do (and she’s a lawyer), the greater the imperative to never let ’em see you sweat. When I’m bantering with someone I’m gonna play with their feelings, and if progressive womanism is what they got their (safety!) panties in a bunch about, then you got a believe that’s where I’m aiming.

She-Hulk is not a story about a woke superhero. It’s about a very plausible progressive woman with a chip on her shoulder who I would 50/50 love or hate in real-life, and who suddenly has powers and a spotlight on her. She is of course reluctant now because all of her unpopular opinions are under the scrutiny of myself and other deplorables.

This is 4D story-telling and I would say that you’re supposed to hate it except that it is so remarkably self-aware, well-paced, expertly acted, clever and funny. It is incredibly well-wrought and fun to watch, and I daresay the things that I find cringe in the show are things that I have to get better at dealing with as I take steps away from my vagabond lifestyle and into my role as a member of society.

Ms. Marvel (Yet to finish, but I will)

Ms. Marvel (Yet to finish, but I will)

Despite being very underwhelmed by Captain Marvel, I wasn’t even particularly dubious about Ms. Marvel—I have been enjoying the Disney/Marvel series’ precisely because they have been defying my expectations in two key ways:
1) Defying my expectations of who a superhero might be; and
2) Defying my expectations of shittiness in the wake of Disney/Marvel/Star Wars’ shitty 2016/18 woke run (with certain exceptions…there were exceptions during the woke run that is….)

Kamala Khan is likeable and believable in the same way Jennifer Walters is, and the show (at least by episode III) had already done some interesting things with regard to Kamala within the socio-religious context of being a Muslim woman in America. The show didn’t blame white men for a young, Muslim girl’s struggles but did show a woman’s struggles within an actual patriarchy (the Imams and Uncles in her community).

And wouldn’t you know, the patriarchs are humanized too. Sure, they may be fossils, but they are benevolent. In reality, Kamala faces more immediate repression from her mother (also not painted as a villain). I like this show so far because it’s showing that “patriarchy” doesn’t have to be what someone else tells you it is. It shows tradition as important—keeping the fire alive rather than worshipping ashes. Kamala Khan is a female version of the man Jordan Peterson has been telling me to be for years: The brave adventurer that descends into chaos to rescue her (archetypal) father who has gone blind and stale. In the process she (and friends) revivify her society and she is remade into something better than she was before.

And for those who have complaints about the frenetic style in which the show shot and edited, remember this is a teenage girl’s reality. Remember: Demographically there is no group that will make you feel more stupid, insecure, outdated, antiquated, and annoyed than teenage girls. You will not understand their slang, the tech platforms they use, etc. Nonetheless, this show manages to level the curve to the extent that we get a glimpse of how they think and put reality together.

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

This movie is the shit! I couldn’t look away nor could I shake the feeling that Marvel had made something just for me. I’ll be brief here and do a full review later:

Dr. Strange is the smartest fucking guy in the room, and because of the stakes and tone of The Infinity Saga his goofiness, arrogance, and constant failings are only just being explored in earnest. Like me, there is no reason why Strange shouldn’t always win everything all the time, except he constantly shoots himself in the dick with pridefulness before ultimately learning his lesson. That is so relatable to me.

For the geopolitically minded, there are some heavy themes regarding Sino-American relations which will be discussed at a later date, but even more important that (yes, more important than that!) is the commentary on motherhood. Themes of pathological motherhood have been prevalent in 2022, with Moon Knight and Hawkeye showing abuse and criminality respectively, but Scarlet Witch’s Oedipal tendencies (set up in Wandavision, though not explored in order to give her room to still be the hero) are shown in a high-stakes and sensational way. What would be interesting to see (Listen up, Disney!!) is for season 2 of What If?… had an episode where America Chavez and Strange don’t defeat Wanda and instead we see what her boys became years later under her pathological care.

Moon Knight

Again, Moon Knight spoke to me with its themes of pathological motherhood and having a split identity with superpowers. It’s too wacky at times. Too slow at others. Some stuff isn’t explored enough and the rules they establish (powers of Gods, enemy abilities, jump cuts) are consistent although somewhat fucky. Still, I have to extend the same latitude to Moon Knight as I did to Ms. Marvel: This is probably something approximating the experience of being mentally ill. Take it from me. (Also, lyrically ill).

Hawkeye

I didn’t want to like Kate Bishop but I do. I see so much great comedic potential between her and Yelena, and Clint Barton was honored. It’s been a few months since I watched it so some of the finer details are foggy, but its always nice to watch a series like this which is grounded in (mostly) unpowered people fighting criminality. Like Falcon and Winter Soldier, but less global.

The Eternals

I really liked this film but it is a sloooowwww burn. While reviews have been mostly indifferent to it, it’s another that I feel was made for me. It’s beautiful to watch and the story is archetypal in the sense that the heroes we see are super being, gods, humans, and perhaps most importantly, avatars of the viewer’s emotions/psyche.

Killing a baby to save the mother and the father’s subsequent reaction is portrayed so deftly that you don’t even realize what you’re watching until you’ve had time to think about it.

It was nice to see the genocidal SJW (Sprite) get knocked out by the incel (Druig). ‘GO TEAM!!’ I suppose…

And the best scene in the film: Phastos’ reaction to the detonation of the atom bomb. I cried.

Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings

I think the best thing about this film is that bad is not all bad (the father), good is not all good (the sister). How very daoist!

The fight sequences were cool and I felt that the art direction was very…Asian-minded! It’s hard to explain but the sequence with the shifting trees and the hidden path felt like an old Chinese story come to life. And of course, the main story about Wenwu (the father) pathologically pursuing his lost love to ‘hilarious’ consequences is entirely relatable to me.

The only thing I didn’t like is the reform of Mandarin, who apologizes profusely for impersonating an Asian warlord in Ironman 3. I get atonement—see my above confessions—but I feel it could have been handled better with humor rather than such sullen seriousness. And of course, the ‘Mandarin voice’ would have been a welcome return—perhaps as a small assist in the final battle.

Replacing the entire roster of the Avengers for a new generation (or at least decade) is not easy, but Shang-Chi takes its responsibility to the fans seriously and is a solid instalment, which, in a similar spirit to The Eternals, shows me something I’m not used to seeing in the MCU.

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Thank-you for reading this far if you did. I have been thinking about rewatching the whole MCU series of films and shows from the chronological beginning and writing a review for each and I think I enjoy the material enough and appreciate it deeply enough that I could do a worthy job.

Please stay tuned.

Best,
-Andre

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The Mission

My Friends,
   I am working in Toronto this weekend east of downtown.  Its actually an easy job: show up in the east end for 8am, set up some stuff for an hour or so, come back at 1pm and tear it down.  Then the day is mine.  However, it is the period between set-up and tear-down I am most looking forward to because I will be in the neighbourhood of a seriously sweet nerd-shop which I visited back in the summer on another job.  To clarify, when I say nerd-shop I mean a place that sells comic books, cards, collectibles, sculptures and most importantly, toys.  As you might recall from my recent post, “The Curious Case of Andre Guantanamo” (23 July 2012) I have in the last few months been on an action-figure binge after recognizing that even though I am ostensibly an adult I still have immature tastes and I should nurture these tastes.  Anyhow, this particular shop made it into a tweet a while back when I sat mulling over which action figure to buy while there.

RotJ Luke, ESB Han, or WW2 Captain America.  I opted for the Cap under the advisement of the clerk.

These three figures were only a sampling of the many figures at the store from both the retro Star Wars line and the Marvel Universe line, my two current favourites.  So needless to say I am excited to go back.  When you factor in that I could also potentially visit the Silver Snail on the other side of the downtown core while in the city, well it occurred to me that there would be a veritable feast of toys to choose from this weekend.
   And therein lay the problem; nurturing a massive toy boner,

Pictured: Another Kind of Toy Boner

I got so worked up about the smorgasbord of action figures I would get to choose from that I prematurely decided to go looking for some toys on the way back from picking up the gear for the weekend from the company’s warehouse in Mississauga.  Chatting with one of the workers there (a fellow nerd) I learned of Gotham Central on Dixie Rd.,  not 5km from my current position.  I asked him to clarify if they had the toy lines I was looking for and he confirmed it.  So I went and checked it out, and while it was a good shop he oversold it a little and it turns out they didn’t carry much in the way of what I was looking for.
   But this was ok, as I had only learned about this place at the last minute and my actual plan had been to hit the Toys R’ Us on Hurontario and the Wal-Mart on Hwy 5 and Trafalgar on the way back to Hamilton; a somewhat roundabout way to get home but planned with maximum toy exposure in mind.  So I hit the TRU and was mostly disappointed.  They really had nothing too much in the way of either preferred toy line.  Dejected I decided to make my way to Wal-Mart but I did notice two shelves of Marvel Universe 2-packs.  The two which caught my eye were… 
…Black Costume Spider-Man & Dr. Doom…

…and Old-School Wolverine & She-Hulk.

Now right off the bat I have to say that I have no special affinity for Dr. Doom or She-Hulk.  I just wasn’t raised on them I guess.  That said I couldn’t really justify buying either set when I would be paying twice the price for a character I didn’t want.  But even more than this, I had a close look at the knee joints of Spider-Man and Wolverine and they looked a little fucky so I decided that discretion would have to be the better part of valor and I proceeded to Oakville and the Wal-Mart there.
   Utter disappointment awaited me here as the only thing they had in the way of Star Wars figures was the shit that no one wanted,
Quinlan Vos anyone?…Anyone?

and for the Marvel figures all they had was toys from the Spider-Man movie.  I gave these a quick once-over to see if any struck my fancy but there were like ten variations of Spider-Man (i.e. Hydro-Jet Spider-Man, Rocket-Boost Spider-Man, Chunneling Spider-Man, etc.) and they all sucked.
   Moving right along, I headed west across Dundas into Burlington where there was another Wal-Mart on Appleby Line.  Again I was presented with the same disappointing array of toys and out of desperation turned again to the Spider-Man movie line.  There was in this case one action figure who caught my eye: 
“Symbiote Strike Spider-Man”

My interest in this figure stemmed solely from the fact that I am a fan of the Venom character and this was Spider-Man wearing the symbiotic black suit before Eddie Brock got it.  But I am a discerning shopper who does not simply buy something flashy if it has no utility.  Thankfully we live in an age of iphones and tech-savvy nerds like me who do things like post toy reviews on Youtube.  I watched this review while standing in the aisle,
and decided to pass on this figure on account of his poor articulation and poseability.  You laugh at my thoroughness, but this is actually the second time I have checked out a review for a toy on the fly.  The first time was about a week back when I was trying to decide between Master Chief from Halo 4 and a Dark Knight Rises Batman:
As you can see, I also consulted the Twitters

I made up my mind to get Batman after watching a review of the figure which allayed my fears of poor articulation and poseability.  In fact the figure turned out to not only be incredibly detailed but very poseable…
as you can see here.

   So I left Wal-Mart still empty-handed, disheartened and resolved to head home.  But like a spiteful harpy bringing deceitful promises of wonderful toys, I saw another TRU as I pulled out of the Wal-Mart plaza.  I suppose they had built it just recently and I hadn’t as such been able to work it into my original plans.   Was it worth checking out?
Worth dying for…
Worth killing for…
Worth making an illegal U-turn for.  
   FAILURE!  This TRU actually had some of exactly what I was l looking for, but its failing was that it didn’t have all of exactly what I was looking for.  I couldn’t believe it: I had checked out five stores across Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington and none carried any of the good toys I wanted, and when they did carry something good it was never the character I wanted or it was bundled with some garbage.  Perhaps this is a testament to my pickiness.  But I like what I like.  And if my woman makes fun of me for spending so much time searching and being picky, I will be forced to remind her that it was the same pickiness and discernment which led me to choose her.  Smooth right?
   Still I think I learned that if you’re excited about something, like I am about tomorrow’s happy toy hunting in Toronto, you shouldn’t cheapen it with little teases at the local toy emporium.  It’s like knowing your going to have some freaky, guilt-inducing sex and getting so stoked about it that you get horny and relent to watching some missionary porn.  What’s the sense in that?  Honestly; why not just wait?
   Anyhow, I didn’t quite get my proverbial “toy nut” today so if I don’t find something incredibly sick tomorrow I run a serious risk of catching the collector’s equivalent of blue-balls.  
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo


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