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Marvel's Phase 4

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I'll skip this one, I must admit I've seen a bit too much of Dr. Strange beforehand.

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Looks like Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Madness is coming to Disney+ 22nd June.

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Finally got around to seeing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness yesterday. Went in with low expectations, still came away disappointed. 

Spoiler

This is one of those films where it felt like so much happened that I genuinely struggle to remember a lot of it, probably bevause so much of it was of so little consequence. I'll bounce around a bit. 

So, firstly: this film should absolutely be called WandaVision 2 with Doctor Strange and Friends, because it's much more a sequel to WandaVision than it was a sequel to the first Doctor Strange film, and more importantly, the focus was almost entirely on Wanda. Now, for me WandaVision started well and fell off super hard in its latter episodes, and while I know there was that post-credits scene of her flicking through the Darkhold and it certainly teased her going after her kids, it felt like so much of that show was her coming to terms with things that seeing the story continued in a movie... ::shrug: okay cool, she's moved on from Vision but not the kids very specifically at the end of WandaVision? This just didn't feel like the time or place to have this story, if I'm being honest. Much less because it depends on you doing your homework (watching WandaVision and maybe some of What If..?). It felt like it needed a recap of WandaVision at the start for those who hadn't seen it, kind of like they did with Kenobi and having a five minute recaps of the prequels. 

Actually, talking about post-credits scenes, it pretty much summed up the MCU for me in its current state. The film ends with Stephen in pain and being brought to his knees by his third eye opening...and then that entire thing is resolved by the mid-credits scene, where he's opening it for fun. This is what I'm talking about when it comes to things feeling of little consequence, but it's not even just on the larger scale of "okay, just tell me what we're setting up here", but the scale of individuals. It makes things seem so throwaway. 

And talking about throwaway, how about a throwaway line explaining the multiverse? I doubt this is many people's first MCU rodeo, but we're getting to the point where they seem to be forgetting that that's still a minor possibility (and heck, even if not necessarily just for people's first MCU film, how about those not watching the shows?), and I can't remember them explaining it once. You're thrown in at the start with another world's Strange and it just kind of assumes you're already up to speed and goes from there. In fact, it instead adds a whole other dimension to the multiverse: dreamwalking. 

The other, and perhaps much bigger, problem I have with this film is it doesn't really achieve setting the scale of taking place in a multiverse for me. It's a 2 hour film which felt 4 hours long, and in the absolutely terrible way. Other than the sequence where they're jumping from one universe to another nonstop, it just didn't feel big enough to throw "Multiverse" in the title. We've got a few Doctor Stranges, no alternate Wongs (really?), one alternate take on The Avengers in The Illuminati taking down Thanos (with only them present when he's killed, and no-one else? There's an implication of other members of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men through who is in The Illuminati, yet you never get the sense that that's the case: their universe felt contained to that set of characters in that room only. Black Bolt's death was fine but the other characters who had fought together for so long were so out of sync that you wouldn't know it), and a few alternate Wandas. It just felt very self-contained, and so the scale felt off, and ultimately - despite its massive budget - the film just felt small to me, like having Star Wars focused around one family but turned up to eleven. Also not helped by the fact that I swear the green screen backgrounds get worse film after film, I feel like we're at the point where we can watch an MCU film and I can pause and point out what is and isn't against a green screen with at least 90% accuracy. 

And urgh, the "I love you in every universe line" - look, there's a lot of cheese in the MCU, but this takes the cake. I nearly physically gagged in the cinema just hearing him say it. As always, there's the usual "let's undercut a serious moment with a joke", and here the worst offender was having Wong joke about not pissing her off when she's already hell-bent on getting her way anyways (and made worse by Strange just slowly floating up to her, then coming back down to end the quip, and then going into the battle). 

I could go on, but honestly, I don't think I've got the energy to. Think it's very clear I have a loooooooooot of issues with this film, and as such, I was disappointed by it, and again, that's despite going in with low expectations. 

So let's talk about some positives.

• The battle with musical notes was great, it really made me want a modern take on Fantasia!

• The sequence I mentioned before where they're jumping through universes nonstop looked spectacular, and as always, the cool visual things like that and the mirrors that they keep for Doctor Strange were awesome. 

• I love how nonchalantly they handled America having two mothers. That's exactly how I think it needs to be handled: if a same-sex relationship is not core to the story, don't shine a spotlight on it! Because that's not how you normalise it, and I'm sure that, if anything, doing so probably offends the LGBTQ+ community more than it feels like it's helping them. 

• Danny Elfman score. I hadn't heard it was him going in but knew pretty quickly it was him just from how close it often got to giving me the feeling of the music from the Raimi Spider-Man films. Love it. 

So yeah, in a word: disappointed. I go to watch MCU films for fun and not to poke holes in them, but lately it's felt like poking a hole in them just reveals so much more. I'm not expecting them to be as airtight as some of the greatest films ever made, but they don't even feel as tight as they were in Phase Three, or even in weaker parts of the Infinity Saga. I think there's an argument to be made for it being the worst "2" in the MCU. 

It unfortunately continues the trend of Phase Four feeling like an aimless prologue and not doing much of substance; I think so far in Phase Four, just in terms of the films, I enjoyed Shang-Chi and loved the second half of No Way Home...and that's it. I think they're missing more than they're hitting right now, and while I'm sure that won't have an impact on their box office success (it's simply too big to fail right now), I could see the MCU having a wider impact in the long run on comicbook adaptations and with them seeing the adverse impacts of the MCU fatigue that I think a fair few of us are feeling. 

Anyways, Thor: Love and Thunder is next up. Not sure how much I'm looking forward to the film, seeing Hench Padmé throughout an entire film is going to be weird (and yes this is how I'll lovingly refer to this Jane Foster look in the MCU -- huge respect for Natalie Portman getting into shape for the role, obviously! I just can't help but imagine her in this shape in the prequels, which is a funny thought :laughing:), but hopefully it'll be a better than what we've seen for much of Phase Four so far. 

Hopefully. 

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Just finished watching the first episode of Ms Marvel. Don't think it's for me. I spent half of it a bit bored and half thinking it was trying too hard.

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I'm not sure if I'll even bother with it. The trailer for it made it look terrible.

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I got the feeling from the trailer that it was aimed at a younger audience, but I'll watch the first episode tonight and see what I think. 

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I'd still recommend people watch it for themselves as it definitely seems like I'm in the minority in not liking it.

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I really enjoyed it, love the style and the cast seems solid so far.

The MCU shows had started getting a bit samey in terms of style/tone so the first episode of Ms. Marvel was a nice change. I think this was probably my favourite opening episode of any of the Disney+ shows.

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My brother really liked it, though I'm not in a hurry to watch it myself.

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I didn't really feel it, but I think it's aimed at a teenage girl audience. It felt like watching something from the Disney channel, or Nickelodeon from 15 years ago.

I thought the dialogue between the teenage characters felt a bit cringey, but then it's been a while since I was a teenager, so maybe they do talk like that now?

I'll keep watching and see where it goes. I kind of want to know who the villain is going to be, because it's difficult to see who they pitch her up against. Someone evil, but fairly nonthreatening?

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Second episode of Ms Marvel was better than the first, but it's still a bit awkward and cheesy. It feels like watching Clarissa Explains It All, or Tracey Beaker, especially when Kamala is flirting with Kamran. I kept expecting her to do a turn to camera and put her fist in her mouth.

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9 minutes ago, bob said:

It feels like watching Clarissa Explains It All

Ok, now I'm in...

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34 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

Ok, now I'm in...

Without Ferguson though.

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6 hours ago, bob said:

It feels like watching Clarissa Explains It All

So I just watched the first episode and this nails it. I did enjoy it though. A bit cheesy but maybe lighthearted cheese is what is needed from this. I wouldn't be surprised if there are some fourth wall breaks or at least a look at the camera at some point.

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