‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Fleshes Out the Corners of the MCU

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Spider-Man: Homecoming offers a peek at the margins of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.) The “Homecoming” sub-title has a sly double meaning in North America, but both the phrase and its many localizations – usually some variant of “Returning Home” – sent a singular message to most of … [Read more...]

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ is an Intimate Drama About Cycles of Abuse…With a Talking Space Raccoon

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 beautifully blends sci-fi craziness with an examination of anger, pain, and cycles of abuse.)Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is oodles of fun, but it spends its first few scenes articulating a thoughtful mission statement. Its prologue, set 34 years in … [Read more...]

‘Doctor Strange’ Opens Marvel’s Mind and Expands Its Worldview

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Marvel Studios enters bold new territory with Doctor Strange.) In August of 2014, as Doctor Strange was being written and as Marvel was figuring out where to film it in 15 months time, the studio underwent a significant restructuring. Kevin Feige would no longer answer to Marvel CEO … [Read more...]

‘Captain America: Civil War’ is Marvel’s Harrowing Longterm Payoff to Years of Storytelling

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to re-invent itself every couple of years. From big, fun crossover action to space-set family soap opera, it’s been laying track one way or another for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, but a decade of narrative investment can’t be achieved … [Read more...]

With ‘Ant-Man,’ Marvel Goes Small, Simple and Sincere

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Ant-Man is sometimes muddled, but charm and style go a long way.) While “superhero fatigue” is by no means a cultural phenomenon – Avengers: Infinity War could topple Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the opening weekend box office – it’s most certainly experienced on an individual … [Read more...]

One Year Later, ‘Fast and Furious’ Still Hasn’t Dealt With #JusticeForHan

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: it’s been one year since the release of The Fate of the Furious and the lack of #JusticeForHan still stings.) The Fast & Furious franchise is headed for its ninth entry with Hobbs & Shaw, the Dwayne Johnson/Jason Statham-led spinoff from director David Leitch. It marks a departure from the series’ … [Read more...]

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Balances Gods and Monsters, Bringing Marvel’s Legacy Into Focus

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Avengers: Age of Ultron takes a long, hard look at gods, monsters, and the humans in-between.) How often do we ask ourselves why we created God and the Devil? We’ve been questioning our own existence for thousands of years – where we came from and what we’ll leave behind – so to have … [Read more...]

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Goes Cosmic and Gives Marvel Its Raw, Beating Heart

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Guardians of the Galaxy gets weird, and it’s spectacular.) Flashback, Comic Con 2012. Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige announces development on Guardians of the Galaxy, to which even seasoned Marvel readers respond: “Wait… Who?” Flashback, Comic Con 2013. Marvel plays the … [Read more...]

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ is the First Marvel Masterwork

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Marvel Studios finally finds the perfect blend of character and politics in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.) Nine films into its now 18 entries, the Marvel Cinematic Universe found its groove in a major way. The series’ prior imbalance was owed to both occasionally muddled … [Read more...]

‘Thor: The Dark World’ Sends the God of Thunder Everywhere, and Nowhere

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Thor: The Dark World defines Marvel’s “villain problem” and doesn’t do much else.) Thor: The Dark World plays like Marvel’s first truly troubled production. The rush to get the ball rolling on the space-set sequel saw the exit of Thor director Kenneth Branagh, … [Read more...]

‘Iron Man 3’ Proved That Marvel Works, Even When It Doesn’t

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Iron Man 3 brings a personal new style to the MCU, even as it stumbles in the homestretch.) Marvel needed to prove exactly one thing after The Avengers, and that was the possibility of different kinds of stories. While Guardians of the Galaxy would go on to be the biggest … [Read more...]

‘The Avengers’ is the Blockbuster That Transcended Barriers and Changed Everything

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: The Avengers is a big party of a movie…and a party that may have changed studio movies forever.) The Avengers is the quintessential blockbuster experience. No film before or since has resulted in the kind of global celebration that followed in May of 2012, something even its … [Read more...]

‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ Finds Marvel’s Emotional Core and Its Greatest Hero

(Welcome to Road to Infinity War, a new series where we revisit the first 18 movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and ask “How did we get here?” In this edition: Captain America: The First Avenger offers Marvel Studios a proper moral compass.) Steve Rogers is the heart and soul of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether we’re watching his solo outings, his Avengers team-ups, or a combination of the two (like Captain America: Civil War), … [Read more...]