The Four Films You Need To Watch To Understand Captain Marvel (Speculation, Pre-Movie Release)

gregg clarke as agent coulson in captain marvel
A digitally de-aged Agent Coulson. They de-aged Nick Fury too. Can they do this for me?

Right, I know, Captain Marvel hasn’t come out yet — but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest a few films you should watch to understand what the deal is with Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, and the state of the MCU. If you’re not a rabid Marvel fan, or just need a refresher, you can get ready with just four MCU films. (Or three films and two short videos, if you’re short on time.)

In a real way, audiences are lucky with Captain Marvel — it’s a relatively painless entry point for an MCU movie.

By this, I mean you don’t need to sit down this week and watch the 20+ movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Captain Marvel (the film) goes back in time to the 90s, making it essentially the chronologically first film in the Avenger timeline. (Ignore for now that Captain America – The First Avenger started around World War 2…)

So, you’re off the hook for this film in a way you CAN’T be for the spring 2019 release of Avengers 4 – End Game. End Game will require audiences to be on their toes and completely up to date. As the title suggests, it’s the culmination of a long ranging plan. Ten years of movies! And it will be over three hours long, so you’ll need our Peetimes for it.

For Captain Marvel, these are my guesses to understand the events we’re about to see (links go to RunPee’s movie reviews):

  1. Avengers 1 – Avengers Assemble – This movie best establishes the characters of Nick Fury and Agent Phil Coulson, who should have major roles in the Captain Marvel story. Also, this movie is a great entry point to explain who the Avengers are without having to watch every individual origin story. And there’s this: where was Captain Marvel during the Battle of New York? I’m hoping the upcoming film explains why Fury didn’t see fit contact her then, or ever, until Infinity War.
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1 – You need to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 1 to understand the cosmic end of the Marvel universe, see who the Kree  are, what Xandar is about, and get a proper introduction to Ronan The Accuser. Of all the movies on this list, GOTG 1 is probably the most crucial to view. Fortunately, this kick-ass film is always a crowd-pleaser.
  3. Avengers 3 – Infinity War – Why does Fury carry that pager around for decades and only use it now? This is the only story that refers to Captain Marvel explicitly. We still don’t know how she fits in. I’m going to warn you: Infinity War is a HUGE film, with its own list of must-preview movies. I dithered about putting this on the list, to be honest. If you’re a complete novice to the MCU, I recommend you skip it. You’d be hopelessly lost. Just watch the end credit scene, provided here (a MUST):
  4. Ant-Man & The Wasp – This one contains the most speculation on my part. Will Ant Man and crew even show up in Captain Marvel? Probably not. But since Time Vortices are mentioned, and the Quantum Realm might play a role in Captain Marvel’s story, this might be worth watching. It’s still on Netflix, so grab it while you can (before Disney pulls all the Marvel films off onto their own subscription streaming channel). Captain Marvel is supposed to have time travel in it. If you can’t get your hands on the Time Stone, the Quantum Realm is the next best place place to look, and only the guys in Ant-Man know about it. So far.

I also have another movie in mind worth viewing, but mentioning it would be a complete spoiler if the rumors are true. This particular superhero is covered in Infinity War anyway, so it’s fine to skip it. I think. (Remember, this is a speculation article.)

UPDATE after seeing Captain Marvel: I was thinking above that the Dr. Strange movie would be a part of the Captain Marvel story. It wasn’t. But it’s one of the Marvel films that has time travel as a major component…so it’s possible that Strange and Marvel get together to save the day in Avengers – Endgame. Actually, who are we kidding? Let’s just say it’s going to happen. 

Update: Watch a Short MCU Video About Agent Phil Coulson for Free, Now

  • A Funny Thing Happened…I found a handful of super short Marvel Cinematic Universe one-offs this week, and sat down to watch them all. It didn’t take long, and they don’t offer many hints on the MCU, to be honest. But there’s one you MUST see before Captain Marvel if you don’t know much about the main characters. Watch these few fun minutes of Agent Phil Coulson in his Thor years, in a short called A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer: 

After Captain Marvel comes out, we can see how close my guesses are. What do you think?

Coming Soon – Peetimes for Captain Marvel

Quiz – Brie Larson – The New Captain Marvel and Beyond

1st Captain Marvel Trailer Finally Drops – Comments and Speculation

The Quantum Realm in Ant-Man 2 Offers Answers for Avengers 4

10 Ways Ant Man Could Escape the Quantum Realm

Lego Movie 2 Holiday Short – Christmas is Awesome

LEGO2 - Benny
Space helmets make great Christmas decorations when you’re a vintage Lego.

I somehow missed this little video treat over the holidays, and maybe you did too. On the eve of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, it’s worth taking a peek at this short Christmas one-off taking place in the apocalyptic ruins of Bricksburg and the Lego Movie crew (including Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, and Will Arnett), as Space Duplos enter the stage to ruin everything. If this sounds confusing, just watch The Lego Movie again (at least the last few minutes). That will get you up to snuff.

Here is the fun little short, starring all the regulars from the original Lego Movie, adding some Unikitty rainbow barf, Lego Batman eggnog, a different version of Everything is Awesome, and all kinds of wacky:

Are the Four Lego Movies Sequels, Prequels, or Stand-Alone Films?

Chris Pratt and the Lego Cast go to Space Camp

Everything is Awesome – Video and Lyrics to The Lego Movie Theme Song

Movie Review – The LEGO Batman Movie – One of the BEST Batman films, ever

Chris Pratt and the Lego Cast go to Space Camp

Chris-Pratt-is-also-Rex-Dangervest
Raptor trainer, space guardian, archaeologist, cowboy, and brick layer…who sounds remarkably like Chris Pratt.

This adorable spoof of a reality show about which Lego actor gets to become a space-person is really cute/interesting/funny.  Something we at RunPee find continually amusing is how RunPee Dan used to work at Space Camp, and RunPee Jilly worked at Astro Camp, both in the days of our youth. Sometimes geekland is a small universe!

In this video, the cast of the Lego Movie 1 and 2 attend Space Camp to see which of them would make an actually half-decent astronaut, as an effort to help promote The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part…where, it seems, the crew goes into space to become the Lego version of the Guardians of the Galaxy:

Want to guess who the best astronaut is? Who can keep cool and on task, under several levels of gravity, in the multi-axis trainer, during EVAs, and as a member of Mission Control? Captain Robert Gibson, a REAL astronaut, gets to judge (call him Hoot, and cut him some slack for dealing with these slackers):

Your choices for the ultimate Astronaut Title:

Will it be Chris Pratt, ultimate Star Lord goofball and Emmet himself? Perhaps Will Arnett as the intrepid Lego Batman? Or Elizabeth Banks as the cool-as-a-cucumber WyldStyle? And then, of course, there is James Corden, the talk show host who invited them to Huntsville, Alabama in the first place.

Place your votes! Although, really, it starts to become clear which actor keeps their head best in real life…

This video is a lot of fun and will get you excited for the newest fun time with our bestest Lego friends, where Everything Is Awesome.

Everything is Awesome – Video and Lyrics to The Lego Movie Theme Song

The Cast of Voices for The Lego Movie 2 – The Second Part

Movie Review – The LEGO Movie

Movie Review – The LEGO Batman Movie – One of the BEST Batman films, ever

Quiz – Chris Pratt – Not the New Kid in Town Anymore

Movie Review – The LEGO Ninjago Movie (the least exciting Lego film for adults)

 

Iconic Cars From Movies – Walmart Crafts A Winning Superbowl Commercial

Bumblebee is back
Technically, not a car.

It’s crazy, but the Superbowl commercial of the day goes to….Walmart. Walmart! I know! Whodathunk?

I need to make some screen captures, but you can do for now with the below video of the all-out effort made to include beloved, iconic, and a few harder-to-spot cool cars from many movies and TV shows, over many decades of time.

The Plot: These movie cars are sent out to pick up groceries from Walmart, and plays out like a little movie. What did we just see, in which order? 

  • The Batmobile from Batman  (One incarnation of it. Heh, get it? In-CAR-nation?)
  • Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters (And Slimer)
  • KITT, from Knight Rider, which would be my first choice to get my stuff, since I wouldn’t have to even go to Walmart at all. I could just send KITT there and stay home (And I checked…the voice is indeed really KITT’s, as William Daniels reprises his original role!)
  • Lightning McQueen from Pixar’s Cars
  • Mutt Cutts “Shaggin’ Wagon” from Dumb and Dumber
  • The Truckster station wagon from the Griswold Family in National Lampoon’s Vacation
  • The Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo
  • The Jurassic Park Tour Vehicle, complete with a hungry pack of Compies (We’re back in the car…again!)
  • Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach, with Cinderella herself (Awwwww)
  • The Flintstones Car
  • We also see Bumblebee from the Transformers franchise. Well, why not? We’ll call him a part-time car. Maybe I’ll send him for my groceries
  • And finally, The DeLorean from Back to the Future

I’ve seen a few of these cars in “real life” — made by real people who went out of their way to redesign some wacky classics. To wit: the Ecto-1 in Yuma, AZ, the Mystery Machine in Asheville, NC, and the Delorean in San Diego, CA (that last one was at Comic Con, in the streets of downtown).

But seriously, this nostalgic commercial gets all the loves this year, plus it plays out over Gary Numan’s 1979 hit “Cars”:

The commercial sells the idea that you just show up in your car, and a Walmart Associate will bring out your groceries…which I am totally down with, since I don’t like shopping in person. So it’s a whole lot of brilliant, and whoever pulled this all together (getting all the rights alone must have been a nightmare) deserves their car of choice.

I’m still deciding which one I want. 🙂

Is Bumblebee a prequel or a reboot?

The Weirdest Moments in Classic Christmas Specials

abominable snowman on the year without a santa claus
Turns out he’s not a bad guy. But still kind of strange.

Old Christmas TV specials can be downright bizarre. I grew up watching the animated cartoons like  Frosty the Snowman and The Grinch, and eagerly lapped up the clay stop-motions like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and The Year Without a Santa Claus. Joyous holiday fun, right?

Yes. And no. They’re enjoyable shorts, but as an adult I’m noticing really strange beats, weirdo songs, and odd, almost off-putting characters. Some of these things resonate through the years: we’ve learned to use the term Reindeer Games to signify human pack behavior that’s intended to be more clique-ish than inclusive. And among those experiencing “outsider status” alienation, the concept of The Island of Misfit Toys really hits home.

Here are some of the best wacked-out characters and songs from decades ago that we still love, probably because of their strangeness.

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974):

Remember the Heat Miser? There’s also a Snow Miser, but nobody remembers him. The Snow guy seems too nice, but the “Heat Blister” is the king of strange. If you’ve ever seen this, the lyrics come flooding back. (He’s too much…da da da duh…)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966):

I can’t go any further without mentioning the beloved song, You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. What great about this song is there are so many additional lyrics as the song reprises over the course of 26 minutes of cartoon runtime. It’s really creative and each set gets wilder and weirder. I love this. Between The Grinch and the Heat Miser, it’s like grumpy geek nirvana.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964):

This is the cutest one in the holiday lineup, with a whole lot of adorableness and a great message about tolerance, compassion for others who don’t fit the societal role, and the kind of understanding that leads (if we’re really lucky) to friendship. Everyone in this special is damaged goods in some way, even Santa himself, who has to stuff himself unhealthily to fit the “image” of a fat old man. But the real strangeness award has to go to the Abominable Snowman, who’s only cranky because his teeth hurt. Enter the elf who wants to be a — gasp! —  dentist. It all comes around, and Rudolph’s deformity saves Christmas. I hope the other reindeer invite him to play their games and he tells them off. Although, I guess, that’s defeating the spirit of the message.

The Island of Misfit Toys also qualifies as weird. There’s a birdfish, a crying dolly, a Charlie in the Box, a train with square wheels…all toys probably made by elves on crack. The toys believe no child would ever want them. In reality — our reality — there are kids who’d love them instead of getting the boring same-old toys: these are unique. And remember, even in this day there are children who’s families can’t afford any gifts. They would CHERISH these toys.

Those who are different don’t have to be outcasts, or think of themselves as broken. Apparently Santa doesn’t even bother to save the toys in the original, as LifeNews reports in an excellent article (well worth a read — angry letters from children saved the day).

And that’s all I’m going to say as I put my soapbox away. Here’s the brightly, sprightly song the lonely toys sing, at strange odds with their predicament — they truly have no hope for themselves. It’s remarkably subversive, and I love it:

In sum, I’d posit that strange is memorable and fun, sticking to the nooks and crannies of the brain moreso than taking more expected  route. Look at the new (1918) Grinch movie. It’ a marvel of animation, but boring. Really, really boring.

Have I missed something noteworthy and odd from your favorite holiday specials? Do you prefer the Grinch song or the Heat Miser? Please add your comments below!

In Defense of the Grinch (1966)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)

 

 

 

RIP Stan Lee – you will be missed

stan-lee-marvel-superhero
The Man. The Spider. And every other beloved Marvel superhero. Stan Lee, you will be missed.

We just heard today (11/12/18) about the passing of legendary Marvel Comics superhero creator and movie co-producer Stan Lee, at the age of 95.

Not only was he beloved for introducing the world to such enduring characters as as The Hulk, Thor, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the X-Men (among many others), but he also appeared in some way in every Marvel movie, in vastly amusing cameos.

In a recent MCU massive movie rewatch this summer in New York to herald the coming of Ant Man & The Wasp, it’s reported [pullquote]the biggest laughs and moments of outrageous fan applause came during each Lee cameo.[/pullquote] His ritual appearances were always highly anticipated by legions of fans, and it was exciting when Lee and Marvel Studios confirmed a fan theory that all his tiny scenes added up to an ongoing arc for his own character as a Watcher Informant. (See link below to our article about his own MCU character.)

At this point, it’s known that Lee hated to fly, and preferred to shoot his upcoming movie scenes in batches. So we will probably see at least two post-mortem cameos next Spring: one for Captain Marvel in March, and in Avengers 4 (still untitled) in May.[pullquote position=”right”] It would be nice if at least one of those cameos had a little more meat to them, as a proper send-off to a beloved superhero creator.[/pullquote]

Something I think we can all feel pleased about is that just this last June, Mr. Lee (along with JK Rowling for Harry Potter and Joss Whedon for Buffy) was inducted into the Sci Fi & Fantasy Hall of Fame.  According to Screenrant, “previous inductees include the likes of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Gene Roddenberry, Terry Pratchett, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.” It’s a pleasure to realize Lee was alive to receive this rare and sought-after award.

Here are a few articles we wrote on RunPee about Stan Lee this past summer that you won’t want to have missed, including a video roundup of every Marvel Cinematic Universe cameo:

Stan Lee – His Marvel Cameos are a Secret Character

Every Stan Lee Cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Guardians of the Galaxy Song – Guardians Inferno

Deadpool MCU Crossover Moments

RIP Mjölnir: Who Can Lift Thor’s Hammer?

Avengers Infinity War – Characters Missing in Action, Whereabouts Unknown

And here’s a link to all the movies articles tagged with Marvel on RunPee.com.

We send loving wishes to Stan Lee’s family and hope they can feel peace through this trying time. Mr.  Lee leaves behind a legacy previously unheard of in cinema — making a linked series of 20+ award-winning blockbuster movies — not to mention a  lifetime of extraordinary comic book creation.  Thank you for being our Guardian of the Galaxy. Rest In Peace, somewhere in the universe. 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Song – Guardians Inferno Video and Lyrics

I think this is our long-awaited Dance Off.

The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vols 1 and 2, are already beloved movie icons, both inside and outside the geek crowd. As a big part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, their reach extends from Disney theme parks, with the hugely popular Guardian’s Breakout ride, to this little gem of a disco parody song called The Guardians Inferno.

It’s a catchy tune, and watching the video is great fun. Almost every character (plus erstwhile  director James Gunn) are featured in shiny, tight, glittery, and frankly outlandish outfits that wouldn’t stick out on the dance floor in the 80s.  Mutton chops and afros make an appearance too. If you’ve seen the movies, you’ll understand why David Hasselhoff (AKA Zardu Hasslefrou) sings this song — and if you know anything about Marvel comics, you’ll adore the Stan Lee cameo at the end.

Try to see if you can spot these characters from the films:

  • Gamora
  • Kraglin/Rocket
  • Drax
  • Nebula
  • Mantis
  • Star Lord
  • (And also director James Gunn)

Lyrics are below. And by the way, a “procyon lotor” is a raccoon. But you probably guessed that. 🙂

Here are the lyrics to this hugely amusing bonus treat:

Guardians Inferno

(Song byThe Sneepers, 2017)

Getting down and dirty with a procyon lotor
Got no people skills but he’s good with motors

That weird thing by his side’s an infantilized sequoia
The two of them walk by, people say “oh boy-a”

They ask me why I’m bringin’
A baby into battle
That’s really irresponsible
And getting them rattled

I say “give me a break
Get off of my back damn, it”
I didn’t learn parenting
My daddy was a planet

Zardu Hasselfrau, Zardu Hasselfrau, hey
Zardu Hasselfrau, Zardu Hasselfrau, hey

In these times of hardship
Just remember…

We
Are
Groot.

(Songwriters: James Gunn / Tyler Bates. Guardians Inferno lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company)

LOTR: Fan Film Short of The Hobbit – An Unexpected Parody

Who the hell are you? Gandalf, what’s with these Dwarves?

I think Peter Jackson should have opened The Hobbit with this fan-film feature. It’s that cute. Even if you don’t like drinking shots, you’ll find this short amusing. I can see this (in my personal head cannon) as what actually happened that fateful night at Bag End, and why Bilbo joined the Dwarves’ expedition to The Lonely Mountain.

This musical one-off (to the tune of Shots, by Lil Jon) has good production values — I’m impressed. Some of the Dwarves look just like their movie counterparts, and leads me to wonder if some reprised their roles for this.

Alert: If you don’t like scenes of people drinking and getting wasted, this might not be the video for you. It depicts an alternate version of the Unexpected Party chapter in The Hobbit.

My Opinion: Jackson did an amazing body of work in the Lord of the Rings. We can’t deny that. But for various reasons, he made The Hobbit — one slim novel — into a full feature trilogy. It didn’t turn out well. The Hobbit’s best scenes are with Gollum, Smaug, and Gandalf. And, of course, his scenes with the Dwarves at home in Bag End. The Hobbit leads directly into The Lord of the Rings, showing us how the epic all began.

That’s kind of why I enjoy this spoof of the “unexpected party “at Bag End. I totally buy that it went this way, and NOT what was recorded Bilbo’s Red Book (his memoirs). After all, history has always been written/interpreted by the winners, who were not necessarily sober at the time.

Altogether, this is really cute if you’re a Middle Earth fan. Otherwise, skip it. I’d give An Unexpected Parody an A grade myself,  from the perspective of a life-long Tolkienphile.

Through the Wormhole – Are We All Bigots?

Morgan Freeman has a Science Channel series called Through the Wormhole. I highly recommend the series for those interested in learning about a broad range of topics from is the universe a simulation to is privacy dead.

One of my favorite episodes is about the nature of racism: Are We All Bigots? In this episode Freeman comes at this question from a number of angles, as he does the topic in every episode. Below is, what I think, is one of the most important segments.

If you like that clip then I highly recommend you watch the entire episode. You can buy it on YouTube for $1.99 (No affiliation with RunPee.)

Opinion
I have to accept that part of my brain is bigoted. It does things (and sometimes gets away with it) that I don’t like.

That may sound like an odd thing to say: my brain does things that I don’t like. What am I if not my brain and it’s decisions? I think its clear, especially if you watch the entire episode of Are We All Bigots, that our brain instinctively makes decisions without the consent of our brain’s rational consciousness. (Not that consciousness is always rational.)

What researchers have proven is that we are not always in control of our thoughts and actions. It’s not an excuse for bad behavior, but it’s a reality we have to deal with. For instance, when someone is addicted to gambling, or food, a drug, whatever, you can’t attribute that to poor character, or weakness.

Our brains evolved to cope with many situations we no longer face. In this modern age we can manipulate those situations in ways that were never possible while the circuitry in our brains was evolving to help us survive. When we eat carbohydrate-rich food — bread, rice, cake, sweets, etc. — our brain says, “OMG, this is great. More please.” That’s because during our evolution there was hardly a chance that we could overeat those things because of their scarcity. That part of our brain doesn’t understand that we now have unlimited access to calories, and don’t need to overeat at each opportunity. The only way to stop ourselves is to use our rational consciousness to intervene and put the breaks on. Again, the rational part of our brain isn’t always in control — much as we might wish it.

It’s the same for how our brain reacts to people who are different from us. Generally speaking, for our hunter-gatherer ancestors, people from outside their tribe wasn’t always a good thing. Like a dog barking at a stranger, we evolved to be wary of different than us. It’s only through life experience that we can retrain our brains. Essentially, we need take that part of our brain that makes snap judgments and pet it, and say, “Hey, it’s okay. These different people are okay. Don’t get worked up.” Over time, that part of our brain will relax. But, we must recognize that it’s always there, ready to wake up again and bark at the next different person that passes by.

I want to make racism go away; from myself and my country and all of humanity. I believe the only way this will be possible is to acknowledge that part of our brains evolved to be wary of different people — because it gave them an edge in survival.

When we see racism, in ourselves or others, we need to make an effort to retrain us/them. And just like training a dog, the best method is positive reinforcement. Because when you yell at someone for being bigoted it’s about as effective as yelling at a dog — pointless and counterproductive. (Even though it feels as good as eating chocolate cake dripping with melted fudge and covered in icing.)

Funny Harry Potter Fan Film Short – The Mysterious Ticking Noise

If Potters were puppets…

Are you a really big Harry Potter fan? Here’s a somewhat silly, but super fun fan video, called Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise. These guys made a lot of little Harry Potter puppet shorts, but THIS is the best, the most beloved and well known. We Potterhead types have been known to play this video to a room full of fellow fans and sing it out loud together: happy little geeky freaks.

Once you watch this enough times, you can’t get it out of your head. Play it a few times. Catchy. Charming ending, too. There’s also a little subversive bit with Dumbledore to make you go WTF.  What character do you sing along with? (I tend to shout out Ron, Ron, Ron Weasley!  Confused? You’ll see what I mean when you view this.)

So here we go. It’s a little like the classic “Muh Nuh Ma Nuh” earworm from the old days in Sesame Street.

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape…

Related, on RunPee: Enjoy a nicely done and quite amusing parody of the song Uptown Funk, sung by Voldemort and the Death Eaters (that even sounds like a band!), called Dark Lord Funk. Read Voldemort Will Funk You Up.