The 5 Movies You Need To Watch Before Infinity War

At this time, there are exactly 19 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant Man & The Wasp is coming soon (to make an even 20) but that tale will probably be a self-contained story: a palette cleanser after the lingering after- effects of mighty number 19, the Avengers Infinity War.

You probably already know Infinity War is the culmination of 10 years of cinematic storytelling, with a cast of literally dozens of named characters. To catch up to this point, one would have to sit through several days of non-stop movie-going… starting with Iron Man 1, the film that kickstarted it all. A lot of fans converged in New York City for 31 hours of Marvel goodness, and I hope they brought their Peetimes. (Note: the NYC screening only played 12 films for their marathon, so you’ll have to do the math yourself for a grand pre-Infinity War hours-long total of all 18.)

But, what if you don’t have time for a full re-watch before IW leaves the theaters? Or — Ragnarok forbid! — maybe you’re kind of an MCU newb. (Clue: if you don’t know what MCU stands for, you might be a rookie.)

RunPee is here to help. If you had to, you could get by with a five-film preview and be more or less up to speed. Here are those five, plus a few extra honorary mentions if you have some extra time/inclination. This slim five movie line-up means you’ll miss a few important origin stories, but for the ones I skip, things can be summed up in one or two lines. You’ll see.

Five Must-See Films, with No Spoilers

  1. Iron Man 1 – Iron Man started it all and changed how we saw superhero films. It’s easy to forget how amazing this was when it first hit the screens. Understanding the complex character of Tony Stark is so important to understanding the series, and it’s hard to adequately explain why. Cap is simple — he’s a super soldier and a natural leader. Thor is simple — he’s the Norse God of Thunder. Hulk…is Hulk (I assume you know about the Hulk). But you have to walk a while with Stark to see his importance to the entire universe, and why so much of IW centers on him. If you have to skip any of these five films though, this is the one to overlook.
  2. Avengers 1 – You don’t really need the origin stories of Cap, Hulk, or Thor to understand Infinity War. Avengers 1 preps things so nicely for the original set of superheroes, and lays the groundwork for EVERYTHING ELSE to come. Do not miss.
  3. Captain America: Civil War – If you skip this one, you may as well not bother with Infinity War. This ensemble piece covers several new origin stories, brings together a huge cast in preparation for an upcoming even  larger cast, and paves the way towards understanding what happened to “break-up” the original team. MUST SEE.
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1 – Another film that you cannot skip. A lot of IW is devoted to the Guardians. If you don’t know who these beings are, IW won’t hit the emotional beats it sustains for everyone else. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
  5. Thor 3: Ragnarok – This film most immediately leads into Infinity War. As in, it ends literally moments before IW begins.  Thor 3 brings a lot of disparate story points together, explains why Thor is so broken when we see him next, continues the storylines of both Loki and The Hulk, and sets the stage for everything to come. If you miss this one, a major part of the IW resolution just won’t make sense. And also, like GotG, this one is super fun.

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Six Honorary Mentions (If you have the time), and what you need to know if you skip them (with spoilers to get you caught up — be warned): 

  1. Avengers 2: Age of Ultron – The second Avengers ensemble piece explains who The Vision and Scarlet Witch are. What you need to know: The Vision is an artificial intelligence being with an infinity stone implanted in his forehead, created by Ultron (and Stark, and Banner – it’s complicated, but not important). Scarlet Witch is infused with the same powers of the stone. All this is referenced in both Captain America: Civil War, and in Infinity War itself, so missing the Ultron bit won’t hurt you.
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Bucky was Cap’s best friend in the World War II days, he’s been injected with super soldier serum (just like Cap), has a Vibranium arm (instead of a shield), and was brainwashed into being a bad guy (unlike Cap). This information is more or less re-tread in Civil War, so you’ll be okay without this one. Skippable for our purposes.
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 – This is a direct continuation of the first GotG film, with a few character additions — Baby Groot replaces Original Groot (which we see at the end of Volume 1), Mantis is a new Guardian (and has the power to make you sleep or wake up)…and Star Lord kills his father (for very good reasons). Oh, and Nebula comes to terms with her sister Gamora. It’s all about ‘family’. Now you’re good to go. Of the six movies listed here, this one has the most plot points you’d appreciate knowing for IW. 
  4. Dr. Strange – All you REALLY need to know is that Strange is a Wizard and wears the Time Stone. Infinity War does a great job rehashing those two points in the first few scenes. Bonus: there’s also a brief but fun Strange introduction in Thor: Ragnarok. So, yeah, unless you are a huge Cumberbatch fan, you can safely skip this to prep for IW.
  5. Spiderman: Homecoming – I hated leaving this affable and fun entry off the main list, but since we get a very nice introduction to Spidey in Civil War, you can safely pass on his stand-alone film.
  6. Black Panther – Like Spiderman above,  leaving out the story of Wakanda kind of hurts. The thing is: Civil War does a fantastic job introducing T’Challa’s Black Panther and the idea of the Vibranium-tech-based nation itself, and why the Winter Soldier can be found there. Cool as this movie is, you’ll be fine without it. You’ll understand why a large portion of IW occurs in Wakanda, because a main character tells you outright.

Keep in mind, I’m not listing which movies are the best in the MCU, nor saying that the rest are unimportant or uninteresting in their own right. This is just to get you to a place you can potentially watch Infinity War and not be totally,  hopelessly lost. Have fun, and let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments. Movie-watching is subjective. Which five would you say are crucial?

To help you get ready:

Best Lego Deadpool Trailers and Shorts

We can’t help but love Deadpool when he’s in full mayhem mode, with a collective body toll he’s given up trying to count. Yes, we love Deadpool — even when he’s just a Lego.

Beginning with a Lego version of Deadpool 1, we move quickly through the Lego trailers/teasers for Deadpool 2,  to Deadpool vs Wolverine, followed by his teaming up with Wolverine. (Which is fun and odd, since we know he hates Logan). Then Deadpool takes on the entire Marvel Universe, and finally killing the entire world.

Yep, Wade Wilson clearly has problems. But watching him wreck Lego mini-film havoc is a joy. Don’t you wish you thought of making these?

Here’s some Deadpool Legos if you want to make your own You Tube shorts:

A Black Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther

Article written by our New York RunPee volunteer Shani Ogilvie, with her cultural insights about the record-breaking Marvel phenomenon Black Panther — Enjoy!

Shani OgilvieBlack Panther was an amazing movie! Not only was it visually stunning in terms of costume, makeup, and hair, but it also had a deeper message I have never seen before in an MCU film. To me, Black Panther was what black people across the world have been waiting for.

Before the movie, everyone I knew was excited about it because it had a star-studded, largely black cast, in a Marvel movie by a black director. That’s why everyone, including myself, was so excited — and dressed up to see the film. It was also a big deal because superheroes are never not white. As a black actor in America (and most of the world), we are siloed into very specific roles. So to see all of these actors placed into such diverse roles was already a fulfillment.

After the movie, everyone I knew couldn’t stop talking about the continued diversity of the characters. The role that black actors and women have in Hollywood are so limiting. It’s discouraging for aspiring actors, but also for children who look to the media for inspiration on what to become when they grow up.

Growing up, I remember having two role models, Michael Jordan and Oprah, but not because I had a desire to become a basketball player or an influential talk show host.  Rather because those were my options from the mass media vantage point. I wanted to be a lawyer/model, but I had no role model at that age to allow me to feel hopeful that this was something I could achieve. This movie put black people into roles that most people had never seen them in before. Aside from the black culture that was celebrated, the movie also spoke to the power of women. Black Panther gave me the same feeling as Wonder Woman. It inspired many children, especially girls, to realize that they can be Shuri — the tech genius, Okoye — the General of the King’s army, or Nakia — the undercover agent. All of the women in the movie were non-stereotypical black women. They were not typical roles for women all together. That’s something else that’s missing from Hollywood films –women who are warriors, women who choose their country and values over men, and women who aren’t afraid to speak up and defy.

Another point of discussion afterwards was the message the movie delivered about the identities of black people. Outside of the black community, people are sometimes unaware of the divisions that exist between black people. Externally, we are seen as black people with the same ancestry, but internally we take pride in our cultural differences. To name a few, there are Africans, West Indians, Afro-Latinx, African Americans (black people from America) plus the many other categories that black people place themselves into. This movie celebrated all types of black people and allowed the viewers to see these different perspectives. I think the movie did a great job at showing the divide between these communities, and how that divide hurts us more than it helps us. I felt the movie left viewers with a call to action — to tear down our walls and help each other, because at our simplest, we are all human — black, white, or otherwise.

— Shani Ogilvie loves watching all movies, especially psychological thrillers. On a given day, you can find her eating seafood, planning a DIY project, or finding her next travel destination.  

Read More Entertainment News and Movie Commentary from RunPee: 

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Movie Review – Black Panther

Avenger Superhero Powers, by Category

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Avenger Superhero Powers, by Category

With a metric ton of heroes, superheros, powered beings, and skilled fighters to keep track of in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,  it’s easy to forget not everyone is an innately god-like, supersensory fighting machine. At least in the X-Men Universe things are simple: you’re either a normal human, or a mutant with super skills. (Or Deadpool, but we won’t go there.) 🙂

In the MCU, you don’t even have to have “powers” at all to be a superhero. You can be rich, or smart, technologically equipped, well-trained, or a genetically-blessed normal being – and still be an Avenger, Revenger, Guardian, SHIELD Agent, or any other general “defender” group. 

Here’s a breakdown of the MCU superheroes we’ve seen ’til now and how their skills could be categorized. (Note 1: Spoilers ahead through Avengers 3: Infinity War.) (Note 2: Ignore the end of Infinity War and where some of these characters might be/not be.) (Note 3: I’m not listing anyone according to talent or power-ranking. That would be too complicated to get into and should be a piece unto itself.) (Note 4: This list only covers MCU movies. There’s no way to mention Marvel comics and have a reasonably manageable article). (Last Note: I have a few anti-heroes here, with some anti-villains rounding things out…but this article is mostly reserved for the good guys).

Got all that? Begin!

God-like Superheroes: Born This Way

Thor – The top of this list must start with Thor. He’s a god. Whatever Jane Foster said about powers vs tech, it’s clear that he was born a god, with the innate power to controll lightning. He’s got super strength, star-harnessed  weapons to help him fly and fight (wielding Stormbreaker, he can open the Bifrost to teleport), and the ability to survive in the vacuum of space without a suit or oxygen. He’s 1500 years old but still young. Thor’s not the the brightest Avenger, but he’s definitely the mightiest. (At least through Infinity War). His weapons are super-powered and can apparently only be wielded by other gods. He doesn’t use technology to augment his skills. Thor with a gun? Sorry; can’t see it.

Loki – Although a frost giant by birth, Loki was raised a god among gods in Asgard. I can’t explain this at all, but he has innate, god-level powers for deception, misdirection, teleportation, and trickery. He can hide things in other dimensions and retrieve them. He wielded a super-scepter-weapon harnessing the power of the Tesseract (housing the Space Stone) and is probably as old as Thor – they were raised as children together. I’d say he can keep his self-described god status.

Heimdall – Another Asgardian, he has the ability to call forth the Bifrost for teleportation (even without the Rainbow Bridge), has foresight, and the ability to see the Nine Realms and everyone in them, simultaneously. More of a protector than a fighter, his talents land him in the category of god-like. Call him a demi-god.

Sif – I don’t know enough about about this fine warrior to place her, but she’s Asgardian, a childhood playmate of Thor, and highly regarded. Also, probably sill alive. She could be called into play if Thor summons the Bifrost. Are all Asgardians god-like? I really don’t know.

Valkyrie – This isn’t actually her name, but a job description for minor gods in Norse mythology. We see her in flashback-action defending Asgard, and presumably brought slain warriors to Valhalla before Hela decimated her platoon. At this point she’s a busted up drunken gladiator hunter, but retains her fighting skills, cunning, and weapons expertise. She’s also a space pilot, and know how to ride winged horses (cue The Immigrant Song). Even soused on booze, Valkyrie captured Thor and took him to the Grandmaster. No small feat. 

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Superpowered Superheroes: Characters with supernormal, non-tech-dependent skills

Scarlet Witch – an Infinity Stone gave Wanda Maximoff powers strong enough to propel her to the superhero elite. She’s not a trained fighter and she doesn’t depend on technology, but damn if her powers aren’t at the top of any ranking. Anything the Mind Stone could do is at her command. Additionally, she seems to draw strength from emotional connections – perhaps another element drawn from the Mind Stone.

Spiderman –  Though he has a brand-new tech-powered robotic suit courtesy of Stark Industries, his main skills are a part of him. After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker became so immensely skilled, useful, and strong, that as he grows to adulthood he may well become one of the most powerful superheroes. In this iteration of Spiderman, his powers include slinging webs, incredible calisthenic skill, the ability to stick to and crawl on any surface, tingling “spidey” senses, and the proportional strength of an arachnid. He’s naturally clever and smart. Parker’s also pleasant, polite, personable, and a pleasure to be around. Don’t underestimate the power of sheer likability. 

Hulk – Like Spidey, a chance encounter transformed his DNA enough to give him internal powers. Unfortunately Dr. Bruce Banner can’t access these powers, and his rage-monster alter ego is barely controllable. But Banner alone is still a super-genius with 7 PhDs. He now wears the Hulk-Buster suit, which would put him in the tech-only category….but we all know Hulk is still in there. After his encounter with Thanos, the big green weenie is just afraid to come out. 

Black Panther – The hero mantle can be assumed by different people in various lineages in Wakanda, but there’s more than technology at work. Actual spiritual and physical powers are conferred by the heart-shaped flower, derived from the Vibranium meteorite.  Although the immense technological superiority of Wakanda helps, there’s something more at work.  I’d call Black Panther an enhanced human with amazing tech, and the might of an entire Vibranium-based fighting army at his disposal.

Captain America – His skills stem from a super soldier serum. The various Vibranium shields are just a bonus. While his strength and skills don’t approach the other heroes in this category, he has innate bravery  and the tactical/leadership skills to supplement his power level. Call Cap an enhanced human.  He MIGHT have something else going on; he was able to move Thor’s hammer a tiny bit. It’s a funny moment, but perhaps that moment could indicate something more.

Winter Soldier/The White Wolf – Same as Captain America, only with a Vibranium arm to supplement his super-soldier serum, highly-developed fight training, and a lot of skill handling automatic riflery. 

Mantis – She’s an alien with unique skills, but I think we can assume all her people are like that. We don’t know and apparently she doesn’t either – all Mantis says is that Ego raised her from an egg.

Dr. StrangeLike his name, this is a strange case: you can study your way to super-dom! Being a super-genius helps, but the outlandish reality-bending and teleportation skills are the doctor’s own – no weapon or Infinity Gem required. The sentient cloak is a merely a bonus, more like a wizard’s ‘familiar’ than a super suit. Think about this: Strange barely bothered with the Time Stone when he had it! The man is way overpowered.

Wong – Basically a less powerful version of Strange. There should other disciples around, but we haven’t seen them lately.

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Tech-Only Powered Superheroes – Superheros only because they have Supersuits

Iron Man – Tony Stark. Take off the suit, and what do you have? “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist…” Stark is unusual. He lacks bad-ass fighting skills (compare him to Black Widow), and depends on computer targeting to fire his arsenal (unlike Hawkeye). So, why is Iron Man so important to the Avengers, a top superhero among even god-like beings like Thor? Even THANOS knows of Stark, and respects him. There’s a whole slew of lesser characters in super-suits listed below. I’m going to take a leap and say it: personality. As with Steve Rogers, Stark has an essential trait that can’t be duplicated. If Captain America is an unique super soldier through sheer determination, Tony Stark has an alpha-male charisma that won’t be rivaled.

War Machine – Like a larger, clunkier Iron Man, Rhodey can fly and shoot canon weaponry. He’s also got a government job granting him some powers of authority. I appreciate that his disability is both acknowledged and a non-issue. Like Professor X, it won’t keep him out of the action.

Falcon – Basically a sleeker version of War Machine, with smaller guns but more flight maneuverability, and a cool “pet” drone. I always thought he would take over the Captain America torch, but for now, that option seems to be off the table.

Ant-Man, The Wasp – A duo of suit-only superheroes…more or less.  Ant-Man can also control ants – who knows why –  and navigate quantum states. The Pym Particle might not even be scientifically quantifiable, so there may be more than tech at work. I hope the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp film sheds more light.

Nebula – A cybernetically-enhanced individual with superior fighting skills, Nebula might have a bit of an edge over normal humans, but she’s still not as good in a fight as her  unpowered “sister” Gamora. We’ve seen her journey from Chaotic Evil, to Chaotic Neutral, and into Chaotic Good. Hero territory. If she’s a Guardian now, she and Rocket will have to learn to work together.

Yondu – I know I’m pushing things including the grumpy blue Ravager leader, but that arrow of his was extremely cool. Groot welcomed  Yondu as a Guardian at the end. Now Kraglin‘s got the arrow; I hope we see him master it and join the team officially.

***

Well-Trained But Unpowered Superheroes – Heroes with no innate abilities or high-tech powers: their abilities can include superior genetics, skilled fighter training, or good use of weaponry. 

Black Widow – Despite her status as a top flight Avenger, Natasha Romanoff is “merely” a very skilled, well-trained human. She doesn’t even use large weapons, preferring small pistols, quarterstaffs, and whatever is within reach (like, say, a wooden chair) to bash foes. Nat’s intelligence seems to be normal, but her cunning and adaptability is off the charts.

Hawkeye –  Clint Barton might be the weakest hero in the MCU. He’s amazing with a bow, but not a skilled a melee fighter.  No suit, Vibranium tech, supernormal powers, or genius intellect. Just that high-powered bow. I’ve heard he might emerge with a new super persona, but at this point, we don’t know. 

Shuri – I include her because she’s said to be the smartest person in the entire MCU, and this includes a galaxy with Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, and Dr. Strange in it. She’s got tech skills like no one else. She works with Vibranium. As Black Panther’s sister, Shuri has the lineage to take up the Black Panther mantle, with the accompanying super-human physical and spiritual skills to boot. That would add her to the superhuman AND super-suit category, but for now, her formidable mind and Vibranium skill-set makes her a well-trained but unpowered lesser hero.

Star Lord – Let’s not mention him screwing the pooch in Infinity War, but discuss his heroic qualities instead. Peter Quill is a fine pilot, cunning, good with plasma guns, and an accomplished thief. He held his own in one-to-one melee combat with Gamora. He’s also undeniably brave, and makes clever use of some interesting tech (including a space helmet and dual ankle flight jets). All this, but he’s STILL essentially a human with space guns, an MCU Han Solo. With his father’s DNA, he briefly held the Power Stone without blowing himself up or destroying Xandar. He IS half god, after all. Since his godding skills were brief and limited to forming little balls of light, I won’t be including him in the god-like category.

Gamora – Thanos calls her the fiercest woman in the galaxy, but her skills aren’t superpowered: she’s just very well trained. Much as I love Gamora, I really don’t know if she or Black Widow would prevail in a fight.

Drax – The big guy likes knives, and isn’t afraid of taking on a far more powerful opponent. While that sounds like bravery, it’s mostly because he’s a little dim. He also can’t follow orders, and is sometimes a liability to the Guardians.

Korg – He’s a large rock gladiator, and one would guess that endows him with a certain durability and strength.  We’ve never seen him fight yet.

***

WTF Category

The Vision – I don’t know where to put The Vision at all. He’s not even alive. That said, he’s powered by the Mind Stone, has the combined technological might of Stark and Banner, boasts a Vibranium body, and uses the computational data speeds of JARVIS and Ultron. He even lifted Thor’s hammer. Yeah: Vision is a top-level super contender. Honestly, this character needs his own category.  I don’t know how else to place him. I’d love some better ideas.

Rocket and Groot also defy categorization. Groot has the powers of a tree – but he IS a tree. Rocket has cybernetic enhancements, but those don’t seem to impart him with more than the ability to have human-intelligence, human-dexterity, and the ability to talk. He’s not a melee fighter, but is brilliant with guns. He’s a good pilot and highly agile physically. The sarcastic raccoons’s strategic abilities are top notch, and he can make a bomb out of spare parts and gum. Rocket may be a small non-super-sensory being, but he also comes with a very dangerous counterpart: Rocket and Groot are essentially a unit. I still don’t know where to place them.

The Collector – If we ignore the comics, we have almost no background on Taneleer Tivon. We know he’s an Elder. What does this mean? Does Immortality imply godhood? Just how old is he? We don’t even know his alignment. (Chaotic Neutral?)

The Grandmaster – Well, he’s no hero, but he doesn’t seem to be a villain per se. He could be another Elder, like The Collector. I’m starting to scrape the bottom of the MCU bargain bin, so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead.

Who did I miss? I know I’ve left characters out. Like Quicksilver, Okoye, or any one of thousands of people living in Wakanda, for that matter.  Who else? Who did I get wrong? Tell me below and I’ll give you credit for any changes I make.

Read More on RunPee.com:

Avengers Infinity War – Characters Missing in Action, Whereabouts Unknown

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Movie Review of Avengers 3: Infinity War

Every Marvel-Tagged Article on RunPee (So Far)

 

 

Avengers Polls – Surprising Results

To get fans talking about all the awesome movies the Marvel Cinematic Universe created over the last ten years (Wow, think about that – a decade of superheros in one big over-arcing story), I posted a series of Avengers based Twitter polls. The results are intriguing, and in some places, surprising!

Take a look at these fun MCU polls, and tell me how you would have voted on them yourself, in the comments below.

 

Avengers Infinity War – Characters Missing in Action, Whereabouts Unknown

Thor Ragnarok – Demented & Fun Deleted Scenes

RunPee Movie Review of Avengers 3 – Infinity War

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Avengers Infinity War – Characters Missing in Action, Whereabouts Unknown

Some characters’ whereabouts from the immensely popular Avengers – Infinity War aren’t shown by the end of the movie, leaving fans wondering where they might be, and if they’ll show up again. The film has a massive cast already, but with ten years of epic saga-ness under their belt, not everyone could be onscreen for Avengers 3.

Stop reading right here if you haven’t seen the movie yet. Just stop. I’m about to talk specifics.

I’ll say it again. SPOILERS AHEAD for Infinity War! Do NOT read past this point if you haven’t seen Avengers 3 – Infinity War.

Okay, to make this more clear, I’m about to talk about the controversial ending to Infinity War. Here we go: a lot of deaths happen to a lot of heroes. I’ve seen the movie four times now, and in between sobs I’ve noted who remains and who doesn’t, and wondered about the offscreen fates of who might be left to carry the fight in Avengers 4. (Which is as yet still untitled – apparently the final Avenger film has a big spoiler right in the name.)

We simply don’t know if the offscreen characters made it or not. I’m going to take a leap and suggest that most of the ‘rest’ survived, probably with a token few who we’ll never know about.

So, at this point, here are the named characters that are either MIA or simply have their fates unknown at this time:

Captain Marvel – Not a huge guess to say she’s just fine. Someone answered Nick Fury’s page at the bitter end.

Ant-Man and the Wasp – Their next movie takes place before the Infinity War, but they’re probably going to be around to join the remaining Avengers next year. Otherwise, why bother giving them another movie?

Hawkeye –  Since the original Avenger team members survived, it’s probable Clint Barton will still be around to come out of house arrest/retirement. (Why did the original Avengers make it? Coincidence? Fate? …At this point, we don’t know.)

Pepper Potts – We also don’t know anything about Tony’s fiance, but she’s worn an Iron Man suit before. No reason she can’t put one of Tony’s old models on if she’s needed for next year’s battle.

Shuri – She was right there in Wakanda, but we didn’t see her fate. I’m betting the MCU’s “Smartest Genius” made it, even if her brother didn’t. She’ll probably be around to team up with Okoye and M’Baku…and likely Nakia, T’Challa’s girlfriend, and the Queen Mother (whose fates are also unknown).

King Eitri – The giant dwarf from Infinity War still has crucial knowledge about mighty weapons (and the Infinity Gauntlet in particular). He’s a pretty big dude (“dwarf” status aside). Those iron fists could come in handy, and he’s got to be really lonely on that broken Forge Spaceship by now. I hope Thor didn’t just leave him there.

Sif – With almost everyone from Asgard destroyed, including Loki, Heimdall, Thor’s entire family, and the Warriors Three, Thor’s remaining Asgardian friend could be literally in any of the Nine Realms. Thor can call on his shiny new axe  Stormbreaker to bring this warrior back for the final fight.

Valkyrie – Her absence confused me most of all. She was RIGHT THERE with Thor and the “Revengers” at the end of Thor Ragnarok. Didn’t she get on the big ship with everyone else? Maybe she snuck off in her own vessel, or the Grandmaster’s ship, and headed straight to the nearest intergalactic bar for an epic bender. She was such a huge breakout role in Ragnarok, that killing her offscreen and unnoticed is probably just not going to happen.

Korg (and his little pal Miek) – Same as above; the rockman’s probably an offscreen survivor. It helps that Korg is played by Ragnarok’s own director.

The Grandmaster – Not a hero or a true villain, his last whereabouts are in Los Angeles, living with Thor’s ex-roomate Daryl. That’s if you count the Team Daryl You Tube one-off as canon. I’ve noticed you can never actually count Jeff Goldblum’s characters out, even if they’ve been said to die (Jurassic Park comes to mind). Maybe the Grandmaster will be still around to melt people that annoy him.

Jane Foster – Thor’s ex-girlfriend was infused with the Aether/Reality Stone once. If she’s around, she might have some connection to it still. The actress reportedly doesn’t want to work with Marvel anymore, but who knows? Then there’s the other members of Jane’s science team: Darcy, her intern, and, of course, there’s…

Erik Selvig –  Aside from his Thor connections, he fell under the spell of the Tesseract/Power Stone in the original Avengers film. He’s been a likable character and tech-helpful.

Phil Coulson – I haven’t kept up with his role on Agents of SHIELD, but since he started in the movies, Phil could be pulled back in.

Wong – As far as we know, he’s still guarding the Sanctum Sanctorum. He has enough mystic power of his own to join the Avengers, if he’s willling.

The Nova Corps – With half of planet Xandar’s populace killed offscreen, pre-film, there could be a few named characters reprising their roles from Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1. Nova Prime, maybe. I’d love to see Rhomann Dey again. That guy was fun. Um…the Broker could be around too. A lot of people appeared on Xandar.

Speaking of the Guardians, only Rocket pulls through. Nebula could be considered a Guardian by now, but there are other named characters who may be around. There’s Kraglin, Yondu’s right hand man and current owner of the Arrow. I expected him to have joined the Guardians, after accepting Star Lord as his new captain at the end of GotG, Vol 2. It was surprising he was nowhere to be found. With the actor, Sean Gunn, being Guardian director James Gunn’s real-life brother (and body actor for Rocket), I’m going to bet he made it through the Snap-pocalypse.

Then there are the other Ravagers, like the little group surrounding Sylvester Stallone’s Starhawk character. They could be a thing.

Adam Warlock – The Sovereign isn’t the nicest lady in the MCU, but she’s not evil. And she’s got a whole planet of people who, presumably, have still half their population left. Her “son” Adam was teased at in GotG Vol 2, and he’s supposed to be pretty powerful. If they follow up on that extra scene in the credits, he could be a major new super being.

“Happy” Hogan – He’s been a supporting player for Tony Stark and the Avengers, and could continue to help the team. 

Vulture – Yeah, he was a bad guy in Spiderman – Homecoming, but he’s not totally evil. He mainly wanted to support his family. And he owes Spidey big time. Last seen in prison, he refused to name Peter Parker as the young superhero. He could be a good guy in the coming days.

Aunt May – She knows her nephew is Spiderman, but we don’t know her reaction yet. She doesn’t have any powers, but she might still be alive and well for Spiderman: Homecoming 2.

Ned –  Spiderman’s best friend and official “Chair Guy”, he had a cute little cameo in the bus scene. And speaking of the bus scene, there’s…

Stan Lee – Unless the actor dies, he’ll probably keep reprising his ever-present bit roles, which were finally revealed as an overarching “Superhero Watcher Informant”. Maybe he’ll have something more substantial to do next time around. I’m not counting anyone out.

Notice I’m not including anyone from the MCU television shows, unless they’ve been notable in the Marvel movies. Apparently, we’re not going to see any significant cross-over into future films. I’m not even going to mention the comic book characters. This article is pretty long and somewhat esoteric enough.

Okay, who’d I forget? There’ve been a lot of “named” characters in these 19 movies, and I’m not an encyclopedia. Tell me what you think in the comments below. 

 

Alternate Avengers 2 & 3 story

[Note: this is an alternate plot to the Ultron/Thanos storyline; a different version of Avengers 2 and 3. Play along! However, I wouldn’t suggest reading this until after you have seen Infinity War, or it won’t make sense.]

So. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Infinity War (Avengers 3). Even though it left me numb from the action and deaths in the final moments, it did convey a sense of urgency rarely achieved in superhero films. I gave Infinity War a super rare A+, after all.

But — hey — just for fun, let me suggest another possibility for how the story of Ultron and Thanos could have played out.

Suppose Thanos appears in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, and his plot to wipe out half of the sentient beings in the universe is discovered. The Avengers realize they are powerless to stop Thanos, so Stark pulls out his secret, powerful trump card: Ultron. After much debate, the Avengers agree and Ultron is created. All seems right with the world. Ultron evolves at an astounding rate and seems to be the force they need to contain Thanos.

However, eventually Ultron realizes that Thanos is only half right. He sees all biological life as a blight on the universe, and the next logical step is the perfection of existence: himself. (Basically, the idea Ego has in Guardians 2, but more so.)

Once the Avengers catch wind of Ultron’s motivation, they feel all hope is lost. Now they face TWO seemingly unstoppable foes. One who wants to wipe out half the life in the universe, and the other wanting to wipe out all life in the universe.

Once Thanos discovers this, he approaches the Avengers. As we now know, Thanos doesn’t think of himself as a destroyer, but as a savior. He wants to make the universe better. So he teams up with the Avengers to defeat Ultron and achieve his aims.

After barely defeating Ultron, the Avengers set upon stopping Thanos again…but now, Thanos is weakened from his battle with Ultron. The Avengers are — barely — able to defeat him, teaming their skills together (as we see in Infinity War).

Of course, along the way, we still wipe out a sizable portion of the Avengers cast, which feels necessary at this point in our decade-long franchise culmination.

What do you think? How would you like to see the story played out?

Movie Review – Avengers: Infinity War

[No Spoilers]

I have to hand it to the MCU creative team. They delivered an epic.

Step back and think about that for a second. The lead up to this movie was 10 years in the making; it has a cast of characters that sprawls for pages, yet we know every one of them better than we know many of our own family.

There are 19 movies in the MCU, and not one of them is bad. Sure, some weren’t great, but I never left the theater disappointed. That alone is astonishing. In what universe would you expect anyone to create 19 movies and not a one of them sucked? No one else has come close to trying this level of epicness, let alone succeeding.

Any complaints about Infinity War has to be tagged in the category of nit-picking — which I will gladly do below.

I really enjoyed the pairings in Infinity War. Of course, there are way too many characters to throw into one big dynamic. The way they are split up and then brought together was perfect. A lot of credit has to be given to the editor/directors for putting this sprawling story together in such a way that it’s easy to follow. The movie changes gears between groups seamlessly and keeps the tension building with each scene jump.

Grade: A+

[Mild spoilers below]

Here’s the only thing I can find to nit-pick on: the continuity of power. By that I mean: how strong/weak is a character and their powers in the evolution of the story?

The two clearest examples are of Captain America and Vision. Captain is nothing more than a super human, but human nonetheless. When he holds Thanos to a standoff, for a brief moment, even Thanos is surprised. But in the reality of the MCU, there’s just no way. Thanos beat the Hulk into submission. Captain America couldn’t clip Thanos’ fingernails.

On the flip side, Vision got whipped in every altercation. He’s made of vibranium. How’s that work? In my book, the only character who should come close to containing Vision is Thanos himself. Any other foe should melt before him.

I won’t deny that this is a difficult task for the creative team to manage. They want to deliver epic  moments; moments when we see a character rise above expectations: such as Captain holding off Thanos.

And, immensely powerful characters must have a weakness that can be exploited, otherwise there’s no story. It would be awesome, but ultimately underwhelming, if Vision just rips the Infinity Gauntlet off Thanos’ hand and then uses it to beat him senseless.

It is exceedingly rare to see a story remain consistent throughout. Good guys can’t miss and bad guys can’t hit water standing in a boat; good guys can take a beating; bad guys get shot in the shoulder and fall down to die, silently.

All I can say is when this rule is violated, at least make it worth it. So here again, the creative team can’t be faulted too much, because they cashed in on every scene where a character rose above their abilities.

[Big Spoilers Below]

 

 

 

 

Well now what? Practically everyone is dead, but we know that’s not how the story ends because there’s a Spiderman Homecoming sequel planned for 2020 and so forth. How do they get out of this mess? In March 2019 there’s the origin story of Captain Marvel,Marvel,  to be followed by the Unnamed Avengers movie two months later. From what I’ve read, Captain Marvel’s origin story takes place in the 1990s, so we’re going back in time to find out about her, and then come back to the present to figure out how she’s going to back things up and fix them two months later.

The anticipation surrounding Infinity War is going to pale in comparison to what the next two movies will bring.


Avengers t-shirt

LEGO Super Heroes the Hulkbuster Smash-up

Black Panther Fashion in the Real World

Black Panther style is making waves on and off the runway, according to sources around the world. Literally. In fact, if you Google “black panther fashion clothes” it turns up 4,780,000 results. There’s a whole lot of fashion photos, style ideas, fashion tips and general garment excitment, all based on the fictional Wakanda, a high-tech and super-powered country hidden the mountains and fields of Africa.

When I saw Marvel’s Black Panther on opening night – to a sold out audience – I noticed how many theater-goers were dressed in fantastical and traditional  African garb. I even noted it in my Black Panther review. These looks are clearly being celebrated in a new, more high-profile way than ever before. Marketplace’s article even mentions how clothing stores had to jump to respond to people wanting to get their outfits ready to see Black Panther; people were independently planning around a sort of celebration of the first major Marvel superhero based in Africa.

It seems like futuristic African styles are on the rise. In a big way. I know I’d wear a lot of them; these are clothes drenched in color, texture, drape, and detail. These are just beautiful garments — some reaching the level of art. Even sources like Vanity Fair and the runways of New York Fashion Week are taking note.

Here are some top articles about Wakandan fashion gracing the internet’s stage right now: 

Black Panther Style Inspires Fashion

32 Black Panther Fashion Looks on the Runway

The Secrets Behind Black Panther’s Spellbinding Fashion

How to get your Black Panther Look

Fans Flock to Theaters in Traditional African Attire

And take a look at some of these luscious fashion videos:

 


Read More on RunPee:

 Black Panther Review

Other Marvel-Related Articles

Prettiest Live Action Movies

Here’s a fun topic, a list of the “prettiest” ever live action movies. They have to be gorgeous on their own merits, plot aside. I’m looking for outstanding visuals. What qualifies as pretty? Lots of color, slick visual or computer generated effects that stand up through time, creative set-pieces, stylish direction, and lavish location scenery. If you leave a theater thinking, “Wow! That was stunning,” then it’s a contender.

You’ll notice that most of the following are in sci-fi and fantasy genres, which is a viewing bias some of us at RunPee have. Help out in the comments so I may add more to this ongoing list. NOTE: Linked titles go to our movie reviews.
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Well, there’s our short list, ready for you to add your opinions to. What are we missing? Where do you disagree?