Did YOU Survive The Snap? You may as well get this over with…

Thanos Snap

It’s been a year ago now, at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Almost as soon as Thanos got his “mitts” on every stone for the The Infinity Gauntlet, he snapped his giant purple fingers and snuffed out half of all living beings in the universe — people both  good and bad, rich and poor, young or old, in a process utterly random and without distinction, race, worthiness — anything. In fact, you are probably dead.

I, for one, AM dead. Gone: snuffed away, dust. My cold, grim, no nonsense message:

“You were slain by Thanos, for the good of the Universe.”

The Snap. 50-50 odds. Now it’s your turn to find out once and for all.

Want to know if YOU survived The Snap? This one little unadorned link will tell you, for good or ill.

Did Thanos Kill Me?

Go ahead. Click the purple link.

But once you know, it’s permanent. No matter how many times I try this site, they still tell me I’m ashes. They remember.

You may as well take a deep breath and know. If you’re dead, like me, our only hope is the Avengers  — and Captain Marvel — can bring us back on April 26th, the opening night of Avengers: Endgame.  At least RunPee will have Peetimes ready to go, so if you’re still alive, the three-hour runtime won’t make your survivor’s guilt worse.  🙂

#AvengeTheFallen

#WhateverItTakes

Movie Review – Avengers Infinity War – An Unrivaled Marvel Epic

Avengers Infinity War – what does the post credit scene mean?

Movie Review – Captain Marvel – A Pretty Good Origin Story

Is Bumblebee a prequel or a reboot?

bumblebee is a quiet and yellow transformer bot
Everyone’s favorite Transformer Bot.

Prequel or reboot. Or, soft-reboot — whatever that is.  Just where does Bumblebee fit in the Transformers universe?

Officially, Bumblebee is a prequel, set in 1987. But when you watch the movie you better wear your best retcon glasses, because there’s a lot that just can’t fit with the story we already know. For instance: in the first 2007 Transformers, Sector 7 discovers the existence of Transformers (from the Beagle 2 Rover camera footage three years earlier). So, there’s that. And obviously, there’s no reference to Bumblebee’s 20 years of experience here on Earth.

[pullquote]The news is that Paramount and Hasbro would like to build a shared cinematic universe around Transformers, G.I. Joe, and maybe even pull in the Micronauts and Visionaries.[/pullquote]

This is an ongoing issue that all franchises face. It’s very easy for them to collapse under their own limitations. I’m not sure why anyone is even debating the issue. It isn’t like all the Transformer movies up to now aren’t already forgettable.  Just sweep them under the rug and start over.

All of the previous Transformer movies clearly tried to be gigantic ensemble high-stakes epics. (That’s what Michael Bay does.) [pullquote position=”right”]What Marvel taught us is it’s best to lead up to that ensemble epic with a few stories that build the foundation first.[/pullquote]

Maybe they are taking the same approach with Bumblebee, to start small and build up to an epic. We’re on-board.

Movie Review – Bumblebee

Review: Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen

10 Ways Ant Man Could Escape the Quantum Realm

“Hey guys! Guys? This isn’t funny anymore!”

Spoilers for Infinity War, and of course Ant Man & the Wasp…don’t bother reading if you haven’t seen those two movies. This will all be gibberish to you anyway if you’re not up to date. Onward…

So, that ending in Ant Man 2. It’s nice that Scott Lang finally has a superhero partner, and an ad-hoc family…but with Hank, Hope, and Janet suddenly Snapped away by Thanos, how’s he going to get out of the Quantum Realm? Is he stuck there now, for decades (or possibly forever), just like Janet Van Dyne before Ant Man 1?

Well…doubtful. That’s not how Marvel works. And there’s probably a darn good reason there was a fluffy Ant Man movie right after the seriously universe-changing and dire events of Infinity War. I assume something about the Quantum Realm (the QR) will be crucial to undoing the victims of the Snapocalypse…or why this superhero again, and why now?

Previously, the first Ant Man movie was a light, comedic pallet-cleanser after the serious events of Captain America: Civil War. This could be the same kind of thing going on…but I tend to doubt it’s just that. Ant Man isn’t that big a crowd draw, not after such momentous and box-office pleasing films of late, like Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War. In fact, AM&TW is the only late-phase MCU film to earn the kind of paltry box office amounts we’ve seen since the original Phase One movies (check the Wikipedia). [pullquote]Nobody’s been begging for another Ant Man film.[/pullquote]

At the time, I was also curious why we had to “start over” with such newer origin properties like Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and Black Panther, after taking so much time carefully setting up ensemble-cast driven stories in the main story arc. Especially since Spiderman and Black Panther, as part of Civil War, didn’t even need stand-alone films. Post Infinity War, it all makes sense now. And we’re getting yet ANOTHER origin story movie in Captain Marvel, coming out in March of 2019 (with that Infinity War post credits scene, we can even guess why).

[pullquote position=”right”]It keeps circling back to why Ant Man again, and why now. With half of all life forms now turned to ash, fans have to assume the 4th Avengers film will be about rectifying this catastrophe.[/pullquote]

Dr. Strange saw ONE lifetime in over 14 million that led to our heroes winning. If the QR is vitally important, then so is an Ant Man story. We’ve talked about this before on RunPee.com. It’s also quite possible Scott was protected by the QR from the Snap itself. So — moving on — how will Scott get back?

Here are some reasonable ideas: (Note: lacking evidence otherwise, I’m going to assume anyone we haven’t seen dusted is still around.) (Note the Second: I haven’t consulted any of the comic books, so this is all conjecture based on the 20 MCU films.)

1. Luis. He’s in the front of the van housing the Quantum Tunnel. It might be as easy as him flicking a ‘retrieve’ switch. That would set the cliffhanger to a speedy (if not hugely satisfying) solution, so we can get on with the rest of the Avengers 4 and their immense cast.

2. Luis drives the van to someone else who can help. Bill Foster and/or Ghost know exactly what to do with a Quantum Tunnel. (Plus, using them here would justify the somewhat pointless inclusion of them in a movie already over-packed with characters and plot dynamics.)

3. Scott gets himself out. Option One: he did it before on his own. He can futz with his regulator and “quantum-leap” himself back to normal space/time.

4. Scott gets himself out. Option Two: Janet made an obvious point of mentioning Time Vortices in the QR, and told Scott to avoid them. Why mention these for no good reason, so suddenly at the end of the film? Sounds like a major foreshadowing hint. We have no idea what a time vortex can do, but perhaps they act like wormholes to bring Scott back…although, to when and where is uncertain. This could lead to a time-travel element in Avengers 4.

5. Scott gets himself out. Option Three: Janet’s been in his head for a few years now by the current space/time, but by QR standards, she is likely always still there, essentially possessing him. Either she, or her remnant, or just the ‘quantum memory’ will help him find a way out.

6. Dr. Strange did something — yes, he’s ash. But he’s also a master of the mystic arts and previously Wielder of the Time Stone. Since he is essentially disjointed from normal time, he could be/have been/will be/will have been doing something magically to get Scott back. (Someday we’ll work out the right grammar for time  travel paradoxing.) Perhaps the QR even kept Scott safe during the Snap, and that too was part of the plan.

7. See above, but insert Wong. He’s as skilled as Strange, and guarding the NY temple. He could be asked to help, maybe by Luis. I’m placing a lot on Luis here, aren’t I? Or maybe Wong grasps the situation from his own mystical meditations.

8. Cassie might have a role. It’s nearly impossible to avoid spoilers about future films unless you avoid the entire internet, but I’ll be vague: I’ve heard Scott’s little girl won’t always be so little, and might have a more intense role to play. Plus, she’s a determined and smart young person in her own right.

9. Captain Marvel might just take care of this herself, after getting Nick Fury’s page…

10. The Cosmic stuff. There’s a lot of things in space that could send a message to interstellar travelers like the Guardians/Revengers/Ravagers/Giant Dwarves, etc…or to gods like Thor, or strongly powered unaligned aliens we haven’t met yet, or even randoms like The Collector and The Grandmaster. Or the hinted at with “Adam” from the post-credits Sovereign scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Or even a semi-conscious pull from the Infinity Stones — say, the Soul Stone — to bring “balance to the Force.” [pullquote]Yes, I’m lumping nearly everything weird in this category.[/pullquote]  Call it a ‘catch-all’ option for a wild universe of infinite, interdimensional possibilities.

What theory do you like? Have one of your own?

Read Also: 

The Five Movies You Need to Watch To Understand Infinity War

Every Character Unaccounted For After Infinity War

Every MCU Superhero Category, Ranked

Best to Worst  MCU Movie, Ranked

 

Every Stan Lee Cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

stan-lee-cameos-in-marvel
Stan Lee with his new Borg implants.

We all know about Stan Lee. He’s one of the big name co-creators of Marvel Comics, is a co-producer and co-writer for the movies,  and seems to be a little bit nuts. He’s been inducted into the Sci-Fi & Fantasy Hall of Fame.  He’s also, in one way or another, in every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since Iron Man 1 introduced the modern superhero film. For a man who’s 95 years old, we’ve kind of got a wee crush on him and his wacky humor.

Just for fun, here’s the entire complication of Lee MCU cameos, from 1989-2018, plus a special appearance in the fabulous music video Guardians Inferno. [pullquote]You’ll have to sit back and enjoy all this as a sort of mini-movie, since it takes a half hour to view it all.[/pullquote] We’re not including his X-Men Marvel cameos here, or from any prior Marvel franchise (those other Spidermen, or the Fantastic Fours), or even the ones in Deadpool, since this article is long enough. We’ll pull those together for another time.

What’s cool about this Stan Lee mini-movie is that Marvel has confirmed Lee has an actual character within the MCU — as a Watcher Informant.

But, one of these is reportedly Lee’s absolutely favorite MCU cameo. Can you guess which one, before it comes up?

2008 – Iron Man

2008 – The Incredible Hulk

2010 – Iron Man 2

2011 – Captain America: The First Avenger

2011 – Thor

2013 – Iron Man 3

2013 – Thor 2: The Dark World

2012 – Avengers

2014 – Captain America  2: The Winter Soldier

2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1

2015 – Avengers 2: Age of Ultron (THIS is Stan Lee’s favorite MCU cameo. The reason? It’s a subtle two scene event, where he asks Thor for a drink, who responds by saying it will kill him…and then is later seen being carried out. Blink and you’ll miss it.)

2015 – Ant Man

2016 – Captain America 3: Civil War (This is the infamous “Tony Stank” Fed Ex scene)

2016 – Dr. Strange

2017 – Lee’s two-part cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 (Seeing both makes his ‘secret character‘ make sense.)

2017 – Taking place between GotG2 and Avenger’s Infinity War, this video is just plain fun, giving Lee his full celebrity due (not a canon part of the MCU).

2017 – Spiderman: Homecoming

2017 – Thor 3: Ragnarok

2018 – The Black Panther

2018 – Avengers 3: Infinity War.  This is leaked footage and pretty new, so it’s not as clear:

2018 – Ant Man and the Wasp  — JUST IN!….UPDATE, next day: this is no longer available…blame Disney, who went in and blocked it. Poopers.

Allrighty. Here’s another version. Let’s see how long this one lasts. The scene is short and cute.

Updated again: Really, Disney? You know we’re just going to keep posting these, so peace out! Here we go again:

More will be added as the saga continues and the clips become available. Sources say Lee hates to fly, and it’s getting harder for him to do these appearances, so he shoots a bunch of them back to back now. I hope he sticks around long enough to see the saga through. (Although at this point at the box office, it may never end. Everyone reading this could die before it’s done.)

Which is your favorite Stan Lee cameo? Comment below!

Stan Lee – His Marvel Cameos are a Secret Character

More Marvel Articles on RunPee:

Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy 

Movie Review – Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2

Deadpool is (sort of) a Cross-over Character Between Marvel Franchises

Stan Lee – His Marvel Cameos are a Secret Character

stan lee smiling portrait
The man is seriously always grinning. Excelsior!

Notice how every Marvel movie, whether in an obvious bit or a tiny moment, has a unique and fun Stan Lee cameo?

Fans came up with a theory and Marvel/Lee  finally confirmed it…he actually has a ongoing, arc-based role as a Watcher Informant. His job is to keep an eye on the galaxy’s superheros and report on them, while maintaining his cover as “just some old dude.”

Here’s his “big” moment  (actually, in a 2-parter, so you will need to view both to “get” it) from Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2, where he gives the latest update to his Watchers.

Part One:

Part Two:

Another, most amusing clue, comes in the recent Avengers 3 – Infinity War, where he crankily asks a school bus of children if they’ve never seen a spaceship before. (Poor quality is from leaked footage – sorry. But still cute.)

What would we like to see? How about in his next MCU film, maybe Ant-Man and The Wasp, that he actually has a larger part, and we learn a bit about who/what he is…and has an actual task to do?

The man is 95, so we think if his character is going to “come out” as it were, better sooner than later. He may not make it to Avengers 4.  That would be a real shame. And Avengers 4 will have enough characters to juggle, that it’s probably not the best time to roll out Stan Lee’s big moment. We say, make it now.  🙂

UPDATE (11/12/18) : Unfortunately, Stan Lee passed away today and he didn’t have that sweet extended scene I hoped for in Ant Man & The Wasp. He does have a fun small cameo, though.  Business as usual. There’s a possibility Lee has cameos pre-filmed for 2019’s Captain Marvel and Avengers 4. We can hope. Stan Lee, you are missed already. Thank you for envisioning such a creative and detailed universe. 🙁

UPDATE (11/13/18): IGN.com reports  Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 co-director Joe Russo confirmed the late Stan Lee already filmed his Avengers 4 cameo, with a few surprise other movie moments in the can. So we’ve got that to look forward to. #RIPStanLee #Excelsior!

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.

[pullquote]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…[/pullquote] 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.)

[pullquote position=”right”]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.[/pullquote] 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 – [pullquote]If you skip this one, you may as well not bother with Infinity War. [/pullquote]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.

———————–

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. [pullquote position=”right”]Of the six movies listed here, this one has the most plot points you’d appreciate knowing for IW. [/pullquote]
  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:

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.) 🙂

[pullquote]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[/pullquote] – 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. [pullquote position=”right”]Thor’s not the the brightest Avenger, but he’s definitely the mightiest.[/pullquote] (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). [pullquote]Even soused on booze, Valkyrie captured Thor and took him to the Grandmaster. No small feat. [/pullquote]

***

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. [pullquote position=”right”] Parker’s also pleasant, polite, personable, and a pleasure to be around. Don’t underestimate the power of sheer likability. [/pullquote]

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. Strange – [pullquote]Like 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.[/pullquote] 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.

***

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. [pullquote position=”right”]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.[/pullquote]

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.  [pullquote]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.[/pullquote] 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. [pullquote]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.[/pullquote]

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 – [pullquote position=”right”]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. [/pullquote] 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

Best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Every MCU Movie, Ranked)

Movie Review of Avengers 3: Infinity War

Every Marvel-Tagged Article on RunPee (So Far)

 

 

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. [pullquote]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. [/pullquote]

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.)

[pullquote position=”right”]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.[/pullquote]

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. 

 

Movie Review – Avengers Infinity War – An Unrivaled Marvel Epic

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. [No Spoilers]

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 Infinity War spoilers below]

Here’s the only thing I can find to nit-pick on in Infinity War: the continuity of power. By that I mean: how strong/weak is a character/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 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 Cap 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 Infinity War 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 the summer of 2019 and so forth.

How do they get out of this mess?

In March 2019 there’s the origin story of Captain 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 will pale in comparison to what the next movies will bring.

Avengers Infinity War – what does the post credit scene mean?

Why You Need to Care About Carol Danvers – Captain Marvel Facts and Film Updates

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

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


Avengers t-shirt

LEGO Super Heroes the Hulkbuster Smash-up

Best Movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Up to Thor: Ragnarok)

Here’s RunPee Jilly’s list of the best-to-worst films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since so many of these movies are good, and there are so many of them, I’ve chosen to rank the films by “tier”. Top Tier, Middle Tier, and Bottom Tier. (And one that is simply Bad.) I’m not going to stress over exactly which ones are better than the others within the tiers.

Keep in mind this list only goes as far as The Black Panther at this point in time. This is pre-Infinity Wars. Keep mindful also: this is my personal opinion of the best/worst MCU films — I expect everyone will have their own list. Scribble down your top to bottom tiers in the comments below.

Top Tier

These are the BEST MCU offerings, IMO (of course). The most cohesive plots, solid connections to the through-story, best character pieces (whether solo or in ensemble form), prettiest filmation/scenery, and most enjoyable films that hold up to re-watches. [pullquote position=”right”]Notice that the ensemble pieces largely wound up on top.[/pullquote]

  • Avengers: Assemble — (Top notch; Joss Whedon got everything right. Including Shwarma, mmmmm.)
  • Captain America: Civil War — (Basically an Avengers ensemble piece, and perfectly executed. The airport set piece is as good as the hype surrounding it. More like this, please!)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1 — (My personal favorite movie in the entire MCU. And one of my new top five all-time films. I need this movie when I feel down. The humor, characters, music, and general story are everything I look for in a fun, feel-good, groovy film.)
  • Thor 3: Ragnarok — (I have to admit, I didn’t think anything in the MCU would approach the likability factor of GotG 1. Well…this one does. Chris Hemsworth is hysterical, for one thing. And while ostensibly a solo film for Thor, it’s more like an ensemble piece for the spacefaring MCU characters. I expect the Grandmaster’s ship  – nay, now Thor’s ship – is how we scoop up the Guardians in time for Infinity Wars.)
  • Spiderman: Homecoming — (Everything in this movie went right. And the villain, usually the sore spot in the MCU, just rocked it! <—- finally)
  • Black Panther — (Beautiful scenery, good characters, solid storytelling and a compelling connection to the larger universe).
  • Iron Man 1 — (The movie that kickstarted the entire decade’s-worth franchise…and rebooted the bank-ability factor to a personable, funny, and charismatic star that redefined how Superhero films could be writ. [pullquote]Can’t forget this moment: “I am Iron Man.” And the world leaned back in their seats, satisfied.[/pullquote])

Middle Tier

  •  Captain America: The Winter Soldier — (I know. This one is top tier for many. As a spy movie, it’s just not to my taste, and this is MY list.)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 — (I wanted to place this one in the top tier, but will concede it doesn’t hit all the marks it should have. If the first GotG is perfect, this one does show up and make the effort, in spite of not quite getting somewhere great.)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron — (Another one just shy of greatness. I wanted to place it top tier, but there are just better ones to choose from.)
  • Ant-Man — (not an ‘epic story’, but fun ‘small tale’ with decent humor and a strong likability factor.)

Bottom Tier

  • Thor 1 — (Not a bad movie; just not awesome. The MCU was still figuring out their formula.)
  • Thor 2: The Dark World — (This one is easily one of the least exciting Marvel films, but on a rewatch it’s better served.)
  • Iron Man 2 — (Dull.)
  • Iron Man 3 — (Dull again, bummer.)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger — (It’s okay. Like Thor, movies with Cap improve as his trilogy progresses.)
  • Dr. Strange — (I wish I could place this one higher. It’s just a bit derivative and…well…strange. Not likable or particularly exciting…but we HAD to have the Gem of Amarra in place for Avengers: Infinity War).

Just Bad

  • The Incredible Hulk — (Edward Norton’s outing is the bottom of the MCU barrel. I can’t even sit through this film in its entirety. I’m ashamed to admit it…but, well, there it is. I love Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, but anyone else falls flat.)