Avengers Bests Avatar at Box Office – But Avatar Is Still #1 in My Heart

avatar na'vi man and woman in blue
Hawkeye would fit right in on Pandora.

Avatar is one of my all time favorite movies.  So I’m a little torn that Avengers: Endgame has broken its box office record. Yes, it’s cool that a superhero movie is now the reigning box office champ of all time.

Endgame is the reigning champ

And it’s an impressive feat wrapping up 11 years worth of a series of movies so successfully.  Some series never even make it off the ground (I’m looking at you King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and The Mummy 2017).  Other series have no expiration date (*ahem*James Bond *ahem*).  So to wrap up an epic story in an emotionally satisfying way is no small feat.  Marvel deserves all the kudos they are receiving.

And it’s not that I’m not a fan of Marvel or the actors involved.  I was a Robert Downey Junior fan long before Iron Man came out.  I loved watching Paul Rudd and Mark Ruffalo in art house films for years.  I’ve adored Scarlett Johansson since Lost in Translation.  I’ve crushed on Gwyneth Paltrow ever since Shakespeare in Love.

So Endgame meant as much to me as anyone else.

avatar by james cameron
Avatars In Love.

What I love about Avatar

But, Avatar.  Avatar is something different. It came out of nowhere and wasn’t part of a franchise or any preexisting property.  James Cameron took audiences to another world.  Avatar reflected my spirituality. For instance, the idea that we are all connected.  Plus, it came out at a time in my life when I needed a beautiful world to escape to.

It could be worse

If it had to happen, I’m glad Avatar was beaten by another movie I like.  At least it wasn’t a Jason Bourne film or a Transformers movie or a Fast and the Furious entry (they look fun, but I don’t keep up with them).

Still, it does kind of sting.  And it feels like Daddy beat Mommy at a
popularity contest.  As long as no one gives Jason Bourne super powers, I guess I’ll be okay.

(Kevin Feige, if you’re reading this, that Howard the Duck/Spider-Ham movie would really ease my pain.)

Movie review : Avatar

Endgame spoiler free review – We got what we needed!

Why Avatar Deserves to be the Number 1 Movie Over Avengers: Endgame

Was The Infinity War Snap actually random in who was dusted?

Was The Infinity War Snap actually random in who was dusted?

Thanos Snap
Is it really random? Or was there a plan?

A thought occurred to me last night while watching a YouTube video about Thanos’  Snap: were the people who became dust selected at random? At first glance I always assumed so, but maybe not.

I’m not a mathematician, and questions of probability can confound even professors of mathematics.

I’ll lay out my reasoning and you tell me if I missed something in the comments.

We know Dr. Strange observed 14,000,605 outcomes of the conflict with Thanos, and in only one of those outcomes did it end satisfactorily for the Avengers in Endgame.

Dr. Strange voluntarily gives up the Time Stone, and perhaps performs a few other tasks we don’t know about, to set the course for the one favorable outcome.

Spoilers follow for Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Make sure you’ve seen these before reading further!

The question is: how did Dr. Strange know Tony Stark/Iron Man would not be dusted?

The simple answer: Dr. Strange watched the outcome and knew Tony survived after a certain chain of events occurred.

Right? Then the snap itself does not randomly select lifeforms to dust. If an event — Tony surviving The Snap — always follows a chain of previous events, then it is a determined event, and not random.

If the snap itself randomly selects, then each snap will select a different set of lifeforms to dust. Therefore, all Dr. Strange could know is there’s one chain of events that ends well for the Avengers, as long as Tony doesn’t get dusted.

Remember, based on the outcome of Avengers: Endgame, the only solution Dr. Strange saw was for Tony to be the one, and the ONLY one, to reverse The Snap.

What do you think?

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame

Avengers Endgame – long breakdown to describe what you just saw (Massive Spoilers!)

Avengers Infinity War – Whose Fault is the Snap?

Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Extra Footage Explained

avengers endgame logo with the A
The End(game) of an era.

In an attempt to knock Avatar (2009) off the Biggest Box Office high horse, the Marvel Cinematic Universe opened their vaults and added some extra footage to Avengers: Endgame in a ‘re-release’.

Normally a re-release happens after a movie has been gone awhile, but with MCU fever still running high, Marvel Studios added six minutes of goodies to the end of Endgame before it ever left the theaters.

What follows are spoilers for the extra footage only of Avengers: Endgame, if that wasn’t obvious from the title. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t worry – this article won’t spoil any actual Endgame plot.

The Original Endgame Extras

First off, here’s what extra scenes appeared in the original theatrical release: none. Or, at least, nothing like the full-on bonus scenes we’re used to, the extra bits giving us a laugh or hinting to what’s to come next  in the MCU.

It does make sense to get “nothing”, when you consider how Endgame is the end of the Infinity Saga. (Spider-Man Far From Home is considered an epilogue.)

So, for those who saw Endgame opening week, the only things playing over the credits are:

1. A lovely bit where the Original Six Avengers sign off with their actors’ signatures over a few memorable call-back images.

2. Then nothing until the very end, when we hear an audio-only extra harkening back to the first Iron Man film in 2008. We wrote about that hammering sound here.

And that was it.

3. Until a few weeks later, when the studio added a nice long trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The New Bonus Scenes

In  the July re-release, here are the extra six minutes Endgame got. This starts after the rolling credits end and the ‘hammering’ audio clip concludes:

  1. A loving tribute to Stan Lee. Since Endgame is the last movie to use Lee’s vast array of cameos (remember the long-haired hippy driver in the 70s flashback scene?), it makes a lot of sense to use some behind-the-scenes footage remembering this amazing man, and his contribution to the world of comics. It’s a sweet-natured look at Lee filming some of his best cameos, in a nice little video. Well done, Marvel, well done. RIP Stan Lee.
  2. Second, we have an introduction by Endgame director Anthony Russo, thanking the fans for sticking around. He says: “As you may have noticed, we packed a lot into this movie. There are a lot of characters, a lot of action, a lot of emotion, and I think a lot of fun. But, believe it or not, we shot some scenes that needed to be cut. I know, the movie could have been even longer!”
  3. Next, we get an unfinished bonus scene with the Hulk. We see what he’s been up to since we saw him last: saving people (here from a burning building), right before taking a call from Steve Rogers. Clearly, this is meant to happen right before the “Hulk Lunch Scene.” While the Hulk himself is an animated version inserted into real footage, he’s still got Mark Ruffalo’s face.
  4. The last thing is a fully-finished scene introducing the coming jeopardy in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Nick Fury and Maria Hill show up in Mexico to a town ravaged by a cyclone “with a face”. They meet Mysterio, who tells Fury and Hill, ” You don’t want any part of this,” cuing the next action scene.

One More Extra Goodie

I also got a nifty Avengers: Endgame commemorative poster, just for showing up again. Marvel, I love you 3000.

So, Is This Working to Get Butts Back In Seats?

I’d say, most definitively, yes. I went to the theater Saturday night (July 15th) and the screening room for Avengers: Endgame was PACKED. There were only a couple of empty seats left in the front. And the audience was very much into the spirit of things: laughing at the jokes, gasping in horror at the shocks. Endgame fever is clearly still running high. I’m glad to see it.

Did Endgame Beat Out Avatar?

Will Endgame knock Avatar off the throne? It kind of doesn’t matter. The Infinity Saga has been an incredible ride for 11 years and 23 movies, with even the worst film (The Incredible Hulk) being far from bad. At RunPee, we’ve had to grade each entry on a curve, because they are so consistently good. The only useful grading system is to weigh their merits against each other. If they all get an A, then how can we talk about which are better? (The short answer is to rank them in tiers of bottom, middle, and top, which we also covered here.)

So it’s already won. Knocking Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Titanic out of the running was exciting, and it would neat to be part of a world-wide event ousting Avatar. I don’t see any other movie coming close to this honor — but since we’re talking the cream of the box office crop, they, and we, are all winners.

It’s not over until it’s over, and it seems that Marvel Studios will do #WhateverItTakes. We’ll keep our eyes out for you and give a final report when all is said and done.

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

RIP Stan Lee – you will be missed

Avatar – plot too simple? Actually, a good idea.

Spider-Man & Iron Man – Lyrics to Back in Black by AC/DC

spider man far from home
Back in Red and (eventually) Black

Starting way back in 2008 with Iron Man‘s use of I Am Iron-Man and, yes, Back in Black, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never been shy of using classic rock hits in their superhero movies. While 2019’s Spiderman: Far From Home doesn’t have as many rocking songs as Spider-Man: Homecoming, it’s got a winning use of AC/DC’s Back In Black.

Why Back in Black Works So Well

For one thing, Peter Parker makes a hilarious mistake when Happy Hogan gives him some of Stark’s favorite music to work to, shouting he loves “Led Zeppelin!” This makes us oldsters grimace in sympathetic understanding with poor Happy. Remember, Peter thinks Aliens is an “old movie.” (Ouch.)

It also reminds us of Tony Stark’s love of classic rock, in a beautiful bit of unspoken narrative.

Finally, on a meta-level, the song’s title is perfect. This is something the MCU does well — like their cute use of The Kink’s Supersonic Rocketship to stand for Rocket Raccoon’s actual spaceship. For Back In Black specifically, look at the costumes Spider-Man wears in Far From Home. One is entirely black — as “The Night Monkey” — followed by one he makes using Stark’s nano-tech, ditching the garish red-blue look for a spiffier red-black suit.

Here’s the video used for the Back in Black “full Iron Man intro scene”  (which really brings things full circle, as Happy’s little smile shows), followed by the song lyrics:

Something cute if you read the comments on YouTube: the amount of attention this video has from folks looking for Back in Back after seeing Spider-Man: Far From Home. Yes, Iron Man used it first. Ultimately, it’s a great callback to the ‘heir’ of Tony Stark, just as neat as Tony’s killer line at the climax of Avengers: Endgame.

Back in Black Lyrics (Live at River Plate 2009, by AC/DC)

Back in black
I hit the sack
I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back
Yes, I’m let loose
From the noose
That’s kept me hanging about
I’ve been looking at the sky
‘Cause it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse ’cause I never die
I got nine lives
Cat’s eyes
Abusin’ every one of them and running wild

‘Cause I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well, I’m back in black
Yes, I’m back in black

Back in the back
Of a Cadillac
Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack
Yes, I’m in a bang
With a gang
They’ve got to catch me if they want me to hang
‘Cause I’m back on the track
And I’m beatin’ the flack
Nobody’s gonna get me on another rap
So look at me now
I’m just makin’ my play
Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way

‘Cause I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back
Yes, I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well, I’m back in black
Yes, I’m back in black

Well, I’m back, yes I’m back
Well, I’m back, yes I’m back
Well, I’m back, back
Well I’m back in black
Yes I’m back in black

Ho yeah
Oh yeah
Yes I am
Oh yeah, yeah oh yeah
Back in now
Well I’m back, I’m back
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back, (I’m back)
Back
Back in black
Yes I’m back in black
Out of the sight

[Songwriters: Angus Young / Brian Johnson / Malcolm Young
Back In Black (Live at River Plate 2009) lyrics © BMG Rights Management]

PS: Some commentators are saying Tony Stark uses a peace sign in every MCU movie in honor of that soldier in the scene linked above…can anyone confirm he does this, ever, and where?

Lyrics and Video to Blitzkrieg Bop from Spider-Man – Homecoming

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

Movie Review – Iron Man – Genius, Philanthropist, etc who started it all

All Men In Black Films, Ranked

men in black posterTo prep for Men In Black: International, I did a little series rewatch, and discovered a few things: the original movie is still fresh and funny, the second film still hurts to watch, and I totally forgot everything that happened in the third MIB outing. But that’s actually a good thing. It was like getting a brand-new bonus movie. 🙂

Here’s my ranking of all four Men in Black flicks, because ranking things is fun:

  1. The original Men In Black is far and away the best one. The quality of this movie is so high when compared to every other film in the series — you can pretty much stop watching these movies right here. (It’s not like any of the other films are required viewing.) This one had everything: cool characters, amusing aliens, a coherent storyline (this is crucial), and enough world-building to make the imagination soar. It’s legit funny.  Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have outstanding chemistry, bickering like an old married couple. Vincent D’Onofrio is a pleasure as a sadistic cockroach (never thought I’d ever write a sentence like that one). The effects still look good and it’s fun to think about what public figures might really be aliens hiding in plain sight. Movie Grade: AMen in black tommy lee jones and will smithSmith and Jones, rocking their suits.
  2. Men In Black 3 was a pleasant surprise after the awful sequel. If felt more nimble and recalled the playfulness of the first film. But instead of dredging the lake to recall old gags (Frank the Pug and the Worm Gang make an appearance and no more), there are new characters, and even a new (old?) version of Agent K, who did such a great job being Tommy Lee Jones that I forgot it was another actor (Josh Brolin) playing him. Also in spite of basing the plot around time travel — which can go badly wrong very fast — it somehow made narrative sense. MIB 3 doesn’t really expand on the world-building, but it didn’t need to. Lightweight fare. Movie Grade: B-
  3. Men In Black: International was the return to the MIB universe that no one asked for. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson proved they had great chemistry in Thor: Ragnarok, so transplanting that here should have been a slam dunk. Hemsworth showed he could be very funny. So it was a huge disappointment that MIB 4 was so…lame. It was sub-average. I’m not sure what to even say about it, because the plot made no sense, the characters had understandable motivation, and honestly, this was such a miss-step. When the best movie chemistry is between one half of a buddy duo (Thompson) and a CGI character (that would be Pawny), you know something’s wrong. I’ll let the official movie review say the rest. What a wasted opportunity.  Movie Grade: C-
    pawny from men in black international
    You’ve been pwned.
  4. Somehow MIB 2 sunk all the goodwill from the original with a messy, unfunny sequel. The villain is so bad that she drags the rest of the movie into a black hole around her. There isn’t one scene with her that isn’t cringe-worthy. Frank the Pug was a great gag in the first film, but they overused him here. I can’t even think about what does work in MIB 2 because I keep getting distracted by what didn’t, but I’ll try: Smith and Jones still have a good knockabout dynamic, although it’s starting to fray at the edges, and Jones in particular seemed like he didn’t want to be there. I liked the repeat of the worm gag, but their extended cameo, like the Pug’s, verged on too much. Even though I just rewatched this, I’ve already totally forgotten the plot. Was there a MacGuffin? Did someone neuralize me? Oh, wait: this is the one with a universe hiding inside a locker, with little beings who worship Agent K. That got an actual laugh out of me. Movie Grade: D
    neuralizer and will smith
    Say “Cheese”…

The MIBs, Overall:

I could say the series is played out, but I actually don’t believe that. The premise is so  interesting, so ripe for exploration. If someone made a good script with fresh ideas that MADE SENSE, Men in Black could continue having epic adventures all over the galaxy. Come on, guys!

Movie Review – Men in Black: International

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

 

Movie Review - Spider-Man: Far from HomeI liked Spider-Man: Far From Home. I liked it a lot. But I didn’t love it, and that surprised me.

I adore Tom Holland‘s version of Spider-Man, and think he’s the best Peter Parker ever done, no question. (Notice how this sidesteps Miles Morales‘ stunning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse quite nicely.) And every appearance by MCU’s Spider-Man, from Civil War to Endgame, sparkled with wit and verve.

I rewatched Spider-Man: Homecoming to get ready for Spidey’s ‘European Vacation’. I was again taken with how absolutely lovely, charming, funny, and exciting Peter Parker’s first solo outing was. (With one of Marvel’s better villains, to boot.)

Far From Home was enjoyable, but not up to the level I expected. Some nits to pick (with spoilers for Avengers: Endgame):

– Ned wasn’t The Chair Guy this time. He was mostly sidelined. Ned had funny lines, but was no longer Spider-Man’s sidekick. Making him foolish — and a damsel in distress, even — didn’t sit right.

– Peter was too low-key. I get that he’s been through a lot, and mourns Iron-Man like a father, but EVERYONE in the post-post-post Snap world (yes, there were three Snaps, remember?) is suffering. His friends seemed fine. I would have written Spidey as his usual irrepressible self who’d get sad when reminders of Tony Stark hit him out of nowhere. Grief is like that: you’re grooving along until you get a gut-punch reminder.

– There wasn’t enough care and attention paid to how Earth is handling the new reality: billions of people returning to life five years later. Yes, it was alluded to a few times, but I expected more. And Europe seemed to truck on with no problems at all. Even seeing some of the homelessness and ruin in the background would have helped keep the sense of continuity alive. The MCU usually provides better world-building than that.

– I missed the fun rock and pop music that made Homecoming so fun. (We did get one rock hit underscoring a poignant/funny moment, but I won’t spoil it.)

– And another nit: Spider-Man is the only A-List hero left on Earth? After 23 movies packed with super beings, I can’t buy that.

So, Where Were the Other Avengers?

As said, in-movie:

Dead:

Not mentioned, but should be around for Fury to call upon:

  • Professor Hulk
  • War Machine (who’s basically an Iron Man already)
  • Ant-Man
  • Wasp
  • Scarlet Witch (who should be able to wipe the floor with anyone)
  • Valkyrie, Korg, and a whole city of Asgardians
  • Black Panther, Shuri, and a whole country of Wakandans
  • Falcon (AKA new Cap)
  • The Winter Soldier/White Wolf
  • Hawkeye (I presume he returned to retirement…)
  • Pepper Potts-Stark is at least name-dropped (apparently she doesn’t want to use her Iron Suit any more than Peter does, for the same reason)
  • Lots of minor heroes could also be asked to ‘step up’…this could be a whole article. Which I’ll probably write, if there’s interest.

Again, those are mostly nits. But there’s one big problem, and for that I have to give Spider-Man FFH a B grade. That’s hard to do, since I loved a lot of it. I am a huge MCU fan, a Tom Holland-as-Spidey fan…and I really do think this is the best genre movie out right now (not including the Endgame re-release). But since we at RunPee tend to grade the Marvel Cinematic Universe on a curve, I’d have to rank this as a “middle tier” movie. MAN, I hate saying this.

It might have been that all the major plot points of FFH were spoiled for me, but I normally love anything the MCU does, so that shouldn’t have mattered.

Where Spider-Man: Far From Home Faltered

The single biggest problem is the bad guys are kind of an underwhelming/overwhelming mess. They are huge; they are CGI, and have no personality or motivation whatsoever…or even facial expressions. How is that supposed to be fun to watch? It doesn’t matter that that part doesn’t matter (have to be vague), but it made every fight with The Elementals boring. They felt more like the worst kind of bad guys done in the DC Universe (on the level of Incubus or Steppenwolf, or all the other villains no one remembers).

MCU has the occasional villain problem, but nothing as bad as these guys.

The point is, it doesn’t matter that the Elementals are [redacted for spoilers]: they still got too much screen time. They brought the movie down. Watching European landmarks get destroyed isn’t entertaining by itself. Even Godzilla has a personality.

Notice I’m not mentioning Mysterio. Or the promised Multi-Verse. I can’t go into any of this without spoilers, and this review is already too long. Suffice to say if Iron Man had a love child with Dr. Strange, you’d kind of get Mysterio. The trippy, psychedelic stuff was the best part of the action. It’s too bad they couldn’t get Dr. Strange on the phone. I’ll stop there.

Overall, How’s Spider-Man: Far From Home?

I’m making a bigger deal out of the Villain Problem than I meant to. Far From Home is still a super fun film, with laughs, school trip shenanigans, great on-location scenery, emotional moments, and a fun class reunion with Peter Parker’s (conveniently) co-blipped pals. And Happy Hogan stole every scene from Peter, which I didn’t expect. Tony Stark’s absence was keenly felt, but his character still managed to permeate the story, and even drew one of the best laughs.

So, yeah, absolutely see the 23rd movie officially closing out the Infinity Saga. It’s the last MCU film we’re getting this year. (We don’t yet know when Phase 4 will begin.) Far From Home really has some great moments and a lot of heart, so go and enjoy yourselves, Elementals be damned. 🙂

PS: The extra scenes over the credits are AWESOME. The implication are pretty big (for one of them) and pretty cool (for the other).

PPS: Also, in the background at near the end of the movie, there’s a building mural Peter swings slowly by that reads: “We can’t wait to show you what happens next!” Clearly that’s a message about Phase 4 from the MCU. Nice nod.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I have 3 good Peetimes, spaced out nicely through the movie.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Spider-Man: Far from Home. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero, MCU

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Movie Review – Spider-Man Homecoming

The entire MCU Movie Order – Several Options for your pre-Avengers Endgame Watch or Rewatch

Stan Lee – His Favorite Marvel Characters

Marvel Phase 4 Predictions – Some MCU Sure-Fire Guesses

 

Movie Review – Men in Black: International

Movie Review - Men in Black: InternationalIt isn’t that there’s much wrong with MiB International so much as there isn’t anything right about it: the humor is middling; the pacing is choppy; and the plot/character development is bland.

I can’t complain about the acting. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson did good enough with what they had to work with, but Thor: Ragnorak this isn’t.

The biggest problem with MiB International is the pacing. There are long stretches that border on boring, sometimes wandering on the wrong side of the border. Right in the middle of the movie is the main chase scene that serves as the best Peetime in the movie. I’m certain that’s not what the creators had in mind.

There are elements of potential in the story. It feels like all the movie needed was a few more drafts of the script to give it the polish it needed. For instance there are continual references to Agent H’s (Hemsworth) character change since the opening scene of the movie….however, there’s never any resolution as to why this change happened.

Speaking of the opening scene, there was some real confusion in the order of time between the first few scenes of the movie. There’s no indication when the first scene starts, as Agent H and T arrive at the Eiffel Tower. [Correction: there was a “3 Years ago” message onscreen that apparently appeared while I was writing notes.] After that, the scene cuts to another scene with “20 years ago” displayed on the screen. At the end of that we jump to the present. That seems simple enough until 3/4 of the way through the movie we discover that the opening scene took place 3 years in the past. I don’t want to imply that there’s a simple solution to how this should have been done, but it’s the job of the writers/director to tell a cohesive story, and they botched that in the first 5 minutes of the movie.

I think most fans of the MiB franchise will be disappointed. This installment is nowhere near as good is the first, or third, movie. The second MiB was pretty awful, save for some funny scenes. I’d say this fourth movie is better than that, but not by much.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes here, but the 1st and last Peetimes are Emergency use only because they are so short. We recommend the 3rd Peetime. It’s right in the middle of the movie and only involves 1 long chase scene that isn’t particularly good.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Men in Black: International. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sequel

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

 

 

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Elvis is not dead. He just went home.

Note: contains minor spoilers for the Men in Black trilogy

Men In Black: International opens this week.  Now is as good a time as any to revisit the series and examine it.  What makes these films so successful?  What is their secret?  Let’s take a look at the original trilogy to find out.

Men In Black

Surprisingly, most of the elements that make the MIB films tick are present in the first act of the first film (roughly the first 22 minutes).  The blueprint for the series’ success is set up at the beginning of the very first film.

Creatures

One of the most important elements of the MIB series are the memorable creatures.  From the pawn shop dealer Jack Jeebs, to the sarcastic worms who love caffeine and cigarettes, to the baby alien J helps deliver to Geoff the giant subway worm, and to Frank the Pug, the Men in Black movies always have memorable aliens.  This is thanks in large part to the legendary make up artist Rick Baker, who won an Oscar for his work on the first MIB.    

The first film opens with Agent K busting a space alien named Mikey posing as an illegal alien crossing the border.  K shoots him when he tries to run…which brings us to another element that makes these movies tick.

Technology

Guns.  Noisy cricket.  Neuralizers.  Monocycles.  Jetpacks.  What is a Men in Black film without some high-tech fun?  We get our first taste of this when K shoots the alien Mikey with his futuristic-looking sidearm.  Then K uses a neuralyzer on the border patrol agents to erase their memories.  The neuralyzer — or “flashy thingy” as Agent J calls it — is perhaps the most useful (or at least) piece of MIB equipment. There is even one in the Statue of Liberty’s torch for city-wide emergencies.  

Smooth Dialogue

After neuralyzing the border patrol agents, Agent K gets his first memorable line.  “I’m just a figment of your imagination,” he says in response to someone asking who he is.  The Men in Black movies are known for slick dialogue, but the first film is probably the most quotable.  Especially Agent J’s line, “I make this look good.”  Later in the film, Zed describes MIB agents, saying, “”You are a rumor disguised as deja vu.”  And, of course, near the end K explains, “Elvis is not dead.  He just went home.” 

Comedy

Comedy is another essential ingredient to the MIB movies.  After the introduction to K, the audience gets to meet Will Smith’s character, the soon-to-be Agent J.  He gets one of my favorite Will Smith moments of all time.  He’s a cop.  While chasing a suspect, he jumps off a bridge onto a double decker tour bus.  He says, “It just be raining black people in New York,” and keeps going.  It’s hilarious. 

Later in the film, the audience finds out Sylvester Stallone and other famous people are aliens.  This gag gets even better as the series goes on.  The twist with Andy Warhol in Part 3 is the best! 

Agent J also gets the other piece of dialogue that always makes me laugh from the original.  He’s trying to tell Gladys to create a better life for herself after neuralyzing her.  “…And hire a decorator to come in here quick ’cause damn.”  (You have to hear him say it.)

MIB 3 introduces a quirky comic role who is one of my favorite movie characters of all time.  Michael Stuhlbarg plays Griffin, a being that can see all future timelines at the same time. Stuhlbarg’s manner — how he is friendly and frantic — reminds me of a young Robin Williams.    

A Good Villain

Each of the MIB movies has a strong villain.  Vincent D’Onofrio’s Edgar is a tough act to follow, with his odd speech and mannerisms.  It’s a performance that sticks with you.  However, Lara Flynn Boyle as Sarleena and Jemaine Clement as Boris the Animal are pretty scary in their own right.  In the original, the audience gets to meet Edgar the man, who is a monster even before an alien force takes over his body. 

Chemistry

The chemistry between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (and later with Josh Brolin) has been essential to the success of the franchise.  Act one of the first film ends with Agent K taking Will Smith’s character to the pawn shop to see if he can identify an alien weapon.  Even though Smith is not K’s partner yet, he and K easily fall into a good-cop-bad-cop routine as soon as they walk into the store.  The two agents have a great partnership throughout the series, and they feed each other great dialogue even when K doesn’t recognize J due to amnesia or time travel.  

MIB: International

So how much of this formula will the new Men in Black movie adhere to?  The film has new creatures. Kumail Nanjani voices a small alien called Pawny in the trailer that provides some comic relief.  The bad news is that Rick Baker retired some time after the third film and was not available to lend his talents to this film. There is also some new technology, including a new car with different features, and a powerful weapon the agents try out in the desert.

The trailers are lacking in smooth or memorable dialogue and the comedy is a little corny. The Thor reference has been the best joke so far. Rebecca Ferguson’s character Riza seems to be the main villain, but we’ve only gotten glimpses of her in the trailers. It’s hard to tell if she’ll be as menacing as Edgar or Boris.  As far as chemistry goes, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have worked together as Thor and Valkyrie on Marvel films. Hopefully some of the chemistry from those films will translate here. They seem to work okay together in the trailers, but there isn’t much to go on.

The Men in Black universe is a lot of fun. It would be nice if this turns out to be a way to keep it going.      

Before you take on the scum of the Universe, make sure you have the RunPee app on your phone.  You won’t want to miss any of the good parts of your favorite science fictions films. Whether you’re planning to see MIB: International, Gemini Man (so that’s where Will Smith is!), Ad Astra (so that’s where Tommy Lee Jones is!), or Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (so what’s where Emperor Palpatine is!), we’ll have Peetimes for your movie so you don’t miss out.  You can also keep up with the latest movie news by following us on Twitter @RunPee.

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

Avengers Endgame Song and Lyrics to Supersonic Rocketship

The Bentatar stranded in space in Endgame
Rocket and his Supersonic Rocketship

Rock Music in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

If you’re paying at all attention to the music during the already overcrammed events in Avengers Endgame, you’ll notice a few classic rock songs stand out. This technique’s been in play since Iron Man, but really ramped up with Guardians of the Galaxy and just kept on that path.

Warning: Spoilers follow for Endgame.

Endgame is no different. The Marvel Studio Credits sequence play, usually, to the same orchestral Avenger’s themes we’re used to. Endgame logos opens with a soft credits sequence set to Mr. Fantasy (just another way Endgame chose to stand out from 22 years of world-building and as a saga coda), and there are a few more 70s rock hits along the way.

When Supersonic Rocketship Plays in Endgame

My favorite is Supersonic Rocketship, when Peter Quill’s — now Rocket’s — ship (The Benatar) lands while poor Ant Man has his taco blown away by the jet’s engines. Professor Hulk sweetly hands hims two new ones (the big green guy now has a lot of food at all times), and smiles at him. This is a nice moment, since everyone else in Endgame treats him with zero respect, starting with Tony Stark, and ending with Rocket himself. (“Does the puppy want to go to SPACE?”)

Then Hulk and Rocket, the two Avengers left who care most about, Thor get in the back of an old pickup to head to new Asgard (a Norway fjord town), to convince a guilt-devoured Thor to rejoin ‘the team’ to take on Thanos. Thor refuses to even speak his name, in spite of delivering the killing blew. (“I went for the head.”) Thor spent the last five years self-medicating in New Asgard with junk food, booze, and video games, hiding out with fan favorite Korg and their little buddy Meik. When Rocket promised there’s beer on the ship, Thor agrees to come along.

The Kinks’ Supersonic Rocketship mostly plays during the truck ride to New Asgard, but it’s a perfect song choice. The happy chords and silly lyrics are perfect, since Quill’s ship is now Rocket Ship’s by default (get it), and he’s planning let the team ‘use it at their disposal if they feel so inclined,” as the lyrics go. A lot of this song is really perfect, and at the time of the narrative has a fittingly happy quality it.

Listen to the song below and see how well this works in the film. A complete list of the lyrics follow the music video. Enjoy!

Lyrics to Supersonic Rocketship

(Performed by The Kinks, 1927)

Let me take you on a little trip
My supersonic ship’s at your disposal
If you feel so inclined. Well alright.
We’re gonna travel faster than light
So do up your overcoat tight
And you’ll go anywhere you want to decide. Well alright.
Too many people side by side
Got no place to hide.

On my supersonic rocket ship
Nobody has to be hip
Nobody needs to be out of sight. Out of sight.
Nobody’s gonna travel second class
There’ll be equality
And no suppression of minorities. Well alright.
We’ll take this planet, shake it round
And turn it upside down.
My supersonic rocket ship.

It ain’t no magic, ain’t no lie,
You’ll laugh so loud you’ll cry.
Up and down, round and round
On my supersonic rocket ship.

Let me take you on a little trip
My supersonic ship’s at your disposal
If you feel so inclined. Well alright.
Nobody’s gonna travel second class
There’ll be equality
And no suppression of minorities. Well alright.

Let me take you on a little trip
On my supersonic rocket ship…

[Songwriters: Ray Davies
Supersonic Rocket Ship lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC]

Avengers Cameo – That random kid in Endgame is someone we’ve seen before

Avengers: Endgame – What was that hammer sound in the credits?

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

men in black poster
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, out to save you from the scum of the universe

*Flash*

Everyone listen now: what you may think you just experienced is a house party with drunk teenagers and a crazy, lonely lady. In actuality, you traveled back in time 22 years to help us, the Men in Black, save the galaxy from an alien invasion. We’re looking for some new recruits and think all of you have potential, so you can call me Agent N. Let me explain what happened here today, so you can determine if you want to join us.

Let me set the scene. First, the Men In Black is an organization that keeps track of every alien life form not from Earth.

Second, we recently got a rookie named Agent J (former name Will Smith), who was partnered with our ace in the hole Agent K (former name Tommy Lee Jones).

Third, it just so happened that an alien bug decided to crash land here in search of something. We later found out he was looking for an alien prince hiding himself and a whole galaxy here on Earth. Long story short, the rook’s first day on the job somehow was smooth sailing — even though you may be hearing all of this thinking, “There’s no way this can go well”. No matter what you think, that’s the basics of what you need to know.

Now, let me explain some tiny details that might help you determine if you want to join the Men in Black permanently or not. Without a doubt, some of the jokes we like to crack on the job don’t land like we wish, but our aim is still pretty good. Especially between Agent J’s strong charisma and Agent K’s deadpan delivery, bouncing off each other.

You may also see some of our alien companions and realize they actually do look good, even though you all are from the future. Our 1997 technology advanced the human eye to make everything seem much better. When our alien friends are there, you can’t properly distinguish them from when they’re not there. And don’t tell them otherwise.

If you haven’t seen the report yet, consider this a warning. Our job may not be glamorous, even at the climax of our mission, which in this most recent mission was exactly the case. From what I’ve seen on the report, apparently all that happened was Agent J distracted the alien by swinging some sticks and getting flung around, while Agent K damaged the creepy-crawly in a slow but effective way…just for some girl from the morgue to give the final blow.

Everyone who has seen the report keeps talking about Frank the Pug and the Noisy Cricket, since apparently they stole the show. So if a dog they talked to for 3 minutes oozes enough charisma to leave a lasting impression, so can the Men in Black.

And of course, we need to have a moment of silence for Agent K…who at the end of his mission revealed that he wasn’t looking for Agent J to be a partner, but to be a replacement. For Men in Black agents who show no emotion to begin with, we were heartbroken to see Agent J use the neuralyzer on Agent K. Thankfully, we had a happy ending, but a heart-wrenching one at that.

Now it is time for you to decide if you’re going to join us in the Men in Black or not. If you are, you can stop here and you’ll get further notice later. If not, then let’s walk this way and let me explain what the neuralyzer is. ↓

……

……

A neuralyzer is a special tool we use to make sure you don’t remember anything we don’t want you to, so look right here at the red dot and…

*Flash*

…What you just witnessed here today is a couple of high school girls who decided to live it up a little after not going to any parties at all and instead spent all their time studying…

– – Written by RunPee guest writer Nicholas Collier, who secretly wants to join the MIB. Nick says, “I’ve been watching movies since I got my glasses in 5th grade. Movies are what I love, what I know, and what I aspire to create. Find me @LightCameraNick on twitter, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”  

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