Marvel Phase 4 & 5: The Beyonder, Heroic Thanos & Greater Universal Threats

I have just started writing for moviepilot.com and I did post this on the website. But I also posting it here.

Major Spoilers concerning Marvel Phase 4 and 5!

Alright, I know you will read the spoilers. After all, who isn’t tempted to even though one hates to?

So, here goes.

Thanos does not die at the end of the Infinity War.

He becomes an ally instead.

Thanos, though once wiping out half the sentient life in the universe, is not an outright villain. He is more of an anti-hero. Why? Because even though he did destroy half the universe once, he saved the whole of four times after.

When his mad love for lady Death ended in not so ceremonial way, he decides to become a lone farmer and sought redemption for his acts. Because Nebula had restored all that was destroyed, nobody really died and everyone eventually ended up being safe.

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Thanos then becomes the guardian of the reality gem and successfully thwarts both Magus and the Goddess and the inter-universal consuming entity to save the universe.

The Infinity War isn’t a single cosmic event; it is the second of the six cosmic events in the Marvel Universe. And technically the event that is to be shown in the 2018 and 2019 films is not the Infinity War, rather Infinity Gauntlet. It starts with Thanos’ Quest and ends with Thanos’ exile.

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So even though Thanos – The Mad Titan – was the villain of the first and second events, he was the saviour in the rest.

We will be introduced to cosmic entities like The Celestials, Galactus, Lord Chaos and Master Order, The Living Tribunal, Eternity, Infinity, manifestations of love and desire et cetera.

Saying all that let’s speculate story-lines for the Marvel Cinematic Universe post Infinity War.

Marvel Phase 4: The Secret War/Beyonder Saga

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After a universe spanning 21 films until the Infinity War, many would think there will not be any content of epic proportions to adapt. But, as mentioned above, there is much more.

I truly believe that the rights for the Fantastic Four will return to Marvel sooner rather than later. The reboot will sink. People will boycott it and unassuming viewers will not be too excited because of how sucky its marketing is.

When the rights will return to Marvel, we will have the Skrull, Galactus, the Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom at our disposal.

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Doctor Victor Von Doom was heavily involved in the Infinity War and he is a scientific, psychological and supernatural threat. He is one of the most revered and famousest (that’s a word…the Hobbits use it) villains of all time. What better honour for him than being the inspiration for Darth Vader?

But a true threat for the heroes will come in the form of the Beyonder. He was once an Inhuman (also a mutant) who was exposed to the Terrigen Mists and his Terrigenesis bestowed upon him godlike powers. The memory of his existence was erased from the minds of Blackbolt and everybody else.

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He creates an alternate reality within himself. He then becomes infatuated and obsessed with the lives of Earthlings. He throws a trap for our heroes and transports them to another galaxy; he also intrigues and ensnares the villains and eventually pits heroes and villains against each other on a new planet called Battleworld with the promise of a great reward.

He is usurped by the overly ambitious Doctor Doom who in turn is thwarted by the Beyonder and soon after both are vanquished by the heroes. Once defeated therein, he returns to Earth to study mankind and experience love. After several convoluted plots he enters a Sanctum Sanctorum and creates an alternate universe for himself. But he is confronted and defeated there as well and turns into a cosmic cube.

This could be the plot for the fourth and fifth Avengers films. Characters like Doctor Strange and the Inhumans are directly involved in this conflict. And this will lead into Phase 5 which is the Infinity Crusade.

Marvel Phase 5: The Infinity Crusade

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When Adam Warlock takes the Infinity Gauntlet, he decides to nullify his emotions and his will to be good and bad so as to be a neutral judge akin to the Living Tribunal. But, in doing so he created two sentient entities called the Magus and the Goddess.

The Magus was the villain of the Infinity War and the Goddess of the Infinity Crusade.

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The Magus is a malevolent entity who wants to end all life for the sake of ending all life. He creates doppelgängers of the heroes and villains and goes after the Cosmic Cubes. Their working is similar to that of the Infinity Gauntlet. He collects the five cosmic cubes, incapacitates the cosmic entity Eternity and creates an inter-dimensional realm from where he creates evil duplicates of everybody else, including Thanos. (See? I told you Thanos isn’t a hard-core baddie)

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The Magus, Adam Warlock’s malevolent entity

Thanos discovers the plot set by the Magus and apprises Warlock of it. Galactus, who again isn’t an outright villain, investigates along with Earth’s heroes and attempts to revive Eternity because the entity is needed to petition the Living Tribunal, who had the use of the Infinity Gems in unison. If the Gauntlet was reactivated, the heroes could erase the Magus existence.

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After several mini events on Earth and elsewhere, the story climaxes with Quasar, the Magus, Warlock, Thanos, Doctor Doom and Kang the Conqueror vying for the cosmic cubes.

Doom and Kang approach Magus after searching for the cosmic power’s source.

The Magus captures Adam Warlock and the inactive gauntlet. They battle each other and Warlock loses the fight. Magus is severely weakened and attempts to use the cosmic cubes but finds the containment units stolen. Doom betrays Kang and demands Magus to relinquish the gauntlet.

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Coincidentally Eternity is revived and convinces The Living Tribunal to reactivate the gauntlet. A near omnipotent Magus defeats Doom and erases Quasar’s existence. Thanos enters the scene, battling his doppelgänger and distracting Magus. Adam Warlock grapples the Magus for the gauntlet and releases a composite being made of Eternity and his twin Infinity. This being incapacitates the Magus and Warlock traps him in the Soul Gem. But Warlock – spending most of his energy – falls into a coma.

Thanos reveals to the assembled heroes that Magus had never gained true omnipotence. Thanos had replaced the Reality Gem with a convincing fake and declares that he had always been the secret guardian of the Reality Gem. The heroes return to Earth as everything is turned back to normal.

The Infinity Crusade Part 2

The Infinity War story ends with the Goddess collecting the containment units and in the Infinity Crusade we find that she has created a new planet Paradise Omega with the help of the cosmic egg. She brainwashes many of the Earth’s heroes and recruits them for her army.

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Her aim is to end all evil. Professor X (who could be replaced by Doctor Strange in this movie version), Thanos and Adam Warlock join forces and plan an assault on the Goddess’ defences. They are thwarted by Moondragon and Professor X goes into a state of coma.

Thanos and Warlock are approached by Mephisto, who gives them vital information regarding the Goddess in exchange of a containment unit. They agree.

Thanos assembles the heroes of Earth and frees the Silver Surfer from the control of the Goddess. The Silver Surfer destroys the planet’s defences. Thanos using his telepathic powers attacks the Goddess the very moment she decides to activate her plan. She was determined to rewrite all existence in order to nullify evil itself.

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But she was tricked into it by Warlock, who had created an illusion in order to make her reveal her true intentions to the heroes of Earth. Thanos, Warlock and Professor X (here Doctor Strange) attack the Goddess on the spiritual plane, where the cubes have no power, and trap her inside the Soul Gem.

The heroes return to Earth as the battle is undone by the Cosmic Egg. Thanos deems that the power of the Cosmic Egg mustn’t be used by anyone else. Thanos takes one of the cosmic cubes to Mephisto to deliver the promised payment. He then destroys the Paradise Omega and the Egg, making the artefact useless for Mephisto.

Hence, Thanos saves the universe time and again and receives full redemption for his previous acts of jealous love.

This could effectively end Phase 5 and also the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. It will also be enough to make films until 2028 as Marvel has already planned.

Let me know your opinions. I could have added several other mini plotlines, but it would only make this already long post a saga. I guess I’ll write another piece on those itty bitty details.

~ Zalysar Cuvegis/The Mad Bard

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How Marvel’s Black Panther Will Bring Respect To Superhero Films

There are superheroes like Captain America, Batman, Green Arrow, Superman, Wolverine, Iron-Man…Hulk.

And then there is Black Panther.

He isn’t a science experiment. He isn’t a Super Soldier. He isn’t an X-Man. He is no Billionaire Playboy. He is no Alien.

He is a King.

King T’Challa of Wakanda.

A man who pours hot wax on his enemies and stamps regal authority.

And he isn’t no clichéd White man nor is he a coloured man living in some adopted nation. He is T’Challa. He is the king of the world’s most technologically advanced nation. He is a man who is well versed in numerous languages. He is sound in his arguments and boasts superior intelligence to his peers. He is an alumni of the world’s most prestigious universities and leader of the Panther clan.

He is Black Panther. He is no loony superhero with a vengeance or a twisted definition of justice wearing tights and prancing around running away from authorities. He is a king. And people often forget this.

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Christopher Priest, one of the comic book greats, had a long run on Black Panther. As the third volume of this iconic king of Wakanda, Priest penned Black Panther (62 issues, 1998-2003) and gave T’Challa real substance. An unmatched respect amongst Earthlings. Even the mighty Thor has to yawp and remind people who he is…an Asgardian Prince..and people still take him for granted. But never with T’Challa. He calls the Avengers his friends but is never really part of the superhero band. He never plays anyone’s tune. He marches on his own leitmotif.

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Hence, the Black Panther film will be really important to not only the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but to the image of Comic Book Movies itself. It will bring respect to the comic book industry. And we have Christopher Priest’s excellent character development to thank for.

And I’m really glad that Marvel respect the work done by Priest and in that honour they have soundly cast Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa. Chadwick is a classy actor. He knows how to carry himself around. Having been the star of two acclaimed biopics, one concerning an African-American’s struggle and overcoming of racial segregation in early 1900’s America…it is commendable that Marvel saw in him the King and quickly declared him as the Black Panther.

The Black Panther storyline itself is a game changer. Aye, there have been several superheroes of coloured origin in comic books. But have any of them really stood out of the clichés that surround their races? I do not think so. There have been Muslim superheroes and superheroines, and African-Americans, and several others….but they’ve all given off a vibe of *O yeah…we are here to fill the equality vacuum*. It is only the Black Panther who really commands true and untainted authority. Intelligence. He is a brilliant character. He is a hard act to follow, someone who is worthy to look up to.

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Let me brief you on his history.

The Black Panther comics are very gritty in the manner that they are political and social in nature. They deal with the issues of inequality, rights of the commonwealth and other matters that concern the people. It is semi noir in nature and intelligently written.

T’Challa is the king of Wakanda, a fictional African nation the size of New Jersey. Wakanda – in Marvel Universe – is the most technologically advanced nation on earth. It is the only source of the magic metal Vibranium; the aforementioned metal has absorbing abilities, also it is impenetrable. Any blow against the metal leads to the metal absorbing the vibrations and the force that comes with the impact and strengthening itself even more. Captain America’s shield is made of the same metal, acquired by Iron Man’s father Howard Stark, albeit in questionable circumstances. It is also the same metal that the evil AI Ultron is made of.

Apart from being a mine for Vibranium, Wakanda boasts technological advancement in several aspects of science, medicine, security and engineering. Wakandan engineers are pure geniuses. Wakanda is respected and feared all over the world…it is always hidden from foreigners…just a wee less than Attilan…and has a tight foreign policy.

The people of Wakanda do not trust foreigners easily….and rightly so. They say the outside world is corrupted beyond repair and has not only forgotten basic morality but has also sadly forsaken humanity. They like to keep their country a safe haven for good will. Captain America loves it there.

T’Challa was crowned when he was just 14. His father T’Chaka died at the hands of Ulysses Klaw, T’Challa’s arch-nemesis played by Andy Serkis of Gollum/Smeagol fame in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

T’Challa had received super strength, agility and immensely sharp senses through the consumption of a rare flower’s extracts. He was also anointed leader of the Panther clan, a spiritual and military faction of Wakanda, revered by one and all therein.

Hence, he has no superhero costume. The cat-suit he wears is a ceremonial garb and his name Black Panther is a title bestowed unto him by the sacred Panther Spirits.

T’Challa is a calculating man; he is a philanthropist, a scientist, an engineer, a martial artist, and a man boasting an I.Q equal to Sherlock Holmes. He is a clairvoyant solely through practice. He foresees politics and danger much before it is executed.

He is uncompromising in his values. He is a man who is all about staying true to his values and ethics. He is focused, resolute and unwavering.

He is often unrestrained when he puts his mind to something. He never issues an apology for controversial decisions that need to be taken in times of turmoil. He looks to the greater good, always counting potential casualty.

Such a hero…a king of an African nation unspoilt by any invasion from the west, a man whose nation stands on its own feet with no aid from any outside source. A hero who needn’t run away or hide from any authority; a man who isn’t an alien to earth, a man who is someone from amongst us yet superior.

boseman1-the-black-panther-chadwick-boseman-speaks He is a hero movie-goers do not need, but a hero we all truly deserve. It will be a delight to see Chadwick Boseman deal with the likes of the determined loyalist Hunter, the looney psychopathic schizophrenic murdering usurper Achebe and his arch nemesis, foe of his kin, slayer of the king, robber of his father’s soul, treacherous ambitious selfish man of heartless science: Ulysses Klaw.

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And aye…it will be a lot of fun to see our very dear Mister Ross too. (I smiled). Ross is the narrator of Black Panther’s adventures and exploits in the comic books written by Christopher Priest. He is a White House representative, an Oxford alumni who is a wunderkid, a strong lawyer…but also a geeky, nerdy, half shy-half cocky happy go lucky doof, a personal ambassador and representative of the United States to King T’Challa…and a great, loyal and adorable friend. He is Peter Parker with an acute angle. I cannot wait to see who is cast in that particular role. He is will be the comedy catalyst for the grim and rarely smiling T’Challa. Marvel films need to have comedy as must…and he is that doofus sidekick who will provide us with a ton of that.

Whatever storyline or storylines are used as inspirations for the live-action adaptation, it will be revolutionary. It is a shame that I need to wait till 2017 for the film. So long…so very long to wait.

~ Zalysar Cuvegis

The Oscar Reviews: In Appreciation of the Birdman Soundtrack (and everything else in it!)

Oscar night is up next month. Save American Sniper the contenders for the Best Motion Picture Award are flawless.

BoyhoodSelmaThe Grand Budapest HotelThe Imitation GameThe Theory of EverythingWhiplash and Birdman (also known as The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). I have absolutely adored every single aforementioned film. My first view of the contenders was The Grand Budapest, and I loved every itty bitty bit of it because: Wes Anderson!

Benedict Cumberbatch gave a gut wrenching performance in The Imitation Game and Eddie Redmayne made sure he gives Smaug a fight to the announcements with an uncannily terrific performance as Professor Stephen Hawking. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood saw Ethan Hawke return for yet another decade spanning film, and to see Ellar Coltrane grow up on screen in just under 3 hours was beautiful. Selma and Whiplash were hauntingly endearing to watch.

But the film I abso-frickin-lately enjoyed is  Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s Birdman.

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And my number one reason for it? The Soundtrack. THE SOUNDTRACK. It bloody deserves an Oscar. Antonio Sanchez has already won an award at the Venice Film Festival, where the film debuted in September. The soundtrack in the film, which is mostly comprised of captivating drums reminiscent of the New York street music scene, has a life of its own; it is an active player, the most important character in the film. Its outright genius. It draws you in, it bloody draws you into the claustrophobic lobbies and gives you a rush. It maintains a constant playful, energetic and lively upbeat; gives you an effing adrenaline rush. It also keeps the comic undertone of the film up and cawing from start to end. I’d run out of parables to describe it if it were performed right before me.

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To make sure the drums don’t have too much on their delicate shoulders, the camera work by Emmanuel Lubezki is so intimate and exciting. I love the handheld camera work, especially when it works hand in hand with the soundtrack every time a character walks through the iconic lobbies. I enjoyed the pace of the cameraman and the very personal angles at times, like the one where Michael Keaton is highlighted from under his chin and the other when Edward Norton is followed around. Also noteworthy is the lighting in the film. I love the lights. They capture New York’s Theatre scene in its crudest beauty. I love the soft glows, the faint hues, the shadow work. It is an irreplaceable mood setter of the film.

_AF_6405.CR2 Now transcending to the next cog of this enigmatic piece of cinema: the performers. Michael Keaton and Edward Norton steal the show from the get go. Edward Norton is my all time favourite actor and he was one of the first reasons for me to watch this film. And O boy, did he perform! That cheeky bastard brought his usual behaviour with directors into his performance and rocked it naturally. A moment he is this eccentric douche nozzle – aye, that’s my term for an A-hole; it sounds cute to say out aloud – another moment he is this semi manipulative do gooder; and then he is on the stage being a natural perfectionist knowing his trade like his own twisted brain. He is connected to Naomi Watts, to Emma Stone, to Michael Keaton…and he sort of brings them all together while he keeps his calm and chills in the isolation chamber of his brain.

birdman-21-258-3 Michael Keaton – the titular Birdman – must have had several tongue in cheek moments throughout the course of the film’s shooting. Birdman, in this film, was released in the year 1992, somewhere around the same time as Michael Keaton’s Batman films. And he is pretty much super famous for being Batman…I mean the whole “I am Batman!” thing started off with him, he owns that line. In the film, under a different name, he is famous for literally the same role; albeit that of a feather donning superhero.

birdman-2014-movie-review-21803177 It might have been easy for him to play the character, showing off to the audiences a inhibited and riddled-with-befuddlement side of his which he possibly hides post his Batman days. In other words, it was a well paying and very, very satisfactory exercise in unburdening expression for Mister Bruce Wayne.

That other growling baritone voice in his head – reminiscent of his Batman time – was unapologetically straightforward, and very funny. It was a joy to watch all sides of Michael Keaton – the scared wuss, the egotistical douche nozzle, the passionate actor, the compassionate father, the inconsiderate colleague, the determined director, the nervous producer, and the fantastical Birdman!

birdman_stone Emma Stone was fun. She is always fun to watch. She is adorable and she knows it, yet she loves snarking like a puppy and owns it like a boss. Her character was refreshing to watch; she’s got absolutely nothing to do with the production, she contributes zilch, and only goes around being a chatter who wants to be a loner…in short the perfectly imperfect broken child of a once famous and 40s crisis hit actor. I love how she is messed up in the head and goes straight for the guy who is mano-a-mano with her dad. All she wants is her escape and she will find it one way or another. In conclusion, she was fun.

Screenshot (4595) Naomi Watts is a lovely lady. I have sort of a crush on her since her Peter Jackson’s King Kong days. That does not cloud my examination of her performances though, and in all honesty she seldom disappoints. Her desperation to realise her broadway dream, a somewhat similar role to one of her old movies, was a nice angle to view from.

Screenshot (4589)The scene where she is weeping and self loathing, knowing not what to do with herself even though she is passionate and when Michael Keaton barges in and gives her a powerful pep talk and leaves, that was great to watch. In seconds she transforms from a nervous self critic to a confident babe and schools Andrea Riseborough before making out affectionately with her.

Screenshot (4594)Andrea Riseborough is a talented and truly charming actress and she deserves more prominent roles on a frequent basis like this one. She carries herself really well in the role of a confident yet doubtful actress.

Screenshot (4592) Her character is feisty and likes to take the cream off the shake for herself. She knows her place in the production and knows how to get things done around and be there for her colleagues/lovers/friends.

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Amy Ryan was our bridge to Michael Keaton’s past and present and family in the film. She is the sympathetic voice of reason, the unforgiving divorcee and a nostalgic lover who is afraid of her past yet reminisces its glory moments.

And lastly Zach Galifianakis. I missed this man. He was less comedy and more of an authority in the film, but nevertheless attention grabbing (in the right sense). 

Fun fact: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone – the three protagonists of the film – have all played superhero and comic book characters in the past; namely Batman, The Hulk and Gwen Stacy.

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To conclude, everyone was right to eagerly anticipate the film. Its worth every dime. It replenishes that broadway dream inside of you and takes you on a little tour of the theatre’s perilous mirths with an endearing camera and an awesome soundtrack. Its my joint favourite for the win with The Grand Budapest Hotel.

My ratings are much like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, but a little more fair as this was truly flawless: straight 10 on 10, a 100 on 100.

~ Zalysar Cuvegis