Marvel Watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the beginning...

Willie Oleson

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With some broad ponderings on the landscape of TV, it seems to me we've come full circle in quality. For most of its history, American TV has been a wasteland of rigid formula, driven by the necessity of filling network schedules with shows with the broadest appeal possible. About a decade or so ago most of those norms started to break down; TV was somewhat niche, adventurous and cinematic. And now, in the age of streaming, we're right back; the streaming services need to fill an insatiable demand for "content".
Excellent observation.

There are some original Netflix gems but maybe it's unrealistic to expect everything they churn out to be truly awesome. We tend to romanticize the good old days of television as if they were showing the beloved and most memorable shows non-stop. And that's not at all how it was.
Streaming often allows viewers to binge-watch therefore that "ok, what's NEXT?" happens sooner than watching, say, Dallas, over a period of 14 years.

The early days of netflix was a walhalla for fans of TV shows because they had plenty of Showtime/FX/HBO stuff in their library but sadly most of it has been removed for obvious reasons.
I cancelled my subscription yesterday and now I'm back with Prime. I suspect that's how most people do it.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Congrats on your persistence.

Thanks. I can be quite bloody-minded about these things.

I'm hopeful that the worst is over now. After Daredevil I just have one season each of Jessica Jones and The Punisher, both of which I'm looking forward to more than not.



I think these Netflix shows were cranked out too fast and some of them suffered from not being developed enough.

And now, in the age of streaming, we're right back; the streaming services need to fill an insatiable demand for "content". If the biggest failing of shows in the old network age was staleness, now it seems to be shows feel half-baked.

Yes. So far I'm on my eleventh season released in the space of three and a half years which is quite mind-blowing. Even allowing for shorter seasons, that's still an episode count equivalent to the longest seasons of the Eighties and Nineties soaps. And we know that they could suffer from the quality over quantity attitude. The Netflix series have longer episodes as well, and often an hour plus can really feel like an hour plus.



For most of its history, American TV has been a wasteland of rigid formula, driven by the necessity of filling network schedules with shows with the broadest appeal possible.
We tend to romanticize the good old days of television as if they were showing the beloved and most memorable shows non-stop. And that's not at all how it was.

When growing up, we had three (and later four) TV channels in the UK. We had some great TV series, but we still had our share of filler. The idea of that being stretched out to scores of channels was both tantalising and horrifying. And now it's a reality.




I cancelled my subscription yesterday and now I'm back with Prime.

Enjoy your freedom, Willie.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Daredevil

Karen / Reunion / One Last Shot



One thing I really wasn't expecting to get at this late stage is a Karen origin story. I thought the episode set in Fagan Corners was a nice change of pace and style. There was something ominously oppressive and borderline depressing about it. I was reminded at times of The Rose, at others of Monster. Small town life is shown to be something bleak, colourless and almost hopeless, and this was reflected in the drab grey/blue/brown colour palette. When one thinks of Vermont, the mind usually goes to rich warm autumnal colours, and pretty Peyton Place type towns with affluent residents, so this was quite eye-opening, and I enjoyed that it showed something of the dark underbelly. Karen is proving quite surprising, and while this felt almost out of character, perhaps that’s the point. As I had to remind myself, I don’t really know anything about her background prior to her arrest back in the first episode.

It was interesting to see Lesley Ann Warren appear. With the platinum silver hair it took me a third of her one and only scene to place her. Having a well-known actress in a small role helped make it feel more significant. I didn’t catch her character’s name upon viewing and talked myself into believing that she was Felicia Hardy’s mother. It just seemed to make sense with the art connection.

High stakes is the expression that best sums up how Season Three feels. Father Lantom and Ray Nadeem have been two of the casualties of war, both going to their deaths willingly for the greater good. As I prepare to view the series finale, death and potential death are thick in the air. While I suspect Matt, Karen and Foggy will make it through there are no guarantees.
 

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Daredevil

A New Napkin



One of many nice surprises about the Netflix series is that I’ve been able to enjoy something that’s a rarity for me these days: genuine excitement about a season finale. When a season is good - and this has truly been one of the greats - the storytelling is so compelling that anticipation becomes part of the package. By the time Foggy was talking about the “silver bullet” to take down Fisk, I was feeling quite thrilled.

The three-way battle between Daredevil, Fisk and Poindexter was great fun, though I did find myself questioning why Matt had gone to the trouble of sending Poindexter after Fisk only to stop him (it dawned on me later that, rather than actually getting him to kill Fisk and save him the trouble, he’d done it to lure Dex out into the open). It also felt a little anticlimactic in places. I think I was expecting an extra twist or two - like Vanessa getting killed. Or perhaps Vanessa killing one of them.

Things were wrapped up fairly neatly, though like Iron Fist there seems to be groundwork for another season, with the operation on Dex in the final scene, and his eyes opening to reveal in the iris a…Bullseye (so I suppose I was right about him being Bullseye. Who’d have thought he’d end up being far more fascinating than Netflix Elektra who never clicked with me).

Anyway, I don’t have much to say about the episode, other than it was consistently good and a reasonably satisfying end to the series. It certainly left me wanting more. And, as mentioned, the season overall is a favourite.
 

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The Punisher

Season Two (2019)



Roadhouse Blues


At the rate I've been watching the MCU, ten days can be a long time. It being summer and all, I’ve been away from this universe for perhaps a week and a half, but it feels like a lot longer. I don’t know if it’s this series in particular, the wider Netflix MCU or even just television in general, but I really struggled to understand a lot of what was being said. Between the accents, the mumbling (this is a series full of mumblers) and the music drowning out some dialogue I really feel like I was having to fill in a lot of the gaps myself.

Added to this is that this is a skein, of which this is only one small, unhurried part, and it’s difficult to get a sense of what Season Two of The Punisher’s “thing” is. What will be its USP?And its tone? What is the story about? At this point it’s all unclear. This is quite pleasing as seasons that begin this way have generally ended up being the most rewarding in the long run.

While there are fleeting cameos from Dinah Madani (yay) and Billy Russo (boo. I’d forgotten he was still alive), this first instalment is essentially a fresh story with all new, previously unseen characters, which feels like a bold move. As of yet, I’m not enjoying one of the new women and I’m undecided on the other.

With her surly attitude, Amy Bendix initially came across as a poor man’s Jessica Jones. By the latter part of the episode when she was being pursued and ended up in an awkward partnership with Frank I found her thoroughly enjoyable. It could swing back, but I currently feel I like Amy.

Meanwhile, after an introductory scene which looked as though she was there as wallpaper, Beth Quinn quickly seemed to emerge as the key female lead. A deal clinched by her shagging Frank, as important new characters so often do in these opening episodes (think Luke Cage in the first Jessica Jones episode. Or, indeed, Misty Knight in the opening Luke Cage). This was looking problematic for me. Alexa Davalos seems a decent actress much of the time, and I found her interesting to look at in a Mary Crosby kind of way. But she also overused affectations so that her performance became a blur of lip-biting, hair tossing and throat-clearing. Because of this, the character hadn’t clicked with me and because she featured so heavily in this first instalment I wasn’t looking forward to the remaining twelve hours. I’ve now seen, however, that Beth only appears in two episodes, and suddenly the season is looking bright again.

There have been a couple of over-choreographed fights, that were enjoyable in their own way, but involved a lot of “hoooarr”-type roars with every punch thrown by the dull, faceless attackers. It is very clear that Jon Bernthal is in the thick of it doing a great deal of his own stunt-work which is impressive, and it’s also plain that he’s spent time rehearsing them as they looked really good.

As for Frank himself - he’s as reliable as ever. I’ve mentioned him very little because he’s also as enigmatic as ever. A very good thing in my opinion. I’m looking forward to exploring different facets of his persona this time round.
 

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The Punisher

Fight Or Flight / Trouble The Water / Scar Tissue / One-Eyed Jacks / Nakazat



The relationship between Frank and Amy is proving enjoyable. I feel like I’ve seen this dynamic before in this genre - it’s not dissimilar to that between Wolverine and Rogue in early X-Men films, and that between Wolverine and the girl in Logan - but if it’s a cliche then it’s one because it works. Madani reluctantly allowing them into her world, only for them to abuse her hospitality, has added nicely to the dysfunction.

It’s been good to see the return of Curtis who had so much heart in Season One. It was almost mind-boggling to see Curtis and Madani introduce themselves to one another. Since they were both parts of the viewer’s same journey in Season One it feels like they already know one another. Gratifyingly, this is addressed in dialogue. Turk Barrett, too, was a nice touch. He’s kind of the Nick Fury of the Marvel Television saga. It’s not quite complete until he’s appeared.

After struggling with him in Season One, Billy Russo was never going to be my choice of returnees. There’s just something about Ben Barnes’s performance that never lets one forget it is a performance. He seems to want the audience to know he’s performing so we can marvel at how great he is. And that kind of thing never works for me. I find it just too big overall, with the screwed up face, the eyes constantly tearful and the angry spitting (real tears, spit or snot always seem to impress audiences and critics, regardless of the quality of the performance they sometimes distract from). In good news, I find him more watchable in Season Two than Season One, even though he’s pretty much become Michael Myers, wearing a white mask and stalking prey having apparently faked illness for a long time while planning his escape (the scene in which Russo killed Rick at the beginning of Scar Tissue seemed lifted right out of a Halloween sequel, right down to the music).

Like Russo, John Pilgrim is an interesting, very flawed character, undermined by a performance that seems to demand the viewer's awareness that it's a performance. Josh Stewart has a great character face and certainly looks the part in the robes and hat, but beyond this my interest wanes. He seems to be attempting a Michael Corleone thing, though with Don Vito’s mumbling. The problem is that all empathy for the character comes from devices that are happening to him externally (the dying wife, the pressure from higher up the chain, etc), with little about the character himself that makes one actually care about him, other than a mild curiosity about the self-flagellation, etc. I do enjoy what the character represents - the hypocrisy of many righteous church folk. Of course, he’s an extreme example, but there’s a definite element of truth in there.

Anderson Schultz is great. I was shocked when I Googled the actor since Corbin Bernsen is completely unrecognisable here compared with Arnie Becker. I’m looking forward to delving into Anderson and Eliza’s story a little more. I mean, it's Corbin Bernsen and Annette O'Toole. They have to be sleepers who will emerge as the bigger, meatier threats. At least, I hope they will.

Compared with the previous season, however, what this season’s antagonists lack is a Lewis Wilson type who takes the audience along on the journey and makes us feel complicit. Though in balance the series does carry over a healthy dollop of Lewis’s themes from the previous season (and those of the other Netflix series) in broken characters who are burnt out and suffering post-traumatic stress and the need to try and fix things.

Madani and Curtis are still reliving events from the previous season which is informing who they are today (Madani living in a world of extreme order and isolation behind locked doors; the formerly optimistic Curtis now carrying a gun into the group therapy he runs, or the soup kitchen at which he helps). To different extents, the same is true of Frank and Russo, with Frank living with the consequences of his actions and Russo suffering flashbacks and nightmares. Even new characters Krista and Amy tick these boxes, with Krista clearly haunted by… something… in her past that she’s trying to make up for by healing Russo (her writings, the evidence of self-harm, the stressed feelings that come up when she’s by a window several storeys up), and Amy not only dealing with her own mysterious past but also the traumas of recent days where she’s seen numerous bodies and smelt the blood of people who’ve died violent deaths. All these factors add quality to this season and make it, in many ways ,as compelling as the first.

The series’ violence feels like a necessary evil. I could do without some of the extremes, such as Frank pounding in the side of someone’s face with a weight until it’s unrecognisable, and the blood and teeth that fly during the brutal fight sequences. I dare say it’s the main reason some tune in. Personally, I’m quite glad to be horrified by it. If I found it enjoyable I’d be worried.
 

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The Punisher

One Bad Day / My Brother’s Keeper / Flustercluck / The Dark Hearts Of Men / The Abyss / Collision Course / The Whirlwind



Every once in a while an episode comes along that in some way pulls the rug out from under the viewer or makes them change or question the way they view a series. The Dark Hearts Of Men was one such episode for me. Up until that point, the season continued to feel fairly consistent in both its strengths and weaknesses.

The season’s tenth episode felt like a departure not so much in tone but in presentation. It comes across quite strongly that this is a moment of reflection - an episode that explores characters’ motivations and psychologies in a quiet, introspective way. For its first two thirds, anyway.

As someone who loves character-driven drama and slow pacing, this on paper, this feels analogous with the Luke Cage episode For Pete’s Sake, which immediately became one of my all-time favourite episodes of the entire Netflix Marvel saga.

Unfortunately, the episode simply didn’t work for me. Not only didn’t it wow me, I actually found myself feeling bored, restless and a little irritated as it progressed and it began to feel like a heap of self-pitiful people indulgently naval gazing and mumbling (frequently incoherently) in darkened rooms. The better parts of the episode involved the “bonding” between Madani and Krista, though it has to be said that the “twist” with Krista being heavily complicit in Russo’s murderous schemes could be seen coming from miles away (and I mean earlier in the season).

I’ve realised that a lot of my problem with the John Pilgrim character has to do with the fact that it feels like he’s in a different series. Despite the stories linking up - particularly in the season’s last episodes - we’ve spent much of the time watching him operating practically in a vacuum. There’s no direct relationship with Frank, and Pilgrim ends up feeling rather peripheral and, dare I say, unnecessary. Of course, it helps that I’ve found the performance less-than-engaging. There was nothing that I found particularly interesting about his character. It was purely his situation. Which perhaps explains why his character moments didn’t really work for me. It felt a little like the writing around him was a little patchy at times. I really didn’t buy the moment in the final episode where he handed Amy - his one bargaining chip - back to Frank without even confirming that Frank had David. It seems incredibly out of character for someone who’s seemed so ruthless and merciless up to this point.

The final part of Dark Hearts… involved a sequence where Frank fought a group of men in the dark, with lights intermittently flashing punctuated by synthetic screaming stings. As I said, I’d felt irritated with the episode up to this point and this sequence did nothing to improve the situation. I appreciate that this was supposed to give the viewer a subjective sense of Frank’s disorientation but to me it felt poorly executed and too lengthy and I ended up looking away as I started to feel nauseated with the light/dark silence/noise thing. Honestly, it’s a moment where I seriously considered turning the episode off and jumping to the next. And that’s something I never do.

The plan itself - Russo setting up Frank for the murder of the women so that even Frank believes he did it - is a good one. It’s a nice twist on a classic comic trope (villain discredits hero to the public), and taken to decent extremes. I just felt the episode in which it took place was a poor one.

I suspect I may be in a minority there. I'd guess there will be others who think it's one of the cleverest episodes. And vive la différence.



continued…
 

Mel O'Drama

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The Punisher

One Bad Day / My Brother’s Keeper / Flustercluck / The Dark Hearts Of Men / The Abyss / Collision Course / The Whirlwind

continued



Fortunately, the following episode saw the return of Karen Page, as watchable as ever. Since I can’t think she’d show up in Jessica Jones I feel this might be her final appearance and if so it’s a decent one. I’ve always enjoyed the relationship with Frank.

This episode made good use of characters introduced in different eras during the chaotic scene where Frank was cuffed in hospital, Karen blagged her way in to see him, then Amy arrived, intent on freeing Frank and disguised as a nurse, only for Madani to walk in on the ensuing kerfuffle. Once again, it shows how well-cast these series have been overall and how any combination of characters can create an exciting new energy while feeling “right” at the same time.

The series ending was mostly par for the course - though no less enjoyable for that. As hoped, Corbin Bernsen and Annette O’Toole got a bit more screen-time in the last episodes (I’d have liked more still, but perhaps less is more), and a decent exit for both with Frank shooting Eliza dead and giving Anderson one bullet and a choice to commit suicide or live with the truth of his actions (he apparently chose the former). Their closeted son David - a tertiary character at best in earlier appearances - proved one of the most interesting parts of their story as someone who suddenly realises that his parents are behind some terrible things and ends up defending the person who kidnapped and beat him as he can see their side.

Mahoney has been a solid supporting player, his less reckless approach than Madani’s creating some really nice conflict. As he became more single-minded about hunting down Frank the dynamic felt almost comfortingly nostalgic. I was reminded a little of Jack McGee in The Incredible Hulk or Lt. Gerard in The Fugitive.

Jason R. Moore has been consistently good as Curtis and brought this into his final scenes as well. It’s been quite a journey for him.

One positive side effect of me finding Pilgrim less-than-thrilling is that Russo has seemed more interesting. At least he has a history with pretty much all characters on-screen. Ben Barnes continued with his spit-acting during Russo’s death scene. And I must confess that Frank’s shots actually made me jump since they came out of silence and (inevitable as Frank shooting Russo was) at a moment where I wasn’t expecting it.

Partway through the season, I realised that Amy sounded a lot like Heather Locklear in her first few episodes of Dynasty (before she had the vocal training). With this connection, Georgia Whigham doesn’t look unlike a younger Heather as well. Amy proved to be a nice addition to the character roster this season. Consistently enjoyable and with a nice chemistry with pretty much everyone, but Frank especially.

The “life goes on” flash forward at the end was a nice little taste of what the series might have gone on to become, though also felt pretty perfect as a series ending. As a series overall, The Punisher is definitely up there with Daredevil as the best of the Netflix Marvel saga.
 

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The series’ violence feels like a necessary evil.

Your reviews continue to remind me just how little I recall of these Netflix shows; at best, I have general impressions. THE PUNISHER was about mid-tier for me among these shows, despite the fact that I am pretty indifferent to the character. The Punisher is an extremely limited concept as characters go: an aggressive force of violence and a riff on those Charles Bronson/Clint Eastwood violent movies from the 70s. The TV series tried hard to provide the character a humanizing backstory and justifications, but the end result was incongruous to me; that level of gratuitous violence undermined the character development. It's hard to care about someone's backstory and growth when he himself is basically a monster.

I've avoided talking about any of the pending Marvel projects until you get around to them, but I'll give you a word of caution (which I suspect you'll ignore lol): unless you're a completist bordering on masochism, I suggest skipping THOR: LOVE & THUNDER. It's everything you hated about RANGNOROK dialed up 150%, and with absolutely no other qualities. As much as I loved RAGNAROK, it occasionally shot itself in the foot with cheap gags for easy laughs. L&T is nothing but cheap gags for easy laughs. I found it exhaustingly glib.
 

Mel O'Drama

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THE PUNISHER was about mid-tier for me among these shows, despite the fact that I am pretty indifferent to the character.

I'm surprised how strong I've found the series considering I, too, never cared for the character. He'd show up in the occasional comic I read but I never got the appeal.

Now you mention it, those violent Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood films have never done anything for me either.


The TV series tried hard to provide the character a humanizing backstory and justifications, but the end result was incongruous to me; that level of gratuitous violence undermined the character development. It's hard to care about someone's backstory and growth when he himself is basically a monster.

That's entirely understandable. For me, while it's difficult to cheer the character on, the backstory and justifications balanced it out enough for me to invest in the story.



I'll give you a word of caution (which I suspect you'll ignore lol): unless you're a completist bordering on masochism, I suggest skipping THOR: LOVE & THUNDER. It's everything you hated about RANGNOROK dialed up 150%, and with absolutely no other qualities.

Oh, thanks. I was just saying to someone last night that from what I've seen it didn't look at all my cup of tea. Unless there's an important piece of MCU continuity that necessitates viewing it I'm minded to do exactly what you've suggested and skip it altogether: something I've never even considered with any film up to this point.



I've avoided talking about any of the pending Marvel projects until you get around to them

Since we're talking recent projects, I could do with some advice from someone familiar with them.

I'm coming up to the end of the Netflix Marvel series, and No Way Home still hasn't appeared on D+, so I'm not planning to watch that one just yet. I'm guessing that Multitude Of Madness could be filled with spoilers for No Way Home, so I'm planning to hang fire there.

I would, however, like to cram in Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel before I cancel my subscription, which I plan to do at the end of this month. Would you say this is fairly safe to do before without having watched No Way Home? I'm not bothered about the occasional oblique reference, but trying to avoid major spoilers for plot twists or film endings.
 

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Jessica Jones

Season Three (2019)



AKA The Perfect Burger / AKA You’re Welcome / AKA I Have No Spleen / AKA Customer Service Is Standing By / AKA I Wish




I’m impressed at the consistency of this series. While I don’t feel it’s had the highs of Daredevil, it’s also quite possibly the Netflix series with the least dips in quality. Tonally, as well, the series has the most consistent voice of the Netflix Marvel series. Antagonists may change, but I think random episodes from any seasons could play side by side and feel very in harmony with one another.

New characters such as Erik or Salinger fit right in, and I enjoyed the reference to Whizzer when Jessica chose to believe Erik’s claimed powers. I like, too, that the super powers in this series occasionally fall down on the side of the slightly mundane. Jessica’s comment to Trish that Erik had a “shitty power” was accurate in this world, while at the same time reinforcing the believability of the world created, since someone with Erik’s abilities in the real world would be considered a god.

Likewise, the loss of a spleen doesn’t seem very impressive compared with many of the more grandiose injuries sustained by superheroes. I love it. It brings it back to a very human level and it’s terrific to see a more vulnerable side to Jessica (it also reinforced her dependence on alcohol, since she couldn’t stop drinking even when her life depended on it). In far too many hours spent watching TV and film, I can think of only one previous instance of a character losing a spleen (Home and Away’s Frank, following his wedding day crash), so I must applaud them for taking the path less travelled.

The fallout from the end of the second season is a welcome bit of continuity, and while Trish hasn’t been - and still isn’t - a series favourite of mine (mainly, as previously covered, because she’s so very unlike any iteration of Patsy with which I’m familiar), her evolution to becoming (presumably) Hellcat is enjoyable. I do enjoy an origin/training story, though I could have done without the perfunctory nose-thumb in the direction of the source material when she tried on the Hellcat suit.

I noticed Krysten Ritter credited as director for the second episode, and thought it was clever to begin with one in which Jessica barely featured. I’m impressed. It looks really good; not overly showy, as actors-turned-first-time-directors are wont to be, but very in-keeping with the rest of the series.

The slightly overlapping thing of the first few episodes - with certain events playing out in flashback and some key scenes shown from a slightly different perspective in different episodes - was a nice touch.

Rebecca De Mornay continues to be great fun as Dorothy Walker: pushy stage mother from hell.

While initially marvelling at the novelty of seeing her from Models Inc. and The Matrix, I’d never have dreamt that Jeri would turn out to be one of the best things about not just this series, but those other Netflix series in which Jeri appeared. The business with her going to any lengths to win back Kith - even if it meant destroying Kith’s family - has been fascinating. The scene where she watched Kith’s husband’s suicide/expose video was great because it was difficult to tell whether she was more upset at realising she was culpable for a man’s death; at the world knowing what she’d done; or at losing Kith.
 

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I'm coming up to the end of the Netflix Marvel series, and No Way Home still hasn't appeared on D+, so I'm not planning to watch that one just yet. I'm guessing that Multitude Of Madness could be filled with spoilers for No Way Home, so I'm planning to hang fire there.

I would, however, like to cram in Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel before I cancel my subscription, which I plan to do at the end of this month. Would you say this is fairly safe to do before without having watched No Way Home? I'm not bothered about the occasional oblique reference, but trying to avoid major spoilers for plot twists or film endings.

Although MoM follows NWH chronologically, there aren't as many connections as you might imagine. MoM is really a sequel to another Phase 4 project which you've already seen; I can't think of anything in the movie that would substantially spoil NWH.

MOON KNIGHT has no connection to other MCU projects; it's set in the same universe, but there are no crossovers, cameos, or other connections. I'm not sure about MS. MARVEL as I haven't watched it and don't plan to.
 

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MoM is really a sequel to another Phase 4 project which you've already seen; I can't think of anything in the movie that would substantially spoil NWH.

Thanks. In that case I'll aim to watch both series and the film.

I'm fairly confident I know (from the posters alone) which Phase Four project it follows up, and I'm looking forward to that angle.



I'm not sure about MS. MARVEL as I haven't watched it and don't plan to.

It seems Phase Four is a Curate's egg, with some great projects but more duds than previous phases. I don't seek out reviews or anything, so know very little about how the projects were received, but I'm guessing you have good reason for steering clear.
 

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It seems Phase Four is a Curate's egg, with some great projects but more duds than previous phases. I don't seek out reviews or anything, so know very little about how the projects were received, but I'm guessing you have good reason for steering clear.

The reviews for MS. MARVEL appear to be good, but the show has never piqued my interest. This version of Ms. Marvel means nothing to me, having come along long after I stopped reading comics. Mostly, though, I just find myself burning out on the MCU and superhero fiction in general. Most of Phase 4 has been adequate to terrible, so it's time to start being selective. I plan to skip SHE-HULK too, which looks CW level of cheap and cheesy.

This trap ...

Unless there's an important piece of MCU continuity that necessitates viewing it I'm minded to do exactly what you've suggested and skip it altogether

Is precisely what I'm trying to get myself out of. All of my instincts told me to avoid ETERNALS, but I eventually watched it out of completism -- the fear that I'd miss a vital piece of MCU mythos. It's a clever trap that Disney has built, always promising something else to extent of ignoring current quality. Entertainment shouldn't be something I have to grit my teeth to get through just so that I'm prepared for the next film/TV show.
 

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The reviews for MS. MARVEL appear to be good

Oh phew. I must confess I've been looking forward to this one but wondered if it hadn't turned out so well.



This version of Ms. Marvel means nothing to me, having come along long after I stopped reading comics.

Same here. I'm hoping that works in the series' favour for me. There's no risk of it disappointing based on changes from the comics (just as well, since from the little I've read about the series, it seems the character's powers are different).

Other than viewing some panels online, I haven't read anything with the new Ms. Marvel in, but there's something about the character that I find appealing. I suppose it's that everyday teen with powers thing that Kitty Pryde or Peter Parker had in their early days, which was a significant part of what drew me in as a reader when I was their age.



I plan to skip SHE-HULK too, which looks CW level of cheap and cheesy.

I watched the trailer and was very disappointed. Jen's a great character when done correctly, and that didn't seem to be the case here. And you can probably imagine Mark Ruffalo's presence did little to stoke my excitement.



Most of Phase 4 has been adequate to terrible, so it's time to start being selective

Yes. I'll be signing out of my D+ subscription without any regrets, I think. I'm glad to have experienced it, but I really feel as though I've seen the best the MCU has to offer and there's not anything upcoming that makes me feel I'll be missing out.




It's a clever trap that Disney has built, always promising something else to extent of ignoring current quality. Entertainment shouldn't be something I have to grit my teeth to get through just so that I'm prepared for the next film/TV show.

For a time there, the continuity was a rewarding and satisfying part of the viewing experience. It's a shame that Disney really seem to be resting on their laurels with it. But it seems they're guaranteed hugely profitable #1 films whatever they do.
 

Crimson

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I'm glad to have experienced it, but I really feel as though I've seen the best the MCU has to offer and there's not anything upcoming that makes me feel I'll be missing out.

One notable fact about Phase 4: it is now almost as long as the first three Phases combined* -- and it's only approximately halfway through! The sheer amount of content being manufactured all but guarantees a lowering of quality.

*Perhaps cheating a bit by not including the Netflix & ABC shows, but those are of dubious canon status and never directly referenced by any of the films.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Jessica Jones

AKA Sorry Face / AKA The Double Half-Wappinger / AKA Camera Friendly / AKA I Did Something Today / AKA Hero Pants / AKA Hellcat


Here we are, just a couple of episodes away from rounding off the Netflix series. Given the cancellation of one Marvel Netflix series after another I was expecting the energy levels to be low by the end of this season. In actual fact, Jessica is the most appropriate of series on which to end. If things are bleak and cynical, it only adds fuel to the qualities that make Jessica - and I’m going to say it - my favourite of all the title characters in this franchise.

On paper, this season’s main villain arc is effectively a repackaging of previous Jessica Jones seasons. And it seems less challenging. The key antagonist is not super and has no personal history with Jessica. He’s simply a sociopathic serial killer. Or as simple as sociopathic serial killers get, anyway.

I’ve never watched Dexter, but I suspect Salinger is a Dexter type. Indeed, other themes from that series appear to have been borrowed, with Erik and Trish hunting down bad people who have got away with their crimes or sins. There’s a psychology to this season that’s quite compelling, with the lines between good and bad, hero and villain becoming blurred as justifications are made and lines crossed.

And it’s not just Trish and Erik who fit this theme.

There’s Jeri dancing between ruthless and vulnerable, her actions justified by what her hearts wants and the fact that her lifespan has an end date. She remains a Defenders Saga favourite. Carrie Anne Moss is delivering a truly knockout performance and while it’s probably not what she’ll be remembered for (unless Jeri makes it into the MCU proper), to me this feels like her role of a lifetime.

Malcolm, too, has had choices to make. His loyalties torn and tested by the fact that he knows too much about Jeri, Jessica and Trish. He’s cheated on his lover/colleague Zaya with Erik’s sex worker sister, but found that he couldn’t “cheat” on Jessica for profit, status or even to keep his job. It hasn’t been the most compelling arc this season (reminding me in some ways of that time Melrose Place’s Billy briefly joined the dark side), but his decision to Do The Right Thing felt well-earned and satisfying enough.

Trish was the main reason I wasn’t looking forward to this season. I’ve had my problems with this interpretation of Patsy Walker, and it seemed clear this was going to be a Trish-heavy season. As it turns out, I feel invested. I have to work hard to treat this Trish as an all-new, created-for-TV character and not compare, but her obsession and especially the slowly healing fracture between Trish and Jessica has been compelling (it struck me as I watched one of the latest episodes that I could’t pinpoint a specific moment where forgiveness and healing happened. The season started with Jessica hating Trish and me fully backing Jessica, and has gone to them working together and close again, and me feeling glad for them) and I can’t deny that Rachael Taylor has done some great work with some challenging storylines.

Dorothy’s demise was an incredibly impactful twist that has elevated this story into one with incredibly high stakes. It’s clear that this is the moment that has sealed Salinger’s fate, because Hollywood justice will not allow him to live. But, it’s also thrown a brilliant obstacle into that predictable outcome by the fact that the world knows that Jessica and her female vigilante friend are hunting down Salinger, who has framed himself as the victim. If he dies, all fingers will point at Jessica. As with the framing of Frank for murder in the previous Netflix season, it’s a twist on a classic comic trope, with this one seeming particularly insurmountable. The game of mental chess between Jessica and Salinger is fascinating, and I’ve enjoyed every moment the scales have shifted up and down with Salinger gaining each time Jessica briefly wins the upper hand. I can’t wait to see how it wraps up.
 

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Jessica Jones

AKA A Lotta Worms / AKA Everything


Although this was promoted as “The Final Season” (as on the poster in post #391 above), watching the last episodes has me feeling perhaps it wasn’t known to be cancelled when the episodes were produced. The season finale was a game-changer, but only really in the way that a season finale would be. It lacked the sense of closure I would expect from a series finale.

Unusually, Jessica’s big confrontation with Salinger came in the penultimate episode, with Salinger dead at Trish’s hands by the end. I must confess to secretly hoping this was for the finale to devote much of its time to wrapping up The Defenders Saga properly. Indeed, I was hoping that there’d be a bit of a reunion with various cast members from across all six series making at least a cameo appearance. My wish was only partially fulfilled, with Mike Colter’s “Special Guest Star” appearance as Luke. It’s great to see him, don’t get me wrong, and it’s fitting he should appear since he was there at the beginning of this series (likewise, the audio-only cameo of David Tennant as Kilgrave), but I suppose knowing this was the end of Netflix Marvel gave me great expectations that weren’t met.

The arguable upside of this is that the finale surprised me by delivering the worst case scenario in most cases. There was no redemption or escape for Trish who was sent to the Raft. Nor was there a happy lovers’ reunion for Jeri and Kith, with Jeri being left alone to face her illness and death. Malcolm and Zaya were on the verge of reaching an understanding only for Breanna to blow it (and, of course, she’s been doing that quite literally with Malcolm).

Balancing this is Jessica’s last-minute decision to re-think fleeing New York for Mexico. So downbeat was the rest of the episode that her simple decision to continue being Jessica Jones felt positively uplifting. It’s an effective way of writing an open-end. There’s yet more gold to be mined when one reflects on the last episode or so and realises that Jessica appears to have quietly kicked her alcohol dependence.

And so that’s it for The Defenders Saga and for Netflix Marvel Series. One hundred and sixty one episodes over the space of sixteen weeks. I’ve just realised that these series have taken significantly more than half of my entire MCU journey. It’s been quite a ride, and one I’m glad to have taken.
 

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perhaps it wasn’t known to be cancelled when the episodes were produced.

It was not; everyone seemed to be caught offguard when Netflix Marvel shows were abruptly cancelled. Presumably Disney by then knew they were launching their own streaming service and didn't want their product on a competitor and/or Netflix, recognizing the pending competition, decided they needed to build their own IPs.

Of course, these shows are all now on D+, with rumors swirling about some, if not all, of them being revived. I'm less excited about that than I thought I'd be. I'm eager to see more of this Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but ambivalent about the rest. Perhaps Luke Cage & Iron Fist would work better as partners on a single show, but the more miss than hit quality of the D+ shows have me a bit dubious about future projects.
 

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It was not

Thanks for the clarification.



Presumably Disney by then knew they were launching their own streaming service and didn't want their product on a competitor and/or Netflix, recognizing the pending competition, decided they needed to build their own IPs.

It makes sense from a business perspective, but it is a shame as, despite the varying quality of its series, Netflix did a lot of groundwork to create a world inhabited by these characters.



I'm eager to see more of this Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but ambivalent about the rest.

They'd be top of my list, too, particularly for solo projects. I'd be open to seeing any of The Defenders under the right circumstances such as a team film or appearances with other superheroes, but I could also happily live without seeing Iron Fist in live action again.



Perhaps Luke Cage & Iron Fist would work better as partners on a single show,

Yes, I remember thinking during Season Two of their respective seasons that they'd have been stronger paired up. I'd have taken one longer season with both over two short solo series.
 
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