After a two-year absence–thanks, global pandemic!–the Marvel Cinematic Universe makes its return to the big screen with the long-awaited Black Widow. And we do mean long-awaited: it’s been 11 years since Scarlett Johansson made her debut as Natasha Romanoff, and only now, after we’ve seen Nat die in Avengers: Endgame, does Black Widow get a solo movie. Paul and Arlo are joined by pop culture fan and academic Tanya Cochran to discuss whether or not Cate Shortland’s film was worth the wait. There’s talk of trauma, family dramedy, falling debris, and how much Arlo absolutely loves David Harbour as Red Guardian.
NEXT: Sweet Tooth returns, again, in Sweet Tooth: The Return for our next Four-Color Flashback.
00:00:50 – Intro / Guest
00:05:50 – Black Widow
00:26:48 – SPOILERS
02:04:47 – Outro / Next
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Think Up Anger (feat. Malia J) (2015)
Gobbledygeek episode 343, “Avengers: Infinity War – Oh Snap!,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.
A feat even more miraculous than Paul and Arlo agreeing on the same movie? Successfully juggling a cast of dozens in an interplanetary epic that shakes up the world’s most popular film series. That’s exactly what Joe & Anthony Russo have done with Avengers: Infinity War, a daring space opera that acts as a culmination of a decade’s worth of superheroic blockbusters while taking the Marvel Cinematic Universe in new directions. The boys discuss how (nearly) each character gets their due, why Josh Brolin’s Thanos more than lives up to the hype, and where the MCU goes from here. Plus, Arlo binges the Disney Renaissance and MoviePass takes an unsurprising heel turn.
Next: this year’s Four-Color Flashback continues as Heather Wiley joins Paul and Arlo to discuss Wonder Woman by George Perez: Vol. 1.
Art from ‘Y: The Last Man – Vol. 9: Motherland’ by Pia Guerra, José Marzán, Jr., and Zylonol.
Gobbledygeek episode 328, “Y: The Last Man – Vol. 9: Motherland,” is available for listening or download right here and on iTunes here.
Yorick’s gang (there’s gotta be a snappier name, right?) inch closer to destiny in Y: The Last Man – Vol. 9: Motherland, as Paul and Arlo near the end of their Four-ColorFlashback discussion of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s beloved comics series. The boys once again rehash their frustrations with putting this series under the occasional monthly microscope, leading Arlo to posit that maybe different books are different kinds of great. Then Paul hashes out the most plausible explanations Vaughan has presented for the manpocalypse, and whether any of them catch the boys’ fancy. Plus, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is more fun than it has any right to be, and it looks like Red Sparrow may be the Black Widow movie Marvel has denied us.
Next: the boys go through the looking glass with season 4 of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, joined by first-time guest Sarah Kosheff.
Gobbledygeek episode 228, “The ‘Man Was Not Meant to Meddle’ Medley,” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.
Killer robots. Mind-controlling witches. Suits of armor from space. Dudes with frosted tips. All of this and so! much! more! is contained within Avengers: Age of Ultron, the highly anticipated sequel to Joss Whedon’s 2012 extravaganza. The reception has been decidedly less rapturous than that which accompanied the first film, so Paul and AJ dig into what works about the movie, what doesn’t, whether or not Whedon goofed up Black Widow, and just how much creative control a filmmaker can have over one of these things. Plus, AJ makes a case for a much smaller film, Seymour: An Introduction.
With Django Unchained, director Quentin Tarantino takes us once more back to a terrible moment in our history, and once again asks us to indulge him his little anachronisms and revisionist revenge fantasies. This time, instead of Nazis and baseball-bat-wielding Jews, we get slavers and bounty-hunting dentists. Set in the pre-Civil War Deep South, Unchained is Tarantino’s homage to the Spaghetti Westerns of Leone and Corbucci, which he prefers to call his Spaghetti Southern. I’ll say that the absence of editor Sally Menke is sharply felt here, though. If I, of all people, notice the nearly three-hour runtime, then there could’ve been some tightening. The cast is great across the board, including a list of hidden cameos longer than my arm (among others, original Django Franco Nero makes an appearance). Jamie Foxx is great in the title role, though I imagine what Will Smith could’ve done with the part, as was the original intent. Leo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, and Walton Goggins all shine in their respective roles. Kerry Washington was reduced to little more than the damsel in distress, however, which is unusual for a Tarantino picture. But the standout here is Christoph Waltz. He is every bit as charmingly heroic and admirable this time as he was charmingly repulsive and hateful in Basterds.
AJ: 10. MOONRISE KINGDOM (dir. Wes Anderson)
Wes Anderson’s films often have a childlike quality about them, whether it be his colorful storybook compositions or the petulance of many of his characters. So it’s fitting that he’s finally made a film about children, one in which the kids are on the run from what’s expected of them and their adult guardians are forced to accept the roles they’ve played in their children’s abandonment of them. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, both in their first screen acting roles, give perfectly awkward performances. Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are in their element here, while Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton join the auteur’s troupe with ease. Perhaps most encouragingly, Moonrise Kingdom is the first sign of life in years from Bruce Willis–who, with a movie soon to appear on our lists, proved later in the year that he’s most definitely still kicking–and Edward Norton, two actors who really needed a movie like this.
Four years ago, two films gave the superhero genre a much-needed kick in the pants: Iron Man and The Dark Knight. They were on opposite ends of the spectrum–the former bright and funny, the latter dark and gloomy–but both felt honest, and honesty’s something the genre needed in order to mature. This summer sees the release of two films which seem destined to revitalize the genre yet again, and it’s only fitting that they are The Avengers, the end result of Marvel’s first wave; and The Dark Knight Rises, the last of Christopher Nolan’s Bat-flicks. The Dark Knight Rises is still a couple months off, but just as that one looks like it’s angling to be even darker and more despairing than its predecessors, The Avengers aims to be more colorful, rousing, and exciting than those leading up to it.
Any superhero movie that wants to be even semi-successful has to on some level examine the nature of heroism. When one doesn’t, which was a big problem in the period between Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man (give or take a Batman Begins), you wind up with something like Catwoman or Elektra or Batman & Robin. Marvel’s pre-Avengers efforts, which I’ve mostly enjoyed, have excelled at asking just why each of their heroes feels the need to suit up and take action. With The Avengers, an even bigger question is posed. Why would such disparate people, each with their own sets of skills, hang-ups, and needs, come together to form a team? Writer-director Joss Whedon, a veritable geek god, is the one tasked with providing the answer to that query, and he does so brilliantly.
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the first full trailer for The Avengers:
Okay…have you gathered yourself? Now then, let me remind you that this is not only the first trailer for The Avengers, but the trailer for the first filmed Joss Whedon work since that last run of Dollhouse episodes early last year. I guess it depends on what kind of geek you are, but that’s sort of what’s blowing my mind right now.
Though there’s plenty to blow your mind in the trailer itself. Being the first trailer for the hugest action/SFX movie of 2012, there’s not much in the way of plot or character, but we do get to see a lot of taxicabs getting blowed up real good, Captain America and Thor sparring, Bruce Banner Hulking out, and Loki looking pissed. There are also some fantastic, very Whedon-y lines of dialogue, delivered exclusively by Tony Stark. (I’m sure the other characters will have awesome things to say as well, but this is only a trailer, and Robert Downey Jr./Iron Man is pretty much the marquee name here.)
“Dr. Banner, your work is unparalleled and I’m a huge fan of how you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.”
Oh, yes. I have a feeling that after this movie, it’s going to be hard to remember a world in which RDJ wasn’t always speaking Joss Whedon dialogue. If I’m going to disengage from drooling fanboy mode, I really only have a couple of quibbles: Scarlett’s sexy poses seem out-of-place, and Hawkeye locking and loading his bow looks kinda silly. Still, I’m penning in a big red “A” on my calendar for May 4, 2012.
No-Prize to the first person who can tell me the name of the Buffy episode from which I took this post’s title. Extra-Special No-Prize if you spot the other line of Buffy dialogue, which in its original form references Captain America, that I paraphrased here. Nerds assemble!
Welcome to Last Month’s Comics, in which I will discuss, uh, last month’s comics. The pastcouple episodes, we’ve pimped Direct Comic Book Service, which I’ve recently started using as a way to return to regular comics reading. The only downside is that I only get bi-weekly shipments (the weekly option is there, it’s just more expensive), so I won’t wind up reading all of my comics from one month until the beginning or the middle of the next. So I figured it’d be nice to sum up my thoughts, frustrations, and surprises about each month’s comics in a single column. It should be noted that, of course, I’m only reading comics that strike my fancy, there are some books I won’t get started on until a couple months from now, and that I also skipped out on all of DC’s books this month…with one exception.
Let’s get started with August 2011…
BEST #1 Angel & Faith #1 Writer: Christos Gage Art: Rebekah Isaacs (pencils/inks), Dan Jackson (colors) Executive Producer: Joss Whedon Publisher: Dark Horse
Last year, Gobbledygeek called Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight the Worst Comic Book of 2010. It was more a symbolic award than anything: there were worse comics, but none that were more disappointing. Season Eight had a very strong first two-thirds, but in the last third, things went awry more than they went a-right (please forgive me). It all culminated in the bizarre, confusing, contrived “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” arc. However, the final issue was a stellar return to form, and Joss Whedon has promised that Season Nine will be smaller, more character-driven, less prone to jump-the-shark-ness. Judging from Angel & Faith #1, the first piece of Season Nine, I’d say he’s kept that promise. Though I still don’t fully understand what Angel was up to last season–“Your whole Twilight phase makes about as much sense as a David Lynch movie,” so says Faith–watching him again struggling with remorse over his actions and back in help-the-helpless mode is refreshing. Where once Angel was Faith’s mentor, the roles have reversed. Faith is now there to help Angel deal with his grief, though based on the last-page shocker, she’s got a lot of work to do. Christos Gage has all of the characters’ voices down pat, and Rebekah Isaacs’ art might be the best to ever grace any Whedon comic. Can she draw Buffy too?
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Theroux, based on the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby
I attended a packed midnight screening of Iron Man 2, and directly beforehand, in the same auditorium, a considerably less packed screening of the original Iron Man. The first is every bit as great as it was two years ago; it is charming, rich with character, brilliantly acted and directed, and with not a wasted minute. It’s the perfect blend of comedy, drama, and action, a genuine crowdpleaser in every sense.