The Defenders Is More Prelude Than Culmination

Defenders-Netflix

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has completely redefined the modern entertainment zeitgeist to the point where it’s difficult to remember a time when shared universe storytelling did not infect every aspect of pop culture. (Not necessarily a bad thing.)

Still, if the recent path of Marvel’s relatively low-budget Netflix offshoot of its uber successful mainstream cinema fare is any indication, even a juggernaut praised as much for financial success as storytelling quality can falter.

With The Defenders, I fear the “neighborhood” MCU Daredevil did such a great job of setting up seems poised upon the brink of narrative oblivion.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming Understands its Hero … and Soars Because of It

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Spider-Man is and always has been my favorite superhero. Much of that is owed to growing up in the 90s and early aughts, but in my view, Spidey was the first hero to get right what a lot of the DC legends got wrong. Admiring a hero from afar is fine, but to get truly invested in one, you need to be able to sympathize with him. Peter Parker is the everyman. He’s the first comic book character whose true identity is more important than his heroic alter ego.

To date, none of his (now many) film iterations have managed to strike the balance between Peter and Spidey, human and hero while finding the melding point between the two, which is often as indistinguishable for the character as it is for the audience.

Yeah … they got it right.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Has Balls and Wants You to See Them

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Admittedly, I went into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with tempered expectations. It’s not that I heard the film was poor. Not by a long shot, but I had heard that it was, well, different. Much different than the first—widely considered to be one of the best to date in Marvel’s growing catalogue—and much different from the tone the trailers seemed to tease.

I’m happy to report I was completely blown away by the second volume of this unique, strange, witty, weird and heartfelt epic comedy fantasy saga in space, so much so that it easily reaches the upper echelon of the MCU for me.

And yes, I think it even outshines the first.

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Maybe Check it Out? (Renshai Edition)

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In today’s world of discourse—much the same as any other time, I’m sure—hot takes have risen to supplant nuance. There’s too much white noise to sift through to get actionable information. We want opinions, dammit!

As an unfortunate consequence, this trend has given rise to the propensity to use the word “rated” far too readily to make oneself heard in the crowded and discordant halls of fandom. More specifically, that singular word directly preceded by the modifier “over,” or, as I submit to you now, “under.”

I don’t pretend to be immune to the trend. In fact, I nearly crafted a shouty title to plaster all over this one. I read this series about ten years ago, and, since I rarely—if ever—see it mentioned, I naturally feel that it’s vastly underrated. More likely, it’s merely underread—a key difference, since most people I speak to who have read it would heartily recommend it.

Anyway, here’s a brief rundown of the reasons why you should probably, possibly, maybe check out The Renshai Trilogy and The Renshai Chronicles by Mickey Zucher Reichert.

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The 10 Best Movies (I Watched) in 2016

junglebook2016It’s Oscar season, which means there’s a metric ton of movies — probably good ones — that came out at the tail end of 2016 I didn’t get the chance to see. (Arrival, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Hacksaw Ridge, etc.)

But I did my best. What follows is the definitive list of the 10 movies that came out in 2016 that I watched with my entire face and accompanying brain, ranked objectively by goodness.

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