“Avengers: Endgame”: The All-Spoiler Entry

Rocket War Machine!

Bow before the combined might of ROCKET MACHINE!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Avengers: Endgame is here! You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, an audience roughly one-third the size of Thanos’ human casualties has seen it. I was fine with cranking out the obligatory “I liked it, it was much better than Cats” entry, but as with a few past blockbusters, I’m in the mood to type more paragraphs about its pros, its cons, and the questions it begs that could go either way depending on how sensible or stupid the answers are.

Random thoughts in very little particular order ahead. COURTESY SPOILER WARNING FOR THE WHOLE THREE-HOUR SHEBANG.

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“Avengers: Endgame”: It. Is. FINISHED.

Rocket Raccoon!

Thanos made this cute, fuzzy antihero cry. Now he must PAY.

One of the most exhilarating parts of seeing highly anticipated event films ASAP is the firm pivot point you pass between “before” and “after”. Once you’ve seen it, spoilers can no longer damage your viewer experience. Months and years of news sites hazarding half-baked guesses to the film’s content see all their handiwork either rendered obsolete and worthless or proven right but ultimately irrelevant once the thing becomes a reality rather than a theoretical construct in quantum-superpositional flux. Once the film “is”, the number of possibilities of how it “might be” dwindles ever downward toward one (1).

That’s not to say everyone has seen it yet, though Entertainment Weekly and other ill-mannered organizations live or die on the operating principle that every popular thing is instantly consumed now-now-NOW by the smartest, coolest readerships who are the only humans in the universe that matter. For folks who know how to use the word “courtesy” in a sentence, it means being careful with blaring spoilers in the faces of everyone who might glance in our direction. (When it comes to movies, at least. As someone who live-tweets the occasional CW super-hero show, I’ll own up to some hypocrisy here.)

It’s in that spirit of keeping up the spoiler-free environment for what’s left of this weekend that our obligatory Avengers: Endgame write-up was composed to the best of my ability. Fair warning: if you were so hardcore about no-spoiler purity that you’ve even avoided all the trailers and TV spots, I’m not sure I can help you at quite that level of dedication.

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Our Ace Comic Con Midwest 2018 Photos

Zazie Beets!

Just me hanging out with Emmy Award Nominee Zazie Beetz. With my wife’s permission, honest!

This weekend my wife Anne and I attended the inaugural Ace Comic Con Midwest, the third show from the new geek-convention company that previously exhibited in Seattle and in Glendale, AZ, before turning their attention to someplace within our driving distance. The creators were previously the bigwigs behind the Wizard World empire, but parted ways a while back, decided to do their own separate thing, and took all their learned lessons and deep Hollywood connections with them.

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Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Avengers: Infinity War” End Credits

Thanos!

If you can see only one Josh Brolin film this year, skip Sicario 2: Soldado.

The short version of this entry: for anyone who’s sat through all three Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America films; the first two Avengers films; both Guardians of the Galaxy flicks; Edward Norton’s Incredible Hulk; Spider-Man Homecoming; Ant-Man; Dr. Strange; and the great and powerful Black Panther…as those fans hoped unanimously, Avengers: Infinity War is the ultimate, fitting culmination of all that. It ties lots of threads together, features unexpected team-ups, makes time for heroes punching heroes in the grand tradition of Marvel misunderstandings, hits hard with heavy emotional moments, allows a few quiet spaces to breathe in between the chaos, and has a few moments rigged to invite audience cheers and gasps, sometimes mere seconds apart.

However, it is not the season finale. It’s episode 19 of a 22-episode season eleven years in the making, with three more episodes to go: this summer’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, which takes place beforehand; the technical prequel Captain Marvel; and the true season finale, Avengers: Secret Subtitle. Anyone trying to approach Infinity War as a standalone work, clinging to the notion that any and every film should be a self-sufficient viewing experience in itself, will walk away disappointed. Infinity War has other objectives in mind. Comics fans are used to major crossover events and know how the game works, but some film critics are bristling at this new idea that threatens to make movies more like comics in the long term, and not necessarily like good comics.

Okay, that opening was supposed to be shorter. Even shorter version, then: upon a single viewing in IMAX, where the volume-17 sound system purged all intellectual notions out of my body, Avengers: Infinity War was extremely cool, somewhat depressing, and, as I suspected going into it, thoroughly futile on at least one ostensibly dramatic level.

That’s still too long. One more try: if you love Marvel movies to pieces, Avengers: Infinity War is more of that but quadrupled.

Caution ahead: spoilers are probably ahead if you’re the kind of deductive reader who can put two and two together too quickly. My movie entries are normally written as if I’m talking to a general audience who hasn’t seen the film, but we’re now on the nineteenth film, the biggest one yet (literally for me, since I saw none of the others in IMAX) and I don’t know if I’m about to make this entry quite so reader-friendly. I’m not indulging in stroke-for-stroke golf commentary, but a few aspects of my reactions — including my least favorite thing about it — can’t be covered coyly without rendering them into so much useless ambiguity. If you need to brake and reverse now, I’ll understand.

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Yes, There’s a Scene During the “Avengers: Age of Ultron” End Credits

Hawkeye!

A rare quiet moment for Hawkeye in between spectacles and explosions and scene-winning.

The short version: I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron on opening weekend. I had a blast. I liked it more than the first Avengers.

I had a few quibbles, but nothing too upsetting. I noticed some themes and formed some thoughts. Y’know, what I usually do before I settle in and crank out 1500-2000 words for my li’l site here. It’s just this thing I do every time I see a film in a theater.

Instead I came home, spent the weekend reading Age of Ultron internet fights between various factions for various reasons, scribbled a few surface thoughts about it, silently tucked them away for a while, and let memory scratch much of the rest. I could retrieve them if I tried, but I worry that everything’s already been written about it, and I know I’m tired of reading about it. But here I am anyway, salvaging the remains because so far, compared to the other two (2) 2015 films I’ve seen so far, technically Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Avengers: Age of Ultron The Best Film of The Year. So it oughta have an entry.

(The other two films were Jupiter Ascending and Chappie. The competition up to now has been far from fierce.)

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My Free Comic Book Day 2015 Results, Best to Least Best

Secret Wars FCBD 2015!

Valeria Richards addresses her troops in Secret Wars #0. Art by Paul Renaud.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I observed Free Comic Book Day 2015 this past Saturday. Readers of multiple demographics, thankfully including lots of youngsters, flocked to our local stores and had the opportunity to enjoy samplers from all the major comic companies and dozens of indie publishers. As an incentive for the younger recruits, the shop we visited split the all-ages material apart from the rest and put up “KIDS ONLY” signs discouraging greedy adults from hoarding everything and leaving nothing behind in their wake.

I never grab copies of everything, and this year I took even fewer items than usual because I don’t really have the time or inclination to be the guy who thinks he’s obligated to read and respond to everything. I came away with a dozen comics of varying interest levels and finished reading the last of them the next morning. In my mind, each issue ought to be a satisfying experience for any new reader who opens the cover without any foreknowledge. Historically, each publisher’s offerings tend to fall into one of six story levels, ranked here in order from “Best Possible Display of Generosity and Salesmanship” to “Had to Slap SOMETHING Together, So Whatever”:

1. New, complete, done-in-one story
2. Complete story reprinted from existing material
3. A complete chapter of a new story with a proper chapter ending
4. Partial excerpt from an upcoming issue that will also contain all these same pages
5. No story, just random pinups or art samples
6. Disposable ad flyer shaped like a comic

The twelve comics in my FCBD 2015 reading pile came out as follows, from least favorite to definite favorite:

Right this way for the countdown!

Wizard World Chicago 2014 Photos, Part 3: Marvel and Dark Horse Costumes!

The Avengers!

The Avengers! Classic lineup, different take.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This weekend was that time again: our annual excursion to Rosemont, IL, for Wizard World Chicago. My wife and I took plenty of photos as usual, many of them usable. We’ll be sharing those over the next several entries, but I’m still too fatigued from the experience to figure out how many entries these will take.

Part three, then: representatives from the Marvel Universe, along with a few folks from other comic-book companies. Enjoy!

Right this way, True Believer!

My Heroes Don’t Always Need to Be White Guys

Avengers NOW 2014!

Not nearly enough pundits are complaining about Marvel’s all-new White Power Iron Man.

For those just joining the fray: pictured above are the new incarnations of Thor and Captain America that Marvel Comics will be introducing later this year. A recently depowered Steve Rogers will be passing on the Captain America mantle to a black man, most likely his old partner the Falcon. Meanwhile, the Norse god Thor will be transferred into a female identity under as-yet-unrevealed but probably magical circumstances.

The media thought these developments were so vital to our nation’s integrity that I first heard the news from morning-radio DJs while we were on vacation last week in Minneapolis. If commercial radio thinks it’s big news, then clearly it’s Big News whether I agree or not.

In what may or may not be a similarly themed development, the media was alerted today that Hollywood A-lister Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has reached a deal to star in a film based on a DC Comics character to be named later this week. All hints seem to point toward DC’s Captain Marvel, a.k.a. SHAZAM!, whose skin tone doesn’t match his. Preparing their rebuttal days in advance of the official announcement, comics fans nationwide have rushed to brainstorm their list of nonwhite DC characters that the Rock should be allowed to play. How nice of them to be so vigilant in helping the major publishers keep their cross-media adaptations demographically unmodified. And all without being asked first or getting paid for the job.

It’s my understanding that certain loud, obnoxious parties are up in arms on message boards and social media and such, because How Dare They or whatever. Fortunately these overhauls bounced harmlessly off me and my not-so-fragile peace of mind. And here’s why…

San Diego Comic Con 2013: the Best and Least-Best News as Seen from the Cheap Seats

Godzilla movie teaser poster, America, 2014Anyone who followed the entertainment news as it flooded out of 2013’s San Diego Comic Con found themselves shocked and surprised by two or more bombshells dropped from above, as the movie and comic book companies kept trying to top each other with the Greatest Announcement of All.

My general impressions follow of what stood out to me most, whether good, bad, or both.

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My 2012 Movies in Retrospect: the Top Seven

Previously in our three-part miniseries, Part One was the bottom of the barrel and Part Two was the middle of the road. Part Three, then, is the top of the pops.

The countdown speeds toward its inevitable end:

Andrew Garfield, "Amazing Spider-Man"7. Amazing Spider-Man. I’ve gone on record multiple times with my reservations about unnecessary reboots. On the other hand, after Spider-Man 3 became the series’ answer to Batman and Robin, it’s hard to argue with the corporate decision to enact damage control and give the series its very own Batman Begins. Director Marc Webb avoids Sam Raimi’s fondness for Lee/Ditko/Romita ambiance in favor of transplanting the cast to a less timeless setting. The results reinforce the same moral without chanting it at us, thrill and thrive on their own terms, and recapture the trademark Spider-sarcasm that was my favorite part of the first few hundred Spider-comics I read in my youth, but regrettably in short supply in Tobey Maguire’s earnest, anxious portrayal.

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