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Thoughts on Netflix’s Marvel’s “The Defenders”

Defenders!

That magical moment when Our Heroes meet but aren’t sure they can take orders from the Stupendous Scarfman.

Let the record show The Defenders is an exceedingly rare event, by which I mean it’s a Netflix series I finished watching within a week of release. Normally it takes me six to eight weeks to catch up with the cool kids. Don’t ask which of my work days suffered most from accomplishing that.

It helps that season 1 is only eight episodes, much more tightly edited, averaging 45-50 minutes each — a more concise spectacle than the padding and plodding that frequently dragged the other series to the 60- to 65-minute mark for indulgent purposes. I hadn’t planned to bulldoze my way through like this, but we have a convention this weekend where we know fans will be chatting about this brand new show to pass the time in the long lines. I’d rather not have to keep cutting them off with yelps of “AHHH! SPOILERS!” while stuffing my head into my carryall so I can’t hear them.

Additional motivation struck me when episode 3 — the one where all four main characters have their first rendezvous — turned out to be such an addictive, headlong rush of comic-book excitement in the mighty Marvel manner, despite the mandatory but middling Hallway Fight. Differently impressive was part 4, directed by ace TV veteran Phil Abraham (The Sopranos, Mad Men), basically a bottle episode in which Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist finally share moments, snipe, posture, threaten to walk, connect, and subtly weave all the threads and tones from their respective, disparate corners of the Marvel Netflix Universe into a coherent tapestry over a sumptuous if mostly ignored Chinese dinner. The characters’ flaws were laid bare with self-aware candor, the overlaps between their shows were extricated, dumplings were shared, and both humor and personal drama each found their entry points.

Results after those episodes were, uh, a bit more varied. The short version: generally a wild ride, but not without its sudden bumps and occasional missing pieces of track.

Fair warning: major spoilers lie beyond not only for The Defenders but for the preceding shows as well. If you haven’t watched those other five seasons first, parts of this show will be incomprehensible. That’s a disappointment to anyone who prefers self-contained stories to these interlocking continuities that marketing departments love to pieces nowadays, but that’s how the super-hero game is played on screens nowadays, for better or worse.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” End Credits

Spider-Man Homecoming!

Window painting at our local theater. Yes, it has been a while.

If Marvel had simply decided twenty years sooner that Spider-Man films should be made once every three years, and that a different young British actor should play him every time, perhaps fans wouldn’t have fussed about Spider-Man: Homecoming coming so soon after Amazing Spider-Man 2. We’d be used to the rotating lead spot by now. Granted, this would’ve caused seismic shifts in our entertainment timeline — imagine if Spidey had been played years ago by a younger Daniel Radcliffe and left a weird hole in the Harry Potter franchise. Ah, what might have been.

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FandomFest 2017 Photos, Part 2 of 2: Cosplay!

Spectre!

The Spectre, DC Comics’ renowned spirit of vengeance, bids you welcome to the land of the vengeful!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on Saturday my wife Anne and I attended FandomFest in Louisville, KY, the twelfth iteration of this entertainment/”comic” convention that’s quite low on comics, heavy on controversy, improper in its online customer service, saddled with a years-old negative image not really helped by the depressing role call of thirty-one canceled guests, and graded a solid F by the Better Business Bureau. But beyond the mountains of baggage, their volunteers were pretty friendly to us in person despite their upper management, and the fifteen actors in the house seemed like decent folks.

But enough about that. Are you as tired of reading about FandomFest’s issues as I am of typing about them? If not, I totally understand and I hope one day true customer satisfaction will be yours without requiring a nasty blood vendetta against the Lochners. Until then: we got costumes! Lots of costumes! Fans do love the cosplayers and their cosplay. Backroom shenanigans or not, dozens of cosplayers sported their finest duds this weekend and did what they could for the sake of convention quality-of-life and their favorite characters. Enjoy!

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Superman Celebration 2017 Photos, Part 2 of 4: Cosplay!

Spider-Woman!

Spider-Gal, Spider-Gal / Does whatever a spider shall / Spins a web, catches creeps / Strikes a pose, plays for keeps!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on June 9th and 10th my wife Anne and I attended the 39th annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL, a grand bash in honor of the Man of Steel in particular and all the super-heroes who owe their existence and livelihoods to him in general.

And of course there were costumes! Lots of cosplayers spiffing up the town with their favorite characters from the worlds of comics, film, TV, animation, and toy stores. I’ll shut up now and let the photo gallery roll!

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“Wonder Woman” Movie Actually in Theaters! Not a Hoax, Dream, or Imaginary Story!

Wonder Woman!

Local Theater to Captain Underpants Fans: DROP DEAD

The summer action blockbuster spectacular 75 years and multiple generations in the making has arrived at last, narrowly seeing the light of day before the end of the universe despite numerous prognosticators to the contrary! Wonder Woman is here and she’s brought the hopes and dreams of zillions of fans with her, from comics to Lynda Carter to animation to brightening Dawn of Justice to decades of products bearing her heroic image even in sadder times when she had no screen projects to promote. If you can name her five best stories, or if you drew inspiration merely from the bold visage of an unstoppable warrior woman unlike any of the super-dudes outnumbering her, either way director Patty Jenkins bids you welcome, because Wonder Woman is here for you.

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Motor City Comic Con 2017 Photos, Part 1 of 2: Cosplay!

Yondu and Mary Poppins!

Yondu and Mary Poppins. Um, mild spoiler for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

My wife and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. For my 45th birthday, we decided to expand those parameters.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we’ve ruminated from time to time on the possibility of attending comic book/entertainment conventions in other areas outside our hometown of Indianapolis. While researching other Hoosier sightseeing options we haven’t tried yet for our birthdays (we haven’t quite run out of historical sites, odd museums, or pretty nature), I decided to check into American comic-con schedules for the weekend, assuming I’d find nothing within a thousand miles of home. I was surprised to discover a handful of results, including a rather large one at the top of the list.

This weekend Anne and I had the pleasure of attending the 28th annual Motor City Comic Con in the city of Novi, a safe suburb northwest of Detroit, some 300 miles from home. Well established and catering to fans of comics and media guests alike, MCCC is a shade smaller than our two regular Chicago shows, but proved an excellent reason to return to Michigan for our first time in fifteen years.

But first and foremost, per our standard convention procedures: cosplay! Presenting a showcase of all the costumes we photographed during our hours walking through and around the exhibit hall on Saturday. Longtime readers know the drill; hence, costumes from MCCC here on MCC. Enjoy the gallery!

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