Tor.com content by

Keith R.A. DeCandido

Fiction and Excerpts [4]
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Fiction and Excerpts [4]

“Yibambe!” — Avengers: Infinity War

Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was dedicated to putting everything together for Avengers. Phase 2 was about the aftermath of that movie and setting up the team for a big blowup following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Phase 3 involved the team falling apart in Captain America: Civil War and coming back together in Avengers: Infinity War.

And seeded throughout the whole schmear were the six infinity stones, all of which came together (literally) in the tenth anniversary of the MCU.

[All words are made up.]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Kobayashi Sidhu — Star Trek’s “Ask Not”

Anson Mount was the breakout star of Star Trek Discovery’s second season with his portrayal of Captain Christopher Pike, with Ethan Peck and Rebecca Romijn right behind him as Spock and Number One, respectively. The events of the end of that season precludes the trio returning to Discovery any time soon, but they’ve made up for it to a degree by having Mount in all three of the second batch of Short Treks to date, with Romijn and Peck in two of those, including the new one, “Ask Not.”

[We’ve all learned to expect no mercy from Number One.]

You Will Believe a Hello Kitty! Pez Dispenser Can Fly — Ant-Man & The Wasp

With Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014 and Ant-Man in 2015, Kevin Feige had proven that he could give pretty much any Marvel character(s) a movie and they’d thrive. Despite being about a character who has at best been at the mid-range of Marvel’s heroes, Ant-Man was a huge hit, just like all the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and a sequel was pretty much inevitable, especially since that 2015 movie ended with Hope van Dyne being given the Wasp costume she should’ve gotten at the beginning of the film…

[Who are you and how do you know so much about car wash protocol?]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

“It’s hard for a good man to be king” — Black Panther

One of the things that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been introducing into their little oeuvre is the many-worlds theory, with divergent timelines. After hints of it in Doctor Strange, we got a major use of it in Avengers: Endgame, it played a role in Spider-Man: Far from Home, and the next Strange film has “multiverse” in the subtitle, so it may come up again—not to mention What If…? being one of Marvel’s upcoming offerings on Disney+.

I mention this only because somewhere there’s a divergent timeline where Wesley Snipes starred as the Black Panther in the 1990s.

[“Did he freeze?” “Like an antelope in headlights…”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

“Whatever’s going on with you, I hope you figure it out” — Spider-Man: Homecoming

No single character in Marvel’s pantheon has had more comic book titles than Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man has continued to be published in some form or other since 1963, and he’s had an absurd number of secondary titles. There have been many months over the past fifty-plus years when there’s been a new Spider-title every week. (As an example, in the early 1990s there were four monthly titles, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Spectcular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, and Spider-Man.)

The character had enough history all on his own from this plethora of publications that Sony tried to create a “Spider-Man Cinematic Universe” with the Marc Webb-directed, Andrew Garfield-starring films. However, the movie that started to build that universe, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, was something less than a howling success, and Sony had to go for Plan B.

[Pretty sure this guy’s a war criminal now, but whatever, I have to show these videos, it’s required by the state.]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

“No, you move” — Captain America: Civil War

One of the biggest events in Marvel Comics in the early part of the millennium was “Civil War,” a storyline that ran through almost all of its superhero comics, as well as the Civil War miniseries by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven. It pitted hero against hero as a battle in Stanford, Connecticut that kills 600—including most of the hero team the New Warriors—turns public opinion against heroes. This led to the passage of the Superhero Registration Act.

Heroes were divided in terms of support of the SHRA, with Captain America against and Iron Man for, and various other heroes taking sides. The Marvel Cinematic Universe followed suit for Captain America’s third film, with Iron Man facing off against Cap in the wake of the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

[I retire for what, like, five minutes, and it all goes to shit…]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Ragnarok and Ruin — Thor: Ragnarok

After buggering off at the end of 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor had been conspicuously absent from the next appearance of the Avengers as a team, 2016’s Captain America: Civil War (which we’ll cover next week). This was, in fact, a minor plot point, as Secretary Ross pointed out the absence of both Thor and the Hulk.

Thor finally showed up in the other 2016 release, Doctor Strange, and that was to set up his third movie, released in 2017.

[“I don’t know how to fly this thing!” “You’re a doctor, you have PhDs, you should figure it out.” “None of them are for flying alien spaceships!”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Them’s Good Eatin’! — Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Edward”

In 1967, Star Trek aired “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Written by David Gerrold, the episode quickly attained legendary status, as pretty much any list of best episodes of the original series is likely to have the numbers one and two spots occupied by some combo of it and “The City on the Edge of Forever.” It’s one of the funniest episodes of Star Trek, and remains beloved to this day, with the image of Kirk being buried in tribbles falling out of the storage compartment one of the most iconic visuals in Trek history. When Deep Space Nine celebrated the franchise’s thirtieth anniversary in 1996, they celebrated it via that episode.

The latest Short Treks is the secret origin of the tribbles. It features H. Jon Benjamin—Sterling Archer his own self—so you know much wackiness will ensue.

[I’m not dumb.]

Elevator Pitch — Star Trek’s “Q & A”

In July of this year, Anson Mount and Ethan Peck were both guests at the Shore Leave convention. They did a joint panel, moderated by Amy Imhoff, and one of Amy’s questions was if either of them had done theatre. Mount said yes, but Peck said no, as he grew up in the theatre (recall that his grandfather is Gregory Peck and his aunt is Cecilia Peck), and he associates it with the places where he would fall asleep as a kid.

Mount then turned to Peck and said, “We should do Gilbert & Sullivan together,” and they both laughed a lot more heartily than was necessary from what they were saying. Mind you, “Q & A” had already been filmed at that point, and now I get why they were laughing!!!!

[I am the very model of a modern major-general, I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral…]

“It’s not about you” — Doctor Strange (2016)

In the early 1960s, Steve Ditko—one of the many artists working for Marvel, and co-creator of Spider-Man with Stan Lee—went to Lee with the notion of a superhero who used magic and spellcraft to fight the bad guys, inspired in part by the old radio show Chandu the Magician. Since the character was to appear as a backup feature in Strange Tales, they decided to call him Dr. Strange (since calling him Mr. Strange would be too much like Mr. Fantastic in Fantastic Four).

He quickly became a mainstay of the Marvel Universe, adapted into a TV movie in 1978 and then brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe 38 years later.

[“What’s this, my mantra?” “The wifi password.”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!” — Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

The 2014 release of Guardians of the Galaxy pretty much solidified Kevin Feige’s Midas touch when it came to Marvel movies. He’d already taken a collection of B- and C-listers and turned them into household names, and with Guardians he was getting down into the D-list, and sure enough, they were a hit, too.

And so, three years later as part of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a sequel came out.

[I am Groot.]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

Higher, Further, Faster — Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers has had a tumultuous history over her five decades in Marvel Comics, starting as a supporting character to Captain Marvel, becoming Marvel’s first attempt at a feminist icon, the subject of one of the most sexist comics ever written, and then eventually being the seventh character to take on the mantle of Captain Marvel, and is unarguably the most popular of those seven.

Over the past decade or so, she has become one of the major superstars of Marvel’s heroes, her self-titled comic book written by Kelly Sue DeConnick becoming a hugely popular and iconic series in 2012. And in 2019, she became the long-overdue first female hero to headline a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

[“That’s not the craziest thing I’ve heard today.” “Well, it’s early…”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

“I have a parasite” — Venom

The two Marc Webb-directed Amazing Spider-Man movies—particularly the second one—did a lot of work to set up a “Spider-Man Cinematic Universe.” Sony went ahead and green-lit a bunch of spinoff movie projects featuring Spider-characters The Sinister Six, Black Cat, Morbius the Living Vampire, Silver Sable, and Venom.

The whole concept was sent into a tizzy when (a) Amazing Spider-Man 2 did poorly at the box office and critically as well and (b) Spider-Man got absorbed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But we got a Venom movie in 2018 anyhow.

[“Have you been meditating like I showed you?” “No, I have not. And it does not work.” “It doesn’t work because you don’t give it a chance.” “No, it doesn’t work because I bought a DVD off your cousin and it was in Mandarin.”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress — Marvel’s Inhumans

Introduced in the pages of Fantastic Four, the Inhumans—a closed community of humans who have super-powers thanks to experimentation by the Kree—have been a part of the Marvel comics universe since the 1960s, though they didn’t really come into their own as anything but supporting characters (mostly in the pages of FF) until their twelve-issue miniseries by Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee debuted in 1998. Since the turn of the century, they’ve become major players in the comics.

Making them part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has proven more problematic.

[This is why nobody invites you to do their birthday toasts…]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

“Please don’t blow up!” — Fantastic Four (2015)

After 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer disappointed mightily at the box office, 20th Century Fox found themselves going back to the drawing board. While they did so, Marvel Studios started their inexorable rise to the top of the box-office charts, and Sony found themselves rebooting Spider-Man following their own 2007 release.

Fox decided to go Sony’s route and reboot Marvel’s first family with a movie that arrived with a thud in 2015.

[“I gotta say, it’s really impressive—” “Thank you.” “—that you nearly destroyed our planet with speaker cable and aluminum foil.” “Yeah, that was an accident.”]

Series: 4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch

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