Dysfunctional to Functional Family: Tony Stark, Obadiah Stane, Spiderman, and Morgan Stark @ComicBook @BrandonDavisBD @Rowaenthe @TheJeffBridges @RobertDowneyJr #IronMan #QuarantineWatchParty #MCU #Spiderman

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June 30 was the first ComicBook.com quarantine watch party in quite some time. As always, I made a few more Twitter connections through the conversations that came from it. These conversations inspired three posts for my blog, this being the first one.

My posts aren’t about getting clicks. If no one read any of my posts, I wouldn’t really care. Writing them is more about catharsis than fame. Moreover, I’m no film student, psychologist, or sociologist, so I can’t break down the science of movie-making or human behavior. Instead, these posts are about analyzing the themes used within the movies due to my personal connection to their messages (accordingly, YMMV). As a result, my favorite posts have been about Nebula’s Redemption, my comparison of Shazam! and Guardians of the Galaxy, and others dealing with a particular theme. That theme is realizing and accepting that your idealized vision of family is complete nonsense, breaking away from those abusive relationships, and appreciating the family you didn’t realize was in front of you the whole time (though for me personally, the third has been elusive). Not everyone has these experiences, but it’s a recurring theme in superhero movies. I never considered that the first Iron Man movie implicitly raised issues related to this theme.

Father Figure

Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey, Jr.) father died, and then Tony disappeared for a while. This isn’t surprising considering how self-absorbed he is, but when he returned to Stark Industries, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) must have served as a father-figure for him. Before I go forward, I want to mention . . .

Tony didn’t show as much respect for Obadiah as you would want to see from your own child, but Tony didn’t ever show much respect for any authority figure, so it’s still fair to assume Obadiah acted as an adoptive father to him. That is, Obadiah wasn’t merely a coworker, boss, or even family friend. Assuming that, it must have been absolutely devastating for Tony when he realized Obadiah had called for his removal from the company, and even worse, his death. That betrayal would hold back Tony’s growth, which became a slow burn throughout the Infinity War saga. It helps make Tony’s grief over Black Widow’s death as believable as that of any other character despite his never overtly expressing that grief or deep feelings for her. It wasn’t until the first Avengers that Tony showed a willingness to “lay down on a wire” for his allies, but his ego made sure that no one would forget that. Somehow, it was still about him . . . until he started to understand fatherhood in Captain America: Civil War.

Peter Parker and Morgan Stark

In Civil War, Tony latched onto Peter Parker/Spiderman. At first, he was looking for a little more firepower to take down Team Cap ®©TM℗SM, but by Infinity War it was clear he had a genuine emotional attachment to Peter.

By Avengers: Endgame, he was devastated because he “lost the kid,” but he got a second chance in that film. Tony’s life became about Pepper and their daughter, Morgan. He was reluctant to restore the Vanished because doing so threatened what he had finally found after a lifetime of searching, even if it meant giving up on his filial figure, Peter.

Tony’s progression from self-absorbed brat to the guy who’d “make the sacrifice play” was 22 movies long probably because of Obadiah more than anything else we saw, but Tony made it there, and that wound up saving half the universe.

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Guilty Pleasure: Tron: Legacy @TheJeffBridges @oliviawilde @boxleitnerbruce @britjfrain @disneyplus #GuiltyPleasure #QuarantineLife #Tron

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The two Tron movies were the first or second thing (don’t remember) I watched when I subscribed to Disney+. I subscribed for the MCU, NatGeo, and Star Wars; and I was intrigued by Pixar (I had never seen any of those movies), but I watched the Tron movies before any of those.

I’m not sure if Tron: Legacy is actually a guilty pleasure. Rotten Tomatoes reports scores of 51 from the critics (who I don’t care about) and 63 from the audience. The 63 is technically a “fresh” score, but just barely. Still, I suspect it fair to call this a guilty pleasure if for no other reason that the sequel, Tron: Ascension, was scrapped due to a poor box office. That could have been an awesome story of Clu’s invasion of the real world.

Besides a really good cast, there are three things I loved about the movie. First, “Radical, man!” “Far out, man,” “We were jammin’,” and the like. Based on the story, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is clearly a man out of time, and everyone he knows from the VR world would similarly be so. Even if new lingo had developed within the VR world, Flynn’s isolation would keep his vocabulary stale. It seemed like almost every sentence Mr. Bridges spoke contained a smattering of 80s lingo. That’s a hell of a way to tug on the heartstrings of a child of the 70s/80s like me.

Second, I like when a movie plays on the notion of the grass being greener on the other side. The idea of plugging ourselves into a virtual reality world is something that intrigues a large percentage of us (if not a majority), but Clu has the exact opposite perspective. He’s in that VR world and is doing everything in his power to get out. What’s more important: Being able to move like Neo in the Matrix or seeing a true sunset? I think the former is more important. We don’t really see sunsets, but rather how our brain interprets sensory data from our eyes and intervening parts. If the brain can be sent signals for a sunset even when the sun isn’t up, it’s no different from the real thing and could actually be programmed to be better. So, in the VR world, you can have both. Regardless of whether you agree, the point is that many of us want VR, but human nature is such that humans who’ve always existed in VR would probably want to see the real world. Everyone wants what the can’t have.

Then there’s the music. I have music from both Tron movies on a playlist I frequently enjoy. I’m a child of the 80s, so I loved the scene when Sam turned on the power at the arcade, and Separate Ways belted out. However, Legacy took place much later, and Daft Punk captured the upgraded feel very well.

If Tron: Ascension were ever made, I’d be there opening weekend.

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Travelling through the #MCU: Phase 1 @chrishemsworth @twhiddleston #CaptainAmerica #CaptainMarvel #IronMan #Thor #Avengers

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In an earlier post, I pointed out a few things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”) that I really enjoyed. I don’t think the MCU gets the credit it deserves. Sure, everyone likes the sound and visuals, but no one expects these films to win acting or directing Oscars. I’m not sure that’s fair, but I digress. Since that post, I’ve started watching the entire MCU in movie-chronological order (Captain America, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, etc.) and will continue through the entire MCU that’s on Disney+ or otherwise available to me. This probably excludes the Spider Man movies and the Incredible Hulk.

There’s been so much ink on these topics that it’s rather pointless to try to leave an impression. These will be short observations of the things that either I liked the most about them or suspect many people didn’t really notice. I’m going to avoid most of my major dislikes. There’s no sense in raining on anyone’s parade (including my own). In case you have the time, I found it fun watching these movies knowing where these characters wound up.

Spoiler alert, I guess?

Captain America

In my last post, I spoke about the music. I love the music in this movie. I also loved Captain America’s team, the Howling Commandos. It’s a shame that, by design, they’ll get no more movies. I don’t think they could head up an entire (commercially successful) movie on their own, and their story with Captain America is done.

Captain Marvel

Like everyone else, I loved the Stan Lee tribute and his cameo.

I love that they made the Skrulls sympathetic. It was an interesting twist even for an MCU fan with no appreciation of the comic books, though I know that it was a twist for those that do. It also made for a good story, and I’m happy that the Skrulls are going to continue to play a role in the MCU (see Spider Man: Far from Home).

Iron Man

Some time ago, I read an article pointing out that the entire twist in Iron Man was given away in the opening scene. Knowing that the average American doesn’t speak Urdu, the scene showed Tony’s captors giving their demands in that language. As a result, many people overseas had the movie ruined for them. Duh.

Most interesting is how well this movie has aged despite being the first MCU film. The only thing tough to watch with this movie is the complete disregard for the laws of physics. But hey, you must suspend your disbelief in order to watch a superhero movie.

Iron Man 2

This is my least favorite MCU movie, but all its faults get a pass because it’s part of the larger story. I liked Howard speaking directly to Tony in the video. Tony’s realization that he was, in some sense, wrong about his father was handled well. I also loved Pepper and Tony’s “married couple” fight towards the end when Pepper learned Tony was dying. This despite Pepper Potts being the most annoying protagonist in the MCU.


When I was a kid, I wasn’t into comic books, but I was very much into mythology. The Norse legends were my favorite, so it shouldn’t surprise you to know that Thor is my favorite Marvel character. Origin stories are always tough, but I still love this movie. Maybe it’s my bias, but with Marvel going cosmic, perhaps this is the second most important movie in the first couple phases (next to Iron Man). Though Thor should be a redhead (damn it!), I thought the character was well-treated. At the risk of getting ahead of myself, his development through all three solo movies and the Avengers movies led him from a spoiled brat to the strongest Avenger, and with Ragnarök he finally became the near-invincible, dim-witted character I know from mythology (more on that later). It had to start somewhere, and this was a good start. A lot of this comes from Chris Hemsworth’s performance, which was stellar throughout. I hope he plays Thor forever.

And is there a better villain than Tom Hiddleston’s Loki? I also like the fact that Loki was a frost giant, which is consistent with his character in mythology. I did find it weird that his father was Laufey. In mythology, his mother was Laufey, and his father was Farbauti (though there are sources that don’t attach Loki to either).

Moving onto the movie itself, I do have a couple of issues. First, it seemed odd that Odin was ready to hand over the throne to such a dipshit, but it did make Thor’s banishment more profound. Second, why didn’t Heimdall get punished for helping Thor go to Jotunheim? Third: “Oh. My. God.” Worst. MCU. Line. Ever. Fourth: “Son of Cole.” Favorite. MCU. Line. Ever.

As for the music, it was appropriately majestic considering that the movie was dealing with royalty.

The Avengers

This was also an important movie in the MCU, as it was the first ensemble movie. Thor wasn’t nearly as powerful as he should have been, but he needed to be weak enough so that he didn’t trivialize the plot.

Shawarma. I know it has a lot of competition, but it remains my favorite end-credits scene in any movie.

And then there’s this guy, the biggest hero in the movie without a superpower to speak of.

Old German Man.png

One criticism: As soon as the nuke hit the mother ship, all the Chitauri dropped dead, as did all the “whale ships.” The entire enemy force just collapsed. I know this dead horse has been soundly beaten, but I have different questions. Why was there still a rush to shut the portal? The threat was gone. Why couldn’t they give Stark as much time as he needed to fall back to Earth? Why couldn’t Thor fly through the portal, attempt to find Stark, and bring him back? The answer, of course, is “drama.”

What’s Next?

That’s it for now. When I have some time, I’ll be moving on to Phase 2, which includes (in order) Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: the Winter Soldier (my favorite MCU film; expect a long discussion), both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man. GotG2 isn’t actually Phase 2, but I’m watching these using in-movie chronology, so watching in phases isn’t quite going to work.

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