Worst Watch: Almighty #Thor @peacockTV #GoodWatch #QuarantineLife

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Almighty Thor (2011) is streaming on NBC’s new streaming service, Peacock TV. It was absolutely horrible, which is to be expected. It has Highlander 2 numbers over on Rotten Tomatoes, with an 8% from the audience and a didn’t-even-bother-to-watch from the critics. It also stars Richard Grieco and Kevin Nash. Never a good sign.

Last Friday, I said I was an apologist for mythology movies, which makes that hard to square with my hatred of this movie. Let’s hammer that out a bit. When I say, “apologist for mythology movies,” I mean that I tolerate poor writing and the liberties writers often take with the source material in the interests of drama. But this is more than just “taking liberties.” This is more like “taking names.” That is, it’s like taking names from Norse mythology and placing them on characters from a completely different story. I hate to say this, but the guy who played Baldr wasn’t nearly qualified to play a god of beauty. Of course, he wasn’t actually playing Baldr because there was absolutely nothing right about this movie. We would have all forgiven the complete destruction of Los Angeles, but they didn’t even get that right. (Yeah, I said “Los Angeles.”)

This reminds me of movies that use the intellectual property for past movies in order to guarantee legacy viewership, but wipe out the original stories altogether, thus pissing off that legacy fan base. I wouldn’t say I’m pissed me off here (maybe at myself for watching it), because no one harms me by making a movie that I didn’t have to pay to see, but it was really bad, from the acting to the sound to the visuals to the writing. The reviews highlighted on the movie’s Wikipedia page are funny.

My preferred pantheon is that of the Norsemen, but that didn’t save this movie. As always, YMMV. Well, not really. You’ll agree. This objectively sucked. F-. They should all be expelled from film school and banned from watching movies ever again.

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All Hail (Once Again) the Greatest Individual Entrance in Cinematic History, and Other Things I Didn’t Create #MCU #Thor #HDB to me @ChrisHemsworth @samuelljackson

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For my birthday, I’m being lazy and just giving you material others have done. First, here’s a fantastic moment from a fantastic character as played by a fantastic actor.

It’s no wonder that Portals in Avengers: Endgame used a variation of this theme for the entrance of the formerly dusted into the final battle against Thanos.

And now for some more.

Image may contain: 5 people, meme and text

That’s it.

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#Thor Is the Strongest #Avenger @chrishemsworth @brielarson #MCU

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First off, Scarlet Witch is the strongest Avenger because all of these characters are defined solely by what’s in the script, and that’s what Kevin Feige says. However, art is in the eye of the beholder, so my interpretation is as valid as anyone else’s. My interpretation is that Thor has proven himself to be the strongest Avenger, and by “Avenger,” I mean “good guy we’ve seen on screen that remains alive in the MCU.”

Odin, Surtur, and Hela Are Dead … I Think

I don’t read the comics, but I know a few things, and it appears that Thor: Ragnarok recognized that Thor was finally gaining the “Thorforce.” With Odin, Surtur, and Hela dead, that would make sense. Also, with those three dead, you have a few major hurdles cleared for my claim to ring true.

Of course, Hela and Surtur could be alive, but at least one could interpret Surtur’s words as a suggestion that he would die once his destiny was fulfilled. Hela? Who knows? Damn comics! But for now, I’m assuming they’re dead, which would clear the path for the Thorforce, eventually placing Thor on Odin’s level.

Compare to Captain Marvel

This was Feige’s first claim. Powered by the Space Stone, she’s a reasonable choice, and the data we have is strongly in her favor. However, our measuring stick is Thanos, and there, Captain Marvel wasn’t as impressive. At the beginning of Endgame, she managed to control a severely injured Thanos long enough for everyone else to get in position. Sure, Rocket couldn’t do that, but <yawn>. In the final battle, she took on a full-powered Thanos one-on-one, but even though he had all six Stones, he wasn’t actively using them. They were in the gauntlet, and she was keeping his hand open, which according to Dr. Strange’s dialogue in Infinity War means that Thanos couldn’t wield any stone’s power while in the gauntlet. In that fight, we saw a brief stalemate until Thanos used the Power Stone to send Captain Marvel flying across the battlefield. Was she impressive? Yes. Did she seem as much a match for Thanos as Thor? No way.

Sure, in Thor’s first fight with Thanos, Thanos kicked his ass with the Power Stone, but that was immediately after Thor was blasted to hell by the weaponry of Thanos’s ship. In fact, in defeat Thor was impressive because he was taking the continuous force of the Power Stone to his head rather than an intermittent blast. Facing off against him later in Infinity War, Thor had no problem handling Thanos even while Thanos was using the Infinity Stones, and that’s the proper metric. Thor was depleted in Endgame because the plot needed him to be. Otherwise, the battle in Endgame would have taken 15 seconds. Thanos without the Infinity Stones v. Thor with either Stormbreaker or Mjolnir isn’t even close based on what we’ve seen, and he was wielding both. Get Thor mentally healthy, and he’s the go-to guy.

Compare to Scarlet Witch

This is Feige’s current choice, but has she proven to be as powerful as Thor? It’s clear from her fights with Proxima Midnight and Hawkeye that she’s still just a fragile human with slow human reflexes and a fragile human mind (i.e., one that would descend into madness if she tried to wield Stormbreaker). If you can get past her offense, she doesn’t have much defense, at least not against someone that can fly. Thor, on the other hand, took the brunt of a neutron star. ‘Nuff said.

But what about her offense? Arguably, she was on the verge of killing Thanos when he didn’t have the Infinity Stones. When he had 5 Stones, she was at best at a standstill, but eventually lost the tactical battle. Once Thanos had all six Stones, he was the most powerful being in the universe (so far), and Thor almost killed him. Sorry, but I’d rather have Thor watching my back. Even if you could make a compelling argument that Scarlet Witch has more raw power than Thor, sometimes what matters most is willpower. Thor wins.

Conclusion

The only character for whom I have a bias is Thor. This is because of my love of mythology, and Norse mythology in particular. I’m sure that’s obvious here, so even if you have a decent counterargument, I probably won’t buy it. That’s just how I roll. But I doubt you have a decent counterargument.

A mentally and physically healthy Thor is clearly the strongest Avenger. He also had the best individual entrance in cinematic history.

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Throwing Rhodey Under the Bus in Avengers: #Endgame @DonCheadle @MarvelStudios #MCU

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It’s rare that I find things that I don’t like about the MCU, but there are a few. As I discussed yesterday, I approved of “Fat Thor” because it was handled fairly well. However, it wasn’t handled perfectly; to-wit: War Machine. I felt that the writers unnecessarily threw Rhodey under the bus. They gave him all the mean-spirited lines, and a couple were particularly bad. This reminds me of my tweet during the Infinity War watch party.

The scene is here. Start at 1:04.

If it weren’t for Peter’s completely irrational reaction, none of the 14,000,605 alternate timelines would have occurred (including the successful one). People do stupid things for one of four reasons that I can identify: 1) They’re stupid; 2) they’re kidding; 3.) they’re trolling you; or 4.) they’re acting emotional, thus abandoning all logic. Regardless of which category you think Peter is in, he behaved stupidly, and I don’t see why the writers had to do that. They could easily have made Thanos too strong for Mantis. Unfortunately, this seems to be how they write. They want a clear scapegoat among the heroes, being someone that consistently goes in a bad direction.

Rhodey

Rhodey didn’t cause Thanos’s arrival in Endgame. His issues were different; he was simply an asshole. First, let’s look at the discussion of the Infinity Stones.

Everyone’s comments and facial expressions seem to show concern for Thor, except Scott Lang, who as always is lost and therefore not sure if Thor is kidding. He may have just been giving Thor encouragement. In any case, all of these people are goodhearted in their approach. The exception is Rhodey, who makes a joke of it with, “No, I’m pretty sure he’s dead,” and arguably Clint’s facial expression when Rhodey and he share a knowing look with each other. Then we go to the discussion of time travel.

As if designed to make sure Rhodey looked as bad as possible, they left it to him to say that time travel should have been used to kill Thanos as a baby. Everyone would have forgiven that (after all, “It’s Thanos!”), but it still had a mean feel to it, and it became yet another straw on the camel’s back (so to speak).

Then consider his scene with Nebula.

Rhodey’s question, “So he’s an idiot?” came across as rhetorical. He was clearly calling Peter an idiot with an air of frustration. Nebula’s simple response of, “Yeah,” came only after a pause and a downward glance. Of all people to be reluctant to insult someone, Nebula seemed exactly that. Here were two characters saying the same exact thing about the same exact person, yet they were coming from opposite directions. Nebula’s remarkable story arc of redemption certainly colored how I viewed all of her statements, and that’s probably true for Rhodey based on the above, who seemed to be going in the opposite direction. But that’s what I’m talking about. That’s a direct result of the writing.

Moving on, remember from yesterday’s post, once it was explicitly established that Thor’s physical condition was tied to the depression and/or PTSD, the fat jokes stopped coming, except for Rhodey. He continued to insult Thor’s condition, and it didn’t come across as playful.

Objectively, “Cheez Whiz” is a funny line, but it was done not only after we learned why Thor was in a depleted physical state, but also at the exact moment Thor was having an emotional crisis. Thor was going to sacrifice himself to atone for his perceived sin of failure, which itself resulted in depression, PTSD, and his physical condition.

I’m the kind of guy that thinks no topic is forbidden from comedy. Anything can be funny if done well. The only sin in comedy is not being funny, and I’m never offended, even if my own insecurities are the butt of the joke. I far prefer laughing at myself than wallowing in self-pity, so I believe making fun of people can be funny. But it also can be not funny. With Rhodey, it came across as mean-spirited and was completely unnecessary.

The totality of just these few scenes left me with a bad impression.

Who’s to Blame?

The blame can lie with any combination of the actor, director, and screenwriter. I don’t know who to blame, but you can see from the deleted scenes in that last clip that this was exactly what they were going for. They wanted to say something mean-spirited, and the fact that Peter Quill was thrown under the bus in Infinity War suggests that the writing is to blame. In total, I felt it debased the character. Unfortunately, I don’t see much room for him to redeem himself. I haven’t heard any mention of his return to the MCU on the big screen or on Disney+.

Have you learned to dislike Rhodey? Is there a value to these lines that I don’t appreciate?

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“Fat” #Thor’s #Depression/#PTSD in Avengers #Endgame @chrishemsworth @MarvelStudios #MCU

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I’m not a psychologist, but I don’t have to be for the sake of this post, and neither do you. The only expertise we need for this post is to diagnose Thor as having depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), or both. Because he’s a make-believe character, what that really means is that we have to infer whether that’s what the writers intended when writing for the character. If you’re one of the few that don’t infer that, then this post isn’t for you. I’m operating from the assumption that Thor’s physical condition is the result of one or both of those mental/emotional conditions (perhaps another that’s more appropriate), and so I will certainly not be arguing that assumption here.

Thor’s physical condition clearly sprang from his mental illness. Was that a good thing? I believe it was, both for script purposes and for real world purposes.

Script

What started in Thor: Ragnarok came to fruition in Avengers: Infinity War: Thor is the strongest Avenger. With only one exception, Thor never took a legitimate blow from the Hulk, getting hit only when he was trying to stop the fight or when the Grandmaster cheated. He developed what was probably the Thorforce from the comics, and with both Odin and Hela dead, that makes sense. He took on the brunt of a neutron star. He almost took out Thanos while Thanos was wielding all six Infinity Stones. The Russos came up with a lame excuse (Thanos was taken by surprise), but if Thor had just gone for the head . . . .

So, if Thor is that powerful, what happens in Endgame? Most likely, the battle lasts about 15 seconds with Thor saving the world. That’s not particularly dramatic. His weakness was necessary to give Thanos a fighting chance and to give us the grand finale we all wanted.

Real World

All that said, the only reason this plot device worked is because Thor was deemed worthy. Depression and PTSD are illnesses. Having them doesn’t necessarily make you a weak person, though they do give you certain vulnerabilities. Mjolnir gives us an objective standard to tell us whether or not someone is “worthy.” Thor’s ability to summon and wield Mjolnir tells us that his condition and value as a hero aren’t connected. It tells us that our own conditions and values as human beings aren’t connected. For this reason, I not only think Fat Thor was nothing worth being offended about, but was actually very important.

Moreover, once it was explicitly established that Thor’s physical condition was tied to the depression and/or PTSD, the jokes stopped coming, or at least shifted focus. “Lebowski” wasn’t a comment about weight. Endgame wasn’t perfect, though. For some inexplicable reason, Rhodey continued to insult Thor, and it didn’t come across as playful. I’ll discuss this in depth in tomorrow’s post.

Did you think “Fat Thor” was handled well?

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Relationships in #Thor: The Dark World @CUnderkoffler @twhiddleston @chrishemsworth #MCU

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I was recently talking about the MCU on Facebook (surprised?), and Thor: The Dark World (“TTDW”) came up. My general position was painful to admit: TTDW was a bottom tier MCU film. Thor is my favorite MCU character, but this entry was a bit weak. My general sentiment, however, was that you’ll appreciate all of these movies more if you see them as episodes in a longer story arc. This led to two points being made, one by me and one by a Facebook friend, Chad.

The Thor-Loki Dynamic

Chad stated:

I -really- like the Thor/Loki dynamic in Dark World. It’s set-up in the first movie. You can’t have their relationship in Ragnarok (especially post-Avengers) without it.

I agreed to a large extent, first because Tom Hiddleston’s acting was in my opinion the best overall throughout the MCU, but second because of Chris Hemsworth, who did a great job as Thor. The problem is that this relationship was a secondary plotline. The main storyline brought the film down to the bottom tier of the MCU. That said, Chad’s observation was an important one that was in line with my other comments of my Facebook thread. Secondary plotlines become far more important when you see these movies as episodes in a longer story that’s never (to my knowledge) been done in cinema. Iron Man 2 was my least favorite MCU film, and I’ll still gladly watch it. It’s an episode in a decade-long story that I love. A weak episode (to me), but still part of the story.

I told Chad I’d re-watch the movie and focus on that relationship to see if I could grab anything new about it. On my latest viewing, I learned . . . very little. This isn’t to say I disagree with Chad – I absolutely agree – I just remembered everything about it, so there was nothing new. Although Thor: Ragnarök fully developed Thor’s dimwittedness from mythology, he showed some signs of it in the first two Thor movies, but only with respect to Loki, who was always able to fool him. In addition, their love-hate relationship ultimately favored love, made apparent in the opening act of Infinity War. That act wouldn’t have meant a thing without the context of the prior films, and that made Infinity War a better film than it otherwise would have been.

Frigga’s Death

An even better example of this effect was the death of Frigga. When I first saw TTDW, I thought her death was unnecessary and cheap. It appeared as a means to say, “Let’s have someone die to show that the stakes are high, but not someone important enough that the stakes are actually high.” In hindsight, my perspective was dead wrong. Like all the major MCU characters, Thor went on a path of self-improvement, but he hit a major stumbling block off-camera between Infinity War and Endgame: depression and PTSD. While having never slipped unto unworthiness, Frigga was the last push he needed to get back on track, and their interaction in Endgame wouldn’t have conveyed such meaning if she hadn’t died in TTDW. This is hardly novel in the MCU (or elsewhere in cinema). I’ve discussed this before with respect to Black Widow and Hawkeye. The MCU did a surprisingly good job of immersing me in the emotions of those relationships. TTDW is a good example of how they laid the foundation for one of those key moments.

Why Is It So Bad?

Honestly, I have no idea why I place the TTDW in the bottom tier of MCU movies. It should be great. It has well-defined villains, a well-defined primary antagonist, plenty of action, plenty of humor, plenty of human drama, and perhaps even more is at stake than in Infinity War (but at least as much). I can’t explain why it’s not one of the best; it simply isn’t.

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