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Marvel

Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Ep. 2: The Star-Spangled Man

Welcome to our continuing examination of Falcon and the Winter Soldier.  As always, spoilers abound; this article assumes you’ve seen up through the second episode.

Episode 2 of Falcon and the Winter Soldier opens with a development I didn’t see coming:  a relatively sympathetic portrayal of John Walker (Wyatt Russell), the man revealed as the new Captain America at the end of last week’s episode.  We find him in his old high school locker room, surrounded by football gear and the echo of his early glory days, preparing for an appearance on Good Morning America that’s one part interview, three parts publicity stunt.  A woman who was clearly his high school sweetheart and who I assume is now his wife joins him, noting his nervousness.  He admits he feels the weight of the world’s expectations, and doesn’t want to fail anyone.  She tells him to just be himself.

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Marvel

Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Ep. 1: New World Order

Welcome to the first of our episode-by-episode examinations of Falcon and the Winter Soldier.  A minefield’s worth of spoilers lie ahead, and Captain America:  The Winter Soldier (2014), Captain America:  Civil War (2016), Avengers:  Infinity War (2018), and Avengers:  Endgame (2019) will all prove pertinent to events we’ll see in episode 1 of this series.

“How does it feel?”

“Like it’s someone else’s.”

“It isn’t.”

The it in question is the iconic shield and symbolic mantle of Captain America, passed on at the end of Avengers:  Endgame from Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) to Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), and the words — literally the first we hear in Falcon and the Winter Soldier — serve as a kind of thesis statement for what this series is all about.

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Marvel

WandaVision: Final Thoughts

I’ll let you in on an uncomfortable secret, gentle reader:  while the life-long comic geek in me is thrilled (often against his better judgment) by the credible appearance of super-heroes in shows and movies, the snooty movie critic in me thinks that…well…they all too often just aren’t very good.

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Marvel

WandaVision, Ep. 9: The Series Finale

Welcome to the last of our episode-by-episode examinations of WandaVision.  There are potentially fatal, life-threatening spoilers ahead, and the public health hazard that is Opposite of Cool assumes you’ve seen up through the ninth episode, i.e., finished the series.

Let’s be honest here:  super-hero movies and television shows are not exactly renowned for their unexpected developments.  I mean, sure, there are all those post-credit scenes littering the ends of Marvel movies — Holy shit, he was trying to call Captain Marvel! — but even those are routine; a surprise party thrown in the same place at the same time for the same people every year.  You see enough of it, it stops being a surprise, right?

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Marvel

WandaVision, Ep. 8: Previously On

Note:  Welcome back to our episode-by-episode exploration of WandaVision.  As always, there are spoilers ahead; this article assumes you’ve seen up through the eighth episode.

The eighth and penultimate episode of WandaVision serves as an origin story for the two witches of our tale, Agatha Harkness and Wanda Maximoff.  Once upon a time, back before the internet, origin stories were routine in super-hero comics.  It was felt that periodic reminders of who these characters were and where they’d come from were helpful to readers new and old.  The origin stories in this episode are presented as flashbacks — a nice blending of comic and TV tropes, one laid over the other — and each witch’s origin story, bound by magic and tragedy, serves as a contextual frame for the other.

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Marvel

WandaVision, Ep.7: Breaking the Fourth Wall

Note:  Welcome back to our episode-by-episode exploration of WandaVision.  Fair warning, there are spoilers ahead; this article assumes you’ve seen up through the seventh episode.

One of the unexpected pleasures of WandaVision has been the sneaky good reproductions of the sitcoms it’s emulating.  Episode 6 stuck its Malcolm in the Middle landing perfectly:  the editing, the camera placement, even the music.  So perfectly, in fact, that I expected to see director Matt Shakman’s name listed somewhere in the Malcolm credits.  This episode, we’re treated to Modern Family (2009 – 2020), with its fourth wall-breaking confessions and quasi-documentary style, as well as a title sequence evoking The Office.[1]Three of the most successful sitcoms of this era, Modern Family, The Office (2005 – 2013), and Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015), all employed the same quasi-documentary elements, with … Continue reading  Elizabeth Olsen absolutely kills it channelling Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) and her high anxiety bemusement at the beginning of this episode.  Sometimes it’s the little things.

References

References
1 Three of the most successful sitcoms of this era, Modern Family, The Office (2005 – 2013), and Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015), all employed the same quasi-documentary elements, with the main characters speaking directly to the audience / documentarian.
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Marvel

WandaVision, Ep.6: All-New Halloween Spooktacular!

Note:  Welcome back to our episode-by-episode exploration of WandaVision.  As always, there are spoilers ahead; this article assumes you’ve seen up through the sixth episode.

Unless someone out in the world knows something I don’t, we appear to have skipped the 90’s altogether:  WandaVision‘s sitcom model in episode 6 is Malcolm in the Middle (2000 – 2006), notable for breaking the fourth wall — the eponymous Malcolm would speak to the audience directly — and for its general air of surreal oddity.  Matt Shakman captures Malcolm’s aesthetic so perfectly that I was a little surprised to find him not listed among the series’ directors.

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Marvel

WandaVision, Ep. 5: On a Very Special Episode…

Note:  Welcome back, unwary traveler, to our episode-by-episode exploration of WandaVisionAs always, there are spoilers ahead; this article assumes you’ve seen up through the fifth episode.

A whole lot going on in episode 5, the longest episode thus far at 42 minutes:  family ties, growing pains, leggings, mom jeans — oh, those mom jeans! — and a couple unforgettably vulgar displays of power.  Let’s get after it.

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Marvel

WandaVision, Ep.4: We Interrupt This Program

Welcome back to our episode-by-episode exploration of WandaVision.  There are spoilers up ahead; this article assumes you’ve seen up through the fourth episode.  Also, if there are Marvel Cinematic Universe movies of recent vintage you haven’t seen — everything since 2018, say — you might want to check those out before continuing, as those will be pertinent to our discussion here.

Like lightning from a clear blue sky, in a plot twist I did not even sort of see coming, WandaVision ep.4 appears to offer up more answers than questions, and now I hardly know what to do with myself.  You do remember I said a certain scarlet associated person warps reality, yes?

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Marvel

WandaVision, Ep.3: Now in Color

Note:  Welcome back to our episode-by-episode exploration of WandaVision.  There are spoilers up ahead; this article assumes you’ve seen up through the third episode.

When Avengers (2012) came out, I naturally got a whole mess of questions from people about who these characters were and what they were all about.  A few had some rough familiarity with the comics.  Most had none.  One friend, educated and insanely intelligent, knew of Thor not from the comics but from the actual Norse mythology he’d read.  “How is it,” this friend asked, “that these mortal heroes are the equal of Thor?”