Are You Team ‘Infinity War’ Or Are You Team ‘Deadpool’?

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Couldn’t we just like them both? Be excited for both? Eggsactly. But where’s the fun in that? Also, these are two very different superhero movies. Two movies that operate on very different levels. So let’s contrast and compare.

One is about a Titan’s intergalactic quest for a set of colorful McGuffins, and the resulting powerful one-against-all scenario that would lead to gigantic fights that’s most probably 80% punching. While the other’s just the first sequel in a franchise (as opposed to the former being the 19th movie in the series) that seemingly care less about anything else outside of its titular hero. And Cable. And X-Force. Who’s the villain? We don’t know. That, we have found out come opening day. Maybe “the real heroes” aka the screenwriters have a few more tricks up their sleeves and subvert our expectations about the movie’s plot. But I don’t want to expect. That’s the golden rule: Don’t expect. And based on the trailer, it is probably more of a spandex-and-sword action movie, with a lot of talking and talking to the camera, and fewer punching scenes.

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Looks like Deadpool 2 would be more fun to watch than Avengers: Infinity War. But I’m not discounting Avengers so easily, given that we saw Star-Lord with Iron Man and Spidey, and Thor together with Groot and Rocket in the trailer. There’s also Spider-Man’s “made-up names” joke. Unfortunately, Team Wakanda seems to be less fun and less jokey compared with Team New York, with Tony Stark, Strange and Star-Lord expected to make witty back and forth. I hope that with Hulk/Banner in Wakanda, he could somehow balance that out. So it won’t be super serious. But maybe the part of the movie that’s set in Wakanda is supposed to be weighty and serious.

As confirmed by Marvel, the part where our heroes (Cap, Hulk, Bucky, Black Panther, and Black Widow), line up facing against a huge army of aliens, is actually part of the movie’s final act. While Iron Man’s team with Star-Lord, Spidey, and Doctor Strange, are going to fight Thanos in Titan, in the film’s second act.

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Yes, Marvel and the internet has been giving us minor spoilers since the trailers came out. And it’s fun to speculate, geek over every little detail. Though I’d probably try not to think about all those plot details come movie time. I want to be surprised, I want to get fooled. On the other hand, Deadpool 2 didn’t get any “real” trailer until two or three weeks ago. But we got that brilliant Bob Ross parody that was so in-character. Still, we don’t get much of a plot other than Cable’s coming and Pool’s assembling the X-Force. Will “the kid” be the villain? Maybe. Maybe Deadpool’s wrong. But the lesser we know about that, I think, the better.

Will the movie’s plot be like that of Looper? Or Terminator 2 perhaps?

How about Infinity War? Are we in for some shocking revelation? Awesome surprises? Some twist? Maybe, some characters will die. Because Thanos will do anything just to get his hands on the Stones and the heroes, even though divided and apart, will unite once again to stop him. As simple as that. No complicated scheme like Zemo’s plan in Civil War. This would be more like the first Avengers, only Loki’s not the bad guy, and with twice (or thrice) as many heroes fighting the villain. This won’t be some grounded, gritty, realistic movie like The Winter Soldier and Civil War, which were written and directed by the same people behind Infinity War. The Russos are now going into cosmic territory, which was Joss Whedon’s and currently James Gunn’s domain. So I hope that they get rid of their dull concrete and grey color palette, and their favorite aggressive editing and shaky cam (AND HERE IS WHY) and be more like James Gunn in terms of visual and action filmmaking.

When it comes to the fight scenes and memorable set pieces, I’d definitely go with Deadpool 2 simply because it’s directed by David Leitch. That opening carnage in the first Deadpool movie, which was directed by Tim Miller by the way, just literally shits on every fight scenes the Russo’s ever conceived in both Civil War and Winter Soldier. With David Leitch, DP2 could surely improve on that. While both Deadpool and Winter Soldier feature awesome fight choreography, Deadpool’s fight scenes has rhythm, is more coherent, and with just the right amount of slow-mos and quick-cutting. Watch the video below and see what I mean. The Russo’s on the other hand uses aggressive editing and shaky cam to give their fight scenes fake speed and intensity, at the expense of dramatic emphasis, tension, and clarity. In these inexpert eyes the scene in the GIF above is actually split into two or three quick cuts in the finished movie, making it almost incomprehensible. Their style actually undercuts the movie’s awesome fight choreography, which is a shame. I only hope the Russos could borrow a few slow-mo tricks from the Master. I’m referring to none other than Zack Snyder, of course.

Nothing’s quite like having two event movies spaced just few weeks apart. Kind of feels like 2016 all over again. In case you don’t remember, that year gave us Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, Kung Fury and Deadpool. Of course, this year would be bigger. And better. After WB’s Justice League, I’m glad they couldn’t screw up any further. And that leaves 2018 with a much better crop of superhero movies.

Obviously, we have much better lineup of movies this year than in 2016. But for the sake of geekery, let’s use those 2016 movies as reference to see how the 2018 movies will stack up. Batman v Superman was the definitely the worst, while the bloated Civil War just slightly better. Both has nothing on Kung Fury, which I’d rather re-watch than either of the two. That line “yeah, that’s my bicep” is just comic-gold! Doctor Strange was not bad, just average. And Deadpool? Deadpool was that year’s best superhero movie.

Not sure if there will be another DC movie this year, but we have three from Marvel and Deadpool 2 is their only sure competition from outside the fence. Will Deadpool 2 be this year’s Deadpool? Will the third Avengers movie be able to match The Avengers? Will it have a truly satisfying downbeat ending that we’re supposed to but didn’t get in Civil War? Or maybe Ant-Man and Wasp will this year’s Kung Fury, which means that I will like it more than Infinity War. I hope not. I have already lowered my expectations for Infinity War but I really want it to deliver on its promise. And this year’s Doctor Strange? The movie that’s not BvS-awful but not Deadpool-very good either? That would be Black Panther. Its 97%/79% score on RT should be telling. Critics loved it, the audience, not so much. It’s more overrated than Doctor Strange (89%/86% on RT), but in terms of being “just OK/kind of meh”, they are in the same ballpark.

Which would be Kung Fury then? That would be the two Deadpool trailers: the one with the hilarious Wet On Wet segment, and the other with Cable’s unfinished CGI arm. Which brings me to my biggest fear. That I would end up liking these hilarious trailers more than the actual Deadpool movie. If that happens, I’d probably be like: WHAT in the actual ASS?

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Is ‘Logan’ The Best X-Men Movie?

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The Last of Wolverine

No, I don’t think Logan is the greatest comic-book movie since The Dark Knight (which isn’t even great to begin with). But it’s probably the best X-Men movie yet. I used to agree with the general consensus that X2 was the best of the lot, but Logan is also a remarkable movie and it gets Wolverine right. And that for me, says a lot.

While the first two X-Men movies by were generally well-loved by both critics and fans, I’ve always find them lacking. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Professor X and Magneto respectively, brought gravitas to these surprisingly earnest comic book movies (the much maligned third movie had actually more fun to offer, especially with Juggernaut, Mystique and Multiple Man). Hugh Jackman took the role of Wolverine, and made a career playing the fierce but sensitive mutant from Canada. Unfortunately, the other supposedly key characters (Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Beast) were sidelined, and nearly forgettable. While Rebecca Romijn, in her very physical and almost dialogue-free role as Mystique, steals the show from almost every one of them. Sure, Bryan Singer has style, but it’s a style that muted the colors and voices of these supposedly motley crew of outsiders.

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Yes, these movies touch on relevant issues (i.e., xenophobia, LGBT). But so did the comics and the ’90s cartoons, which, arguably did better doing so than the movies. In fact, that is only to be expected of these movies. What I did not expect was how Wolverine-centered they were. Were they called Wolverine and the X-Men, I won’t be complaining how the rest of team didn’t get to do much. Also, I thought these movies were just too serious for their own good. Logan was allowed to make jokes, but at the expense of the other characters, like Cyclops and Beast, who were both badly underwritten. And sometimes, the seriousness lapses into something silly, unintentionally (i.e., X-Men‘s amusing third act fight scenes, Prof. X saying goodbye to Cyclops in X2 (couldn’t Jean talk to Scott directly?)) Continue reading “Is ‘Logan’ The Best X-Men Movie?”

Logan (James Mangold, 2017)

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I don’t get this bias towards serious comic book movies. A movie has some convincingly Oscar-worthy drama, then all of a sudden it’s the best comic book movie since The Dark Knight. People heap praises on these two movies yet no one bothers to mention Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan’s subdued superhero drama and follow-up to his more popular debut The Sixth Sense. Why cream your pants over Logan and not Deadpool? When Deadpool had more success at being irreverently funny than Logan did with its sob story. Don’t get me wrong, Logan is a fine movie. It probably has the most memorable portrayal of both Logan and Charles Xavier in all of X-Men movies. Logan’s old, resigned, half the beast he used to be while Xavier’s annoying, old, and sick, which makes him more dangerous. And I liked the dynamics between these two characters (the plot concerning the young mutants, not so much); like in the scene where Xavier needs to take a leak. And with a little detour, it is able to give what should have been the true essence of every X-Men movie—humans and mutants—which made the movie for me. But the movie’s really about X-23, old man Logan, and their kind of forced father-daughter drama, and those other young mutants—it is more than OK, but nothing to get too crazy about.

Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016)

PhotoGrid_1467207022180Midway through the film’s title sequence, it occurred to me – this could be the Captain Deadpool and the Oily Grail of all comic book and superhero movies! Only, it didn’t turn out to be.

Minutes later, Deadpool segues into the highway scene we’re already familiar with – the one where he jumps into a van full of bad guys who in the hands of the Merc with a Mouth, will soon suffer or die in outrageously violent and sometimes funny ways. From there, Deadpool goes about his origin story through a few flashbacks, encounters the two X-men who would become his sidekicks and then assures the audience that his movie is actually a love story. Much like Peter Parker’s story years before, this is also about a girl – Vanessa, played the very hot Morena Baccarin.

It’s definitely inferior to Spider-Man, but it is also lots of fun. Deadpool is irreverent, self-aware, shockingly juvenile and does with plenty of violence. Our titular character also breaks the fourth wall every once in a while. That said, it still feels lacking and tame in some way as compared to some recent films of the genre. James Gunn’s Super is far crazier; his Guardians of the Galaxy has that one sequence that’s infinitely funnier than anything here (not to mention that it’s followed by a touchingly poignant final battle). In terms of action and violence, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass is more, uhm, kickass – fluid camerawork, great choreography and a boss fight that’s brutal as fuck. And despite Deadpool‘s hard R-Rating, the nudity is of the blink-and-you-miss-it variety. No, exposed butt doesn’t count.

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Okay, Deadpool may not have that many wow moments, but on the plus side, the fight scenes are mostly coherent – better than in any of those Michael Bay atrocities, better than the expertly choreographed, but poorly shot and badly edited fight scenes we saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

For what it is, which is an adequately faithful adaptation of the comics, Deadpool is ultramega OK. “The real heroes here” did a fine job taking from a variety of source materials, putting in the right amount of Deadpool-ness they need and adding their own sensibilities to come up with their own definitive version of the fourth-wall breaking Merc. The result is a film that ticks all the fanboys’ check boxes and hardly strays from the character’s established conventions, which are not quite conventional – at least within the current trend in comic book movie adaptations.

Of all the in-jokes and pop culture references here, his jab at Hugh Jackman/Wolverine is the one I like the most. A character Fox love so much – Wolverine appeared on almost every X-Men movie and pretty much shoved everyone else to the sidelines. And yet, six movies in and Wolverine still has to make one memorable onscreen kill.

Deadpool – 10, Wolverine – 0

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