Notable character developments leading to the Avengers: Endgame

Seven years after Earth’s mightiest heroes assembled in one epic movie in Avengers, band together again against another global threat in Avengers: Age of Ultron and were then left to face the aftermath of The Decimation at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, many of the team’s character arcs may be considered completed by the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame.

With this, I thought a review of characters’ initial appearances and growth over the course of the franchise quite fitting.

Warning: This post may contain spoilers on previous MCU movies, but no spoilers about Endgame. I promise.

So here’s what the original Avengers have gone through so far:

Clint Barton aka Hawkeye

Played by Jeremy Renner

During his first appearance in Thor, he was a wise-cracking deadshot agent of SHIELD. In his later appearances, we learned that he was the one who decided against eliminating Black Widow and recruited her as a fellow SHIELD agent instead. Their shared adventures and strong bond outside the Avengers include the “Budapest Incident” and Nat’s familiarity with Clint’s wife and children.

Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow

Played by Scarlett Johanson

Nat has certainly come a long way from her first outing as Black Widow in Iron Man 2 as a SHIELD operative under cover as Pepper Potts’ stunningly gorgeous assistant. Her kick-ass fighting ability was apparent from the get-go, but we got glimpses of her dark past such as her training as an assassin in the Red Room, her loyalty to Nick Fury and Steve Rogers as they revealed Hydra’s infiltration of SHIELD, as well as her budding romance with Bruce Banner which was cut short when Hulk decided against returning to the fold after the events of Age of Ultron.

Bruce Banner aka The Hulk

Played by Mark Ruffalo

The Hulk’s origin stories were told in teo movies that came prior to the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, played on-screen by Eric Bana and Edward Norton, respectively. Throughout the movie franchise, Banner’s disdain for his alter-ego is apparent, referring to the Hulk as “the other guy,” and always seeking ways to suppress him. After serving as a gladiator in Sakaar, helping in the Battle of Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok, he was soundly defeated by Thanos at the start of Infinity War, owing to Thanos’ possession of the Power Stone. The Hulk has since then refused to join the fray in succeeding battles, explained by the Russo brothers as stemming from his resentment of Bruce Banner, and how he is disdained despite always being called upon the save the day.

Thor

Played by Chris Hemsworth

The favored son of the Norse god Odin Allfather, Thor has experienced epic losses in the course of the films such as the death of his mother in Thor: The Dark World, the death of his father and the destruction of his home Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok, and the death of his adoptive brother Loki at the start of Infinity War. Throughout the franchise, he has displayed his earnestness and tenacity; despite being left for dead by Thanos, he pursued the forging of a weapon capable of defeating the Mad Titan.

Steve Rogers aka Captain America

Played by Chris Evans

Considered the First Avenger, Steve is the “man out of time.” Woken up from decades of cryostasis into modern times, his struggle is to find his place in today’s world after losing most of the people from his past.

Tony Stark aka Iron Man

Played by Robert Downey, Jr.

The man who started the MCU, Tony Stark dealt with his father’s death and legacy, the consequences of his billion-dollar empire built on weapons manufacturing and his self-assumed responsibility to protect the Earth from all possible threats.

I’ve just gotten home from watching the movie and I can say that it ended well. To avoid spoiling it for those who haven’t watched it yet, I won’t write about how these character arcs played out in Endgame. Instead, I’ll update this post after a week, which will also give me some time to digest the experience.

For over a decade, the Avengers have been a part of my life, taking me along on their adventures and letting me peek into their family. For me, the Avengers saga is not just superhero movies: it is comprised of stories about love, family, friendship, sacrifice and hope.

Avengers Endgame

I’m happy to be alive at a time when a movie based on comic books can have such an impact, not just on pop culture, but on me personally as well.

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Four things I like about Captain Marvel

The first solo female-led film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (since Black Widow is part of an ensemble in Avengers and the Wasp co-headlined Ant-Man and the Wasp), Captain Marvel carries with it a lot of expectations.

The movie is centered on Carol Danvers (played by Oscar winner Brie Larson), a US Air Force pilot who was given superhuman powers when she absorbed the energy from an explosion.

Being an MCU geek, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see it on its first day of theatrical release. While I’ve been seeing mixed reactions about the movie on the web, let me share four reasons why I think it’s awesome.

I will try to minimize spoilers in this blog post but there will be some references to scenes in the movie or other MCU releases so be warned…

Here be spoilers.

One: It passes the Bechdel test.

Why would I start my review with the movie’s most academic aspect?

Well, much has been hyped about Captain Marvel being the first female-led MCU outing, and I’m glad to see, with its depiction of the abiding friendship between Carol Danvers and Maria Rambeau (played by Lashana Lynch), that it passes the one of the most basic of standards for female representation in fiction.

The Bechdel Test asks whether there are at least two women in the movie who talk to each other about anything other than a man.

Danvers’ reunion with Maria after a long separation empowers and reaffirms her without needing to include a male in their conversations.

Two: The absence of a love interest.

Nope, Captain Marvel doesn’t need a love interest to inspire her or stir her to action. Her notable interactions were with her Kree mentor Yon-Rogg (played by Jude Law), her friend Maria Rambeau, and a young, quippy Nick Fury (played by CGI-de-aged Samuel L. Jackson), not with a potential boyfriend.

Oh, and the fact that the movie didn’t have the need to explain why there’s no father-figure in the Rambeau household is remarkable.

Three: Younger and work-in-progress Fury.

Since Iron Man 2 to Avengers: Infinity War, Nick Fury has always shown up as nothing less than the BAMF director of SHIELD.

Here, he is still a desk jockey, starting to navigate his way through the realization that a bigger universe exists other than the one he’s known. His banters and quips with Carol Danvers are light and breezy, an indication of the friendship and respect between them that will carry over to when Captain Marvel makes her appearance in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

Oh, and we see a young Phil Coulson (played by a similarly CGI-de-aged Clark Gregg) in the movie as well, just when I was despairing of ever seeing him again in an MCU movie after his demise in Avengers (and subsequent resurrection in the TV series Agents of SHIELD).

Four: The nods to the 90s

Being a child of the 90s myself, I found myself excited to see the various references to the decade, from Captain Marvel’s crash landing into a Blockbuster Video store, the boxy computers with the slow loading icon and the on-point musical accompaniment to key scenes (No Doubt’s “Just A Girl” for instance).

For me, Captain Marvel does an admirable job in introducing a new addition to MCU’s superhero roster, and tying her story to the rest of the films (guess where Fury got the idea to name his brainchild project the Avengers Initiative).

To some, it may be another cog in the machine that is the MCU, but really, what do cogs do? They keep the machine going.

What do you think of the movie? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Origin stories in the Marvel Super Heroes Storybook Collection

Yesterday, I arrived at National Bookstore’s #BookBingeBazaar at SM Megatrade Hall 3 even before gates opened, ready to binge on books.

While I didn’t find any of my favorite genres (Regency and Highlander romances or Biblical fiction) as most of the books on display are for teens and kids, I chanced upon some gems such as this Marvel Super Heroes Storybook Collection priced at only Php275.

Being a #MarvelCinematicUniverse geek, I just knew I had to get it, either as a gift for my son (in whom I want to encourage a love of reading) or as the start of my Marvel memorabilia collection.

It’s a hardbound, 300-page tome that contains 20 origin stories of popular Marvel comic book super heroes: individual members of the Avengers and the X-men, as well as of the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer.

The stories are presented with colorful illustrations and in large font and language style suitable for preschool age kids. I can see myself holding storytelling sessions with this book.

The storybook is published by Marvel Press under the Disney Book Group. It helps to expand the Marvel experience outside of the comic books and movies and introduce the Marvel characters and their universe to new audiences and future fans.

For kids who are outgrowing fairytales, this is a great book to read. For adults who are also Marvel fans, it’s a great piece to have as a part of your collection: a touchstone to the stories that have shaped much of today’s popular culture and a link to the stories you grew up with.

Today is the last day of National Bookstore’s #BookBingeBazaar which is part of the book chain’s 75th anniversary activities. It features books priced at Php75, Php175 and Php275 each. Held at SM Megatrade Hall 3 at SM Megamall, the bazaar is open from 10am to 10pm.

Missed the book bazaar? Click here to buy The Marvel Superheroes Storybook Collection on Amazon.com.