Monday, July 2, 2018

A Marvel review

Summer is here and I want to do some writing that isn't so "heavy." So this is going to be a lighter, fluff piece. If you are in this for the emotional connection, leave now. I'm OK with that. But if you want to read some discussion of television shows and movies, for no reason other than it is early in the morning, I have been thinking about tv and am not wearing any socks, read on.

I finished the second season of Luke Cage recently and I want to jot down my reactions. Sorry if they are scattered, but that's how I am early in the morning, sans socks.

First off, the show's aesthetic is intact. The heavy stress on music (in almost every episode, there is a musical number, and the shift in genres complements the progression of the narrative), the palette, and the set design are all continuations of what was established in season one. Many characters remain and the shifts in their natures seem realistic and consistent with the changes in the overall universe.

Second, the writing. The dialogue is often plodding (because of item 3), and that drags things down. In many places, it smacks of soap opera or (dare I say it) comic book dialogue. Maybe I have been spoiled by the Sorkins and Whedons of the world, but even within the Marvel tv/film universe I just expect some more movement.

Item three. The dreaded item three. There is no room for subtlety in this show, apparently. The theme of family has become important in the entire of the MECU -- Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Jessica Jones season 2, Ant Man and even Agents of SHIELD -- all wrestle with the idea of allegiance to family (literal or extended/symbolic). Luke Cage beats that theme into our heads over and over. The long speeches, the intertwined narratives about fathers, mothers and siblings and what we owe each of them. It gets to be too much.

Next, Danny Rand shows up. They wrote his character as much more relaxed. The acting is better (Luke Cage even comments on this difference). Maybe this will lead to a better season 2 of Iron Fist. I don't know. I do know that other than a single episode and some unnecessarily long and philosophical conversations, his presence serves nothing other than to allow comic fan boys to see these two heroes together. Spin off? Still meh.

References to the Defenders and season one of Luke Cage abound. You will miss these and their relevance if you haven't caught up. This must be another intentional attempt to get viewers to catch up. Are they essential? No, not too much so, but they do allow for more insight into characters. There is also a lack of closure -- there is some important tying up of ends at the finish of the season, but enough is left over for a season three -- but enough that smacks of soap opera or unbelievable villainous development. Now, maybe this is hinting to things that are important in the comic books, I don't know. I don't read. But I was hoping for something a bit more settled across the storylines because I am still unsure as to whether the intent is to have a season 3.

So all in all, one gratuitous sex scene, a bunch of violence of various sorts, conflicted heroes and villains who have complex motives and deep internal struggles (and this often leads you to root for the "bad" guy or gal), some characters who appear or disappear for no real reason, and I'm left with both an urge to visit Harlem and a fear that there are only 15 people who live there and they all know each other.

If you are a fan of the Netflix Marvel characters, by all means - watch this. If not, this wouldn't be the way to get into the universe.

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