What If … Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark? Episode Review/Shang-Chi Movie Review

Wednesday is Marvel day on the blog! As fate will have it, I don’t just have a What If … review planned for you today, but also one for Shang-Chi! I hope you’re up for a little double-feature and ready for spoilers ahead.

What If ... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

What if Tony Stark never had a change of heart and instead invited a villain into his life? Well, you’d get the plot of this episode.

My thoughts?

After the last two weeks, this episode felt a little bit lackluster to me. There’s really no other way to say this, but I’m extremely tired of having to watch Tony Stark die and while Erik “Killmonger” Stevens is a fascinating character, this didn’t add much to his arc. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s break it down:

Heroes are not born. They’re forged in darkness, shaped in battle, defined by sacrifice.

  • The age of Iron Man never comes to pass as Tony gets rescued by Erik “Killmonger” Stevens in Afghanistan and therefore never has a change of heart. Instead of rethinking Stark Industries entire business model, he basically believes it is necessary to just create more and better weapons.
  • To show his gratitude, Tony makes Killmonger first his new chief of security, but quickly promotes him to COO. While he believes to have found a like-minded soul, Erik has other plans.
What If ... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Killmonger uses Tony to his advantage in several ways. First, he gets him to help build Project Liberator, war drones that fight like humans and look like something out of an anime (their reference, not mine). But he also uses Stark Industries to create a paper trail that leads to Tony rather than himself.
  • In an attempt to acquire vibranium for the drones, Erik sets up Rhodey as well as T’Challa and kills both in the process. After Tony finds out, because he’s still whip-smart, Erik also kills him, but stages it to make it look like the Dora Milaje did it in the name of Wakanda.
  • An outright war is about to start between the US and Wakanda, because of Killmonger’s meddling. But all of this was part of his plan, as he intends to use this situation to weasel his way into the griefing royal family of Wakanda and become the new Black Panther. He ultimately succeeds in getting that power, but T’Challa, on the astral plane, warns him that power unearned can be a very volatile force.
What If ... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • At the end, we can see that the US military is still willing to fight Wakanda, whereas Pepper is at her wits end as to why people won’t believe that Killmonger was behind all of it. Luckily, Shuri shows up and they band together to expose Erik.

Heroes are never really gone. They live forever. As do the ones they inspire to carry on the fight.

As mentioned above, I wasn’t majorly impressed by the episode. All the characters are great, that’s not the issue, but I just didn’t feel like it added much to the narrative we already knew, aside from more people dying. And again, I’m tired of certain characters passing on this show over and over, because I don’t need to keep seeing that.

You all know this show is very hit or miss with me, so I hope you won’t take my very average response to heart too much. I just think that What If …? banks a lot on viewers nostalgia to get their story across and that, most of the time, the episodes themselves don’t warrant that much of an emotional or impressed response. I don’t think that their storytelling in general is that great, but I still wonder if this will play into the bigger MCU at all. In case it doesn’t, I’m not sure I will tune in to all the episodes of Season 2, which is confirmed.


PREVIOUSLY: WHAT IF …


SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS

I usually don’t pile on with reviews like that, but somehow, seeing that Tony’s arc technically had a lot to do with the Ten Rings, I thought it was only fitting I’d also include my Shang-Chi review today!

I kidd you not, I haven’t been to a cinema since February 2020, so this was a huge deal for me. The large screen, the giddy atmosphere, the shared experience, the popcorn (which just never tastes the same when you have to microwave a pack at home), the all around immersive feeling – I’m so very glad I got to celebrate my return to a movie theater with Shang-Chi.

Marvel movies fall into a very common storytelling structure each time, and Shang-Chi is no exception. On the one hand, the structure has proven to work, but on the other hand, it makes everything a little predictable. However, Shang-Chi works so well due to its fantastic cast, amazing fight choreography and the mix between banter and emotional hooks. The friendship between Simu Liu’s character and Awkwafina’s character was great, as they remained platonic throughout, but the film also showed really amazing familial relationships. As far as MCU origin movies go, this is really on the upper end of the spectrum.

At this point, the whole Marvel lore is so vast and interconnected, I know that it has taken out the joy for some people. I love that there wasn’t any previous knowledge necessary to watch Shang-Chi. Yes, you would miss references to Iron Man movies, Doctor Strange characters and the likes, but does it really matter? The story stands on its own and will continue within the universe (seriously can’t wait for more of these characters to come!!!), but also works as a standalone movie.

Little tip: there’s one mid-credit and one after-credit scene. Just in case the light turns on after the first one, like it did in my theater, and a bunch of people leave and miss the second one.

more of these three, pretty please!

What are your thoughts on the episode and the movie? Let’s talk!

Loki: Episode 6 “For All Time. Always.” Season Finale Review

This is my review/recap of the Season 1 finale of Loki, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, please do not read on! You have been warned!!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Sylvie and Loki finally meet their match at the Citadel at the End of Time. Can they trust each other to make the right decision?

My thoughts?

Well, this was different than what I expected and at the same time, not that unexpected at all? I think “For All Time. Always.” offered a lot of explanations and information by just plain telling us, just to end on a freaking cliffhanger. I think that what such a cruel thing to do, because what does it mean? Where are we going from here? We don’t have more episodes and I don’t know which movie this story continues in, HOWEVER, we now finally have a Season 2 of the series officially confirmed!

Before I talk myself into a rage though, let us break down what we learned:

  • We start out with a lot of cosmic chatter, almost as if all of Marvel and real life history were happening at once. We got iconic lines from characters as well as actual people from history and it really made the entry into that place beyond time or at the end of time really special.
  • While Miss Minutes did make a brief (jump scare) appearance in the Citadel at the End of Time, I have to disappoint fans of the theory that she is the big bad guy. Instead, we meet “He Who Remains”, who is never introduced by name, but is definitely a version of Kang. Many people have guessed it and therefore I don’t think it was a massive surprise moment for the majority of viewers, but still a neat introduction of the character.
  • Back at the TVA, Mobius and Hunter B-15 work together to reveal to the other agents that they’ve been lied to. Ravonna (who seems to be called Rebecca and works as a school principle on Earth when she’s not deviating from her timeline) is still convinced that all her work wasn’t for nothing. That is real dedication to the cause. She fights Mobius, but doesn’t prune him again, telling him that she feels betrayed by him. Miss Minutes/Kang supplied her with some interesting files and now she’s off trying to find free will … whatever that means.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • At the end of time, Kang explains how the TVA started, why it is still up and running and that there are only two ways all of this will end. Either the Lokis kill him and the timeline will branch indefinitely, paving the way for other multiversal selves of Kang to conquer this reality. Or, Sylvie and Loki could take over the TVA and run it as they see fit in order to prevent cataclysmic chaos.
  • The portrayal of Kang was very interesting. It had a silly madness to it, but didn’t seem menacing or threatening at all. For someone who lived eons, mostly by themselves, to preserve cosmic peace, he was a bit loopy but not necessarily unkind. I’d almost say he was goofy, which wasn’t at all how I imagined meeting him, but it was a pleasant change of tone.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • When Loki asked Sylvie to contemplate what Kang had said for a second, I thought that was actually very reasonable. They didn’t know if he was lying, but Loki had a solid point in not wanting to unleash something even worse by killing him. In the end, Sylvie could not trust Loki and Loki could not be trusted. It is their eternal cycle. So, Sylvie tricked Loki and pushed him through a portal that led back to the TVA before killing Kang. She did not seem happy afterwards, just slumping to the floor crying, all alone at the end of time.
  • Sylki is now canon … I suppose. Even at the end of the season, I have no idea how feel about that, although I did want them to clarify the kind of relationship they had. They kissed, but they also betrayed each other. Tough call to say if this is salvageable, then again, they’re Lokis … betrayal is in their blood.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Back at the TVA, Loki rushes to find Mobius and Hunter B-15 contemplating what to do about the branching timelines and I cannot lie, that was one of the most heartbreaking moments. He was so remorseful, terrified of what they had let happen, just to learn that neither of them knows or remembers him. The statues of the Time-Keepers we’ve previously seen at the TVA are replaced by one of Kang. Either this isn’t his/our reality, or the branching timelines changed history? I don’t even know, but I’m taking it as confirmation of the fact that we’ve entered the multiverse.
credit: Marvel Studios

This season of Loki was action packed and emotional at times. I can’t say I fully understand the ramifications of what we have watched and I’m not too happy about the fact that we ended on a cliffhanger. I’m not a patient person and I need some sort of graph telling me which movies and shows will carry on with this narrative now and how long I will have to wait to see them.

All in all, I loved the characters we got introduced to in Loki. I didn’t like every choice they made, but I’m so very curious where we’re going to go. This final episode was a lot more calm than I expected it to be and I actually appreciated that. There were fights, but they were much more understated than some of the big CGI blow-ups we’re used to (although I suppose that got covered with Alioth last week). Again, I feel like we just got sat down by the showrunners and they tried to explain some of the logistics to us, while only giving way to small emotional moments in between. Tom Hiddleston’s face at the end was heartbreaking, but in some regards I needed more. More Sylvie/Loki exploration, more background information on the mutliverse issue, more time with Mobius and Hunter B-15, more episodes to watch … Maybe I’m just greedy that way, but I just wish it hadn’t left us with more questions than answer.

credit: Marvel Studios

PREVIOUS LOKI REVIEWS

MORE TOM HIDDLESTON CONTENT FROM ME


What are your thoughts? Are you happy with the season finale? Are you sad it’s over? Let’s talk!

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Episode 6 “One World, One People” Review (Season Finale)

This is the review/recap for the season finale “One World, One People” of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. As per usual, the following post is full of Spoilers and meant to be read after watching the show. Proceed with caution!

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Sam takes on the mantle of Captain America and faces off against the Flag Smashers in one final battle (with the help of more than just his trusted friends). 

My thoughts?

Let me tell you, this episode was a rollercoaster of emotions for me! I cheered, I cried, I was in awe. In all sincerity, I don’t remember the last time I was so proud and appreciative of a character as I am of Sam Wilson. What Anthony Mackie brought to this role and what they allowed him to explore on this show was such a fantastic feast to watch and I’m forever grateful they chose these characters to dig deeper.

However, as much as I loved this journey I also have some small quarrels with the finale and as per usual, a lot to talk about. Without further ado (and because I know how lengthy these posts get) let’s dive in!

  • Sam Wilson is now officially and without a doubt in the world Captain America. I think that’s the most important part of the episode, so I just needed to get that right out of the way. Not only did he get new wings from the Wakandans, but also a badass Captain America suit to go with it and I couldn’t be happier. I love how he called himself Captain America when he showed up, how the cc captions called him Captain America the entire episode and even bystanders, because he truly is everything Cap stands for. I’m not exaggerating when I say I squealed with joy every single time it was said.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • From last episode, we pick up again with GRC being on lockdown and getting evacuated but in actuality kidnapped by the Flag Smashers. Bucky is already on scene, Sharon is also there as support (for a second I thought she was a skrull, but she just wore a mask) and you can be sure that John Walker is on his way as well. As always, the fight choreography is outstanding and the action really goes on for the majority of this episode. There’s fights on different fronts and between different people, they really tried to cover their ground with everyone here. I don’t really see the point in rehashing all of them, but here are some noteworthy developments:
    • Sam vs. Batroc: It was interesting to see Sam actually use the shield to fight for the first time. Not all moves worked perfectly yet, but he had a really good handle on it and that training montage from last week paid off.
    • Bucky will always prioritize saving people over fighting someone and it was so nice to see him smile when people thanked him for that. He’s a good guy and the winter soldier no longer has a grasp on him.
    • When Walker showed up, I wasn’t on his side. That man is deranged and needs psychological help. I am still shocked his DIY shield didn’t crumble to pieces, but I did feel sad when he confronted Karli and she said that Lemar’s life didn’t matter. It showed just how far she was gone and, once again, her willingness to sacrifice people for her cause made her inner circle waver in their trust and loyalty to her. They still went with her plan, but she was beyond jaded at that point.
    • Walker was presented with a similar dilemma as Bucky. He could either go after Karli or save a convoy of GRC representatives and I was not sure what he would do, but he ultimately also opted to help people rather than fight. I honestly wasn’t sure that’s what he would go for, but I also don’t know how I felt about that “redemption arc” for Walker in general. As I said above, he is an incredibly unstable man and that’s due to untreated PTSD among other things, but his “team up” with Sam and Bucky just felt off. I get that they had a common foe in that moment, but it made me feel so uncomfortable to have him on the good side?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • I almost called it one of the biggest reveals of the episodes, but it really was pointing towards it all along, so, I’m going to call it one of the confirmations of the season and that’s the fact that Sharon is the Power Broker. I know that a lot of people will not be happy with that development and it is far removed from comic book Sharon’s persona. I don’t think it’s out of character for MCU Sharon, but I can definitely see fans being upset that a character they liked wasn’t treated right by the movies/shows … again.
    In a heart to heart with Karli it is revealed that Sharon is indeed the Power Broker. She had taken Karli in because she reminded her of a younger self, but whereas Sharon wants to control the world that hurt her, Karli wants to change it, making their differences irreconcilable. I don’t think we got a lot of Sharon’s reasoning in that scene, the audience rather has to piece that together on assumptions what she had to go through while in exile. Believe me, I don’t fault Sharon for what she did and making the most of her skillsets, but I would love more depth to it.
  • In a last battle between Karli and Sam, he refuses to fight her. No matter how much she wants him to hit her back, he stands firm, but in a stand-off, Sharon takes it into her own hands to save Sam and kills Karli in the process. I’m sure this hurt Sharon, because she was her protegee, but I can also see her doing it as an insurance policy so that no one knows her identity as the Power Broker (just like she presumably killed Batroc because of the same reason – I phrase it like that, because we never saw a body after the lights went out).
  • Karli ultimately dies in Sam’s arms, apologizing with her last breath. I’m sad that’s how Karli’s story ended, making her a martyr when other characters were given redemption instead. All the while, Bucky and Walker use the Flag Smasher app to round them up and arrest them.
  • One of the most beautiful and meaningful moments of the episode and the first real emotional scene after the fighting is done comes when Sam talks to the GRC. His speech is live-broadcasted everywhere as he presses for the GRC to reconsider their stance and does so masterfully. His words really hit home and I was with him every single second of that scene. It all boiled down to how you use the power you are given, a message that has been woven into the series as a whole.
  • As the Flag Smasher super soldiers were supposed to get transported to the Raft, we can see their car explode. It was caused by Zemo’s butler, who ultimately made sure that Zemo’s plan to not let any super soldiers (aside from Bucky) live was being seen through. I honestly didn’t expect to see him again this episode, but oh wow, did he look happy when he heard that they did not survive the explosion. I can’t help but wonder what he would do if he knew that Walker had taken the serum too. Does he know?
  • Valentina also came back this episode and is still as mysterious as ever. I cannot tell who she is working with, but she officially made John Walker U.S. Agent and I did not like that one bit. I suppose it was always going to go this way, but the fact that he gets to operate officially as U.S. Agent after what he did as Captain America is wrong on so many levels.
credit: Marvel Studios
  • Bucky really listened to Sam last week and made some more amends. We can see him telling Yori the truth about his son and then gifting his notebook with all the names crossed off, accompanied by a thank you card, to his therapist Dr. Raynor. It was brief, but none the less emotional and I am happy to see Bucky on a journey to healing.
  • Whenever Anthony Mackie and Carl Lumbly (as Isaiah Bradley) have shared the screen this season, they have given us amazing scenes together. This finale was no exception and my heart soared when Isaiah admitted that Sam was someone special. You could really see that glimmer of hope returning to his eyes and it made me so happy. Even more emotional was the moment Sam showed Isaiah and Eli an installation in Steve Roger’s museum, which was specifically dedicated to Isaiah’s life and good deeds. Him returning his history to him, making sure people would never forget what he sacrificed ever again – I love when a story comes full circle!
credit: Marvel Studios
  • The season ends with Bucky in Sam’s hometown, joking with kids and letting them play with his arm and people fawning over Sam. The music, the atmosphere, the imagery – everything was so much brighter, happier and more hopeful and I adored that as a conclusion! Also, I could have just interpreted too much into it, but I liked that Bucky was on Sam’s right in that final shot, because Steve is always going to be on his left.
credit: Marvel Studios

Post-credit scene: Once again, the final episode had a post credit scene where we see Sharon Carter getting her full pardon, as Sam promised he would make sure she’d get. It’s clear that she is going to use her reinstated title to further her business as the Power Broker, setting her up to be a future antagonist.

credit: Marvel Studios

I think it was clear that I loved a lot of moments in this final episode. I do have my quarrels with the lack of depth for Sharon as the Power Broker, because that was all very vague, but could also be a potential set up for future seasons/movies. And in addition to that, I didn’t like this attempted “redemption” for John Walker. I’m not sure that really conveyed the right message there, but then again, they didn’t say he was good … for now. I’d much rather focus on the character development we got for Sam and Bucky and how much I’m going to miss them for now. I am sure we will see these characters again in some of the upcoming movies, but even more so, I hope we see them once more for a season of

Captain America and the Winter Soldier

(although I think it should be Captain America and the White Wolf, but baby steps)


PREVIOUS THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER REVIEWS


Now, let me bid you goodbye with these weekly Friday reviews for now! I might see you again when Loki comes around. Please let me know in the comments if that is something you would be interested in! And of course, let’s talk all things Captain America and the Winter Soldier!

WandaVision: Episode 6 “All-New Halloween Spooktacular” Review

You know the drill by now! These reviews/recaps are all full of SPOILERS and meant to be read after you have watched the episode in order not to ruin any surprises.

Disclaimer: I watched the episode and wrote this under the influence of sedatives and painkillers after my wisdom tooth removal, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

While Wanda and her newly arrived brother celebrate Halloween with the twins, Vision does some investigation of his own. In the meantime, Monica, Darcy and Jimmy get kicked off the S.W.O.R.D. site.

My thoughts?

I loved that the recap for the episode clearly showed how Quicksilver is supposed to look, just in case anyone missed the change in cast the last time. But even more so, I enjoyed the very Malcolm-in-the-Middle-intro and the twins narrating their day, just like Malcolm would have – we have arrived in the 90s!

The setting being Halloween, offered the possibility for so many easter eggs, aside from the fact that the first Vision and Scarlet Witch comic book issues took place around that time of the year. Everyone, including the twins, who have just discovered their powers (Speed and Wiccan confirmed – yay!), got a chance to show off their retro comic book outfits in the guise of the festivities.

credit: Marvel Studios

As I mentioned above, I am a little under the weather, so I am gonna try and keep my observations brief. Let’s once again start with what’s happening outside of Westview:

  • We don’t know Hayward’s backstory, but he really lost all faith in Earth’s “heroes” after the snap it seems. Why he would be allowed to head an organisation that mainly deals with non-normal individuals, I do not know, but he seems very bitter – leading him to kick out our favourite new trio (Monica, Jimmy and Darcy) after they’ve clearly stated their allegiance to Wanda.
  • Who else was pleasantly surprised by Jimmy Woo’s fighting skills? Just me? Okay.
  • As Monica, Jimmy and Darcy continue their investigation on their own and learn that Hayward is hiding the extent of knowledge he has about the hex area, Monica again mentions someone who will help her out with a vehicle that can get them into the area. I can’t help but wonder if we get to look forward to another fun cameo.
  • Monica being inside the anomaly has altered her DNA on a molecular level – will this be the trigger for her superpowers and turn her into Spectrum or whatever iteration they choose?

Obviously, there was something else and very important happening, but let’s get into that in the next section.

credit: Marvel Studios

Now, what has been happening inside Westview:

  • There are now children in Westview! We still don’t know where they were kept this entire time, but my theory that the adults were playing along “for the children” (as mentioned in episode 3) could work. Then again, we did find out that Wanda kept families and couples together when she created her own world.
  • I am so confused about Pietro Maximoff! He does seem to have some of the MCU’s Pietro’s memories as well as the same look when he uses his powers. However, his personality does seem to be closer to the X-Men one. But, what if he is neither?
    The longer I watched him, the more I could see him being someone different entirely (Mephisto? Nightmare? Both of them combined??). He does call the twins demon spawns, which might seem like a fun joke, but would be a fitting reference to Mephisto. Also, he just knows too much? Whenever Wanda tests or questions him, he does seem to have an answer. His “jokes” are often cruel, which does not feel fitting to either iteration of Quicksilver, and most of all he didn’t think there was anything ethically wrong with what Wanda was doing, he just wanted to know how she did it.
    Also, during one of the 4th wall breaks of the twins, he looked directly at Billy (maybe he is not affected by the TV world constraints?). His interest in the twins in general is a bit disconcerting if he isn’t who he claims to be.
  • If you noticed Wanda and Pietro saying “Kick-Ass” is a noticeable way, it’s probably because Aaron Taylor-Johnson as well as Evan Peters were in that movie and it was a really nice nod to both of them.

Ad Break: This ad was very strange and morbid. A kid on a desolate island gets Yo-Magic yogurt from a shark, but due to being too weak and hungry, can’t open it and dies. This could have several meanings, one is that the people who are not close to Wanda’s magic (e.g. those living at the edge of town, barely moving) are bound to die OR that someone is feeding off of Wanda’s magic (because she felt all alone in the world after Vision passed).
The definite meaning is still unclear, but I did notice a trend with each ad, which is that they all focus on a different infinity stone. If my theory is right, we’d have one more stone to go.

  • toaster: looks like Visions head therefore the mind stone?
  • Strücker watch: time stone?
  • Hydra Soak: soap is a blue cube like the teseract – space stone?
  • paper towels: red liquid reminiscent of the reality stone?
  • lonely island with skeleton (Red Skull on Vormir) – soul stone?
credit: Marvel Studios
  • While Wanda is off testing Pietro and spending Halloween with the kids, Vision gets to the outer edges of town and sees that people are looping there, barely moving and visibly in pain. He also encounters Agnes there, who got lost on the way to the town square and got stuck as well.
    When Vision let’s her real persona surface, she asks if he is here to help as part of the Avengers, which he doesn’t remember, and then reminds him of his own fate. He eventually lets her return to her TV persona, but is ever more determined to help the people of Westview.
  • Vision ultimately ends up crossing Wanda’s border. When he exits the force field, he struggles to move forward and gets pulled back and falls to his knees. The imagery is very similar to when Wanda had to destroy the mind stone in Infinity War, killing Vision in the process. Both times, Wanda’s powers are the cause of his demise.
  • S.W.O.R.D. just stands by as Vision gets torn apart, cuffing Darcy rather than letting her help. When Billy’s powers get triggered by his father’s pain and he lets his mother know about what is happening, it is clear how little Wanda cares for this current version of Pietro – throwing him across town square when he tries to interfere. She then, likely due to a lack of time, doesn’t go to Vision and pulls him in, but rather expands the border of the town to include him and in the process also the S.W.O.R.D. operational site (which funnily enough turned into a circus with clowns and everything).
credit: Marvel Studios

The implications of the town/hex field expanding once again open up so many new possibilities. Will this be a strain on Wanda’s powers, as she has to stay in control of ever more people? Did Monica and Jimmy escape the expansion or are they now sucked in like Darcy? Will Darcy maybe get powers too? So many new questions!

I think it’s fair to say that the stakes are getting higher with each episode. We only have three more to go in the series and, at least I don’t, have a clue what is going to be the resolution to it all, but I am excited to find out!

PREVIOUS WANDAVISION REVIEWS


What did you think of this episode? Are you as excited for next week as me? Let’s talk!