Tag Archives: marvel

589. [1/2] Film Club: Avengers Endgame / Marvel Cinematic Universe (with Fred Eyangoh)

Part 1 of a big ramble about Avengers Endgame, Marvel Studios and comic book movies in general with my friend, comedian Fred Eyangoh. No spoilers! Part 2 coming soon…

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Introduction

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 589 of Luke’s English Podcast.

This episode is a big ramble about Avengers Endgame, Marvel Studios and comic book movies in general with my friend Fred Eyangoh. I should point out that this episode contains no spoilers for Avengers Endgame, because neither of us have seen the film yet.

We’re both fans of these films and we become a bit like excited children when talking about this subject and so we end up talking quite quickly, interrupting each other, talking over each other sometimes, just like people normally do when having lively conversations. Some of you will be glad because you like the challenge of the faster conversations on this podcast, but others might find it harder. If you find it difficult to follow, my advice is to stick with it. You will get used to Fred’s voice and the general speed of the conversation after a while.

Fred is very articulate and insightful about these films, particularly the business side of comic book movies in general. Watch out for loads of really useful descriptive language throughout this conversation as we talk about characters, plot points and Marvel Studios’ approach to the business of movie making.

The whole conversation is long, but so is Avengers: Endgame. It seems appropriate somehow. Unlike Avengers Endgame, this episode is in two parts. You’re listening to part 1. Part 2 should be available very soon.

The film is 3 hours and 1 minute long. People are wondering how they are going to get through the film’s marathon running time without taking a toilet break. I think you won’t have the same issue while listening to this double podcast episode because you can just pause, answer the call of nature, and carry on, or perhaps even do your business while listening on headphones. Please just remember to wash your hands when you are finished.

I hope you enjoy our chat and that you are also looking forward to seeing Avengers Endgame in cinemas soon. I’m going to see it tomorrow.

I’ll talk to you more at the end of this episode. But now, let’s jump into my conversation with Fred, and here we go.


Fred & Luke start talking…


Some scripts & other notes

Here’s a new episode of Luke’s Film Club on Luke’s English Podcast. It’s been a while since the last episode of film club. In this series I like to talk about films – sometimes obscure ones that you might not know, and sometimes big blockbusters that lots of people are talking about. This episode is firmly in the second category as we are talking about one of this year’s most highly anticipated film releases,  Avengers: Endgame!

But here is a disclaimer before we start.

This entire episode is devoted to the discussion of this new Avengers Film but also to the subject of Marvel movies in general – I mean, superhero films produced by Marvel Studios. That’s stuff like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, etc. There might also be some Star Wars chat as well here, maybe at the end of the episode.

I just want to say right at the start – if you’re not a fan of those films, then this episode probably won’t be for you. I realise this might not be for everyone, okay?

But, then again, Avengers Endgame, which is the culmination of a massive 21-film narrative, is coming out in cinemas at the end of this month and it is hotly anticipated. This is an international phenomenon along the lines of other big franchises like Star Wars, Game of Thrones and so on. People are predicting that this film is going to become the highest grossing film on its opening weekend, worldwide, of all time, ever.

So, this is an event movie on an international scale and I am certain that plenty of my listeners will be interested in this and will want to hear us talking about it. That’s why I’m doing this episode.

If I was learning English, I think I would want to listen to people talking about this film! I’m really excited to see it. Perhaps you’re planning to watch it too, maybe in the original English version if that’s possible where you live.

But I just want to, in the most British way possible, apologise in advance for those of you who have no interest in this film franchise at all. Sorry.

Maybe you will choose to listen to this and it will be a sort of introduction to Marvel movies and you’ll decide to check them out and you’ll enjoy them. Or maybe you’ll skip this episode altogether. It’s up to you. Other episodes will be coming along soon, and of course, if you’re looking for other content from me you could always sign up to my premium service to hear episodes focusing specifically on grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

But anyway, that’s the disclaimer out of the way. So now, let’s get stuck in shall we?

The plan is to talk about Avengers Endgame, but also to cover most of the other Marvel films we’ve had so far, and also talk about the main characters. This could easily become several episodes.

I’m joined today by Fred Eyangoh, making his third appearance on the podcast. Fred is a friend of mine from the Paris comedy scene. He’s from Cameroon but he lives in Paris, and he’s a big fan of films. Fred’s first appearance was in episode 430 and you can go back to that one if you’d like to learn more about Fred, his background and how he learned English.

So now, let’s get started with this episode of Film Club on Luke’s English Podcast…

Avengers: Endgame – Trailer

Plot summary from Wikipedia

Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to the love of his life, Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers — Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe in the previous chapter of the series Avengers: Infinity War.


A run-down of the conversation in the episode:

  • Getting excited about Avengers Endgame
  • Reasons why the MCU has been a success
  • Iron Man, the film that launched the MCU over 10 years ago.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron – Tony Stark’s technological AI defence system goes wrong and tries to kill all humans
  • Boring CGI battles at the end of all superhero films
  • Watching 200 million dollars on screen (Avengers: Infinity War)
  • How much we are anticipating Avengers: Endgame
  • The balancing act of bringing so many different characters together in the same film. Balancing the tone of each character, and the enjoyment of watching these characters interact in different situations.
  • Smaller, weirder characters that balance out the more serious ones, like The Guardians of the Galaxy, particularly Rocket Raccoon who we both think is a great character.
  • Captain America: his origin story and what the character represents.
  • Great casting. The list of great characters in the films: Glenn Close, Robert Redford, Hayley Atwell, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Kurt Russell, Benicio Del Toro, Tilda Swinton. The list goes on and on…
  • Kevin Feige and his success as producer of all these films. The unifying figure around all these films. The one person who was at the centre of all the operations. He managed to give away enough power to creative people to get these movies out there. He found the right actors, screen writers, directors… He didn’t lose his judgement, unlike someone like George Lucas who, arguably, lost his judgement after making his original trilogy. Arguably.
  • Marvel (so far) have never released a film that completely divided the audience (like The Last Jedi) or got panned by the critics (like the more recent DC films). They haven’t made a film that was weak enough to break the franchise, unlike DC.
  • Man of Steel. We think it’s pretty terrible.Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We also think it’s terrible. Why?
  • Shazam (the latest DC film). Fred thought it wasn’t good. Luke doesn’t want to see it because of the main character’s haircut.
  • Is Shazam similar to Deadpool?
  • The way Ant-Man works because of the humour.

End of Part 1


Episode ending – script

This is where we are going to pause this conversation and we will carry on in part 2.

I hope you’re keeping up with all of this! As I said at the beginning, I think it might be difficult for some of you to follow, but challenges are good and it’s important to try and listen to these fast conversations. Hopefully you’re into the subject enough to keep listening and that’s the main thing! Practice practice practice!

So, part 2 will be available to you soon and our conversation will carry on there, talking mostly around the subject of Avengers Endgame but also there’s some talk of Star Wars because episode IX is coming out later this year and a new Star Wars trailer arrived recently. If you’re a fan, then these things are quite important actually!

So, there’s about 30 minutes more conversation from Fred and me in part 2, and then also I will talk a bit on my own about some other stuff, like fan theories for Avengers Endgame and just some of my own thoughts about the film.

Feel free to leave your comments. If you have now seen the film, please avoid writing spoilers in the comment section, or at least flag up the fact that your comment contains spoilers by writing the phrase SPOILER WARNING at the top of your comment.

I’m going to see Avengers Endgame tomorrow (because new films are released on Wednesdays here in France) and I might record some kind of reaction to the film or a ‘non-spoiler review’ of some kind.

Then, of course, after all this hype has died down, it will be back to podcasting as usual. There might be a little gap because I’m going away on holiday, but normal podcasting will return, as you would expect.

That’s it for part 1 then. I expect part 2 will be available very soon so you can carry on and get into some of the excitement.

Part 2 available soon…

556. With Jessica Beck from Honestly English

Talking to English teacher Jessica Beck about her new website, “Honestly English” and some typical topics she talks about and teaches, including the #MeToo movement and our favourite female superheroes and comedians. Videos and links below.

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Introduction Transcript

Today on the podcast I have another interview for you to listen to as part of your learning English routine. This time I am talking to Jessica Beck, who you might know from the IELTS Energy Podcast.

I have spoken to Jessica before on this podcast, back in episode 297 when we talked about using humour in the speaking part of the IELTS test.

297. Using Humour in the IELTS Speaking Test (With Jessica from All Ears English)

IELTS Energy is an appropriate title for that podcast because Jessica has loads of energy as you will hear. When we recorded this conversation it was 7AM for her (because of the time difference) which is pretty early for podcasting but she was already wide awake and ready to go. Maybe it’s that American can-do attitude, or the coffee she’s been drinking, I don’t know, but her energy is infectious. It’s one of the hallmarks of the IELTS Energy Podcast in fact, and the All Ears English podcast, which she is also associated with.

Just in case you don’t know, Jessica Beck is an English teacher who lives in Portland, which is in Oregon, which is in the north-west of the USA, which is in North America, which is in America, which is on earth. So you’re going to be listening to a combination of Jessica’s American English and my British English in this conversation.

So, Jessica does IELTS Energy, but she’s on my podcast today because she has just launched a new website and YouTube channel called Honestly English, and I thought we could talk a bit about that and some of the topics she’s been teaching recently in her videos. honestlyenglish.com/

So “Honestly English” – this is her own channel, her own project and therefore is a space where she can teach English in her own way and cover topics that mean a lot to her personally and since Jessica is a huge pop culture nerd her videos and blog posts all contain loads of references to movies and comic books and things like that. She is also very passionate about feminism and raising the status of women in society today.

So these are the things we’re talking about in this episode: The MeToo movement, some language relating to that, then women in pop culture and some superhero characters from the Marvel cinematic universe (specifically Captain Marvel, who will be arriving in cinemas early next year in the Captain Marvel movie and then in Avengers 4 I think) and we also talk about some female comedians from the UK and the USA that we’d like to recommend.

#MeToo

I mentioned the MeToo movement there. I think this is a global phenomenon but you might call it something else in your country. In France it was called #BalanceTonPorc which directly translates as “Balance your pork” or “balance your pig” which doesn’t really mean anything does it – the proper translation of that would be something like “denounce your pig” or “name and shame your abuser”. That’s how #MeToo is known in France, and it may have another name in your country.

Wikipedia defines #MeToo like this:
The Me Too movement (or #MeToo movement), with many local and international alternatives, is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault. #MeToo spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_Too_movement 

So MeToo is all about encouraging women to come forward and share their experiences of harassment of various kinds. Speaking personally, I knew that women often have to put up with dangerous and just plain weird behaviour from creepy guys – like being approached in the street, feeling unsafe in certain places or just putting up with dodgy comments and behaviour at work. I knew that, but the MeToo movement did open my eyes to how much of this kind of thing Women have to put up with every day. I think about my daughter and the kind of society she’s going to grow up in and I want her to grow up in a culture in which she feels safe, she feels she can talk about things that happen to her, in which she won’t have to just accept certain behaviour from men, and I want her to have cool characters and comedians on TV and in films that she can relate too, just like I did during my childhood.

I know this is actually a bit of a touchy subject. There’s a lot of pushing and pulling going on in terms of people arguing about the place of men and women in society and both men and women feeling targeted, victimsed or demonised and things like that. I’ve seen so many arguments in online comment sections. I find all of that stuff quite exhausting to be honest.

I see arguments on YouTube and people getting really angry on both sides about something like a perceived feminist agenda in Star Wars or Doctor Who, for example and then I see other people getting really angry about those people getting angry about feminism in Star Wars or Doctor Who and I’m just sitting here trying not to get angry about people getting angry about other people getting angry about some people getting angry about feminism in Star Wars or Doctor Who or movies and culture in general and I just think oh can we just have a normal conversation? I don’t know.

In any case, let’s find out from Jessica about her new website, let’s learn some of the words and phrases she can tell us about the MeToo movement and also let’s talk about Marvel movies and some great comedians that you might like to check out.

There are links and videos on the page for this episode as usual if you want examples of the comedians we are talking about, and links for Jessica’s website and stuff. So check those out.

Alright then, so this is Jessica Beck, energetic at 7 o’clock in the morning. American English and British English combined in one conversation, and here we go…


Honestly English

Nerdy English lessons focusing on vocabulary and pop culture!

www.HonestlyEnglish.com

Slang, idioms, natural phrases, the origins and context of that vocabulary.

For example, “Nailed it” (see video below)

The Language of the #MeToo Movement

A recent post on Honestly English about the #MeToo Movement

honestlyenglish.com/honest-blog/2018/9/16/what-metoo-means-to-me-and-slang-for-dirty-dudes?rq=me%20too

Language to describe “dirty dudes”
A perv
A pervert
A creep
A creepy guy
A monster
Being menacing
Also:
To harass someone / harassment

Favourite Female Comedians

Mentioned by Jessica

Kathleen Madigan (stand up comedian)

Kristen Wiig

Bridesmaids (film)
Annie (Kristen Wiig) vs the “perfect” best friend

Melissa McCarthy (comedian / actress)

St Vincent (film)

Mentioned by Luke

Maria Bamford
Maria captures the experience of being a woman dealing with mental health issues, by recreating the voices and attitudes of other people in her life, particularly her mother and sister who she imitates. They sound patronising and subtly judgemental and of course there are jokes in there but they are so cleverly weaved into her routine. She does brilliant voices and shifts her attitude quite radically. Her normal voice sounds very vulnerable, and the other voices are so much more confident and strident.

OK, she’s strange but that’s the point.

Maria Bamford Netflix show – Lady Dynamite

Maria Bamford interview on WTF with Marc Maron

French & Saunders
On TV all through my childhood. Came out of the anarchic post-punk era in UK comedy. Two English women who were just funny in the way they bickered with each other and also took the piss out of Hollywood movies and celebrities. They’re national treasures.

French & Saunders making fun of Mama Mia

Victoria Wood
Another national treasure who was on telly all the time. She was like a housewife who was also a comedian. Not like Rosanne Barr, but a normal middle class English woman – a bit like the mum of one of your friends, but she did stand up, sketches and did comedy songs on the piano. She was one of the first stand ups I ever saw, along with various other UK comedians at the time. Her comedy was quite local in flavour, meaning she made reference to things like accents and local identity. Died in 2016 along with loads of other celebs. Bowie, Ali, Prince etc

Sarah Pascoe
A stand up who describes the kind of life that most women (of my generation) experience in the UK, while making it very funny. She talks about all the things that women go through relating to relationships and work. She’s very relatable and it’s like observational comedy about relationships and life (but it’s not shit observational comedy).

Sarah Pascoe in Edinburgh

Podcasts recomended by Jessica

  • Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (NPR)
  • Paula Poundstone
  • Spontanianation
  • Tawny Newsome

YouTube “Honestly English” – videos every Thursday

www.youtube.com/channel/UCBqOicwVfb__YxbsL-5R3tA

Website www.honestlyenglish.com

Facebook Honestly English www.facebook.com/HonestlyEnglish/

349. Who’s the best superhero? (with Paul Langton)

BOOM! POW! BANG! SMASH! Well then! Yesterday I posted an episode called “Can I have a quick word?” and basically in that little episode I expressed my concerns that I was posting too much content and that people would stop listening because they couldn’t keep up. Sometimes I worry too much and since I do this alone I do let these concerns bounce around in my head too much. Clearly I underestimated the devotion and motivation of the LEPsters (just a brief lapse of judgement I assure you) because  I immediately got loads of positive and encouraging responses for listeners. My phone has been going crazy with notifications of comments on my website because people have been writing to reassure me that everything’s fine. The general message from people is  essentially “No Luke, don’t worry – you can’t post too much stuff, we love it! There’s no need to be worried about posting. Just post all the episodes you have – we’ll either gobble them up like hungry dolphins or we’ll save them for later like squirrels. Yes, we will stock them up like Squirrels hoarding nuts before winter. Except in this case the squirrels are learners of English and the nuts are episodes of my podcast.”

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Well, alllllrighty then, that makes me feel much better about myself and thank you for the vote of confidence. Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised – you’re my people, right? My podcast people!

Another thing that I noticed from the comments is that a lot of people are keen to listen to me talking about Brexit. I do have Brexit episodes coming soon, but first let’s finish this little series about movies – and we continue with that theme in this episode and the next one too.

Just before we start here, let me just remind you of my podcast sponsor and that’s italki – I’ve had some positive reports from listeners who are using it and finding it to be a professional and effective service with some friendly and efficient teachers – remember that you can get a discount with italki when you visit through my website. Click an italki logo on my page to get started and the path to fluency in English will open up before your eyes, like a… like a path I suppose. www.teacherluke.co.uk/talk

Paul Langton – Ex-Nerd, Former Fanboy,

The whole time I was recording the last episode of this podcast about the new Marvel film, I was thinking – “I should talk to someone who really knows about this subject. I should speak to a geek. I need a nerd. I know, I’ll talk to my mate Paul Langton.” That’s Paul Langton – not Paul Taylor. You might remember Paul from previous episodes such as The Brighton Comedy Festival episodes, Friday Night Banter (aka The Drunk Episode) and On a Boat (aka The Drunk episode 2). These days Paul is a proper grown-up man and everything. He’s married and runs marathons and things like that, but before that he used to be a big time Marvel fanboy and comic book collector.

Basically, he was a nerd up until he met his girlfriend (now wife), because I imagine that she’s not into that sort of thing (she’s a normal grown-up, then) So, he’s an ex-nerd (that’s an ex-nerd not an X-Man – no, he’s not an x-man – he is still a man – he hasn’t had a sex change, he’s not an ‘ex-man’ (hilarious joke).

He’s an ex-nerd, a reformed geek, a former fanboy, but he still knows pretty much everything a person could or indeed should know about Marvel superheroes. So, what better person for me to talk about this subject with? Except Stan Lee maybe. But I couldn’t get Stan Lee – so Paul Langton will suffice.

Obviously, if you’re a Marvel movie fan – you’re probably going to like this. But also, if you are a learner of English who likes a challenge – this is definitely for you too…

…because this is a pretty fast conversation I reckon. My teacher-sense (it’s like spider-sense) is tingling. That’s a kind of 6th sense I have as an English teacher. It tingles when I think something might be difficult for learners of English. My spider sense is tingling a bit with this episode.

The conversation contains a lot of references to comic book culture and Paul speaks quite fast. Two things there which could be barriers to you bathing freely in a lovely warm bath of pure English pleasure during this episode (did you know that’s what I aim to give you in every episode? The sensation of bathing freely in a lovely warm pool of pure English pleasure? Well, it is). So, it might be a bit geeky and fast.

Another challenging aspect of this is that the sound quality is not perfect. It’s no worse than the average dodgy Skype call, but there are a few times where the signal drops out and Paul’s voice isn’t perfectly clear. You could watch out for the language I use to deal with bad connections during a phone call.

What about the way Paul speaks?

Paul is known for being a bit of a motormouth. That means that he talks a lot and he talks quickly. Perhaps it’s his Irish background, because the Irish are known for being big talkers.

Paul’s Mum was Irish I think, but Paul himself was born and raised in central London, so he’s a genuine Londoner with a London accent. He’s not a cockney because cockneys have to be born in the East End of London. Paul was brought up in central London, so he’s not a cockney but he does sound a bit similar to one.

So, you’re going to hear Paul speaking pretty quickly, in a London accent, over a dodgy Skype connection, talking about a specific subject. All these things might make this conversation difficult for you to follow, and that’s why my spider-sense – sorry, teacher-sense is tingling a bit.

By the way, I don’t mean to patronise you of course, I’m sure lots of you won’t have problems understanding this. I just reckon it might be a bit tricky for some of you. So…

Here is a suggested approach for how to listen to this episode.

1. When you understand something in this conversation, you should feel really good and happy with your English. With every single thing that you understand and every phrase that you identify – you should give yourself a good slap on the back, and with every slap on your back (even if you don’t do it) you should feel an ever-increasing sense of warm satisfaction and achievement. Well done you – you understood it and you’re very good at this. No seriously, as you understand more and more, you’ll find that you feel more and more confident and happy with your English and that’s very healthy.

2. But if there are parts that you don’t understand – don’t let it stop you.
This is important to remember because we know that if you only listen to things you understand perfectly, and you give up when things gets difficult – frankly – you won’t make progress.

Challenging yourself with more complex things will help you make more progress. You have to push yourself, even if you feel resistance. I know a lot of you know this because you sometimes tell me things like this “Luke, I understand you perfectly but not other people I hear.” Well, you need practice! You are familiar with my voice and I do speak clearly (but not slowly in my opinion). So, you need to do plenty of practice of listening to other people and you can do that with episodes like this.

So, understand what Paul is saying and when the episode is over you can feel good about yourself. Feel good about the things you understand, and don’t be bothered by the bits you miss as you listen to the whole thing.

So, with those comments in mind, let’s now dive into this conversation with my friend Paul Langton the official LEP comic book consultant and Marvel expert.

Oh, and here’s a quick task for you

Can you guess which character Paul thinks is the strongest? Who’s the strongest character in the Marvel universe according to Paul? Who’s the best superhero? To find out, you’ll have to listen until the end.

Another thing to look out for is the specific language Paul uses to efficiently describe these characters. There’s lots of descriptive vocabulary in this episode for you to pick up.

I will talk to you again briefly on the other side of this chat.

But now, let’s listen to this conversation with Paul Langton…

*Conversation begins*

Some questions I asked Paul during the interview

Hello Paul, how was your day?
What do you do?
How do we know each other?
Have you been on this podcast before?
You created my superhero alter-ego: Luke Johnson. (He hasn’t appeared on the podcast for quite a while, but perhaps he’ll be re-awakened by your presence)

Let’s not get bogged down in too much comic-book lore, but I’d like you to give your comments and knowledge as we explore super heroes in more detail, and ultimately fight them against each other in order to see who is the most powerful.

First of all…
What are your credentials as my nerd consultant / comic book expert?
Have you seen Captain America: Civil War?
What about the other films in the MCU? Quick thoughts?
What do you think of the MCU, as a comic book fan?

Tell me about the main characters in the Marvel universe.
Tell me about their origins, their true identities, their motivations, their abilities/powers, their weaknesses.
Let’s start with The Avengers – the characters which have been revealed in the MCU so far.
By the way – we can’t cover everyone, so some have just been missed out. Sorry fans!

Definition of a superhero: These are enhanced people. They’re mostly human, some are gods, some are aliens, some are robots or in some cases computer programs.

They’re enhanced by one or more of these things: super abilities, tech, special training.

For example, Captain America has super abilities from the special serum he was exposed to when he became a super-soldier, he is armed with tech – a shield made from vibranium, and he has received special training as a soldier – he’s learned to fight using a combination of fighting styles.

They have origin stories which affect their motivations. They sometimes have to hide their identities from the public.
Despite being enhanced superheroes, most of them have weaknesses of some kind which mean they are not completely flawless.

So, let’s talk about the characters with these things in mind:
their origins
their true identities
their motivations
their abilities/powers
their weaknesses

(some of these might be considered side-characters rather than genuine superheroes)
Captain America (Steve Rogers)
The Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes)
Falcon (Sam Wilson)
Iron Man (Tony Stark)
War Machine (James Rhodes)
Thor
Loki
Nick Fury
Black Widow (Natasha Romanov)
Hawkeye (Clint Barton)
Hulk (David Banner)
The Guardians of the Galaxy
Thanos
Ant Man (Scott Lang)
Black Panther
Spiderman
Ultron
Vision
Scarlet Witch
Quicksilver

Marvel characters in other films:
Wolverine
other X-Men

Who’s the best?
Listen to hear what Paul thinks.

*Conversation ends*

Hello again – So, you listened to the whole thing – NICE ONE!

One thing I’d like to say right now is that conversation was very rich with vocabulary. I think Paul did a very good job of being extremely succinct in his descriptions of each superhero and he did it with some very nicely chosen bits of vocabulary. It would be worth listening to that again and it would be good if I did a vocabulary review episode based on that. In fact I’d like to do vocabulary or language reviews of many of these episodes and it’s something I’m considering doing, perhaps as part of a paid area of my website where I could offer you specially designed learning materials based on episodes of the podcast. I could call it the learning zone and it would be available to super-hero LEPsters and dedicated language learners who would be happy to pay a few pounds lots of extra content. Just an idea at this stage…

I hope you got to know all those superheroes even better after listening to this conversation, because not only have you just improved your English a bit, you’ve also improved your knowledge of popular culture. I think the more you know about these Marvel films, the more you can enjoy them.

If you haven’t seen the latest Captain America film – go out and see it. It’s a lot of fun.

So, in the end you heard that Paul thinks _________________ is the strongest superhero. But what do you think? Do you agree? Who’s the best superhero in your opinion?

Who do you think would win in a fight between these characters?
The Hulk vs Superman
Iron Man vs Batman
Captain America vs Spiderman
or any other combination of characters. You decide.

___________?_____________ vs ___________?_____________

It could be fun to talk about those situations on the podcast, but there’s no time left in this episode. So, you can carry on the discussion in the comment section. Just find the page for this episode on teacherluke.co.uk and do some writing – who’s the best superhero and why?

Now, there’s one more superhero episode in this mini comic-book series. Yes, the season is going to continue because there is now another film in the cinemas and that’s the latest X-Men film, “X-Men: Apocalypse”. I saw it a few days ago and as soon as I got home I recorded an improvised review of it. You’ll have to wait for the next episode to find out what I think, but I’ll give you a clue – I thought it was pants.

That’s the end of this episode. Speak to you soon. Bye!

Luke

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348. Film Club: Marvel / Captain America Civil War (Part 2)

Here is part 2 of this episode about superhero films and the Marvel cinematic universe. Before you listen to this I suggest that you listen to part 1. Click here for part 1. Where was I at the end of the last episode? I was giving you my history of superhero movies over the last 30-40 years, and the plan is to go into more detail about the recent Marvel films and then review the new Captain America movie. So, let’s continue.

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PART 2 

…There was that Incredible Hulk film directed by Ang Lee from I guess around 2002 or 2003. I thought that was actually pretty good but the special effects were a bit dodgy. They didn’t quite get the Hulk right – he looked a bit like a big green angry floaty baby having a tantrum, but the character development was good and I thought Eric Bana did a good job as the main character and there was an amazing scene where hulk fights with his father underwater. Then we had those Fantastic 4 films, which were pretty crap – nothing to mention really. And then there was that new Fantastic Four film that came out last year, which was a disaster so the less said about that the better. The X-Men films which have gone up and down in terms of quality, although I enjoyed the reboot with new actors like Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence. Also, I really like Wolverine as a character. He’s probably the outstanding character from the X-Men series and he has had a couple of solo films which have been mixed. I think Wolverine is a character who deserves better films. X-Men movies are always better when Wolverine is involved. There’s a new X-Man movie, which has just come out – X-Man: Apocalypse, and I’m going to see that later today. For some reason it’s all about superhero films at the moment.

So, those Marvel films that I just mentioned are not in fact made by Marvel and they have been a bit mixed in terms of quality but one thing’s for sure – audiences love these characters and if they’re done right then the films are guaranteed to be a huge success. Also, I guess Marvel saw the box office success that DC achieved with the new Batman films, especially The Dark Knight and decided that they would like a piece of that pie.

Marvel’s plan (I think headed by an executive Kevin Feige) was to start financing and producing their own films, rather than licensing them to other people like Sony, 20th Century Fox etc, with characters that they had exclusive rights to, and build a catalogue of awesome films which are all set in the same universe. This would also allow the studio to have creative control, which is a good idea because nobody knows or cares about these characters more than Marvel themselves, except maybe the guy who created most of them – Stan Lee. The characters that were left were principally those involved in the Avengers storyline – so, that’s Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Falcon, Black Panther, Nick Fury and others.

The overall plan was to establish these characters in their own films, which would essentially be origin stories for the characters, and then bring those characters together at regular intervals in big event movies that would be so irresistible to audiences that all the box office records would be smashed and they’d make tons of money.

That’s exactly what they’ve done.

Starting with Iron Man in 2006, Marvel have brought out 13 films in the last 10 years, not to mention a few TV spin offs like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Agent Carter and Daredevil (and some others too).

Captain America: Civil War is the 13th film in the series and it marks the beginning of Phase 3 in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

Yep, the MCU is releasing films in phases. You could consider these films to be like massive, feature-length, high-budget episodes in a huge cinematic series. Every film adds elements to this larger universe. This is a very effective marketing strategy because the success of any one film in the MCU leads to the success of the series as a whole and the movies in which more than one character feature instantly gain a certain value. I mean – it’s exciting when Tony Stark appears in a Hulk movie, or when Ant Man turns up in a Captain America film, or even better – when they all feature in the same movie on the same team, or even against each other.

Oh and by the way, I haven’t mentioned Deadpool yet. So here I am mentioning Deadpool.
Deadpool is a very popular Marvel character who seems to exist in the X-Men universe. He’s a bit different because he is very comical – he constantly breaks the fourth wall – plenty of comments to the audience, winks to the camera and tons of jokes. I haven’t seen the Deadpool film, but apparently it’s brilliant.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (13 movies so far, plus some spin-off TV shows)

Here’s a summary of the 12 films we’ve had so far and how they fit into the 3 phases of the MCU. Captain America: Civil War is the 13th. I’m reading from the Marvel Cinematic Universe Wikia. Again, I’m no expert, so forgive me if I get any little details wrong. Please feel free to add your comments. The only film I haven’t seen is the Incredible Hulk movie, and I gather that it’s the weakest of the series.

Phase One (origins stories of the superheroes – the creation of the avengers)
marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com/wiki/Phase_One

Phrase Two (The heroes continue to work alone, new characters are introduced, the infinity stones are revealed to be powerful artefacts that can affect the universe, Thanos is the big bad guy who wants to get all the infinity stones and dominate the universe, The Avengers face the aftermath of their destructive battles to save the world)
marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com/wiki/Phase_Two

Phase Three (Things get complicated for the Avengers after the damage they caused while fighting various bad guys – should the superheroes be subject to government control or not? the team gets split up, Thanos continues to try and collect infinity stones)

Captain America: Civil War – My Review

I’ll avoid major spoilers.
First thoughts – the action is absolutely wicked. It opens with some amazing fighting by Captain America and his team. He’s got a brutal fighting style and there’s quite a lot of realism in these fight scenes, even if he is an enhanced human. He’s a bit like Jason Bourne, but super-strength. So there’s some bone-crunching combat with Captain America and the others doing all their martial arts and so on. From the start it’s exciting, fun and it puts you on the edge of your seat. It seems original in its realism.
Right mix of realism and comic book fantasy.
*Written notes* – I’m reading from some notes I wrote on paper after I watched the film.

Characters
The Winter Soldier is ace. He’s like an out of control Captain America and he’s got a bionic arm.
Black Panther is pretty cool – even if he is dressed as a panther and I think that’s a bit silly. I’ve always had a problem with characters who have little pointy ears on their suits. But he is mysterious and he’s got wicked style and brilliant martial art. We don’t know much about him at this stage, probably because they’re going to make a Black Panther movie at some point. What I know is that he’s the king of a country called Wakanda, and he does have super powers.

For example there’s a scene in which he is being chased through the streets by Captain America. All the characters are running at about 50kph, including the Black Panther. It’s really well done. Also, they managed to set up his character motivation very efficiently in just a few scenes. The actor who plays him has a certain quiet charisma. I’m looking forward to seeing more from him.

Black Widow – Natasha Romanov is played by Scarlett Johanson and she looks really hot in this film, again. But Black Widow is a lot more than just eye candy of course – she is a formidable character with really impressive fighting skills and an important place within the team.

Ant Man has some great moments in this movie, and Paul Rudd brings a lot of comic charm to the role again.
No surprise that Spiderman is in this one and his appearance is great. They’ve cast a very young actor to play him, and that’s a good move because Spiderman is best when he’s an adolescent just discovering his powers. His appearance is great fun and it’s fantastic to see Spiderman interacting with other Marvel characters finally.
Falcon is not developed as a character much, but as a hero he has some really cool moments – like this amazing double kick that he does, and the way he uses his falcon-drone.
There are other characters too.

The main villain is quite understated but is more original than a lot of movie bad guys.
I’m going to talk more about the individual characters in the next episode when I talk to my Marvel expert friend Paul Langton.

Themes & subtexts
There are political themes and personal themes.
Iron Man’s story = the weapons dealer who realises that military strength needs to be subjected to government control.
Captain America = the soldier who believes that The Avengers are essentially the good guys, and therefore they should be free to use all the power they have at their disposal.
The whole thing could be about US military policy.
The franchise manages to somehow heal wounds of 9/11 by framing the large-scale destruction in New York as a victory for our heroes, albeit a victory at a cost. The films then go on to explore notions of military power, and the complex sense of responsibility that goes along with that power. The Avengers have an obligation to protect the people of earth at all costs, but what about the collateral damage that happens as a result of their fighting?
This centres around an agreement that the UN wants the Avengers to sign, which essentially gives the UN the power to overrule the Avengers, so they essentially work for the UN. Tony Stark thinks it’s necessary, to prevent other catastrophes.
Captain America essentially believes that you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.
This is a pretty complex moral problem.
Should the team be given total freedom – to cross borders etc at the cost of some loss of life?

So those are some themes.

Which one do I agree with Iron Man or Captain America? Which one do I prefer?

In terms of their positions – I sort of agree with both. I think they should be accountable to someone – like the government, but there’s always a chance that governments will become corrupt. So, signing an accord to register The Avengers as ‘government controlled asset’ seems a bit sketchy. Governments always end up being corrupt. But The Avengers can’t just go around causing collateral damage without being accountable for it, so they should have some regulation. It’s a tough call.

In the end the film doesn’t quite deal with those complex political questions and instead it turns into a personal story (because politics is a bit heavy). I think they’ve left it up to us to decide who we think won the civil war. And remember, winning the battle and winning the war are not the same thing. It’ll be interesting to see how the relationship between Cap and Iron Man continues.

IN terms of screen time – I prefer Captain America in the action sequences, and Tony Stark in the dramatic sequences.
Cap is a brilliant soldier and his fight scenes involve a lot of hand to hand combat which is usually done really well, but his dramatic scenes can be a bit dry. He’s quite a simple character really – just a wholesome guy who wants to do the right thing. He’s a little bit bland.
On the other hand, Tony Stark/Iron Man is a fascinating mix of intellect, ego, arrogance and conflicted emotion. Robert Downey Junior is a fascinating actor, with tons of charisma and humanity. You also get the sense that he’s on the edge all the time, which gives Tony Stark a really exciting, dangerous and human quality to him. But I find his action scenes less interesting because essentially it’s a suit flying around – it’s all computer graphics and I find that less appealing – even though the studio has done a really great job on the special effects. Iron Man is a lot better than most other special effects we’ve seen in other movies. You get this feeling that it’s real, it’s heavy and it’s an incredibly complex piece of engineering. But I just prefer Captain America’s bone-crunching stunt work.
Also, I’m never completely convinced by how powerful Tony Stark’s suit is. How powerful are those energy blasts that he has? Can’t he just shoot Captain America’s head off with that?

Problems
– it’s a bit too long (it’s even longer than this episode of the podcast). It was so long that I had to take a toilet break. That’s always like a secret agent mission. A ninja mission. Sneaking out to go to the loo during a film at the cinema.
– I have an issue with the powers of some of these characters. There’s quite a lot of grey area.
E.g. what is Scarlet Witch’s power exactly? If she can control objects, even large ones, then can’t she just pick people up and fling them about, or send them into space? I suppose it takes her a lot of energy and effort. I’m not sure where her power comes from – I think it’s from Loki’s septre, but I’m not sure.
What about The Vision? Can he just be stopped with an electromagnetic pulse? Can you just turn off his wifi? Can you unplug him? If you spin a rainbow umbrella in front of his face will he just pause?
If I ask him to do too many things at the same time will he crash?
He looks a bit silly too. It works in the comics, but in live action he’s strange – especially since I think he can choose how he looks. Why that look? And he’s wearing a sweater in order to try and blend in.
I’m nit picking. Perhaps he’s just discovering his powers. We’ll probably learn more about him in future episodes. I hope so because he’s actually quite interesting. He can lift Thor’s hammer for example.
In the film the Avengers become divided and actually fight each other, but I’m never really convinced that they really want to do damage to each other. So, the fight sequence seems a bit like American Wrestling – big characters beating each other up but you never really believe they’re trying to hurt each other for real, but the large battle sequences are handled very well and there are some interesting twists and humourous surprises.
There are a few plot holes in the film – like aspects of the story that don’t make sense, for example the inconsistencies or vagueness of the super powers of the characters, but really these films don’t need to make sense and I don’t really care about these issues when the film is so enjoyable, dramatic and funny.

So, overall, this film is a bit long but it manages to cram in some really interesting character development, some big themes, a mix of realism and fantasy in the action sequences and some dazzling moments of spectacle. If you like superhero films, this has got to be one of the best so far.

What did you think? Have you seen it?
What about other Marvel films? What do you think of them? Which is your favourite?
Also, did I miss anything important?
Please leave your comments and remember not to give away any big spoilers.
Thanks for listening!

Additional
This is the first in a trilogy of superhero-themed podcast episodes. The next one will be that conversation with my Marvel-geek friend Paul Langton in which we talk about the characters in more detail and decide who is the strongest, and the 3rd part is another movie review – yep, just this afternoon I went to see another superhero movie, X-Men: Apocalypse. I have some fairly strong opinions on that, but you’ll have to wait for that to find out what I think of the film.

That’s it for this one! BYE!

 

347. Film Club: Marvel / Captain America Civil War (Part 1)

Hello everyone, welcome back to the podcast. I hope you’re doing alright today. Do you remember that in the last episode I had just come back from seeing the latest Marvel movie – Captain America: Civil War, and that I said I would talk to you about it? Remember that? Well here it is. You are now listening to a new episode of Luke’s Film Club, and this time I’m talking about the Marvel movies with a particular focus on the latest Captain America film. By the way, I’m going to talk about a lot of Marvel movies in this episode and I will do my best to avoid spoilers. I am only going to mention information which is basically common knowledge. I don’t think listening to this will really spoil your enjoyment of any of the films in the marvel universe. So, you shouldn’t worry about spoilers.

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Why am I talking about Marvel films and superheroes?

We like movie-related episodes, don’t we? I certainly like to record them and it seems that you like to listen to them. Enough said – but I’ll continue. I call these episodes “Luke’s Film Club” and in the past I’ve covered films like Taken, Kingsman, Star Wars, Back to the Future and others. Also, people like movies don’t they? People like movies. I like movies, you like movies, we like movies – everyone likes movies. Therefore, talking about movies seems to be a natural thing to do. And to bring this back to learning English, perhaps you will end up talking about movies in your English conversations, so you should know how to talk about this subject. It’s probably helpful to listen to me talking about films then isn’t it? We all know that listening is connected to your awareness of how speech is produced, which is connected to pronunciation, which is connected to your own production of speech. So – improving your listening will have a knock-on effect on your speaking. Also, if you’re wondering what to talk about with people you meet, or your language partner or teacher on italki for example – this could be a good idea.
In fact, you could start your conversations with typical questions about movies.
“Have you seen the latest Marvel movie?” or “Do you like superhero movies?”
“What have you been up to?” – “Well, I saw the new Captain America film” – “Oh really, how was it?” etc.
Those might be some good starting points for conversations about super heroes.

So, have you seen the new Captain America film? In fact, have you seen any Marvel films or recent superhero movies?

I’d be surprised if you hadn’t, because they’re really popular these days and there are so many of them that they’re kind of unavoidable. But if you haven’t seen Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America or The Avengers then that’s ok. Perhaps this episode can be a sort of introduction to a film series that you’re not familiar with. And if you have seen some Marvel films and you just can’t stand them – well, perhaps listening to my take on this subject might help to change your mind. And, if you have seen most of these superhero films and you pretty much liked them, then great! In any case, I hope you just enjoy listening to me going on about some popular culture in this episode (or episodes).

There are plenty of good reasons to talk about Marvel films, but I was prompted to do this episode by a request from a listener called Mayumi. Hello Mayumi, yes I am mentioning you again. It seems Mayumi is a bit of a film nut like me – you might remember her Star Wars themed photo in the photo competition recently. Here’s her comment from my website just the other day.

Mayumi’s comment

“Hi Luke, I hope you’re well. Recently, I’ve been missing your movie episodes like the one you did about “Taken”. The new Marvel one just came out and have you already seen that? If so, how was it?? If my memory serves, you haven’t talked much about Marvel things yet, have you? I’d love to listen to your thoughts if you like them! I personally enjoy watching Marvel films often because I don’t have to be too emotional or worried and it’s fun to watch great VFX. Cheers, bye!”

So – talk about Marvel movies, superhero stuff and Captain America? OK!

I’m not a megageek, I’m just a bit of a geek. I enjoy Marvel films but I’m not a complete fanboy. (Define: nerd, geek, fanboy) I am a fan of comic book films but I don’t profess to be an expert on all the history of every comic book character. I’m not that emotionally invested in superheroes and their stories in the same way that some of these fanboys are. I mean, I’m not going to get angry if the movies don’t follow the plot of the comics perfectly. I don’t mind about that. I just want to watch some entertaining films.

So, I’m not a fanboy but I am a fan. Also, I do have friends who are fanboys – like my mate Paul Langton who knows loads about comic book characters, including all their original backstories, the origins of their superpowers, who would be the champion if they all had a big fight and everything like that. In fact I spoke to Paul about superheroes on the podcast just yesterday, and you’ll be able to hear that conversation on the podcast soon.

So I’m no expert but I’ve seen most of the films and I’ve read some of the comics.
Loved comics as a kid, but my parents frowned on them. I couldn’t really justify spending all my pocket money on comics, and anyway I had nowhere to buy them because I grew up in the middle of nowhere.
I had a few comics, which I bought when on holiday in the USA.
The Marvel characters were the best.
I was always a bit of a Spiderman fan.
I thought Iron Man looked wickedly cool but I never read any of his comics.
I also used to have an Incredible Hulk t-shirt, which pretty much made me a fan by default. I used to chase my brother and his friend around the house wearing the hulk t-shirt and they’d run away from me like I was the hulk. Good times.
Marvel TV shows and cartoons – Any time a comic book related TV show came on the TV it was always brilliant. The Incredible Hulk TV show was a classic – that one featured classic moments when Bruce Banner turned into the Hulk and you see his clothes tearing and his skin turning green – and the hulk was played by a body builder called Lou Ferrino and the hulk scenes were mostly shot in slow motion to make him seem heavier. It was funny that all his clothes ripped off except his pants. They somehow stretched. The Incredible Hulk TV show was also incredibly sad – because at the end of every episode he had to leave town. He was very lonely, and there was that lonely music. I think that communicated loneliness pretty effectively, even as a kid.
There was a live-action spiderman show too, which was awesome because, well, it was spiderman – and he was full of wisecracks and the usual fun Spiderman stuff. Also there were animated TV series, particularly the X-Men series and another Spiderman series. There were probably other Marvel-related TV shows and some movies as well that I saw as a kid.
By today’s standards they would look terribly crap, but in those days they were just amazing.

Marvel Movies vs DC Movies
DC has the two most famous characters, but Marvel seem to be winning the movie wars. Other than Batman, Superman and perhaps Wonder Woman – the other DC characters are not that great – but I’m sure there are people listening to this who would disagree with me. We will be seeing more from DC in the future, with films like Suicide Squad this year, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and more.
Yes – just when you thought we couldn’t have any more superhero films, the next few years are going to see even more of them, so get ready. Marvel are in full swing and DC have only just got started. I wonder if we’ll all be fed up with superheroes within a couple of years. “Superhero fatigue” – it’s a genuine concept that movie critics and industry people use to refer to the idea that we might all just get fed up with superhero films and then stop watching them. The phrase was used over the last couple of years, after a couple of superhero movies didn’t do as well as expected. For example, last year there was a Fantastic Four movie, produced by Fox – and it was a huge flop. Also, the Avengers sequel “The Age of Ultron” didn’t take as much money as people predicted. Personally I think superhero fatigue is a myth. There is clearly still a big interest in superhero films, especially if they are done right. Fantastic Four was a failure because of casting decisions and because it was, by all accounts, a really bad film. And anyway – perhaps those particular characters are not that interesting. They certainly weren’t presented as very interesting. That film is an exception. Avengers: Age of Ultron might have taken less money than the previous one, but perhaps the bar has been set very high! Anyway, regardless of last year, this year has been a hit for superhero movies and Captain America Civil War has apparently been smashing box office records for Marvel yet again.

In my opinion – Hollywood has been producing superhero movies for quite a long time now, but it’s only recently that they’ve been any good. I feel like Marvel studios have cracked the code for superhero movies now – and finally the fun, action and character development that we enjoyed in the comic books is now translating onto the big screen. Not that we haven’t had good superhero movies before (Some Batman movies have been good – I’ll come on to that in a moment) it’s just that in my opinion they’re now getting better and better.

Superhero movies in the past – A kind of history of superhero films

Superman movies from the 80s, with Christopher Reeve (and Gene Hackman).
Batman movie from the 60s, then the 90s films – Tim Burton & Michael Keaton – two good films, then the franchise went steadily downhill as the films were directed by Joel Schumacher – culminating in the god-awful “Batman & Robin” in 1997.
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr Freeze? “Everybody freeze!” and “Ice to see you!” etc. Terrible.

Also in 1990 there was a great superhero film called Darkman which stars Liam Neeson. It’s directed by Sam Raimi, who later did the Spiderman films. It’s brilliant and I suggest you find it. Liam Neeson, Darkman. Apparently it’s on Netflix – find it, hunt it down, and watch it.

There was another couple of Fantastic Four movies in the early 2000s. Unremarkable and original, except that Chris Evans played the human torch, and now he’s Captain America. He’s probably the only actor to have played two different Marvel characters.

Ang Lee directed a Hulk movie (most people dislike it), Sam Raimi directed a trilogy of Spiderman films (most people like them). More on those films later.

Also, there have been loads of X-Men films which have done relatively well in the box office.
One thing to note here is that Marvel studios don’t own the rights to all their characters in movies. In fact, before Marvel became a film studio, they were still a comic book publisher and in the 90s and 2000s they were seriously running out of money, so they sold the movie rights for a few characters to different film studios. Spiderman was sold to Sony, X-Men was sold to Fox. The result was that these studios made superhero films in their own way.

I expect Marvel watched those films and thought – we could do better than this. Later they managed to set up Marvel studios and start producing their own movies, with characters they still had the movie rights for – The Avengers, basically. That caught everyone by surprise, because… they were good films. More on that in a bit.

Now, back to the pre-MCU movies

Christopher Nolan revived the Batman franchise in the 2000s with Batman Begins and then The Dark Knight, also The Dark Knight Rises. They were ‘game changers’ for the superhero genre. They were very serious, had adult-themes, dealt with complex morality and gave the genre a sense of weight and quality, rather than being just colourful kids films.

There was a new Superman film called “Superman Returns”, which was basically another origins story.

The main success seems to have been Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

DC have brought back Superman, letting Christopher Nolan produce the film “Man of Steel” a couple of years ago, and more recently the film “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice”. Although they have their fans, those new Superman films are considered to be flops I think. Man of Steel divided opinion, and Batman vs Superman seems generally to be considered as a flop.
DC are going to make other films based on their other characters, and eventually create a Justice League film which is a sort of showcase of all the main DC characters in one movie together.

It seems like a very similar strategy to the one Marvel are using, except that most of the films they’ve done so far have been crap except for a couple of Batman movies. That’s debatable of course – some thought that Man of Steel was alright. I thought it was half good. I liked the character development – like the scenes with Kevin Costner. But the action scenes took me out of the movie. I felt emotionally unengaged with a lot of it, I thought the Louis Lane character was underused and again it felt far too serious than it should be. I haven’t seen Batman vs Superman, but it seems that critical reaction to that film is also mixed.

What do you think? Have you seen the new Superman films? Superman vs Batman? Give me your quick movie review to any of the films I’m talking about here.

So, DC are still struggling to get a grip on the movie universe in the same way as Marvel, although I expect both of those Superman films have taken a lot of money, even if they’re not that good – because people want to see Batman fight Superman, right? Perhaps DC’s next film release, Suicide Squad will be really popular with fans. We’ll see. Let’s say that DC are still finding their feet at this moment.

Marvel on the other hand are doing really well today. They’re now into Phase 3 of their movie series (yes, we’ve already had phase 1 and 2) and so far they’ve managed to not only avoid any genuine flops, but they have also made a few really successful films and they seem to be getting better. Captain America Civil War is a big hit with audiences, critics and the box office.

So what’s the story of the Marvel cinematic universe?

Around 10-15 years ago Marvel decided to make movies themselves. Previously they were comic book publishers who licensed their characters to other studios, with fairly mixed results – some good films, some bad – on the whole it’s been inconsistent. E.g. Sony have made a bunch of Spiderman films. First there were the ones with Tobey Maguire, directed by Sam Raimi. They rebooted the franchise, starting from the beginning – telling the origin story of Spiderman and then having him grow up and deal with all the usual problems that Spiderman faces as a young superhero in the big city. Then Sony decided to re-reboot the franchise with Andrew Garflield in the role of Spiderman. I guess that was simply because audiences love Spiderman, and the studio felt like it could make a bunch of new money by essentially telling the same story all over again. It feels like Spiderman has been rebooted so many times that every Spiderman film is basically telling us the same story every time, but audiences love Spiderman so much that we don’t really mind. In fact, Spiderman has now been rebooted AGAIN in this latest Captain America film. I think Marvel managed to negotiate with Sony in order to get Spiderman in the Avengers universe. Well done Marvel, because the addition of Spiderman is a very popular move and it’s bound to please audiences and accountants at Marvel headquarters. And yes, we’re going to have a new solo Spiderman film at some point soon which is some sort of collaboration between Marvel and Sony, and that looks pretty promising because I think they have finally got Spiderman right in this latest film.

How are you doing everyone? Are you confused yet with all these different superheroes and their movie franchises? I hope you’re not suffering from superhero fatigue.

END OF PART 1 – CLICK HERE FOR PART 2