Tag Archives: Marvel

Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N: Be a Superhero for a Day – and Watch out for those Ants

If you ever wanted to channel your inner superhero, or relish the opportunity to try and lift Thor’s hammer, you’ll want to head to London’s ExCel Centre to Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N, an interactive exhibition of props from the Marvel Cinematic Universe that runs from 29 November 2018 to 31 March 2019.

Fresh from Las Vegas, it offers you the chance to see the effects of gamma radiation (or the Marvel version of it) first hand, get close to the Falcon before his wings pop out and sit on Captain America’s motorcycle – starting key not included.

Your experience begins with a briefing from Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders). You are there to undertake ‘training’ to be an associate member of S.H.I.E.L.D. – a replacement strap as it were – through a series of video-game like experiences. The raison d’être is the opportunity to suit up as Iron Man, or ‘Any Old Iron’ Man in my case and blast at stuff through the palms of your hands. I had no idea what I was doing and let’s face it, neither did Tony Stark.

A laboratory invites you to combine two elements – not comedy and drama, but neon and hydrogen. We’ve smelt it, but at last, I thought, we could see who dealt it. The response after much mechanical gurning is ‘new element created.’

Pass into another room and you’ll see all things Hulk, except perhaps, his charity shop donations. See the human brain during a Hulk transformation. Surprisingly, we don’t find out what happens to his language function – ‘Hulk smash? No, it’s Hulk’s mashed potato.’

All things Captain America greet us in another room, including that bike. There are also props related to Marvel’s second order superheroes – Black Widow, Hawkeye, including the latter’s bow (behind glass, so you can’t play with it). You can even test your own strength by squeezing a handle. I scored 653, a lot better than when it came to shooting at Marvel anonymous villains, Loki not included.

Speaking of, the Thor’s hammer challenge – drinks not included – was a particular highlight. I was reliably informed by the black t-shirted S.T.A.T.I.O.N. staff, not the sort who say, ‘mind the gap between the train and the platform edge’, that someone had managed to lift the heavily magnetised prop and he wasn’t a long-haired Hemsworth brother. However, it was beyond me.

The cleverest effect is a battalion of ants on the floor pointing to Ant Man’s costume as opposed to, say, a slice of day old bread. Disappointingly, we don’t get to see the world through Ant Man’s eyes as he shrinks, but there is always the second edition to perfect this.

The piece-de-resistance is a recreation of the Tesseract, which you can switch on.  You can also get close to Black Panther’s costume.

In the ‘apply-what-you’ve-learned’ finale, visitors enter a room and are given swipe-up mobile phones to take on Ultron. We were but puppets on tiny ring tones. Together we combined to zap James Spader’s annoying villain and received a ‘well done, wait for our call’ speech from Agent Hill, which, let’s face it, you hear at any casting session.

Ultimately, this is good fun, but I missed Spiderman. I could hear my editor saying, ‘get me pictures of Spiderman’. I think brand ownership issues were at play, something no superhero could solve.

The Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N is open from 29 November 2018 to 31 March 2019 – for further information and tickets, visit www.avengersstation.co.uk


The Weekend Binge – Luke Cage

It’s safe to say that we are nearing a time when we will soon be crushed under the onslaught of comic book adaptations. It’s a shame, as some of the most enjoyable films in recent years have displayed one or more characters with powers, but we’ve also seen tireless retreads of dark, gritty films wherein the heroes must battle with their inner turmoil over whether they are a force for good, or simply a less destructive villain. It’s hard to cram plenty of character development into two and a half hours, which is why TV series of the same characters often receive greater praise than their big screen counterparts.

Unfortunately, even those seem to be heading into a nosedive as well, if Luke Cage is anything to go by…

luke-cageIt really is a shame to see the series (which follows on from Daredevil and Jessica Jones, each a fantastic series in their own rights, as well as when compared to the mainstream heroes in the cinema) lose its lustre as the series progresses. It’s interesting to see the difference between the positive review of the first episode compared to the rest of the series, however, when compared to its predecessors, the Hero of Harlem can’t quite cut the mustard.

That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty that’s positive to talk about. The performances given by the main cast are superb, with Colter playing the titular hero in a very withdrawn and secretive manner that suggests he just wants to be left alone, and Erik LaRay Harvey playing his psychotic nemesis as a man out to destroy everything Cage has ever held dear. Due to events that happened in the past, there is plenty to sink your teeth into when it comes to the pathos. It’s just a shame that the finale sees the two of them beating each other up in front of a crowd of people, very reminiscent of a schoolyard fight and an ending which doesn’t deliver a worthy climax that we saw with Daredevil and Jessica Jones. As a matter of fact, plenty of elements from Luke Cage could lead to it almost being called Daredevil, albeit one with a much more racially diverse cast (which can only be a good thing).

While the story and pacing may leave something to be desired, the soundtrack is a thing of beauty to listen to. Managing to capture the soul of Harlem, the music shows its roots in blues, funk and hip-hop, and adds more power to the show through the live acts in Cottonmouth’s club, which showcase the diversity of the music-scene in and around the area.

Ultimately, Luke Cage is not a bad series, and if you’re a fan of the character or the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general, it’s unlikely that you’ll be disappointed. However, one can’t help but feel that this series is the start of darker things to come for the superhero genre. Its ideas have been played out, and there doesn’t appear to be much more room to continue retelling the same stories before it all comes crashing down around the heads of the heads of DC and Marvel. Maybe I’m wrong, and the next few films and TV series from these companies will blow me away, but until then, I’m not going to hold my breath.

Luke Cage is available on Netflix

Luke Cage: The Moment of Truth – Review

Once again, Marvel have begun a new venture in their cinematic universe. Luke Cage is the third of five Netflix exclusive series that are being produced, with Daredevil and Jessica Jones paving the way previously, and Iron Fist and The Defenders seeing us out the other side. With such strong pedigree from its predecessors and lots of hope for the future, Luke Cage certainly has its hands full to try and beat its way to the head of the pack.

Overall, the first episode of the series is a good one. Instead of diving in head first with lots of flashy tricks, it takes its time to build up a head of steam (a method helped by a lot of the groundwork being laid during Jessica Jones last year.) Luke Cage shows us the titular hero making ends meet and attempting to help his community through non-superpowered means. When the show runner claimed Luke Cage to be The Wire of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seemed a little surreal to make the statement, however, after watching the first episode, it seems less of an attempt to drum up publicity, and more a belief that they are playing with fire. Of course, it’s not 100% accurate (The Wire is The Wire. No one can hold a candle to that title!) but there is definitely enough of a spark there to make the claim at least somewhat valid.

luke-cage-tv-show_6rz8-e1475247907371In an attempt to abide by their beliefs, Luke Cage is certainly a lot more adult in its content when compared to other aspects of the MCU. Scantily clad women, swearing and blood are much more evident when compared with Captain America: Civil War or even Jessica Jones (the latter, albeit, only slightly less so.) it’s hard to compare the small screen heroes to their big screen counterparts, simply because so many of these shows are a lot more visceral. Although it’s still Marvel, there is a very definite line that must not be crossed to ensure the Super’s aren’t completely unmarketable to children, however, there are certainly a few scenes which show the screenwriters almost inching into the “forbidden territory” only to pull back at the last second.

All the action is set to a beautiful soundtrack using tracks from a variety of genres, such as funk and soul, each evoking a link to the Harlem neighbourhood that is the setting for the show. Of particular note are the live acts at Cottonmouth’s club, which create a relaxed, yet energetic atmosphere.

luke-cage-suit-large_transwmpl-jpdv5emzzkofeuphbp_rh5meld3xmjahlzgqk0Despite the high quality production and acting, it often feels that the writers were unsure with how to portray Mahershala Ali’s character Cottonmouth, the main antagonist of the series. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with his character per se, the problems stem from comparisons to the other antagonists of the Marvel/Netflix series, and how Cottonmouth seems to be almost an amalgamation of some of their more interesting traits. Whilst Kilgrave was a psychotic madman, and Fisk was a “legitimate businessman,” Cottonmouth feels like the latter whilst trying to emulate the former. It seems the writers are trying to make him an original character but ultimately are going nowhere. Hopefully that will change as the series continues, but after having two strong villains from the off, it feels as if they’ve stumbled with Luke Cage.

Overall, the first episode of Luke Cage is a fantastic start.  If the trends of the previous two instalments are anything to go by, there will be plenty of character development for all involved and lots more action to boot. Jessica Jones gave us the first female superhero protagonist, let’s see how they work with their first black hero.

Luke Cage – Brand New Trailer!

There’s a little over two months to go before Luke Cage comes to Netflix, and we get our next dose of Marvellous storytelling that’s free(ish) from the constraints of Marvel’s grander cinematic universe.

To help build the hype, a new trailer has been released featuring the supporting star of Jessica Jones coming into his role as a hero. The trailer shows plenty of action with a slight hint of humour as we see Cage get repeatedly shot, stabbed and punched before shrugging the damage off like one would an autumn leaf that had landed on a coat.

We are also given a glimpse at some of the other characters that will be joining the action. It should come as little surprise that Rosario Dawson will be reprising her role as “nurse to the vigilantes” Claire Temple, but we are also given a glimpse at the antagonist of the series, Cottonmouth, played by Mahershala Ali. On top of that is Frankie Faison appearing as a mentor figure for Cage to seek words of wisdom on how to do the right thing.

Luke Cage looks like it will be another stunning outing for Marvel and Netflix, time will tell how it all turns out.

Luke Cage is out September 30th on Netflix

The Defenders – Brand New Teaser

What do you do when you commission four separate TV series based in the same city and cinematic universe and have (at least) half those shows go on to become critical successes with the other half looking to achieve a similar status?

If you answered: Throw the four protagonists together into a fifth series then you would be absolutely correct!

The teaser for Marvel and Netflix’s The Defenders is light on any actual scenes from the series (since it is still in pre-production) but heavy on fancy graphics and a remixed version of Nirvana’s “Come as you are.” The titles of the four main shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist) are torn apart and reconstituted in a ransom note style to form The Defenders logo. It’s strange to think that something so simple can elicit such chills of excitement, but there you have it.

2017 can’t come soon enough


Iron Fist – Brand New Trailer

Sometimes, it feels like the writers at Marvel were off their medication when they came up with origins for some of their characters. One shining example of this is The Immortal Iron Fist, who will be joining the Marvel/Netflix roster sometime in the near future.

Iron Fist came about when Danny Rand plunged his fists into the molten heart of a dragon he defeated… Like I said, some of these people may need to have a bit of quality time with a psychiatrist. Regardless, there is no suggestion of whether or not the Netflix series will contain any part of his origins, but it’s far too awesome to pass up!

While no dragons appear in the teaser that was released to SDCC, we are treated to a number of shots of monks, lots of snow and a plane crash before ending on the almost obligatory destruction of some property to show us that Danny Rand has powers. It looks like Iron Fist and Doctor Strange will be covering some of the more mystical aspects within the Marvel Universe.