After his memorable introduction in “Daredevil” Season 2 (2016) – which could’ve been called “Daredevil and Punisher” – Frank Castle/Punisher (Jon Bernthal) gets the spotlight in his own 13-episode season. The revelation of who killed Frank’s wife and two children at the merry-go-round leads to a conspiracy that goes to the highest levels of the U.S. government and military. One approach for showrunner Steve Lightfoot’s “Punisher” Season 1 (2017) might’ve been 13 mini-“John Wick” movies. That would’ve been viscerally satisfying, but I appreciate the meaty roster of characters. The season is not faced-paced, but nor is it boring.
The MCU’s first crossover TV series, “The Defenders” Season 1 (2017, Netflix), has all the fun of a superhero team-up, along with all the clunkiness. Despite being written by four veterans of “Daredevil” – Douglas Petrie, Marco Ramirez, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and Drew Goddard — it is a notable step down from that bar-setting series.
After watching “Iron Fist” Season 1 (2017, Netflix), I feel like I’ve completed the same hero’s journey as Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones). I’m exhausted not from doing 13 episodes of kung-fu fighting and harnessing my chi into a fist of iron, but simply from watching what is easily the slowest-paced of the Netflix MCU shows to this point.
Do a Google search for “Sequels that are better than the original,” and you’ll be busy for an afternoon, at least until you get tired of reading the 100th list that points out that “The Empire Strikes Back” is better than “Star Wars.”
In the July 2018 Movies in Review episode, John and Michael review:
- “Ant-Man and the Wasp”
- “Eighth Grade”
And Michael reviews:
- “Sorry to Bother You”
- “Mission: Impossible — Fallout”
Last week, Disney fired “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (2020) writer-director James Gunn (who also wrote and directed the first two pictures) for tweets he made from 2008-11, where it seemed like he was workshopping tasteless jokes with his Twitter followers. He sounds like a struggling comedian on the least funny day of his life. The jokes (if they even fit the term) are all clunkers and would be deeply offensive if they came from someone making literal statements rather than trying to be a provocateur. (As a Troma filmmaker, his job essentially was professional provocateur.)
For the third time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gives a starring role to a superpowered New York City vigilante with “Luke Cage” Season 1 (2016, Netflix). Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, whose credits include “Almost Human” and the upcoming “Creed II,” brings a slightly different sensibility to the genre by name-dropping bits of Harlem history, music and art and showcasing live music at the club that serves as the main setting.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” a rescue story with personal rather than galactic stakes, could be seen as anticlimactic on the heels of “Avengers: Infinity War.” But to me, it’s refreshing. This second “Ant-Man” entry, again directed by Peyton Reed, knows its strengths: Action sequences in which people and objects can grow big or small at the press of a button or the toss of a disc, and lovable characters.
With “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (in theaters Friday, July 6) marking the Big Two-Oh for the Marvel Cinematic Universe film franchise, we figured it’s high time we reveal our rankings of all 19 MCU movies so far, from worst to first. Surely, this hasn’t been done anywhere else on the web. Oh wait, it has – literally hundreds of times? Well, here are two more lists. Enjoy.
After I finished Season 1 of “Daredevil,” my buddy Shaune told me Season 2 (2016, Netflix) is even better. I scoffed at the notion. Now, after finishing Season 2, I have to admit he is right. The cinematography and Hell’s Kitchen locations are still amazing, but now we see even more striking rooftops, water towers and tunnels. Plus, the whole thing plays like an epic morality play about the struggles of noble vigilantes.