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ESMCU Episode 58: "Wake Up" and "Hot Potato Soup"

Hello Marvel Universe!

In this episode of ESMCU, John and Jen talk about two other Marvel TV shows on the horizon: Hulu’s “Runaways” and Freeform’s “Cloak and Dagger”.  These shows aim to bring in a younger audience, but…whatever happened to “it’s all connected?” Next, we recap the Infinity Stones – which ones are found, which ones are still missing, and where might they turn up between now and Infinity War?
In this week’s SHIELD episodes, “Wake Up” and “Hot Potato Soup,” we learn more about Radcliffe’s virtual world, and get to see Patton Oswalt do standup. Radcliffe proves to be even more of a sneaky bastard, and we get a disappointing reveal of who “The Superior” is. Is there another LMD at SHIELD HQ, in addition to Radcliffe and the May-bot?

The post Earth Station MCU Episode 58: Agents of SHIELD “Wake Up” and “Hot Potato Soup” appeared first on The ESO Broadcasting Network.

So far, the Marvel/Netflix partnership seems to be a proverbial match made in heaven. The Netflix shows serve as a darker, grittier companion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and offer up consistently binge-worthy action and drama.

We’ve met the blind lawyer-by-day and conflicted-vigilante-by-night Daredevil; the tough detective Jessica Jones; and the champion of justice with bullet-proof skin Luke Cage. Now, Marvel and Netflix are introducing us to mystical martial arts master Iron First.

“Iron First” generated a lot of buzz before it was released, but unfortunately, a lot of that buzz wasn’t good. It hasn’t received the same praise as the previous Netflix/Marvel offerings and became part of a larger Hollywood discussion on whitewashing. As we gear up for the Defenders team-up later this year, is “Iron First” still worth binge-watching?

While some of Netflix’s previous Marvel shows had their weaknesses — the first season of “Daredevil” was stronger than the second (I loved the Punisher; Elektra, not as much) and the best villain in “Luke Cage” leaves the show too soon — I loved all these shows and generally couldn’t wait to watch the next episode. “Iron Fist” is the first show from this series where I debated whether or not I wanted to keep watching.

Sadly, the first episode of “Iron Fist” is one of the weakest first episodes I’ve seen from a TV series in a long time. The narrative drags, the dialogue falls flat, and the characters don’t click the way they do in the other Marvel/Netflix series. Whether it’s fair or not, it’s tough to watch “Iron Fist” without thinking of the CW’s currently running (and currently better) “Arrow.” Like Oliver Queen, Danny Rand (a.k.a. Iron Fist) was presumed dead by the world, only to return home years later with an unusual set of skills. Unlike Oliver, however, Danny can harness a touch of the supernatural.

The first two episodes didn’t hook me in the way other superhero shows have, and “Iron Fist” takes too long to find its footing. Too much of the early narrative is caught up with Danny just trying to prove his identity. We don’t see enough flashbacks to get the proper context for his character and how he got his powers. I think they also wait a little too long to reveal the full extent of Danny’s magical abilities. It almost feels like the script was rushed and we’re seeing an early draft of something that could have packed a greater punch if it had been more polished.

Even though I kind of wanted to quit watching after the second episode, I’d already decided to watch at least three for my review. While the third episode was an improvement (and I went ahead and watched the fourth), I’d still list “Iron Fist” as the weakest of the Defenders tie-ins.

By now I’m starting to warm up to Finn Jones as Iron Fist. The character is innocent, optimistic, and almost childlike, which I think makes sense considering his background; he had a traumatic event in his childhood and grew up off the grid. He’s struggling to fit back into his old life. I think it will be interesting to see him in a line-up with the other Defenders. Right now, Jessica Henwick as fellow martial arts expert Colleen Wing is the only other stand-out character for me. While there’s a lot of potential for development with some of the other side characters, the series hasn’t given us a truly compelling villain yet who’s on par with the fantastic villains from the other Marvel/Netflix shows: Kingpin, Kilgrave, and Cottonmouth.

Overall, I feel the showrunners missed an opportunity to make “Iron Fist” the “Doctor Strange” of the Netflix Defenders series. So far, “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” and “Luke Cage” have been pretty grounded; “Iron Fist” was a chance to start working more mystical elements into the franchise. It’s possible those elements are more prominently featured in the later episodes; however, I think seeing them sooner would have upped the stakes in the first couple episodes, which are rather languidly paced.

Final verdict? I’m planning to keep watching beyond episode four, not only because I don’t want to miss out on any details that will be featured in the Defenders team-up show, but also because I did see promise in the two most recent episodes I watched. However, it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed that the show doesn’t take full advantage of its potential.

The post TV review: Is ‘Iron Fist’ the weak link in the Marvel/Netflix line-up? appeared first on The ESO Broadcasting Network.

luke-cage-poster-featured-08102016By Ashley Pauls/Box Office Buzz

Luke Cage didn’t set out to be a hero. After being framed for a crime he didn’t commit, he’s sent to prison, where he becomes a part of an experiment that gives him super strength and bulletproof skin. He tries to build a quiet life for himself in Harlem, working at a barbershop and a nightclub, but fate won’t let him disappear from the spotlight. The rise of a villain and the death of a friend force him to take action, and he becomes the hero his city needs.

“Luke Cage” is the latest series to come from Marvel’s partnership with Netflix, following “Jessica Jones” and two seasons of “Daredevil.” Although the tone of these shows is much darker and grittier than the more lighthearted Marvel Cinematic Universe films, like the MCU these shows have found a template that works very well and opens the door for crossovers down the road (Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage will all be teaming up in “The Defenders” miniseries next year).

While anyone who knows me knows how much I love the MCU, I have also enjoyed seeing these smaller-scale Marvel projects from Netflix. It’s nice to see some storylines that are more personal, where the fate of the whole world isn’t at stake. You get to delve more deeply into the characters’ lives and watch their stories develop more intimately.

The strength of “Luke Cage” lies with its star, Mike Colter. Although Cage is a man of few words, you sense he is also a man of integrity, who’s willing to put his life on the line to do what’s right. Colter gives the character just enough vulnerability that we see his humanity beyond his superpowers. There are also many strong supporting characters, including fearless Harlem NYPD detective Misty Knight and a reappearance of Rosario Dawson as Hell’s Kitchen nurse Claire Temple. Having already appeared in both “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” Temple is sort of becoming the Defenders version of Agent Coulson, which is fine by me. She may not have superpowers, but she can definitely hold her own with these superheroes. Other highlights of the show include great music and a dash of humor (there’s a great running joke about Cage’s hoodies always getting riddled with bullets, forcing him to constantly replace them).

Although the MCU is often criticized for its lackluster villains, that hasn’t been the case with the Netflix shows. Kingpin from “Daredevil” and Kilgrave from “Jessica Jones” both made for fascinating villains. Although the main villain from “Luke Cage” can’t quite top Kingpin or Kilgrave, a strong performance from actor Mahershala Ali makes crime lord Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes an intriguing character. Some flashback sequences actually give you some compassion for the character and show what Stokes could have become if he hadn’t been pushed into a life of crime. Without giving away too many spoilers, Cottonmouth doesn’t actually appear in all the episodes, and the other primary villain, Diamondback, isn’t as compelling. However, there are some interesting side villains, including Cottonmouth’s cousin Mariah Dillard, who is a crooked politician, and Hernan “Shades” Alvarez (named for the pair of sunglasses he always wears), who is good at weaseling out of difficult situations.

Overall, I thought the plot could have been tightened up just a little, and the final episode drags on for a bit. As I mentioned before, you’ll wish the show had used Cottonmouth a lot more than it did. However, I’d highly recommend this series for Marvel fans. The themes in “Luke Cage” feel particularly timely, and the show addresses issues such as racism, political corruption, and the challenges within the U.S. justice system. The show is both thought-provoking and action-packed.


Mr. Gene and I are back to talk about Marvel’s Dr. Strange. As always, this podcast is full of spoilers as I forgot to give the warning at the beginning. If you haven’t watched this movie yet, please come back to this podcast when you have.

Please feel free to give us your comments and feedback.

NEHltLvz2UuBLJ_3_bBy Ashley Pauls
Box Office Buzz

The Avengers have faced some difficult opponents, either as a team or on their own: the Red Skull, Loki, the Mandarin, Ultron. However, in “Captain America: Civil War,” they face a new kind of enemy: each other. “Civil War” divides the Avengers, forcing them to align with either Iron Man or Captain America. Iron Man believes superheroes should sign a government document that will keep them all accountable; Captain America fears the government will abuse that power and it would be dangerous to sign. They are also split on exactly how the Winter Soldier — the Cap’s brainwashed best friend Bucky Barnes — should be brought to justice. This conflict will challenge and even ruin friendships, and it will bring an end to the Avengers as we know them.

“Captain America: Civil War” is a tense, thought-provoking superhero film that is both global and personal in its scope. It ventures into definite moral gray areas and sometimes it’s tough to decide who is actually doing the right thing. Although there are a lot of superheroes, and a lot of subplots, the Russo brothers — who also helmed 2014’s excellent “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” — successfully manage everything that’s going on and never lose sight of the central conflict between Iron Man and the Cap. “Civil War” is a must-see for Marvel fans and shakes up the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Civil War” starts by examining a theme that, a little surprisingly, is often overlooked in superhero films: collateral damage. When superheroes battle super-powered villains, city blocks tend to get leveled and the landscape gets destroyed. We may not like to think about it, but in these types of epic battles, civilian casualties would be difficult to avoid. In “Civil War,” Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch, inadvertently kills civilians while trying to stop a bomb. This incident appears to be the last straw in a long line of catastrophic Avengers-related events (New York, Washington, D.C., Sokovia), and the United Nations presents the Avengers with a document called the Sokovia Accords, which are designed to control them and keep them accountable.

Normally the rebel but now haunted by his past mistakes, Tony Stark is one of the first to sign. However, Steve Rogers can’t bring himself to do the same. He’s afraid of giving the government this kind of control, and he is concerned the government could abuse this power. He also believes Bucky Barnes is a victim of brainwashing, even though the government has labeled his as a No. 1 priority terrorist and has ordered their agents to kill him on sight. Captain America ends up going rouge with Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and several other Avengers, and Tony is forced to hunt him down with the help of War Machine, Vision, and Black Widow — and a couple surprise allies.

While there’s a lot going on in “Civil War,” the directors keep everything running smoothly, and it feels like every character and plot point gets just the right amount of screen time. It’s a more satisfying film than last summer’s “Age of Ultron,” which remains the only MCU film that I don’t own and the only one that left me feeling slightly disappointed. “Civil War” does a better job of managing its large cast and finding time for some quieter, more character-focused moments, even in the midst of all the action. Marvel’s weak link is sometimes its villains, and you could say this film’s villain, Helmut Zemo, isn’t as dynamic as he could have been. But this film was never really meant to be about the Avengers fighting an outside villain: it’s about what happens when they fight each other, and Zemo is merely the catalyst who facilitates that conflict.

Although this is very much the Cap and Iron Man’s film, there are some great cameo appearances and newcomers here. I was excited to see Ant-Man join the Avengers for the first time, and the revelation of his new “special ability” is one of the best — and funniest — moments of the film. I also really loved Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther, and I’m excited for his upcoming solo film. He brings an outside perspective to the conflict, and he’s definitely a superhero you want to have on your side. And no review of “Civil War” would be complete without talking about Spider-Man. I was a little nervous about how the character would blend with the Avengers, but the Russos handle his introduction marvelously, sending Tony Stark to recruit the excitable and lovably awkward teenager. It’s also a blast to see him using his powers in the big showdown between the opposing groups of superheroes.

The film ends on a slightly ambiguous note, which I was actually happy about. There’s not a direct resolution to the conflict, and the Russos don’t completely repair the division in the team. I was concerned the film would try to rush and wrap everything up too neatly, and thankfully, it doesn’t do that. The conflict will continue to impact Marvel films in the future. All in all, I was very pleased with “Civil War.” I’m not sure yet exactly where this ranks on my list of favorite MCU films, but it’s definitely in the top 5. I guess I’ll just have to go see it again. 	                    <!-- /article-content -->
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