Jeremy Renner

MCU Civil War Sides are Chosen

Two months ago, we brought to you our picks for how we thought the Civil War sides would fall.  Recently, Jeremy Renner (better known to you all as Hawkeye) posted on Twitter some very interesting concept art that clearly divides our favorite heroes.  Before we show you that, let’s remind you where we had our heroes stand:

Pro-anti 2

Now, here’s Renner’s post:

https://twitter.com/Renner4Real/status/636950538777702400/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

As you can see, we weren’t far off at all!  The major difference between the two lists is obviously Hawkeye himself.  We had him slotted for Team Iron Man, along with the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. members.  It would seem that whatever is about to go down between the Avengers, Hawkeye has been deeply affected by the events in Avengers: Age of Ultron and will be suspicious of Tony for the time being.

Now, there’s another aspect of this poster that we have to talk about:  there’s a blonde woman siding with Captain, and consequently, there’s no Scarlet Witch.  Being as it is  just concept art at this point, it definitely doesn’t mean we won’t see Scarlet Witch at all (she was cast in the movie already.)  However, there is a Sharon Carter in the poster.  She had a small, but important role in the comics version of Civil War that would cause so many spoiler issues we dare not even write it.  Her part, though, in both Captain America:  Winter Soldier and the comics, should in no way constitute an image on the poster.  We already have many issues with Marvel’s current treatment of their female characters; this does nothing but make it worse.

A huge surprise is the addition of Black Panther fighting for Team Iron Man.  Rumors, and even allusions in Avengers: Age of Ultron, lead us to believe that Black Panther would be sitting this fight out, avoiding all of the American superhero politics.  How he will be introduced and developed in this film will be a huge plot point and one that we’re all interested in  seeing.  On the bright side, it does mean his character isn’t completely being phased out by Marvel’s introduction of Spider-Man into the MCU.

Lastly, there’s no Hulk.  He was cast and yet he’s not here.  Well, there could be several reasons behind that.  He may still be on the lam, not willing to join the fray and take a side any time soon.  He may not be ready to stand with or against Natasha in another battle. Despite their feelings, she did end up forcing him back into Hulk mode, which he was clearly unwilling to do at the time.  His part may be so small that he’s merely there to set up something in the future.  While Planet Hulk is still a pipe dream (thanks, Universal), the possibilities of Hulk’s future aren’t as limited as they seem.  Marvel can get pretty creative when they want to be.

Did your predictions get it right?  What do you think of all the new costumes?  Be sure to comment below with how you think the Civil War will change the MCU! Whose side are you on?

 

MCU Civil War Sides are Chosen

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Review

The latest Mission: Impossible installment hit theaters this weekend. Here’s my spoiler free review of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

Overview:

Following the events of Ghost Protocol, the IMF is under investigation for their often explosive tactics. Leading the investigation is CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). Amidst the political problems, IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has found evidence of a terrorist organization known as the Syndicate. As the IMF is under threat of being permanently shut down, the ranking head of the IMF, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), urges Ethan to hunt down and expose the Syndicate in what could be his last mission.

Rogue Nation – The Good:

1. There are many returning faces in Rogue Nation. In addition to Renner, Ving Rhames, and Simon Pegg reprise their respective roles of Luther Stickell and Benji Dunn. It was nice to see Luther back as he only made a cameo in Ghost Protocol.

Simon Pegg reprises his role as Benji Dunn in Rogue Nation.

Simon Pegg reprises his role as Benji Dunn in Rogue Nation.

2. Rogue Nation also has a few new characters as well. Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) serves as the head of the Syndicate and as a sort of Moriarty to Ethan. We are also introduced to Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), an agent of the Syndicate whose own loyalties prove to be a mystery throughout the film. It was nice to have another female character in the franchise who was quite competent and also has an interesting background.

3. The opening of Rogue Nation is hands-down the best one of the series. It features the exceptionally real airplane stunt performed by Tom Cruise instead of a stunt double. The scene is intense and fun with Cruise hanging onto the airplane as it takes off. In addition to serving as an excellent hook for the audience, it also leads right into the rest of the plot rather than just being a standalone scene.

Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust in Rogue Nation.

Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust in Rogue Nation.

4. The film follows all the rules of a Mission: Impossible movie with action, twists, as well as an “impossible” break-in to a well-guarded complex. The formula is an old one, but it still seems to work for Rogue Nation.

Rogue Nation – The Bad:

Since Mission: Impossible III, we have been seeing a lot more returning characters to the sequels. But once again, the previous female agent, Jane Carter, from Ghost Protocol is not among them. It felt a bit unbalanced with a team of guys working together instead of at least one female. And yes, we get Ilsa, but, as previously stated, she is a wildcard. We don’t know where her loyalties lie until the very end of Rogue Nation.

Rogue Nation has plenty of action.

Rogue Nation has plenty of action.

Conclusion

 

It’s sort of strange to think that Tom Cruise has been making Mission: Impossible movies for almost 20 years, but he’s still throwing himself headfirst into the role. It’s unclear how many more of these movies he has in him, but, as long as they prove to work with the excellent formula set up in the previous films, I for one will continue to watch them. Rogue Nation still does not surpass Mission: Impossible III for me, but it’s a fun movie that has earned a place in the franchise.

Have you seen the latest installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise? Let us know your thoughts on Rogue Nation in the comments below!

 

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Review

Mission: Impossible – Treating Women like People

I didn’t intend to write anything about Mission Impossible, even with the latest installment of the series debuting in a few days.  But Netflix conspired against me and put the first two movies in the series up on the Recommended for You list.  Inevitably I ended up watching both of them, and there are some things that I feel need to be said about them.

We give Disney and Marvel a lot of grief since, despite all of the things they do right, they have continued to be extremely hesitant to dedicate any time or money to developing their female superhero characters into being much more than supporting characters.  Black Widow easily deserves her own movie.  Hopefully, we’ll see a lot more of Wasp after Ant-Man…but who knows at this point?  We’ll get Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers in a few years, but until then, that’s pretty much it.

The renewed attention to this inequality made it impossible for me to watch the Mission Impossible films and not apply the same concerns here.  So lets look at each movie briefly to see how it treats the female characters vs male characters.

There will be spoilers for the first 4 movies in the franchise, but not for Rogue Nation.  Since the previous entry in the series was released in 2011, I feel no guilt about discussing spoilers.

Mission: Impossible – Franchise Analysis

 

Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible

The movie seems to start out well, as the 6 person team that Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is a part of is split right down the middle: 3 men, 3 women.  But that observation falls apart as soon as you examine what each character does.

For the men, we’ve got the Team Leader (Jon Voight), the Point Man (Cruise), and the Computer Guy (Emilio Estevez).  What do the women do?  One of them got a job at the embassy before the action even started, so anything cool or impressive that she did happened completely off camera.  The second’s entire job seems to be to simply stand around, wearing sunglasses indoors, watching how a specific person moves through the crowd.  Definitely not a job that could be performed by a computer or someone hacked into security feeds.

And the third female member of the team?  Her sole qualification seems to be that she is the wife of the Team Leader.

By the time that first team mission is over, the first two female characters have been killed off and the Team Leader’s wife also dies towards the end of the film.  Where her loyalties lie is one of the turning points of the plot, but it’s never particularly clear what skills she brings to the team or why she is even there, other than “the plot demands it”.

 

Mission: Impossible II

mi2

Right off the bat, this movie commits the sin of sending Ethan Hunt to recruit Nyah (Thandie Newton), ostensibly for her skills as a thief, only to upend that assumption when it is revealed that her entire purpose is due to her previous relationship with the movie’s villain.  Whatever skills the character may have are irrelevant.  What’s important is that the character is a woman, and that she’s pretty, and that the villain wants her in the worst kind of way.  At no point does the movie treat her as anything more than a prize to be won.  In fact, it gets worse once she injects herself with the movie’s supervirus, which turns her into a literal prize to be won and woman to be saved.

 

Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible IIIThe only female characters of note in this film are Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell) and Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan), respectively Ethan’s protege and fiancé (and later wife).  Lindsey dies at the conclusion of the mission that opens the movie.  Julia is largely a non-presence in the movie, and primarily seems to serve as a plot device so that Ethan can be killed via an electric shock and then brought back, since Julia is a nurse.

 

We do get a female agent, Zhen Lei (Maggie Q), but it’s been a long time since I watched Mission: Impossible III, and the Wikipedia page for this movie doesn’t say anything about this character or what she does in the movie, other than the fact that she exists.

 

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Apparently the marriage to Julia was never meant to last (who knew?), because at the start of this movie she is believed to be dead.  At the end of the movie she is revealed to be alive and well, and that her death was faked in order to protect her while Ethan continues to do crazy stuff for the IMF (while threatening to quit at the end of nearly every movie).  Once again, the character is used as more of a plot device than a character.

It took until the fourth movie in the franchise to give us a female agent that doesn’t die in the opening sequence and isn’t a traitor.  I can’t help but think there’s something wrong with that.  Yet Jane Carter (Paula Patton), for as competent as she is in combat, is effectively a blank slate.  We learn nothing about her history or her character, other than “competent, loyal agent”.   And yet in the same movie we get William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) who actually has a story and character arc built around him in the movie.

The Verdict

I suppose an argument can be made that these movies are primarily Tom Cruise movies.  He is the star of the movies, after all, right?  Except that as the movies have progressed we get more and more characters that stick around for the next movie.  Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) has been in every single one of the movies along with Tom Cruise.  Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) joined the team in Mission: Impossible III, with Brandt in Ghost Protocol.

So whoever is running the franchise has absolutely no problem creating new characters to add to the team and building new movies around, so long as they are male.

And that’s the biggest issue I’m having with these movies right now.  The feeling I get coming away from them is that the movie thinks, ultimately, women are interchangeable with each other.

From what I’ve seen of the marketing for Rogue Nation, I can’t say that I’m particularly hopeful that this movie will change things at all.

What do you think about the Mission: Impossible movies? Are we missing any strong, significant female characters? Comment below!

Mission: Impossible – Treating Women like People