Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

The second special presentation from Marvel Studios dropped on Disney + this morning, following in the paw prints of Werewolf By Night. This is a Christmas special featuring the cast of teh Guardians of the Galaxy, written and directed by James Gunn.

With Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) feeling down, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) came up with a plan to boost their friend’s spirit. She and Drax (Dave Bautista) went to earth in search of the legendary hero, Kevin Bacon (Kevin Bacon) to bring him as a Christmas gift for Peter.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is in the vein of the Hallmark Christmas specials, much like Werewolf by Night was an homage to the 1930/40s Universal monster movies. A lot of the cheesy humor from those types of specials were in play on Disney + and it was great.

There were two songs included in the special, one co-written by James Gunn himself and they were wonderful. The first song from the beginning of the special was really funny and Peter’s reactions were perfect.

Drax and Mantis in Hollywood brought some funny moments, showing such a great chemistry between the pair of Guardians. When they arrived at Kevin Bacon’s home, things picked up even more.

There were actually a couple important pieces of information that was revealed in the special that will most likely play into the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in May, which proved that this was not just a throwaway piece of content. This is important moving forward and, to be honest, it makes me worry even more about Vol. 3 and its potential for emotional pain.

The special was a sweet and charming episode that started and ended with a bit of animation in a flashback. All the Guardians get a moment though clearly Mantis and Drax (along with Kevin Bacon) are the standouts and carry the story. It even ends with a heart warming moment.

Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is much better than the Star Wars Holiday Special. This is a fun and enjoyable interlude with our favorite Guardians (and a furry new one) that worked beautifully during this time of the year.

4.6 stars

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S1 E9


“Whose Show Is This?”

The finale for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law was one of the most original and, frankly, gutsy finales I have ever seen. It stepped up and claimed the show that they wanted this to be in the most satisfying way imaginable.

Kicking off the show with a parody of the 70s TV program The Incredible Hulk’s opening was brilliant. Having Jen step in for Bill Bixby and seeing her transform into the “Savage She-Hulk” just like Lou Ferrigno used to do was such a stroke of genius that it started this episode off which such a wonderful burst of energy and nostalgia. “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry”- the iconic line from that show is used so well, including Mark Ruffalo’s subtle head turn (which was really funny).

We then discover that Jen has been arrested by Damage Control after she flipped out after the Intelligencia played the sex tape of her and Josh. A deal is struck for her to wear and inhibitor and not to be allowed to be She-Hulk again. In an unbelievably unfair series of events, Jen loses her job, her apartment and has to move back in with her parents.

Can we pause a moment to mention how awesome Mark Lynn Baker was as Jenn’s father? He was so supportive of his daughter (so much more so than her mother… what a horrible woman she was). With every comment like “People go to jail every day” or that “I have water pressure for days,” Baker showed to be a rare thing, a supportive father in the MCU… which is a joke dropped later in the episode.

Another pair of side characters that we really could have used more of this season was Nikki and Pug. They returned in episode 9 to infiltrate the secret meeting of the Intelligencia. Watching Pug trying to be a douchebag is one of the most charming parts of the episode. Nikki’s constant banter in Pug’s earpiece was very funny.

This was also where we found out that, in the worst kept secret of the season, Todd Phelps was behind the Intelligencia and that he was Hulk King. This revelation was not that earth shaking for anyone who has been following the MCU over the last 14 years. Even Nikki knew this made sense. When Pug realized that Todd was Hulk King, Nikki reacted at first with shock and then said, “Oh that tracks.” LOL. Still, just because it was not the biggest surprise in the world does not mean that it is not the right move.

This was when the show started to begin the big “Marvel finale episode smash fest” that has been a criticism of so many other Marvel Disney + shows. People have complained about the finales of plenty of other Marvel shows, from WandaVision to Moon Knight, that the finale just devolved into a gigantic fight. So Abomination is there. Titania is there. Bruce’s Hulk is there and everyone is fighting.

By the way, I loved that Emil (Abomination) was not evil here. He was just speaking to the crowd like he does all the time. He was spouting his platitudes to the assembled Intelligencia without any real knowledge of what they stood for and he was being very broad in his words. It was nothing more than a paycheck and, actually, when the fighting started, Abomination helped Jen.

During this whole fight scene, Jen was breaking the fourth wall, complaining that none of these storylines made any sense and wondering why this was happening. She said that this can’t be where the season was heading.

It was then that the biggest risk ever from the MCU happened. For a second, I thought that something had gone wrong with Disney + because suddenly, there was the Disney + Marvel page… and She-Hulk was smashing through… obliterating the fourth wall.

She-Hulk moved through the Disney + menu and found herself in the “real” world. She-Hulk went to the writer’s room and went to see Kevin. It was not Kevin Feige as we expected, but instead K.E.V.I.N, an AI running the MCU, appeared in a little black hat.

The the show went ahead and satirized itself unmercifully with shots at the MCU movies all ending the same way, with Marvel Studios use of the non-disclosure agreement (NDA), the lack of sex in the MCU, the persona of Kevin Feige and how he is looked upon in a worshipping fashion, Marvel daddy issues, the cost of the special effects… along with plenty of other jokes. Marvel was not afraid to poke fun at itself, using all of the criticisms from the internet and its audience from over the years. It was META beyond all meta. And the reference Jen made to KEVIN about “When are we getting X-Men” with a cheeky smile and a thumbs up to the camera was just everything!

One of the best facts about She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is that there is not really a “Big Bad” like most series. The villain of the show was the Internet trolls that complain about everything to give a voice to their misogamy. Todd was the face of the organization, but the Intelligencia could be the real internet. It is like Marvel knew how this series would be seen by a section of the populace and they poked fun at it all along. It is also epic that the “Todd uses blood to turn into a Hulk” plot point was discarded so easily because the show was not about that. t was about Jennifer Walters accepting who she is… coming to grip with both the Jen side of her personality, but also the She-Hulk side, and that when she finally started to bring those together, he entire world gets yanked away. The show is saying that they did not need a gamma-irradiated Todd. Jen said it best. The Hulk powers were not the villain, Todd was.

Oh, and Daredevil showed up again, per Jen’s request. Then, Matt Murdock joined Jen at a “Fast and the Furious” style cook out at the end where Matt is grilled by Jen’s parents and the Hulk returned from Sakar and casually introduced his son Skaar! Such a major moment in MCU history and it was dropped so nonchalantly by Bruce that it really wotked within the concept of the show. One wonders where Skaar is heading next.

I know there are people out there who do not like She-Hulk: Attorney at Law for reasonable, fair reasons, but there is also a section of the internet who hate this because of the female led property that was parodied in this show. For me, this was a lot of fun from the first episode and that it took risks that no other Disney + show (with the exception of WandaVision) would dare to try. Tatiana Maslany was exceptional as Jennifer Walters all season long and the side characters, though underused, were characters that I would love spending time with. Tim Roth reemerged as Emil Blonsky, who went back to prison for parole violation, and is now hanging out with Wong at Kamar-Taj after escaping form his prison cell thanks a portal. I saw that post credit scene coming when I spotted Benedict Wong’s name in the credits along with Mark Ruffalo and Tim Roth and I knew we had not seen the Sorcerer Supreme in episode 9 yet.

She-Hulk is unapologetic for what it is and it bravely carved out a place inside (and outside) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was funny, full of comedic characters and still managed to move the MCU forward into the future. I enjoyed the series quite a bit.

Werewolf by Night

Review- No Spoilers

The one-hour special presentation of Werewolf by Night on Disney + was a surprise to many. There had been rumors about a Halloween special coming from Marvel Studios and that it would be featuring Jack Russell, the Werewolf by Night. It was a long time before it was confirmed that it was coming, with a fantastic trailer at D23.

Making his directorial debut with this short was composer Michael Giacchino, a real risky choice. Giacchino does an incredible job with some outstanding shots and a perfect tone, based on the Universal Monster movies from the 1930s and 1940s. Shot in black and white, Werewolf by Night is remarkably stylish and beautiful.

Longtime monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone had died and this triggered a ceremonial hunt by some of the greatest and most mysterious monster hunters in the world to learn who would gain control of the Bloodstone, the powerful artifact that Ulysses used to help kill the monsters he fought.

Organized by his widow Verussa (Harriet Sansom Harris), the monster hunters congregated at Bloodstone’s home for the opportunity to gain control of the Bloodstone. Ulysses’s daughter Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly), who had been estranged from her father for years, was among them, intending on claiming the Bloodstone as her birth right.

Another one of the hunters arriving was Jack Russell (Gael Garcia Bernal), who arrived with a dark secret that he kept hidden from the other hunters.

Verussa announced that there was a monster on the premises, and the first monster hunter to find and kill the monster would earn the right to carry the Bloodstone.

Laura Donnelly and Gael Garcia Bernal were spectacular in this show. They brought so much humanity to these characters. Both of these actors do wonderful work and fit these Marvel characters brilliantly.

As we saw in the trailers, we get our MCU debut of Man-Thing in Werewolf by Night. Man-Thing, which is named Ted, is performed by Carey Jones. The design on the character of Ted is awesome. There are specific details to Man-Thing that make this monster extra special. I do not want to go into any more specific about this character outside of the fact that Man-Thing is one of the most outstanding aspects of this special.

Of course, Giacchino not only directed the movie, but he also scored it and the music of Werewolf by Night was so great. It started off right at the beginning with the Marvel banner, the score of which Giacchino originally made and has been playing over the banner since Dr. Strange.

Werewolf by Night is one of the most original and creative entries into the MCU in years. It was unlike most anything that Marvel has ever done. It was tremendously violent and gory, with the black and white helping cover up the blood, of which there was plenty. The horror parts of the show really worked well and the film truly felt like one of those old Universal Monster movies. Giacchino knocked this out of the park and I hope he gets a chance to direct again. Werewolf by Night felt like a stand alone film that truly did not have much of a connection to the MCU, but yet opened another realm of possibilities for the franchise.

5 stars

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S1 E8


“Ribbit and Rip It”

This was the best episode of the season.

And it was not just because Daredevil was here.

But that helped.

Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock walked into the courtroom to defend Luke Jacobson against Jen Walters and her client, Leap Frog who was suing him because Leap Frog claimed his suit, that Luke made for him, was defective. Matt Murdock was awesome in the courtroom as he quickly got the case dismissed.

Big News too in the court: The Sokovia Accords were appealed. It was a line dropped by Matt Murdock, but it carried a ton of weight for the future of the MCU.

Matt and Jen then met up in a bar and they sparkled with chemistry. In just a few minutes, these two were just perfect for each other.

Daredevil and She-Hulk wound up in the typical super hero fight and She-Hulk was pretty impressive, though also very destructive.

Seeing Daredevil back fighting henchmen in a hallway was so awesome. The show used the Netflix Daredevil music in this scene and watching Daredevil dominating once again was such a great feeling.

Daredevil and She-Hulk team up to rescue Jacobson from Leap Frog’s secret headquarters, the Lilly Pad. Then, they hung out on the roof of the Lilly Pad and flirted like crazy.

And then they hooked up.

Unbelievable. Daredevil did the “walk of shame” afterwards.

The first part of this episode was so amazing that when the tone shifted, it became very unsettling. Jen, back in her apartment, started breaking the 4th wall and wondering why the episode wasn’t over yet. They also made a fun reference to the Red Hulk and to being “fridged.” It was unsettling how she reacted and then they went off to the gala for female lawyer of the year.

The Intelligencia came out fully as they played a video showing Jen and Josh having sex. Jen reacted in a violent manner and nearly lost control of her hulk.

This was such a great episode this week and I am excited to see the finale.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S1 E7


“The Retreat”

This week was another fun episode of She-Hulk. Jen headed out to check with Emil Blonsky, whose inhibitor seemed to be malfunctioning. She winds up being stranded at Blonsky’s retreat, Summer Twilight where she worked through a therapy session with Blonsky and some D-list villains.

I loved seeing this group of characters. Man-Bull, El Aguila, Porcupine, The Wrecker and Saracen, all real villains from the Marvel Comics. I loved how they worked Jen through her issues about Josh, the guy she met at her friend’s wedding and who has ghosted her after they slept together. As El Aguila said, “Josh has made an enemy of everyone in this group!”

By the way, in the comics El Aguila is a mutant. Just sayin’

Of course, we learn that Josh was a dirtbag from the start as the last scene showed us that he did take Jen’s blood and copied her phone while she slept. Josh has become the most hated character on the show because of what a slimeball he was manipulating Jen for Hulk King. It is ironic that the villains were the men Jen could count on, but all the other men in her life are bad.

When Josh did not respond to Jen’s text, she proved that the Muppets were canon in the MCU as she was watching The Great Muppet Caper.

More female power, right Internet????

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S1 E6


“Just Jen”

A self=contained wedding episode just as everyone was jonesing for Daredevil? Excellent.

We spend some more time with Jen Walters at a wedding where she is being treated like crap by this old friend who asked her to be a bridesmaid. This old friend would be a former friend if they tried to treat me the way they treated Jen.

Still, that was the minor issue as the major one was that Titania had manipulated her way into an invite and showed up with the intention of making trouble for Jen. Titania’s jealousy over She-Hulk was on full display when she confronted a very drunk Jen and wanted her to hulk-up so they could fight.

Did not turn out very well for Titania… once again.

We also discovered that Marvel’s super villain group known as The Intelligencia is in the MCU. It was first introduced with a hate web site that posted plenty of angry posts about She-Hulk and other topics. However, it looked as if the Intelligencia was behind the attempt of the Wrecking Crew to get some of Jen’s blood. With another new needle, it looks like that effort is going to turn up the volume.

Who is behind the Intelligencia? There are several options but, in my mind, the choice is simple. It is a character who has been confirmed to return in Captain America: New World Order. He is a character who was obsessed with the Hulk’s blood back in The incredible Hulk. I believe it is Samuel Sterns, the Leader, as played by Tim Blake Nelson. I could be wrong about that and it would turn out to be Todd, the slimy guy She-Hulk went on a date with (I do believe he is involved as well), but The Leader makes a lot of sense and was involved in the Intelligencia in the comics.

Another character making a debut this week was Mr. immortal. Mr. Immortal was a member of the Great Lakes Avengers in the Marvel comics and this week, he arrived at GLK & H with a legal problem. Apparently, Mr. Immortal had been married a few times over the years (9 or more) and, he was so afraid of confrontation, when he decided that it was time to tend the marriage, he would “kill” himself, which would not stick since he was immortal.

This B plot was extremely funny and was a great highlight for Nikki. I love the Great Lakes Avengers and Mr. Immortal is a perfect fit for this series.

I have really enjoyed the fact that She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has been a series that has a bunch of mostly self-contained episodes and does not feel the need to be one overarching story. Even though we are getting the Intelligencia, this feels like a sitcom in structure. That is great.

And we know that we are getting Daredevil, Frog Man, a returning Abomination for sure and who knows what else they have in mind.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S1 E5


“Mean, Green, and Straight Poured into These Jeans”

She-Hulk episode five built off the ending of the fourth episode as Jen Walters has to deal with Titania, who has trademarked the name She-Hulk and has placed it on squarely on a series of beauty products. In order to do this, Jen gets her co-worker, Mallory Book (Renee Elise Goldsberry), to take the case.

The story continued to focus on the dichotomy between She-Hulk and Jen Walters as they brought back the four dates from last week that wanted to date She-Hulk and put them on the stand to testify that they wanted to go out with She-Hulk, but not Jen Walters. This was a rough moment for Jen to hear.

There was also a side story featuring Nikki and Pug out to try and find a designer who could create clothing to fit She-Hulk. They had to take several steps along the way, including purchasing some off brand Avongers merchandise.

Nikki and Pug were fabulous together and I really hope that we get more with them as the season progresses. They were able to find someone who could create a wardrobe of clothes. They found Luke Jacobson, the MCU’s version of Edna Mode (from the Incredibles) and challenged him to design clothes for She-Hulk that would adjust to which body, either She-Hulk or Jen Walters, was in use. Jacobson took the challenge and apparently came through. However, there was another reason for bringing Jacobson into the MCU, which was the final tag of the show.

Does this mean that next week’s episode will feature the MCU debut of Daredevil? I think so…

Another cool bit on the show was during the closing credits where we see a drawing of Pug and his Iron Man 3s shoes, that he bought with the help of Nikki. Behind him is a bunch of shoes that are designed after other Marvel characters such as Captain America, Thor, Falcon, Spider-Man, Dr. Doom, Green Goblin, Deadpool, Frog Man, Cyclops, Black Panther, among many others. It was an awesome Easter egg that the art department gave us all.

The courtroom style drawings in the credits have been so cool all season long and this one is a highlight of the art.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S1 E4


“Is This Not Real Magic?”

Donny Blaze?

No, he is not Ghost Rider. He is a failing magician who has a sling ring. His use is a danger to the world and Wong returns again to try and put a stop to it.

My first thought as we saw Donny performing to a relatively bored crowd was, in a world with super heroes and sorcerers, wouldn’t a stage magician seem really boring. When reality is more amazing than the show, how do these magicians survive?

With the return of Wong, and the arrival of Maddisynn, there were a lot of laughs with the ditzy character who spoils The Sopranos and our Sorcerer Supreme. Wong and Maddisynn had some great chemistry and the humor was right on point. Benedict Wong does a masterful job of keeping the balance between the strange humor and the seriousness of his position. Wong seems to be able to fit into any tone or any situation in the MCU ( or is it the Wong Cinematic Universe?)

She-Hulk does some online dating and she finds every loser in LA. Wong’s line about feeling like Jen’s dad when he arrived and interrupted Jen and her date on the couch was hilarious.

The episode ends with Jen receiving a court notice about Titania sewing Jen over her use of the name She-Hulk, which Titania had copyrighted.

The post credit scene included Wong and his bestie, Maddisyn with two Ns, an I and a Y but not where you think!

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S1 E3


“The People vs. Emil Blonsky”

Another great episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. And we got…


The Sorcerer Supreme has ben all around the Marvel Cinematic Universe during phase 4 and it is great. You can never have enough Benedict Wong. He showed up at the law office in response to Jennifer Walters’s request for questioning over the video from Shang Chi that was floating around at the end of the episode last week.

I thought that the two 4th Wall Breaking this episode were some of the best of the series so far. It started with Jen in a car saying that this was not a “cameo every week” show (despite there being Bruce, Emil and Wong, as she said). The second was my favorite when Jen said the “A & B plots coming together, nice” was so meta and clever.

Another cameo was the appearance of Grammy winner Megan Thee Stallion, as herself. She showed up to twerk with She-Hulk in the post credit scene.

One of the best moments of the show may have slipped by many people. When a reporter asked Jen about the rumor that she had gained her super powers from a mob hit gone wrong, that was a shout out to She-Hulk’s real comic book origin.

The Wrecking Crew arrived too. Now, they got crushed by She-Hulk, but that did not bother me any. They seem as if they had just gotten their weapons just recently. The big part of the use of the Wrecking Crew was the reveal that they had a “Boss” that wanted She-Hulk’s blood. Who could that be? Val? The Leader? Thunderbolt Ross? There are plenty of possible choices.

Jen wins her case by getting Emil Blonsky released from the DODC. The B plot with Pug was a lot of fun too even though the most unlikable character, Dennis, was involved. There were a bunch of shenanigans with the shapeshifting Asgardian elf.

Love She-Hulk’s man’s suit too.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S1 E2


“Superhuman Law”

I’m a little behind on the She-Hulk write-up, but I watched this show on Thursday when it comes out. I have enjoyed the first two episode tremendously.

Let me address this week’s internet controversy over the short run time of She-Hulk episode 2. Some are losing their minds because they felt it was too short. My guess is that, since they moved the origin stuff from episode one up (it was supposed to be in ep.8) that the tag at the end in the court with Titania from last week, was meant to be with this episode. That makes sense to me why this wound up a few minutes shorter. Now, if you are saying that the show is only 28-30 minutes long and you want more, there is not much I can tell you. This is a sitcom and most sitcoms run about 30 minutes (23 with commercials).

Bruce Banner returned for a wonderful cameo in this episode where he dropped one of the best lines of any Marvel property when he and Jen were talking about her taking on Emil Blonsky’s case and Bruce said, “Jen, that fight was so many years ago, I’m a completely different person now – literally.” This was a laugh out loud moment with the reference to Ed Norton from the Incredible Hulk and one of the best Breaking the Fourth Wall moments so far.

And by the way, greatest cell phone reception ever…

Meanwhile, Bruce is on a ship heading to Sakar, most likely not to return this season. Mark Ruffalo’s use in this show has been nearly perfect, showing a great deal of chemistry between the cousins. While bringing credibility to Jen, he also gave us some moments with Hulk that we have never had.

The main thrust of the show came across this week as Jen is hired for a Superhuman Defense with the competition, the GLKH law firm. First, Jen was fired from her job and seemed to be unhirable since she was a distraction to juries.

Tim Roth returned as Emil Blonsky, the Abomination, with a reasonable argument as to why he should be paroled, armed with heartfelt Haikus. Roth is a great actor and he looked like he was having a lot of fun. The show then tossed footage from Shang Chi showing Abomination and Wong fighting in the underground cage fight.

Cousin Larry showed up as Jen’s father. Mark Linn-Baker, who was one of the stars of the 80s sitcom Perfect Strangers, arrived as Jenn’s oddball father and we meet the remainder of this strange group of family members.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law has been very solid so far and has a lot of humor. I am excited about seeing the next episode Thursday.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law S1 E1


“A Normal Amount of Rage”

The next Marvel Studios television program debuted this past Thursday on Disney + as we got the first episode of a nine-episode sitcom, the first for the MCU, in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

Tatiana Maslany was cast as Jennifer Walters, cousin of Bruce Banner, who winds up being exposed to Banner’s blood after a car wreck. Banner’s blood turned his cousin into another Hulk.

Turned out that Jennifer was different than Bruce as she could retain her intelligence after transformation as well as being able to change back and forth.

This first episode was great. The interactions between Jenn and Bruce were some of the best writing you could get. Smart Hulk talked about the time during the blip where he was able to integrate his Hulk sides into what he was now. When he spoke about Tony Stark, there was such emotion. These scenes really gave us some much needed depth to the Green Goliath.

Mark Ruffalo did a fantastic job delivering the excellent dialogue and he and Maslany had amazing chemistry. The training montages were funny and charming, even though I had seen most of these in the trailers. My personal favorite one was when Hulk threw the boulder into orbit to show that he was stronger than Jenn.

However, this is clearly Tatiana Maslany’s show. She is perfectly cast as She-Hulk and she brings it. Known as a great actor and an Emmy winner from Orphan Black, Maslany is able to not only provide funny lines, but also the dramatic moments and the MCU world building.

The CGI had been controversial after the first trailer was released and She-Hulk did not look very good. Here, the CGI had been much improved. Was it perfect? No, but I do not think it needed to be. It is difficult to create full human faces and this is very close.

The mid-credit scene was one of the best of all the MCU as one of the most debated questions ever was answered- Was Steve Rogers a virgin?

The use of the Breaking of the 4th Wall was done beautifully too. It was not overused, and each time fit right in with what the show was trying to do. Like let people know that this is a lawyer show.

The first episode was great and I am excited to see where they go with their sitcom.

I Am Groot

Today, Disney + dropped a new Marvel series, I Am Groot. This was five animated shorts that followed the life of Baby Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel.

The shorts were all between 3-6 minutes, so they were a very quick and easy watch. The character of Baby Groot is remarkably cute, predating even the cuteness of Grogu. Each episode took a small moment with our favorite walking tree and created a fun, humorous and enjoyable interlude.

While, I Am Groot is clearly directed toward a younger audience, there is plenty here for the older viewers as well. The humor tends toward the dark end of the spectrum and there are a couple of moments that are laugh out loud funny.

The animation is gorgeous. It is so full of life and beautifully rendered. There are several specially designed characters through the five shorts.

My favorite of the shorts was entitled “Groot’s Pursuit” where Groot wakes up in the middle of the night and encountered a water-based creature. The end of the short has everything great about Baby Groot and the Guardians of the Galaxy type humor.

These shorts are just fun and they are uncomplicated. They do not require you to worry about the greater MCU, the significance of the story or finding the hints toward the future of the films. It is just here and it is a joy of visual storytelling with a bare minimum of dialogue. I hope Marvel continues making shorts with Baby Groot and other edges of the MCU.

Ms. Marvel S1 E6


“No Normal”

The finale for the first season of Ms. Marvel on Disney + aired this morning and was just a fantastic finale that really nailed the landing on one of the most surprising, unexpected and undervalued Marvel Studios series on the streaming service since they began producing them.

And… in the biggest shock of all… Kamala Khan was revealed to have a “mutation” according to her best buddy and science whiz Bruno. As if that word wasn’t enough of a trigger for Marvel fans, the few chords of the X-Men Animated theme played over top of the scene to tell everybody… yep, we have just introduced “mutants” into the MCU and we did it in Ms. Marvel episode 6.

Not in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Not Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Not in WandaVision. Not in Loki. Not in Thor: Love and Thunder. Not in any of the other countless, constantly-speculated series or movies from Marvel Studios. Nope, in Ms. Marvel.

Of course, some people are still mad that she is not an Inhuman. Some people are still sore about them changing her origin and her powerset. None of that bothered me in the slightest because the real key to the character of Kamala Khan is not that she was an Inhuman, but that she had this large and supportive family. Honestly, I loved the way they adjusted her powers and we even got the “embiggen” in this episode, despite it being shown in a different style than in the comic pages.

Once again, with Kamala back in Jersey City, the main focus of this series, which has been going since the beginning, is that of family. The Pakistan episodes 4 & 5 still dealt with family, but felt a little weaker because we lost out on everyone except Kamala, Muneeba and Sana.

Episode six, back in Jersey City, took the best parts of the first three episodes (the art design, Bruno, Nakia, Yusuf) and the next two (increased powers, Kamala and her mom) and blended them into a great final episode.

Great family bits:

  • Muneeba present Kamala with her new superhero suit.
  • Kamala announces to her family that she was “Light girl” and they already knew because Muneeba told Yusuf and he had it on speaker.
  • Yusuf, sitting on the roof of their house, telling what the name “Kamala” meant and it leading to Ms. Marvel.
  • Aamir appears from out of nowhere to watch over Kamala because his mother wanted him to and Kamala says “Superheroes don’t need chaperones”
  • Muneeba says to a concerned Yusuf about trusting Kamala, a switch from episode 1.
  • Kamala and Nakia make up.
  • Zoe joins the group at the school and becomes a big part of the “Home Alone” bit.

I thought the battle with Damage Control at the end was tremendous. I loved the use of the powers and how Kamran’s powers were both potent and out of control. This series was not about the villains, which is why there are several people who feel like there was something missing. The whole storyline with the ClanDestine and Damage Control was meant to give them a plot point. This show was about the Kamala and her friends and family.

I say this every week, but Iman Vellani is absolutely a treasure, and she needs to be protected at all cost. I have heard some people criticize her performance in some of the more emotional moments from episode 5, dismissing it because of her lack of experience. I hope that, as she learns more of the craft, she does not lose the realism, the authentic nature of Iman Vellani that she showed every time she was on the screen. I truly believe that Iman Vellani could be the new Robert Downey Jr. of the MCU as we move along into Phase 5 and beyond.

And then there was a mid-credit scene featuring Carol Danvers that really was confusing, but was clearly a set up for The Marvels film coming in July 2023. Bri Larson looked fabulous in her new costume.

Ms. Marvel S1 E5


“Time and Again”

Ms. Marvel’s fifth episode was one of the more different Marvel Disney + episodes than we have gotten before, and Marvel Studio took the opportunity to teach us something about history that we did not know.

The episode kicked off with a video that looked like an old time news reel detailing the history of India around the time of its independence from Great Britain. Then, we spent a good chunk of the time of the episode centered around Aisha (Kamala’s mysterious great-grandmother) and how she met Hasan (Kamala’s great grandfather). We saw the baby who would become Kamali’s grandmother Noni and their family’s attempt to flee along with all of the other people during the Partition.

This first 20 minutes or so really punctuated what we would eventually see at the train station, setting up the emotional stakes for this family, and continued to show how long Najma has been trying to return to her dimension and how Aisha had tethered herself to this dimension through her daughter Sana.

Then, the whole recreation of the Khan family story about the disappearance of Aisha at the train station and how Sana was saved from being lost by a “trail of stars” which turned out to be Kamala herself and her noor power.

This section was very emotional and powerful, although, with all time travel stories, it makes it difficult if you try to think about it.

When Kamala returned back to her own time, the episode goes into fast forward, it seemed. The whole veil storyline with Najma wrapped up quickly as the veil was closed, Najma and the other ClanDestines were killed and her powers were sent to Kamran. The thing is that the whole ClanDestine storyline is a background plot. Najma is not the “big bad” of the series. She is an obstacle.

The story of Ms. Marvel is Kamala finding her way to be the hero she is within her family and the interactions of Kamala with her family. In that way, this is unlike other Marvel shows on Disney + because the superhero action is not the primary focus.

Because of this, the best scenes of this episode feature the family. When Muneeba discovered that Kamala was that “Light girl” and the connection between the three generations, it was one of the most beautiful moment of the show.

The end of the episode came really suddenly with Bruno and Kamran and the drones of Damage Control exploding the store. This part of the show could have been expanded a touch. This was the shortest episode of the series so far and could have benefitted overall from another 10 minutes or so.

Next week is the season finale for Ms. Marvel. I can not believe that we won’t see Captain Marvel in a post credit scene. Plus, we should get Kamala’s final costume that she has been building up over the last five episodes.

Baymax! Season One

Some may not realize, but Baymax, who appeared in the Oscar-winning animated film Big Hero 6 in 2014 is actually from Marvel Comics. The characters are not from the main Marvel comics continuity (to say Earth 616) and so they also do not appear in the MCU (perhaps in is one one of the multiversal earths). Still, they are a Marvel property and so it fits in the Marvel on Disney + section of EYG.

The Baymax! series on Disney + features six episodes that are shorts (between 10-15 minutes each). The first four episodes had a basic formula to it. Someone in the city of San Fransokyo said something that drew the attention of Baymax (like ‘Ow’) and he would come and try and provide comfort and aid. Then at the end, he would be back at his home and Hiro would come in and ask him about his day, which would result in a humorous joke to tag the episode.

However, the story between the formula was anything but typical. He helped Hiro’s mom with her diner, a woman get over a long held sadness, a girl who had her first period, a man who served fish who developed an allergy to fish and then in episode 5, a cat.

These were all extremely charming and handled with great sensitivity and care. There was also a lot of humor in each episode as it was very funny as Baymax desperately tried to provide the care each character needed, whether they wanted him to do so or not.

I was really impressed with the episode about the young girl who was having her first period and the show spoke about the menstrual cycle in a calm and positive manner while still being able to mine the situation for the humor involved. The humor was just not based on the typical awkwardness of the situation. Baymax was not awkward in the moment because he was just trying to provide aid to the girl. The funniest moment was Baymax trying to buy the proper feminine product at the store and having everyone in the store recommending something different.

Apparently, this episode (along with another one where they guy with the fish allergy , who was gay and built up his confidence to ask another guy out) cause controversy among the conservatives. I had not even noticed it when it first happened, but apparently, in the scene I mentioned about the purchasing of the feminine products, there was a transgender individual there with a recommendation too, wearing a pride flag shirt. I honestly had not even thought about it as I watched it. It was just another person in the scene to me.

Of course, the cries that this was, “…part of Disney’s plan to re-engineer the discourse around kids and sexuality” tweeted by Christopher Rufo, the conservative academic from the right-leaning think tank, the Manhattan Institute, appeared on Twitter and in a New York Post article.

There is nothing sexual in this episode. It is just a part of life that children who may be watching Disney + will go through. There is no reason why a show with a character such as Baymax shouldn’t show how to treat people who are different with sensitivity and respect. I rewatched the scenes in question and I just do not understand why someone would have trouble with anything this sweet and kindly.

The final two episodes, where Baymax tried to help a cat, end up as a two-parter where Baymax finds himself with a run down battery inside a warehouse scheduled for destruction. Hiro has to unite the people who Baymax helped over the course of the series to assemble and find the robot before it was too late. This was an awesome change of the formula and pulled the whole six episodes together into a finale.

Baymax is a fabulous character and the series does a great job of highlighting how caring the robot is, while also being remarkably entertaining and funny. The six episodes are currently on Disney +.