Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Grizzlor wrote:

Speaking of Ms. Marvel, I put myself through a 2.5 hour continue video game cutscene, also known as The Marvels.  A movie lacking any coherent plot, and just one CGI infused scene after the other.  Ending with another brutal take on the Marvel multiverse by Disney.

THE MARVELS was one hour and 45 minutes, so it was 1.75 hours. Exaggeration is one thing, but it is quite unreasonable to claim a movie is 42.86 percent longer than its actual running length.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

That might have just been an estimate.  The thing about the Marvels though is that its short runtime is notable because the movie actually feels a bit hacked.  I think, like many of the Phase Four movies, they struggled with reshoots, and I think they struggled to put a coherent movie together.

I think it was fine, but you can see the ghosts of a few storylines that were abandoned that would've probably been included in a longer movie.  And the decision was made to make it be shorter.  I also think covid delays also led to confusion regarding the connections to Secret Invasion, and I think it ended up massively hurting both projects (but I don't know if it would've been enough to save either).

I think the movie was fine, but I think the problem with Phase Four is a lack of overall direction.  I don't think every movie needs to tie into the overall Multiverse Arc (and ironically, this one sorta does), but fair or not, the standalone stories just sorta feel pointless.  Which wasn't necessarily the case in earlier phases.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

It's fine to not like THE MARVELS, I was disappointed by the ongoing blankness of Carol's character and how the movie relied upon Brie Larson's charisma over an actual character arc, and there are numerous awkward dialogue patches such as the part where a planet losing all water is 'resolved' with a line about a science team working to resolve the matter. But a 105 minute movie is not a 150 minute movie. I don't take any issue with someone not enjoying a superhero girls' night, but THE MARVELS, whatever its faults, is a pretty short movie.

On the subject of a superhero girls' night, MADAME WEB is clearly at its strongest when it embraces that it's about a quartet of girlfriends (which is about 40 percent of the movie), and it's at its weakest when it fails to capitalize on the energy of its combined cast (which is about 60 percent). I thankfully did not pay to see MADAME WEB and putting the ticket on a gift card that my work supervisor gave me made me forgive most of its sins. If I'd paid a full $18.65 US dollars to watch this, I might have been angry.

MADAME WEB is, like VENOM and MOBIUS, Sony trying to mine its Spider-Man adjacent intellectual property, creating live-action Spider-Man spin-offs without having an actual live-action Spider-Man from which to spin-off. They keep hiring amazing talent for these films: Tom Hardy, Jared Leto are master thespians, and Dakota Johnson is an amazing performer. But the attempt to work around the absence of Spider-Man while tying into Spider-Man's mythology makes all of these Sony films very shaky and awkward.

Throughout MADAME WEB, there is an eerie forcefulness in director SJ Clarkson's flowing edits and camera movements that pull you into Cassie Webb's head as a psychic with a truly peculiar perspective of the present and the future, and a joyful camaraderie between the Spider-Girls, the teenaged Jessica Cornwall, Mattie Franklin and Anya Corazon, and the way they relate to Dakota Johnson's Cassie as their protector and overbearing sister. Johnson's performance as Cassie captures a hilarious frustated incredulity at her unlocked psychic abilities. There's a wonderful chemistry that the actresses achieve. It's a pleasure to enjoy their superhero girls' night with them.

But then there's the whole movie around them which is baffling. MADAME WEBB takes a quarter of the film to get Cassie and the kids together; the movie then has Cassie leave the kids somewhere else on two separate occasions, starving the film of the screentime needed to create meaningful relationships. The friendships are entirely dependent on the charisma of actresses Sydney Sweeney (Jessica), Isabela Merced (Anya) and Celeste O'Connor (Mattie); the script barely does anything to establish their bond.

There's the way in which the Spider-Man mythology is undermined. MADAME WEB is half-heartedly set in 2003, featuring payphones, Blockbuster, lack of easy access to the internet, limited use of satellite, barely any internet-connected cameras. The only reason for this seems to be to justify why the villain has so much trouble locating the protagonists, and MADAME WEB declares that it's set at least a decade before Spider-Man debuts.

However, the villain of MADAME WEB is Ezekiel Simms (Tahar Rahim), who murdered his way to stealing a mystical spider from Peru that grants him enhanced strength and agility, the ability to transfer toxic venom from his body into victims, and the ability to stick to walls and ceilings. Simms wears a Spider-Man-esque costume... so what we have here is the iconography of Spider-Man being pre-dated by a villain. Peter Parker is no longer the creator of Spider-Man's costume, but a mimic and an imitator. I don't understand why Sony would undermine Peter Parker this way.

The Ezekiel Simms character is extremely murky. We never get a good look at his evil-Spider-Man costume. His powers are apparently stolen (by stealing the spider) from a remote tribe in Peru that lives in the wild and has Spider-Man's powers (although we only really meet one member of this tribe and he exists only for exposition). The movie never explains Ezekiel's wealth and influence or how stealing a spider led to his superpowers. The movie has Ezekiel having prophetic dreams of being killed in the heat of combat by older versions of Jessica, Anya and Mattie who have spider-powers; we never find out how the spider-girls get their powers (the movie ends before it happens) or why they will be fighting Ezekiel in the future.

I'm not sure about some of the changes to the source material. Ezekiel in the comics was a sometimes-friend/sometimes-enemy of Peter Parker; he's been made totally malevolent here. Jessica Carpenter (the second Spider-Woman in the comics) has become Jessica Cornwall. I do think it's good that Mattie Franklin, white in the comics, was cast by the Black and spectacularly fun Celeste O'Connor. Cassandra Web in the comics is much older than Dakota Johnson.

At the halfway mark, the movie loses its grip on its story of an adult woman and three girls bonding in a crazy situation, but regains it for the finale setpieces. However, the film really does not capitalize well enough on Cassie Webb's precognitive powers. The TV show THE DEAD ZONE excelled in its first two seasons at having psychic Johnny Smith see deadly futures and then attempt to rearrange items, people, positions, and situations to avert horrific outcomes.

MADAME WEB has two instances where Cassie uses her powers in with some DEAD ZONE-esque cleverness, but aside from that, Cassie just uses her powers to know where to run away with the girls. The final action sequence gives up entirely on Cassie's precognitive powers and just has Cassie suddenly manifest remote projection and telekinesis rather than attempting something more creative.

SJ Clarkson strikes me as a terrific director; Dakota Johnson strikes me as brilliant actress and both have wrung something superficially enjoyable out of what seems to me like a very poorly developed screenplay. MADAME WEB seems like a weird car crash of six different screenplays written by its six different screenwriters.

There's the story of Dakota Johnson's Cassie Webb discovering she can see the future, there is the story of three teenaged girls being hunted by a spider-themed supervillain, there is the story of a prequel lead-in to Peter Parker, there is the story of a Peruvian tribe of spider-powered humans, there is the story of three superheroines developing spider-powers; there is the story of three teen superheroines led by an adult psychic. Then there's whatever revisions SJ Clarkson made as this was filmed.

All seem to collide into a movie that is deeply confused about what story it is telling, except when it features Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Mercad, and Celeste O'Connor in the same scene on their superhero girls' night. Those are the only scenes where MADAME WEB feels like a movie instead of test footage for a peculiar brand development exercise from Sony as they try to make something profitable out of ancillary, Spider-Man adjacent properties (Madame Web, Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, Arana, Ezekiel, etc.).

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

So if Sony wanted to just make Spider-Man 4 with Tobey Maguire, are they able to do that?  Or is there something in their deal with Marvel Studios that says they can't use Spider-Man in their own movies?

Since we're going to have multiple Batman projects going on at the same time, I don't see why the public wouldn't be okay with multiple Spider-Man projects.  But I assume they are legally barred from doing that.  Because if Sony wants to do this stuff, that's what they should do.  If not a continuation of Maguire Spider-Man, then a continuation of Garfield Spider-Man.  Or a team-up of them both.

I assume they can't use Holland, or they would have put him in all of these movies.  I just can't imagine that making all these movies makes any sense for Sony.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I do not think there is anything to stop Sony from making another Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield movie, but it might make Marvel disinclined to contribute their services for the Marvel Cinematic Universe SPIDER-MAN films and it might split Sony's resources in opposing directions.

My understanding is that the contract between Marvel and Sony puts Marvel in the lead position for handling the Tom Holland Spider-Man creatively; Sony gets 75 percent of the gross from the movies in exchange for Marvel having 90 to 100 percent control of the Tom Holland version of the character... and Marvel doesn't want the Tom Holland version of Spider-Man in a non-Marvel Cinematic Universe film because they have no say or control over those.

Sony had Holland film one day on the first VENOM movie and Marvel asked Sony to take out the scene and not do that again, and I have to think the legal arrangement meant Sony had to comply.

However, Sony was free to make INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE and ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE without Marvel and feature Donald Glover in a cameo. I don't think there's any contractual restriction on Sony making non-Marvel Studios Spider-Man films, which would mean that Sony could absolutely rehire Maguire or Garfield for SPIDER-MAN IV or THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN III. But they probably don't see the point of competing with a Marvel Studios-directed Spider-Man film for which Sony gets 75 percent of the money.

From what I can tell, Sony doesn't want to lose the film rights to Spider-Man, and to keep it, they are required to periodically make a movie that uses the Spider-Man rights. Every three years and nine months, they have to start production on a Spider-related film; every five years and nine months, they have to release a Spider-related film to theatres. This Spider-related film does not have to be titled Spider-Man or feature Spider-Man in order to meet this legal requirement. The film just has to use some portion of the Spider-Man intellectual property.

If they do not do this, the Spider-Man film rights revert back to Marvel. FOX failed to get a Daredevil movie off the ground and the rights reverted back to Marvel.

Sony won't allow that. And the Tom Holland film series with Marvel was viewed as a temporary arrangement that could end or see its films delayed as Marvel has other superheroes besides Spider-Man. Sony has made VENOM, MORBIUS, VENOM II, MADAME WEB and KRAVEN and PETER PARKER'S NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR'S DENTIST in order to ensure they can hang onto the Spider-Man film rights even if Marvel ends the arrangement or fails to get the next Tom Holland film off the ground by the three years and nine months deadline.

The animated SPIDER-VERSE films, while critically acclaimed and successful without Marvel, take many years to make and could have missed the 69 month release deadline. In contrast, MADAME WEB was shot in five months. The live action Sony films are not creative endeavours as much as contractual requirements to extend the corporation's grip on an intellectual property.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

No one should watch MADAME WEB, but I love this YouTube summary of it from Amanda the Jedi.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8OsGrR1tc8

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Yes Amanda is a gas.  The actors confusing Sony with the Disney MCU is quite funny.  Madame Web I think falls victim to exactly what  Marvel is suffering, which is that these obscure characters and off shoots, created by comic scribes because they were writing dozens of books a year and needed content, is not ideal.  Especially when you are missing what they had back then, the principle characters!

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Because you like Amanda the Jedi, my opinion of you just went up by several notches.

The idea that Dakota Johnson didn't realize a Sony superhero movie wasn't a Marvel Studios movie seems too ridiculous to be true... except Johnson, after completing filming on MADAME WEB, fired her agent. There's a rumour that she held her agent responsible for not knowing the difference between Sony and Marvel.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

ireactions wrote:

Because you like Amanda the Jedi, my opinion of you just went up by several notches.

The idea that Dakota Johnson didn't realize a Sony superhero movie wasn't a Marvel Studios movie seems too ridiculous to be true... except Johnson, after completing filming on MADAME WEB, fired her agent. There's a rumour that she held her agent responsible for not knowing the difference between Sony and Marvel.

Her editing skills are impressive, and coming up with jokes is not easy.

She also pointed out how several actors who worked Sony "Marvel" movies had no idea they weren't working for Disney/Marvel, including Matt Smith.  Not unique to Dakota, who has been whining during the entire press tour.  Dakota Johnson is a lousy actress, and is not capable of carrying a film.  The rising star was Sydney Sweeney, who was not the lead and probably should have been.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

What's weird is that Sony is making movies about Madame Web and Morbius and Kraven, but they aren't making stories about Miles Morales or Silk or any of the Spider-Women?  I mean they might even be able to get away with making a Ben Reilly movie, right?

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

It's like Sony has two alternate personalities. The first personality wants to make high quality, culture-redefining work like INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE and ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE, two epic animated films. The second personality wants to make glorified direct to streaming filler for release schedules and doesn't really care about the content as long as it maintains some hold on the film rights.

I think Sony has made two Spider-Verse films featuring Miles Morales and has no reason to undermine or dilute his brand with a live action film when the animated features are so successful.

I think Ben Reilly is too convoluted for a general audience, but VENOM, VENOM II, MORBIUS and MADAME WEB have pretty baffling plots. My sense is that while Sony had some care and concern for the Venom films, MORBIUS and MADAME WEB were just hacked out for Sony to maintain the film rights to Spider-Man in case the next Marvel film runs late (which it is) and the next Spider-Verse movie is delayed (which it is).

I don't think Sony really cares if their live action Spider-Man-adjacent films are successful. They're just making them to keep the Spider-Man film rights.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I don't know what it says about me, but I finally got around to watching MORBIUS and I was grudgingly entertained. Once I accepted that Spider-Man wasn't in this movie, I found the entire film sufficiently compelling. I was drawn in by Jared Leto's performance in a man whose weakness of body is shored up by an unwanted monstrosity. I liked Adria Arjona's vivid screen presence. I enjoyed Daniel Espinosa's fluid, dynamic visual direction.

Matt Smith and Jared Leto had a really sweet and tragic friendship. The movie is a convincing indictment of ableism and voices tremendous outrage at how the sadistic prey upon people with disabilities. I thought it was entertaining and at times a little moving.

Like VENOM and VENOM II, this is a situation where Sony hired some excellent actors, an interesting director, an awkward intellectual property... and to me, the results are kind of okay. I'm in the minority on that. As with Joss Whedon's JUSTICE LEAGUE, the world and superhero fan community completely rejected a film that I thought was adequately enjoyable and at times rather good. I thought it was, like VENOM and VENOM II, a fairly well-made B-movie monster adventure. I'm surprised the majority of the people who saw it loathed it so.

The only thing I really did not like: I thought Matt Smith's performance was too similar to his performance as the Eleventh Doctor on DOCTOR WHO. Given how iconic and recognizable Smith's Doctor is, I would have advised that Matt Smith's Milo character never be clad in a business suit or a collared shirt; that he grow stubble; that his hair be shaved off rather than keeping the lengthy style of the Doctor; that he adopt an American or Scottish or Irish or German accent; that his superpowered character adopt the body language of a boxer rather than a gangly dancer, and that he drop all of the Doctorish-characteristics and disappear into a very different role.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

Grizzlor wrote:

The rising star was Sydney Sweeney, who was not the lead and probably should have been.

I've only ever seen Sydney Sweeney in the cancelled-on-a-soft-cliffhanger EVERYTHING SUCKS where she was very much playing the blonde bombshell: flirty, ostentatious, glamourous, hypersexual, but with a lot of hidden depths. Basically a female Jerry O'Connell. I was fascinated to see Sweeney cast as a very restrained, geeky, nerdy, internally-oriented character in MADAME WEB. It's interesting to compare Sweeney and Jerry's approaches to playing a geeky character when they themselves are not geeky.

Jerry's approach was to play Quinn as highly excitable regarding engineering and science, and highly aloof and uncertain when dealing with human vulnerability. Jerry gives Quinn a hyperanalytical presence in the face of danger and problem solving and a certain world weariness in his body language.

Sydney Sweeney has an interesting and equally valid approach: she lets the costuming do all the acting for her. Sweeney in MADAME WEB is wearing a reddish-brown wig that is so heavy on her head that it's clearly weighing her down and adding an unbalanced awkwardness to her body language. Sweeney is wearing non-prescription glasses in the role and they dim Sweeney's eyes and she seems to peer through them uncertainly. Sweeney is wearing a buttoned up to the neck shirt, a hoodie and knee-high stockings and they seem to restrict her arms and legs and force her into very enclosed and guarded postures.

I guess that's one way.

854 (edited by Slider_Quinn21 2024-02-27 10:53:24)

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

ireactions wrote:

I think Ben Reilly is too convoluted for a general audience, but VENOM, VENOM II, MORBIUS and MADAME WEB have pretty baffling plots.

I think Ben Reilly is super convoluted, but I think a Ben Reilly movie could work.  Here's my thinking:

- Do you need to explain the clone saga?  Maybe.  But I think there are creative ways they could do this (kinda like they do in the Spider-Verse movies) to explain it away pretty fast.  You could even use animation so it could hypothetically be Tom Holland's Spider-Man.  Of course, I'd cast a different actor and say the cloning didn't exactly work.  It's a redo of the origin, but I'd just say "I was a clone of Spider-Man....we fought for a little bit...and I realized I was the clone"
- You could move Spider-Man to a different place.  Ben Reilly ended up in Chicago, right?  Kinda like Far From Home was fun to have Spider-Man in a different locale, you could have Ben in a different place with different supporting characters.
- Marvel probably wouldn't object because they're never doing the clone saga, and it's technically a different character
- It's an objectively cool costume that looks different enough from the actual Spider-Man costume
- You could still do a Spider-Man villain.  Chameleon?  Smythe and Spider-Slayers?

Like you said, it can't be any more convoluted than what they've already done.  I would just gloss over the origin, recast, and keep him in a different place, and you essentially have a Spider-Man movie.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

My thinking: Ben's superhero identity is as the Scarlet Spider, and the Scarlet Spider costume is a torn and ripped up hoodie on a makeshift bodysuit. It looks like Ben stole clothes to throw the outfit together. If Sony made a SCARLET SPIDER movie, maybe Ben Reilly wouldn't be a clone of Peter Parker or have any connection to Peter at all. Instead, he's a homeless man who encounters a Spider-Verse style 'glitch' and a box of damaged Spider-equipment falls into his hands along with a damaged Spider-costume.

The equipment and costume let Ben use spider-powers through the technology of the suit. The homeless Ben uses the equipment and costume (with stolen clothes to make up some of what's missing) to try to steal food from a closed bakery only to accidentally uncover and expose a money laundering operation from a criminal gang called the Sindicate, with his spider-agility and stingers and spider-strength. Ben finds a list of Sindicate safehouses and tries to steal enough money to get a motel room while he figures out his next move, but ends up destroying them and becoming infamous to the underworld as the Scarlet Spider scourge of the Sindicate and its operations, while also being hunted by police for vigilantism.

The entire city thinks Ben is some sort otherworldly force of violence and superhuman power... but the Scarlet Spider is a fragile, troubled, traumatized homeless man who does not have a family home for sanctuary or an Aunt May to take care of him or an Uncle Ben to model morality for him or a science background to guide him. He isn't Peter Parker. He is not Spider-Man. He may not even have what it takes to be the Scarlet Spider. Can he rise to the occasion?

My thinking is to look at the aesthetic of the Scarlet Spider costume and make Ben Reilly the homeless superhero.

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

That could work.  The only reason I made it a clone is that Sony seems to want to tie their movies to Tom Holland's Spider-Man (even if Tom can't show up), and if they made him a clone (even one that doesn't look like Tom Holland), it leaves the door open that Tom could eventually show up.

"I think it has something to do with Spider-Man"

Re: Marvel Cinematic Universe by Slider_Quinn21

I watched Madame Web.  It wasn't great, but I do think something good was hidden.  Spoilers if anyone cares:

S
P
O
I
L
E
R
S

Okay so Madame Web is convoluted and stupid and no one in the movie (the actors or the characters) seems to want to be there.  But I think some of the ideas in the movie really work. 

Ezekiel Sims is a dumb character, but the *idea* of Ezekiel Sims works.  He's an evil Spider-Man.  We are used to a Spider-Man who is good and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, but he's also a guy who pulls his punches can hide in the shadows and drop on you from hundreds of feet in the air. 

What if that guy was a bad guy, and there was no Spider-Man so save you?  And what if vague future powers were the only thing that could save you?  In fact, no one gets super powers to save the day.  I think there's something there.  I think the movie just doesn't lean into this concept enough.  If it had focused on being a horror movie, I think it could've been good.  I also think maybe you just focus on one Spider-Woman.  Maybe kick up the gore in the scenes where Cassie doesn't save someone.

And since all the actors have talked about the bait and switch they all seemed to have experienced, I wonder if that was originally the plan.  You can see the bones of something different when you watch it.

Nando v Movies did a video about all the ADR in the movie that I haven't watched yet.  I'm hoping he has some answers on what it could've been.