“I Can Do This All Day!”: The BIG Bradscribe MCU Countdown

Brad’s Marvel Movie Marathon Has Led To This Moment: 

Where Will YOUR Favourite Be?

About damn time…” – Nick Fury.

“By Odin’s Bristling Beard!” 

There was an idea…

To bring together nineteen remarkable movies. To see if they could be arranged in Bradtastic order.

Besides, seeing as other bloggers have compiled their charts, it was only a matter of time until the arrangement of This Post. If you click on the title of selected entries, it will take you to that particular Bradscribe Review.

To up the tension, trust me to show additional info, such as the order of MCU movies as determined by IMDB users. 

Plus: the order of ratings (showing each percentage score) on Rotten Tomatoes. 

So, these are what we’re up against FOR:

 

Release Date Order:

  1. Iron Man (May 2008)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (June 2008)
  3. Iron Man 2 (May 2010)
  4. Thor (May 2011)
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger (July 2011) 
  6. The Avengers (May 2012) 
  7. Iron Man 3 (May 2013)
  8. Thor: The Dark World (November 2013) 
  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 2014)
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy (August 2014) 
  11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (April 2015) 
  12. Ant Man (July 2015)
  13. Captain America: Civil War (May 2016)
  14. Doctor Strange (November 2016) 
  15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 2017)
  16. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 2017)
  17. Thor: Ragnarok (November 2017)
  18. Black Panther (February 2018)
  19. Avengers: Infinity War (April 2018)

“Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?” – Captain America.

 

19. The Incredible Hulk 

IMDB Ranking: 19

Rotten Tomatoes: 18 (67%)

“Don’t make me hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry” – Bruce Banner.

Not surprisingly, the lowest MCU movie in this – and the IMDB – chart, has the lowest box office gross. No trademark mid or post-credit scenes; no Nick Fury. Its only memorable scene is when the not-so-jolly green giant hurls a tank into the distance – wait! That’s from Ang Lee’s 2003 snoozefest. Duh…

It’s ironic that the strongest being on the planet cannot hold up his own standalone movie. 

And speaking of irony…

 

18. Iron Man 3

IMDB Ranking: 14

Rotten Tomatoes: 13 (80%)

“Is that all you’ve got? A cheap trick and a cheesy one-liner?” – Brandt. 

Hard to helieve, but this threequel proved to pe just as boring as the big green fella’s outing.

Hmm – this is NOT the one with Mickey Rourke, right…?

You see, yours truly really struggles with this one – if there was ever a time and opportunity to make The Black Widow Movie it was here…

 

17. Iron Man 2

IMDB Ranking: 16

Rotten Tomatoes: 17 (73%) 

“Tony, you’re too young to understand this right now, so I thought I would put it on film for you. I built this for you… It represents my life’s work. This is the key to the future. I’m limited by the technology of my time, but one day you’ll figure this out. And when you do, you will change the world. What is and always will be my greatest creation… is you” – Howard Stark.  

HEY, Mickey! You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey- nah, not really. Nothing worse than having an unintelligible villain. 

Notable for Black Widow’s debut, but there is not much else to commend this outing – pity, because Howard Stark (albeit in archive film) has one of the most moving scenes in the franchise.

On its own, Sam Rockwell’s hotsteppin’ is Top 5 material all week long.

WHOOO, baby! 

 

16. Ant Man

IMDB Ranking: 13

Rotten Tomatoes: 12 (82%)

“Pick on someone your own size!” – Scott Lang. 

When yours truly used to read Ant-Man in Hulk Weekly (where else?) so loooong ago, it NEVER occurred to him that Hank Pym would get his own movie one day. Sfx have reached the stage where this particular hero can be brought to the screen – pity nobody considered getting a good scriptwriter as well…

Paul Rudd turned out to be an ace choice to play Scott Lang/Ant-Man (although everybody preferred him in Civil War), but Michael Douglas as Hank Pym? Not so sure… 

Some thrilling microscopic action scenes but, for me, this entry was spoilt by what Hank dismissed as the “three wombats.” And Darren Cross/Yellowjacket was too bland for my (dis)liking.

Wish there was a way for me to embrace this more – to think that Brad is the biggest Ant-Man fan (Ant-fan?) you will ever know…

 

15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 

IMDB Ranking: 8

Rotten Tomatoes: 11 (83%)

Nebula: “All any of you do is yell at each other. You’re not friends.” 

Drax: “You’re right… We’re family.” 

My first viewing was (mostly) agreeable – and heartrending, with the only original member of the Guardians: Yondu Udonta – but remember exiting the cinema somewhat underwhelmed.

The original Guardians of the Galaxy movie was always going to be a tough act to follow, but this effort has plummeted in my estimation since last May. It’s not just the plethora of lame lines, the forgettable opening scene with Ayesha – although it might as well have everything to do with David frickin’ Asslehoff… (>_<)

But the way in which James Gunn casually discarded Quill’s father: J’son simply ‘cos “I don’t like him” STILL rankles in this camp.

Having read more of Starlord’s back story, this movie crumbles even more. Poor Meredith Quill: in the comics she dies heroically trying to protect Peter from the alien mercenaries sent to eliminate his father – but what do we get instead? Call me old-fashioned, but a brain tumour should play no part in such a light and frothy adventure…

That Mixtape is NOT as awesome as it could be. And Vin Diesel’s Alvin Chipmunk impression is not enough. 

Thanks, Taserface, but no thanks…

 

14. Thor

IMDB Ranking: 15

Rotten Tomatoes: 15 (77%)

Thor: “I need a horse!”

Pet Store Clerk: “We don’t have horses. Just dogs, cats, birds.”

Thor: “Then give me one of those large enough to ride.” 

The casting of Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Sir Hop as Odin, plus Ken Branagh’s direction, signified the MCU’s concerted effort to bring some classical, almost-Shakespearean gravitas to these Asgardian proceedings. 

What we got was a less-than-engrossing exercise, mainly because it was so poorly lit! Too many of the crucial scenes are deluged in darkness; those Frost Giants might as well be formless entities, but Chris Hemsworth is always watchable in this.

(Not to be confused with Thor: The Dark World – a much lighter exercise)

 

13. Thor: The Dark World 

IMDB Ranking: 17

Rotten Tomatoes: 19 (66%) 

“Oh, this is much better. Costume’s a bit much… so tight. But the confidence, I can feel the righteousness surging. Hey, you wanna have a rousing discussion about truth, honour, patriotism? God bless America…” – Loki (…?!

Great cosmic scenes in Asgard; groovy – but all-too-brief – cameo by the Cap, but one skips some of the scenes set in London. Especially…

The most surreal moment in the MCU: Thor, Son Of Odin, Scion Of Asgard finds himself @ Charing Cross Underground station.

“How do I get to Greenwich?!” the God of Thunder enquires mightily.

The mortal must have been mesmerised by his biceps – or his hammer – for she replies: “Take this train. Three stops.”

RIDICULOUS! Brad says thee NAY!

Listen ye here, Odinson: 

From Charing Cross, take the Southbound Northern Line (black) TWO stops to Embankment. Take the Eastbound District Line (green) or Circular Line (yellow) FIVE stops and change @ Monument. Then it is a hardy slog through that station to access the DLR (Docklands Light Railway); it takes another TWELVE stops to reach Greenwich.

Know ye this: the journey is long (approx. 1 hour, most of your Running Time in fact) but not as strenuous as having to sit through Chris Eccleston’s Malekith.

Fare thee well on thy voyage, noble outta-towner!

(Uff, “three stops,” my eye!!) 

 

12. Spider-Man: Homecoming 

IMDB Ranking: 11

Rotten Tomatoes: 5 (92%)

“You need to understand, I will do anything to protect my family. I know you know what I’m talking about. So don’t mess with me. Don’t interfere in my business again. Because I will kill you and anyone you care about” – Adrian Toomes.

Well, well, the Spider-Man movie nobody wanted turned out to be pretty cool!

Some people reckoned that Tony Stark spent too much time here – for me, the whole cynical mentor/enthusiastic hero-in-the-making ploy really works here. Appreciate the way they successfully recreated that whole ’80s John Hughes vibe with the high-school scenes. And playing A Flock Of Seagulls too?! Aah, the MCU knows how to make this old boy happy!

But – hoo boy! – DON’T make me sit in the back of Adrian Toomes’ car! Ever!!

 

11. Iron Man

IMDB Ranking: 4

Rotten Tomatoes: 2 (94%)

“My turn…” – Tony Stark.

The Movie Where It All Began still holds up remarkably well a decade on. Hard to believe that, back then, the choice of Robert Downey Jr. as the titular Shellhead posed quite a gamble for Marvel Studios. No worries, he made his wit and bravado Stark’s own. 

Nice entertainment, shame about the sequels…

Blimey, not even those dancing air stewardesses could prevent this from dropping out of my Top 10…

 

10. Avengers: Age of Ultron

IMDB Ranking: 12

Rotten Tomatoes: 16 (75%)

“Ultron can’t see the difference between saving the world and destroying it. Where do you think he gets that…?” – Wanda Maximoff.  

The moment Ultron comes online, thanks to James Spader’s sinister tones, is one of the great moments in the MCU. Ruminating on issues such as the nature of existence, power, intelligence (artificial or not) whilst fending off attacks from the Cap et al makes for such thought-provoking viewing. And then, of course, The Vision – superbly played by Paul Bethany – enters the equation.

The CGI of the opening action sequence may look decidedly dodgy compared to other MCU works, and the climactic Battle of Sokovia tends to drag in one of the MCU’s under-rated offerings, but everyone taking turns trying to lift Mjolnir at Tony’s party more than makes up for that! Surely? 

 

9. Doctor Strange

IMDB Ranking: 10

Rotten Tomatoes: 8 (89%)

Dr. Stephen Strange: “I’m gonna have to vanish now. Keep me alive, will you?”

Urban landscapes doing cartwheels! Skyscrapers folding in on themselves! Roads disappearing into nothingness! Benedict Cumberbatch running up the side of a building! The Ancient One has turned into a Caucasian woman!

Will ask this only once:

BY THE HOARY HOSTS OF HOGGOTH! WHAT THE BLAZES DID THEY PUT IN THAT POPCORN?!?!

And could Brad have some more, please…? 

 

8. Black Panther 

IMDB Ranking: 9

Rotten Tomatoes: 1 (96%)

“Praise! Another broken white boy to fix…” – Shuri.  

WAKANDA FOREVER!!

“Wassup, princess?” – Erik Killmonger.

 

7. Captain America: The First Avenger

IMDB Ranking: 18 (WHA-?! Uff, that’s just nuts…

Rotten Tomatoes: 14 (79%)

“Captain America! How exciteenk! Ay’m a great fen uf your feelms!” – Johann Schmidt. 

When watching Chris Evans’ enjoyable turn as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four movie, the prospect of him playing another Marvel hero – let alone the Cap himself! – seemed highly unlikely. Glad he turned up for this – can’t imagine anyone else playing the Cap! Hayley Atwell is so impressive as Peggy Carter, she ought to get her own TV series…

It even made Tommy Lee Jones worth my while for once. But it’s Hugo Weaving as the thoroughly demented Johann Schmidt/Red Skull who lifts this into classic territory.

Thus speaketh the boy who – at one point – was fanatically devoted to Captain Britain…

“Geez! Somebody get that kid a sandwich…” – Senator Brandt.

 

6. Thor: Ragnarok

IMDB Ranking: 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 3 (92%)

Thor: “Strongest Avenger!”

Quinjet Computer: “Access denied.”

Thor:Damn you, Stark. Point Break.” 

Quinjet Computer: “Welcome, Point Break.” 

Hey Sparkles, here’s the deal:

Ditch all that heavy, brooding, end-of-days gubbins. Throw oh-so-funny goofballs and looney aliens into candy-coloured cosmic capers. Let loose the Hulk, give Loki more to do, and get that “creepy old man” to shear off Odinson’s locks! Most of all, introduce Hela as the formidable villain the MCU so desperately needs! Oh, and bring in Jeff Goldblum (can’t even type his name without a big dopey grin spreading across me chops!) as the Grandmaster, and you have – quite easily – the most enjoyable movie of 2017! 

“Darling, you have no idea what’s possible” – Hela.

 

5. Captain America: Civil War

IMDB Ranking: 6

Rotten Tomatoes: 6 (91%)

Spider-Man: “Hey guys, you ever see that really old movie, Empire Strikes Back?

War-Machine: “Jesus, Tony, how old is this guy?”

Iron Man: “I don’t know, I didn’t carbon date him. He’s on the young side.”

“You remember that time we had to ride back from Rockaway Beach in the back of that freezer truck?” 

“Was that the time you used our train money to buy hotdogs?”

“You blew three bucks trying to win that stuffed bear for a redhead.”

“What was her name again?” 

“Dolores. You called her Dot.”

“She’s gotta be a hundred years old right now…” 

“So are we, pal.”

It’s the sweet and subtle moments like this that count here, along with Tony’s wacky first meeting with Peter. 

Plus: a rad debut by the Black Panther. 

And, of course, That Airport Scene. WOW, it’s so weird how you run into people at the airport. Don’t you think that’s weird…? 

Iron Man: “Who’s speaking?”

Ant-Man: “It’s your conscience. We don’t talk a lot these days…”

 

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

IMDB Ranking: 3

Rotten Tomatoes: 7 (91%)

Rocket Raccoon: “What did the galaxy ever do for you? Why would you want to save it?” 

Chris Pratt: “Because I’m one of the idiots who lives in it!” 

cosmic combo featuring – get this – a walking tree, a talking raccoon, an ex-wrestler, the star of Avatar (Okay, blue girl is green now! She’s green now!) Oh, and led by that chubby fella from Parks And Rec(?!)

Only Marvel Studios could take the most obscure comic – and these unusual suspects – and produce a supremely groovy galactic gleefest.

And where would this beloved bunch of A-holes be without that Awesome Mixtape…? YAY! Gives me an excuse to fit this in! (Okay, which track would YOU choose?)

“I may be as pretty as an angel, but I sure as hell ain’t one” – Yondu Udonta.

 

3. The Avengers 

IMDB Ranking: 2

Rotten Tomatoes: 4 (92%) 

Thor: “Do not touch me again!”

Iron Man: “Then don’t take my stuff.” 

Thor: “You have no idea what you are dealing with.”

Iron Man: “Uh, Shakespeare In The Park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”

Joss Whedon skilfully managed to assemble six heroes for this first team-up epic and what a humdinger it is too!

Despite bigger movies unleashed since this one’s box office conquest, the first Avengers blockbuster retains its high-standing due to such a cool script – selecting the quotes to use here proved more challenging than working out some of these rankings!

The comic book action is irresistible; the tremendous assault on Manhattan is worth a shawarma or three, but, for me, it’s Iron Man and Thor’s fisticuffs in the forest that provides the real knockout punch. 

Arguably Rob Downey Jr.’s finest moment in the MCU – certainly his funniest. 

My favourite MCU movie for at least two years, primarily ‘cos it marked my initial introduction to this MARVEL-ous franchise.

“Well, let me know if “real power” wants a magazine or something” – Nick Fury.

 

2. Avengers: Infinity War

IMDB Ranking: 1

Rotten Tomatoes: 10 (84%)

“Stop massaging his muscles!” – Peter Quill. 

STILL trying to catch my breath back!

STILL overawed – and relieved! – at how well the Mad Titan is depicted here!

STILL amazed at how they [SPOILER!] [SPOILER!] AND Captain America’s beard!!

STILL can’t believe the wizard seriously just said: “hitherto undreamt of”

Gamora: “Really? Tears?”

The Stonekeeper: “They are not for him…”  

 

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

IMDB Ranking: 7

Rotten Tomatoes: 9 (89%)

“Don’t look at me. I do what he does, just slower” – Sam Wilson. 

My personal favourite – possibly the finest superhero movie ever made. 

Some remarkable ingredients in this delectable concoction: the fight choreography is outstanding; the riveting spy-thriller narrative; the “GET ME. OFF. THE GRID!” street carnage; Jenny Agutter kicking ass; and Frenchmen getting beaten up. All in all: Brad’s perfect movie!  

Even the viewing experience itself was exceptional: that rare moment where the class and coolio-factor displayed onscreen matched the opulent interior décor. That whole weekend was such a wonderful time for both Mr. and Mrs. B – the shopping trip, that Japanese dinner and the hotel are all so pleasantly indented in our memories for all the years to come – we couldn’t have asked for a more spectacular movie that evening to round it all off…

The price of awesomeness is high. It always has been. And it’s a price Brad’s willing to pay.

On your left…

“Was that your first kiss since 1945?” – Natasha Romanoff. 

 

 

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Avengers: Infinity War: The Bradscribe Review

MARVEL At The Mayhem 

“Colossal, cataclysmic, delirious, preposterous – and always surreally entertaining in the now well-established Marvel movie tradition… And yet somehow in its pure uproariousness, it works. It’s just a supremely watchable film, utterly confident in its self-created malleable mythology…” – The Guardian. 

“Oh God…” 

You can say that again, Cap. 

Avengers: Infinity War is an extraordinary piece of work. 

A group of superheroes must band together to thwart a maniacal extraterrestrial threat- but fortunately this is NOT Justice League! Only the Russo brothers could manage so many elements and craft them into a cohesive and highly entertaining package.

As mentioned here so many times already, Thanos seeks the six Infinity Stones – the ultimate power in the universe. At whatever cost, this Titan must be stopped. 

Mad?!

He’s positively Stark Raving Hazelnuts… 

As soon as a suitably sinister score begins to play, you instantly realise you’re in for one helluva good ride!

Movie of the Decade? Quite possibly.

A monumental cinematic achievement? Oh, most certainly!

“Infinity War manages a succession of double-page spread awe that sells the cosmic saga… Kudos also for the witty/chilling envoi: “Thanos will return” – Sight And Sound. 

Incredible!

And that’s just the Running Time. 

Those 149 minutes feel more like 90. From the faint distress call relayed over the MARVEL STUD10logo, to the very evident signs of distress among some departing cinema-goers, Infinity War crackles along, as fast as a giant green behemoth hurtling towards Earth. 

There is such a great roster of characters on show here:

Yet again, Robert Downey Jr. shows here that Tony Stark everybody’s fave action-hero/playboy/philanthropist quip-dispenser works so much better in these Avengers movies than he ever did in his solo trilogy. 

The romance between the Vision and Wanda is handled very well; Natasha and Bruce’s reunion is relegated to an exchange of awkward glances and just as well! (Black Widow always only had eyes for Hawkeye).

Eager to see how the frickin’ Guardians of the Galaxy fitted – or fretted – alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: no worries! The mix turns out to be supremely entertaining, especially Star-Lord’s desperate attempts to out-macho the God of Thunder. 

There is genuine friction on an antler-locking scale between Stark and Strange -both ridiculously rich and self-centred enhanced playboys. It’s as if that off-screen bickering between Robbie and Bennybatch as to which one played the best Sherlock spilled over in front of the cameras…

Thanos packs a heck of a punch… he pretty much punches everyone. It’s the emotion behind those punches that will surprise you” – Washington Post. 

What about the Man of the Match himself: Thanos – one of the most formidable villains in the Marvel canon? 

It is with great joy – and relief – to see one of my personal favourite comic book characters make such a triumphant transition to the big screen. A powerful and yet demented tyrant whose twisted logic cannot distinguish harmony from genocide, is portrayed here through a phenomenal mo-cap performance by Josh Brolin. 

Brutal, intractable and ferocious, as you would expect, what sets this particular antagonist above the usual one-dimensional, monologuing nerks is an unlikely serene and sensitive side. This is perfectly exemplified by all the dramatic scenes he shares with adopted “daughter” Gamora.

Finally! After two Guardians movies we get to see the character of the last Zen Whoberis develop. The emotional intensity of the moment Thanos finds Gamora as an infant just transcends the simple confines of the traditional “blockbuster.” Didn’t know they made ’em like that any more, but glad that the Russos could so happily oblige…

A superhero movie on such a gargantuan scale must have outstanding moments and thankfully, those fantastic fist-pumping, whoop-worthy moments are in abundance here: SPACE and the first sight of the Milano with mixtape blarin’; the Cap stepping out of the Scottish shadows; and the biggest cheer at my viewing: Thor, Rocket and Groot materialising amidst the Wakandan battlefield with the stirring Avengers theme ringing out at top volume.

You also get Iron Man, Spider-Man and Magic Man riding through the cosmos in a giant flying donut. WAHEY!!

You couldn’t make this stuff up – but it’s great to know that Christopher Markus and Stephen Freely can – and have done – again to such top-notch extent – arguably the best screenwriters in any genre. Their scripts are beyond compare. The way they can move from heavy drama to light relief, and back again, is a masterclass in deft writing. Who but they could include dialogue implying the Avengers “breaking up like the Beatles,” during a movie concentrating on the Stones – a force as old as the universe itself? 😉

Assuredly, there are plenty of great quotable lines to sustain this site for another few weeks. “Dude, you’re embarrassing me in front of the wizards!” should be recognised as one of the best in the franchise.

But the Greatest Hits this War has to offer come in that unforeseen and yet so-cool-as-fudge Marvel Team-Up we never knew could happen. Come on! Let’s start an online petition and get a Thor and Rocket Rabbit cosmic buddy movie in the works! If the Studio doesn’t comply, then, as the Mad Titan himself once said:

“Fine, I’ll do it myself…” 😉

“It inherits plenty of the problems endemic to crossovers: the privileging of quantity over quality, of spectacle over story, and of the shock value of major changes to the status quo over just about everything else” – TIME Magazine. 

Watched Avengers: Infinity War for a second time yesterday evening, admittedly to eke out any glaring errors or anything amiss…

Honestly, the amazing action set-pieces, affecting romantic interludes, carefully crafted comedy, breathtaking drama and Josh Brolin, of course, completely cancelled out my critical faculties and swept me headlong (always go for the head) just as giddily and intoxicating as it did last Friday. 

The direction is so taut, tense and terrific that there is never a dull moment. But there’s never been a better opportunity to make this next statement: There’s no oxygen inside that donut. 

How does Peter continue to patter faster than lightspeed just as endearingly as always, without air?! And it’s a good job the atmosphere on Titan is still sufficient enough for Spidey to carry on his dizzying friendly neighbourhood loopin’ an’ a-swingin’. What the hey – just immerse yourself in the pure comic book escapism…

As expected, the Children of Thanos aka The Black Order did succumb to that dread affliction of our era: the “Phasma Curse”: they look/sound awesome, but get little/nothing to do in the actual movie. Despite constantly gleering, wielding a rad-bladed staff, and looking like he’s just traipsed over from World of Warcraft, Corvus Glaive – even the name is too astounding for its own good! – becomes far too underused. Still, the awesome conceptual design has, nevertheless, intrigued ol’ Bronze Age Boy here to check out the current comic books (These servants of Thanos have only been around for a few years so it should not take long to track Corvus et al down)

The same applies to Mrs. Glaive: Proxima Midnight. Actually, with a tighter adroitness towards choreography and camerawork, her duel between Black Widow (okay, Natasha is blonde now! She’s blonde now!) and Okoye in Wakanda ought to be one of the Most Awsweome Fights In The Movie Ever. Opportunity missed… 

What looked to be the least interesting chatacter turned out to exact the most impact: Ebony Maw, a nasty, maleficent matter-manipulator whose street fight with Strange and Wong has become an instant classic.

Personally, greater emphasis on character interaction more brooding, less brawling – would not have gone amiss. The climactic Battle of Wakanda – the MCU’s most grandiose spectacle yet – could so easily have been avoided. Let those rampant alien beasties mince themselves on the Wakandan forcefield? No, gotta give those thousands of digital artists something to do, so His Majesty orders Plot-hole 17 to open up… 

Despite these relatively minor niggles, when it comes to Star Ratings, Brad is notoriously stingy when it come to dishing out his precious 5-star icon, but, in this case…

Considering the gasps and laughs these non-stop thrills evoked from me; its power to make me care – and cry – for a psychotic, yet placid, purple pariah; the sheer exhilaration it instilled for hours after my first viewing – a sensation not felt since Rogue One, it would be my genuine pleasure to bestow upon this treasure the highest rating possible!

What the blazes! Who knows when – or how! – another monumental sci-fi epic as big, bold, bonkers and brilliant as this will invade our popcorn parlours again…?

And as for those viewers “exhausted”, or exasperated by this movie:

What’s the matter with you kids? You’ve never seen a masterpiece before? 😉

Avengers: Infinity War is precisely the sort of entertaining – and jaw-dropping – spectacle we have come to know/expect -and love – about the MCU; against all the odds of scale and ambition, it not only met our expectations – well, mine anyway – but exceeded them. This epic, most definitely, is one to enjoy time and time again. And again! 

Truly MARVELous…

“Dread it. Run from it.”

HA! Not a frickin’ chance, Grimace!!

 

 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“Perfectly balanced, as all things should be…”

 

“I Have A Plan. Attack!”: Prepare for War!

Time To Suit Up For ALL-OUT AWESOMENESS…

“Okay, anybody on our side hiding any shocking and fantastic abilities they’d like to disclose? I’m open to suggestions” – Iron Man. 

“The threat has risen to a new level – which is really saying something,” says Robert Downey Jr.

It really is!

Considering how Rob’s first outing as Iron Man – released ten years ago next week – started this whole delirious, but irresistible, MCU malarkey that has culminated in Avengers: Infinity War – just DAYS away now(!)

It has been an absolutely spectacular decade, watching this particular Universe develop. Thankfully in all the right places.

How’s it been, Rob?  

“…It’s been the Ben-Hur of the MCU, for sure. This is huge, isn’t it? It is HUGE.”

And impossible to disappoint… right?

This Enhanced Individual Convention is arguably – creatively, logistically, budgetary – not only Marvel Studios’ BIGGEST movie, but the GRANDEST superhero epic ever (ahem) assembled. In this camp, there are no doubts that all elements will work, for writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen Freely and directors Anthony and Joe Russo – responsible for the amazing Captain America trilogy – are in charge here.

When asked how high the stakes are, Freely offers: “Is the universe high enough for you?” 

This is only the largest event movie. Ever!

Expect to see just about all the Avengers we’ve come to know so far. And the supporting characters from their respective solo movies. PLUS the Guardians Of The Frickin’ Galaxy! AND Fields overflowing with Wakandan warriors! 

As the younglings are wont to say these days, it’s only gonna be FUCKIN’ AWESOME!!

Soz, Cap…

 

Humans… They are not the cowering wretches we were promised. They stand. They are unruly, and therefore cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court… death” – Chthon.

“This is the biggest film of all time,” says Benedict Cumberbatch.

You can trust him. He’s a Doctor. 

That colossal third-act battle – teased tantalisingly in the trailers – breaks out across Wakanda, because the sixth, as yet unseen, Infinity Stone languishes there, right?! 

Normally, my journalistic instinct is to uncover every juicy, spoilersome nugget of info from each major movie, but considering the scale and ambition of this EPIC, who knows what will transpire?!

Yes, so good to see Chadwick Boseman return as King T’Challa: The Black Panther – Cool. Charismatic. AND GET THIS MAN A SEQUEL! As Black Panther has become the first non-Stark MCU movie to pass a billion dollars worldwide, quite clearly, Wakanda‘s finest will be the new figurehead for the new Phase going forward.

Considering the xtreme measures taken to protect certain plot-points, it comes as no surprise to learn that Chris Evans was one of the few members of the enhanced ensemble to receive a complete script.

“The majority of people on set are like, ‘So what are we doing today?’ The Russos have to give a loose description of what’s happening. I didn’t complain. I was just like, ‘I need to know what’s going on! Give me a fucking script!'”

Uff, LANGUAGE!

“That’s not going away anytime soon…” – Captain America.  

Behold! Earth’s Mightiest Boy-Band: N-Hanced…

 

Thor: “I thought humans were more evolved than this.” 

Nick Fury: “Excuse me, did we come to YOUR planet and blow stuff up?” 

“You could call this movie: AvengersThanos if you wanted to,” says Stephen Freely“He is the main character.”

“The movie is told from his point of view,” Anthony Russo explains, discussing Josh Brolin’s performance. “It’s a very complicated character. He’s at times despicable and horrifying, and at other times oddly empathetic.”  

“He’s an exceedingly difficult character to beat. He’s stranger than the Hulk – he’s a force of nature. He is a conqueror of worlds.” 

The next statement intrigued me the most. 

“He doesn’t have a weakness, and that’s what makes him so threatening.”

How the Avengers can prevail against such an indefatigable foe, will certainly make for intriguing viewing. Having been in awe of Thanos over these past two years of Bronze Age explorations, seeing this big threat marching across the big screen will probably be quite a dewy-eyed experience as well…

“It really is mind-blowing…” adds Joe Russo, “…how sensitive a performance we can translate into a CG character now, and how much of Josh’s performance is in that character.”

Yep, sounds like all concerned know how to handle the Mad Titan here.

AND that we are all going to have to rearrange our Top 5 Movie Villains charts…

“Conflict breeds catastrophe…” – The Vision. 

“We heve not had any special death requests,” McFeely stated, confirming that he and co-writer Markus had “free reign to kill off whomever the story dictated should go.”

“It’s a cocktail of emotions,” was how Evans summed it up.

So many bloggers have speculated as to which of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will fall in this big showdown. Yes, much must be risked in War, but you KNOW how Brad prefers to concentrate on the positive, hopefully life-affirming, textured-sponge-with-a-creamy-filling things in life, so no morbid discussions to round off this particular blog-post, ta very much! 

Plan to watch The Movie Of The Decade this weekend having avoided – for once – all rumours, leaked clips, TV spots and what-have-you. Just looking forward to finding out what this jaw-dropping spectacle has to offer.

We began with Rob Downey Jr. – is it with him where it will all end…? Well, let’s close with him here anyway, speaking highly about IW’s lead actor: Josh Brolin.

“I love him,” Downey leads the praise, having known each other for thirty years, and so happy to see him become a solid participant in the MCU. Brolin doesn’t take himself seriously, but there’s a lot of weight in how he’s portraying this guy. We literally are all little bit scared when he’s done cracking wise and steps into it. 

“Get ready… the Brolin Effect is coming.”

“I hope they remember you…” – Thanos. 

 

“Am I Not Death?”: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About THANOS But Were Afraid to Ask

A Dreamer Of Tranquility. Non-Purpose. Death.

“Tell me his name again” – Tony Stark.

Ten years. Eighteen movies. And it’s all been leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, set to bedazzle us all in just over a month(!) 

With the latest trailer for this epic slugfest released on Friday, and seeing how all of you are eager to go to War, you sure as fudge need to know what you’re going up against…

Created by writer Mike Friedrich and artist Jim Starlin, Thanos hails from Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. His parents were Eternals – his father was Mentor. His mother: Sui-san – so shocked to discover that he carried the Deviants gene, making him resemble the Eternals‘ cousin race – tried to kill himWhile Thanos embodied Death, his brother Eros – aka Starfox who served as an Avenger during the mid-80s – represented Life.

His super-strength, speed and durability are greatly enhanced by the Deviants gene. Not until adolescence, did he develop his fascination with nililism and death, worshipping and eventually falling in love with the physical embodiment of death: Mistress Death. 

Able to absorb and project vast quantities of cosmic energy, Thanos is capable of telekinesis, telepathy and matter manipulation. Trained in the arts of war on Titan, Odin Allfather had to concede that he was a worthy opponent, and he even BLASTED GALACTUS OFF HIS FEET(!)

A scientific supergenius, he uses three space vessels named Sanctuary as alternate bases of operations. (Yes, you already saw Sanctuary II loom LARGE during the Thor: Ragnarok post-creds sequence!)

 

“Beef him up! If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!” – Roy Thomas. 

Watching the Armoured Avenger getting well and truly KA-POWed to the ground during the first Infinity War trailer reminded me that the Mad Titan actually made his debut in Iron Man #55 “Beware, The Blood Brothers!” (February 1973).

“I went to college [before] getting work in comics, and there was a psych class and I came up with Thanos” Jim Starlin explained. “I felt that [Iron Man] may be my only chance ever to do a character, not having the confidence that my career was going to last anything longer than a few weeks. So they got jammed into it.”

And the rest is (quite a substantial) history.

It is intriguing to learn that when he iniatially envisagd this formidable icon, Starlin – who also brought the Mad Titan’s nemesis: Adam Warlock to life – envisaged him as a more scrawny fella; only through the insistence of editor: Roy Thomas does he sport such massive bulk.

Thanos story continued in Captain Marvel #s 25-33 (March 1973 – Jan. 1974) (some sources list this arc as The Thanos War) – again, these ishs are stupendously expensive collectors’ items, or they would have materialised in the Bradscribe Bronze Age Comics Collection loooong before now…

He made further appearances in Marvel Feature #12 (Nov 1973), Daredevil #107 (Jan 1974) What?! Picking on the blind now, huh, fella?! Jeez, what a bounder… and Avengers #125 (July 1974). 

He returned in an excellent extended storyline that spanned Strange Tales #178-181 (Feb.–Aug. 1975) and Warlock #9-11 (Oct. 1975 – Feb. 1976), the latter of which was reviewed here: and can be heartily recommended!

Yours truly is well aware of how difficult it is to acquire these individual back ishs. For the best introduction to Thanos, before 27 April, seek out the compilation volume: Essential Captain Marvel. 

You won’t be disappointed! 

Thanos is the greatest menace this galaxy has ever known! He’s here to gain the force that can subjugate the stars – the Cosmic Cube!” – Captain Marvel. 

“Only you, Titan. Congratulations. You are clearly a person one does not easily forget” – Adam Warlock.

“The entire time I knew him, he only ever had one goal – to wipe out half the universe. If he gets all the Infinity Stones, he can do it with the snap of his fingers… just like that” – Gamora.

Strange Tales #180 (June 1975) marked the debut of Thanos adopted daughter: Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan.

After her species: the Zen Whoberis were wiped out by the Badoon – Thanos found the infant Gamora and raised her solely for the purpose of destroying The Magus: the evil, future self of Adam Warlock. Judging from that touching moment in the latest Trailer, it looks like we will get to see how that unlikely father-daughter relationship transpired.

Apart from her – and Nebula, of course – Thanos has fathered enough children to form his own baseball team. He even had a child with his main infatuation: Mistress Death. 

And what did they call their sprog?

Rot, that’s what.

Aww, cute…?!

The last time the Mad Titan (dis)graced the Bronze Age he picked a fight with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in The Avengers Annual 1977 – another sterling job by Jim Starlin. 

And just like that, he was gone…

“And I thought we wuz friends!” – Pip The Troll.

…Until 1990, when The Silver Surfer (vol. 3) #34 (Feb. 1990) witnessed the revival of Thanos.

Talk about unstoppable.

He frequently guest-starred right up until ish #59 (Nov. 1991), while simultaneously stealing the show in The Thanos Quest #1 & 2 (Sept-Oct. 1990) and the monumental The Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 (July-Dec. 1991).

After an appearance in Spider-Man #17 (Dec. 1991), any mini-series with “Infinity” in the title, whether it be Warlock And The Infinity Watch, Infinity War or Infinity Crusade, you could bet the Mad Titan would show up to deliver his own unique brand of carnage… 

If that wasn’t enough, he not only returned to The Silver Surfer (vol. 3) #86-88 (Nov. 1993-Jan. 1994), but managed to gate-crash Thor #468-71 (Nov. 1993-Feb. 1994); Namor The Sub-Mariner #44 (Nov. 1993); Secret Defenders #11-14 (Jan-Apr. 1994) and even frickin’ Ka-Zar fer cake’s sake! 

He featured in Thor (vol. 2) #21-25 (March-July 2000) and Captain Marvel (vol. 4) # 17-19 (June-Aug. 2001) before being reintroduced in Guardians Of the Galaxy (vol. 2) #24-25 (April-May 2010).

Notice in the forthcoming movie how Thanos isn’t going into this alone – he is aided by four shifty enhanced individuals – Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw and Black Dwarf – alternatively known as the Black Order, or the Children of Thanos. You saw them briefly in this latest Trailer, holding Loki captive. They have been exacting their duplicitous allegiance to the Mad Titan in the comics only since 2013, making one-panel cameos in New Avengers (vol. 3) #8 before being properly introduced in Infinity #1.

Their onscreen visages were unveigled at the Disney D23 Expo last year  – here’s hoping they can avoid the “Phasma-curse”: receive a tremendous pre-release buzz only to end up with having barely anything to do/say onscreen.  

The one female member of this band: Proxima Midnight is seen here (from last November‘s Infinity War trailer) flinging her spear – forged especially for her by Thanos at the valiant Captain Crumbcatcher: 

“Death follows him like a shadow” – Mantis.

James Gunn originally envisaged Thanos enjoying a more substantial role in the first Guardians Of the Galaxy movie, but Joss Whedon felt that: “the character needed to be threaded more gently” (whatever that means).

Personally, not hearing a single dickie bird said about Adam Warlock in relation to this Enhanced Individual Convention is a tad discomfortingAdam possesses the Soul Gem – embedded in his forehead – the one Infinity Stone yet to be revealed in the MCU; as Gamora said – in The Avengers Annual 1977: if there is one man in the galaxy who Thanos fears, it’s Adam. 

Besides, The Infinity Gauntlet mini-series saw them scrap mano a mado – a confrontation never far away from fans’ MCU wishlists.  

It would impress this ol’ fanboy no end to see, at the climax of this imminent record-breaker to watch Adam Warlock – defying all the pre-release gossip that he is not due to appear until Guardians Vol. 3 – make an electrifying entrance (before flashing that inevitably-annoying “To Be Continued” sign across the screen!)

No worries: this EPIC is brought to us by the ever-capable Joe and Anthony Russo who possessed that uncanny ability of turning me into a big fan of Captain America who, arguably, has the most impressive MCU trilogy. There is NO doubt that this dynamic duo can craft the marvel-ous spectacle we all crave, although it will be particularly interesting to see how they juggle a whole decade’s worth of awesome characters into 2 hours 36 minutes (TOO SHORT!!)

Heck, if they can handle the intergalactic infamy of Thanos then they are capable of anything.  

“Everyone, without knowing it, loses this day – save death! 

“For now, nothing can halt my ultimate plan for total stellar genocide! Soon, all who must suffer through that which is called life shall be granted the peace that only passing the Great Divide can bring!

“Yes, I shall grant them this tranquillity, for am I not ThanosAm I not the Dark Side? 

“Am I not Death?” – Thanos.

 

Unbelievable Bronze Age Bargains! But At What Cost?

SO Many Comics Purchased With So Few Pennies!

Carol Danvers: “You startled me. I didn’t hear you approach.” 

Wolverine: “No one ever does.”

For too long, True Believers, this site has been bereft of a Bronze Age Bonanza. 

Well, long for such a Post no more! Thought it would be a swell idea to get one rattled out this weekend.

But it still took this long to make it work!

New additions continue to enrich the Bradscribe Comicbook Collection each month, but keeping up with writing about them is a completely different matter – don’t know why these Posts should prove so strenuous to write up…

The Post that would have appeared here has been withdrawn to my Dashboard for the umpteenth time, while numerous ishs for this Post came and went before settling on the following frantic finalists. 

As these examples set out to prove, cheap doesn’t have to mean nasty…

 

Corsair: “Callous as it sounds, Cyclops, all of that is negligible, even expendable. You worry about a few score lives. I’m trying to save a world. This world.” 

Storm: “You are correct, Corsair. It is callous. And cruel… and inhuman. 

Corsair: “Then, I guess, so am I.” 

Let’s start at the zenith of my most startling recent acquisitions:

The Uncanny X-Men is arguably the most expensive series to bedeck the boxes of back ish basements. However, through sheer good fortune – the likes of which only ever happens to other people – one of these fine editions stumbled into my possession with a price SO unbelievable, you’d think some cheeky fella had tagged it on as a prank. 

#154 Reunion (February 1982) begins with Cyclops and Storm, innocently enough, playing handball with their powers. Hurtling Earthwards, a Shi’ar space vessel crashes into the pond on Prof Xavier’s estate! Both X-Men dive in and rescue Corsair – leader of the Starjammers – from the wreckage.

Hot on Commander Christopher Summers’ heels is a tempest of arachnid-like Sidrian hunters. Storm “generates an incredible, irresistible vortex” to banish them, but succeeds only in trashing Xavier’s Mansion! Unlike Brad, she paid a hefty price! 😉

Although this terrific trio escape in one of the Blackbird jets, the Sidri converge into a ship, “as big as a skyscraper!” according to Air Traffic Control and chases them across Manhattan’s East River!

Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum at the top of their game.

‘OW MUCH?!: 

FIFTY PENCE?!

Yeah-heh-hes!! 

How can ANY ish of a series that is regularly marked between £10-30(!) pass into my eager mitts for so few pennies?!  

The wraparound cover had fallen off this copy’s staples, but the Claremont/Cockrum goodness remains unblemished…

 

Thor: “Tell me, monster – art thou the madman or the madman‘s slave? And more – how didst thou appear so suddenly… like a ghost from out of the air?”

Ego: “Know this, godling, I am no ghost, but Ego personified! My flesh is the flesh of this planet – my body, the stone at your feet! This form exists because I created it – so that when I crush you, I may see your pathetic face!”

Ego The Living Planet! Has gone mad?!

Why else would Thor(!) join forces with the despicable Galactus(!) to try and stop him?! With the awesomeness for this classic mind-boggling saga ascending beyond measure, so, alas, the value had to rise in accordance.

When first reading this storyline last year – reprinted as Essential Thor Volume 7 – just the thought of ever owning a single instalment – in all its original colourific glory – seemed beyond even my grandest schemes. 

And yet…! By the Flames of Ragnarok!!

In the right store at the right time: “he just stood there, staring at the cover for what seewed an eternity – at its price for a whole lot longer…” 

The Mighty Thor #227 In Search Of… Ego! (September 1974) begins with Odin himself(!) at a loss to explain how his beloved son and heir could be colluding with “the most dangerous entity in all space and time?!” It is through the Allfather’s curiosity that we pick up the threads to the story so far – brilliant narrative device by Gerry Conway. Side by side with Hercules and Firelord, this most unlikely fantastic four proceed to destroy the Mind of Ego!

From the enthralling splash page to the explosive cliffhanger, this is Big John Buscema at his pulse-pounding best. 

This ish has prized possession written all over it (probably why the price was so ridiculously low, ho, ho!) 

“I’m certain you now fully comprehend the danger, Asgardian. If such energy were to be applied against the stars of this galaxy… we would all perish” – Galactus.

‘OW MUCH?!: 

Considering how some unscrupulous ‘erbs have tried to flog this very ish online for three-figure sums, yours truly managed to pick this up for only TWO POUNDS(!)

Madder than the Living Planet itself, baby…

 

“Never in my wildest imaginings could I have filled a world with so strange a mixture of folk as I’d found on the Mars of the long-dead past – but this wasn’t my imagination… and most of those “folk” would dearly love to see me dead” – Gullivar Jones.  

Creatures On The Loose is an important series in my collection for Man-Wolf features as the star attraction of its final seven ishs. 

Earlier editions are intriguing for giving a home to Gullivar Jones. 

Gullivar who…?

Some SF aficionados argue that Edgar Rice Burroughs – to put it politely – “borrowed” this character in order to produce his more popular John Carter of Mars. Nevertheless, Marvel adapted both of these Red Planet adventurers; while John Carter back ishs are easy to find, Gullivar like the original novel – is extremely rare. But new stock in one of my regular comic book emporiums (just in time for the January Half-Price Sale!) included a few Creatures back ishs featuring this character.

#19 The Long Road To Nowhere (Septemher 1972) offers artwork by Gil Kane – one of my favs! – Jim Mooney and Wayne Boring, but the writing fails to impress (finding decent dialogue to quote turned out to be an unexpected task). Also, this story is too short (it only fills half this ish); the rest of the pages are taken up by two short fillers – while the first includes art by Jack Kirby(!) it is a substandard alien-invasion-of-Earth story.

After an impressive splash page (see below!) the quality of this ish rapidly plummets with each turn of the page…

‘OW MUCH?!: 

£2.50 – but would further ishs in this series be worth my time and money…?

 

“At once, should one of those guardsmen become unnerved… a stray bullet could plunge all eternity into irreparable chaos! And by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth that must not come to pass!” – Doctor Strange.

The Defenders – that so-called non-team featuring the Hulk, Doctor Strange and Valkyrie – has been a rather hit-or-miss series. It is an absolute delight, though, to state that  #26 Savage Time! (August 1975) is a classic. Not only does it featurespecial-guest-star appearance by the (original line-up of the) Guardians of the Galaxy(!) but – thanks to an enticing script by Steve Gerber – it incorporates a staggering 1000-year history of the future, including a single-panel appearance by Killraven.

You’ll be happy to learn that the rebellion against the Techno-Barons comes to a triumphant end with the execution of the tyrant Kwaal in 2525. Well, whoopee-doo! Any excuse to order more cake 😉

All this action, adventure – and future-history – is brought to furious fruition by Our Pal Sal Buscema. 

“What you’re seeing is a genuine U.F.O., a ship presumably of extraterrestrial origin… 

“It seems the pilot of this spacecraft has survived the ship’s plummet from space and is concealing himself inside.But perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the ship is its insignia. For inscribed in English on the hull are the words: “Captain America”…

Hard to believe that not all Defenders ishs are up to this standard… or down to this price!

‘OW MUCH?!: 

FIFTY PENCE!

(The bottom half is badly crumpled, but after sitting beneath a pile of other distinguished members of the Bradscribe Collection, it no longer makes crinkling noises when you turn the pages!)

 

Sir Lyan: “Board, man of metal – and do not be brave if you value your life! My blaster is set to kill!” 

Iron Man: “You have nothing to fear from me – I’m no friend of the colonizers! (Besides, I think I’ve figured out a way to recharge my deplted power!)”

What a genuine – and totally unexpected! – pleasure to welcome Iron Man to the Bradscribe Collection! Hey, if the plot goes cosmic, then any title can make it in there!

Iron Man #111 The Man, the Metal, and the Mayhem! (June 1978) continues th unputdownable cosmic adventures of the Knights of Wundagore – those fabulous man-beasts created by the High Evolutionary – and their ongoing resistance against those diminutive would-be world-conquerors: the Rigellians. 

Having been beamed aboard a Rigellian scavenger ship “whose size beggars our poor mortal powers of description” belonging to Fleet Commander Arcturus and his crummy crew of unruly observer-munchkins, the Armoured Avenger finds himself trapped inside an inter-galactic war. Suspecting he is a Rigellian robot, tke Wundagorians shoot ol’ Shellhead down to Wundagore II. There, he gains the trust of the walking, talking beasts. 

For me, personally, this is a great ish as Tony is joined by Jack of Hearts, one of my very first favourite comic book characters and, arguably, the owner of the most elaborate costume in comic book history. Much like Spider-Man in last Summer’s Homecoming movie, Stark acts as mentor to the young Jack Hart throughout ishs: 103-113.

And, as both sides also make significant cameos in The Mighty Thor as well, this bunny can’t wait to catch all these other ishs – at an agreeable price… of course! 

Fleet Commander Arcturus: “A lovely planet! Alive with everything one could ask for! A perfect planet for settling at least some of our fleet!”

Observer YJ18: “Fleet Commander, no! What of the oath sworn to the Asgardian: Thor…?!”

‘OW MUCH?!: 

ABSOLUTELY FREE!

WHAT?!?!

Yes, priced at £3 – same as all the other Iron back ishs, my friendly neighbourhood awemonger deducted it from my bill in recognition of frequenting his establishment after all these months. 

Also: ’twas the night before Christmas! 😉

Cheers!

Good! Let The VIII Flow Through You!: First Impressions Of The Last Jedi

Breathe. Just Breathe. Now Reach Out.

What Do You See?

Green Greedo: “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

Han Solo: “Yes, I bet you have...”

“When I read VIII, I told Rian, ‘I fundamentally disagree with virtually everything you’ve decided about my character’,” Mark Hamill said before embarking on filming Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Although Mark swiftly changed his mind and had a blast resurrecting the character with which he will always be associated with, immediately, this statement turned out to be the most worrisome aspect of this latest instalment. If it was “shocking” for Mark to read what Rian had written, then how is it going to make us feel?!

Personal reservations about new characters and contentious plot developments for established characters – not to mention unease concerning where the last two episodes will lead – have somewhat lessened the eager anticipation which so many fans have revelled in and blogged about these past few months.

Nevertheless, it is thrilling to have NEW Star Wars magic within our grasp once more and, obviously, both of you are itching to read what this first generation fanboy has to say about it, so, away we go…

“It was incredible! The perception of these films is that they’re all planned out on a secret sheet of paper in advance, but that’s just not the case. I wasn’t given an outline of where it goes or even a list of things to hit. It really was just, ‘Okay, what’s next?'” – Rian Johnson.

“Who is Luke Skywalker now?” asked Rian Johnson as he set out to fulfil a dream and write the script for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

“I grew up with an idea of who Luke was, so the real question was why is Luke on that island? Luke’s no coward… so there must be some reason he’s there that makes sense to him. That was the first nut to crack. The seed for the whole story was inside that shell. I just had to get to it.”

Caught up with Looper (2012) earlier this year, to get acquainted with Johnson’s directorial style. Fortunately, it is an intelligent and fantastic time travel SF thriller, and assured us that Star Wars VIII looked to be in more-than-capable hands.  

From a certain point of view, The Force Awakens was great fun, even though, yes, we didn’t need the rehashed New Hope tropes of another Death Star and “vital information” placed in a droid-unit etc. etc. Unfortunately, the film’s main hindrance lay in JJ Abrams direction. Solo’s demise seemed inevitable, but the whole confrontation between Han and Ben sorely lacked the dramatic heft it deserved.

And although John William’s score was suitably moving as Rey clambered up Skellig Michael to find Luke, this pivotal sequence still looked too bland. This former Archaeology student realised the problem – he instantly recognised the locationAdd an extra planet in a sky that maybe should have been tinted a wildly different colour. Maintain the impression that we are indeed in a galaxy far, far away and not just off the coast of Ireland, please… 

 

Also, savour again this classic, endearing moment from The Empire Strikes Back:

“Where’s my boyfriend? I like that Wookie” – Maz Kanata.

Let’s face it, Chewie would have stampeded up those Skellig steps faster and more enthusiastically than Rey – not mope around outside the Falcon! Half-expected him to do so, as well! How long is it since he last saw Luke?! Besides, he had just lost his scruffy-lookin’ best buddy, but Abrams NEVER allowed him the screen-time to grieve! 

Would not be surprised to discover that our fave Wookie will be similarly underused in The Last Jedi. 

Come ON – let the Wookie scene-steal!

*

Thankfully – judging from early reviews, this movie seems to be a positive upgrade, but just poses so many questions: 

Will Rey turn to the Dark Side?

Will Kylo learn the difference between right and Ren? 

Will General Hux really get the most laughs?!

Will this episode answer ANY of these questions (and plenty more too innumerable to type)..?! 

Hello… …?

“Episode eightgosh… The first film didn’t even have a number…” – Anthony Daniels. 

 

“It’s the first time I’ve been on set not yet knowing what the character’s gonna look like. I mean, talk about secrecy!” – Andy Serkis.  

For me, it has reached the point where speculation surrounding “Supreme Leader” Snoke supersedes everything else, including that other Starkiller-sized mystery of the galaxy: Rey’s parentage. There is an overwhelming urge to suss out who this creep is – and where he came from. 

Presumably, he is very ancient, very powerful. One thing is certain: the name is bogus. Has to be. 

In The Force Awakens, listening to characters as diverse as Leia and Nux saying “Snoke” with a straight face was something else. 

However, does the REAL villain of this Episode lurk elsewhere..?

It is telling that Rian Johnson has mentioned how Snoke is the (ahem) snokescreen for where the true drama – and shocks – lie… 

The above poster is included here to emphasise the following point. Notice here how Luke is bathed in red: traditionally associated with the Empire. With evil. Also, see how large he looms, as Vader used to do on the OT posters…

Dark Side or not, what intrigues me the most about this episode is learning additional details about the background story of Luke’s quest for the first Jedi temple, and how he lost his padawan – his nephew – to Snoke, thus compelling our hero to retreat in shame(?) to a remote sector of the galaxy.

Tell me, OLD Luke, what brings you out this far… …? 

“Oh baby, would I love to play my own evil twin…We could watch this guy undermining the good guys secretly, maybe even killing a supporting character… And then, of course, the good Luke shows up” –  Mark Hamill. 

“Are they puffin-like? Are they pug-like…? One, in particular, befriends Chewie. I won’t spoil it, but if you think the ones you’ve seen in the trailer are cute, you have not seen anything yet” – Neal Scanlan. 

Difficult to see, the plot is. 

When you consider how Star Wars is now Disney property, it’s all too easy to fear the worst. Your correspondent, regrettably, can see it now: Jedi Master Luke and his plucky porg posse break into Snoke’s Throne Room. 

Epic lightsaber duel ensues.

(Hopefully it will NOT be as inspid and seven hours too frickin’ long as that soulless saber-swingfest from Episode III).

Just when the Leader looks to be too Supreme for his own good(bad?) Luke extends his robot hand and Force-propels Snoke back; at the last minute, the villain trips over a wall of porgs, and – like Maul and Sidious – hurtles to his doom down one of those expensive, albeit superfluous, CG-chasms.

Later, as the hangar explodes and disintegrates all around them, and they must go their separate ways, Porg Chief Berni Two-Socks (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, of course) looks up with those ubercute oversized black eyes, tears a-swellin’, and chirps:

“Gee, Mr. Luke, not bad fer a Longshanks! The boys are gonna miss ya, an’… aww shucks, Ah’m-a gonna miss ya too…”

Trust me, there will NOT be a dry eye in the (full) house…

Uff, typical Disney fluff! 

On second thoughts, methinks mayhap this grizzled ol’ nerfherder should DELAY his trip to the local popcorn parlour this week. And wait to be seriously disappointed in the comfort of his own Sanctum Sanctorum when XIII starts “streamin’ on Nitflex” (or whatever the younglings call that dashfangled gogglebox-contraption)…

“The Last Jedi felt more visceral. The first film felt like a dream” – Daisy Ridley. 

Before hitting Publish, it would be fitting to finish with a nice little anecdote from – oh yes – a long time ago when ONLY TWO Star Wars movies existed, but for me and my gang of mates, we were just DAYS away from the release of Return Of The Jedi. 

At the time, a British magazine called Voyager – concentrating on movies, model kits and space/astronomy news(!) – published an invaluable article discussing The Genesis Of “The Star Wars.” Reckoned it would be a great service to proclaim that instead of three movies we could – one day – enjoy all NINE episodes of The Journal Of The Whills.

They all looked at me as if Admiral Motti had just dissed The Force. 

Bumfluff growled and hissed bitterly: “Jeez, Brad, you’re so full o’ Bantha doo-doo it’s unreal!”

True story…

It would also be lovely to round off this post by stating that as we all prepare to watch The Last Jedi, it’s nice to know that Brad will be having the last laugh.

But will it – can it – really make for a joyous cinema experience? Yet again, yours truly just can’t bring himself to describe how difficult ’twill be to sit through the late, great Carrie Fisher’s last-ever screen performance.

Definitely, there are grim tidings ahead. Having lost Han Solo in VII, we must prepare for Leia’s fate in this episode, but also – although one does not like to dwell on such disconcerting matters too much – Luke will probably not see the end of IX…

 

WAIT a moisture-farmin’ minute here… 

What if Luke gets killed off in VIII?!?! 

What ELSE can account for Mark’s misgivings and the “considerable risks” rumoured to have been taken by Rian with this far, far away material?

Who else has a bad feeling about this?

We must be cautious…

Breathe. Just Breathe… …

 

“What a piece of junk!” – Luke Skywalker. 

How fitting that Episode VIII should be released in the year of Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary. 

Is it really FORTY YEARS since the world we thought we knew changed forever…?

“…A script arrived on my dressing table. When I opened it and found that it was science fiction I thought: oh crumbs, this is simply not for me…

“The dialogue was pretty ropey, but I had to go on turning the page… That is an essential in any script…” – Alec Guinness.

 

The Journey Of Bradskald: My Reimmersion In Norse Mythology

 The Realm Eternal: Asgard – The Beacon Of Hope, Shining Out Across The Stars

And A Source Of Limitless Possibilities For My Fiction…

“Once, mankind accepted a simple truth: that they were not alone in this universe. Some worlds Man believed home to their Gods. Others they knew to fear…” – Odin All-Father. 

There was a great noise of shouting and fury in the Palace of Jotunheim where the great Norse Giants lived.

“What have you done, Rungnir?” some of the Giants were shouting at one of their number. “You have agreed to fight the great god Thor! You are mad, quite mad!”

“Thor is our greatest enemy, Rungnir,” other Giants cried in alarm. “…You have brought disaster upon us! Not even a Giant can resist Thor with his mighty thunder and his deadly hammer Mjolnir!”

Aye!

And no one can resist the God of Thunder as his latest adventure: Thor: Ragnarok has conquered the box office (and deservedly so) on Midgard (Earth) this past fortnight. Having thrilled me with its wholesome cosmic fun, Thor: Ragnarok slings me back along the Bifrost of nostalgia to a time when all-things-Norse were craved. The more scintillating aspects of that mythology seeped – wholeheartedly or inadvertently – into my own otherworldly works.

So, away from the hassle, tech difficulties and trolls of the 21st century, and let’s return to the great beards, moody Giants (and Trolls) of the Nine Realms.

Pre-Christian Vikings shared a common view of the universe. The one insurmountable truth held that the Norse pantheon of gods, known as the Æsir, made their home at Asgard. This is a compound name, whose first part As- refers to the Æsir, while the second part gard means an ‘enclosure.’ Hence Asgard is ‘the enclosed region where the Æsir live.’

In order to understand the rudiments of Norse mythology, one must refer to The Prose Edda – the most renowned of all works of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source for Norse mythology – written by the 13th century Icelandic chieftain: Snorri Sturluson (1178-1241). Mayhap ’twas the un-Viking way in which he met his own violent end against the King of Norway’s assassins – cowering in his own cellar – helps explain why his name is not hailed among other historical literary giants.

However, through his seminal work, numerous Old Norse words crept into the English language; for one, it is from Sturluson that we get the word: ‘saga.’

“The Prose Edda… summarizes the pagan Germanic myths and reviews the rules of skaldic rhetoric. The mythology documented in these texts reveals an earlier, peasant stratum (associated with the thunderer, Thor)…” – Joseph Campbell. 

“I came up with Thor. I know all about Thor, and Mjolnir, the hammer. Nobody ever bothered with that stuff except me. It was the thing that kept my mind off the general poverty in the area. When I went to school that’s what kept me in school. It wasn’t mathematics and it wasn’t geography – it was history…” – Jack Kirby.

“…Thor is the foremost among them. Called Thor of the Æsir [Asa-Thor] and Thor the Charioteer [Oku-Thor], he is the strongest of all gods and men. He rules at the place called Thrudvangar [Plains of Strength], and his hall is called Bilskirnir…” –

Gylfaginning 21.

Before the Viking Age, in a time known as the Migration Period (from the fifth to the seventh centuries CE), when various tribes laid siege to the last remnants of the Roman Empire, numerous heroic stories originated, formulating a tremendous Scandinavian oral tradition.

The most substantial section of The Prose Edda, is known as Gylfaginning, in which the characters we have become accustomed to via Marvel’s comics and movies – the Æsir, namely Thor, Odin, Loki, Heimdall, et al. – were originally introduced.

Of equal intrigue in the Eddas is the portion called Skaldskaparmal. Skald is the Old Norse word for ‘poet,’ or ‘scribe’; skapr means ‘creation’ or ‘craft’; mal is ‘language’ or ‘diction’ – thus Skaldskaparmal means the ‘language of poetry.’ This section in particular – a combination of dialogue and third-person storytelling – collects those oral traditions that arose from this Migration Period. 

The most celebrated hero of Skaldskaparmal is Sigurd the dragon-slayer. He and his treasure: the Rhine Gold, not only formed the basis for the Saga of the Volsungs and Thidrek’s Saga, but the epic poem of South Germany: the Nibelungenlied, wherein Sigurd is known as Siegfried. Classical composer Richard Wagner made Siegfried the hero of his epic Ring Cycle opera: Der Ring des Nibelungen. 

Thus, the epic prose of Norse mythology converted into epic music.

As you may have gathered, music has always played a decisive, inspirational role in my creative writing. Whenever epic storytelling had to be undertaken, nothing like Wagner could set the right mood, tone and atmosphere for conjuring the right words. Admittedly, my jaw-dropping introduction to the wonders of Wagner‘s music came through watching Excalibur, John Boorman’s lavish 1981 depiction of the Celtic legend of King Arthur and his Grail knights. 

Interestingly, incorporated into Skaldskaparmal is the story of the ancient Danish warrior King Hrolf Kraki, who – much like King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table – was accompanied on his multifarious exploits by a dozen champions.  

“The universe hasn’t seen this marvel since before my watch began. Few can sense it, even fewer can see it. But while its effects can be dangerous, it is truly beautiful” – Heimdall.  

If a Ragnarok would burn all the slums and gas-works… I’d go back to trees…” – J.R.R. Tolkien. 

“The gods seated themselves on their thrones and held counsel, and remembered how dwarfs had quickened in the earth…

By the decree of the gods they acquired human understanding and the appearance of men, although they lived in the earth…” 

There is clear evidence that John Ronald Reuel Tolkien – Oxford Professor of Old English/Anglo-Saxon and Middle English language and literature – used the Edda as inspiration for his literature. Many of the names he used in his most celebrated works: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were taken from this source material. 

Like the One Ring of Sauron, an all-powerful ring: Andvarinaut, forms the basis of Der Ring des Nibelungen. 

“Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases,” Tolkien insisted, keen to assuage his critics. Nevertheless, the figure of Gandalf – named after one of the dwarves mentioned in The Edda – was particularly influenced by Odin in his incarnation as “The Wanderer”: an old man with one eye, a long white beard, a wide brimmed hat, and a staff.

Tolkien’s depiction of Giants, Elves and Dwarves are very much drawn from the Old Norse originals. And – oh yes – an extra slice of cake for those of you who spotted that the Balrog of Moria and the collapse of the Bridge of Khazad-dûm was an exact rendering of fire-giant Surt[ur]’s destruction of Asgard’s Bifrost [the Rainbow Bridge]!

And so, you enquire – cleaving this rambling prose in twain like the fabled blade of Andúril isself! – how did Norse mythology inspire me?

Ah yes – just like King Kirby – bored senseless by Geography homework, my impatient, cartographic mind escaped, instead, into creating my own fantasy world, fuelled by Fighting Fantasy gamebooks – “where YOU are the hero!” – which became all the rage for much of the 80s. 

Aeons ago – almost lost in the mists of time – at the dawn of the Teen Age 😉 Bradskald created Atlansia. 

In the accompanying “Atlansian Manual,” maps of both West and East Atlansia – plus the islands of Thalios and Kalonth – were meticulously drafted. As for the fantasy epic that threatened to come to fruition, in true Tolkien style, long ago (of course), along the northeast coast of Atlansia, Sentinels from the Ion Hills constructed the Great Wall of Mithris, to deter the advancing evil-most-foul hordes of Doragar (a sorcerous crossbreed of Orcs and Trolls).

Scouring my yellowed and crumpled pages again after all these years, the Norse inspiration still shines through: Frost Giants reigned in the Icypeak Mountains to the far north; Dwarfs kept themselves to themselves high in the rocky citadels of the Moonstone Hills; while down to the southeast, Elves dwelt deep within the Silver Forest… 

Amazing to think how this exotic – yet extraordinary – Bradworld has lain dormant and unexplored for over three decades… 

Ha, if those brazen berserkers – the Doragar – should decide, once more, to raid and plunder the hamlets to the east, then doughty Bradskald will sally forth – trusty broadsword: Fopslayer slung across his back – to smite the unholy threat. 

Or maybe he will just remain atop the ancient Book Tower in ye olde village of Crickhaven and simply write off said hordes with a (hopefully deft) flick of his mighty quill

 

“Bradskald…?! I thought he was a myth…” 😉

“This book is called Edda. Snorri Sturluson compiled it in the way that it is arranged here. First it tells about the Æsir [the gods] and Ymir [the primordial giant], then comes the poetic diction section with the poetic names of many things…” – Codex Upsaliensis. 

 

“From Ymir’s flesh 
was the earth created,
from the bloody sweat, the sea,
cliffs from bones,
trees frow hair,
and from the head, the heavuns;

And from his eyelashes 
the gentle gods made
Midgard for the sons of men;
and from his brains
all the oppressive
clouds were formed” – The Lay of Grimnir 40-41. 

 

Með krafti Bradskald! Borðuðu köku og vertu glaður!

By The Power Of Bradskald!  🙂