Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.
I don't know what to make of it. Given how expensive new games are getting, are publishers assuming that people will only be buying 2-3 new titles a year, and therefore they should make their games worth the investment? Is gaming really a young man's (or young woman's) racket, and it's implicitly assumed you'll be dropping out in your 30's or 40's?
And on the subject of recent open-world games with lots of content...any of y'all taken a stab at MGSV? The reaction I've been looking at has been pretty interesting: while it's an excellent action-stealth game...it doesn't seem to be a very good Metal Gear game.
...Except that I remember that the console Fallout game I loved and hold up as a shining example of great CRPG plotting (Fallout: New Vegas) was made by Obsidian, and the one I could never bring myself to play for more than about six hours (Fallout 3) was made by Bethesda Softworks...and this new one is by Bethesda Softworks.
Hmmm...giddiness mildly tempered...
At one point when showcasing the game, a Rabbi saw the board, paused, and said that he understood what the game was about.
"I don't want to play it," he said. "You just did," Brathwaite replied.
It's like that Super Mario Maker level was specifically designed to parody this game.
He ought to have spent a little more time around them than just that one time saving the world, iow, and at least initiate some helpful dialog for the viewer on how he doesn't know them well enough to risk calling them even if they did suffer through a mandatory webinar series with chat sidebar together last Friday.
I think that fic explains where Hawkeye was perfectly. Ha!
there's still the question of why she didn't ring up her best friend Hawkeye to help them fight the bad guys. I prefer to believe he was in deep cover while all this was going down and couldn't be reached.
I actually found this brilliant, hilarious fic along those lines (gen, short).
(Totally one of those people who goes around asking "so, what were all the other established characters in that universe doing while this was going on?" Actually, come to think, that could be a great concept for a series of one-shot comics - just explaining where all the other superheroes were during, say, Iron Man III, for instance. But yeah, you also got that in the comics, wondering why the various heroes and villains don't trip over each other much more often.)
Sunnyskywalker: "I'm pretty sure Steve knows other superheroes. Does he not trust them?"
That initially bugged me in Winter Soldier, too, but then I thought about it a bit more and I said, "hang on a minute, why would he be inclined to trust them?" After all, Fury told him not to trust anybody, and unlike in the comics, he hasn't known Bruce and Tony and the others since forever - in the movie timeline, he's met them all once for a couple of days at this point, and yeah, they saved the world together, but that doesn't mean they're always going to be on the same side. He doesn't really know what type of people they are, and their interactions in The Avengers gave him reason to have doubts about pretty much all of them. It looks like the only one he's worked with closely since the Battle of New York is Tasha, and by the time
Of course, once he's decided to throw in with Tasha, there's still the question of why she didn't ring up her best friend Hawkeye to help them fight the bad guys. I prefer to believe he was in deep cover while all this was going down and couldn't be reached.
That was another weird thing about the movies, definitely! I kept thinking, "I'm pretty sure Steve knows other superheroes. Does he not trust them? Or did he just lose their cell phone numbers because he's still getting the hang of cell phones?"
It honestly didn't seem that way to me, but then that's like saying a story's resolution or twist is "obvious" when you knew about it beforehand. So I have to guess that other people who didn't go into it with the same, secretly required, specific foreknowledge about that recurring plotline probably found it similarly unsatisfying/puzzling.
And probably also a dozen others I'm forgetting. Marvelverse is this giant lumbering beast.
It seems like Marvel is trying to have the benefits of both stand-alone and series (er, and of both movie and TV series, at that), and it just isn't working. The conglomeration of movies isn't really a series, in the sense that a random viewer will recognize it as such on casual inspection, and then easily figure out what order the movies should be watched in for maximum viewing comprehension and enjoyment. And you can kind of watch them in any random order. I mean, theoretically you could watch The Avengers without also having watched every Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, etc. movie out at that time. Some people seem to have managed it.
But every single one I've watched has a lot of content that only makes sense if you've seen a bunch of other movies, from the "was that a joke? I think that was an in-joke" to the "who is this major important character? wait, is he an alien or a god or an alien god I am so lost" degree. So you can't really just, say, watch all the movies featuring one of the characters--you'll still miss stuff.
And then some of the movies are barely structured as single movies rather than really, really long pilot episodes for a series that supposedly isn't a series. Full of stuff with no apparent meaning or reason for being there, which might mean something to someone who watched every other Marvel movie, or which might be totally important three movies from now.
Footnotes might actually become necessary. I bet there will at least be a fan-captioned version, if there isn't already.
Sunnyskywalker: The way I felt while watching it was that the Winter Soldier was was barely in the first half of the movie at all and they spent a lot of time worrying about other Hydra baddies. It felt more like setup for something to happen in a sequel.
I agree this setting-up-for-a-sequel (or spin-off) business is becoming annoyingly prevalent in Marvel movies, but for me, the Winter Soldier was not such a case. Sure, he wasn't in the first half of the movie much, but in the second half, he and Steve had a nice little complete arc of conflict which eventually gives way to a measure of reconciliation. The film left plenty of room for further development between the two in a sequel film (coming next May!/announcer voice), but if for whatever reason that didn't happen, I would find the Winter Soldier's story in the movie a complete and satisfying arc in its own right. Basically, I agree with Janne. (The next Captain America movie is Civil War, so unless the catalyst for the superheroes' fallout is what to do about the Winter Soldier, I'd imagine his storyline will be taking a back seat. I'd be curious to know if other folks think that's likely.)
Janne: I wonder if at some point footnotes will start to appear when a new character familiar from a different series appear or something that happened in another movie or tv series is alluded to. Like in the comics: "See Agents of SHIELD S02E01! -The writers".
That would probably be really annoying, but also kind of hilarious.
I concur with the criticism about the Guardians. Marvel's project of making a decades long series of everything is ambitious enough, but remembering how convoluted the comics always get when things progress enough over different titles, the end result might get a bit weird. I wonder if at some point footnotes will start to appear when a new character familiar from a different series appear or something that happened in another movie or tv series is alluded to. Like in the comics: "See Agents of SHIELD S02E01! -The writers".
Thanos and Darkseid are pretty much the same character. The main difference being that Thanos dwells in Marvelandia, Darkseid in Detective Cosmos.
First, they take so long to make that there's guaranteed to be a big wait between installments, which is annoying when you finish watching one and find out there's more that you can't have yet (plus the awareness that when the next installment does arrive, a year from now, you might not be interested anymore or have forgotten crucial details). (This can be the case with book series, too, but it feels more acceptable somehow. Maybe just because I'm used to the idea of book series? Also of course even if a book's in a series we tend to expect it to stand on its own and will be annoyed if it has large swathes of filler that's obviously just there to set up the next book.)
Second, the time between plus the complexity involved in making the movie gives a lot of room for things to go off-track. An actor might become unavailable for whatever reason and have to be replaced or even written out of the script, for example. Or if someone different is writing/directing the next movie (as has been the case for these, I think), they might have a completely different take on things you care about. You don't necessarily know you can trust them to do a good job. (Which is less of a concern for a book series written by a single author--I mean, plenty of those do go downhill after a certain point, but... in a different way, it feels like.)
Third, an individual movie is sort of... big, in a way that an episode of a tv show or an issue of a comic isn't. It's a large chunk of story, all at once, with a lot invested in it. If it sucks, it's harder to ignore it and harder to feel like maybe the next one will be good.
...Honestly, that first thing is why I'd rather watch tv shows/read comics that are already finished, when I can. Not just so I know that the end exists and that it will be actually possible to watch/read the whole thing, but so it's easier to maintain interest all the way there. Not that I don't get sucked into ongoing things anyway.
I'm surprised to see you say that about Winter Soldier, though. The whole thing with Bucky and Steve felt like a big, central deal to me--part of (though not the whole of) the emotional center of the movie. Maybe it's a matter of expectations; I'd previously watched the Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon (the recent one... I feel like maybe there've been more than one) and they did the whole "Winter Soldier" bit, too (apparently it's a recurring thing, I mean, with different iterations in the franchise). And by "'Winter Soldier' bit" I mean specifically (spoilers) "good guys, including Steve, have to fight some mysterious scary Hydra-affiliated badass, known only as the Winter Soldier, who then turns out to be Steve's old friend/old sidekick Bucky, who they thought was dead but who was actually captured and brainwashed by Hydra. Cue angst. They/Steve help him break free of that and then he goes off on his own, presumably to show up at some later date". And apparently they'd built up Steve and Bucky's relationship and set the whole thing up in the first Captain America movie. So, I was definitely alert for all that and waiting to see what they'd do with it this time.
Winter Soldier was also okay, but the title gave me such the wrong expectations. The Winter Soldier was hardly in the thing, and seems like he'll be more important in a sequel. So I spent a lot of the movie going, "What's the Winter Soldier got to do with anything? Did I miss something?" I guess you could see it as Steve Rogers being his own kind of winter soldier since he's also been thawed out and is trying to adjust to a different time period, but it probably should have been called Captain America: The Hydra Conspiracy or something else that reflected what the movie was actually about.
Of course I seem to have atypical viewer reactions to some things, so maybe it's just me.
@Shim: Personally, I enjoyed the action scenes in Winter Soldier; they had a lot of energy, and didn't drag on interminably for me, unlike some other Marvel movies I could mention.
The rest of this post is going to contain a lot of spoilers, and I'm not going to use a tag because the spoilers are the discussion. So if there's anyone here who hasn't seen the movie and wants to avoid spoilers, this is the place to stop reading.
So, the plot of the film is that SHIELD has been infiltrated by HYDRA, who plan to use three floating doomsday platforms developed by SHIELD to kill a couple million people who are the greatest threats to their goal of world domination. Nick Fury grows suspicious of the doomsday platform project and tries to get it put on hold while he investigates, and HYDRA tries to assassinate him, apparently succeeding. Before his "death," Fury passes a vital clue to HYDRA's plot to Captain America. Captain America and Black Widow follow the clue, dodging HYDRA's assassins along the way, and finally discover the full extent of the plot. They are reunited with Fury, and with the help of Falcon and Agent Maria Hill, team up to take down the doomsday, platforms, HYDRA, and the hopelessly corrupted SHIELD along with them.
To me, this is a good political/spy thriller plot; the premise has some very silly elements, but the film takes its material just seriously enough to make the viewer feel it, but sufficiently unseriously that the silly superhero stuff is still an asset rather than a liability (as was the case in, e.g., Nolan's The Dark Knight). Once you buy into the premise, the character's actions and motivations make sense, and the story progresses organically rather than depending upon artifice or contrivance.
The threat posed by the villains also feels a lot more real than in most of the early Marvel movies. In those films, the heroes - once they got their powers - blew through scores of enemies without breaking a sweat, there was only a 50/50 chance of even the main villain being an even match for them. Whereas in this movie, sure, Cap is a lot stronger and tougher than everyone else, but they establish early on that the Winter Soldier can take him on, and even the regular HYDRA mooks come awfully close to killing him with a combination of numbers, strategy, and sheer firepower half a dozen times. (And, of course, the rest of the cast, though trained fighters, are no more than level with all the HYRDA agents.)
There's also some good character subplots with Captain America and Black Widow finding a way to trust each other even when they have very good reasons not to; and also Cap trying to reestablish his bonds with his old (and presumed deceased) friend Bucky, since brainwashed into becoming the titular Winter Soldier. (I'm also a sucker for the whole "hero refuses to continue attacking antagonist because of their personal connection" and then "antagonist saves hero's life" scenario.)
I would characterize the main message as "people who think the world would be a safer place if they held a gun to everyone's head are either outright fascists or just dangerously naive." Trust is also a big theme, and I would say the message there is something about the need for trust and partnership and the difficulty of building them in a situation where, as you say, distrust and suspicion are often crucial survival traits.
And no, I still don't know why Nick Fury burned all his personal stuff at the end: I chalked it up to one of those instances where a filmmaker will have a character do something because it's symbolically meaningful rather than it being a sensible thing for that character to do under the circumstances. Annoying, but for me it was a minor point.