We’re back and MOVIE DIARY 2018 is kicking off blockbuster season with a couple of superhero movies because you know what, FUCK IT. This week’s special guest is Aubrey Bellamy! I’m pretty sure you already know her, and if you don’t that is definitely a “you” problem.
Deadpool 2 (2018)
SPECIAL GUEST WRITER: AUBREY BELLAMY
WARNING: THERE MIGHT BE SPOILERS IN HERE, I HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE BUT WHEN I READ AUBREY’S REVIEW IT DIDN’T SEEM TOO SPOILER-Y SO PROCEED WITH CAUTION IF YOU’RE THE KIND OF PERSON WHO’S WORRIED ABOUT DEADPOOL 2 SPOILERS — GEOFF
I believe there is a world where I could have had a fine-to-okay time watching Deadpool 2. I saw the first with my mom after I noticed the Blu-ray in my parents’ collection some time over the past year. She winningly sold the watch to me, calling it “actually not that bad!” and not for nothing, she’s mostly right. I don’t remember any of it.
Deadpool came out in early 2016, around 37 years ago. That’s how it feels here in 2018 a.k.a. probably the worst time in recent cultural history for literally, exactly this movie to be made.
We know the drill with this guy Deadpool, right? This is the second film of the franchise centered around Marvel’s rudest anti-(super)hero and he’s back to let you know that just as he’s (still) not like other superheroes, this movie is not like other movies. (Except it is. It is exactly like other movies.)
At the beginning of Deadpool 2, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) wants to be dead and he tells us that by the end, he will be. This framed my experience in a way I’m sure now was not intended. After the assurance he was “gonna die, too” (like fellow X-man Wolverine in Logan) I sat up in my seat kind of excited, to be honest. The idea that they were going to fold on this character felt kind of subversive and precisely in line with the ethos of Deadpool himself. Then TJ Miller showed up.
“Man,” I thought, “even Michael Bay burned TJ Miller to a crisp in Transformers.” EVEN MICHAEL BAY, I THOUGHT. To the film’s credit, it does seem like maybe his role as Deadpool’s main dude was cut down from ~what could have been had it not been revealed that he punched a woman~. There are a few scenes I convinced myself Ryan Reynolds was just not physically present because he was in full costume. Fun to imagine until I thought about Miller collecting a paycheck and not having the courtesy to at least fake donating it to people actively working to dismantle outdated power structures or, I don’t know, protect women. Maybe that’s a “me” problem.
So, there’s where I land on Deadpool 2 (and I guess Deadpool 1). I noticed throughout my showing the same, like, 14 men laughed at every joke and I wanted something bad to happen to each of them when they left the theater. The movie was a special treat for them because by all appearances we are in a moment of being critical about men’s actions and art. This franchise celebrates the worst parts of both unabashedly — which, to me, looks the same as everything else.
Mistress America (2015)
For some reason I have this in my head as a follow up to Frances Ha (2012) but I think that’s just because this one has Greta Gerwig in it and because I always forget about While We’re Young (2014), a movie that I tried to watch but gave up on (I don’t remember why I gave up on it, but I’m probably not going to try again). Anyway, Mistress America! I like this one a lot! The dialogue in this movie is like a Whit Stillman or Amy Sherman Palladino joint, fast paced and full of jokes that sound too clever and self conscious by half, but so relentless that it becomes your new heightened reality for the next hour and a half of watching.
Everyone in this movie is delightful, but this is one hundred percent without a doubt Greta Gerwig’s movie. She’s like a hurricane in this movie, and it’s fun to get swept up in what she’s doing. Her Brooke is an incredible look at this very specific kind of hyper-confident and positive go-getter that simultaneously intimidates and fascinates me. It’s nice to watch it at a distance. The first half of the movie is all sound and fury, joke after joke after joke illuminating the world of this truly odd bon vivant from a New York that doesn’t seem to exist anywhere anymore. Brooke is like a manic pixie dream girl without the baggage of existing solely for a man to learn a lesson about himself. The second half is watching it all come apart, and as fun as it is to get swept up in Brooke’s energy, it’s also very satisfying watching her come undone, revealing just how fragile her ambitious facade really is. Maybe that’s mean-spirited to feel that way, but I think what’s great about Brooke is viewing her as this unstoppable charismatic force but then being able to pull back and see that underneath all that she’s a real person who’s just trying to figure it out like the rest of us.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
SPOILER WARNING THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE IDK IF THEY ARE HUGE SPOILERS I GUESS IT DEPENDS ON WHAT A HUGE SPOILER IS FOR YOU
Avengers: Infinity War is the one hundredth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and since it’s the big one-oh-oh, they’ve pulled out all the stops and jammed every single fucking thing from the last ten years of Marvel movies into one five hour movie. It all comes down to this — every plot thread, every post-credits scene, every cameo from the last ten years has culminated in this mega movie made up of roughly four smaller, more manageable movies. Is the mega movie any good? Not really. But it’s not bad! It’s fine. All of these things are usually fine (If they’re not bad). But it’s really pretty impressive! Think about it: there are like four different movies of varying quality packed into this one movie of middling quality and it’s all being juggled around for eight hours and it works somehow. For the most part, the movie moves at a fast enough clip that as soon as you even think about how boring this is going to get the hivemind directors of this Wagnerian production know to switch scenes or kill somebody. It’s a pretty spectacular feat of time management.
Let’s look at the smaller movies within the movie!
Iron Man and Spider-Man team up with Dr. Strange and some of the Guardians of the Galaxy to kill Thanos. (Fine.)
This one is about as straightforward as a Marvel action movie can get. We’ve got Iron Man and Spidey cracking jokes while Dr. Strange scowls around and talks about how he has no problem with the other two dying. A classic comedy trio harkening back to the days of Three Stooges. Some of the Guardians of the Galaxy join in later for some funny gags and a big fight. Too much Chris Pratt for my tastes, though.
Thor and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy go off to find a weapon to kill Thanos. (Good.)
This one was my favorite of the plots, just Thor stumbling around the galaxy for 88 minutes, mumbling to whoever will listen about his fucked up family and how he’s going to kill Thanos. There’s a great scene in here where Thor’s talking about how many battles he’s fought and how many people he’s killed as he silently weeps and tries to cover it up with some tough guy talk about how he’s got nothing left to lose. It’s pretty heartbreaking watching Thor come to the realization that his friends and his family and his people are dead and he’s alone in the universe, especially considering that the last Thor movie was all about how his friends and his family and his people are everything to him. The rest of the movie is jokes about how hot Chris Hemsworth is, followed by him screaming and flexing and killing CGI monsters by the buttload, which truly is all we really need out of a Thor movie.
Thanos and Gamora walk around and talk about fascism and abusive relationships. (Bad.)
This portion of the movie clocks in at nine hours, and I get that it’s necessary for us to learn what the deal is with Thanos, but it’s sooo boooorrriiiiinnnngggg. I’m very much here for Josh Brolin’s sad boy supervillain monologues, but having Gamora as the other half of the pairing was pretty unsatisfying. I get why she’s there, and it makes sense given their relationship, but I don’t have to like it. Plus I can think of a better way to spend ten hours and it involves more Thor flexing and screaming at the light of a dying star. I’d have much rather had Thanos walking around and talking to himself about his boner for death. I was going to say something here like “Thanos is an incel” but a quick search of “Thanos incel” on twitter confirms that I watched this movie like three weeks after release, so every possible joke in here is inescapably stale.
Captain America has a beard now. (Fine.)
This one starts with the always weird relationship between the Scarlet Witch and her robot boyfriend The Vision, in hiding somewhere in Scotland. I don’t have any strong feelings one way or the other about those two characters, but for some reason this whole set up made me think about whether I’d watch a superhero version of Before Sunrise (1995) and whether or not I should stop writing about movies for coming up with the elevator pitch of “Before Sunrise, but with superheroes.” I feel like I could be making more money if I were more committed to being a worse person.
Anyway, this is clearly the “and the rest!” portion of the movie, where they dumped in whoever else was leftover and put them in Wakanda because Marvel can still bank on that fresh Black Panther (2018) fanbase. For a plot that consists of spare parts it does come up with some fun stuff, namely that Captain America has a beard now and Scarlett Johansson successfully lobbied to not have to wear that red wig again, but mostly it’s a place for everybody to come together at the end and get into a big fight and spout off some one-liners and die.
These Marvel movies have been around for as far back as anyone who lives on the internet can remember, and through the years I’ve gone from loving them to hating them to being indifferent to them to lightening up and having a pretty fun time with Thor: Ragnarock (2017). I’m a lot harder on these things in my own head, but when I’m actually watching them in the theaters I’ll admit I’m having a pretty good time. Then when I step out of the theater all of that kind of dissipates and I get back to thinking about how shitty Marvel has treated the original creators of these characters, and I think about how this new model of a cinematic universe has really just trapped movie audiences in the same serialized corporate storytelling cycles that comic book readers have been stuck in for decades, and I wonder how all of this is going to end, or if it’s ever going to end at all. It would have been great to have this movie be the actual conclusion of this whole franchise, its 1970s-esque big bummer of an ending a fitting “Fuck you” from an indifferent, soulless corporation to its longtime fans who’ve invested so much time and money and personal data into these things, but we already know there’s more of these movies coming down the line, so as great as that ending could have been, it’s once again rendered meaningless. They’ll be back, and they know we’ll be back.