Let’s Talk About Avengers: Endgame

(Update: As of May 29, 2019, Endgame is the second highest grossing film of all-time worldwide. You’ve got some ground to make up there, DC)

We’re back again with another entry in our “Let’s Talk About” series. It feels like we’ve done more of these for Marvel movies than anything else. I’m not sure if that’s true or not (Kevin will rake me over the coals for not double-checking), but it probably has something to do with the fact that we started this blog in 2013. The Avengers was almost a year old at that point and the MCU had grown into a juggernaut that owned the box office and earned all the praise from critics. Even Thor: The Dark World did well later that year, scoring the largest opening weekend in November ever for a Disney movie (that I did look up).

If that piece of crap could do so well, the writing was on the wall that there was no stopping the MCU. To be fair, I own that piece of crap and that’s just another sign of how Marvel has us by the balls: I buy all of their movies, even if I don’t like them that much.

Kevin and I have certainly been fans this whole time and that’s why it seemed fitting that he just happened to be in Denver so that we could see Avengers: Endgame together. Marvel’s behemoth of a finale for its Infinity Saga promised to be epic. It promised to resolve years worth of storylines. But did it live up to the ridiculous level of hype surrounding it?

Now that everyone on the planet has checked this movie out, I think we are safe to dive into some spoilers and nitpick the shit out of this thing. Well, not really. We’re nicer than that and have compliments to give out too, but I promise you that nits will be picked.

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Ranking a Decade of Marvel Movies: The Also Rans

We did it people. By giving Marvel our hard earned cash to see almost 20 movies over the last decade, featuring all the superheroes that we love and several that we had no clue existed, we aided and abetted the creation of an unstoppable juggernaut. With Avengers: Infinity War being released in a few short days after a decade of building towards Thanos’ showdown with the galaxy’s mightiest heroes, that train is not slowing down anytime soon.

But it hasn’t all been the smoothest journey through this shared universe. There are more than a few stops along the way that, if not for having the Marvel Studios banner safeguarding them from irrelevance, would’ve been immediately cast out and forgotten. I suppose that’s understandable. When you have 18 at-bats, you’re probably not going to knock it out of the park each time. Part three of this post will feature the eight Marvel films that I consider to be home runs, so by baseball standards the MCU has been more than cleaning up at the plate.

However, we still have to talk about the times when they struck out, grounded into a double play or popped out to the catcher (which as a former little leaguer, I always hated more than striking out). To be clear, I’m not referring to this first group of films as “The Also Rans” because I think they suck. While there will be a couple of rants and plenty of criticism, you can still watch most of these movies and be entertained. I just never feel a strong desire to do so outside of taking on another marathon of all the MCU films (which is getting very long, by the way) and one of them just happens to be the next one on the list.

But since these are my opinions and I may very well just be a cynical bastard, I’m including some feedback from both Kevin and my girlfriend, Natalie. If I’m being too hard on any of these films, they’ll let you know about it.

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Dr. Strange is Just Marvel Being Marvel

You ever know someone who seems to have everything work out for them? My buddy Nick is like that when it comes to fantasy football. He’s won our league the last two years and could very well come out on top again this season, but the surprise is no longer the fact that he’s successful. The rest of us are used to that, whether we like it or not. What really perplexes us is how he achieves that success. He’s drafted a team that has won a championship. He’s had one autodrafted for him that won a championship. Certain players will perform below expectations on our teams and then experience a career renaissance on his. If any of us try to emulate what he does in the hope of reaping similar rewards, it blows up in our face.

What I’m getting at is that Nick is the Marvel Studios of our fantasy league: he is untouchable and seemingly unstoppable.

Look no further than Dr. Strange, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that absolutely would not work anywhere else, and yet there it is making more money and garnering more acclaim for a studio that could go to the bathroom and poop out a successful film. Again, the surprising thing isn’t that a good Dr. Strange movie exists. It’s that it exists and none of us are shocked to see it happen.

(In case you were wondering, my fantasy team is more like the DC Cinematic Universe: it looks good on paper but no one else is ever impressed by it and it winds up tanking every year)

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Daredevil Season One: A Lovely Stroll through Hell’s Kitchen

I’m not seeking penance for what I’ve done, Father. I’m asking forgiveness… for what I’m about to do. 

When I first heard that Marvel Studios was adapting Daredevil into an original series for Netflix, I was skeptical. Agents of Shield hadn’t exactly filled me with confidence regarding Marvel’s ability to make a good TV show (though it has since improved dramatically), and last time someone took a crack at Daredevil, we got Ben Affleck and… well, you know how that went.

But maybe that was the problem. Not every superhero needs a big screen treatment and a budget to match it. It doesn’t always work to pick a famous actor to play the title role. For an unassuming vigilante like Daredevil, a blind kid from Hell’s kitchen who just wants to make his city a better place, it enhances the role to pick a relative unknown and let us peel back his layers over 13 episodes rather than stuff it all into a two-hour action flick.

And sometimes, certain material deserves a second chance to find an audience. The first season of Daredevil was a revelation and season 2 is hitting Netflix this Friday. If you are a Marvel fan or just like good television, you best be watching.

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“Avengers: Age of Ultron” Review

The city is flying, we’re fighting an army of robots and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense, but I’m going back out there because it’s my job. And I can’t do my  job and babysit. It doesn’t matter what you did or who you were… If you step out that door, you are an Avenger. 

I want you to take a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come. Three years ago, the mere concept of an Avengers movie was completely preposterous. Six different heroes stuffed together in the same picture with a little over two hours to tell the story? Yeah, right, that will never work.

Flash forward to May 2015 and not only has Marvel proven that it does work, but now shared-universe films are all the rage in Hollywood. DC is fast-tracking its own cinematic universe by throwing Batman and Superman together in a live-action movie for the first time and hoping for the best. Disney believes it can recreate Marvel’s magic with Star Wars and already a new trilogy and numerous spinoffs are in the works. What was once groundbreaking and innovative has become standard operating procedure at every major film studio, and while the novelty of an Avengers movie may not have the shine that it did three years ago, there’s no denying that seeing our heroes band together on the big screen remains an outrageously good time.

So be sure to soak it all in and remember how fortunate we all are to see such a healthy marriage between different mediums. And while Avengers: Age of Ultron may not exceed its own lofty expectations, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I mean holy cow, they threw everything but the kitchen sink to try and raise that bar again.

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Pegboards Ranks the MCU

With Avengers: Age of Ultron now available in theaters everywhere, Kevin and I thought it would be fun to rank all of the previous films from Marvel Studios and decide what is truly the best of the best. That part was easy. The hard part was going back and actually watching all of these movies again. Do you have any idea what kind of toll that takes on you? Kevin is pretty much an insomniac now and I’ve been sick for over a week. Can’t shake it.

That being said, it was a good time setting all of this up and a reminder of just how far the movies have come. We hope you appreciate it though, because it is extremely doubtful we will ever be doing this again. You know, until Captain America: Civil War comes out next year… just kidding, Kevin. Or am I?

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Spider-Man Comes Home by Jesse Schaffer

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you’ve heard the big news. Spider-Man has officially joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe! This is a monumental turn of events, one that has been rumored for months but seemed too far-fetched for it to ever actually happen. Now that it is ACTUALLY happening, we at Pegboards feel obligated to react to this stunning announcement and try to make sense of what’s really going on. After all, nothing like this has ever been done before and there is no guarantee that it will even work out the way that we hope it will.

But that’s beyond the point. All that matters is that Spider-Man is finally back where he belongs.

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“Captain America: The First Avenger” Review by Jesse Schaffer

Peggy tries to convince him that they have time and other options, but to no avail. Cap isn’t a pilot and doesn’t know the first thing about disarming a bomb. “This is my choice,” he says to her, and then he puts the plane in the water. He knows he’s going to die and he does it anyway, because a good man fighting for a just cause will always see it through to the end. And because he’s fucking Captain America.

That part resonated with me more than any other scene in a Marvel movie since the first Iron Man, and it had me on pins and needles waiting to see Cap make the transition to the modern world and come to terms with everything that had happened to him (including, you know, not actually dying). As good as “The Avengers” was, there simply wasn’t much time afforded to any individual character’s development because there was so much else going on, but now that day is truly here friends. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” comes out today and it just seems appropriate to do a review for the original movie first.

Seeing as this has been out for years now, I’m going to pretty casually wade into spoiler territory here and even if you haven’t seen The First Avenger, you definitely saw “The Avengers” and that spoiled this one for you anyway. Here we go.

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