The Mouse Knows Best Podcast

Monday, March 19, 2018

Marvel Mondays: Thor: The Dark World and Ant Man

Hello again and welcome back to Marvel Mondays! I'm sure by now you all know what this blog series is about: the lead-up to Avengers: Infinity War! Speaking of which, THAT NEW TRAILER THOUGH!!!! And also, tickets are on sale now! Go get yours quick as presale tickets are FLYING off the market! But there will be a time to break down trailers and talk about what I think is going to happen in the movie, and that's not today. Today, I'm going to be talking about two more Phase 2 films in Thor: The Dark World and Ant Man. Now, the question might come up as to why I'm doing these two together, and really there's no answer other than every other film in Phase 2 can be matched with another film in Phase 2 besides these two movies, so I matched them together. Nonetheless, let's get into it!

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Here is the upcoming schedule of posts (tentatively):

March 26th- Guardians of the Galaxy: Volumes 1 and 2
April 2nd- Avengers: Age of Ultron (exception 1; I'll explain why in the post)
April 9th- Dr. Strange and Thor: Ragnarok
April 16th- Captain America: Civil War (exception 2; I'll also explain why in the post)
April 23rd- Spider Man: Homecoming and Black Panther
April 30th- Infinity War Preview, Predictions, and MCU Review
May 7th- Avengers: Infinity War

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Thor: The Dark World is the 8th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is classified under Phase 2. It's the sequel to the highly popular Thor and returns the bulk of the first film's cast, aside from deceased villains. Thor: The Dark World is extremely pivotal to the MCU in the fact that it introduces another Infinity Stone in the Aether, which contains the Reality Stone. Released November 8th, 2013, the movie tells the story of Thor's quest to save the Nine Realms from Malekith and the Dark Elves, who is on a vengeful quest to destroy the universe. As criticized as the movie is, it grossed over $644 million during it's theatrical run, and holds the title of the 10th highest grossing film of 2013. That being said, Thor: The Dark World is often regarded as the worst film in the MCU with Rotten Tomatoes giving it a 66% on the Tomatometer. That's just to show you how great the MCU really is because their lowest rated film is still almost a 70%. And obviously the film was good enough for Kevin Feige to give the green light for a 3rd film in the series (Thor: Ragnarok).

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The production of Thor: The Dark World was vastly different from the original Thor. For starters, there was a new director directing the film after Kenneth Barnagh declined to do a sequel. This is where things got a little crazy for The Dark World. Kevin Feige had stated before that the sequel would take Thor to other worlds, but it would also be taking Jane to Asgard. After Barnagh declined to join the film, Feige had to begin a search for another director. His first choice was Brian Kirk, who directed many shows on Showtime, BBC, and HBO, including Game of Thrones. After Kirk declined, Feige turned to Patty Jenkins (director of Wonder Woman). In October of 2011, Marvel revealed that Jenkins would indeed be directing the film, and that Natalie Portman would be returning to play Jane Foster. However, in December of 2011, Jenkins left the project citing creative differences and Feige was forced to find another director. Ultimately, Feige turned to another Game of Thrones director in Alan Taylor, who agreed to do the job and production went on. Chris Hemsworth stated the film would be a lot more Viking-esque than the original Thor, while Feige stated that Loki wouldn't be the main villain and Jane would be taken to Asgard. All in all, the production went smooth and there were no major dropouts after filming began, leading Feige and Marvel to believe they had yet another great movie. 

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Now, let's get into some easter eggs. Remember those ravens I talked about in The Avengers post? Odin's ravens are back in Dark World as we see Odin listening to one of them during his first scene on the screen, I believe the raven was warning Odin of danger that was coming. You can find the next easter egg in the trailer for The Dark World, as we see Thor smash a giant rock creature to pieces with one swing of Mjolir. This rock creature is revealed to be called a Kronan, and if you're thinking about Thor: Ragnarok, you'll immediately put the pieces together: Korg is a Kronan, and therefore it's assumed that we get our first glimpse of what Korg will look like in Thor: The Dark World. There's also a nice little Captain America cameo when Loki is shape shifting in front of Thor and chooses Steve Rogers to shift in to. Another cool hint appears when Dr Selvig is in the nursing home after going crazy earlier in the movie. He's talking to some people and trying to explain the Nine Realms, while in the background you can see the World Tree, aka: Groot. 

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What's a real treat is the post credits scenes. There's a mid credit scene that we'll get into later on, but the post credit scene is still pretty great. After being under the impression that there is no way for Jane to see Thor, we see Jane in her apartment when lightning strikes and the God of Thunder shows up to see his girl. It's a great little tie up to the love story between Jane and Thor. What's really great is the mid credits scene. Lady Sif and Volstagg are seen carrying the Aether somewhere that looks grimy and dirty. They end up handing the Infinity Stone to none other than Taneleer Tivan, also known as The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy. They say it's not safe to have two Infinity Stones so close together meaning that there's already a stone in Asgard. After they leave, The Collector says "one down, five to go" referencing him trying to collect the Stones.

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Now let's spend some time talking about Ant Man!

To preface this, I will say that while lots of people like any Ant Man, I do not. Therefore, this section will be incredibly hard for me to be unbiased with this, but I will try. 

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Released July 17th, 2015, Ant Man is the 12th film in the MCU and garnered a big time $519 million during it's box office run. The film is an origin story of Scott Lang, a notorious hacker who is sentenced to jail time, and his quest to pull of a heist to save Hank Pym's technology that makes him the Ant Man. Directed by Peyton Reed, the film stars the likes of Paul Rudd (Scott Lang), Evangeline Lilly (Hope van Dyne), Corey Stoll (Darren Cross), Michael Douglas (Hank Pym), and Michael Pena (Luis). Ant Man was received well by audiences and critics alike because of it's smaller stakes than other MCU films, along with it's humor and how great the CGI was in the film. Personally, I didn't really enjoy Ant Man for those exact reasons. I thought the humor was very dry and not very MCU-like, and I really didn't like how it had nothing to do with the current state of the MCU. I'm all for origin stories, but an origin story in the middle of Phase 2 is just very odd to me and part of the reason I'm not too big on Dr Strange either. 

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Ant Man actually has a similar story to The Incredible Hulk in the fact that the rights to the movie have been moved from studio to studio. In the mid 80's, Stan Lee pitched the idea to New World Pictures; however, Walt Disney Studios was working on a similar concept in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and New World Pictures didn't want to compete with that. In May 2000, Howard Stern met with Marvel in an attempt to purchase the rights to the film; however that fell through. Later that year, Artisan Entertainment announced they were co-producing, financing, and distributing a film based on Ant Man. The film didn't begin production until 2006, as it was announced at the San Diego Comic Con. Throughout the years, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish would write 5 different scripts until in 2011, when Kevin Feige and Stan Lee finally okay'ed the script and began filming in 2012. As the cast was being assembled, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Paul Rudd were being considered for Scott Lang's character; however, Gordon Levitt dismissed the rumors and Rudd was cast as Scott Lang. In 2014, Michael Douglas was cast Hank Pym, while Michael Pena was cast in an unspecified role. Later that year, Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stroll joined the cast as well. However, in May 2014, Marvel announced that Edgar Wright was leaving the project due to creative differences. Feige wasted no time replacing Wright by announcing Peyton Reed was going to take over the film in July 2014. From there, Reed, along with the help of Paul Rudd, finished the film smoothly and delivered the movie without any more hiccups. 

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Now, let's talk easter eggs. Because the film takes place so late in the MCU, there's a good amount of nods to other films. When Scott uses the Ant Man suit to escape jail, he gets swatted away by a newspaper, but not before we catch the headline: "WHO'S TO BLAME FOR SOKOVIA?" An obvious call back to Avengers: Age of Ultron. When Darren Cross is showing potential buyers his Yellowjacket suit, one of the buyers can clearly be seen with a 10 Rings neck tattoo; you know the 10 Rings, the organization that captured Tony in Iron Man and was behind The Mandarin in Iron Man 3. When Hank tells Scott they're stealing some Stark tech from Upstate New York, we can assume he's talking about Avengers Tower; however after the events in Age of Ultron, we know that the new Avengers HQ is at the rural base hidden in New York. So technically, Hank was right, but his information was a little dated; also, it's safe to say that on the other side of Falcon's radio could have been War Machine, Vision, Scarlet Witch or Cap. A nice Disney side note can be found when Luis is whistling to blend in with the Pym Tech security guard, his song of choice is none other than It's A Small World. Another tid bit can be found in Luis back story as he mentions a character who can jump, swing, and crawl on walls. While it hasn't been confirmed or denied, it's safe to assume this is an obvious nod to Spider-Man joining the MCU. 

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Ant Man has two post credit scenes; the first is a mid credits scene, and the other is a post credits scene. The mid credits can be used as a foreshadowing to Ant Man and The Wasp, as we see Evangeline Lilly's Wasp suit for the first time. I will say that after seeing her in the trailer for Ant Man and The Wasp, I am pretty excited to see how she does in the role. The other post credit scene is actually a scene taken out of Captain America: Civil War. We see Captain America and Falcon in a darker, abandoned warehouse with a trapped Winter Soldier. Cap states "the accords" are preventing them from calling Tony Stark and that's when Falcon recommends a guy who can help them, talking about Ant Man. This all but confirms Ant Man's presence in Captain America: Civil War but it also shows that Cap and Tony aren't seeing eye to eye and that Cap, Bucky, and Falcon are on the run. 

All in all, both of these films are pretty good. I chose to review them together because, while they're totally different movies, they both do take place around the same time in the MCU timeline and, while I don't like Ant Man, I don't think it's a bad movie either. Overall, both of these movies fall in the lower half of my MCU rankings with Ant Man coming in at number 14 and Thor: The Dark World at number 11.

I liked the cast of Ant Man, and really the story wasn't bad. But like I said earlier, I just can't get over how this film really didn't fit in where it was made. If it was made and inserted earlier on in Phase 2 then it would be higher up for me, but I just wasn't big on it. However, I can see how people do like it and I feel like the same people who like Guardians are big fans of the humor in Ant Man

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Thor: The Dark World was fun for me, personally because of how much I love Loki and Natalie Portman. If a movie contains Loki, it's immediately going to get good grades from me. However, there isn't much backbone behind this movie and the villain, Malekith, is extraordinarily weak. But, Loki and Thor's banter make up for that and really save this film from complete disaster.
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Kevin Scott is a contributing writer for The Mouse Knows Best Podcast. He is self proclaimed Disney addict and oftentimes annoys his family with how much he talks Disney. He enjoys walking around all Disney Parks and taking as many pictures as he can in one day. When he isn't at Walt Disney World, he is working to get back or re-watching Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars movie. His spirit animal is a mix between Simba and Kylo Ren with a dash of Tony Stark. You can find him on Twitter @doubleoh_kevin and on Instagram @waltdisneyduo.