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*Mild Marvel spoilers ahead! Proceed with caution*

With Spider-Man: Homecoming now out, it has been proved yet again that Marvel Studios knows what it’s doing with its cinematic universe. Most Marvel Studios movies are great, but they do have a major issue. They rely too much on comedy.

Before I elaborate, I’m not suggesting Marvel movies be humorless, overly-edgy, and angst-ridden films like Batman v. Superman, but there comes a point where enough is enough. The old MCU movies from the first Avengers and before had the perfect balance between comedy and seriousness. Ever since the jokes in the first Avengers (and Guardians especially) did well with audiences, MCU movies have become comedy flicks over superhero movies. It works in certain scenarios, like with team banter in Avengers and Guardians or with Spider-Man in general. However, it comes across as incredibly ham-fisted a lot of the time.

It was hard to take the threat of Ultron seriously when Hawkeye was shooting out dumb jokes left and right about the ridiculous situation, new projects on his farm, etc. I also couldn’t take the conflict in Civil War seriously because of how jarring the tonal shifts in the film were. One second it was a political thriller and the next it was an over-the-top comedy scene in an airport or in Spidey’s apartment. The most horrendous example of poor joke usage, at least in my experience, was in Doctor Strange. The titular Sorcerer Supreme makes a really awful joke about Beyoncé to which absolutely no one in the two showings of the film I saw laughed at all. This led to a painfully long awkward pause for the audience to laugh but since no one did, it was just cringe-worthy silence.

When watching that Doctor Strange scene especially, I couldn’t help but ask “am I watching a comic book movie or some dumb Adam Sandler film?” Situations like that, and the Age of Ultron and Civil War examples, show that Marvel has taken the jokey aspect of these films a little too far. Jokes are fine, in fact, I encourage them. They just shouldn’t come at the expense of the movie itself.

Despite this glaring issue, there is one element of these Marvel movies that stands out and is what makes them so great in the first place. The best feature by far of these films is how accessible they are to most audiences. When you go see an MCU movie, you see people of all different ages, races, sexes, backgrounds, philosophies, theologies, etc. That’s because they appeal to everyone. They are designed so that they never pander to a specific group of people or alienate another. They’re made simple enough so kids can enjoy them, but with complex enough elements that adults can be entertained as well. When the humor works, it’s a clever style that isn’t too childish for adults, too graphic for kids, and so on.

I noticed this especially in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Despite the fact that the plot heavily relied on elements of the MCU, it managed to rise above that and still be entertaining for those who don’t typically watch those movies. Yes, it’s a coming-of-age story about a 15-year-old high school boy, but it’s still something anyone can enjoy. It obviously appeals to high school boys, but adults can be just as entertained by its heart, visuals, levity, actions, and relatability. It’s villain, the Vulture, is someone that many working-class adults can empathize with and respect, despite his actions. Spidey himself is also an imperfect hero who is consistently trying to juggle multiple difficult elements of his life, something most people can relate to. Misfits and social outcasts can also relate to the strife of Peter Parker and his friend Ned being unpopular/generally disliked. If you can’t find a way to relate to those things, the film is entertaining enough by itself. It consistently keeps the audience engaged in what’s happening on screen and even makes unrelatable and goofy elements hard not to watch. This is something that Homecoming does really well and is representative of many other Marvel movies out there that do the same.

The bottom line is that the vast majority of people who go see these movies enjoy themselves, losing themselves in an experience that they can share with anybody out there. They are probably the most inclusive movie experience out there right now.

I spend most of my days working towards my Writing and Rhetoric degree at the University of Central Florida, but I spend a lot of my down time keeping up to date on the best TV, movies, and video games the industry has to offer. Here I put all of that extended time to use discussing each of them in-depth.

Geek Culture

‘Amazing’ Final Fantasy Movie Inspired The Marvels Director

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Generally, The Marvels is good. It has a 59 on Rotten Tomatoes, which isn’t great, but it’s better than Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania and Disney+’s Secret Invasion. Perhaps director Nia DaCosta’s video game inspirations contributed to that.

The American filmmaker said Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children influenced her latest film at a press junket with IGN. “It’s just an amazing movie, with great fight scenes and a great ending sequence with the main character being thrown into the sky by all the other characters,” she said.
Despite poor reviews upon release in 2005, Advent Children has become a Final Fantasy cult classic. DaCosta seems to agree that the film is a classic. PlayStation exclusives also influenced the Marvels.

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In the interview, she said she didn’t want the superhero film to look “too much like a video game” but did draw from Sony’s biggest franchises, like The Last of Us and Horizon Zero Dawn. “For me, it was from the best games, the best stories that you get, that sort of inspires me to play, and I think inspires people to watch movies like this,” she said.

Since movies have shaped video games since their inception, it’s interesting to see the dynamic slowly changing. Now that technology and interactive storytelling are more complex, filmmakers are looking to PlayStation for inspiration.

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Geek Culture

Netflix raises prices again after strong subscriber growth

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Netflix reported third-quarter earnings and is doing well. Revenue increased as the company added 9 million subscribers worldwide.

Netflix is also using this opportunity to raise the prices of some of its U.S., U.K., and French plans to differentiate ad-free plans from its entry-level ad-supported plan. New subscribers to the most expensive plan will pay $22.99 per month.

Let’s step back and examine Netflix’s current situation. Netflix cracked down on password sharing in its home market and dozens of others in May. The third quarter is the first full quarter under the new rules, so we can see the effect of password sharing.

The company removed the basic tier in the U.S. and U.K. two months ago to simplify its offering. People must pay a lot to remove Netflix ads.

Reports suggest that many customers are experiencing subscription fatigue and considering canceling some streaming subscriptions, but Netflix still has room for growth, especially with advertising revenue.

The company has 247.15 million subscribers. The number of subscribers increased 8.76 million this quarter. Netflix subscribers haven’t grown that much since Q2 2020, when Covid lockdowns were enforced worldwide.

Netflix earned $3.73 per share on $8.5 billion in revenue this quarter. As ads plan subscribers rise almost 70% quarter-over-quarter, ads are contributing more to the bottom line. Nearly a third of new subscribers use ads.

Netflix shares are up 13.75% pre-market ($393.79 per share) on good news for shareholders. However, subscribers will be unhappy because the company will raise prices for some plans again in three key markets. Full breakdown here.

In the U.S.:

  • Standard with ads: $6.99 per month (no change)
  • Basic (no longer available): $11.99 per month (up from $9.99)
  • Standard: $15.49 per month (no change)
  • Premium (with 4K streaming): $22.99 per month (up from $19.99)

In the U.K.:

  • Standard with ads: £4.99 per month (no change)
  • Basic (no longer available): £7.99 per month (up from £6.99)
  • Standard: £10.99 per month (no change)
  • Premium (with 4K streaming): £17.99 per month (up from £15.99)

In France:

  • Standard with ads: €5.99 per month (no change)
  • Basic (still available in France for now): €10.99 per month (up from €8.99)
  • Standard: €13.49 per month (no change)
  • Premium (with 4K streaming): €19.99 per month (up from €17.99)

New subscriptions start at these prices today. Bills for existing subscribers will rise in the coming weeks.

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Geek Culture

Last of Us HBO Showrunner Quietly Removes Name from Troubled Borderlands Flick

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When your writer—one of Hollywood’s hottest—tries to hide their involvement, it’s a bad sign. The Borderlands film’s original script was written by Craig Mazin (The Last of Us, Chernobyl), who recently asked the WGA to use the pseudonym “Joe Crombie” instead of his name.

We hope this means Mazin considers Joe Abercrombie, Lord Grimdark, the grittiness GOAT, but that theory is unproven. Since Mazin wrote the script in 2015 for Eli Roth to direct, a steady stream of writers has been brought in. Aaron Berg, Chris Bremner, Sam Levinson, Zak Olkewicz, Tony Rettenmaier, Juel Taylor, and Oren Uziel have put around 70 fingers in the honey pot.

The name change likely avoids confusion. Mazin probably doesn’t want to be blamed for Jack Black/Claptrap madness, but he wants to keep his rights.

To clarify, the Borderlands film finished filming in 2021, but Roth was replaced by Tim Miller (Deadpool) in January.

When this surprising star-studded film (Kevin Hart, Jamie Lee Curtis, Cate Blanchet) limps out, what are your expectations? We think this was supposed to coincide with Borderlands 3’s 2019 release, but it’s overshot the mark.

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