Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Part 6

Today Mormon Geeks will take you far away across the galaxy (before abruptly returning) as we look at Guardians of the Galaxy and more Agents of SHIELD. This was an interesting part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, taking on a completely different tone, compared to the other movies so far. It also greatly expanded the universe that Marvel had set up. But we’ll get more into that later. First, Guardians of the Galaxy.

Guardians of the Galaxy
In 1988 shortly after his mother passes, Peter Quill is abducted by aliens. In the present day, Quill steals an artifact, known as the Orb, under the alias “Star Lord”. His old pal Yondu puts out a bounty for him, which Ronan (a Kree warlord) sends Gamora (Thanos’s adopted daughter) after the Orb. While trying to sell the Orb on Xandar, Star Lord, Groot (a humanoid tree), Rocket (a genetically engineered), and Gamora get in a big scuffle, which ends them all up in prison.

Using the help of Drax, the four escape the prison and go to Knowhere to sell the Orb. At Knowhere, the group learns that the Orb is one of six dangerous Infinity Stones, so they opt not to sell it, but to take it to Nova Corps. However, Drax has called Ronan in the meantime for revenge, which results in everyone getting attacked. To save Gamora, Quill lets himself get captured by Yondu’s men, but they convince him to help save Xandar from Ronan’s men.

So Yondu, the Nova Corps, and the “Guardians of the Galaxy” take on Ronan. Groot dies in the process, but the other four Guardians together manage to temporarily tame the Power Stone in the Orb. After defeating Ronan, the Nova Corps lets the Guardians of the Galaxy go with clean records, as Groot begins to grow again.

Random Trivia/Connections:
  • Members of the Kree race previously appeared in Agents of SHIELD episode “TAHITI”.
  • Thanos previously appeared during the credits scene of “The Avengers”.
  • The Collector also reappears after being entrusted with the Aether in the credits scene of “Thor: The Dark World”.
  • Other Inifinity Stones had previously appeared, including the Space Stone (Tesseract) in “The First Avenger”, “Thor”, and “The Avengers”; the Reality Stone (Aether) in “The Dark World”; and the Mind Stone (later revealed to be in Loki’s Staff) in “The Avengers”. Both the Tesseract and the Aether appear in the vision about the stones.

This was a different story from the ones Marvel had told to this point. It was quite a bit lighter and while there was still plenty of action, it was probably the most humorous and light-hearted Marvel movie to that point. I don’t know if Ant-Man or Deadpool would have done as well if Guardians of the Galaxy hadn’t come first. As I mentioned in my intro, this movie also pushed things open a little more for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, we had seen Asgard in “Thor”, but most of the action took place on Earth. In contrast, only the first scene of this movie happened on Earth. Everything else spanned light-years and lots of space travel. Finally, I’ve also gotta add that this movie is the one that sold me on Chris Pratt as a celebrity man-crush. He’s light-hearted and super fit, with good values, and his character used dancing and friendship to save a planet. Pretty awesome.

Agent Morse and Agent Simmons escape
Hydra in "A Hen in the Wolf House".
Agents of SHIELD: Season 2 (Episodes 1-11)
1. Shadows: In 1945, Peggy Carter retrieves the Obelisk from Hydra, the original 0-8-4. In the present, Skye, May, Trip, and some hired mercenaries get ambushed trying to get Hydra intel. The ambusher is identified as Creel. Skye interrogates Ward. Creel attempts an attack on Talbot, but May intervenes. The team infiltrates an army base to get the Obelisk. Hartley dies after touching the Obelisk. Creel escapes with the Obelisk, while the team steals a Quinjet.
2. Heavy is the Head: May chases Creel, surveying him from afar. Hunter is caught by the army and offered a deal by Talbot, if he will turn in Coulsen. May witnesses the Obelisk kill another. Raina approaches Creel about the Obelisk, but contacts SHIELD when he turns her down. SHIELD tries to ambush Creel, but Hunter betrays them. Raina steals the Obelisk in the commotion and gives it to Skye’s father. Coulsen has an “episode”. Coulsen makes a counter-offer with Talbot, giving him Creel.
3. Making Friends and Influencing People: Hydra gets another former SHIELD agent. Coulsen checks in on Simmons. Donnie Gill hides from Hydra. SHIELD and Hydra track him to Morocco. Fitz attempts to kill Ward. At Bakshi’s request, Simmons attempts to trigger Donnie’s brainwashing, but he runs. Bakshi successfully triggers it to get Donnie to kill everyone on the boat, before Skye kills Donnie. Bakshi and Whitehall discuss brainwashing Simmons. Ward tells Skye that her father is alive.
4. Face My Enemy: A painting is found with Coulsen’s runes on it. May and Coulsen look for clues at a party, but are discovered by Talbot. However, the government buys the painting first. May discovers that it’s Bakshi and not Talbot. Agent 33 takes May’s appearance. After she gets to the Bus, Coulsen discovers she’s not May. Coulsen and May take down Agent 33 and Bakshi. Due to Agent 33, the Bus starts to shut down, but Fitz and Hunter manager to stop a self-destruct. Whitehall ambushes Raina.
5. A Hen in the Wolf House: Hydra attempts a massacre at a wedding. Skye’s father lashes out when she interrupts him. Raina blackmails Coulsen into a meeting with her. Hydra is tipped off about a spy, but Simmons manages to evade them. Bobbi Morse questions Simmons anyway. Raina threatens to turn Simmons in, unless Coulsen agrees to let Skye go with her to her father. With Raina’s evidence, Hydra goes after Simmons, but Bobbi helps Simmons escape to the SHIELD Quinjet. Coulsen sends Raina off with a tracker. Skye discovers that Coulsen’s runes are a map. Skye’s father teams up with Whitehall.
6. A Fractured House: Hydra masquerades as SHIELD agents to attack the UN. Bobbi and Hunter go after a Hydra scientist in Japan. Coulsen visits Senator Ward. Skye interrogates Ward about her father, before handing him over to his brother. Bobbi, Hunter, and May take down Hydra agents at a Belgian safe house. Talbot takes the Hydra agents into custody. Ward escapes his brother’s custody.
7. The Writing on the Wall: While May, Bobbi, Hunter, and Trip look for Ward, a string of murders involving Coulsen’s carvings pop up. Using the memory machine, Coulsen deduces that the killer must be a TAHITI subject as well. Hunter catches Ward meeting with Bakshi. The agents catch Bakshi. Coulsen discovers that the killer is a former SHIELD agent, Derik. Seeing Thompson’s body, Derik and Coulsen realize the carvings are the blueprints of a city. Coulsen starts the race against Hydra to this “city”.
8. The Things We Bury: In flashbacks, Whitehall is interrogated by Agent Carter and later pardoned by Secretary Pierce. In the present, Whitehall teams up with Skye’s father to find the city. The SHIELD agents discover Whitehall is Reinhardt from the past. Ward captures his brother and tortures him. Bobbi interrogates Bakshi. In tracking down the city, Trip and Coulsen are ambushed by Skye’s father. Later, Ward joins Whitehall.
9. …Ye Who Enter Here: May, Skye, Hunter, and Trip protect Raina from Hydra, while Bobbi, Coulsen, Mack, Simmons, and Fitz look for the city in Puerto Rico. Raina tells Skye more about the Obelisk. Fitz dwarfs shut down, heading into the city. Mack becomes infected by climbing in to the city. Ward takes Raina from SHIELD and insists on taking Skye too, who goes on her own.
Skye gets caught in the Terrigen
Mist in "What They Become". 
10. What They Become: May, Trip, Hunter, and the Koenigs escape Hydra and regroup in Puerto Rico. In Ward’s custody, Skye meets her father Cal, who tells her of her impending “transformation”. Coulsen, May, Hunter, and Bobbi attempt to save Skye. Coulsen kills Whitehall and is attacked by Cal. Skye convinces her father to stop and he calls her by her birth name Daisy. Ward leaves with Agent 33. Skye chases Raina into the tunnels. In the temple chamber, the Obelisk opens, killing Trip and transforming Skye and Raina.
11. Aftershocks: The team grieves over Trip’s death. Hydra’s heads agree to a competition to destroy SHIELD. A transformed Raina attacks Simmons’s team in the city. Hunter tricks Bakshi into taking him to their base. Simmons discovers that Raina’s DNA has changed. Bobbi and Hunter take down three Hydra heads. Fitz lies about Skye’s DNA being the same. Raina is rescued from some agents by a teleporting man with no eyes.

Random Trivia/Connections:
  • Peggy Carter and Captain America’s comrades from “The First Avenger” appear in “Shadows”.
  • John Garrett is revealed to be Creel’s supervising agent in “Shadows”.
  • The Chitauri, the Avengers, and the Battle of New York are mentioned in “A Fractured House”.
  • A previous mission of Hawkeye (Barton) is referenced by Bobbi in "A Fractured House".
  • A Captain America propaganda poster appears multiple times in the SHIELD base.
  • Von Strucker, later seen in “Age of Ultron”, is referenced in “The Writing on the Wall” and “Aftershocks”.
  • Skye mentions a Rising Tide contact called "Micro" in "The Writing on the Wall". This is likely the same Micro that appears prominently in "The Punisher".
  • Coulsen’s comment about “chasing windmills” in his madness is a reference to Don Quixote.
  • In the flashback of “The Things We Bury”, Red Skull’s demise (which happened in “The First Avenger”) is mentioned to Whitehall.
  • Also in “The Things We Bury” flashback, it is mentioned that Whitehall was pardoned by Secretary Pierce, who was shown to be a Hydra agent in “The Winter Soldier”.
  • The Kree (previously seen in “TAHITI” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”) are referred to as “Blue Angels” in “The Things We Bury”.
  • While infiltrating the Australian base in “The Things We Bury”, Fitz’s codename is “Timelord”, likely a reference to Doctor Who.

In some ways this part of the story dragged on a bit. At the same time, it flowed a lot better than season one. I got a little tired of Skye’s father at times and the constant running around about the runes/blueprint. However, the episodes culminating toward the end of this segment were great. Bringing in the Inhumans mixes things up for Agents of SHIELD. Instead of being just Hydra vs. SHIELD, we get more powered people. And at least up until the end of season 3, Inhumans are a core part of Agents of SHIELD mythology. In a way, this made Agents of SHIELD more legitimate as a series and part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since it started to include some comic book characters, like Daisy Johnson (aka Skye, aka Quake).

That’s all for today. Next week I’ve got some prodigious coming. Also, keep an eye out for Doctor Strange, which is coming out sooner than it feels (at least to me). Expect a review after I see it.

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