I made another post about Marvel Studios. Please don’t sue me.

A still from Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), directed by Joss Whedon

I recently realized that I haven’t reviewed some of the most enjoyable books that I’ve read in the last year or two. Since I take my blog more seriously now, I’ve been making posts more frequently in the last year. Another reason for this is that I had things on my mind that I wanted to write about. In addition, I’ve been putting more thought into my posts so that they don’t resemble a YouTube comments section. After I found out that my channel and my blog are considerably more popular than I had thought, I’ve been trying to keep my bad jokes and my somewhat silly statements to a minimum in my posts because it seems that many people like my posts or that they’re at least interested in what I post. I still run my blog mostly for myself, but, since it turns out that I have many followers, I’ve been taking the blog more seriously in the last two years. The first book that’s worth mentioning is Harold Lamb’s ‘Genghis Khan: The Emperor of All Men’. It’s the first book by Lamb that I finished reading. Actually, I listened to the audiobook on Audible. Like Lamb’s other books, it’s very interesting to read and it’s very well written. Lamb himself liked to read a lot. When he attended Columbia University, he skipped many of his classes because he spent much time reading for pleasure at the library. Lamb’s book about Genghis Khan is obviously better than Jack Weatherford’s ‘Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World’, which has become quite popular since it got published in 2004. Well, almost any history book that got published in the 20th century is better than the history books that got published after the 20th century came to an end. Naturally, Weatherford’s book, like most other modern books, isn’t that well written, and it also contains a bit of propaganda that the American establishment approves of. It’s not a terrible book, and it contains some useful information, but it’s still worth noting that it pales in comparison to Lamb’s book, for example. When I was a teenager, I read a few books about Genghis Khan that got published in the 1970s and the 1980s at my local library. I can say that they too are better written and better illustrated than Weatherford’s book. Unfortunately, these excellent books aren’t promoted or sold now because they’re old and because their content isn’t something that the establishment approves of anymore. Therefore, you can only find them at some libraries now or you might be lucky enough to find them for sale on the internet. After I finished listening to Lamb’s book about Genghis Khan, I began listening to his two books about the Crusades. In these two wonderful books, Lamb went over the entire history of the Crusades. He even wrote about the Northern Crusades, the sack of Constantinople, and the Albigensian Crusade. Here’s a part of what Lamb wrote about the latter. “Innocent called for a crusade against the heretics. They had rebelled against the authority of the Church, they should be suppressed by the soldiery of the Church. Indulgence from sin was offered those who volunteered, and even the merchants and money-lenders of the north hastened to subscribe funds – for which they were richly repaid with cloth, and wine and grain gathered from the plundered fields of the south. The army of invasion was formed under such redoubtable and merciless spirits as Simon of Montfort, and it moved south with bands of clerics who sang Veni Creator. It made no distinction between Cathars and others. At Bezieres, it stormed the town and in the church of the Madeleine where women and children had taken refuge, seven thousand were slain. It divided, quartering over the countryside, at times fighting actual battles against the desperate knights of the south, and at times devastating everything with sword and fire. Captured knights were crucified on the olive trees, or dragged at horses’ tails. The path of the army became marked by pyres of human bodies, smoking and blackened heaps, and wells were choked by corpses. Meanwhile, Innocent had sanctioned two other enterprises as crusades. In the far north-east the Teutonic knights were sent among the pagan Prussians to convert them sword in hand. And in Spain itself knights were summoned to a crusade against the remaining Moslems from which they emerged victorious after driving the men of Islam south to the Granada region by the sea. And to do away with the troublesome John Lackland in England, the pope prepared for a crusade against the English that Philip Augustus embraced with eagerness. He had taken no part in the ravaging of Languedoc, but he welcomed an excuse for the invasion of England. From the years 1206 to 1213 Innocent availed himself of the crusade-power to further his own policy from Constantinople to Granada. For the first time, in the south of France, he had drawn the papal sword to exterminate heretics. But it was not to be the last time. For more than five blood-stained centuries other popes and monarchs would follow his example. So, for the first time, the crusades were turned, by Innocent’s will, against Europeans at home. The crusade-power had been harnessed to papal ambition, in 1206-1213.” Although Stephen King’s It (1986) isn’t a novel that I’ve been reading in the last year or two, it’s worth mentioning that I’m now listening to the audiobook again. I began doing this a few weeks ago. I read It for the first time when I was a teenager. This novel is one of King’s best, and it was published in the 1980s, which was a time when King, like other American writers, could still write good novels. So far, I’ve read It two times and I listened to the audiobook one time. It’s a thick novel and getting into it again this time is my fourth time. It’s one of those novels, like Inherit the Stars (1977), that I can read over and over again because it brings me comfort. It, the monster itself, actually landed on Earth at a time when dinosaurs still existed. It comes from space. But the novel isn’t really a science-fiction story. It’s horror mixed with dark fantasy. The Tommyknockers (1987) is another good novel by King that I read when I was a teenager. I’ve already read The Shining (1977), which is King’s most critically acclaimed novel, two times. I finished reading Carrie (1974), Pet Sematary (1983), and The Running Man (1982) several months ago. Christine (1983) and Cujo (1981) are novels that I read several years ago. Well, all of these novels are worth recommending because they’re some of King’s best.

I recently spent some time on finishing to watch all of the content that Marvel Studios put out for Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I even got to see The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and I Am Groot. Some people have criticized me for making posts about the MCU, but other people have enjoyed reading what I have to say about the MCU. Well, it would seem that someone like me shouldn’t be interested in what Marvel Studios puts out, but my likes and interests are varied, and I have a soft spot for the MCU. All I can say is that I enjoy watching Marvel films on a superficial level. Moreover, since so many other people talk about Marvel Studios and review what Marvel puts out, why don’t I provide my thoughts? I mean, some things in this world can’t be easily explained. For example, Rich Evans fought in the American Civil War on the side of the Union for some reason, and he’s a decorated veteran of this war. Well, I like to watch films by Marvel Studios for some reason. In addition, nowadays, films by Marvel Studios are pretty much the only films that I look forward to seeing in a theater, and this has been the case for several years already. I don’t really look forward to seeing other films that are released in theaters because I know that they’ll be disappointing or at best mediocre. Instead of seeing a bland new drama film in a theater, I’d rather see a good old drama film at home. It’s worth mentioning that I got to see every MCU film in a theater. The only MCU film that I didn’t see in a theater is Eternals (2021), and the reason for this is because it was released when vaccine passes were still mandatory in order to enter a theater. I even remember seeing Iron Man (2008) for the first time in a theater. At that time, I wasn’t enthusiastic about going to see this film because I thought that it would be another disappointing superhero flick. Let’s not forget that Iron Man was released not long after disappointments like X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Catwoman (2004), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), Elektra (2005), and Ghost Rider (2007) got released. Therefore, I thought that there’s no way that a Hollywood studio will be able to make a good superhero movie, especially one about Iron Man. But Iron Man obviously turned out to be a success. Robert Downey Jr. was well suited for the role of Tony Stark, the special effects were mostly excellent, there was an effective music score, and the film had several exciting scenes. Not everything in Iron Man appeals to me, but it is one of the best films in the MCU. So, after I finished watching all of the MCU films from Phase One to Phase Three again in August of 2022, my views changed a little. Phase Two, which ran from 2013 to 2015, is perhaps my favorite phase of the MCU overall, though it contains only six films. I don’t share the dislike of Thor: The Dark World that some people have. I think that it’s one of the better films in the MCU. Phase Two also contains Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which many people consider to be the best film in the MCU. Avengers: Age of Ultron has become one of my favorite MCU films after I watched it again in May of 2022. It may be a little flawed, but it sure is entertaining and it features several exciting action scenes, like the fight between the Hulk and Iron Man, the chase and the fight in Seoul, and the fight at the end in Sokovia. Anyway, since Phase Four, which ran from 2021 to 2022, is now over, I will finally provide my thoughts about it. If you want to read the other posts with my thoughts about the MCU, check the archives of my blog. Although Phase Four is almost entirely comprised of good content, in my opinion, it is admittedly the weakest phase of the MCU so far. Phase Four does contain the worst MCU film so far, which is Thor: Love and Thunder. This film is bad enough that it’s the only MCU film that I don’t want to see again, and it cost $250 million to make. Where did the money go? Well, I suppose that the money went on the CGI, on the performances of the actors, on the sets, and on other things. But, this time, in the hands of the director Taika Waititi, all of these things turned mostly to sludge and resulted in a huge waste of money. If one or more of the other films in Phase Four had been as bad as Thor: Love and Thunder, I think that my opinion of Marvel Studios would have been seriously shaken. Fortunately, three of the other films in the phase (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) have become some of my favorite films in the MCU. I found another three of the films (Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Eternals) to be enjoyable but a little flawed. Marvel has been spending a lot of money not only on making the films but also on making the TV series. Every episode cost about $25 million to make. Apparently, by today’s standards in the industry, this is a lot of money to spend on making one episode. So, while the films of Phase Four have introduced viewers to superheroes like Xu Shang-Chi, Yelena Belova, Sersi, Riri Williams, and America Chavez, the series have introduced viewers to Kate Bishop, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and She-Hulk. This is one of the reasons why some people felt let down by Phase Four because famous and beloved characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Ant-Man, Black Panther, and even the Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t return, for various reasons. Instead, a lot of time was spent on introducing and developing new characters. These characters aren’t as beloved as the old Marvel characters because they’ve had little screen time so far. For example, a character like Captain America isn’t only famous. His personality appeals to many people. It can be described as follows.

“Considered by many as the world’s first and greatest superhero, Steve Rogers has been defined by his courage, patriotism, and righteousness. Rogers has always had a noble and honest spirit, intolerant towards injustice and abuses of power. Since he grew up weak and small, he learned on his own that true strength is having the courage to fight against abuse, no matter one’s power, and having compassion for the innocent. Despite being transformed into a perfect human by the Super Soldier Serum, he maintained his original values and character. Since his reawakening, Rogers was saddened by losing so much of his time, but still retains the same values he had since the 1940s. Due to his famed past exploits and his continued works to save the world, Rogers is generally respected by many; even if he doesn’t seek acknowledgment for his deeds. He was also very empathetic; being able to understand and relate to both Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver before meeting them and understanding Tony Stark’s motivation during the Avengers Civil War, despite Iron Man being on the opposing side.”

By the way, the fact that Marvel Studios includes almost every character in several films is one of the reasons why the MCU has been so successful. This approach allows characters to get plenty of development and screen time and makes viewers get attached to these characters, thus making viewers look forward to almost every new MCU film in order to see their favorite characters. Another reason why some people felt let down by Phase Four is the fact that most of the superheroes that got introduced are female. Although some people won’t admit this, or they simply don’t realize this, their dislike of Phase Four stems mostly from this change. Seeing female superheroes in the main roles is something that they’re not used to. In addition, a few gay relationships got introduced in Phase Four in a mild way. Some viewers were obviously angered by this. When it comes to me, I don’t find the appearance of female superheroes in the MCU to be offensive. The actresses playing them are good-looking and they’re pleasant to look at. Letitia Wright, in particular, looked very good in Wakanda Forever. I also noticed that she wore some specially-designed, cool clothes in the film. I especially like the white outfit that she wore in the scene in which she’s examining the vibranium-detecting machine. By the way, the car that belongs to Riri Williams in the film is called the Plymouth Barracuda. Another thing that I noticed after seeing Wakanda Forever again is that it features some allusions about the state of affairs in the USA, though it’s not the first MCU film to do this. Iman Vellani, who’s another actress that appeared in Phase Four, isn’t only attractive. She also looks cute. Was this the main reason why she was chosen to play Ms. Marvel? I wonder. And, surprisingly, she did a good job playing Ms. Marvel. As some people have said, her performance is one of the best aspects of the Ms. Marvel show. The show itself is probably my second favorite show of Phase Four, after WandaVision. After seeing all of the series in Phase Four, I can say that they’re all well made, just like the films. The CGI and the costumes are as good as in the films. The actors did a good job. Although the series that Marvel Studios released are as good as, or even better than, anything else that gets made for TV these days, they’re still slightly brought down at times by mediocre characterization, by a lack of memorable music, and by scenes that aren’t interesting, or memorable, or exciting. All of the other modern TV series are brought down by these and other factors as well. So, in my opinion, Phase Four was brought down a little by the factors that I’ve mentioned, but it’s in no way the disappointment or the disaster that some people have been calling it. I found Phase Four to be enjoyable. Seeing the Marvel Studios logo again, after a two-year break from 2019 to 2021, was a delight.

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