Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Ian De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge
September 24, 2013 – May 13, 2014
Summary for Moms:
Following the events of The Avengers, SHIELD is struggling to maintain order in a post-alien invasion world. Enter Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) a man who supposedly died during the Battle of New York. Coulson is put in charge of assembling a team to investigate people with superhuman powers and any related threats. Coulson recruits Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons ( Ian De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge). Their first mission: find and contain Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) – a superhuman who is also being pursued by a hacktivist named Skye (Chloe Bennet). This leads the team down a conspiracy-laced road where nothing and no one is what it seems.
Since I started this blog Agents of SHIELD has been one of the most – if not the most – requested entries. Honestly, I had sort of dropped off the SHIELD wagon around season 4 (which I’ve been told was a mistake), and hadn’t given the first few series much thought after the fact. My mom had also been reluctant to watch it, and sitting through 22 nearly hour-long episodes is a huge time commitment, so, naturally, I had put it off.
That proved to be a mistake. Having run out of things to watch before The Punisher Season 2 aired (more on that in the next post), we decided to attempt to make our way through Agents of SHIELD. Her initial reactions were lukewarm, dismissing the show as “half James Bond.” Which, initially, it kind of is.
As the first episode continued, she started to get more and more into the story, drawn in by multiple characters, and J. August Richards’ Mike Peterson, who she hoped would join the team, as he only “wants to be a good person.” She was also interested in how Coulson was still alive, as she vaguely remembered his death from The Avengers but and needed some prompting.
But she was hooked by the end of the first episode. How could I tell? Well, she remembered all the characters names – which surprised the hell out of me. There were no ‘that guy’s or ‘that lady’s. She was on a conversational basis with Coulson, Skye, FitzSimmons, Ward and May. And that really speaks to SHIELD’s biggest strength as a show: its characterizations.
Over the next 21 episodes, which could be hit or miss, those characters brought us back to the show again and again. They feel like a close knit family/working unit that are easy to care about. At several points, my mom was fearful for the characters’ lives and didn’t want them to die. Which, in turn, really helps sell the twist that knocks everyone for a loop.
After the pacing lull that has been harped on repeatedly by anyone mentioning Agents of SHIELD Season 1 (my mom particularly noted how it was “dragging”), we’re finally hit with the Winter Soldier Hydra reveal, and Grant Ward’s betrayal, which left my mom absolutely stunned and speechless. She loved it. Ward, not so much, though. It got to the point that, every time he, or Bill Paxton’s Agent Garrett was on screen, my mom would be visibly angry at them.
Agents of SHIELD’s first season proved to be a runaway hit with my mom. After episodes, her most common exclamations were as follows:
“This is crazy!”
“This is really good!”
“I like this show very much!”
“You can’t trust anyone!”
It’s safe to say that Season 1 is a great piece of character-based storytelling. Even though it suffers from a lag in plot developments in the middle, the character relationships are really what make it shine. And the lull is much less apparent when binging it on Netflix. And at the end of the season, my mom turned to me and said, “When we started, I didn’t know it would be this good.” So I’m going to give Agents of SHIELD Season 1 a Mom Rating of:
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
My mom liked that there was “not too much blood”, which made it “fun!”
She really admired Coulson’s great leadership skills and how “he really supports his staff”.
The one episode I thought she’d have trouble following (T.R.A.C.K.S., due to the time jumping) she actually caught on to pretty quick. That was actually a really great episode.
This season really kept her on her toes with a lot of good, fun twists where you’re not sure who you can trust. The multi-faceted standoff in The End of The Beginning kept her on the edge of her seat.
Rhenzy Feliz, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Ariela Barer, Gregg Sulkin, Allegra Acosta, Angel Parker, Ryan Sands, Annie Wersching, Kip Pardue, Ever Carradine, James Marsters, Brigid Brannagh, Kevin Weisman, Brittany Ishibashi, James Yaegashi, Miles Bullock, Clarissa Thibeaux
December 21, 2018
Summary for Moms:
Following the events of Runaways Season 1, having spent the entirety of the first season having not run away, the titular group of Runaways have finally run away. But they don’t run away very far and shack up in a run down hostel. Meanwhile, their parents and their parents organization PRIDE hope to hunt them down and bring them home, both for their own sake and for the sake of angry rainbow alien Jonah (Julian McMahon). Jonah still aims to free his people from beneath L.A., even if it destroys the whole city. What follows is a clash between parents and children, the mysterious church of Gibborim, Jonah, and a group of mercenary cops, all while the Runaways deal with their own various teenage problems.
Runaways Season 2 literally opens with the scene from Spaceballs where they’ve captured the main characters stunt doubles, but Runaways plays it straight. The rest of the season doesn’t hit that level of ridiculousness, and had some compelling drama that my mom liked, but overall, is just okay.
Other than seeing them finally be runaways for once, the first half of the season doesn’t seem to offer anything particularly interesting. It seemed to drag, with new characters like Topher (Jan Luis Castellanos) being introduced and quickly written out for no solid reason other than padding. However, my mom did find the fight between Molly and Topher interesting and exciting. Especially since she continually criticized Topher for using “drugs”.
By episode 7, my mom was tiring of the series and remarked to me that it felt like a “really long show”, and I’d have to agree. That being said, Episode 7 is when the main plot with Jonah comes to a head and his crazy alien ship is destroyed, effectively ending his immediate plot. Plus, we find out that Jonah was merely the mind within the body of an Australian Man who looks like Julian McMahon, who immediately dies. Probably to prevent Julian McMahon from having to struggle with an Australian accent for the remainder of the series. Both my mom and I thought that this would be a decent season finale.
But the show keeps going. And, honestly, my mom and I found the second half more interesting than the first. Freed from the shackles of Jonah’s crazy schemes, the series reverts to more of a caper format featuring the kids direct conflicts with the parents (much like the comic book), which we both thought was more entertaining. Episode 8 onwards feels like a different, retooled show with the intro of corrupt cops and a slightly more nefarious Church of Gibborim led by Frank Dean. Both of those throughlines kept her attention for the remainder of the season.
And, yes, Jonah – still alive – and a select few of his cronies have pulled an Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and are taking over some of PRIDE’s finest. But that was relegated mostly to the background and provided some interesting intrigue. I did have to explain to my mom how we could tell the difference between the main PRIDE folks and their alien alters (subtle cues regarding the characters’ hair and glasses positioning), but she slowly started to understand, with a bit of lingering confusion.
Runaways Season 2 continues to be just as much of a mixed bag as the first. My mom’s attention was not fully there, but the latter half of the season did pull in some interesting storylines, so it wasn’t all bad!
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
Again, those things up there are Chase’s fistigons.
My mom has never seen Spaceballs, so she didn’t get why I was laughing my ass off.
They use the word “Runaways” more in the first 15 minutes than in the entire first season. Probably to make up for lost time.
They’re still really pushing Lyft over Uber. But Lyft does have that round up for charity feature, which is nice. (I’m not being paid for this promotion)
My mom prefers Nico without all the Goth makeup. She’s not very understanding about that personal choice.
She really enjoyed Molly’s attitude and her kicking the crap out of the corrupt cop Flores. Maybe a little too much.
Who’s going to clean up all that quincenara confetti?
It’s not really Marvel-related, but here’s a quick little self-promotion plug for my book out now!
Hey guys. Sorry for the lack of updates as of late. They’re coming soon, but since we’re making our way through television shows that are between 10 and 20 hours long, it’s taking a while. In the meantime, I just want to drop in and do some self-promotion for another project that I’ve been working on for a while that is also kind of part of the delay in content.
Over the past four (Jesus!) years, I’ve been working on a book that takes advantage of my irritating, nitpicky sense of humor, my obsession with science-fiction and my ability to writing English good. What has resulted is either the beginning of the greatest book series the world has ever seen or – more likely – the worst butchering of the English language since that backwards talking card scene in Twin Peaks.
So I’m incredibly proud to officially say that ‘Duckett & Dyer: Dicks For Hire’ is a real book and it’s available at your “friendly” “neighborhood” Amazon.com
It’s a science-fiction comedy novel about two friends on the outs, who are forced into the low-stakes world of private investigation in order to make up some extra cash to keep them from being evicted. Despite being hilariously out of their depth, they stumble into a conspiracy of missing people and the plans of a sexually audacious theoretical physicist and his experiments with the fabric of space-time. They’re not detectives, but the universe thinks they are, and it might just tear itself apart if they don’t answer the call.
I really enjoyed putting this book together. It was a lot of fun getting to finally summon the wherewithal to explore an idea I had nearly ten years ago and see it evolve to a (somewhat) finished state. Yes, the process was more difficult than I expected and a lot of the ideas I thought were complete genius turned out to be absolute garbage when the pen met the paper, but, ultimately, I was excited to write it and I’m even more excited to have people finally read it.
I would appreciate the opportunity to write further installments even more, so if you really do enjoy Duckett and Dyer: Dicks For Hire, please recommend it to your friends. Conversely, if you DON’T enjoy Duckett and Dyer: Dicks For Hire, please recommend it to your enemies.
Make Mom Marvel is on a bit of a hiatus right now as I accumulate more material (most notably Agents of SHIELD Season 1), but in the meantime, the good folks at Marvel Fanverse asked me to help direct you towards their Avengers: Endgame giveaway!
It’s pretty simple to enter, just go here and fill out their form to enter for the chance to win some neat MCU swag.
Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins
July 6, 2018 (US Premiere)
Summary for Moms:
Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been placed under house arrest for aiding Captain America defy the Sokovia Accords, but his time has nearly been served. Meanwhile, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) are on the edge of retrieving her mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm. But greedy technologist Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) stands in their way, not to mention a phase-shifting Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) who seeks a cure for her condition and is out for revenge on Hank. Unfortunately for him, Scott is dragged into this mess to help them on one last job, which could jeopardize his freedom.
My mom loved the first Ant-Man. Loved it. And when she heard there was a sequel, she was equally excited. Because Ant-Man was just an all-around good time, and the sequel is more of the same, with some new wrinkles.
Right out of the gate we’re treated to some Grade-A Scott Lang hijinks, which Paul Rudd continues to sell with his ridiculous charm as he’s forcibly trapped inside his apartment. Despite having to be reminded about what happened in Civil War, my mom got up to speed pretty quick and was already laughing over his interactions with Randall Park’s Jimmy Woo, who is definitely a character I’d like to see more of.
From there we jump into the action with Hank and Hope, which provides a lot of interesting set pieces. My mom enjoyed Hope’s use of the kitchen trappings to take down all those goons. Peyton Reed has fun with the size manipulation gags and even by the end of this movie, they still don’t feel tired.
While Sonny Burch feels like a bit of a waste of Walton Goggins, Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost is interesting, if not fully-formed (no pun intended). My mom was intrigued by who she was and what she was after, especially after the shocking (to my mom, at least) betrayal of Laurence Fishburne. In my opinion, Ghost falls a bit flat as a villain, despite her creative concept and execution, but my mom was on board.
Luis and the Ex-Con gang are also back in full force, and definitely bring the laughs again. The truth serum scene was a brilliant way to bring Luis’ storytelling back into the fold and had my mom in hysterics in what she referred to as “a comedy of crazy people”. I would’ve preferred more Luis, because I can’t get enough of him, but I think it was ultimately wise to pare his stories back for this movie.
That’s not to say he doesn’t get anything to do. He’s a key player in the movie’s third act, which is where this movie shines the most. While the first two acts of setup and exposition could be a bit dry and jumbled, the final chase sequence redeems any of these complaints. It’s fast, fun, and unique in that it was a joy for both of us to watch all these characters hurtling through the streets of San Francisco fighting over a shrunken building. Even though it devolves into a typical Super Hero Boss Fight for the last few minutes, the chase is pure gold.
Ant-Man and The Wasp is a great sequel that, while it may not be as good and fresh as the first, brings plenty of new fun things to the table in a fun and family-friendly way that would delight any mom. Mine included.
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
This was the first movie we watched post-Stan Lee and this was the first time she actively noticed a Stan Lee cameo. It made us both happy and sad.
She sometimes got confused between Michelle Pfieffer and Hannah John-Kamen. Don’t ask me. I don’t really understand how.
This is the last Marvel Movie on the docket for a while, I’m afraid, so we’re going to be taking another bit of a break until I drum up more material.
The next entry after the break? Well, it’s good news for all of those people who keep asking me to do Agents of SHIELD. Because we’re finally going to do Agents of SHIELD. SO STOP HOUNDING ME.
Post Credit Sequences:
She had forgotten about the Snap at the end of Infinity War, or just assumed this movie was going on at a different time, but when it happened, she remembered and was laughing that Scott was stuck and in trouble.
No comments on the drum playing ant, but she’s definitely hoping for a third Ant-Man.
The Infinity Stones. Six objects of great power scattered across the universe that grant their wielders dominion over one singular aspect of the universe. When assembled, they are a threat to life as we know it. Unfortunately for us, Thanos (Josh Brolin) has made it his quest to collect them all and destroy half of all life in the universe. The only thing that stands in his way is the assembled hordes of the Marvel Universe’s Mightiest Heroes (Everyone). But will they stop the most dangerous villain they’ve ever faced, or tear themselves apart trying?
This is it. The culmination of 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and about a year and a half of Make Mom Marvel. After nearly 20 movies, all the pieces have been set up and are ready to be knocked down. So here we go.
The movie wastes absolutely no time getting down to business. It even handwaves away Thanos’ collection of the Power Stone from Xandar, which I think is a disservice, but whatever. Regardless, whenever Thanos is on screen he commands your attention, and my mom found him interesting enough. She did need a slight recap given how conservatively Thanos was seeded in earlier movies, but got up to speed quick enough.
The main thrust of the film is simple. Thanos wants the Infinity Stones, and the Avengers have to stop him. But, given the sheer amount of characters that need to be present, something so simple quickly becomes an unwieldy puzzle of pacing, balancing, and character development. The Russos once again knocked it out of the park and kept my mom interested the entire time. The humor and interplay between dozens of clashing personalities kept her laughing and invested. BUT… she was a little bored.
Why was she bored? Well, like I said, the plot is simple. Thanos wants the Infinity Stones, and the Avengers have to stop him. So, OBVIOUSLY, by the end of the movie, they would take him out and everything would be alright again. Right?
Once Thanos snapped his fingers, my mom’s reaction was identical to Thor’s.
“What did he do? What happened? What did he do?”
Then, as 50% of the heroes turned to dust, she could hardly believe it. As Black Panther and Spider-Man and everyone else started to disappear, she asked me how they could do this? How are they going to make sequels?
And that’s how you cap off 10 years of movies.
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
She totally did not recognize bearded Steve.
She thought Gamora killed Thanos right away in the Collector’s Room.
She didn’t remember Red Skull at all, and I can’t blame her.
She knew Thanos was going to throw Gamora off the cliff and was laughing while he did it.
She was kind of upset that she had to wait a year to find out what happens.
Post Credits Sequence:
“What’s that? Who’s he calling? Is it someone new?”
Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Jay Ali, Wilson Bethel, Vincent D’Onofrio
October 19th 2018
Summary for Moms:
Following the events of The Defenders, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), presumed dead, is actually convalescing in Father Paul Lantom’s (Peter McRobbie) Church. After recovering with the help of Father Lantom and Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley), Matt once again takes to the streets as Daredevil only to find that Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) is orchestrating a grand scheme to get out of prison by manipulating the FBI. Also caught in the Kingpin’s web of intrigue are honest agent and family man Ray Nadeem (Jay Ali), the troubled and misguided Benjamin Poindexter (Wilson Bethel), and Matt’s former partners Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll).
We hadn’t watched Daredevil or The Defenders in a while, but after a brief refresher, my mom jumped right in. Ultimately though, the refresher wasn’t necessary as Season 3 starts off in a very accessible place and spends time re-building Matt Murdock and the Kingpin.
The season starts off as a rather slow burn, but the burn is interesting, due in no small part to Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin who once again steals the spotlight with his commanding presence and the fact that his fingers are five steps ahead of any pie. Every time he was on screen talking to the FBI my mom insisted that they were making a mistake by trusting him and giving him any leeway. And that he is an “evil, evil man”.
Things ramp up considerably by the end of episode 4. Yes, the one with the 11 minute single shot prison scene. When I explained exactly what they did and how they did it she was very impressed, as we all should be. Things just get better and worse from there. Better for the audience, worse for Matt Murdock, which is just classic Daredevil. Fisk’s scheme unfolds with a surprising beauty as he manipulates and bribes his way in controlling every little thing.
Ray, as a character, is one of Season 3’s biggest triumphs. Our perception of him bounces around as we get to know him as an agent with numerous family and financial struggles, to a rising star despite the dramatic irony of his being hamstrung by Fisk, and culminating with fear for his family and his inevitable (SPOILER ALERT) death. My mom and I both went through this rollercoaster of emotions, which resolves well once he finally teams up with Matt in “Reunion”, which my mom really loved. Also, yay representation for Indian people!
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Wilson Bethel’s Dex Poindexter. He continually falls so far both due to his own issues and Fisk’s terrifying puppetmastery. Making him a dark mirror of both Ray and Daredevil simultaneously makes him really effective and makes his final turn against Fisk very satisfying. Also satisfying? The final cathartic fight scene between Fisk, Daredevil, and Bullseye. My mom was laughing the entire time because they were all just beating each other up, but was definitely happy that Fisk finally got his due.
Unfortunately, as we know now, Daredevil’s been canceled for whatever reason. But Season 3 was a hell of a high note to go out on. Even the final scene (before the Bullseye teaser) where Matt, Karen, and Foggy are enjoying a drink and discussing re-establishing Nelson, Murdock, and Page was incredibly hopeful and definitely a great moment to close on. Season 3 clearly went above and beyond anything that the Netflix series has put out before, especially since my mom’s final thoughts were:
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. But you never know because of age.”
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
Who lights a church in demonic red?
Clearly, Daredevil works better with gangland violence and criminal conspiracy than magic ninjas. Leave that to Iron Fist. OH WAIT, THEY’RE BOTH CANCELED.
My mom was upset when Karen’s dad didn’t let her come home. She assured me that she would never say that to me no matter what happened. I didn’t ask a follow-up question after the later episode shows that Karen did all of the drugs and caused people to die. I feel like she might have changed her tune.
My mom found out that Daredevil was canceled before me and told ME the bad news! She’s really not happy.
Olivia Holt, Aubrey Joseph, Andrea Roth, J.D. Evermore, Emma Lahana
June 7, 2018
Summary for Moms:
After the collapse of an oil rig off the coast of New Orleans, Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph) suffer tragedies that will shape the course of their lives. Upon encountering each other as teenagers, nearly a decade later, the two find that the accident granted them inter-dependant superpowers, which can help them take control of their lives and solve the mystery of why the Roxxon Corporation is to blame for all of this.
While on the surface, the conceit of Cloak & Dagger is simple: two teenagers with complementary powers and upbringings find each other and discover their destinies, the show just did not work for my mom. At all. And, frankly, it didn’t work for me, either.
The show is only ten episodes long, but the first 6 are an unfortunate slog, and could not hold my mom’s interest. This was partially due to the very vague structure of the show, which doesn’t fully explain much of exactly what is going on. This is pretty much exemplified in the unique representation of Tandy and Tyrone’s ability to see other people’s hopes and fears, respectively, in weirdly abstract dream sequences.
But they may have been a little too abstract. I kind of understood what they were doing here, and had to struggle to explain to my mom, even though I couldn’t 100% pick up what they were throwing down. Add to that the side plots about a generational voodoo curse permeating the city, a repentant school priest, and corruption in the Roxxon Corporation, and you get a weirdly disjointed narrative that doesn’t quite know where it’s going. And when all these threads do finally sort of weave together during the end, they leave a lot of frayed edges.
Part of my issue with the series is that, at the beginning, in an attempt to explain the goings on to my mom, I assumed that the creators were going for something more avant garde that would coalesce into a tight narrative by the end. Thus, I was trying to convince her that there was an interesting sort of plan at work. So when the ending came and went without any compelling conclusion, I kinda felt like an idiot. Also, I was kind of mad that they seeded interesting dark pop music during the series, but ended it with “Come Sail Away”. I like Styx as much as the next guy, but that was complete musical whiplash.
So as to not end on a down note, the one bright spot in this otherwise cloudy series was Episode 7 “Lotus Eaters”, where Tandy and Tyron enter Ivan Hess’s mind and bring him out of his coma by going through a mental groundhog day of the oil rig collapse. It was brilliant, interesting, at times moving, and felt like a great episode of Doctor Who. It was also the only time my mom was interested, because Cloak and Dagger actually did something and helped someone.
Mom Rating (Out of Five):
I don’t know how to give a negative picture rating. Sorry, guys. I know it got some fresh reviews, but… ehhhhhh….
“This is confusing. They didn’t put this together right.”
“This is weird.”
“It is like a small kid patching stories together.”
“I don’t understand a thing. By the time they figure it out, I’ll be dead.”
“I don’t want to hear about a second season. We’re not going to watch it.”
As the writer of a Marvel-centric blog, it would be absolutely remiss of me not to mention Stan Lee’s passing. It goes without saying that, without Stan’s boundless energy and creativity, none of the characters I, and ostensibly we, grew up with would exist. None of the heroes we look up to, admire, and cherish. None of the virtues and ideals espoused by these creations that galvanize us to do good, be better, and fight for our beliefs in what’s right.
Historically, superhero fiction tends to bloom during difficult times. And Stan’s creations, having stood the test of time, have transcended their traditional ink-and-paper trappings to bring joy to millions on the silver screen in a time that we might need it the most. Stan Lee’s characters have been a consistent source of hope and inspiration, while bringing the most unlikely of people together. Including a certain wise-cracking, nerdy kid from Queens… who now watches Marvel movies with his Mom.
Rest In Peace, Stanley Martin Lieber. And Thank You.
"I guess one person can make a difference" - Stan Lee - YouTube