Friday, March 19, 2021

Barbecue's Bonfire 3/19/2021: Four Marvels, a Puzzle, and a Pot of Gold Edition


   Welcome, welcome, welcome! It's Friday again and it's time for another installment of Barbecue's Bonfire! This week my family has finished Phase II of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and began our journey into Phase III. We also celebrated St. Patrick's day with a great dinner and some fantastic deserts. We've had some beautiful days this week and some really stormy ones, so there's been a nice mixture of getting outside and playing and sitting inside hunkered down on the couch. I'm super excited for the first episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier tonight so we'll definitely be picking up some pizza this evening and checking it out. Meanwhile, let me continue with my thoughts on the rest of the MCU films we've watched this week starting with Avengers: Age of Ultron.

   Last weekend we watched 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron. When I saw this film originally I remember thinking it seemed a bit long in places with lots of dead weight. I've definitely seen it since then but watching it this time, in connection with the rest of the films, I liked it much better. It's quite good and while it's not as much fun as the first Avengers film it definitely moves the narrative forward, making for a logical step on the way to Civil War. Having Ultron be Tony's creation, resulting in a tool meant for good becoming a weapon of destruction, definitely adds some more nuance to the villain and makes Ultron one of the more memorable MCU villains. Since my wife and I our watching these with our daughter we've been splitting up some of the movies over two nights and I think this actually makes some of the longer films more enjoyable as you can focus on some of the stuff that seems extraneous on a regular viewing (Thor's visions, the time on the Barton family farm). I'm still impressed how the actors of the MCU embody their characters even when no one is wearing their costumes or in battle. The dialogue is perfect, giving everyone a chance to shine. 

Continue after the break for more of Barbecue's Bonfire!


   While the MCU films are all superhero films through and through Phase II really started seeing the films crossing over into other genres. CA: Winter Soldier is a political thriller, Guardians of the Galaxy is sci-fi/ fantasy, and Ant-Man is a heist film. Ant-Man might seem like one of the smallest films in the MCY (no pun intended) but every time I watch it I'm impressed with just how excellent it is. Paul Rudd's Scott Lang might be the most likeable character in the entire MCU and he's surrounded by an excellent cast that takes a smaller-scale plot (small-scale compared to worldwide alien invasions, anyways) and makes it fun, exciting, and meaningful. Darren Cross might not be as theatrical as other villains like Loki, Thanos, and Ultron, but he's a perfectly good foil to the team of Ant-Man, Hope van Dyne, Hank Pym, and Scott's crew, most significantly Michael Peña as Luis. Ant-Man has great ties to the rest of the MCU (the presence of Hydra, Pym's connections with S.H.I.E.L.D., and Scott's first encounter with the Avengers) but it stands on it's own as well as one of the best Origin films in the MCU. 

Now that I've finished my rewatch let me rank the Phase II films:

1. Guardians of the Galaxy

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

3. Ant-Man

4. Avengers: Age of Ultron

5. Iron Man III

6. Thor: The Dark World

   We're now in Phase III of the MCU with 2016's Captain America: Civil War and my only complaint with this film is that they should have called it Avengers: Civil War as it's as much Iron Man's film as it is Cap's. Honestly, most characters get plenty of screen-time and character development here. Having the Avengers fight each other seems like a very "comic book" thing to do and the Russo brothers absolutely make it work. Yeah, it still retains the signature Marvel humor and such but it also deals with nuance and you can make a strong argument that all of the parties involved, Team Cap, Team Iron Man, and possibly even Helmut Zemo, are all in the right. Zemo is clearly a villain but Daniel Brühl does such a good job with him that you'll sympathize with him while despising him. Great performances, great action, a quick pace for a 2 1/2 hour move, and the introduction of Black Panther and Spider-Man make Civil War a spectacle. It's one of the greats in the MCU that reframes the events of the previous films and sets the path for what is ahead. The last half hour of the film is just phenomenal.

   Last night we watched 2016's Doctor Strange and I was impressed by how riveted by it my daughter was. We started it later than usual and ended up finishing the whole thing in one go. I'm not sure I've seen this one since it came out but I've always liked Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange and while there are certainly some other good actors in the movie (Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor, this film doesn't posses the ensemble quality of most other MCU films; it's all about Cumbarbatch as Strange. Fortunately, he's excellent and despite having one of the blandest villains in the MCU (I can't even remember the name of Mads Mikkelsen's characters name) the movie still excels due to the incredible depictions of magic use, the mind bending fight scenes, the fantastic scenery and set designs, and Cumberbatch's charm as a character who is starts off fairly unlikeable. The "Dormammu, I've come to bargain" scene is also a fantastic finale which delivers a surprisingly un-MCU-like final battle. I'm always looking forward to more adventures with Strange and Wong and I'm very excited to see the next part of Karl Mordo's story, too. 

I'm always playing a couple games on my Nintendo: Switch and this week I finished Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise. It's not a new game but I discovered on the Switch and enjoyed the brief but fun and clever spy themed room escape game. From developers Yak & Co. (which I believe is a 2-person team), Agent A has a lot of humor, clever puzzles that feel logical, and a great 1960 spy movie vibe. It's not an expensive pick-up and it's well worth a play through if you enjoy room escape games or environmental puzzle games.

To wrap up the week let's take a look at the most popular articles of the week, shall we?

Roboto from Masters of the Universe Origins is still up at the top slot for his third week, so lots of fans are clearly saying "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto." I was actually a bit disappointed by this one due to the lack of gears in his chest and the way his torso is loose and wobbly but clearly folks are interested in checking him out. 

Barbecue's Bonfire 3/5/2021: Moving Through the MCU Phase 1 and 2 at Light (of the Jedi) Speed Edition: It's always funny to me when Barbecue's Bonfire makes it onto the most popular list. Is it all of the Marvel mini reviews or the Light of the Jedi that is getting the attention?

Zodac from Masters of the Universe Origins is on his second week and seems to be another sign of the popularity of Masters of the Universe Origins. How long will this neutral man stay on the list?

Frozen Raven from Fortnite: Legendary Series is another new comer this week. The Fortnite figures usually make a hit for a week or two when I review them and Frozen Raven is here to cool things down for us. How many people expected him to be a Fortnite Version of Elsa or something I wonder?

Drizzt & Guenhwyvar from Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms is a Hasbro Pulse exclusive that is still available for sale and I'm not sure if that's good or bad. usually Hasbro Pulse exclusives sell out in preorder status but Drizzt is still around. Did Hasbro actually make enough for everyone or are collectors just largely uninterested in what may end up being a one-off release? Drizzt is a good figure for sure, though Guenhwyvar is a bit of a disappointment. Lots of accessories, though, and the price is right for the set. This one is on it's third week.

10 Members of the Vintage G.I. Joe Team Who Would be Awesome in G.I. Joe: The Classified Series is one of my top 10 lists. In this one, which is on its third week on the list, I pick my favorite of the vintage Joe figures (just the G.I. Joe team, no Cobra yet) who aren't guaranteed A-listers that would translate well into the Classified Series. Who are your picks?

Enjoy The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and have a great weekend everyone!


  1. Age of Ultron was one of my favorites. And Ant-Man rocks! Michael Pena stole the show. Someone recommended he should narrate a summary of the entire MCU while speaking for everyone's parts like he did in Ant-Man. I was never a Doctor Strange fan until I saw the movie. Cumberbatch is fantastic. Always nice to see Rachel McAdams. She's a great actress.

    1. Jose Pena narrating the summary of the films would be amazing. They need to do a phase 1, 2, and 3 version stat!

      For some reason I always forget that Rachel McAdams is in Doctor Strange. Honestly, other than Strange himself and the ancient One, I feel like the rest of Doctor Strange's cast is just kind of there. Everyone is fine in the movie (though Mads Mikkelson is so forgettable here) but they just get overshadowed and seem kind of plain.


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