Theory: Loki is the Main Villain in Avengers: Endgame

loki infinity war
This morning, I posted a rather brilliant (IMO) theory about how Loki is still alive in Avengers: Infinity War, posing as his brother Thor ever since Thanos destroyed their Asgardian ship at the start of the film.

While writing that theory out, I merely wanted to make a case for Loki faking his death somehow at the start of the film and masquerading throughout the rest of it as his brother.

But I stopped short of theorizing on any of the main details of his Master Plan.

So let’s do that now:

Loki is the ultimate villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he’s been using Thanos since the first Avengers movie to collect the Infinity Stones on his behalf, so that he can exact his revenge on The Avengers and rule the entire universe.

While I like the character of Thanos, and I appreciate how much work Marvel spent trying to build him up as their main Big Bad, he’s still nowhere near as villainous as Loki.

Thanos has a relatively well thought-out plan (if you ignore the fact his “snap” could just double the amount of resources rather than removing half of the population consuming those resources, if that’s really what he’s so worried about), but he’s not altogether evil.

He seems to have the greater good in mind, which makes for a sympathetic bad guy, but there’s no room for subtlety or nuance in a movie featuring talking raccoons and flying wizards.

What Endgame needs is a villain worthy of all this buildup. They need a mustache-twirler. They need somebody who not only bested all of the Avengers physically, but who outsmarted them, as well.

In other words, they need Loki.

Let’s go back in time and examine a few clues. (more…)



Loki is Alive and Well in Infinity War

Before we start, I think I should probably slap a spoiler warning up here. What is to follow is entirely speculation, but I feel like it’s so completely plausible that it might actually end up spoiling a significant plot twist in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

avengers infinity war poster high res
If you recall, back in the last Avengers movie, Infinity War, when we first meet the Guardians of the Galaxy, they’re answering a distress beacon.

As they arrive at the beacon’s source, they find the wreckage of the Asgardian ship Thanos just destroyed earlier in the movie, and they also find Thor.

They bring him aboard their ship, so they can ogle him while he’s sleeping, like a team of little Sandy Bullocks, and so that he can recover from whatever left him adrift in the first place.

After he wakes up, he’s rummaging through the ship’s food and whatnot, and the team starts questioning him about what’s going on.

He explains to them that Thanos is collecting the Infinity Stones.

Also, it’s widely known that the Reality Stone has been safe with the Collector on Knowhere for quite some time. Since that’s common knowledge, you can expect that’s where Thanos is headed, to collect the Stone.

Quill interjects and says, “If it’s with the Collector, it’s not safe. Only an idiot would give that man a stone.”

Thor replies, under his breath, “Or a genius,” and the scene moves quickly on.

Let’s stop here, though, and flash back to Thor: The Dark World – the second in his standalone series – for just a moment. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for February 27, 2019

It was a pretty small pile this week, but at least enough to all for some segues.

Speaking of things flowing into each other, that leads me to Heroes in Crisis #6, where the blood from all the murdered heroes created a big ol’ mess.

When I was a kid, my dad would get claustrophobic on airplanes, so we took nearly every family vacation by car. I visited all 48 contiguous states by car by my early teens. And I tell you, when you’re driving around 20 hours or so en route to Disney World, it doesn’t matter how much fun Disney World is going to be; those hours in the middle are really boring.

And so I have no doubt that the ending to Heroes in Crisis will be delightful, but I’m getting really tired of these middle issues where nothing happens. I don’t dispute their purpose—we’re getting a lot more character moments that are filling in some of the gaps. But this issue, we get a poetic monologue from a caveman. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for February 20, 2019

Now it may seem as if the streak ended, and technically it did, but I only bought one comic the week before this last one, and considering the entire gimmick of this review column is the ragged segue from one issue to another, you can’t exactly have a segue when there’s only one thing to talk about. So I saved last week’s issue for this week.

So we’ll start with last week’s lone issue, The Batman Who Laughs #3, the mini-series spin-off from Dark Knights: Metal. I have two things I really like about this series and one thing I don’t.

Good thing 1: This series is essentially Batman vs. Batman, and even though there have been a number of iterations of that over the years, I don’t really get tired of them—provided the premise is around the challenge of catching up with someone who is always one (or more) steps ahead, simply by virtue of being the same guy with all the same strengths and usually freed from some of the constraints that our Bruce imposes upon himself.

Good thing 2: Scott Snyder’s skills with setting the horror mood are perfectly suited to a story like this. Nice Batman can’t keep up, can’t keep from falling further behind, and now can’t stop himself from slipping further into the Joker’s seemingly inescapable trap. That’s bad! Scott Snyder is made for that stuff.

But the thing I don’t care for is how Snyder has turned the Joker into this weird invincible metahuman. (more…)



A few thoughts on last night’s WWE Elimination Chamber PPV

WWE put the worst elements of their booking on display last night, and the bright spots even managed to prove the rule.

Elimination Chamber was symptomatic of a bloated creative team that hides its lack of good ideas in overwhelming volume—overwriting the simplest and most compelling elements of what makes competition resonate with people.

The Intercontinental Title Match

Inexplicably this match turned into a two-on-one match, presumably because someone who doesn’t understand how sports or competitions works thought Finn Balor would look more sympathetic and more impressive going against the odds in this way. But this is the point of view of a moron, because implicit in these two-on-one rules is that Balor can (and did) win the title by pinning either member of the two-person team, even though only one member was the defending champion.

So WWE expects this to be a significant moment when Balor wins the Intercontinental Championship — which he does by pinning the defending champion’s hype man. Balor wins the title by not defeating the champion. How is that supposed to get him over? How is that supposed to feel satisfying? Right away, he’s undermined by booking that routinely broadcasts its own lack of awareness of how athletic competitions work and why they resonate with audiences. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for February 6, 2019

Let’s kick off this week’s reviews with Avengers #14, which resumes the vampire storyline that was randomly dropped in favor of the Iron Fist origin story last issue.

There’s apparently a vampire civil war going on, with a bunch of anti-Dracula vampires attacking Dracula’s castle, and Blade is in the middle of it trying to stop the anti-Dracula vampires, led by a guy called Shadow Colonel. In a scene that is basically just the “Joker gets arrested on purpose” scene from The Dark Knight, the Shadow Colonel is deliberately taken into custody by the Avengers so that he and his evil buddies can be on the inside and start causing problems with folks like Blade and Ghost Rider.

“He’s far too confident,” Black Panther says. “It would appear the Shadow Colonel wanted to be here.”

There’s something really kind of stupid about all of this, yet I find myself being uncharacteristically patient. (more…)



How a Single One-Liner Ruins Batman in The Dark Knight Trilogy

batman begins movie poster

When Batman Begins came out in 2005, there was one particular scene – one line in one particular scene, to be more specific – that bothered the hell out of me, and I have wanted to talk about it ever since.

To paraphrase John Mulaney, I know it’s kind of stupid to complain about a movie that came out 14 years ago, but I wasn’t a blogger back then, so I have to do it now.

The scene in question is the audience’s introduction to The Batman.

I’m coming in hot on this one. Let’s just dive right into it.
(more…)



The Doomino Effect for January 30, 2019

Starting off this week’s reviews is Heroes in Crisis #5, and we are now at the section of the mystery where you slosh through the dull middle-part, hoping something is going to happen soon. I for one was getting tired of the formula of “See-saw between Crazy Booster and Crazy Harley with testimonials from now-dead heroes littered throughout.”

While I enjoyed this issue more than I didn’t, there were a number of characterization choices that kind of caught me off-guard.

I don’t find Harley Quinn sexy, because she is a cartoon character and I’m not someone who turns to drawings of tightly clad women in comic books to satisfy my adolescent lust, and so prurient splash pages designed to show off the shape of her hips and breasts just feels beneath the level of storytelling that Tom King appears to be going for. There’s nothing wrong with sexuality in comics, of course, but this just feels like “Hey thirteen year old, need a little time to yourself?”

That said, this is the second issue in a row to go down this odd path, so maybe it’s not really “out of character” anymore. I don’t find Harley Quinn charming, because I don’t think “Kooky homicidal person” is any more interesting than it was in the 90s when those characters were a dime-a-dozen. Same reason I find Sanity to be probably the worst act in professional wrestling. And I honestly never realized that Batgirl spoke in nonsense like Harley does. So I really don’t find the Harley half of this plot at all engaging.

On the flipside, I used to enjoy Booster Gold, and I loved the Blue Beetle. But I find their arc in this story incredibly off-putting. Ted was such a conscientious character; I feel like they’re halfway there with his loyalty to Booster, but his nonchalance in the gravity of this situation just feels misaligned to what made the character endearing in the first place.

I mean look at this opening spread — it’s beautifully rendered (and I admit I didn’t see the “Heroes In Crisis” letters until zooming out to this degree) but a bunch of heroes have just been brutally murdered and the casual nature of this just feels jarring.

And the real tire-screecher in this issue was Superman’s speech. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for January 23, 2019

It just occurred to me how much more frequently comics are coming out these days. I’m only back to doing this blog for a month, and I’ve hit several of these series twice (or more) already. I wonder how long it would’ve taken me to figure this out if I weren’t writing about these things.

Speaking of things that take a long time to learn, let’s start with Guardians of the Galaxy #1. Longtime readers of this blog will know that Doom DeLuise and I were massive fans of the Abnett y Lanning relaunch of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Back then, it would’ve been ridiculous to imagine that these characters would become household names. Once those characters did become household names, Marvel seemed ironically confused as to what made the characters so interesting in the first place, and the comics evolved into Brian Michael Bendis trying to compete with James Gunn on the page, and it all fell quite flat. They inexplicably brought in some Spawn character, made Iron Man a member, and I don’t even remember how long ago that was but I can tell you I stopped caring about one of my favorite teams completely.

I decided in recent months to start following the Infinity Wars series, including that miniseries that led up to it, Countdown to Infinity Wars or whatever it was, and the series quite endearingly felt like it was existing under the radar of Marvel’s Hot Properties. The story was delightfully weird in an uncontrived way, and it reminded me of what made the 00s series so lovable. It seemed to almost delight in the fact that not many people were buying it, and that was liberating!

So anyway, the Infinity Wars thing happened, people died, and now there are pieces needing to be picked up, including but not limited to Thanos’ body, the team formerly known as the Guardians of the Galaxy, hammers and shards of Groot.

As you might predict, from such clues as this being the launch of a new series and other clues like Marvel’s solicitations, this issue is the story of how the new team comes together. (more…)



The Doomino Effect for January 16, 2019

In week 3 of the Return of the Doomino Effect, I will set the stage by telling you that we’re going to experience some high highs and some low lows, my friend.

Speaking of high-high, I’ll lead with The Batman Who Laughs #2, because “high-high” is kind of like “ha-ha,” and also because you have to start somewhere.

I have to tell you, I was largely disappointed by the Metal miniseries, in spite of how much I loved Scott Snyder’s run on Batman, and how much I generally appreciate stories with long-term builds. There’s just something about “ooh, scary versions of the good guys we know!” that always falls pretty flat with me. Snyder’s horror feels so intimate and personal, so the widescreen monster attack just didn’t grab me in the way I’d hoped.

So I honestly didn’t really expect to read The Batman Who Laughs, because that Joker Batman was probably my least favorite of the new spooky Batman versions from that storyline. It just felt too easy, almost. Fortunately for DC’s bank account, it came out on a week when I was otherwise light, so I picked it up to fill out the stack.

And man, I’m so glad I did; so far this series is everything I loved about Snyder’s Batman run. Rather than something exploitatively shocking and dark (and it does have its shocking and dark moments, mind you) this is at its core a psychological horror mystery. And having just recently re-read the “Court of Owls” storyline (more to come in a future blog post), that’s something I think Snyder does as well as anyone in the superhero comics world.

Snyder can write a Batman who’s on top of anything—but then villains who are even a few steps ahead of that—in a way that never manages to feel contrived. He can retcon Gotham history and plant convenient plot devices in ways that might elicit eyerolls from lesser writers.

I do think it’s his horror touch that allows him to pull it off. By creating an atmosphere so off-kilter and uncertain, these plot devices he employs feel symptomatic of a chaotic experience, giving them the cover they need to land emotionally rather than just feeling like part of a formula. Like at one point it’s literally raining aged Bruce Wayne corpses. Can you imagine how stupid that would be if Tony Daniel were trying to write that? (You can tell I’ve been out of this game for a while when I’m still picking on Tony Daniel as a Batman writer.) (more…)