Song of the Day #4,216: ‘Immigrant Song’ – Led Zeppelin

In lieu of today’s Random Weekend selection, and ahead of my top ten movies of the 2010s kicking off tomorrow, I thought I’d offer up a few thoughts on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I considered putting one of the Marvel films on my Top 20. I likely would have gone with Avengers: Endgame and used it as a catchall representing the whole 11-year achievement. I decided not to get cute with just one slot on the list when the rest was honoring individual films. And none of the individual Marvel movies placed in my top five in a given year.

That said, it’s hard to ignore what producer Kevin Feige and the MCU team pulled off, releasing 23 interconnected films over 11 years, almost all of them critical and commercial successes.

Phase Three, in particular, which runs from 2016’s Captain America: Civil War through last summer’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, has been a triumph in popular filmmaking.

That stretch includes my three favorite Marvel films (Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, and the Russo Brothers’ Avengers: Endgame), the first two splendid examples of how talented auteurs can put their unique stamp on franchise property, and the third an alternately somber and thrilling culmination of the whole enterprise.

It also includes the Spider-Man films Homecoming and Far From Home, which introduced the best incarnation of the character yet in Tom Holland. And in Captain Marvel, we were given the first female lead in the MCU and a fun 90s time capsule to boot.

Martin Scorsese famously dismissed the MCU films as “not cinema,” though his argument turned out to be more against the proliferation of franchise movies on the big screen, and subsequent crowding out of smaller movies, than it was about the movies themselves (movies he admits he hasn’t even seen).

Having watched all 23 films, and ready to line up for Black Widow in May, I know I can defend quite a few of them as cinema. They are transporting, funny, exciting, sometimes sad. I’ve seen them capture the imagination of my younger daughter in the same way the Indiana Jones and Star Wars films did for me at her age.

I share Scorsese’s concern about non-franchise films getting pushed from big screens to small. I’m encouraged to see movies such as Knives Out, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite and Little Women hitting it big at the box office just last year. I also enjoyed Marriage Story and Scorsese’s own The Irishman on Netflix, and I realize that will likely be how I discover more and more films going forward.

But I don’t believe it’s fair to pin that trend on one franchise, especially one as creative and carefully curated as this one. The upcoming Phase Four of the MCU includes movies by directors Chloé Zhao and Destin Daniel Cretton, two celebrated independent filmmakers. We will see gay and transgender characters in billion dollar franchise films, and more representation for Black and Asian actors.

And if the last 11 years are any indication, those movies will be thoughtful, exciting, and a whole lot of fun.

Maybe that’s not “cinema,” but it’s a pretty good way to spend a few popcorn-fueled hours with my family on a Friday night.

(2, 3, 4)

Ahh! Ahh!
We come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow

[Verse 1]
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands
To fight the horde, sing and cry
Valhalla, I am coming

On we sweep with threshing oar
Our only goal will be the western shore

Ahh! Ahh!
We come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow

[Verse 2]
How soft your fields so green
Can whisper tales of gore
Of how we calmed the tides of war
We are your overlords

On we sweep with threshing oar
Our only goal will be the western shore

[Verse 3]
So now you’d better stop
And rebuild all your ruins
For peace and trust can win the day
Despite of all your losing

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,216: ‘Immigrant Song’ – Led Zeppelin

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    For me, there is a distinction between cash-grabbing sequels of movies that were initially intended to stand alone vs. series such as Marvel movies, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc. In fact, while Marvel movies are undoubtedly big budget affairs that make huge money, I really don’t think Marvel is driven by money when making them.

    I also think these types of films likely saved the movie theater industry, as it pushed theaters to create an experience beyond what can now be achieved at home with a large TV. At the same time, the emergence of Netflix, Amazon, etc. allows for smaller films to be made and find an audience even if those films have been crowded out of the theaters. Indeed, I would argue that, but for the big films like those from Marvel, there may be far fewer theaters around at all, and the fact that most of those theaters are multiplexes with smaller screens other than the Dolby, IMAX, etc., actually allows the smaller films to be shown there rather than only on TV.

    So Scorsese should probably be thanking Marvel for keeping theaters open, rather than bemoaning that these movies are crowding out other works of “cinema.”😀

  2. Amy says:

    While I agree with all of your observations, I can’t help but think your same reluctance to select one of these great films – that pretty much defined the whole damn decade – on your best of decade list, to recognize both that specific film and, symbolically, the whole MCU, is akin to why the films often don’t get the recognition they deserve at awards shows.

    I somehow think Black Panther could have taken Mama Mia 2’s spot. 😜

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