Ruling the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Now I’m just havin’ fun. Here’s another little stinger for another debut into the #Marvel Cinematic Universe. #Avengers4? #AvengersInfinityWar?


EXT. HELL

Like it says on the tin. Fire. Brimstone. And a large, demonic entity sits atop a throne of damned souls. It swallows the souls by the handful, like they’re candy. This Demon King doesn’t have a care in the world--any world, really. This is MEPHISTO.

It speaks to a SHAPE somewhere OFF-CAMERA.

MEPHISTO

Look, I’m going to shoot straight with you. You’re not the first person to come crying to me about their mommy, okay? And despite what you might have heard, or read, or seen in your stupid little movies--honestly, you guys never do manage to capture my unique charm. It’s always so cartoonish or...whatever it was Pacino was thinking. There’s no nuance. I don’t want your soul. That’s not yours to give. And I’ll have it soon enough anyway. No, I want that one thing--that one small, little thing--that means everything to you. And, well, I already do have your sweet, dear ol’ mother, don’t I? So, I’ll ask this instead. Just one itsy-bitsy thing.

It leans in close, menacingly. And it smiles. However It can possibly smiles, it does that.

MEPHISTO

Kneel.

The Shape speaks. His voice is strong, proud. It echoes across Hell itself.

SHAPE

No.

Mephisto CHOKES. He seriously can’t believe this. This NEVER happens.

MEPHISTO

What? No, this isn’t how it works. Look, it’s very simple. You cry, beg, and kneel. Okay? And then, maybe--just maybe--I will reward your humble offering by giving you back what you wish for most. Got it?

Silence.

And then...

SHAPE

I kneel before none.

Mephisto EXPLODES. His KINGDOM explodes around him.

The Shape stands his ground, unwavering.

MEPHISTO

How dare you?! Who are you to speak to Mephisto with such an insolent tone?

The Shape steps forward. His cloak flaps wildly in the heated winds of Mephisto’s rage. His armor, which covers his body from head-to-toe, glistens in the light of the blazes of Hell. This is no mere man. This is an invading KING. This is VICTOR VON DOOM.

DOOM

So speaks DOOM.

THE END.

Evolving the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Lot of people throwing in their two-cents on the perfect stinger for Avengers 4. Here’s mine.


EXT. PARADISE – DAY

We fade in on a beautiful lake surrounded by wilderness, strange beautiful flora and fauna, small, large, and monstrous. On the land, in the water, in the trees, and flying through the air. This is a SAVAGE LAND.

A little TOADIE of a man grovels at the mercy of...

A MAN

This is his MASTER, bathing in this beautiful paradise.

TOAD

Master.

MASTER

Toad, I’m clearly busy.

TOAD

But...but you asked me to let you know when it was over.

MASTER

And?

TOAD

It’s--it’s over, Sir. The humans are vulnerable without their...

He chokes on his next word. It disgusts him to phrase it in such a way.

TOAD (CONT’D)

...heroes.

Silence. And then...

TOAD

Shall I, uh...shall I gather your finest robe, Sir?

MASTER

That won’t be necessary.

The Master RISES, like a GOD born from the water. His wet, SILVER HAIR shimmers in the sun.

Toad looks on in awe at the majesty of it all.

TOAD

This is it, then. Your moment has finally come, Sir.

MASTER

No.

TOAD

No?

MASTER

This is not my moment, Toad. It never was.

He dries himself by guiding every drop, every molecule away from his bod with a thought. He dresses himself in royal garb with a gesture.

MASTER (CONT’D)

Our people.

A HELMET, simple but with some intrinsic design to it, gently travels through the air with only a thought. It settles atop the Master’s silver hair with ease. It was built just for him.

MASTER (CONT’D)

It has all been for the sake of our people.

Ah, now Toad understands. Sorta.

MASTER (CONT’D)

Every moment. Every hour. All for our people.

His master turns, displayed in full regalia. A leader. A king. MAGNETO is ready for his world debut.

MASTER (CONT’D)

Always.

THE END

The Measure of a Man

Ya know, Spider-Man will always be the superhero that I feel speaks the best to us as a people. The self-sacrificing hero, idealistic, flawed, guilt-ridden and self-doubting, but always ready and willing to fight the good fight.
 
Superman is a beautiful symbol, but a horrific failure as a character. He’s so perfect that he’s unbearably flawed. He has to be twisted in some fashion or presented in some cynical fashion for people to care.
 
Batman is a childish power fantasy. The one who always wins. The one plagued by the least tragedy, the least faults. He’s the smartest, the richest, the coolest, the darkest, the most varied in his presentation. He’s said to be human, but he’s more a superman than, well, Superman.
 
I think Iron Man, especially more modern interpretations–the movies and the comics, since at least the “Extremis” storyline from about a decade ago–is a more nuanced take on the rich genius dressing up and playing hero. He has an arc. He grows and falters and has to learn from his tragic mistakes and failures. He’s an ideal for how those with true great power–money, influence–must also act responsibly, namely for the betterment of others.
 
But I don’t think any character has been as frequently well-written, well-tested, and well-examined as Daredevil.
 
Matt Murdock isn’t a man haunted and motivated solely by some childhood trauma, though he certainly has plenty of that under his belt. He wasn’t even set on his path to be a hero until he was a grown man in law school. He wasn’t a child sent off into the wild to be a symbol of hope.
 
Instead, Matt Murdock wanted to be a beneficial, caring member of society by becoming a lawyer who helped those in need. He was a man who was once a boy who wanted to grow up to be a real hero, no different than those who grow up wanting to be a cop or a doctor or a firefighter.
 
Oddball powers aside, Matt is, at his core, a blind martial artist who fights all sorts of realistic and superpowered villains in a homemade Halloween costume–literally, as he stitched his costume together from pieces of his father’s old boxing gear.
 
He deals frequently with real-world issues. He gets hurt and scared. His relationships deal with his lies and lifestyle in realistic ways–they get scared and hurt and leave and die. People learn to *hate* Matt Murdock as a person. There are consequences to his actions (he was even disbarred in New York in a fairly recent story, once his identity was made fully public).
 
How often do you see–specifically in a mainstream, in-continuity superhero comic–the hero dealing with serious personal issues like depression?
 
Yeah, like Batman, Daredevil always wins. The villains always get what’s coming to them, at least for a time. But unlike such characters as Batman, Matt Murdock’s stories carry with them the weight of years and years of writer’s testing the character. The character himself has scars.
 
More importantly, the character doesn’t simply win “because he’s Daredevil.” He’s not going to win because he’s always the smartest man in the room, or has all the money in the world to have the most asinine amount of toys, gear, tech, and even a personal army of highly-trained, super savvy children. Even his victories often come at a cost, personal or otherwise.
 
Superman is an ideal. Batman is a fantasy. Spider-Man is the best of us. Iron Man is wish fulfillment.
 
But Daredevil is, at his core, just a man.
 
Yeah, he can fight. But he’s not the best in the world.
 
Yeah, he has some super powers. But he’s more an acrobatic detective as a result.
 
But he’s still a man. Selfish, guilt-ridden, worn and broken by the world. He has a day job that he actually needs to do. He has relationships that are unhealthy for a variety of reasons. He suffers from things like depression.
 
His heroics, his actions and behavior are elevated even more than his “peers” because of how human and flawed he is constantly shown to be.
 
He’s given up, given in. But he always finds it in him to fight again. It’s never just a given. It’s never shown to be easy.
 
He’s not truly a man without fear, or even a guy who has some vague ability or personality trait to overcome such things. He’s just a man who won’t let himself stay down, even when by all rights he’d be forgiven for doing so. He fights and earns the title of “The Man Without Fear” by acting even when he is completely and utterly afraid.
 
That’s beautiful writing. That’s phenomenal character work.
 
“The measure of a man is not in how he gets knocked to the mat, it is in how he gets up.”
 
Sometimes I feel that I act and go about my day because I think it’s the only thing there is to do. I’m tired, hurt, afraid all the time. I feel like I just carry that with me because there’s only one other option, which is to just lay down and die. But I don’t do that…because, “I don’t know.” I wish I did. But I don’t. At best, maybe it’s just more fear that keeps me from doing it. Sometimes it’s just pure resentment or rage, like I’m sticking it to the universe. Like it’s some stupid act of defiance by not just giving up.
 
I wish it was because I had the attitude that I won’t and can’t give up. At the very least, I wish I could see myself as a man who can get knocked down and get back up no matter what. That maybe I do live up to that notion.
 
I just see myself as a stubborn coward. But I want to be a man without fear.
 
Sometimes I think wanting that for myself is good enough. And maybe it is. It’s a comforting thought, at least.
 
I mean, I haven’t thrown in the towel just yet. Right?
Marvel’s “Daredevil” (Vol. 4, Issue #10)

Thor: Ragnarok


On this episode of The Nightly Chill, we look at the most colorful, campiest Marvel movie to date, Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok!


When they discover their long-lost sister is also the Goddess of Death, Thor and Loki will have to work together to save the Nine Realms from total destruction in Thor: Ragnarok.

RISK AND REWARD

Director Taika Waititi presents us with what is arguably Marvel’s most ambitious production yet.

And it’s rather fitting, really. Thor’s first cinematic outing was also the riskiest of Marvel’s first phase of movies. That movie took audiences away from the relatively grounded world of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and even Captain America. It exposed audiences to Marvel’s larger, stranger concepts of magic, super-science, gods, and the greater cosmic landscape.

Now, those first two entries in the Thor series of films may not have been the most successful for Marvel Studios. Nor were they the best received, especially Thor: The Dark World.

Both movies were criticized by many for a variety of reasons. The first was too focused on an expected but not entirely welcomed romantic subplot and lacked the sort of scope fans were expecting, with little of the mystical realm of Asgard being shown. And in the case of The Dark World, the movie was plagued by an incredibly underwhelming villain and under-cooked story.

RISK AND REWARD

That said, both movies have their fair share of fans. And even if The Dark World is largely considered to be the closest thing Marvel Studios has made to a cinematic misfire, it’s still a watchable and enjoyable movie. It simply pales in comparison to its abundant sister films.

More so, both films were and still are some of Marvel’s most ambitious, riskiest movies. Even long after fans have been exposed to the colorful cast and many worlds seen in Gunn’s pair of Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

Because while many fans might be turned off by Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster and the love story between her and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, it remained a welcome change of pace to the usual mix of overtly macho stories presented in Marvel’s other movies. They were the closest thing the studio had made to a traditional Rom-Com.

And Thor: Ragnarok is no different in that regard. But rather than being a romantic-comedy that also happens to feature colorful superheroes and villains, Ragnarok is the closest thing Marvel has made to a traditional buddy comedy.

No matter what is happening on screen, the movie is constantly cracking jokes. Whether it’s a callback to previous movies, some shenanigans between Thor and Loki, or Jeff Goldblum stealing the show with his scene-chewing as Grandmaster, the not-so benevolent ruler of a planet inhabited by the castoffs of the universe and gamemaster of the gladitorial-like Contest of Champions.

And while Thor: Ragnarok obviously lifts some visual cues from James Gunn’s work on Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie also maintains its own personal style. Of course, that style is very close to those seen in movies like Flash Gordon and Heavy Metal, with this emphasis on camp, humor, and the strangest, coolest art and music design seen and heard in a major Hollywood blockbuster.

WHAT IN THE HELA?

That said, failing to be wholly original might be the only thing Thor: Ragnarok fails at.
Because compared to its sister films, Waititi infuses the black sheep of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with some much needed structure, character work, and fun.

There is no romantic subplot. There is no moment where the jokes and action fail to shine. The main villain, Hela, is not only developed just enough but also brought to life by Cate Blanchett’s insane desire to be the MCU’s most dangerous and alluring foe to date. She even manages to give Goldblum a run for his money when it comes to chewing the scenery–and I do mean that in the best way possible.

And Karl Urban’s sympathetic not-quite a villain, Scourge–Hela’s hand-picked lackey looking for a chance to prove his worth to somebody, anybody–is proof that even smaller roles are better fleshed out than anything seen in the previous two movies.

RAGNAROK & ROLL

More so, it also opens up Marvel’s approach to movies in a way it has yet to do.

The humor isn’t new. Nor is the color palette. But Thor: Ragnarok does show that Marvel is now opening itself up to the idea that these movies don’t need some major crossover event to bring in other notable characters, even if only for a few brief scenes.

More than ever, you don’t need to have seen either The Incredible Hulk or Doctor Strange to understand who they are or why they appear in this movie. Knowing they exist at all certainly helps, but it’s not necessary to enjoy their scenes or contributions to the rest of the movie.

Now, could Thor: Ragnarok have done without Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange? Yes, and easily so. But his appearance also doesn’t feel forced. Instead, it’s a nice way to show that these characters do know each other, that they and their worlds do collide–that such a thing can happen at any time for any reason. And, more importantly, this can be done without derailing the film.

A major complaint by even the biggest fans of Marvel’s movies (and their comics) has often been the logical issue of this world of interconnected superheroes who never show up to help or even fight their friends outside of The Avengers or Captain America: Civil War.

Sure, characters like Tony Stark have appeared in movies like Spider-Man: Homecoming. But he also served a major, recurring role within the context of that film. He was important to the development of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.

But in Thor: Ragnarok, Dr. Strange pops up to help drive the plot forward, and then just as quickly takes his leave. He’s treated like any other ancillary role might be in any other movie. But because we do know the character–because the character has had his own movie at some point–what might have been an unimportant, forgettable role is instead greatly improved. And on the same note, fans no longer have to wonder why these characters fail to cross paths more frequently.

IF HE BE WORTHY…

Now, the movie isn’t without its faults. The most glaring of which is how its apocalyptic scenario is undercut by the movie’s emphasis on humor over dramatics.

There are, of course, some deadly serious moments to be found in the movie, but they feel less impactful–even if intentionally so–than they could have been. “Ragnarok” should conjure up images of death and destruction on a cosmic scale, and the movie does give us as much. But it will likely ring a bit hollow for some.

The movie, in a way, does make light of things like dictators, violent fights to the death, and, yes, the end of the world itself. All these things are present in this film. But they’re presented in a comedic light. Again, Thor: Ragnarok is a comedy first and anything else a distant second.

For some, this might prove to be a disconnect that is difficult or even impossible to overcome. It might taint any fun that might be had with the movie.

But for those looking to escape the world for two hours and go on a colorful, hilarious ride across the cosmos that also features some great visuals and action scenes, Thor: Ragnarok is more than worthy of your time.

I definitely suggest you CHILL with Thor: Ragnarok.

Spider-Man


On this episode of The Nightly Chill, we look back at Sam Raimi’s groundbreaking 2002 classic superhero blockbuster: Spider-Man!


Tobey McGuire is Peter Parker, the prototypical high school geek granted great power from the bite of a genetically altered spider. But when he fails to understand the meaning of, “With great power, must also come great responsibility,” it will take the tragic death of his Uncle Ben for Peter to become the hero he was destined to be.

And along the way, he’ll struggle to keep his loved ones safe from the phenomenal Willem Dafoe’s menacing and crazed Green Goblin in Sam Raim’s classic 2002 feature film, Spider-Man.

313

It was the spring of 1989. I was nearly 4-years old. And it was–for reasons that I am forever unsure of–call it fate, call it karma–but issue 313 of Amazing Spider-Man made it into my hands during a family vacation to beautiful Santa Cruz, California.

Jump forward over 13 years later. It’s now the spring of 2002. I was a 16-year old high school junior, and summer vacation was only a few weeks away. But it wasn’t summer vacation or my impending semester finals that were on my mind. No, I was fixated on counting down the weeks, days, and hours until the upcoming release of Sony and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man.

GOOD WITH THE BAD

I grew up reading Spider-Man. In fact, I still have my original copy of that comic my parents bought me nearly 30 years ago now. I even have a framed copy on my wall, a birthday gift from my wife–and one in much better condition than my dog-eared, tattered-edged original.

As a child of the 90s, I grew up playing as Spider-Man on my Nintendo Entertainment System and watching Spider-Man every weekday afternoon and Saturday morning on FOX 11. My friends and I would talk about that day’s episode the next day, every day at school.

The animation–and the show’s distinct lack of any punching or kicking–a demand made by the executives at FOX Kid’s–taints any nostalgia I may have once had for it. However, it did give me–as I’m sure it did so many other children back then–a look into many of Spider-Man’s most riveting storylines from the then-30 year publication history of my favorite superhero.

I learned about old foes like Doctor Octopus and the Chameleon–Spider-Man’s very first supervillain! I learned about newer threats like the alien symbiote, Venom. I learned of Venom’s origins as the infamous black suit first seen in the 80s, which in turn taught me all about Marvel Comic’s Secret Wars–the company’s (and the industry’s) first major inter-company crossover event.

So while the show fails in many ways to hold up to the passage of time, it’s legacy is in the way the creative team compressed an in-depth summary of the character’s history into an all-too brief 65 episodes.

FIRST SCREENING

I remember going to the first screening, early in the morning at my local movie theater, for Spider-Man. I sat in my
favorite seat. I came out singing Chad Kroeger’s “Hero”, the movie’s official theme song, which was a solid song back then but also a stark contrast to Danny Elfman’s even better original composition.

But just as much then as it is now, it’s very clear to me that the movie has number of flaws.

The most glaring of which remains a regular thorn in the sides of those who watch Raimi’s movies in anticipation of the next Spider-Man feature film: the Power Ranger-esque outfit that DaFoe dons for his role as The Green Goblin.

The suit itself symbolized a distinct lack of budget a movie of this scale required. The special effects have aged even worse than DaFoe’s green jumpsuit and helmet. It’s almost as if the intent were for the sets to look artificial. And much of the fun action sequences we expected to leap out of the panels of the comic and onto the big-screen turned out to be framed in Raimi’s budget-conscious style. Many things happened off-screen, such as Spidey’s webbing-up of criminals. He leaps into frame from just off-camera instead of swinging, twirling in the air, and then landing with grace.

Much of this was greatly improved come the somehow superior sequel, of course. And that movie holds up very well today, even in direct comparison to Marvel Studio’s impressive and ever-expanding catalog. But Raimi’s first remains flawed and hindered by many aspects of its visuals.

MOVIE IMPERFECT

Much like FOX’s cartoon from the 90s, Raimi’s original Spider-Man film remains both entertaining and important for a number of reasons despite it’s visual flaws. Not the least of which was proving, without a shadow of a doubt, that general audiences were absolutely ready once more for colorful, comic-accurate superhero movies–a risk that Bryan Singer’s X-Men was unable to take more than a year earlier.

More so, the movie’s visuals–which absolutely scream, “Sam Raimi made this!”–give it an almost timeless feel. Aside from the heavily dated CGI, which was still a bit wonky even back in 2002. But the sets, costumes, and visual shortcuts feel as if they were pulled from the movies of the same era of comic books that inspired Raimi’s film–Marvel’s “Silver Age.”

As with the classic horror movies that inspired Raimi’s vision for his Evil Dead movies, the visual aesthetic of the TV shows, movies, and comic books of the 60s and 70s would influence his vision for Spider-Man.

The intentionally melodramatic performances from McGuire, DaFoe, Kirsten Dunst, and even professional wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage–“pontificating” might even be a better word at times, especially during DaFoe’s mesmerizing monologues that range from terrifying to heart-breakingly psychotic to some hybrid of Shakespearean and Saturday-morning cartoon.

The bright colors, comicbook panel-styled framing, the soap opera-inspired love-triangle between Peter, Mary Jane, and James Franco’s Harry Osborn. The hokey but classic Hollywood–and still iconic–image of Spider-Man kissing the literal girl next-door upside down in the rain.

ENHANCE, NOT DETRACT

And while some critics might feel as if such things have aged the movie as much, if not more than it’s CGI, I stand by the opinion that they enhance the viewing experience.

Spider-Man maintains the same spirit and camp of Adam West’s classic Batman TV show. Both comic-accurate to the era that inspired them. Entertaining and engaging for viewers of all ages. And a sincere honesty to them that can be found lacking in some modern adaptations of our favorite superheroes.

It is a movie unafraid to be as true to what it is: an adaptation of a comic book that remains a staple of American pop-culture after more than 50 years. It is not a dark or mature reinterpretation. It is not a general audience-friendly approach that minimizes or sacrifices core aspects of the material to be more believable. It is a melodramatic soap opera involving a young man in colorful tights trying to save the girl he loves.

Spider-Man is whimsical, charming, funny, exciting, griping, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. It will leave you in love with Kirsten Dunst’s adorkable redhead, an admittedly drastic departure from the comics, but also one that gives us a budding relationship you want to see blossom on-screen with McGuire’s boy next-door. It will leave a lingering sense of sorrow somewhere deep inside you after Peter spends those final moments with his loving Uncle Ben. And it will fill you with glee when Peter swings through the New York skyline for the first time.

FEELS RIGHT

The movie is far from perfect. Its special effects didn’t hold up all that well back then, and are hurting much more now. And the tone of the movie can leave you questioning if this is a movie from 15-years ago or 50.

But it makes you feel everything you should feel from watching a Spider-Man movie by presenting a story and characters that are true to the spirit of then-40 years worth of comic book lore loved by millions.

Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve had the world believing a man could fly when Superman debuted nearly 40-years ago. And 15 years ago, Raimi and McGuire’s Spider-Man had us all believing in a hero who can do whatever it is a spider can.

Spider-Man remains, true believer, a big CHILL.

’nuff said.

Howard the Duck


On this episode of The Nightly Chill, we look at the much maligned, highly flawed, but wholly enjoyable Howard the Duck!


Long before The Avengers, Spider-Man, the X-Men, or even Wesley Snipe’s Blade ever hit the big-screen, the first–and incredibly odd–choice for a live-action adaptation of a Marvel Comics property was none other than Howard the Duck.

The movie opens with Howard, a humanoid duck from another world, suddenly–and quite literally–dragged out of his apartment kicking and screaming, pulled through time and space, and comes crashing down into one of the worst places possible: 1980s Cleveland, Ohio.

After meeting up with Lea Thompson’s Beverly Marsh, a struggling musician with a heart of gold, the two bond in a rather odd and creepy fashion before seeking out answers to the whys and hows of Howard being on Earth. And whether or not it might be possible to send him back home.

THE FAIL AWAKENS

Brought to us by none other than the creator of Star Wars himself, George Lucas, this cinematic failure (according to both critics and general audiences) came at such a high cost that it ultimately forced George Lucas to sell off what would later became Pixar.

And, if nothing else, it’s rather neat to think that a movie about a foul-mouthed fowl kinda-sorta, but not really sleeping with an absolutely adorable Lea Thompson is what ultimately allowed Disney to own Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars.

THE LESS THINGS CHANGE

Now, that strange bit of trivia aside…

Despite persistent fan claims to the contrary, the film actually manages to be impressively faithful to the source material to a point.

In the comics, much like the film, Howard is most definitely a humanoid duck from another world dragged to Earth. He meets and buddies up with a girl named Beverly in Cleveland. And he is eventually troubled by a dark Overlord–Thog the Overmaster in the comics and the more lazily named “Dark Overlord” in the film–as he attempts to get back home.

However, unlike the movie, comicbook Howard is far more crude and foul-mouthed, from an alternate dimension (rather than simply another planet across the cosmos), and dragged to Earth due to some fault of Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange. He’s also heavily styled after Donald Duck rather than the more–for the time, at least–modern 80s look that we see in the film.

OUT OF TONER

Now, aside from these minor details changed in the translation from comic to film, the entire tone of the product was drastically altered as well. Howard’s creator, Steve Gerber, originally intended and wrote Howard as a sort of existential comic–one with no punchline and a desire to explore the medium’s many trappings.

But rather than adapt the comic’s desire to explore its own medium to the big screen, Lucas and director Williard Huyck instead chose to present a tame, middle-of-the-road popcorn flick that’s an odd mix of romantic-comedy, sci-fi, and action/adventure.

And, really, in a decade filled with a number fun, highconcept releases hitting theaters year after year, such a strange mixing of genres should work–and sort of does in hindsight.

But like many 80s films and early comicbook adaptations, a limited budget (or at least a squandered one) meant that certain cheats had to be made to keep the film under, well, not budge. Because this film went so overbudget and flopped so hard that Lucas gave up the future money printer known as Pixar to salvage his studio. But I suppose certain cheats and concessions had to be made in regards to the not-so lavish and not-quite-special effects.

OH BOY, GEORGE

And I want to say that this should come as a surprise given that this is the George Lucas around the time of the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, a period in which he was damn-near infallible.

But when you take into consideration that the first Star Wars film was a blatant rip off of The Hidden Fortress, the other two were handed off to other writers, and that the prequels were all personally handled by Lucas himself–much like how he stepped down from running Lucasfilm to personally oversee production of Howard the Duck–it all starts to make a bit more sense why Howard’s cinematic debut was also his last. At least, it was until his recent cameos in both of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy films.

IT WORKS, SORTA

That said, despite its troubled production, milquetoast presentation, and underwhelming if rather expensive special effects, Howard the Duck isn’t without its charm. Nor is it unwatchable.

Aside from the unsettling “we-should-have-just-called-Jim- Henson” Howard costume, the cast of characters are actually fun to watch on screen–from the way Howard learns to adapt to life on Earth to Jeffrey Jones making the best of a bad script to the most adorable use of Lea Thompson ever.

And for all the jokes of inter-species love making that movie has rightfully earned over the past 30 years, Lea Thompson really does do a fantastic job in her role as Beverly. Her acting talent shines like the stars both in the way she manages to play a believably strong, yet sweet-hearted equal to the brash Howard and in the way she makes you believe that 80s Tim Robbins is a real living boy.

The jokes land more often than not. The action sequences are fun and silly in that way so many movies from the 80s seem to be. The originals bits of music are worth finding for your own personal enjoyment after the movie ends. And the movie proves to be surprisingly sincere–if a bit melodramatic–in its emotional beats.

QUACK

Howard the Duck is far from perfect, but it’s also far from unwatchable. It deserves a second-look by those who may have left the theater feeling scorned 30 years ago. And it definitely deserves a look by fans who are filling those same theaters now in support of Marvel Studios.

More so, this should not be the last big screen adaptation for Howard. With Marvel adapting more and more of its obscure properties into genre-bending productions, I want to believe that the tale of a pissed-off, existential duck lost in a world he didn’t create deserves a second chance.

Howard the Duck is, without any hint of irony, a big CHILL.