It's been an emotional rollercoaster for Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans following the release of Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film in MCU superhero expanse. Jubilant highs have been intermixed with shocking lows as the remaining Avengers attempted to undo the actions from Avengers: Infinity War of the Mad Titan Thanos. There have been goodbyes for iconic characters, the appointment of new leaders, and the establishment of new teams.
Unsurprisingly, I've seen the film a few times (six to be precise and maybe more soon), and every time that I've watched Avengers: Endgame, I've spotted something new. So here's the first of five quirky lessons or observations (without giving too many spoilers) from Avengers: Endgame:
1. Hawkeye Speaks Japanese
One character absent from Avengers: Infinity War was Clint Barton (Hawkeye). After his actions in violation of the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War, Barton finds himself under house arrest, just like Scott Lang in Ant-Man and the Wasp. In the opening scenes of Avengers: Endgame we see Barton with his family on his farm. We catch a glimpse of the house arrest ankle bracelet as he teaches archery to his daughter Lila. Barton seems at peace as he enjoys spending time with his family. This serenity is destroyed in a matter of moments when Barton's family are turned to dust by the Decimation (Thanos' finger snap from Avengers: Infinity War). Barton doesn't take the loss of his family well and assumes a new persona - Ronin. He goes on a worldwide rampage against organised crime as he takes on criminals in countries such as Mexico and Japan. We see Ronin in action in the latter as it takes out the Yakuza in Tokyo. During a fight with one of the Yakuza leaders, Barton speaks Japanese. Should we be surprised that a spy can speak multiple languages? Probably not.
2. The Creator of Thanos is in the Film
After the Avengers fail to stop Thanos from destroying the Infinity Stones there is a time-jump of five years. It's the year 2023 and the Avengers are trying to move on. Steve Rogers runs a support group for people who lost friends and family in the snap. One member of the group is Joe Russo, one of the directors of Avengers: Endgame. Another member of the group is Jim Starlin, the comic book artist who created Thanos in the early 1970s. Nice cameo.
3. Steve Rogers is a Terrible Cook
While Steve Rogers runs a support group for people, Natasha Romanoff has seemingly taken charge of the Avengers and their allies. We see Natasha in a conference call with Okoye, Captain Marvel, Rocket, Nebula, and War Machine. She reminds her friends that everything that happens anywhere in the universe goes through her. War Machine is the last to terminate communication, but informs her that an incident in Mexico is more than likely the doing of Clint Barton. After War Machine hangs up, Natasha starts to cry at the thought of her dear friend Barton on a rampage around the world. At that moment, Steve Rogers enters the room and says, "I would offer to cook you dinner, but you seem pretty miserable already." Despite coming out of the ice more than 10 years before it seems that Rogers has still to learn how to cook a decent meal. Still he must be better than the Vision in Captain America: Civil War!
4. Thor, Korg and Miek play Fortnite
Thanks to the quantum technology and Pym's particles of Scott Lang and the genius of Tony Stark, the Avengers set in motion a plan to undo the Decimation. But they need a team, so the Hulk and Rocket head to New Asgard, which is located in Tønsberg in Norway, to convince Thor to join the cause. However, Thor has not dealt well with the events of Avengers: Infinity War as he has turned to alcohol and bad eating habits to get over his failure to stop Thanos in Wakanda. In addition to enjoying a few too many beers, Thor also enjoys playing Fortnite, the online video game, with his good buddies Korg and Miek. Interesting way to process his perceived failure to stop the Mad Titan. If he's been playing Fortnite for five years, we've got to assume that he's probably not bad at it.
5. No mention of X-Men: Days of Future Past
As the Avengers prepare to test their quantum-based time travel technology, a number of characters discuss the implications and rules of time travel. James Rhodes and Scott Lang list a whole bunch of time travel films such as Hot Tub Time Machine, Terminator, Wrinkle in Time, and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. However, there's no mention of the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past, in which time travel plays a key role. Of course X-Men: Days of Future Past was produced 20th Century Fox and is not associated with the MCU. But it would have been cool if they had mentioned the X-Men film in the list. On the other hand, it's likely that the X-Men will become part of the MCU in the near future following the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney.
Within the MCU there must surely be superhero films. Perhaps the adventures of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Nastasha Romanoff, and Thor have been made into films within the MCU. This was almost revealed in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. In Marvel Comics, Simon Williams (better known as Wonder Man) is a retired superhero-turned actor. The actor Nathan Fillion (of Castle fame) had been cast as Simon Williams and was supposed to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 on a number of film posters, one of which was for a film entitled "Tony Stark". Perhaps in the future we will see Wonder Man make an appearance in the MCU, either as a famous actor or as a superhero.
And that's it, the first five quirky lessons or observations from Avengers: Endgame. Stay tuned for more!
Always think super!
It's just over two weeks since the release of Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and the impact of the film has been extraordinary. To date I've seen the film FIVE (5) times, and I plan to see the film a couple of more times before it leaves cinemas. Four too many times for some, but for someone like me it's only the beginning.
I'm more than aware that some people have yet to see the film, which is now the 2nd highest grossing film of all time, so there won't be any spoilers here from me. I just couldn't ruin the film for anyone who is waiting for the hype to die down and the theatres to be half empty before they decide to go watch the 182 minute superhero extravaganza.
All I'll say right now is that the film is fun, exciting, emotional, and there are scenes that will leave you speechless. Of course, like most films these days, there are some things that could have been better, but for me they are minor. To others, these issues are major. In one or two weeks I'll write a more extensive blog on the film.
In the build-up to the release of the film, my work on superheroes was featured in a number of publications in the Netherlands. First up my work was featured in an article in New Scientist, in part promoting a talk that I gave as part of the Imagine Film Festival on April 14th. Next, my work was featured in an article written by Nick Kivits for Dutch Men's Health magazine. I've got to say that was very very cool! Finally, Coen van Zwol featured my work in an article with the NRC newspaper.
It's always great to see articles about my work reach the national press. It's another thing to see my superhero research make an impact. Of course I cannot take credit for all of the work as I've had the opportunity to work with some inspiring students and researchers at TU Delft and further afield.
I promise an in-depth blog about Avengers: Endgame in the near future. But unlike other publications online, this article is spoiler free.
March 14th 2019 was a great day in the world of superheroes.
First, BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science Episode I took place at TU Delft with the theme for the first episode being impenetrable materials. Jalila Essaïdi of BioArt Laboratories, and Max Wouters, Leyi Hsu, and Jeannet Liang of TU Delft spoke about their exploration of spider silk for impenetrable materials and for healthcare. Over the last two days I have recorded some great podcast interviews with the speakers. You'll be able to listen to this podcast very soon!
The second great thing about March 14th 2019 was that the second trailer for Avengers: Endgame was released online. Avengers: Endgame is out in April 2019 and I for one cannot wait to see the film. As with all superhero trailers, I like to analyse the films and try to anticipate what we might see in the film. As a special bonus podcast episode of BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science, I've put together my ideas on what the trailer might reveal for the upcoming film.
You can listen to the trailer on BW Science right now.
I hope you enjoy the podcast!
Later this week, I'll be hosting the first of four interactive talks at the Aula Auditorium on the TU Delft campus. The talk series is entitled "BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science" and it combines two things that I've very passionate about - superheroes and science!
In conjunction with the talk series I've also just started my first podcast and the first episodes are online now. The first podcast acts as an introduction to "BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science" while the second podcast is a preview of what to expect at the first talk event, which takes place on March 14th from 19.30 - 21.00 at TU Delft.
Have a listen if you get a chance and let me know what you think. You can listen here on this website or by clicking here and listening on Castos, the hosting site. Stay tuned for details on how to get the podcast on iTunes too.
More episodes to come over the coming weeks!
Exciting superhero-themed news!
I'm delighted to announce that in collaboration with Studium Generale (SG) Delft, I am arranging a brand new series of talks at TU Delft entitled BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science.
BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science consists of four events that will take place at the Aula Auditorium on the TU Delft campus. The talk series combines binge-watch culture, the superhero genre, and current scientific research that is taking place at TU Delft and other research institutes around the Netherlands. Each talk series will focus on a particular superhero or superheroes that have appeared in Netflix series and consider how their powers might come to be and how these powers could benefit society.
For these talks, I'm going to be the MC and can't wait for you see our exciting program! And for the first event in the series I'll get a chance to talk a little bit more about my work on impenetrable materials.
Further details on BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science are available at the SG Delft website.
And stay tuned for further announcements on the podcast series that will accompany BingeWatch Academy: Superhero Science!
It's been a while since I blogged due to a very busy travel schedule over the last few months as well as a lot of work-related tasks that needed to get done.
Perhaps the best way to reboot the blog for 2019 is highlight an upcoming talk that I'll be giving in Amsterdam as part of the Imagine Film Festival. Yes, on Sunday April 14th 2019, I'll be speaking at the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam. With so many superhero films due out over the coming weeks and months, it's an exciting time to be a superhero fan, in particular one who dreams about having superpowers. For the Imagine Film Festival I'll be covering many superpowers, superheroes, and a whole lot more.
You can check out my interview about my talk right here. Hope to see you in Amsterdam at the Imagine Film Festival.
After a heatwave that never seemed like it would or want to end, autumn is on the way with falling leaves and torrential showers forecast. Well that's what I'm expecting in the Netherlands in any case. The impending arrival of autumn also signals a busy few months ahead with events in the Netherlands, China, the UK, and Ireland on the horizon. Travelling the world with my superhero message.
First up is the Opening of the Academic Year (OAY) at TU Delft on Monday September 3rd. Each year, the OAY is a significant event in TU Delft's calendar as the latest batch of undergraduate students are saluted as they set forth on the next stage of their education adventure. The theme for this year's OAY is superheroes with the event entitled "Unchain Your Inner Superhero". For the event I'll be the keynote speaker during which I'll talk about the Secrets of Superhero Science and the lessons that the new students can learn from superheroes. Thereafter, two TU Delft researchers will speak about their research and why it is so important for the superheroes and a possible superpower future. At the end of the event there'll be a superhero-themed quiz with the audience answering the questions. Stay tuned for a blog on the event next week.
I've also got some very exciting news in relation to another scientific publication on superheroes. Stay tuned for the announcement over the coming weeks. And of course my open access journal "Superhero Science and Technology" will be publishing some more exciting superhero-themed papers in the autumn.
Lots of super-events and super-output ahead.
At this very moment in time, I am sitting in my hotel in Seattle about to set out and explore the city. I arrived here yesterday afternoon after a two-day roadtrip from San Francisco via the beautiful coast of the state of Oregon. In the middle of my roadtrip the latest trailer for Avengers: Infinity War was released to much fanfare and appraisal. While some contend that too much has been revealed in the trailer, most people have been invigorated with enthusiasm for the upcoming film release.
Avengers: Infinity War will pit the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Ant-Man (I hope) against the mad titan Thanos, who is hellbent on acquiring the Infinity stones so that he may "balance the universe". To balance the universe he intends to wipe out half of all the inhabitants of the universe, which means half of planet Earth.
The trailer reveals a lot, including the last stand of the Avengers in Wakanda. In addition there is a nod towards potential deaths in the trailer, with Iron Man and Captain America both in one-on-one combat with Thanos near the end of the trailer.
However, both Ant-Man and Hawkeye are notably missing from the trailer. I have feeling that this is intentional. If not, then they play no major part in the film, which is a shame considering they are two great characters.
Nonetheless, Avengers: Infinity War is sure to be a big hit when it is released next month. The posters and the billboards are making their appearances in the US already and the excitement over the film is climbing towards fever pitch.
I plan to write further on Infinity War over the coming weeks, so stayed tuned for further thoughts and blog posts.
It's been a while since I added to post to the site. Sorry for the delay, it's been a hectic start to 2018.
This year will see a number of superhero films released starting with next week's Black Panther film. I've got my ticket, have you?
Already this year I've spoken at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) and opened Saxion's International Project Week in Enschede. The combined audience number from the two events was more 1,200 people, which is incredible.
Next up I'm off to the US to speak about superheroes (and my current research at TU Delft) at the American Physical Society (APS) meeting in LA in March. And after that I'm really looking forward to speaking at the Mountain to Sea Book Festival in Dublin on March 23rd and March 25th.
Finally this year has started out incredibly in terms of my academic and superhero research. I had a paper published with regards to Hawkeye from the Avengers in Advances in Physiology Education. You can check out the paper here. I'll write more about this article soon.
And yes. Thanos is coming. More soon
This morning I was up bright and early. Just before 7 am. Due to my incredibly busy schedule it was the only time that I could grab a quick run. As I ran around Waterford City with the sunrise approaching, the reflected of light of Venus was obvious just above the cloudless horizon, reminding the early morning commuters and runners/walkers that it still existed.
As I ran out of People's Park I reflected on the past week. A week of 29 talks and more than 1,750 km driven on the roads of Ireland. It's been a superhero-powered rollercoaster. Ranging from talks in Limerick to speaking on the stage at the Iontas Theatre in Castleblayney in Co. Monaghan where Christy Moore will perform over the coming days, it has been a memorable adventure. Superheroes and superpowers have been the centre of attention but the real superheroes and superstars have been the audiences - they make it all worth while.
For example, this morning I gave superhero talks in Dungarvan Co. Waterford. My first talk was to a an-girl 5th class group (10 and 11 years old) from a primary school. Their positivity and interest in science and superheroes was fantastic and hopefully some of the students will consider a career in STEM subjects in the future. One or two of the students were exceptional with some of them coming up with very creative ways of creating superpowers and even managing superpowers in the future. There may be no need for the Sokovia Accords from Captain America: Civil War in the real world thanks to the ideas of these students.
The superhero talks continue over the coming days. Tomorrow I'm in Edgeworthstown to speak at the Midlands Science Festival and next week I'm back in Dublin for more talks. My adventure finishes next week with a talk in Co. Clare.
It's so refreshing to meet so many people that are passionate about science, superheroes and the STEM subjects. Fingers crossed that some will be inspired to follow a science or engineering career after seeing some of the workshops this week.