At long last, the one you’ve (okay, we’ve) (okay, Nick’s) been waiting for – Avengers: Infinity War!

But first, it’s an instructive double-bill of other recommendations: Nick’s read Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and Alastair’s seen new Gaiman adaptation movie How To Talk To Girls At Parties.

And then, at long last, the main event – Avengers: Infinity War with full spoilers! (8:06) Can it ever live up to the sheer length of the cast list?

Not to mention our related point: How standalone must a film be to count as a real film? (28:16)

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It’s oh-so-still this fortnight, as Nick and Alastair cover A Quiet Place, the hit horror film in which nobody can hear you scream, because you can’t even speak.

But first, Alastair’s been watching The City & The City, the new BBC adaptation of a China Mieville book, while Nick’s seem the first episode of his beloved surreal superhero show Legion.

(And yes, the original plan was to cover Legion as this fortnight’s main review, but it turns out, that too was surreal misdirection.)

And then it’s time to review A Quiet Place (7:02), with moderate plot discussion throughout and a few (carefully labelled) hardcore ending spoilers from 22:13.

Until 28:23, where this fortnight’s question is asked: How much do plot nitpicks really matter?

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This fortnight, Alastair hits one of his most anticipated  releases of the year: Wes Anderson’s new cinematic canine cartoon Isle of Dogs!

Alongside that, in the brief intro, he’s also seen hot new Netflix scifi epic Annihilation, whereas Nick is the one person on Earth still watching Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.

And then it’s time for the dog show, as Alastair talks about how Isle of Dogs (9:15) fits into the Wes Anderson canon and Nick (who’s never seen a Wes Anderson film) also saw it and had thoughts.

And then Team MFV dive back into our childhoods, with this week’s big, broad question: Can any new talking animal film ever compare to The Jungle Book? (23:20) Or, really, whatever your favourite big nostalgic animated classic is.

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Marvel and Netflix have collaborated on 7 series now based on comic characters owned by Marvel. Some have been great. Others not so much. Below I list my least favourite to my favourite.

Iron Fist series 1

As it’s been established that I don’t like the Hand, I will use this space to focus on what else I didn’t like about Iron Fist. The plot lacked tension, Finn Jones lacked charisma as Danny Rand and the whole thing left me thinking “what’s the point?” Iron Fist himself isn’t an interesting character and this didn’t add much to the Marvel Netflix shared superhero universe. Hopefully at least they will have learned from the mistakes this series made when the second one comes out.

Defenders series 1

The Hand, a group of ancient ninjas with seemly inexhaustible numbers that the police and government are unaware of, are not a villain that work for me. They don’t have anything to say, any explanation usually falls back on fantasy clichés and pushes the level of believability beyond what I can accept. So an entire series focusing on them, their workings and some bizarre plot involving turning a woman into “The Black Sky” – I’m still not sure why – isn’t particularly appealing to me. What I did like about this show was how it weaved together the plots of the individual shows. It was good to see Jessica Jones and Luke Cage again and Sigourney Weaver was very good as the principal villain, but the rest of the show left me cold.

Daredevil series 2

The second series of Daredevil started well with the introduction of the Punisher and an exploration of the morality of vigilantism as Daredevil attempts to take him down. The middle of the show, focusing on the trial of the Punisher and the return of Matt Murdock’s ex-girlfriend Elektra, was very average and lacked tension. The end, in which Daredevil fights an inexplicable army of ninjas, became a mash of empty spectacle and mystical claptrap. If the series had kept up the momentum it showed earlier then it might be further up the list, however it did not.

Daredevil series 1

This show restored my faith in Daredevil after the disappointing Ben Affleck film adaptation. In this show, Daredevil goes up against crime lord Wilson Fisk, who is profiting from the rebuilding of New York after it was devastated in Avengers Assemble. Fisk is a complex villain and the addition of a romance plot focusing on Fisk was interestingly different. Beyond this, Daredevil did not have a lot to say, but it was at least entertaining.

The Punisher series 1

The Punisher first appeared in the second series of Daredevil, but was then given his own show a year later. In this series, he takes revenge against corrupt army officers with his signature style of gun-based vigilante justice. This series has what can only described as unflinchingly intense violence. The Punisher is an interesting character, but I would have liked the show to explore the morality of being a vigilante more than it does.

Luke Cage series 1

Luke Cage is another show whose strength is having something to say. Luke Cage is a bulletproof black man who is a hero to his community in Harlem, New York, but is feared by the police and gang bosses. Like Jessica Jones, another strength of the show is that it has an excellent villain, in the form of Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth. The show also has an excellent soundtrack, lots of interesting literary references and is beautifully shot. The quality unfortunately dips in the second half of the series, which is why it has missed out on the top spot.

Jessica Jones series 1

When Jessica Jones first debuted on Netflix, everyone was talking about it. It dominated my Twitter feed and offline conversations. The opening episode was intriguing and built to a shocking conclusion. The rest of the series lived up to the promise of the opening episode. What made this series so good was not just that it was well plotted and Krysten Ritter was excellent in the title role, but this show had something to say about how charming men can be abusers. The villain, Killgrave, played by an uncannily creepy David Tennant, is a picture of charm and malevolence. As Jessica comes to term with Killgrave’s abuse, the audience get a window into the life of an abuse survivor.

That’s my thoughts on the Marvel Netflix superhero shows so far. The second series of Jessica Jones has just come out and you can find out what I thought of that by listening to the latest episode of the Moderate Fantasy Violence podcast below:

In a highly anticipated episode (by Nick and Alastair anyway), they review season two of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, the hard-boiled super-powered noir Netflix show starring Krysten Ritter.

But first, Alastair has seen Hamilton and would like you to believe he’s mentioning it for reasons other than gloating. (As ever, Nick writes these notes.) The author himself, meanwhile, has been listening to the Buffering the Vampire Slayer podcast.

That done, they move on to Jessica Jones season 2 (10:31) with full spoilers after a quick early summary, throwing up a lot of questions about what the writers are trying to achieve, how much they succeed in any of it and whether it’s finally time for them to just take Nick’s oft-repeated suggestion and make the damn seasons shorter.

That done, Nick and Alastair investigate this week’s somewhat-related question: what makes a good difficult second album? (28:53) In which Nick refers to Heroes as a “recent” TV show and has now realised he is old.

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Now that the first season of Star Trek: Discovery is over, Nick and Alastair check back in to see how the much-hyped scifi comeback maintained its dead serious premium tones.

But first, Nick’s relived the raw excitement of his teenage years with The End of the F***ing World on Netflix, while Alastair continues ticking off the Oscar movies with I, Tonya. (Which, predictably, leads to a few minutes of more general Oscar post-game chat.)

After which, time to launch at warp speed into Star Trek: Discovery (9:55), with spoilers all the way to the very last shot of the finale. How have things changed since Nick and Alastair last flew with them in MFV #48?

And finally, in a very uncontroversial and unloaded discussion, inspired by one specific line from Discovery, they ask: How subtle should allusions to real life politics in sci-fi/fantasy be? (28:49)

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It’s an Oscarbait special this week, as we dive into heavily award-nominated woman/fishman romance extravaganza The Shape of Water!

But first, Alastair’s investigating new BBC detective series Collateral, while Nick takes a pounding from superhero-bashing military thriller comic The Boys.

And then we go splashing in the waters of Sally Hawkins and the fish monster’s enchanting love with our review of The Shape of Water. (9:36)

And lastly, since this fantasy-horror-romance has been nominated for so many Oscars, does this mean their snubbing of genre movies is finally over? In short: when will Spider-Man finally win an Oscar? (24:34)

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Time for Team MFV to kick off this year’s big superhero films with the ground-breaking, widely acclaimed Black Panther from Marvel!

But first, a brief chat about the TV they’ve seen lately, both old (Nick’s back on Battlestar Galactica) and new (Alastair’s seen Derry Girls).

Then the boys dive into the world of Wakanda with Marvel’s Black Panther (10:14), looking at the new angles it opens up, where it succeeds and fails and anything else they can think of.

Then, since it’s the first superfilm of the new year, seems a good time to ask: what should superhero movies be in 2018? (28:38) Clue: the answer is not “whiter, straighter and maler”.

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Dystopian science fiction stories have always been popular, but they seem to be in demand now more than ever. George Orwell’s 1984 became a bestseller, again, following an explosion of interest in post-truth after the election of Donald Trump. From Black Mirror to Blade Runner 2049, we can’t get enough of dystopian sci-fi, so why are we so obsessed with how the future can go wrong?

Dystopian sci-fi conjures up societies that are undesirable or frightening. Corrupted visions of our own future. However, they usually say more about the time they were written in than what the future will be like.

Orwell was worried about Stalinism and how it was poised to spread across Europe after WW2, sweeping away the democratic socialist movement that Orwell was a champion of. Any accurate predictions made about listening devices and CCTV are an unhappy byproduct of this.

Does the sudden demand for Orwell’s novel indicate that we’re worried about the rise of an authoritarian state? The popularity of last year’s TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale indicates that there is concern about how an oppressive dystopian society would treat those it sought most to control. Are we all bracing ourselves for the horror to come?

Popular culture is full of examples of authoritarian future states that bear a striking resemblance to 1984. There’s Terry Gillingham’s Brazil, in which correcting a bureaucratic error in the mechanisms of the state’s tyranny leads to Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) becoming a victim of the authoritarian state. There’s The Hunger Games where the elites in the Capitol force the oppressed to sacrifice their children for their amusement. A feature of these dystopias is that ordinary citizens are constant witness to (and likely victims of) horrific acts of violence.

Our fears don’t just take the form of authoritarian states abusing their citizens. There are plenty of sci-fi dystopias where all of society has collapsed. These are grim visions of a future were humans eke out a miserable existence. The Road, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, is an example of this. As are The Book of Eli, Twelve Monkeys, Francesca Haig’s novel The Fire Sermon and Ram V & Dev Pramanik’s new comic Paradiso.

With sea levels rising, the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere getting to alarming levels and frequent outbursts of bellicose rhetoric from Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, it’s no wonder that people are more worried about the complete end of human civilization than ever.

Of course, society doesn’t have to completely collapse for a dystopia to be filled with humans eking out a perilous and depressing existence, nor does there have to be an authoritarian state. There are plenty of sci-fi futures where we are ground down by mercilessly oppressive private companies.

Ridley Scott’s rain-soaked, bleak vision of … er … next year comes to mind. The original Blade Runner is a society built on slavery, ruled by corporations, where the law is enforced with unflinching brutality. Warren Ellis’s comic Transmetropolitan is another example.

All of these dystopian futures are grim, but they remain consistently popular because there is something comforting about them. There is comfort in a future, however grim, when the terrible things that happen are for a reason. If bad things happen to you, because you live in a dystopian society, that is more comforting than bad things happening to people at random and for no reason, as they tend to do in our world.

These depressing visions of tomorrow do offer some guarantee of safety and stability for the people who embrace them. Dystopias like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World seem quite appealing if you can just conform to their very rigid view of a hierarchical society and accept that nothing will ever change.

Being a battery inside The Matrix would be nice, unless someone yanked you out and made you eat gruel while a mad revolutionary ranted at you about destiny. Would you mind not having emotions if you lived in Equilibrium? Minding is an emotion, and you wouldn’t have that if you lived there so I guess you wouldn’t mind.

The most comforting part of dystopian science fiction is that it is just that, fiction. Dystopias remain popular because they allow us to explore our worst fears about the present and how they will play out in the future. Not only are they warnings about what is going wrong, but they offer us hope that humans will survive even the worst oppression that the future can throw at us.

Give all these reasons, I can see why we love creating and reading dystopian stories. I can imagine they will be popular until we stop worrying about the present or the future. This poses a new question: which dystopian future is the scariest? Nick and I discuss that question in the podcast below:


This fortnight, it’s time for Nick and Alastair to journey way down into the dark heart of the scifi dystopia, with Image’s new comic series Paradiso, written by Ram V and drawn by Dev Pramanik.

But first, as ever, some brief cuts – both hosts have seen Oscar-tipped black comedy-drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Nick’s also started reading Roman history hit SPQR by Mary Beard as part of his whole non-fiction thing.

Then, finally, time to look at the first two issues of Paradiso (7:01) and talk about how it both leans into and rises above various tropes for a hellish fictional future.

Lastly, this week’s related question risks going even grimmer than our Ragnarok episode, as we ask: Which scifi dystopia would you least like to live in? (19:30)

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