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The Eternals was a dense and confounding cosmic saga that many considered too far-out even by Jack Kirby standards, and whose most well-known Marvel Universe connections like the Celestials and Thanos (long story) other MCU movies have already borrowed. Shang-Chi had a martial arts comic whose main gimmick (the presence of iconic pulp villain Dr. Fu Manchu) the movie can’t use — and whose replacement, the Mandarin, is a problematic fixture who was already a punchline in Iron Man 3. So why are these two franchises at the forefront of Phase 4? Bob Chipman thinks he knows… and it has something to do with which magic tokens the heroes will hunt for this time around.

This is The Big Picture, talking MCU speculation and the “next” Infinity Stones.

Bob Chipman
Bob Chipman is a critic and author.

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    55 Comments

    1. So It’s Come To This: A MovieBob Clipshow

      1. Or How To Break YouTube’s Arcane Rules As Much As Possible.

    2. Some may call this “chasing the algorithm”. For Bob, its “doing what you must to pay the bills”.

      Not that I’m complaining. Anytime we can do more COMICS ARE WEIRD episodes is a good thing in my book.

      1. Anyone else concerned Bob’s idea of “The Big Picture” revolves entirely around comic book movies these days?!

        Is this your “bread and circuses” of choice?

        1. Don’t worry. October is coming.

      2. Bob loves doing these.

    3. They can use Fu Manchu if they call him The Yellow/Golden Claw because copyrights are weird. (But I’d rather they saved that for an Agents of Atlas movie. Please give me an Agents of Atlas Movie.)

      1. Or a Disney+ series. Make it the successor to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

      2. I see you Golden Claw and raise you a Michael Chiklis as Ken Hale, Gorilla-Man!

    4. Tony Leung Chiu-wai as The Mandarin is some “How do we redeem this character?” Level casting. Shang Chi is gonna be amazing

      1. I still wish it was Donnie Yen.

        1. Why Donnie doesn’t need it.

    5. That is what we call a “damn good call” along with your Wanda video from a few weeks ago.

    6. Oof. That 90’s Iron Man cartoon, and come to think of it every Marvel ‘toon from that decade. did NOT age well.
      I like to think of Shang-Chi’s other subtitle as “Here’s an actual Asian superhero who uses martial arts, now will you lay off us about Iron Fist already?!”
      It’s been my theory that the Ten Rings terrorist group was/is a branch of HYDRA, to connect it to what Arnim Zola said they’ve been up to in the decades since WWII in “Winter Soldier”. Which, IMO, is the truly superior twist of the MCU.

      1. They tend to tie too many evil groups together.
        I would prefer that Hydra, the Ten Rings, AIM, and the Hand are all distinct evil groups rather than the tentacles of one. If anything we need more evil goon hordes, cults, syndicates, cabals, and political parties.
        Variety is the spice of life.

        1. I’m going by the comics with my theory, since HYDRA, AIM, and The Hand would frequently team up to fight S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Avengers. Or sometimes Wolverine and the X-Men if they’re bored.

          1. Even in real life where one organization primarily defined by their criminality and defiance of norms ends and begins can be hella flakey

            Or just a matter of ease for taxonomy to write a damn report on!

            I’m sure they’re all interrelated they are all working the same racket, in the same market, and likely need to intercooperate.

            1. This is even true currently. House of X is all about all the Marvel terrorist organizations pooling their resources to take out the X-Men by building a Mother Mold sentinel, a precursor to Nimrod.

      2. IMO X-Men has corny moments, but overall has aged really well and is actually even more revelevant today. Don’t believe me, take a look at some of the “Friends of the Humanity” episodes of season 2.

    7. Semi-off-topic: Bob, if your topic needs more than five minutes, then give it more than five minutes. Disk space is cheap.

      1. I much prefer the longer videos. Giving a topic that needs it more space to breathe is only a good thing, and topics that need that extra space tend to be more interesting than ones that don’t.

      2. He goes on at length in his own stuff on his own channel, and does twenty minute or hour long videos consistently. Escapist has a pretty firm 5-6 minute time limit for whatever reason, going back to the olde days of youtube. Same reason Yahtzee speeds up all his videos and gets them in under five minutes, and Cinemasins videos were 3 minutes long at the start.

        Youtube had stricter time limits back in the day, and I assume the reason for keeping it short now is intended to hold attention spans and be more easily spread. Casual audience will watch a five minute video from a content creator they’ve never seen and share it, but not so much a 30 minute one..

    8. The Mandarin is so easy to do now just have him be the power behind Xi Jinping he’s done enough to be seen as a bad guy by everybody not a bad guy.

      1. They need these films to make money in China.

        1. China could become off limits with the Hong Kong situation so best to treat it as nice but not essential going forward.

      2. TBF, I always found the ‘too racist’ or “cheeky mock the insulting yellow peril villain” statement unnecessary

        Break the character of Mandarin down to his essentials

        He’s disillusioned/disappionted true believer soldier who
        Gets lost in the mountains and
        finds a dragon, which might be an alien
        who guards ten magic rings
        which might be sufficiently advanced clarktech
        driven to retake the world for the Middle kingdom driven by these recent oppurtunities
        and often styles or presents a larger than life and deeper ancestral image

        To say this cannot be RELEVANt the way early MCU Tony Stark was with Weapons Man for Afghanistan etc etc was always chickenshit

        Moreso with implying “Osama was like… totally hoax man”

    9. Since you don’t want to broach the question of “Who are the Eternals” right now, maybe you can make a video highlighting a reference you made here and ask the question “What the heck are the New Gods?”

      1. We are way overdue for an exploration of Jack “The King” Kirby on The Big Picture.

    10. Another MCU video? Ugh. I realize they are easier to research and give a steady viewership but on a personal level I’m getting sick of them.

      1. Last one for a bit. Dark Crystal is up next.

        1. Hmmmm……?!?!?!?

      2. It’s okay Schlocktober is upon us

    11. Oh good God I hope not.

      I am still hoping Phase 4 ushers in an era of just telling stories and not worrying about some grand overarching plot.

      That said, fun video that taught me more than I knew before.

      1. Eh, Its pointless to make it a universe if there isn’t a direction for things to go. Moreover more defining the cosmic scene and letting them have excuse plot/villains/characters to create/make all the weird stuff in the MCU might be worth it.

        1. I’m not saying they shouldn’t ever reference each other or even lead into one another.
          But to begin 10 years of “Let’s hunt the McGuffins down, only now there’s 10 not 6” again feels creatively lacking.

    12. Don’t you diss the 90’s Iron Man cartoon. That was friggin awesome.

      1. Don’t know if he was dissing it as much as he was…ok, probably some dissing, but also doing his “You really have to see this” thing.

      2. Gawd that opening gettings me excited every time

    13. You know its okay to like and be enthusiastic about something geeky on this website bob. You aren’t addressing the UN or the local community college in a cultural symposium, loosen up

    14. The 90’s Iron Man looks gloriously cheestastic and I wanted injected into my veins.

    15. “Mandarin” for those who don’t know is a term stemming from Spanish Jesuits sent to China from the 1500s onward and used to refer to Chinese government officials, which operated quite differently than their European counterparts. In Europe there were various noble houses with their lands and similar where the ruling Patriarch got to be The Duke of This Place or The Baron of Whatever. In China instead government offices were not hereditary. Once a year in China there was a big event where people would go to a city, get locked into a cubical for a few days and write essays on Confucian Moral Philosphy. The guy who wrote the best essays out of 500 or so would be approved and would become what modern historians would call a Scholar Bureaucrat with a post in a vast centralized Civil Service that ran the Empire.

      “Mandarin” basically means “Senior Civil Servant”.

      1. British senior civil servants are often referred to as Mandarins for this reason.

      2. Truly a name to strike fear across all of asia

        1. “Bureaucrat” is a name that strikes fear across the U.S. too.

    16. In my opinion there’s no such thing as too many Big Pictures about the MCU.

    17. I like the idea of the 10 rings being the 10 eternals in some dormant form. We already got pym particles that can slow time down. So you shrink the Eternals down and put them in these status gems and there you go.

      ETA MST3K did “Castle of Fu Manchu” with Crow doing a rant against casting white actors in Asian roles. It was a segment before its time.

    18. Love the ATHF reference.

      Keep making these Comics Are Weird Speculative posts. I didn’t really read comics when I was a kid (aside from manga), so I have no idea about any of this stuff.

    19. I think The Eternals may not be what we think it is. They have already done the whole “Ancient Aliens mucking with humanity” in the form of the Inhumans (even though that didn’t go over well), so I don’t know if they will do the same thing again. Also the whole Eternal/Deviant-split (good=beautiful/evil=ugly) is a bit problematic. I think they will go the Guardians-route (the first GotG-movie redefined the team from “space cops” to “lovable rogues reluctantly doing the right thing”) and redefine what the Eternals actually are.

      Clues:
      – the movie, according to Feige, “is going to span ten-thousands of years”: not “being set in the past”, not “have an opening sequence in the past” (like the first Thor movie), *span* ten-thousands of years, as in “the action happens with several thousand year intervals”. How do you do that? Simple: time-travel. Endgame introduced the concept, now they are going to develop it. I think the Eternals are going to be a kind of “Timekeeper”-like operation traveling across history to protect the past.

      – Black Knight (Kit Harrington): What is he doing in this movie? How is he connected to the Eternals? Sure, he had a storyline with Sersi in the comics, but that storyline could only happen because they already were part of the Avengers together. It doesn’t work if they are meeting for the first time in the movie and explaining the mystical properties of his powers and how it relates to his ancestors doesn’t really seem to connect with the already explanation-heavy story about space gods… but if the movie involves time-travel you can actually work those ancestors into the story and show instead of tell. Heck, I wouldn’t even be surprised if Marvel lied to us again (they did so with the Mandarin in IM3, remember) and Harrington is not actually playing Dane Whitman, but his ancestor (Sir Percy, a knight during Arthurian times) who stumbles into the time-traveling Eternals, somehow joins up with them and later gets powered.

      – No villain, yet: strange that Marvel isn’t talking about who the Eternals are fighting against. Maybe they don’t want fans to speculate about it, because the villain is not who we think he is? I think we are going to see a villain, but not a really prominent one (probably along Marvels line of disposable villains, like Caduceus in Doctor Strange), but the movie will set up a villain for Phase 5: Kang the Conquerer.

      1. In GotG 1 the Collector showed what looked like an Enteral destroying a planet with one of the Infinity Stones, and I’m not sure but I seem to recall someone referring to Ego (maybe it was Ego himself) as an Enteral. Although I THINK that might have been Ego himself saying that in a different context.

        I would love to see the Squadron Supreme (or their evil counter-parts the Squadron Sinister) to show up and fight the Avengers. Given the Squadron is basically Marvel’s version of the Justice League.

        1. They referred to both Ego and the being destroying the planet as a Celestial, not an Eternal.

    20. I watched the 90s Ironman cartoons sporadically. The 90s Fantastic Four cartoons I watched religiously.

    21. At around the 2:15 mark, you mention that Thanos is an Inhuman. I think you meant “Eternal” (which is reasonably clear from the context). Not a big deal, but might want to fix that at some point.

    22. hell yeaaah, Iron Man the cartoon had the most “go out and kick ass” theme song

    23. I guess I’m not in on the joke. Almost every piece of footage and/or print media in this video is awful.

    24. You know, that’s a very good idea and I would love to see that play out. Also, I just love all the “comics are weird” episodes. Since you’re doing 2 big pictures a week, one could be always about comics, specially wierd stuff like Eternals, new gods and etc, and it would just fine by me

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