Best Marvel Movie Moments – Phase 1

After watching Guardians 3 a couple of weeks ago (I’m only a little behind the times), it got me to thinking more about the Marvel Cinematic Universe again… and more specifically those moments within the movies where I will rewatch the scenes over and over because they are so good.

Phase 1

I Am Iron Man – Iron Man 1

We can start with the biggest moment within all the movies, which is Tony Stark admitting that he’s the one in the suit. Supposedily this line was ad-libbed as the writers had planned to go with the Body Guard story. What’s interesting about this is that for so much of Iron Man’s career, that was the cover story within the comics. Iron Man was simply a hired body guard… who also happened to be in the Avengers…

Which never made a ton of sense other than the “it’s a comic book, what do you want?”

So many heroes over the years have this secret ID to protect their loved ones, but with Stark it felt a little more odd since he could legitimately protect those people with the weaponry and technology he invented.

With that one moment though, the movies told us that this was going to be a little bit of a different take on the character… and what is even more amusing, I feel like the comic version has pretty much adopted a form of the Robert Downey Jr. version.

Art imitating Art?

Cap jumps on the grenade – Captain America – The First Avenger

What’s the best way to show the deep down parts of someone? What happens when you put someone in a life or death situation. With one moment, we can see who Steve Rogers is. We can see why he is deserving of the power he eventually possesses. And we can see that he is someone to inspire others around him because he’s willing to make the sacrifice if that’s what is needed.

Avengers Assemble

Black Widow Interrogation – Avengers

Black Widow has a ton of great moments in the film, but the key one is the very first one. We find Natasha being interrogated by Russian Mob. And the old thoughts from a thousand movies begin to work their way into our brain: how is she ever going to get out of this mess?

Instead, we see very quickly she was always in control. Much like with Captain America in the grenade scene, this one tells us so much about the character, why she is so trusted by Nick Fury and SHIELD, and that her connection with Hawkeye is extremely important (and personal).

Punny God – Avengers

The Hulk slamming Loki against the floor over and over again.

What more do you need?

The funny thing about the actual line “Puny god” was that I didn’t hear it on my viewing in the theater. Nothing could be heard over the laughter and cheering. It was only after I sat down to rewatch the movie at home and got to experience the full scene. Which made it go from good to great.

The Team is Assembled – Avengers

This is not only the culmination of Phase 1 with all the characters striking their hero poses and truly becoming Earth’s Mightest Heroes. However, for me it was something I wouldn’t have ever dreamed would have worked. It shouldn’t have. Putting those characters on the screen and having it make sense. To have the other lead in movies manage to do well enough that it could propel us to this movie. That should have been impossible.

My inner 12 year old was/is glad that wasn’t the case.


Of course, there are a ton more, but these were the first ones to come to mind.


John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

Marvel Phase 4 – Just What is Going On Part 2


Part 1 can be found here.

I wasn’t thinking about doing a part two to my post last week on the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4. In fact, I pretty much had said my piece about it. But something hit me as odd the other day, so I figured I would dive into it a little bit more.

So up until Phase 4, all our storytelling was done on the big screen. Well, that’s not entirely correct. We had the Netflix shows which clearly were in the same world (they even mention the Incident or something like that when refering to the events of the Avengers movie). And then there was Agents of SHIELD which took a movie character, Agent Colston, and built a story around him and his team at SHIELD. That one didn’t really influence much (if anything) in the movies, but it did have to react to the big moments in some of the films (with one of the biggest reflecting HYDRA’s infiltration of SHIELD, which the tv show dealt with much of the fallout from Winter Soldier).

Oh, and Agent Carter, which tied into the Captain America movies as well as Black Widow.

Regardless, the movies played on one side and the tv shows were on another. The movies were the only thing to push the overall Infinity Stones story-arc forward.


It’s actually sad that there wasn’t a Marvel show set during the 5-years post SNAP. It seems like there might be a lot of stuff to mine from that era, and yet aside from a couple of flashbacks here or there, there isn’t much story being told about that time.


However, when you talk about Phase 4, you can’t ignore the tv shows. Or, at least, you likely can’t ignore them. Hawkeye is somewhat of a sequel to the Black Widow movie. Loki introduces Kang, who is our villain in Ant Man 3 and is the BIG BAD for the Phase 4 through 6 movies. Falcon and Winter Soldier sets up Sam Wilson as your new Captain America, leading straight into Captain America 4: New World Order. Even Ms. Marvel is going to be in the Captain Marvel sequel: Marvels.

Oh, and I nearly forgot about Scarlet Witch in WandaVision and then following up on her in Doctor Strange 2.

Ok, we get it. You need to watch the tv shows to get the full picture. So what?

Well, here’s the thing. If you are only focused on the cinema side of things, then you are going to miss out on not only the introduction of some (many) of the characters and storylines in the upcoming Phase 5 (and potentially Phase 6) movies, you are potentially not seing the bigger picture. It the multiverse storyline feels a bit hodgepodge to you, perhaps it is because you didn’t watch Loki (or What If?) where that is an extremely important portion of the overall story. In fact, it pretty much sets things in motion for the next phases of stories.

Put another way:

Phase 1 – 6 movies (2008 – 2012)

Phase 2 – 6 movies (2013 – 2015)

Phase 3 – 11 movies (2016 – 2019)

Phase 4 – 7 movies (2021-2022), 8 tv shows (2021-2022)

Phase 5 – 6 movies (2023-2024), 7 tv shows (2023-2024)

Phase 6 – 7 movies (2024-2026)

We’re used to getting about 6 movies ever two years. However, for Phase 4, we not only had 7 movies, but another 8 tv shows. Now there’s an arguement to be made that might be too much, but the other aspect is that if you are bitching you can’t see the BIG STORY from the Phase 4 movies, I’d argue you need to watch the tv shows as well. They have clearly been intended as a part of the BIG STORY.

To put it another way, it would be like reading the BIG EVENT Comic Book, without reading some of the key issues leading up to it. Sure, you can understand what is going on alright enough, but you might be missing out on some of the bigger context of how things connect.

It’s something Marvel hasn’t asked us do prior to this last two years either. Where before the tv shows were something that could be watched or not watched, these fall more in line with potentially KEY STORIES. Which the end result is to allow Marvel to tell their story over the course of 6 years rather than 12 years.


This isn’t to say you have to watch all the tv shows. I haven’t gotten to all of them, and I would argue that Moon Knight doesn’t really tie to anything else (as of yet). What If? is also one that is more for those paths not taken and could be skipped. But, for better or worse, Marvel has decided to make these shows a part of the narrative. To ignore them is to only get a portion of the story.


John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

Marvel Phase 4 – Just What is Going On

The third Ant-Man came out in theaters this past week, and due to family commitments I haven’t been able to venture over to the movie theater to see it. I have, for the most part, managed to stay Spoiler Free thus far (though it has only been out 6 days at this point, so I’m not going to pat myself on the back just yet). What I do know is this movie will launch the next Phase of the MCU (Phase 5), which is supposed to better bring into focus the direction for the future films and give movie-goers insight to exactly what the big story is going to be.

What’s odd is that for the last 2ish years, I’ve heard one of two refrains about Phase 4. The first is that is has no direction, no cohesiveness, and whatever the “Multiverse” aspect of things may or may not be, doesn’t feel like anything to excite people over.

The second is that other people love the idea that we got some stories that don’t push the BIG STORY so hard, and instead let the movies and characters feel a bit more self-contained (or one-shot, if you will). Which is something those people loved about the early phases of the MCU experiment.

From my perspective, though, this is no different than any other build up to a comic book crossover event. Just because some Events are more telegraphed than others, shouldn’t diminish them.

Way back when, there was a comic crossover called Infinity Gaunlet (might sound familiar). But the thing is, for a person collecting comics monthly, I didn’t necessarily know that some of my comic book reads were leading to that story. All I knew was Silver Surfer was dealing with this guy named Thanos who seemed to be up to no good. Thinking back on it, I don’t remember there being any Avengers issues or Spider-Man issues where the Infinity Gauntlet was a thing. Instead, Thanos popped up in a couple of comics, had a little 2-part mini series (Thanos Quest), and then we got the big crossover.

The thing about comics and the story-telling within is that they have to tell an ongoing story, month in and month out. Sometimes that means you might get long, multi-part storylines which last for years and other times you get a 20-22 page comic that tells a single story.

We also seem to have short term memories when it comes to how Marvel rolled out some of these early Phases.

Phase 1 was always leading up to the Avengers being formed… right?

In retrospect, it is very obvious that’s where the direction was heading. No, what Phase 1 had to do is introduce us to “new” characters.  Iron Man was a big risk. Thor was a big risk. Captain America was a big risk. The Hulk was a big risk (though he certainly had the most name recognition back in 2008, which is a weird thing to say 15 years later). Any big flub and we might not have gotten any of these movies.

They had to set the stage with characters we knew and liked. They even reused Loki from Thor so that we’d have a villain we understood in Avengers.

Phase 2 was leading up to Civil War, right? Again, the answer is a bit more complex. We had continuations of the Big 3 Avengers, we had a sequel to the Avengers movie in Age of Ultron, but we also had two of the quirkier MCU debuts during this time: Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. Phase 2 is the one that I see Phase 4 mirroring as much as anything else.

Phase 2 had 4 sequels and 2 brand new characters (or team in the Guardians case). Phase 4 has 4 sequels and 2 brand new characters (or team in the Eternals case). It also has the weird outlier/bridge prequel movie of Black Widow.

Guardians was definitely the big break-out of Phase 2, and I feel like Shang-Chi is likely that for Phase 4.

So I look at Phase 4 as trying to do a few things. Whether they succeeded in some or none of those things, I’m not always sure. I think they needed to wipe the slate clean in the aftermath of End Game. If they’d immediately jumped into the next big story, people wouldn’t have known how to handle it. We all needed to have a bit of space to reflect on the 20+ movies we’d seen. Phase 4 is trying to put some new characters out there while still being able to tell the continuing stories from our favorites. And, it needed to hint at the bigger picture, which the Multiverse is obviously tied into that.

My hope is that all of this will be very clear in a couple of years when Phase 6 is complete. At that point, we’ll look back at these movies and go – Oh, now I see what they were doing.

Just in time to start complaining about Phase 7 (and the X-Men?).


John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

Spider-Man: No Way Home Trailer Thoughts

I must admit… I watched the leaked version a few hours before the official release of the trailer. However, I’m not sorry. The version I saw actually had subtitles which helped me comprehend everything I was seeing a little better.

Anyway, in light of the trailer being released, I’ve noticed this thing that fandom loves to do is happening now with Spider-Man: everyone is playing guess the movie. They are picking apart things that don’t make a ton of sense in the trailer while relying on 2 minutes of randomish footage. In fact, I always find it is best to enter into watching trailers with an eye towards doing exactly that. I mean, how else are you possibly going to make up your mind about something coming out in December. Better to make a ton of snap judgments on this rather than wait to see the actual movie and then, if the inconsistencies which were hinted at in the trailer do manage to remain without a satisfying outcome – hey, feel free to rip it apart.

What’s strange about this phenomenon is I pretty much only hear it in these big genre movies. Star Wars certainly gets held under the microscope. Marvel has graduated to this level as well now. But otherwise, with most movie trailers the only things people might bitch about is a casting choice or the special effects or dialogue. I don’t seem to remember people tearing apart the trailer for something like Bill and Ted. Or maybe they do, and I’m just hanging out in the wrong corners of the internet for which we recommend to add some security with help from a VPN like .

Still, the trailer is something that is supposed to excite you. To get you hyped to see the movie in question. It is certainly there to make you ask questions. With this movie in particular, the rumors have been running for some time about what the plot would be about or who might show up in the movie. The trailer certainly delivers on the first part (at least the broad strokes) and by a couple of reveals lend additional credit to spoilers regarding the cast.

First, the plot appears to be that after the results of Far From Home, Peter Parker has been outed as Spider-Man. This single fact causes his whole life to turn upside down to the point that he ventures to see Doctor Strange in the hopes that there might be a spell to undo that knowledge from the world. Something goes wrong in the casting of the spell, and off we go into the greater multiverse.

In comics, normally a hero makes the decision very early on whether to have a secret identity at all. Most tend to opt to keep their lives separate for the very reasons we’re seeing play out in the trailer. The sudden super-stardom which accompanies it. The idea that there may have been crimes your alter-ego committed that your true identity is now responsible for. And the biggest key piece is that your enemies now can target you through your family and friends. This last reason is the most important one, and in those stories where the hero is outed, it never goes well.

In the comics, Spider-Man once chose to reveal himself to the world. During the heroes’ Civil War, in an effort to convince others to register with the government, Peter Parker revealed himself on live television. Reading at this time, I both knew that this change in status quo wouldn’t/couldn’t be a long-term thing, and I also knew it was a terrible (just terrible) idea. Soon enough, the Kingpin of Crime set hitmen to target Mary Jane (which resulted instead in Aunt May getting shot and led to things we do not speak of).

So for the purposes of the movie, having a portion of it showing how bad things can be for Peter should be cool (though, I am extremely interested in seeing how Flash Thompson reacts to this knowledge given how much he appears to hate Peter Parker but loves Spider-Man).

The second big piece of this is traveling to other versions of reality. In the comics, characters have been meeting alternate versions of themselves for decades (starting with DC’s “Flash of Two Worlds”). Heck, Into the Spiderverse did an excellent job with exactly this idea.

Whether they are going to lean into this being a situation where he is actually visiting these other worlds or if those other worlds are threatening to overwrite our own, I can tell from the trailer.

But it leads us to the other members of the cast and the big reveals near the end of the trailer. We see a Goblin Bomb and William Dafoe’s laughter. We see lightning in the sky conjuring thoughts of Electro. There are a couple of other things people are speculating might be The Lizard or Sandman, but the one, concrete person we do get to see is Otto Octavious, Doc. Ock not only makes a big appearance but also knows Peter (even this version) which is as curious as anything else to me making me wonder is this a world where Doc. Ock didn’t die? Maybe he is a redeemed version?

Or are we actually going to get our big fight against the Sinister Six in this movie? And the only way to potentially defeat them is to find a little help from some fellow Spider-Men?

I half expect that in the final trailer they release (probably around Thanksgiving) we’ll get some shot with our 3 versions from the last 2 decades all standing together. And while it might not be Endgame level, that should be extremely cool.


John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

Death of Ideas

Check out John McGuire’s The Gilded Age steampunk graphic novel on Kickstarter!


There are no original ideas.

This year is the worst box office year for movies in forever.

The only things which make money are sequels.

Now that Marvel has led the way, everyone wants their own universe… whether it’s a good idea or not.

No one makes the comics/books/tv shows/movies/etc I want to consume.


This, or something like it, fills my Facebook feed and fills up blogs I frequent and dominates the headlines of various other places on the internet. Complaining about the state of entertainment currently available. Complaining that is it all more of the same and why doesn’t someone do something about it.


Maybe, just maybe, we’re not looking hard enough?


Remember when you were a kid? Assuming you were anything like me, you probably were a fan of Star Wars. And when I was 8 or 9, I remember first hearing what became an ever-persistent rumor of a Star Wars saga which would span a total of 9 episodes. Nine! On the playground, during sleepovers and birthday parties we tried to wrap our heads around the very idea of such a thing. What would that even look like? Would they come out every couple of years?

None of us say in the bedroom, stomped our feet, crossed our arms, and held out breath because “Why isn’t anyone doing something new?” It never occurred to us.

Did you imagine what those other 6 episodes might look like?

Later, in my teens, everything was still new enough that even if there was a sequel to something like Batman, it was something to look forward to… not lament its very existence.


The entertainment world has certainly changed the way they do things with any action or genre type movie (and some random comedies as well). They are looking for the sequel. The almighty trilogy.

The way we devour movies and tv shows have reached the point where there is enough “stuff” available that it only makes sense to try to serve some existing fan base out there. It’s just flat-out easier to get buy-in on something people already recognize.

And I don’t believe this has to be a bad thing. I don’t worry about whether there are too many Super Hero sequels or that Star Wars Episode VIII is on the horizon. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, how jazzed are you that there are more stories coming from that world.

Why does this have to be a bad thing?


And I know what you’re saying. The big production companies only want to make a dollar (or more like many millions of dollars) and so they aren’t investing in the smaller movies. And why would they when the next Avengers movie is going to print money?

I sometimes wonder if back in the 50s and 60s whether people were annoyed by the idea of another John Wayne Western was coming out.

Were you really put out by having all those great/cheesy/insert another adjective here for the horror movies in the 80s? I love some of them in many ways, and even I didn’t bother watching most. It didn’t mean I couldn’t watch something else if I wanted to.


I have a friend who talks about his current comic monthly pull list. And every few months he mentions cutting the number of Marvel comics he is reading. And then 3 months later, we’re having a very similar conversation about the exact same comics.

It’s like someone has convinced all of us that the box we live in is all we could possibly see or hear. The same people who are complaining aren’t going to see that independent movie which made $2 million dollars last year. The ones complaining certain comic companies aren’t making comics for “Them” anymore aren’t necessarily searching out more indy comics to fill in those gaps. Instead, they talk about only buying 10 comics a month, down from 30. Or sometimes even worse cuts than that.


Here’s the secret: other people feel the same way as you, but they are creating new things. Maybe it is a series of novels from an author you’ve never heard of. Maybe it’s that movie you keep scrolling past on Netflix because you don’t recognize anyone’s name in the description. Maybe there is a comic book which will speak to you again in a way you didn’t think was possible anymore. Maybe around the corner are new horror movies or new sci-fi things or new tv shows which don’t have anything to do with part 17 of the latest craze.

And if you’re really lucky, maybe this new thing you fall in love will spawn its own series of sequels and suddenly you can claim the other thing us nerds love to claim:

“Well, I liked it first!”


John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novellas Theft & Therapy and There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at

Tessera’s Top Five Posts from 2014

First off…

Happy New Year!

I’m going to assume you all are recovering from last night’s festivities, so today’s post is a simple one. Let’s look back into the Tessera archives and reminisce, shall we? Here are the top 5 posts (by views) from 2014.

5. Taking a Stab at Marvel Movies by John McGuire

It’s not surprising this made the cut. Marvel is huge. Marvel is everywhere.

4. Forget Me Not by John McGuire

Writing – Where do writers get all those ideas? Another post by John McGuire!

3. Ten Questions for Humanity by J Edward Neill 

Neill gets philosophical in this popular post from just a couple weeks ago.

2. Monsters, Magic and Moonlight by Amanda Makepeace

That’s me! This was my pre-Halloween post on spooky art through the ages.

1. My Top Six Videos Games of All Time by J Edward Neill

Yes, on a website of writers and artists, our top post of 2014 is about video games. This post sparked us all to write up our own top six video games.


Here’s to a fantastic 2015!

Notes from my Nightstand

If you read my post last week, you know I have full schedule at the moment. Even so, I find time to read. Reading is my pre-sleep ritual. It’s how I wind down. Here’s what I’ve read over the last couple months and also what I’m reading now.


The Martian by Andy WeirThe Martian by Andy Weir (Kindle)

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

The astronomy lover in me and young girl who grew up with a NASA cousin devoured this book. I can’t recall the last science rich novel I read. It was a treat! The Martian wasn’t all science though. There was plenty of tension, but Watney’s humor helped keep things balanced. The ending may not have been much of a surprise, but I was still gripping my Kindle till the end.

The book is already being adapted for film. Matt Damon is playing Watney. I’m not so keen on this choice and now that I’ve read the book, I’m not sure I even have a desire to see it as a movie. I already know what’s going to happen!

The Genome by Sergei LukyanekoThe Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko (Kindle eARC)

Five months after the horrific accident that left him near death and worried that he’d never fly again, master-pilot Alex Romanov lands a new job: captaining the sleek passenger vessel Mirror.  Alex is a spesh—a human who has been genetically modified to perform particular tasks.

More Science Fiction! This time from one of my favorite authors, Sergei Lukyanenko, author of the Night Watch series. The Genome was not what I expected but I still enjoyed the story. Reading translated works is sometimes a challenge. Translations can alter the original flow of a sentence or a scene, but I was able to overlook that here. What I enjoy most from Lukyanenko’s novels are his characters. The Genome is a quicky SciFi novel that weaves a galactic mystery (there’s a Sherlock Holmes spesh!).


What to read next… I’m never without options on my Kindle or even the bookshelves in my room. The top three books in my Kindle are: Beyond the Gate (featuring a story by Tessera’s John R McGuire), Engraved on the Eye by Saldin Ahmed, and The Imago Sequence by Laird Barron. All of these are short story collections.


My current pull list at my local comic shop features:


 Art Related

Fantasy IllustratorI always have art related reading materials close at hand, though they are not usually my first choice for bedtime reading. My newest purchase is the latest installment of Fantasy Illustrator from ImagineFX. This is the traditional media edition (pencil, oils, acrylics and more). I have never bought an issue of ImagineFX that didn’t teach me something. These magazines are worth every bit of that $17.99 (and more for the big issues).

Comics on my Nightstand

ComicsI read comics. They are the best of both worlds–art and story–but I wouldn’t say I’m a collector. I just like to read comics, both digital and paper. If I like a comic enough I’ll buy both. For example, when I began reading The Walking Dead the series was already in the 70’s. I was reading from the hard back books. Now I read the single issues via Comixology but I still buy those hardback books when they release. It’s my system. Don’t question it. This past weekend I went through all the comics on my nightstand because the stack had become a beast. I cut the pile in half, keeping what I still hadn’t read (plus the other issues in a series–sometimes I look back to recall little details).

~ A few things to note ~

Marvel: I’m a Marvel fan. More than half the comics I sorted through were Marvel comics. That shouldn’t be any big surprise considering where my loyalties lie. (Did you catch the pun there?) However, I’m not one of those Marvel vs. D.C. fans. Read more