Live Native Speaker Conversation about Marvel Cinematic Universe

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In this live English conversation, we discuss the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Learn about our favorite characters, movies, and mini-series. We discuss how these movies improve your American pronunciation, increase your understanding of American pop culture, and also a great way to improve listening comprehension!

00:00:00:01 - 00:00:24:04
Mary Daphne
Hello, Advanced English learners. Welcome back to this conversation with Greg and myself. Andy, it's great to see you. It's great to have you here. Listening and joining in on the conversation. So today's topic is actually very American, I think, and we're going to be discussing the Marvel Universe. Woo hoo!

00:00:24:05 - 00:00:27:07
Greg
So, yeah, I love the Marvel Universe.

00:00:27:17 - 00:00:30:29
Mary Daphne
Me, too. All right. So we're going to get into it in just a minute.

00:00:38:20 - 00:00:46:20
Mary Daphne
All right. So for those of you who don't know what the marvel universe is, maybe Greg can give a one sentence summary.

00:00:47:03 - 00:01:28:04
Greg
Sure. So if you are familiar with The Avengers, with Thor, with the Hulk, right. Any of these superheroes, they're part of what's called the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And this is something that you said that started out as comic books decades ago. And people kids typically and increasingly adults would collect these comic books. And the comic books would tell stories of these different superheroes that traveled around the universe and, you know, did all kinds of good tasks and fought evil villains.

00:01:28:07 - 00:01:34:06
Greg
Yeah. And there are two universes. There's the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe.

00:01:34:13 - 00:01:34:25
Mary Daphne
Right.

00:01:35:10 - 00:02:03:02
Greg
We're going to be talking about the Marvel Universe today. The DC Universe is like Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman. Right? Exactly. Today we're talking about the Marvel Universe. And not too long ago, the Marvel Universe was purchased by Disney. Right So Disney, the production studio, owns the Marvel Universe. And so at this point, they've put out a lot of Marvel content.

00:02:03:06 - 00:02:04:08
Greg
It's really good.

00:02:04:08 - 00:02:31:23
Mary Daphne
It's really good content. And it's not just the movies. Now they're getting into the series and the mini series, which is also really fun because it's a continuation. It's not just necessarily a one movie kind of thing. And what I also like about the way that they're doing it with the movies and then the releasing of the shorter series of mini series is that it fills in the gaps with a lot of the sort of the folklore.

00:02:32:00 - 00:02:39:28
Greg
Totally, yeah. But maybe we start bigger picture. Yeah. For example, who's your favorite Marvel character?

00:02:39:29 - 00:02:53:23
Mary Daphne
Oh, my gosh. I was going to ask you that. I was going to ask you that. So I actually have quite a few. I, I mean, I really like I really like Black Widow.

00:02:54:07 - 00:02:54:20
Greg
Yeah.

00:02:54:20 - 00:02:57:25
Mary Daphne
She's great. And her sister is great. I really like the character.

00:02:57:26 - 00:03:00:12
Greg
The Black Widow is played by Scarlett Johansson.

00:03:00:18 - 00:03:28:27
Mary Daphne
Yeah. And they just released well, a couple months ago, they released her her solo movie slash background on her and who she is. Yeah. Your backstory. Yeah. And that was really fascinating because we had seen her in The Avengers, but never really like solo spotlight on her until this movie came out, which is awesome. Yeah. We're also introduced to her sister in that.

00:03:28:27 - 00:03:33:09
Mary Daphne
So I think both of those characters are really strong female leads, which I'm always a fan of.

00:03:34:23 - 00:03:59:28
Greg
Yes. A Black Widow started off as a an assassin for an evil organization. Yeah. And some people from the good side of the Avengers team found her and turned her into a upstanding hero. Yeah, though she is always she's not so black and white. Right. She still has, like, kind of a dark side to her. Yeah.

00:03:59:28 - 00:04:08:12
Mary Daphne
I mean, I would say she has integrity and she's, you know, she has her own moral compass. Yeah. But I think she does fight for good.

00:04:08:21 - 00:04:19:10
Greg
Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. She she's generally aligned toward the good side of things as opposed to the evil side of things. Yeah. But she does march to the beat of her own drum. Yeah.

00:04:19:10 - 00:04:23:12
Mary Daphne
Which is I think, also admirable. What about you? Who's your favorite?

00:04:23:24 - 00:04:25:07
Greg
So I have a duo.

00:04:26:01 - 00:04:26:15
Mary Daphne
I guess.

00:04:26:19 - 00:04:26:29
Greg
Yeah.

00:04:27:10 - 00:04:31:04
Mary Daphne
Is Thor one of them? Yeah. OK, And then Dr. Strange.

00:04:31:24 - 00:04:32:07
Greg
Loki.

00:04:32:23 - 00:04:34:25
Mary Daphne
Oh, Loki. I forgot about Loki.

00:04:34:26 - 00:04:56:02
Greg
Yeah. So I love the Thor Loki duo. Yeah. I think there's so much fun, right? Thor is the definition of a do gooder. Yeah, but he's also, like, a little bit cocky. He's got a big ego. Well, they're both goofy, right? Yeah. That's what I love about all of the Marvel characters.

00:04:56:02 - 00:04:57:07
Mary Daphne
Is definitely that goofy.

00:04:57:08 - 00:05:27:09
Greg
Yeah, but Thor, for me, he's just like. He's a fun loving and everything. Everything sort of around him is action packed. Yeah. And good fun. And then his brother is this sort of slimy, weasely character who's very smart, but is also morally very dubious, right? Yeah. He's constantly betraying people. In fact, betray betrayal is sort of like his M.O..

00:05:27:09 - 00:05:52:12
Greg
Right? His modus operandi. And so he provides a really nice contrast to Thor, right? If Thor's this bright, shining light, right? Loki is this sort of dark, smoldering flame. And they together, like, you know, create a lot of tension a lot of cinematic tension and comedic relief. That's really fun to watch.

00:05:52:15 - 00:06:12:11
Mary Daphne
Definitely. And then, I mean, yeah, this is definitely one of my other favorites and so is Loki. And I like that duo, like you said, they're a yin and the yin and yang and kind of yang, yin and yang sort of duo. Like, it's a very much sort of balanced way when they have them together. Yeah. Who else?

00:06:12:11 - 00:06:16:03
Mary Daphne
I like Marvel. Captain Marvel. Although we haven't seen much of her, I feel.

00:06:16:03 - 00:06:18:21
Greg
Yeah, she had a good movie of her own. Captain Marvel.

00:06:18:21 - 00:06:51:03
Mary Daphne
Yeah. So that was sort of well, what's really cool about the Marvel series and the cinematic universe is that they sort of they release the movies, not necessarily sequentially in order, but they'll cover the gaps with their other movies, their release or the other series they release and a mini series. So you might have these questions at the end of a film and it'll get answered in a later film.

00:06:51:03 - 00:06:58:01
Mary Daphne
For example, when I was watching The Avengers, we saw them together and then we rewatch a lot of them.

00:06:58:01 - 00:07:01:26
Greg
Yeah, we've literally watched them from the start to the finish, all of them where.

00:07:01:29 - 00:07:20:27
Mary Daphne
We nerd out on it. And I remember in one of The Avengers I think it might have been Endgame. We see Ant-Man. Right. And then I didn't really know his backstory. And then they filled in the gaps for me when we watched the Ant-Man and I guess what was it, movie sequel.

00:07:20:27 - 00:07:25:05
Greg
Will he? He's got Ant-Man has two movies. I think there's Ant-Man. And I was like.

00:07:25:27 - 00:07:28:25
Mary Daphne
Yeah, I really like WASP. Too. Yeah, I really like her. She's.

00:07:28:25 - 00:07:29:04
Greg
Those are.

00:07:29:04 - 00:07:43:23
Mary Daphne
Fun. She's fun. Yeah. I generally like Lean towards the strong superhero women sort of thing. Like those there because you know, it's, it's I can identify with them more than I can identify with male characters, obviously, for obvious reasons. Yeah.

00:07:45:04 - 00:08:04:15
Greg
What's nice about the Marvel, too, is that it's good fun for all ages, right? So the kids love it. It's not too gory or violent, so you have to worry about the kids. At the same time, there is tons of jokes that only adults get, and they're very clever. Yeah. And as we mentioned before, I also really like how it doesn't take itself too seriously.

00:08:04:16 - 00:08:05:01
Mary Daphne
Definitely.

00:08:05:02 - 00:08:15:11
Greg
Right. Like a lot of the Batman movies you watch and Superman as well. Yeah. They take themselves so seriously, like, and they're dark and. Yeah, you know, they don't necessarily make you feel good.

00:08:15:17 - 00:08:15:25
Mary Daphne
Right.

00:08:15:26 - 00:08:41:29
Greg
Whereas the Marvel's almost universally, like, they'll have intense moments. Sad moments. Yeah. But overall, they're positive. They're uplifting. Yeah. You could argue that some of the the The Final Avenger movies are dark, but even those have, you know, you know, a strong, sort of inspiring core to it that that I don't know. For me, I feel good after watching any of any of these movies.

00:08:42:00 - 00:08:56:12
Mary Daphne
Sure, sure. I mean, he's the marvel. I think that's why we revisit them quite often. And what I really like is also that they have those in-betweens with the mini series. I really liked Hawkeye with the the bow and arrow.

00:08:56:26 - 00:09:20:23
Greg
Yeah. So these mini series are something new that that came about. Once Disney. Well, once Disney purchased Marvel. Right. So there are already some Marvel movies out before Disney purchased them. And when Disney purchased them, they continue to release movies, but they realized the movies themselves were such huge, expensive productions that it was hard to keep them coming out on a regular clip.

00:09:21:04 - 00:09:44:23
Greg
And so they were figuring out ways to try and fill in the gaps. And they did that really nicely with these miniseries, which are sort of spotlights on lesser known characters. So you can get into the Marvel Universe and sort of feeling like you're saying fill in the gaps between the storyline and also just understand some of these characters that have their own rich sort of lore definitely.

00:09:45:00 - 00:09:51:28
Greg
But can't you know, there's not time to spotlight them in a, you know, a feature a feature movie.

00:09:51:29 - 00:09:55:19
Mary Daphne
Right. So what was your favorite series? I already know the answers.

00:09:55:19 - 00:09:58:15
Greg
Yeah. You do? Loki. Definitely.

00:09:58:15 - 00:10:00:24
Mary Daphne
It was very good. Yeah, it was very good.

00:10:01:02 - 00:10:26:00
Greg
It's just so good. It's what actually quite a few of these mini series. They're also not generic right now. They're not just action shows with big budgets and, you know, fancy animations. A lot of them take sort of an original twist on on what you would expect from a typical Marvel or action action movie or show more broadly.

00:10:26:13 - 00:10:41:06
Greg
And the Loki one does both. So it has some great twists. It also has incredible production value. So just beautiful space sets and wild, crazy sort of magical concepts.

00:10:41:06 - 00:10:44:05
Mary Daphne
Yeah, and like plot twists and turn twists.

00:10:44:05 - 00:10:50:01
Greg
I also love Owen Wilson. Owen Wilson is a great big character in that. Yeah, he's. What about you? What's your.

00:10:50:01 - 00:11:12:28
Mary Daphne
Favorite? Well, I definitely loved Loki, but we'll give you that one for your favorite. I also really enjoyed one division. I thought it was so cool the way that just visually so enticing, so interesting how they played with mixed media and different different genres throughout television. And so, you know, you saw fifties television.

00:11:12:29 - 00:11:14:05
Greg
You don't give it away.

00:11:14:05 - 00:11:19:26
Mary Daphne
Well, OK, I'm not going to give it away, but you see different sort of decades. I'll just leave you with that.

00:11:20:08 - 00:11:38:26
Greg
Yes. Yeah, it starts out one way. It starts out one way. And then, you know, partway through things change in a very surprising way, which is you know, almost a meta twist, right? Yeah, it's a twist in the medium of of the film, not just in the plot.

00:11:38:26 - 00:11:50:05
Mary Daphne
Yeah, exactly. And so I really enjoyed that for sure. Yeah. OK, now switching to the movies, what is your favorite movie? I think I also know the answer to that.

00:11:50:05 - 00:12:01:19
Greg
So despite the Thor and Loki being my favorite. Yeah. As characters, my favorite team and the one that I find that have the most fun with are the guardians of the Galaxy.

00:12:01:19 - 00:12:12:09
Mary Daphne
Yeah, those are so fun. Yeah. There is a rocket. There is Groot, which is a cute little tree that turns into a bigger tree that then turns back into a little tree.

00:12:12:09 - 00:12:16:13
Greg
There's Star-Lord. Star-Lord, which is. Do you remember his actual name?

00:12:16:15 - 00:12:19:13
Mary Daphne
Oh, shoot. Now what is it?

00:12:20:11 - 00:12:21:21
Greg
Well, Chris Pratt's the actor.

00:12:21:21 - 00:12:22:07
Mary Daphne
Yeah.

00:12:22:26 - 00:12:32:16
Greg
But I can remember Star-Lord is his his character's name, but his character also has a human name, so he's a human that was brought up by space people.

00:12:32:17 - 00:12:38:25
Mary Daphne
This is a demigod. So his father is a god. Yes. And then Gomorrah.

00:12:39:09 - 00:12:44:21
Greg
Gomorrah, is really cool. His his his love, his love interest. She might argue otherwise.

00:12:44:21 - 00:13:05:22
Mary Daphne
She's on again. Off again with him. Yeah, not really sure. And then there's her sister. Also a contentious relationship there. Oh, I wouldn't say Star-Lord and she are contentious, but. Yeah, but she and her sister Nebula. Yeah. And then Nebula is an exploding star. Which is actually really beautiful. If you look at NASA photographs of Nebula, they're beautiful.

00:13:07:08 - 00:13:15:26
Mary Daphne
So that's she. And she's a cyborg. Which means that her human elements have been taken out and replaced with machinery.

00:13:15:27 - 00:13:18:00
Greg
She's like part human. Part machine. Yeah.

00:13:18:00 - 00:13:25:00
Mary Daphne
So she's incredibly strong. Yes. But, you know, she'll, she'll she doesn't look very human. So that's an interesting concept there.

00:13:25:12 - 00:13:30:08
Greg
So, yeah, I like Guardians of the Galaxy because it's space based, right?

00:13:30:13 - 00:13:31:06
Mary Daphne
Oh, I love.

00:13:31:06 - 00:14:01:24
Greg
I like things in space. Yeah. It's one of the funniest definitely in terms of the script. And then it also has terrific music, a lot of classic American songs. Yeah, that I don't know. It's funny. It's like, on the one hand, you're in space and on the other hand it feels like comfort America sort of combined. It's they did a really good job of, of sort of using those two concepts, right?

00:14:01:24 - 00:14:24:22
Mary Daphne
Which are generally not together. You don't really see them. And you touched upon this earlier with the humor and the comic relief. What I like about Marvel, too, is that there might be a scene that's like almost on the verge of being a little bit scary. But then, you know, like Chris Pratt's character, Star-Lord will just like bust out and dance with me, like, oh, you want to dance to the villain or something like that?

00:14:24:22 - 00:14:32:25
Mary Daphne
Totally. It alleviates the tension there. So again, it is for, I would say for all ages as well.

00:14:32:25 - 00:14:33:15
Greg
Absolutely.

00:14:33:16 - 00:14:42:29
Mary Daphne
It's the concepts and the way. What is it interesting to do with the films is how Stan Lee, when he was alive, he recently passed. But when he was alive.

00:14:43:08 - 00:14:51:05
Greg
Stan. Stan Lee. Yeah. So Stan Lee is the creator of the Marvel Universe.

00:14:51:05 - 00:14:52:06
Mary Daphne
How cool is that?

00:14:52:06 - 00:14:55:19
Greg
He's like the author and the illustrator of the original Marvel Comics.

00:14:55:19 - 00:15:09:29
Mary Daphne
It's amazing. I would have loved to like chat with him, like bring him on this show. We could have chatted with. Yeah. About just like where he found the inspiration for these characters for the plot lines. Yeah. Story right. Everything. So he makes a cameo.

00:15:10:17 - 00:15:27:15
Greg
And so a cameo is when they come on and someone comes into the film briefly unannounced and typically it's a surprise, right? And it's someone of significance and it's a surprise. So Stan Lee, while he was still alive, he died in the last couple of years.

00:15:27:15 - 00:15:29:04
Mary Daphne
Yeah, I think recently. Yeah.

00:15:30:16 - 00:15:35:25
Greg
But while he was alive, he would cameo. And all of them. Yeah, all of them are Marvel films.

00:15:35:25 - 00:15:43:21
Mary Daphne
So that was really cool. And so, you know, that's like a little nugget. You'd be waiting for that. Of course, the Marvel, the geeks and the nerds, like we.

00:15:43:25 - 00:15:46:02
Greg
Exactly. The trick was always to spot him.

00:15:46:03 - 00:15:58:18
Mary Daphne
Yeah. And, you know, funnily enough, different, but kind of similar. Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock, the master thriller moviemaker, would be one.

00:15:58:18 - 00:16:01:00
Greg
Of the most famous directors in American cinema.

00:16:01:02 - 00:16:05:17
Mary Daphne
Yeah. And he was a British fellow. And you've probably heard of him. Oh, is he British? Yeah.

00:16:06:02 - 00:16:11:05
Greg
How interesting. Yeah, OK. Yeah, but he was Hollywood in terms of where his production was.

00:16:11:05 - 00:16:30:03
Mary Daphne
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. The US based like Hollywood kind of thing. And he would make cameos in his films, but those wouldn't be as obvious. It would be like a silhouette of him getting on a tree. Yeah. And you could blink and easily miss it. Because we went through a vertical watching of the Hitchcock.

00:16:30:03 - 00:16:41:11
Greg
Yeah. We did a chronological watch of the the various Hitchcock from the very beginning. Yeah. So all the way through, I'm not sure we made our way to the end, but we made it pretty far.

00:16:41:12 - 00:17:01:15
Mary Daphne
I think we hit most of the classics, but yeah, we should definitely do that again. Just side note for us there. But yeah, so making a cameo. The other thing when you're actually just talking, I remember in college, like there'd be a bunch of different like parties, theme parties here and there, and I would just be like, Yeah, I'm just going to make a cameo to that party, that party.

00:17:01:15 - 00:17:07:20
Mary Daphne
So stay a little bit for like maybe 5 minutes and then exactly and then land on the one that I actually want to be at, right? Yeah.

00:17:08:02 - 00:17:18:26
Greg
Yeah. So it's fun, like making cameos. A fun, fun lady. It sort of implies that you're a celebrity that you can increase this party with your presence for a short period of time before heading elsewhere.

00:17:18:26 - 00:17:36:25
Mary Daphne
Right? You're like joking around with the concept of I'm just going to pop in and. Yeah, yeah, cameo. Exactly. Again, it's like, you know, it's a joke. It's not really taking yourself seriously, obviously. But yeah, I think I agree with you. We can talk at another time about the DC world but it's it's just heavier. It's a little bit darker.

00:17:36:25 - 00:17:43:23
Mary Daphne
It's a different mindset. I would not say that's for all ages, but Marvel, there's something marvelous about it. It really is. It is, it is.

00:17:43:27 - 00:17:58:00
Greg
And that's why I thought Disney was such a good owner, right? New owner for the Marvel Universe because it I think gels very well with Disney's family values and, you know, moral compass.

00:17:58:01 - 00:18:21:13
Mary Daphne
I would agree with that. So if you haven't checked out any of the movies that we've read that we've just talked about or the mini series, the one that we're currently watching is Moonlight So Night. Yeah. If anyone is aware of that, then you might be watching along with us at the new one. But there are so many out there and it's really fun because at the same time, you get a little bit of American culture.

00:18:21:19 - 00:18:37:07
Mary Daphne
You get a little bit of, well, the American language because, you know, we're speaking in English and they're speaking in American English on the movies, in the movies and on the shows. So you get that exposure and it's just a fun time. So there's an entertainment value to it as well.

00:18:37:10 - 00:19:01:00
Greg
And there are a lot of plays on words, right? So from the sort of English learning perspective, it is a great way to particularly for advanced English speakers, to get a better grip on the different ways you can sort of use English to make jokes. And they're not necessarily obvious, but when you spend a little time studying them, you realize why it was said that way.

00:19:01:00 - 00:19:01:27
Greg
And why it's funny.

00:19:02:00 - 00:19:24:09
Mary Daphne
Yeah, and it's all very contextual too, right? So, you know, these are movies where I mean, we're native English speakers and we watch them again and we find different like gems hidden in there. And it could be a play on words. It could be a little something, you know, micro expression that we find funny or some intonation that's very intriguing, right?

00:19:24:09 - 00:19:32:04
Mary Daphne
Just these things that they do as actors and building the world and the characters that they create it's really cool. Yeah.

00:19:32:06 - 00:19:32:23
Greg
Yeah, it is.

00:19:33:05 - 00:19:37:09
Mary Daphne
So we're going to keep enjoying the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and.

00:19:37:09 - 00:19:39:02
Greg
We hope you do, too. Yeah.

00:19:39:19 - 00:19:43:03
Mary Daphne
So I thought. I thought it'd be fun to talk about. I'm glad you did.

00:19:43:03 - 00:19:44:10
Greg
Yeah, I always enjoy it.

00:19:44:15 - 00:19:46:25
Mary Daphne
Hopefully you enjoyed this discussion as well.

00:19:47:00 - 00:19:55:06
Greg
And if you've, if you've been watching it, it is enjoy and let us know. Let us know who your favorite character is. Your favorite movie, your show.

00:19:55:14 - 00:20:18:05
Mary Daphne
Definitely. Definitely. Because this is part of American pop culture and you know, we do we can learn a lot from it. And again, the entertainment value is there as well. So you wouldn't be missing out otherwise. All right. So thank you for joining us for this very lively discussion on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yeah, feel free to share in the comments.

00:20:18:05 - 00:20:44:09
Mary Daphne
Your favorite character your thoughts, your favorite film, or if you haven't seen them, tell us why, the hesitation and get to it. Because at the very least, it could be a little bit of a learning comprehension listening comprehension lesson for you there. And we'll be doing more of these. So feel free to leave a comment with any other sort of topics you would like us to delve into, any questions we could answer.

00:20:44:19 - 00:20:53:12
Mary Daphne
And yeah, our aim is just to have fun with these and hopefully you do too as you join us for the ride. All right. Thank you for joining us and we'll see you in the next one. Bye.