Photo: 20th Century Fox
It’s time for another long-awaited Marvelous Movies review of a favorite throwback film! If you’ve ever watched the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok and wondered, “How did that Loki actor ever get into space?” then you’re in luck! Today we’re reviewing 2015’s epic sci-fi adventure, The Martian, starring Matt Damon as the Loki actor. (No, not as actual Loki or even Tom Hiddleston, but as the actor who played Loki in the play-within-the-movie on Asgard. It’s all a bit complicated, so try to keep up!)
The movie begins with an astronaut mission about to return home after spending some time on Mars. The space crew has apparently set out to spread the joy of Marvel movies to alien civilizations, which is why they’re accompanied by Damon’s character, a performer by trade. The crew also includes several other established Marvel characters:
- Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s ally-turned-brainwashed-enemy-turned-ally again. Bucky’s presence on this space mission hints at his brief role in the comics as “the Man on the Wall,” Earth’s line of defense against extraterrestrial invaders. It also explains why Cap and Falcon couldn’t find Bucky anywhere between 2014 and 2016–because he was in space!
- Michael Peña as Luis, Scott Lang’s friend in Ant-Man. This film was released just a few months after Ant-Man, and it’s admittedly unclear why or how he fell in with this crew of astronauts. But hearing him narrate the crew’s space adventures once they all get back to Earth is the highlight of the film by far!
- Kate Mara as Sue Storm/the Invisible Woman. The Martian was also released just after the most recent Fantastic 4 movie, making it Sue Storm’s second trip through the cosmos in as many months. Here, she’s continuing her scientific research from that film to determine whether a space journey with a different crew will again produce the same sets of superpowers or the same quality of terrible movie.
- Jessica Chastain as Vuk, later revealed as the antagonist of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Vuk is an alien entity posing here as a mere human astronaut, but secretly searching for the cosmic Phoenix force in order to harness its power.
And, of course, Matt Damon as the Loki actor, who actually gets left behind on Mars when his crew mistakenly departs without him! While Vuk and her crew set course back to Earth, Damon’s character manages to send word that he’s still alive and stranded. Earth’s heroes, including Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Wong (Benedict Wong), and Aaron Davis (Donald Glover) begin strategizing to safely bring him back. Of course, this alliance of Wong and Mordo is before Doctor Strange comes on the scene in 2016, and before the heroes have Captain Marvel to do a deus ex machina rescue of a stranded astronaut within the first five minutes of the film.
Surprisingly, Damon’s character finds the planet completely empty, almost as if all Martians had been wiped out before this–though, thankfully, that means there are no Martian manhunters roaming around to hunt him. Since he doesn’t have much to do, the actor spends this time practicing his lines and watching and re-watching Thor: The Dark World, the only movie of their Marvel collection to survive the ship’s crash (truly a dire plight indeed!). Eventually, he manages to secure transport offworld and arrives on Asgard, where we see him again two years later in Thor: Ragnarok, performing in a play about the life of Loki!
Ultimately, The Martian was widely praised for its intriguing story, excellent characterization, and realistic portrayal of the details of space exploration. These reactions, however, overlook the grossly unrealistic suspension of disbelief that the movie requires of its viewers in the fact that Sean Bean’s character survives the whole time.