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Spider-Man: Homecoming (Film Review)

Until I get ‘New to Comics’ back online, I’m going to be posting some stuff for that site on here if it’s particularly relevant or if I want to share it as soon as possible. So today, here’s my review of the sixteenth entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man: Homecoming

RELEASED: 7th July 2016
DIRECTED BY: Jon Watts
WRITTEN BY: John Francis Daley, Christopher Ford, Jonathan Goldstein, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers & Jon Watts
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige & Amy Pascal
STARRING: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Logan Marshall-Green, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael Chernus, Donald Glover & Robert Downey Jr.

REVIEW: The main problem with Spider-Man: Homecoming is that the casual viewer may falsely believe that Sony was wholly responsible for making this film, what with their company names being plastered all over the opening and closing credits. Which, frankly, is a shame, because this film was made by Marvel Studios, and financed by Sony; and it would truly be a terrible thing if Sony got the credit for what is, to date, one of Marvel Studios’ best films.

In terms of story, the film is surprising on several levels. Firstly, it’s generally understood that the more writers you pump into a film, the messier it gets. That, paired with the fact that the whole storyline is seemingly stuffed into the above trailer, could give cause for concern. But having seen the movie, I can assure you that you don’t need to worry about either of those factors.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2017 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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Film Review – Avengers: Age of Ultron

A Marvel Studios Film, Directed by Joss Whedon.

Released: 1st May 2015

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson and James Spader

Some Notes on my viewing experience: I was never going to enjoy Avengers: Age of Ultron as much as I wanted to for a number of reasons.

The first and foremost was the insane amount of commercials and marketing surrounding the film. On one hand, I can appreciate companies need to reiterate that they are not just flogging the same sort of film that we’ve seen countless times before. But on the other hand, this is The Avengers. As several commercials have said; the summer’s greatest heroes are back. This didn’t need to be sold. It was a sure success even if it turned out to be terrible. But this film may have finally been what I needed to encourage me to stop watching trailers; I’m a man with little self-control; I’m not very good with money, I drink, I smoke; I’m just generally a bit useless. So when a company offers me a glimpse at something I’m excited about, I’m going to watch the hell out of it. And that really backfired on this film. Apart from three rather insignificant plot points, I knew exactly what was going to happen every step of the way throughout the film. Not that it was predictable by any means; there are loads of twists and turns and surprises, but having seen various things online, I anticipated them all. If you’ve got to this stage without looking at any promotional material, I commend you, and if you’ve already started and are tempted to watch more, then I warn you now: don’t.

Another warning I would offer is to not see the film in 3D. Age of Ultron is a beauty to behold, but frankly, from the get go, there’s a lot going on. The film dives right into the action, as the Avengers set out of squash Hydra once and for all, and finish cleaning up the various messes they have made. There are some beautifully choreographed fight scenes, and every character gets a chance in the spotlight. But when you’ve got Captain America somersaulting around, Hawkeye and Black Widow gunning down villains, Iron Man blasting lasers, Thor zapping people with lightning and the Hulk lumbering about tearing things to pieces, trying to keep up really starts to hurt your eyes (and I have perfect vision, for the record).

But that’s enough complaining, frankly, because truth-be-told, those are both things that could have been avoided.

avengers assembled.jpg

Review [MINOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW]: Joss Whedon expertly ties together the various strands from all the Marvel franchises into an interesting interwoven plot as the Avengers finally begin to finish clearing up the various messes they have made since the first film. Defeating Hydra, the Avengers are faced with the new evil of artificial intelligence, as Chitauri tech infects Tony Stark and Bruce Banner’s work to create the titular Ultron; a peacekeeping initiative who decrees the only way to peace is through humanity’s extinction. In their quest to defeat Ultron, the Avengers come to blows with one another and outside forces like Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, all the while, a new hero, the Vision, ascends to the battlefield.

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What’s great about this entry is that although Captain America, Thor and Iron Man do spend a lot of time in the spotlight, it is the other Avengers that really shine. Black Widow continues her gradual evolution to a place where the audience is really touched by her tragic back-story, whilst Hawkeye is shown to have a sense of humor and a heart that is more important to the team than just his bow and arrows. Meanwhile, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch manage to undergo interesting characters arcs that, whilst cementing them as some of my favorite characters in the film, didn’t take up too much time, avoiding putting off any potential naysayers. Even the Hulk, who can’t even speak, showed true depth of character, especially at the climax of the film.

The only characters who could have perhaps of done with more screen-time were War Machine, the Vision and the Falcon (the last of whom I really would have loved to see more of), but in a film so packed with characters, that was understandable, especially as it becomes clear at the end that we will be seeing a lot more of them, as all three characters join the new Avengers roster. But the problem with the Vision is although he was visually spectacular, to non-comic-fans (like my housemate) his whole story could seem rather bizarre. His powers aren’t explained at all; he just shows up, starts phasing through things and shooting lasers out of his head. Although I understood perfectly, having read far more comics in my lifetime than necessary, I could see how things like this left the otherwise great story with some plot-holes to pick at. For instance:

Why can a ‘mind gem’ shoot rays of light? What’s the point in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. if Nick Fury still has people loyal to him and his own mother-freakin’ Helicarrier? Why would Ultron Prime make his drones look cooler (and closer to the source material) than he is? And perhaps most important of all, why is Tony Stark’s armor now Irish? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that last one; but we agreed it seemed a tad out of place)

ageofultron.jpg

Yes, those were some of the stupider ones I picked, but to these and more questions, the answers seemed to vary between ‘there isn’t any point’ and ‘because why not?’, which isn’t exactly what we as an audience were looking for.

But at this stage, in such a rapidly expanding universe, there are going to be a lot of plot holes and plot leaks to come, so just sit back and enjoy the ride, because Age of Ultron is both visually stimulating and awesomely exciting.

Plus Iron Man vs. the Hulk? Amazing.

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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Avengers: Age of Over-Saturation [Update]

age-of-ultron-vision-hd

I was perhaps a bit hasty when I made my last post, thinking that at 11 TV spots, Marvel would stop releasing new clips. I was wrong. We’re now on TV spot 23. Not only that, but one of the main facets of the film that had been kept secret has now ALSO been released.

I mean, at this stage, what’s the point? If I didn’t live in Britain and still had to wait another week for this, I’d be tearing my hair out at how over-the-top Marvel  have gone with something that really didn’t need all that much hyping.

So here, ten days after my initial post, I’m going to amend my guess at the plot one last time before I see the film this evening. Tomorrow, I’ll follow through with a review, without spoiling the film (I read a review yesterday that spent four paragraphs going through the basic plot of the films opening; pretty sure you’re not meant to do that).

Here we go (obviously, potential spoilers ahead):

I’m still pretty confident with the majority of this first section:

  • The film starts with The Avengers as a unit; they’ve been together some amount of time since the end of The Winter Soldier, acting as a fill-in for S.H.I.E.L.D., funded by Iron Man and led by Captain America.
  • Together they stage an attack on a Hydra cell in Europe, and in the process come into conflict with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who have been empowered by Baron Strucker.
  • The Avengers take down most of the cell, and reclaim Loki’s staff from the first film. Black Widow reveals a deeper relationship with Bruce Banner as she calms the Hulk. Meanwhile, the twins escape.
  • The team regroup at the Avengers tower, after struggling with what they have just faced. However, they are one step closer to ending all the problems they have collectively caused over the years and going their separate ways.
  • Inviting War Machine and some other friends to the tower, Tony holds a party. As things begin to die down,Ultron (the combined brainchild of Tony and Bruce, now empowered by the scepter) reveals himself, and exclaims that the only way to achieve the peace they have all dreamed of is to wipe-out mankind.
  • After taking down his original form, Ultron’s A.I. escapes, but not before wiping out J.A.R.V.I.S. Rebuilding himself multiple times, he crosses the Atlantic and seeks out the twins, who are hateful of the Avengers due to Stark’s weapons having been the cause of their family’s death.

This next section is where some minor additions can be put in, but not much in the way of changes, unfortunately:

  • The team come to blows, as they now realize they cannot trust Tony, despite the fact he funds the whole operation. Eventually, they set aside their differences and reunite to go find Ultron.
  • The Avengers track Ultron and the twins down to somewhere around Africa, where Ultron has come to collect a metal known as Vibranium from a man named Ulysses Klaue (played by Andy Serkis as set up for Black Panther). They engage them once again, as the Scarlet Witch reveals the true extent of her powers, altering the minds of several of the team.
  • Whilst Captain America and Black Widow see their pasts, Tony see’s the destruction of the Avengers, and the Hulk is driven into a mad rage. Activating a fail-safe, Tony summons his Hulk-buster armor to the scene, and engages the Hulk in Johannesburg.
  • Ultron and the twins defeat the rest of the Avengers, and Ultron plans to launch his gathered nuclear arsenal at the world, but is stopped by the secret intervention of what remains of J.A.R.V.I.S…
  • Now scattered and in disarray, the Avengers retreat to Hawkeye‘s family cabin where they must once more put aside their differences. Cap and Tony enter a heated argument, seeding Steve’s next film, Civil War.
  • Whilst the other Avengers are at Hawkeye’s cabin, Thor has returned to Asgard, to seek more answers in regards to the Infinity Stones that are continuing to plague him and his friends; the Cube, the Scepter, the Aether and the Orb.
  • The team are brought together once again by Nick Fury, who insists they are humanity’s only chance of surviving Ultron.
  • Meanwhile, the twins come to blows with Ultron, when they realize the true extent of his plans.

What with this clip having now been shown, the content is less speculation so much as the location; it could well happen before the Avengers go to fight Ultron and the twins, but this seems like a safe bet:

  • Reuniting at Stark tower, the team reassembles, as J.A.R.V.I.S. manifests himself in a physical body that the team have recovered from Ultron, code-named: The Vision, who engages Thor as he struggles to come to terms with his new physicality.
  • The Avengers team-up with the twins, as Ultron plans to raise a city into the sky, and hurl it back at Earth as a weapon. Boarding the floating city, the Avengers engage Ultron’s army of… Ultrons.
  • Eventually, they win, obviously, as the Vision returns and kills his father/mentor/brother/whatever that is Ultron.

A potential death? Quicksilver, as a means of cementing Scarlet Witch’s allegiance to the Avengers.

  • The Avengers have saved the day, but realize they can no longer trust each other. Iron Man leaves the team, as does Thor, who must return to Asgard to halt the upcoming Ragnarok. Oh, and the Hulk’s probably lost in space when Ultron raises the city or something.
  • Without their main players, Captain America forms a new team of Avengers, consisting of Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, with Black Widow and the Vision as possibilities. Black Panther is also a possibility, although I doubt it.
  • Finally, in the mid-credits scene, Thanos tires of his lackey’s constantly failing him, steps up off of his throne and recovers his ‘Infinity’ Gauntlet, exclaiming that he will just recover the stones himself in preparation for Infinity War.

Which is kind of boring really, the leaked fake Spider-Man ending wasn’t great, but it was a bit more fun. Oh well, Civil War isn’t too far off…

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2015 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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Avengers: Age of Over-saturation

I’m allowing myself a break from my screenplay assignment for two reasons: the first being I’ve already written four drafts, and I need to move onto other things, and the second being I have Avengers: Age of Ultron constantly on my mind.

You all know the story, but here it is anyway, as narrated my Mr. Samuel L. Jackson:

All those (three) years ago, it was necessary to hype up such a thing as the Avengers. Sure, it was always going to do pretty well, but then nothing like this had ever really been done before. There were the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, but they built all their characters up in their own films, it wasn’t an ensemble piece like Avengers Assemble.

Now here we are, three years on, and the Avengers are reassembling to fight Ultron, a villain of their own making. But just like the market is getting slowly over-saturated with super-hero movies and television shows, our screens are way past saturation point with commercials and advertisements. The first Avengers film guaranteed that people would go see the second even if there was pretty much no marketing done for it, beyond a little info-drop about when it would be released.

But despite this, we’ve already had countless previews thrown at us, to the extent that, by the end of this post, I believe I can pretty accurately lay down the plot of the film. Fortunately for me, I live in Britain, so I only have to wait nine days or so, unlike all you unlucky Americans who have to wait until May.

So, obviously, if you’re adverse to trailers, look away, and if you’re worried I may be right (which at this stage shouldn’t be hard, considering we’ve all probably seen a good half of the film in two-minute snippets) then again, look away, because here goes nothing!

So first, we’ve got the main trailers:

In those alone, you get a pretty hefty look at the film. And then you’ve got the TV spots, which are packed with details:

Already, that’s a lot of info. Although it has neglected a lot of details about Paul Bettany’s Vision character. But as if all those weren’t enough, there are clips as well:

I’ll admit I hadn’t seen all of that second one before. I can’t say Im a fan of the way Ultron’s lips move; looks too cartoon-y. I always thought that was the worst part of the Transformers franchise as well (y’know, apart from the abominable plot), but I digress.

After all that, then there’s still all the promotional material like the Audi adverts. But frankly, I can’t be bothered with all those. I’d say this bulk is more than enough.

So, what have we got so far?

Going off those videos and any promotional interviews, we know the following:

  • The film starts with The Avengers as a unit; they’ve been together some amount of time since the end of The Winter Soldier, acting as a fill-in for S.H.I.E.L.D. and funded by Iron Man.
  • Together they stage an attack on a Hydra cell in Europe, and in the process come into conflict with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who have been empowered by Baron Strucker.
  • The Avengers take down most of the cell, and reclaim Loki’s staff from the first film. Black Widow reveals a deeper relationship with Bruce Banner as she calms the Hulk. Meanwhile, the twins escape.
  • The team regroup at the Avengers tower, after struggling with what they have just faced. However, they are one step closer to ending all the problems they have collectively caused over the years and going their separate ways.
  • Inviting War Machine and some other friends to the tower, Tony holds a party. As things begin to die down, Ultron (the combined brainchild of Tony and Bruce, now empowered by the scepter) reveals himself, and exclaims that the only way to achieve the peace they have all dreamed of is to wipe-out mankind.
  • After taking down his original form, Ultron’s A.I. escapes, but not before wiping out J.A.R.V.I.S. Rebuilding himself, he crosses the Atlantic and seeks out the twins, who are hateful of the Avengers due to their standing as a representation of American power.

Another potential death here could be that of Rhodey, seeing as he doesn’t appear in anymore promotional material.

  • The team come to blows, as they now realize they cannot trust Tony, despite the fact he funds the whole operation. Eventually, they set aside their differences and reunite to go find Ultron.
  • The Avengers track Ultron and the twins down to somewhere around Africa, where Ultron has come to collect a metal known as Vibranium from a man named Ulysses Klaue (played by Andy Serkis). They engage them once again, as the Scarlet Witch reveals the true extent of her powers, altering the minds of several of the team.
  • Whilst Captain America and Black Widow see their pasts, Tony see’s the destruction of the Avengers, and the Hulk is driven into a mad rage. Activating a fail-safe, Tony summons his Hulk-buster armor to the scene, and engages the Hulk in Johannesburg.
  • Now scattered and in disarray, the Avengers retreat to a cabin (possibly owned by Hawkeye‘s family) where they must once more put aside their differences. Cap and Tony enter a heated argument, seeding Steve’s next film, Civil War.
  • Whilst the other Avengers are at Hawkeye’s cabin, Thor has returned to Asgard, to seek out his own solutions, and perhaps confront Loki/Odin.
  • The team are brought together once again by Nick Fury, who insists they are humanity’s only chance of surviving Ultron.
  • Meanwhile, the twins come to blows with Ultron, when they realise the true extent of his plans.

This next part is pure speculation, but I’m not sure where else it would fit in.

  • Reuniting at Stark tower, the team reassembles, as J.A.R.V.I.S. manifests himself in a physical body, code-named: The Vision.
  • Thor returns, and engages the Vision, whom he sees only as an agent of Ultron, and drives him off.
  • Now mostly reunited, the Avengers team-up with the twins, as Ultron plans to raise a city into the sky, and hurl it back at Earth as a weapon. Boarding the floating city, the Avengers engage Ultron’s army of… Ultrons.
  • Eventually, they win, obviously, as the Vision returns and kills his father/mentor/brother/whatever that is Ultron.

Another potential death? Quicksilver, as a means of cementing Scarlet Witch’s allegiance to the Avengers.

  • The Avengers have saved the day, but realise they can no longer trust each other. Iron Man leaves the team, as does Thor, who must return to Asgard to halt the upcoming Ragnarok. Oh, and the Hulk’s probably lost in space when Ultron raises the city.
  • Without their main players, Captain America forms a new team of Avengers, consisting of Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, with Black Widow and the Vision as possibilities. Black Panther is also a possibility, although I doubt it.

So yeah. That happened. Or will happened. I’ll tell you in a week and a half. I’m kind of curious to see how I did, but also kind of annoyed that there’s this much out there.

I’m sure Joss Whedon will have found a way to stick a whole load of extra material in there, but as a person with no self-control, it is rather annoying that I’ve watched all this stuff. It’s probably why I drink and smoke so much. In my future I see gambling problems, getting in with the mob, and dying young. But at least before that happens, I’ll be able to tell my killers that I accurately predicted a film, and perhaps they’ll let me hang around as an informant.

I’ll tell you how that goes too. Assuming I survive the experience.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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The Marvelous Spider-Man

I had originally planned to write a post about my writing future and a series of reviews that I had planned to do, starting with a review of The Interview.

But then I did my regular morning internet rounds and discovered something beautiful.

Marvel got Spider-Man back.

For those of you who don’t waste as much of their time on these trivial little details as I do, although Marvel obviously has always owned Spider-Man, in a bid to start up their film franchises, they dished the cinematic rights of each character to various studios. Characters like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Blade, Daredevil, Ghost Rider and others now had a shot of having movies made.

Unfortunately for Marvel, they eventually realized they were better at making these films than anyone else, but by this point they couldn’t technically make films of any of their major characters. Hence the sudden spiking popularity of the Avengers. Now some might argue the Avengers have always been big names at Marvel. But really, unless you read the comics and  watch the cartoons, you probably didn’t have much of a clue pre-2008. I remember making a status about the death of Captain America in 2007, and all I got in response were queries of ‘Who’s Captain America?’. That response would obviously be met with some ridicule now.

Anyway, another brief bit of back-story. Sony’s been in the shitter. You may have noticed.

Not only that, but their Spider-Man franchise has not been doing nearly as well as they had hoped. We were almost forced into a Spider-Man cinematic universe, which I honestly believe may have tipped the scales towards the death of comic book movies. The characters of the Spider-Man lore are rich and varied. But lets be honest. No one gives a shit. There are tons of more interesting Marvel characters who would make better movie stars.

So they made a deal, and although they still ‘own’ Spider-Man, they’re willing to share. Fantastic.

So here are some of the places I suspect/would like to see the wall-crawler show up:

Civil_War_Vol_1_2_Wraparound

The first and perhaps most likely place is the upcoming Civil War. It was originally announced that the Black Panther would emulate Spider-Man’s role in the next Captain America flick, but seeing as he’s getting his own movie in the not too distance future and [possible spoilers] is suspected to have an appearance in Age of Ultron, I very much doubt Chadwick Boseman would scootch aside a little to give the web-slinger some space. And what with Spider-Man’s next installment having already taken the place of Black Panther, I’d say that situation is not unlikely.

This would be perhaps the best place because it would affirm Spider-Man’s position in the new Marvel Movieverse, post-Civil War, and make it believable that he could have perhaps been around but out of sight since the start of the first Avengers.

Plus, objectifying a young teen superhero to make their point would make Iron Man and Captain America’s struggle much more poignant and morally grey.

dd07

One of the best original team-ups from Marvel has got to be Spider-Man and Daredevil. Street-savvy heroes who operate in completely different ways. One is mostly dark and brooding, the other quipping and aloof. Both love the thrill of superhero-ing. Now, Daredevil is soon to be getting his own show, that looks pretty interesting, if I do say so myself. But for the time being, he’s probably going to remain Netflix only.

Now imagine if Marvel and Netflix made another deal? A Spider-Man/Daredevil team-up movie. It would be a way of Netflix transferring their characters from big to small screen, and for Marvel to perhaps avoid the Spider-Man/Superhero over-saturation of the market.

They team-up, the fight, they reunite to battle someone like Mysterio, whilst Daredevil teaches Spider-Man how to make the streets his own, and Spidey teaches Daredevil to have a little fun. The perfect Superhero buddy cop film.

1798882-new_avengers__2005__28 (1)

 

Everyone wants to see Spider-Man join the Avengers. But if we’re honest, the Avengers have a good thing going. They’re bringing in new and interesting heroes, and they’ve already got Robert Downey Jr. hogging the limelight. They don’t need whoever is next cast as Spider-Man to do the same.

So a spin-off, much in the same vain as the aforementioned Netflix/Marvel idea. Let’s say the Avengers get taken out of the picture for a movie, but the world still needs saving. Who do you call? Looking at the above cover, you could already make a basic roster straight off the bat. Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Doctor Strange are all set to join the movie-verse in the near future. Perhaps just sub Ronin and Spider-Woman for Hawkeye and Black Widow as a means linking it to the main film and you’re golden. Just a shame Marvel can’t bag Wolverine as well, but then that could allow for someone like Black Panther to take his place. Give and interesting contrast between the street-wise thug that is Luke Cage and the majestic prince known as Black Panther. Talk about diversity.

Punisher 

 

As I’ve said, Wolverine can’t be used. Unfortunately, after Daredevil, he’d be my next choice alongside the Fantastic Four or the X-Men. But alas, it is not to be. So instead, why not throw in someone like Wolverine, who has had a similar relationship with the wall-crawler.

Picture this: Spider-Man returns for his next big screen outing, where he is plagued by the menace of the Chameleon. Framed for murder or theft, Spider-Man attracts the attention of The Punisher, who has made it his mission to end crime on the streets of New York City. The two fight, the Punisher proves admirably adept, and Spider-Man struggles with the morality of the Punisher’s methods as the pair bring the villain to justice.

3173470-thunderbolts+#115+-+page+1But then again, who says Spider-Man has to feature at all? Say Spider-Man shows up in one of the aforementioned franchises, then Marvel could use it to springboard another property of theirs; The Thunderbolts. Yes, at this stage, it would look just like they were copying Suicide Squad, but the Thunderbolts would already be mostly established villains and have super-powers. Bring in someone new as Norman Osborn, his identity still in-tact, as the Thunderbolts new Director. Perhaps start the film with flashbacks to Spider-Man’s conflict with the Venom suit, introducing him as well. Follow through with Baron Zemo from Civil War in the place of Swordsman. Whack in Bullseye from his inevitable appearance in Daredevil. Then maybe finish off with assorted villains from Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man or heck, even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

To be honest, Marvel could just throw any random villains in, and I doubt people would complain. Not everyone can have their own solo film to start them off.

Anyway, can you tell I’m excited? I’ll be back tomorrow with a couple of reviews for you. Squee.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

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“Emotionally Subnormal”: Comic Book Culture and its Intended Audience

At twenty years old, I’ll admit to being a big fan of comic books. But the stereotype seems to dictate that as you get older, you either put down your comics and become part of society, or you’re sucked into a life-halting abyss and condemned to forever be a man-child who lives in your mothers basement. Fortunately for me, my mother doesn’t have a basement.

But despite my glib claims, I really do take the whole issue to heart. Why should people be panned for doing something they enjoy, just because parts of society deem it childish, and is that really what my future holds (sans-basement)?

The Criticism.

Back in November, writer Alan Moore revealed his view on super-hero comic books. He claimed that they were a product meant for thirteen year old’s back in the 1950s. Of course, many comic book fans didn’t take kindly to this, for the most part because they themselves were well over the age of thirteen, and this man that many of them had revered had just collectively insulted them. Another big problem they had with this was that Alan Moore is the writer of such ‘graphic novels’ as Batman: The Killing Joke, in which Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker, kidnaps and humiliates Police Commissioner Gordon, and shoots and paralyses Batgirl, the Commissioner’s daughter and Batman’s one-time sidekick. It was pretty dark stuff, but is considered a must-read by many fans. However, for all you non-comic fans out there, another of Moore’s works that you’re probably more familiar with is the graphic novel which would go on to become the source material for the 2009 film The Watchmen. Again, it’s dark stuff, and has lead many to question whether Moore intended those works for children and teenagers. But having worked in the industry for decades, Moore knows the inner workings of its system, and is of course entitled to his own opinion.

But I realise that this is also an opinion that many other non-comic readers share. As a collector myself, I can see how people might think the whole thing is a bit childish. It’s an industry that has a predominantly male following, and idolises men and women flying around in tight revealing costumes solving problems in what could be argued to be most brutish way they can think of.

But in recent years, with the release of Fox’s X-Men film franchise, DC’s numerous attempts at Batman and Superman films, and Marvel’s ever-expanding Cinematic Universe, comic books are undergoing a renaissance in terms of its following. People are starting to appreciate superheroes a lot more than they used to, but this still isn’t leading to a universal appreciation for the printed source material.

A Failed Renaissance?

And why would they? People go to the cinema to escape their day to day lives and achieve a sense of escapism, not to find another reason to ‘waste’ their money on a product that’s very easily damaged, and provides about 20 minutes of entertainment. It’s like subscribing to a television series, but having to own a hard copy of every episode you watch. Instead, they can pay £8/$14 or so, sit down for an hour or two, and be wowed by the colourful characters speeding across their screen towards an eventual happy ending. And that’s that; they’ve had their money’s worth, and they can go home happy that the hero has won the day.

But what the films don’t convey is just how deep the comic book stories can run. And that’s not a criticism of the film makers, I love super hero movies. Too much perhaps. I look at my DVD collection on the shelves across the room from me, and about a quarter of the ones I keep here at my university housing are comic book adaptations of some sort. But because I’m such a big fan of both mediums, I can see that the differences between the two are staggering. Like all Hollywood films, superhero movies are made to make a profit. That’s why after the occasional risk pays off (2008’s Iron Man), a studio will for the most part stick with what they know. Hence the countless returns to Batman, whose presence in a film is guaranteed to gather an audience, no matter how good or bad the film actually is (1997’s Batman & Robin, I’m looking at you). But if you were to find someone eager enough to frequent their local comic book store, and ask them about a few of their favourite characters, chances are, unless they were simplifying matter’s for you convenience, they would be able to list off a fair few characters who you may only have the vaguest idea about.

Which is why comic book fans everywhere are praising the risk behind the soon-to-be released Guardians of the Galaxy. When I told my house-mate that GotG had been put into production, describing it as a ‘Star Wars-esque superhero flick, featuring a gun-toting, talking raccoon and a tree [played by Vin Diesel]’, he rightly admitted that that sounds like a ridiculous move on Marvel Studios’ part. But having read the source material, I realise that it’s a pretty fun and entertaining read.

Good v. Entertaining.

That’s the way I categorize most of the films I own/have seen, unless of course they’re just bad movies. And obviously, I can apply the same rule to comic books. As I said previously, Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett and Lanning is a fun comic book. It’s Entertaining.

I mean, sure, it’s a good read as well, but as far as comics go, I would place it on the entertaining side of the spectrum (although just to clarify, good films/comics are obviously entertaining as well, but hopefully you understand my meaning). On the good side of the spectrum sit my favourite story-lines/issues. For instance, a Thor comic in which the title protagonist is heckled for not being around the stop Hurricane Katrina; a Spider-Man issue where reeling from the death of a close friend, the hero is forced to debate whether or not a relentless mass murderer deserves to be saved; a Luke Cage-orientated issue of Avengers, where the Harlem hero is attacked by government agents for refusing to become to submit to a questionable new law; or a Doctor Strange story where the sorcerer’s trusty ‘manservant’ is diagnosed with cancer, the one evil it seems he cannot face. To extend this back into film territory, to a lesser extent I could claim that Iron Man 3 is my favourite Marvel film, because it see’s Tony Stark stripped of his armour, and forced to combat evil whilst stricken with PTSD.

Do those sound interesting to you? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, everyone has different tastes. And that’s the point!

Sure, people could say that comic books are childish, but what’re the chances they’ve actually read that many? Comics, like any other medium, cover a vast array of issues, and they’re not just limited to superheroes. Other acclaimed comics include things like Y: The Last Man (which is awesome) or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (which I have to admit, I haven’t actually read, just watched the film, which is also awesome, and I’m not even that fond of Michael Cera). There’s just so much to chose from, and I think it’s a shame that people are so quick to dismiss all comic’s as something for the ‘Emotionally Subnormal’.

But seriously, watch Scott Pilgrim. It’s awesome.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in Comic Books

 

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