DCEU – Restructuring and Revamping

For this week’s post I decided to focus on some new developments in the DCEU camp and what my thoughts are behind them.

Okay so I don’t think it’s exactly any sort of a secret that Ben Affleck is going to leave the Batman role behind in the next couple of years. From the lackluster performance of Batman V. Superman, the failure of Suicide Squad, and the very sub-par Justice League; DC entertainment have decided to restructure their entire expanded universe and inject some hopeful new blood into their floundering franchise.

Batman

The first big piece of news that isn’t really that new is that Ben Affleck is no longer writing or directing the film that was tentatively titled The Batman. In wake of Affleck backing out of the directorial and writing role DC Entertainment has tapped Matt Reeves (Planet of the Apes trilogy) to helm the project. As part of the condition that Reeves takeover the project he is going to make a trilogy and he has scrapped the pre-existing script (with Deathstroke as the villain) to write his own original script and story for the trilogy. This came as a shock to fans who were hoping to get an Affleck directed Batman film. I know I loved the Town and Argo, both films were written by , directed and starring Affleck and I was a little disappointed that they scrapped the story he had worked so hard on. Not only was the story scrapped, which featured Joe Manganiello reprising his role as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, but Deathstroke was potentially scrapped as a villain all together. We did get a little tidbit of a taste of Manganiello as Wilson in a Justice League post-credit scene wherein Lex Luthor floated the idea of the Society of Supervillains. Since his announcement of taking over the project Matt Reeves has stated he has an idea in mind and he has begun the early stages of writing the script. Recently it was reported that Ben Affleck would not be starring as Batman in Reeves’ trilogy, and that a new actor would be cast in the role of the Dark Knight. Speculations began flying as to why Affleck would not be reprising the role and who would be best suited to take his place. Some of the front runners for the role were rumoured to be: Jake Gyllenhaal, John Hamm, and Karl Urban; with recent news putting Gyllenhaal as the favourtie for the role.

Gyllenhall Batman

While I do love Batfleck it is apparent through interviews and appearances at cons and television, that Affleck is not crazy about the role. He was reported as saying at San Diege Comic-Con that he” …is Batman and it is the role of a lifetime for any actor. He is Batman for the foreseeable future.” That being said recent re-structuring of DC Entertainment may have that called into question. While Affleck certainly does have at least 2 more movies (1 of which being another Justice League) in his contract, the actor and the studio are not in the greatest of spaces after the fiasco that went on with the re shoots of Justice League. It has been well documented that the studio pushed both the actors and replacement director, Joss Whedon, into a tight schedule for re-shoots of the film. This caused everyone associated with the film to work for long hours without a break and caused tensions to rise behind the scenes, with Affleck being very vocal about the whole ordeal.

Do I want Affleck to step away from Batman? No. I think he has the best look of anyone that has taken the role thus far. Don’t get me wrong the Dark Knight trilogy is amazing, but it is more fondly remembered for the amazing performance by Heath Ledger than for Batman. I grew up watching the animated series, playing the games and reading the comics, and Ben Affleck definitely has the look to play Batman. I am not crazy about the voice modulator that everyone seems to think that Batman has to use. My friend Malcolm and I have said it since the beginning that to make any Batman fan happy, have Kevin Conroy voice over the actor and make the cape CG.

Recently, The Flash movie has finally found its directorial team with John Francis Daley and Johnathan Goldstein. These two were the minds behind the Vacation remake starring Ed Helms and they also co-wrote Spider-Man: Homecoming, which they were also considered to direct before Marvel went with John Watts. With the Flash movie having finally found its directors the focus has once again turned to the story, Flashpoint. DC Entertainment Announced that this would be the title of the Flash movie before Justice League was released, and it was honestly the smartest move they could make.

Flashpoint

In DC comics Flashpoint was when Flash decided (after being goaded on by Reverse Flash) to travel back in time and save his mom from dying. The entire adventure caused a new time stream to form and it was not a pretty future…  Aquaman and Wonder Woman at war, Superman never having seen the sun, Bruce Wayne dying in the alley and his father becoming Batman while his mother goes insane to become the Joker…. When Flash was finally able to right his wrong and reset the timeline, the New 52 had begun. DC Comics used both Flashpoint and Infinite Crisis to “reset” their comic multiverse down to just 52 Earths. It allowed for a re-launch of existing properties giving all their characters a younger look and more inexperienced feel. Sadly the New 52 did not prove to be very popular among many comic fans and DC re-vamped and re-launched their comic properties again with Rebirth just 6 years after the New 52 began.

The reason Flashpoint is the smartest call they could make is due to the nature of the story. As I said before DC Comics used it as a means of resetting their comic universe and DC Entertainment will most likely use it in the same manner. With the lackluster performance of the DCEU thus far (minus Wonder Woman) DC Entertainment is looking to re-vamp their brand and start fresh with their expanded universe. With Aquaman set to release in December of this year and Wonder Woman 2 set to come out next year along with (potentially) Suicide Squad 2 the re-launch seems to be a weird call to make.

I think the main reason for the re-vamp is to go with a younger Batman. They will keep the rest of the League as is, most of them are “younger” anyways; and they will introduce a younger Batman to join the League. This will bring their movies and comics more in line with one another and allow for a more cohesive and accurate timeline.  One of the many criticisms of the DCEU is the age discrepancy between Batman and the rest of the League. In the DCEU as it stands now, Batman is mid 40’s to early 50’s, while the rest of the League are their mid to late 20’s. While this worked great for the gruff experienced Batman showing the younger ones how to do things, it doesn’t translate well for a good dynamic after that.  Injecting a younger actor into the role will open up the experience to potentially include a Robin or two and bring some much needed revitalization to the DCEU.

 

 

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The Problem With Transitioning Comics To The Big/Small Screens

I wanted to start off the year with a post related to something I have been thinking about for a long time; the problems with bringing comics to the big/small screen.  I will be the first one to admit that sometimes a comic will do better as a TV show or as a movie and vice versa, but there is a fine line about the distinction and I will explain.

WHEN IT WORKS BETTER AS A TV SHOW

Arrow and Flash

We have all seen the success of the CW “Arrowverse” and its related content; conversely, we have seen the success of the Marvel Netflix corner of the MCU. Both of these successful franchises have something in common, they’re grounded.  The CW started dabbling into the superhero genre with Smallville way back in 2001. It was the first widely successful superhero television show and ran for a full 10 seasons. The show centered around Clark Kent as he grew up in Smallville and his eventual move to Metropolis. The thing that made the show likeable was that we watched as Clark grew as a person and as a hero, he started as a young naive kid and ended the series as the Superman the world needed. One thing I will say about the show is that I felt it was about 3 seasons too long, and I know I for one was a little irate that he never flew until the last 5 minutes of the last episode.  I get that the show had budget restrictions but come on! It’s Superman!

Almost exactly a year after Smallville ended, a gritty new superhero drama graced our television screens, and that show was Arrow. Arrow went for a much more dark and gritty approach and knocked it out of the park. I know I was blown away with the show and never missed an episode until the dismal fourth season… ugh. But the show worked as a television serial because of the grounded and character driven plots, not to mention it wasn’t heavy reliant on CGI.  Netflix used this formula to create probably the greatest superhero TV shows to date. Within the Netflix universe you get Daredevil, Punisher, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist; all these heroes are fairly grounded and don’t rely heavy on the crazy storytelling and plots that would require heavy CGI.

The “Arrowverse” has definitely branched out and included some more “out there shows” with the likes of Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the crossover episodes but they just don’t fit with the gritty world Arrow created. When the Flash first aired, it actually started by using a backdoor pilot in Arrow, and was an interesting contrast to the dark tone of the show. Much like the title characters of DC comics, Batman and Superman, Arrow and Flash are the exact opposites. Arrow is the dark and brooding drama; whereas Flash is the lighthearted fun serial with lots of bright colours and warm tones.

Runaways

With the sale of Fox to Disney, I am interested to see what will happen to all the new slew of X-Men related content now airing on television. I will not lie, I watched one episode of the Runaways and turned it off halfway through. It just wasn’t engaging and the rarity of a teenager using their powers? I know if I had powers as a teenager or even a dinosaur that responded to my mental commands… I would use that shit every chance I got! X-Men is one franchise that will not work well on TV just because the heroes and story arcs rely on heavy CGI. Badass ninjas and indestructible skin are easy to show on TV, shooting ice and fire from your hands or giant laser beams from your eyes… not so much. For a superhero show to be successful it needs to be grounded and character driven, which sadly most comics are not.

WHEN IT WORKS BETTER AS A MOVIE

CGI and team ups. Enough said.

Big budget movies can obviously have ridiculous amounts of awesome CGI and still pull it off. For the most part… Looking at you Justice League!

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Massive team ups also only work as a movie, unless you devote a solid series to each character first, then they CAN work. They won’t always work, but batting 80% is better than failing every time.

I just find that for the likes of Avengers, X-Men, and Justice League the characters are too big to have them just thrown in or put into a TV show. Smallville tried to put the Justice League and the Justice Society into the series and it worked… sort of. Each member of the their “league” was given at least one episode of introduction prior to the team up. The Justice society was jammed into a 2 episode arc that really only highlighted two, potentially 3 characters.  While the ending to the JSutice society arc did give us back Martian Manhunter and gave us Hawkman in a more permanent role, it wasn’t properly executed.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK FROM COMICS IN MOVIES & TV

Okay I will admit that there are some glaring issues with the MCU and the DCEU, everybody with me so far let’s move on…

The MCU is the unstoppable force behind all the modern connected universes, that being said, they tend to change a lot of things so that it will work with their overall narrative. The Infinity Stones are a prime example of Marvel studios changing their lore to work with their overall narrative. We all know there are 6 Infinity Gems (stones in the MCU), each representing a fundamental force that composed the universe. Originally called the Soul Gems until Infinity War when they were renamed the Infinity Gems, Thanos was the first to use all 6 in unison.  The thing that irks me is that they take other artifacts that are important from Marvel comics lore and make them Infinity Stones for the sake of the narrative.  The Tesseract is not the Space Stone, it is in fact closer to the cosmic cube which is responsible for Hydra Cap; Loki’s Scepter is not the Mind stone, and the Eye of Agamotto is not the time stone.

Apart from the renaming and branding of the Infinity Gems, one thing that MArvel does take a liberty with is changing their stories to work with the modern superhero/sci-fi framework, let me explain. Sci-fi stands for Science fiction, everybody knows that, so why do they remove sci-fi aspects from their movies? Let’s look at Age of Ultron

Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron is a solid movie, not the best of the MCU but also not the worst. The thing is that Ultron is a recurring villain that the Avengers have never been able to defeat 100%. They always just BARELY beat him and then he shows up again later and better equipped. I understand that they needed to have his origin, growth and death all in one movie, but why choose that story to do? The real Age of Ultron story from the comic of the same name plays out completely differently than the movie. In the comic, Ultron confronts the Avengers and wins. Within the first 20 pages of the event, Ultron has beaten the Avengers.  He establishes a dystopian society which he rules from the future using Vision (his son) as a conduit. In order to win, Wolverine and Sue Storm make a desperate attempt to go back in time and kill Hank Pym the original creator of Ultron before he can develop the genocidal AI. Because time travel never goes the way it’s supposed to, the future ends up being worse with the Avengers being named the Defenders, and a massive war being waged by Tony and his tech/cybernetic empire against Morgan Le Fey and her magic kingdom. Wolverine and Sue Storm decide to go back in time and stop themselves from killing Pym by… killing themselves. This makes them a temporal paradox and because nobody likes that kind of stuff, they convince Pym to install a backdoor program in Ultron’s code before they use Dr. Doom’s time platform to return to their own time, thereby righting the paradox. Wolverine and Sue arrive at the beginning of the story when Ultron first defeats the Avengers. Before Ultron can finish the job, the subroutine installed by Pym in the paradoxal timeline runs causing Ultron to shut down momentarily allowing Thor the time he needs to smash Ultron to pieces.

For obvious reasons they couldn’t use the story because for one… Wolverine and Sue Storm were owned by Fox until several months ago. But this story is a prime example of one key component of comic book fiction that will never transfer well into movie form, time travel.

Time travel is something inherently accepted by the comic community as a regular occurrence in comics. When it occurs it never really throws anyone for the ringer. Most readers just say “oh, this is going to get good” and they continue reading. DC’s Flash is probably the most relevant case with this type of publication. I like the Flash but I don’t get to read a lot of his stories because Batman… and priorities. That being said most of his major events have revolved around him either travelling backwards or forwards in time and mucking something up.  Then he has to fix it before he can come back and grow a little bit as a character each time. Time travel just doesn’t transfer well into a movie, there are some exceptions (Looper), but for the most part it’s a type of Sci-Fi that works best in printed form.

Multiverse

Keeping the train moving on Sci-Fi concepts that work better in print than film, Alternate Realities. It is well established that everything that happens in comics takes place on one earth in the vast array of the multiverse. Both DC and Marvel utilize this concept and generate some pretty great stories with it. DC has made great stories like Crisis on Infinite Earth, Final Crisis, and Infinite Crisis. Marvel uses the multiverse a lot less liberally but still generates some great stories like the Hickman run on Avengers in the MarvelNow! printing, Secret Wars, and Battleworld. Alternate Realities is just something that can be accepted in comics, mainly because of the infinite possibilities and variations on heroes. Not only that but it allows for some possible evil versions of the heroes to come to the forefront as with DC’s Crime Syndicate of Earth-3. When making a film there are certain things that you have to take time to do, one of the big ones is explaining how the physics works in the world you’ve created. If you look at every successful Sci-Fi TV show they all explain how things are possible in their universe, from FTL travel to weapons and even biological life. Films can do this but they have to condense it way down into  a few minutes, which doesn’t allow for a lot of in depth explanation. For this reason most films have avoided the subject of alternate realities unless the entire premise of their plot is based on it, like The One from 2001.

With glaring plot hole abundant in their films, there are still just some things that comic fans will accept without a reason. When Flash was first published he was the “Fastest Man Alive” and nobody needed to know how it was possible. Over decades the story gets a little more clear and complex and now it’s common knowledge among many comic fans how Flash can move as fast as he does. The same can be said for Superman. Way back when Action Comics #1  was released and we saw a man who could lift a car, was bulletproof, and could fly; nobody needed an explanation as to why he could do it. Again, through several decades of continued story telling the picture has become a little clearer to the point where it is crystal.

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Movies and TV shows are a great medium to be able to tell comic book stories, and get those who might not be inclined to pick up the latest issue of Flash or Spider-Man interested in the character. Like I’ve said though there are just some things that will never transition well into a movie and a TV show and that’s okay. Alternate Timelines and Alternate Realities are confusing enough for the fans without butchering explanations and leaving giant earth sized plot holes. The second season of the Flash TV show explored the idea of the multiverse but they didn’t let the concept overwhelm the overall narrative of the show. They dabbled into the science but kept the focus on Barry and his team, allowing the viewer to fill in the blanks. For myself and many other this was not an issue when watching the show, but I do know there were several people who stopped watching due to the confusing nature of the season and its jumps from earth to earth.

Movies or TV shows,  it doesn’t matter to me how they do it, as long as they do the story justice and stay away from things that just should be better left on the pages of a comic book.

 

Justice League + Punisher- Review (NO SPOILERS)

This past weekend two of the most anticipated releases of the year came out, Justice League and the Punisher Netflix series. I am glad to say that I saw them both in their entirety upon release. This is going to be a long post as I will review both of these entities in their entirety. That being said this will be a spoiler free review and dive mostly into the productions and characters.

Let’s Start off with the one the entire internet is talking about… The Justice League!

JUSTICE LEAGUE

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I am going to be frank with this one, I liked the movie but there were quite a few things that needed to be fixed with it. I have found from watching all the DCEU movies that they are made for comic book fans whereas Marvel movies are made for everyone. What I mean to say is that there are some sections of the Justice League movie that I, as a comic fan, were able to fill in with ease; however, someone who might not be as well versed in comic books would not be able to connect to. For example, they did a piss poor job of explaining what the mother boxes were for and who Steppenwolf is. I glossed over it, as did the people i was watching it with, because we knew who these characters were and how they functioned. For the most part the people in the theatre seemed to follow the movie fairly well, there were only a few scenes where I heard a collective “Huh?” from the audience. The overall pacing of the movie was really good, it didn’t get bogged down like Batman V. Superman did, and it didn’t jump making huge leaps like Suicide Squad. Mostly though, it was fun! I walked out of that theatre with a smile on my face and thinking that it was basically just an episode of Justice League unlimited in live action form.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

All right, it’s pretty well known that this project was experiencing a LOT of drama behind the scenes. most notably, Zack Snyder having to take some personal time to deal with the suicide of his daughter. Warner Brothers then brought in Joss Whedon (of Avengers fame), to finish the project and see it through post production. Most people are not aware that most of what was re-shot under Whedon were the character interactions and the action scenes he left largely alone. Warner Brothers actually fired Zack from the project during post production when they ordered him to cut the movie to less than a 2 hour run time and he refused.

Now with that in mind, STOP BLAMING WHEDON FOR THIS MOVIE!

Moving on… Zack Snyder has a very specific style that works very well with the darker and grittier heroes. That being said it doesn’t really flow with the tone of the Justice League. If Snyder directed a solo Batman movie (which he pretty much did with Batman V Superman) I personally, would watch the shit out of it. I loved his take on Watchmen and his style has no equal. His style is very gritty and he grey washes a lot of the colours to make them more flat and matte. He isn’t like Michael Bay who puts a blue filter on EVERYTHING and adds explosions just because; and he’s not like J.J. Abrams who likes to blind people with lens flares, but he definitely has a very unique style that nobody can mistake.

It’s obvious which scenes of the movie were filmed by Snyder and which were filmed by Whedon.  The tonal shift between scenes is very obvious in some cases and it can cause you to feel like you’re watching two very different movies. Again, not Whedon’s fault, he did what he was hired to do. He actually didn’t want to take the project away from Zack, but when WB fired Snyder, Whedon stepped up because he loves the characters and was waiting just like the rest of us for Justice League.

Whedon’s style is very… different from Snyder’s. not to say they are polar opposites, but they kind of are. Whedon loves to add colour splashes and make everything pop to add visual flair to the shots. As I said before it is very evident what was shot by Snyder and what was shot by Whedon.

HUMOUR

Okay, so this is not a dig at Zack Snyder but he really doesn’t get humour and he doesn’t really add it into his movies. He does cynicism and sarcasm like a boss, but for outward obvious humour he is kind of deaf to it. Pretty much all of the humour in Justice League came from Whedon and his re-shoots. Most of the humour in Justice League comes from the interactions between the characters and the dialogue they deliver.

Ezra Miller though! Ezra plays Barry Allen/Flash in this film and he is by far the best character in the movie, this is coming from a die hard Batman fan too. When he first meets the other members of the League and they go to the Batcave for the first time, he runs around checking everything out, just like any member of the audience would. He is basically an extension of how any member of the audience would react in the movie, he is in awe of the other Leaguers and when compared to the rest of them he is the rookie.  Batman has some great mentoring moments with Flash and it shows that this Batman views Flash like one of his Robins which is a very cool dynamic to introduce into the DCEU. I don’t want to say anymore because that could give away some of the best scenes, but let me say that Flash’s antics caused the entire theatre to laugh, every time.

COSTUMES

So the costumes in this movie are pretty much identical to the ones worn by the Trinity in Batman V Superman with the exception of Batman. For most of the movie he is wearing a very dark blue suit reminiscent of the cartoon Justice League. His suit looks black in the dark but when it’s shown in the light it has a very dark blue hue to it. Just like in the promotional poster for the movie that says “You Can’t Save The World Alone”. The rest of the League has awesome costumes as well, with the exception of Superman and Wonder Woman, the creators opted for a more armoured look for everyone during the final fight. I think this makes them look more prepared for what they encountered and made it more believable than different coloured spandex.

Justice_League_film_poster

One thing that was brought to my attention was by one of my movie viewing compatriots during the scene where Steppenwolf appears on Themyscira. She (my compatriot) noted that the Amazons were much more scantily clad than in the Wonder Woman movie. I will admit I didn’t notice this as I was too focused on the action, but when I went back and looked at the trailers showing the scenes with the Amazons my friend was right, they were no where near as armoured as in Wonder Woman.  While this is obviously a ploy by the creators to keep young men coming to the movie I thought it had to do with something entirely normal, maneuverability. Wonder Woman takes place during the time span of World War I, during this movie the Amazons are much more armoured and move slower compared to Justice League. It was also during Wonder Woman that the Amazons discovered their armour no longer stopped the weapons of man. I am of course referring to that scene on the beach, when several dozen Amazons including their general were cut down by rifle fire.  Now this might be my mind over thinking it but I believe that when they came to realization that their armour was ineffective they opted for a lighter material that they can still used to deflect physical attacks, but didn’t restrict their movement.  When you see the movie you will understand what I mean, I just can’t say anymore without spoiling it.

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OVERALL THOUGHTS

If you’re looking for an oscar worthy movie then this is not it. If you’re looking for a fun superhero movie with some great one liners look no further! While it failed to capture the magic of the Avengers, Justice League made leaps and bounds compared to some of the previous DCEU continuity. It got rid of the dark and gritty tone set by the previous installments in the universe and decided to go for a more fun approach.

I will say this Steppenwolf looked absolutely terrible. When a movie costs over 300 million to make you think they could use some better CGI. For most of the movie he looked like he was cut out of PS3/Xbox360 cutscene. His reasons are very unclear in the movie and this inhibits the story telling quite a bit. I think they should’ve used him as a segue way into their big bad Darkseid, and they might eventually, but as of right now he was a very lackluster villain for the League to have gone up against. When you see the movie you’ll understand what I mean during the final fight, 2 members of the League kept him occupied while the rest did other things.

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Despite the drama behind the camera and the tonal shift this movie is a solid superhero flick. It’s not as complex as it could’ve been but it also didn’t spoon feed you everything off the hop (Marvel). It is far from the best superhero or even DC movie ever made, but it’s definitely not the worst either (Bat Nipples anyone?) I definitely give this movie a 7/10. It has some flaws and some things that I would change personally but overall like I’ve said it’s a fun movie to just kick back and enjoy for 2 hours.

 

Onto Marvel!

 

PUNISHER

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So, I’m sure myself like many others, marathoned Punisher in either a day or a day and a half. My friend and I decided to get up early on Saturday, make a coffee and a bagel each and start the marathon. the title sequence was amazing! The song and the sequence showing the various bullets and weapons that then form the Punisher skull just fit the show so perfectly! The song itself is going to be a must have for my personal playlist, it was reminiscent of the classic rock ballads with hints of country thrown in. I will admit that I dislike country music very much, (but that’s a whole other topic), but this song was awesome! The series itself is probably the most brutal of all the Netflix series to date. It follows Frank after he has finished his crusade for vengeance and he is trying to keep a low profile as Pete. Things obviously don’t go to plan and he is dragged back into his old life. Micro seeks out Frank to help him bring down a government conspiracy so that Micro can see his family again. The show doesn’t pull any punches and doesn’t skimp on the violence either. The final two episodes are probably two of the most brutal episodes of a show I have ever seen and I watched Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

This show has a very Stark and gritty tone to the shots they use. When Frank is sporting his full Punisher garb they use a lot of shadows and lighting tricks to hide his face while making the skull on his armour pop. Giving the impression of the skull coming for you as opposed to the man. They also use a lot of warm colours during his memory scenes and dream sequences. They also like to frost the tiniest bit of the shots when he is recounting a memory. They especially add a very soft filter and bloom the light sources when he dreams about his family. It’s a great technique that adds a lot more to the scenes.

HUMOUR

This is a show about the Punisher, he really isn’t a funny guy. That being said the supporting characters of Billy Russo and Micro really bring the humour and so does the character of Stein. Those three bring just a little bit of light and antics to this dark brutal drama.

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COSTUMES

The costumes in this show are spot on. Most of the characters only wear regular street clothes so there isn’t much to convey. When the Punisher does suit up though he is like a mash up of the 2004 Thomas Jane and the 2008 Ray Stevenson. He sports tactical gear without looking overly tank like. He isn’t sporting light gear but he is definitely not wearing full advanced combat body armour.

The weapons! Weapons fall under costumes, it’s my blog I can put them where I want!

For most of the show he uses the tools he has at hand, sometimes a sledge hammer and sometimes a handgun. When he does get his arsenal though, look out anonymous henchmen! The main battle scene wherein Frank takes on about 30 guys by himself is nothing sort of spectacular. He weaves and kills like some sort of deadly water dancer. If the water dancer could kill you with their bare hands in 30 different ways…

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OVERALL THOUGHTS

This series is a great addition to the Netflix Universe. It currently sits as my second favourite series after Daredevil and before Iron Fist. I don’t want to dive too much into the plot for fear of spoiling something but I will say that it’s a great revenge plot. Following the Punisher’s arc in Daredevil Season 2 could’ve been rough but this production team and the actors pulled it off amazingly.  I would definitely rate this series a solid 8.5/10. I can’t explain why I gave it that rating until you watch the series. Once you watch it and the ending you will definitely understand the rating I gave it. The plot is a little convoluted at times and if you aren’t paying very close attention you can miss some key moments. Bernthal embodies the role and really gets into the grit of what makes Frank Castle tick. For those expecting a series where Frank senselessly murders hundreds of anonymous henchmen, this isn’t it. Want that kind of Punisher violence then watch Punisher:War Zone starring Ray Stevenson. I will say that Bernthal doesn’t look like the comic book version of Frank Castle but he definitely acts like him when it counts.

 

Those are my reviews of both releases. Agree or not let me know! see you next week for another edition of Underrated Hero!

Most Underrated Heroes Vol.4 – Constantine

This month for the most underrated hero I decided to give the spotlight to someone that I think was robbed of their chance at a solid television series, that would be none other than John Constantine. I personally was a huge fan of the Constantine television show starring Matt Ryan, and I was even happier when he made a guest appearance in Arrow during their horrible fourth season… Keanu Reeves did an awesome job capturing the essence of Constantine during the 2005 film, but Matt Ryan is the physical incarnation of Constantine right down to his sarcastic wit.

That being said let’s move onto Constantine’s rich backstory…

HISTORY

John was born in Liverpool, Lancashire on May 10, 1953 to Mary Anne and Thomas. Mary Anne died in childbirth as did John’s still born brother; Thomas blamed John for their deaths which caused a severe strain on their relationship growing up. In later publications it is revealed that John had actually strangled his twin in the womb with his umbilical cord. John and his older sister, Cheryl, lived with their aunt and uncle in Northampton briefly while their father was in prison.  When their father was released they moved back to Liverpool where John learned of his lineage. John’s family comes from a long line of powerful mages known as the Laughing Magicians, mages of great power known for bluffing and tricking Gods. John decided to follow in his bloodline’s footsteps and become a magician and his first act was to lock away his chilhood innocence and vulnerability in a box so he would be rid of them. In his teen years he botched a curse which left his father withered and frail, John subsequently ran away from home to London where he roomed with his oldest friend Francis Chandler a.k.a. Chas.

John then began travelling the occult circles in London and even ventured into the United States where he met and became enamored with Zatanna Zatara. He also formed a punk rock band called Mucous Membrane of which he was front man. The band toured London while John became a famous stage magician on the side. During a trip to Newcastle to play at the Casanova Club, the proprietor had been having a magical orgy and his abused daughter, Astra Logue, had accidentally conjured a monster to take revenge on her father and the other club patrons for their torment, but the monster refused to leave. John convinced some of the band members and some of his occultist friends to summon their own demon to destroy the monster. When they summoned their own demon, it killed the monster, but then it taunted the group and dragged the little girl screaming to hell. When conducting the summoning spell John hadn’t used the demon’s true name, Nergal, and thus it was not bound to obey his commands. John suffered from a mental breakdown after this and was committed to Ravenscar institute where he drifted in and out for many years. John eventually used some magic and con-artistry to rescue Astra from Hell along with any of the other children being held there. The rest of the “Newcastle” crew remained both physically and psychologically scarred.

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John has many adventures over the years since he was broken out of Ravenscar by a group of mobsters looking for him to resurrect their boss’ dead son, and threatening to kill his sister if he doesn’t. He summons a demon and convinces it to take the boy’s place which ends bloody for him the long run. He has quite the friendship with Swamp Thing, both of them helping the other out every now and then with John even inviting Swamp Thing to his birthday.

John was diagnosed with lung cancer and was told it was terminal. He sought the help of a dying friend Brendan, who had sold his soul to the most powerful Lord of Hell, the First of the Fallen. When the First of the Fallen arrived to take Brendan’s soul, John tricked him into drinking Holy Water which rendered him powerless and unable to collect Brendan’s soul, which then went to heaven. In retaliation for this act the First promised John unprecedented torture and agony when he finally died and came to Hell. To stop this John secretly sold his soul to the other two Lords of Hell. Since they didn’t want to go to war over a soul,and take each other out, they resigned to cure John of his cancer which would allow them more time to come up with a plan. The first did not like this and set a trap which resulted in many of John’s friends dying.  John then blackmailed God to help him because he stated “…If I go to Hell, I will take the whole damn thing over and close the gates leaving nowhere for the damned to go”.

To keep the sob train moving… John loses his memory, and to get it back is then forced to father three demon children which then go out and massacre anyone associated with him. Among these is his sister Cheryl, who was killed when one of the demon spawn caused her overtly religious husband to see her as a witch, and thus someone to kill. When John finally gets to Hell, he tries to convince a demon to kill him and trade his soul for Cheryl’s, because Cheryl doesn’t belong there. The First kills the demon and tells John his soul is his ” by right of insult”. Before he releases Cheryl the First of the Fallen informs her that her husband, who had killed her, became so distraught over what he had done he had killed himself, making him twice damned. The First agreed to split his punishment between Cheryl and her husband’s soul if she agreed to stay on her own free will. Cheryl agreed and John was cast out of Hell.

John has various other adventures until he fakes his death in the Three Fates storyline. The end of that storyline sees his niece Gemma attempt to shoot him to save herself future torment and pain. She closes her eyes and pulls the trigger of the revolver she had pointed at him, only to open her eyes and see that he was gone.

POWERS & ABILITIES

Constantine is well verse in many forms of both magical arts and “Stage magic”. He is adept at hypnosis, sleight of hand, pickpocketing, escapology, and is an adequate hand to hand fighter. His magical skills range from spells to rituals and curses. He is proficient in evocation, necromancy, illusions and invisibility. Constantine’s most prominent magical ability is synchronicity wave travelling, which is a fancy way of saying he is able to make his own luck.  Whether it’s just narrowly avoiding harm, finding the right spell at the right time, or turning the battle in his favour, Constantine’s luck making has kept him alive more times than anything else.

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He is also proficient in  counter spells, teleportation, elemental magic, telekinesis, and immobilisation magic. He is also able to resist telepathy, possessions, mind control and is even able to avoid omnipresence.

His blood is demonically tainted, causing him some healing abilities and an age-managing ability. It is also highly corrosive and poisonous to the King of Vampires.

In addition to all these abilities John also controls the House of Mystery. which allows him to transport to different dimensions and across the universe. It also allows him to control anyone who he invites into it and accepts.  His trademark trench coat also has been imbued with some demonic powers.

Regardless of his magic abilities Constantine is also the world’s greatest Con man, He has  duped the First of the Fallen, Superman, and even Batman at various points in his comic run.

 

REASONS HE’S UNDERRATED

Constantine is one of the major players in the DC magic universe that seems to be underplayed a lot. Dr. Fate, Zatanna, even Zatara are more widely recognized than he is; although, that might be in part to their affiliation with the Justice League, whereas Constantine has always been more of a lone wolf. In the New 52 Justice League Dark, Constantine was actually the leader of the squad which also included Black Orchid, Deadman and Frankenstein.

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Constantine’s lone wolf tendencies as well as his overtly closed off and sarcastic persona have put him at ends with several members of the Justice League on more than one occasion, Batman and Superman included. He likes to cast an air of superiority wherever he goes and that can sometimes get him into hot water, especially if he is grandstanding for a new ally. The main problem with Constantine is that he always looks out for himself and his, and that doesn’t include anyone else unless he says so. This approach has led to MANY allies of his either ending up dead or broken (both physically and mentally). Mostly the reason he is underrated is because he has shown on multiple occasions to have bluffed some of, if not THE most powerful magical beings in the universe, not to mention two of the pillars of the Justice League (Batman and Superman). He bluffed God, freaking GOD! He pitted the Lords of Hell against each other and convinced them to cure his cancer! He might be a dirty and selfish con-man but you gotta admit, he is good at what he does.

I really want Constantine to make more live action appearances in the Arrowverse. I think Matt Ryan was robbed of his time in the sun and he should be given more time to shine. How awesome would it be for him to be added to the roster of Legends of Tomorrow? I think he would fit in there perfectly.

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This concludes another edition of Most Underrated Heroes! See you next week!

 

 

Top 5 Psychopaths in Mainstream Comics

This week I decided to take all of the villains  that I know from Marvel and DC Comics and pick the top 5 that I think are the worst psychopaths. To clarify I was not looking for body count alone but for unhinged behaviours and sadistic actions. Without further ado, here are the top 5 psychopaths in mainstream comics.

#5 – Bullseye

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Coming in at no. 5 is none other than the (arguable) arch nemesis of the Man Without Fear, Bullseye. His first appearance was in Daredevil #131 of March 1976, and since then he has come to cause nothing but torment and mayhem for Daredevil. Not much is known about him except that he grew up in the Bronx with an abusive father and an older brother. He was a gifted marksman and as such entered the minor leagues as a pitcher, being called up for his first and last ever major league game. After having pitched a perfect game he grew bored and asked to be taken out, but the coach refused telling him to finish the game. When the batter taunted him for being a coward Bullseye threw the final pitch of the game which struck the batter in the head killing him. He was hired as an assassin by the NSA but quickly defected and joined various Cartel’s as a gun for hire. He began his costumed criminal career as a hitman for hire being know for never missing. After being defeated by Daredevil twice his reputation was ruined and he began his crusade against Daredevil to reclaim it. Over his comic career he has killed Elektra ( Daredevil’s lover) with her own sai, Karen Page (Daredevil’s girlfriend) with one of Daredevil’s Billy Clubs, and used explosives to drop a tenement building killing hundreds.  He later joins the Thunderbolts as an “as necessary member” and eventually joins Osborn’s Dark Avengers. In Shadowland he is impaled by one of his sais by Daredevil (at this point possessed by the beast) after breaking both of Bullseye’s arms in a fight.  He has since been resurrected and continues his crusade against Daredevil.

#4 – Hunter Zolomon/Zoom

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Ranking in at No.4 is the Time manipulator himself, Zoom. The interesting thing about Zoom is that he didn’t start out on  a bad path. he was an expert investigator and profiler.  He studied both criminology and psychology before enlisting in the FBI, along with his then girlfriend Ashley. Ashley’s father was killed during a case when Hunter made a bad call, Ashley left him and he was injured to the point of needing a cane to walk. He took a job in Keystone City as a profiler which is where he met Flash (Wally West) and the two became friends. During an attack on Iron Heights by Gorilla Grodd, Hunter was paralyzed from the waist down. He asked Wally to use the cosmic treadmill to reverse time and fix it but Wally refused. Hunter then broke into the Flash museum to use the treadmill, the resulting explosion destroyed the museum but gave Hunter the use of his legs and “derailed” him from the time stream giving him super speed. Zolomon came to the realization that the reason Wally refused to help him was because he had never experienced great tragedy as the previous Flash (Barry Allen) had. He attacked Flash and caused Wally’s wife (Linda) to miscarry the twins. Believing his work was not done he proceeded to make it his mission to kill Linda so that Wally would know true loss. In Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge, Zoom cures Inertia of his paralysis and begins teaching him to “better” the lives of other by inflicting tragedies upon them. Inertia grew jealous and paranoid of Zoom and unraveled Zoom’s personal timeline to the point where Zolomon lost his powers and became a cripple again. Zolomon has since approached Eobard Thawne (Reverse Flash) in Iron Heights, with a way to “benefit them both”.

#3 – Superboy Prime

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Superboy Prime takes No. 3 and rightfully so. As the list progresses each member gets a little more unhinged. The sad thing is that this entry on the list, like Hunter Zolomon actually started out as a good guy. During the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline Superboy Prime helped the combined heroes of the DC multiverse to defeat the Anti-Monitor. After they beat the Anti-Monitor, Earth-2 Superman and his wife Lois, Earth-3 Lex Luthor Jr., and Superboy Prime were hidden in a “paradise” dimension. It was here that Superboy Prime’s mind began to unravel. He begins pounding on he walls of reality causing many alterations to main continuity, one of these was Jason Todd’s resurrection. Alexander Luthor Jr. from Earth-3 informs Superboy Prime that his powers are returning and then combine forces with him causing the dimension to shatter and starting Infinite crisis.  Driven jealous by Superboy of Earth-1 (Connor Kent) and his life with Ma and Pa Kent, he challenges Superboy to a fight. Superboy activates his Titans homing beacon and several other heroes show up to assist. When Superboy Prime kills Pantha by punching her head off, Bart Allen, Wally West and Jay Garrick grab Superboy Prime and imprison him in an alternate world where he is kept in a prison cell under red sunlight for 4 years. He escapes during the fight between Earth-3  Alexander Luthor Jr. and is covered in a version of the anti-monitor’s armour that constantly feeds yellow sunlight into him boosting his power levels. When he attempted to kill Wonder Girl, Connor Kent (Earth-1 Superboy) grew enraged and attempted to take him out. Connor was killed when the two Superboys smashed into Earth-3 Lex Luthor Jr.’s device. In probably his most unhinged idea, Superboy Prime decides to fly into Oa and smash it causing anew Big Bang which will kill everything else leaving him as the sole hero. He is slowed by a 300 mile thick wall of Willpower generated by the entire Green Lantern corps, but he breaks through it and slaughters 32 Green Lanterns before the two Supermen stop him, with Kal-L (Earth-2 Superman) dying in the process. He is imprisoned by the Guardians of the Universe and placed in a Quantum containment cell which is blasted with red sunlight and guarded by 50 Green Lanterns at all times, it’s during his imprisonment in this cell that he carves the Superman symbol into this chest while stating “I’ve escaped from worse prisons than this…”.

#2 – Joker

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Coming in at No.2 is none other than the Clown Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. Most people would ask how Joker doesn’t take the top spot and who could oust him for maniacal acts. Read on and you will see. The Joker really doesn’t need any explanation why he is up here but one example of his psychopathy comes from the Killing Joke story line by Alan Moore. In this story Joker has taken it upon himself to prove that anybody can turn into him if they have one bad day. The entire story is based around the fact that you could take the sanest person alive and give them one bad enough day, and they would turn into the Joker. During this story, Joker decides to target (arguably) Batman’s greatest ally, Commissioner Jim Gordon. When the Commissioner is at his daughter’s house for their weekly Sunday meal, Joker arrives and knocks on the door. When Barbara opens the door, Joker proceeds to shoot her through the abdomen and sever her spine, paralyzing her form the waist down. His goons assault and knock out Commissioner Gordon, and as they’re dragging him away the Joker really sets to work. In the story Joker strips Barbara naked while she continues to bleed on the ground and photographs her. I know myself and many others believed an assault to have taken place during this scene as well; however, writer Alan Moore has since clarified that nothing of that nature takes place. Regardless, he photographs her and she lies helpless in her own blood and leaves her. He takes the Commissioner to an abandoned amusement park where he strips him and forces him to crawl on the ground as he continually shows him the photos of his brutalized daughter. Batman ends up arriving in time to save Jim and Jim tells Batman to “…bring him in by the book”, showing that the Joker had failed. This comic also has one of the most controversial endings of all time with enough ambiguity to imply several different interpretations. This isn’t one of Joker’s most brutal examples with a high body count but it goes to show just how unhinged the Joker really is as a villain. For some truly despicable acts, Joker by Brian Azzarello, is the graphic novel you need to read.

#1 – Carnage

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Ranking in at No.1 is none other than Carnage, the “Child” of the Venom symbiote that bonded with notorious serial killer Cletus Kasady. Kasady exhibited his psychopathic tendancies from an early age. His first human kill was when he was 6 and he purposefully tripped his grandmother so she would fall down the stairs. He goes on to say that the resounding crack of her neck snapping was one of the happiest moments of his life, and that his only regret was that he had to wait five hours for his mother to get home and cook him dinner. He graduated to watching his mother get beat within an inch of her life, torturing the family dog in the tub with a power drill, attempting to murder his mom by throwing a hair dryer into the tub while she was bathing and killing the disciplinarian of the boys home he was in. From there he burnt down the boys home (possibly killing dozens) and pushing a girl in front of a bus after she laughed at him for asking her on a date. By the time he was caught and put in Ryker’s he was convicted of 11 murders and bragged about dozens more. Then he became Carnage when his cell mate, Eddie Brock broke out when his symbiote returned to him. Brock’s symbiote left a piece behind which bonded with Kasady making him Carnage. Not only is Kasady a complete psychopath and a mass murderer but he also has grossed out the Joker with his ideals. In a crossover with Spider-Man, Joker and Carnage stumble upon each other and begin to fight. Carnage ridicules Joker for his ridiculously complex plans and tells him he knows nothing about killing.  Carnage goes on to say ” … slow and horrible deaths! What a monumental waste of time! The fun of killing, you moron, is in the immediacy! In hearing them beg for mercy as you stand over their bloody bodies…peeling off their skin!” The Joker is disgusted by this and actually says “BLECCHH! How utterly distasteful and gross too!” This also doesn’t even count when in Carnage USA Carnage forcibly took over an entire town and murdered several people including a little girl before taking control of the Avengers.

Carnage grosses out Joker

 

There you have it, those are my top 5 psychopaths in mainstream comics. Don’t agree with my list, let me know who you think deserves a spot in the top 5. See you next week!

Justice League Vs. Avengers – Who Is the Better Team?

For this week’s post I decided to do something a little different than I normally do. This week I’m going to explain who I think would win in a fight between the Avengers and the Justice League. To make this an even fight I am going to use newer incarnations of the teams to balance out.  The teams I will be using are the New 52 Justice League as well as the MarvelNow! Avengers team.  So let’s kick it off by looking at the roster of the New 52 Justice League.

NEW 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE

The New 52 Justice League is the younger re-launch of the classic team from DC Comics. The team consists of many of the same players as the original team with some changes. Let’s take a look at the team:

The Power House – Superman

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It’s no secret that I don’t like Superman. I just find that any sort of conflict with him is redundant as he can just be Superman and win. That being said he is the obvious power house of the Justice League. With Super strength, invulnerability, heat vision, flight, super speed, frost breath, etc.. there are not many that can stand against him in a fight. As the big blue boy scout he stands as the figurehead of the League and is the one constant member.

The Fighter – Wonder Woman

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Wonder Woman is an Amazon, and in the DC universe that is a big deal. The Amazons hail from the mystical island of Themyscira where they have live din seclusion from the world of man for centuries. Having been trained as a warrior from a young age Wonder Woman is very skilled in many forms of classical combat. With her increased strength, speed, reflexes and flight she is very much a force to be reckoned with. In addition to her physical abilities and skills she also sports the Lasso of Truth, and invulnerable rope made by the Gods of Greece that compels the victim to tell the truth.

The Tactician – Batman

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Batman is my favourite hero hands down, I could spend an entire post writing about him and the reasons he’s amazing, but I will save that for another time. As a master of over 100 forms of martial arts, Batman reigns as one of the best fighters in all of DC Comics continuity. In addition to his fighting skill, he is trained to the peak of human perfection, the World’s greatest Detective, and a master strategist. In many Justice League comics and altercations Batman is the mind behind their combat efficiency deploying each member of the League according to their skills.

The Tech Genius – Cyborg

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Cyborg was created by fusing alien technology with the burned body of Victor Stone. The New 52 changed his origin but it made it work better with the overall narrative of the comic run. Boasting a combination of human technology, Apokalyptan technology, and the remains of his human body, Cyborg stands as the youngest member of the League in the New 52. With a motherbox incorporated into his exo-skeleton Cyborg is able to teleport the League anywhere they want to go with only 1 in 1,000 jumps malfunctioning and sending them back to Apocalypse. He also has an advanced AI named Grid embedded in his ex-Skeleton that enables him to instantly connect to any piece of technology either alien or human.

The King – Aquaman

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Aquaman is the reigning king of the fabled Atlantis of Legend. Being born of the queen of Atlantis and a human man, Aquaman is only half Atlantean. He boasts an impressive skill set with his strength being able to rival that of Superman, swimming at super speeds, near invulnerable skin, ability to telepathically control sea life, control over the oceans with his trident, and increased speed. His trident is one of the few things constructed on earth that is able to pierce Superman’s invulnerable Kryptonian skin. He is also able to command storms, the oceans themselves as well as an ancient race of man eating sea creatures called the Trench with his trident.

The Speedster – The Flash

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The Flash is the fastest man alive. Having been exposed to the speed force and struck by a bolt of lightning that turned out to be himself when he disintegrated after the Crisis on Infinite Earths story line (seriously I’m not kidding) he became the Flash. Boasting speeds that have never been fully measured except in incredible feats throughout comics, Flash is probably the most over powered member of the League. Able to instantly connect to the speed force and utilize it to boost his own speed he has been known to travel through time and even outrun existence. If the Flash even went rogue there is not a single person who would be able to stop him.

The Pilot – Green Lantern

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Green Lantern is a member of the Green Lantern Corps which polices the known universe. The universe is broken up into various sectors and each sector has a lantern responsible for guarding it. Green Lantern from Earth is tasked with protecting Sector 2814. Sporting a ring that can literally make anything the wearer can think of, he is a force to reckoned with. His ring is powered by the central battery on the planet Oa and is fueled by the Green light of Willpower. After and extensive career as a test pilot and military training Green Lantern is very skilled in aerial combat and space combat.

 

MARVELNOW! AVENGERS

The team roster for the MarvelNow! Avengers is quite extensive as such by sheer numbers, the Avengers would take the fight. I will limit the team of the Avengers to who I believe to be the most prominent members and match them based on the categories listed with the Justice League members.

The Powerhouse – The Incredible Hulk

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The Hulk is the strongest hero there is, plain and simple. He spends most of his time as his human counter part Bruce Banner, but when Banner loses control or changes willingly he becomes the unstoppable green Goliath. Hulk’s upper limit of strength has never fully been reached or even hinted at. This is due to the fact that the more mad he gets the stronger he gets. Not only does he get physically stronger as he increases in rage but he also gets physically bigger.  With someone like the Hulk on your team there is nobody that can stand against his rage, and his willingness to kill also gives him an advantage over his opponents.

The Fighter – Wolverine

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Wolverine is an immortal Canadian who don’t take crap from nobody. Okay he isn’t actually immortal but with a healing factor that can heal any wound almost instantly and an indestructible skeleton made of Adamantium there are not many that compare to him. Not only does he have incredible ferocity during battle and a willingness to kill but he also can fly into a berserker rage from which there is no stopping him until he has killed his opponent. In addition to his healing factor and his skeleton he has adamantium claws that extend from his knuckles and can cut through all known metals. He is also a mutant and gifted with beat like enhancements to his smell and stealth.

The Tactician – Captain America

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Standing as the sole success of the Weapon I project during WWII, Captain America has stood as a symbol for the people of the United States for generations. With his enhanced reflexes, strength, speed, and battlefield experience he is the tactical mind behind the Avengers and their combat operations. Armed with a metal shield made of an adimantium/vibranium alloy, Captain America has taken on many foes bigger and more fearsome than himself. Not only does he have extensive real life battlefield experience but he also spars constantly with other members of his team to hone his combat techniques for taking on people with powers.

The Tech Genius – Iron Man

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Iron Man is the resident tech genius of the Avengers, it can be argued that Hank Pym, Reed Richards and T’Challa can give him a run for his money but Iron Man is the best candidate for this position. Known for using his extensive collection of mechanical exo-suits for combat he can adapt to any situation and prevail. Each suit has specific different abilities but one of the constant factors that all of his suits come equipped with his flight, repulsor blasts, and  an AI companion. In addition to his repulsors more of his suits come equipped with extensive Stark Industries weaponry that  makes him a veritable one man army on the battlefield.

The King – Thor

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Hailing from the the mythical realm of Asgard, Thor is the Prince (eventual King) and God of Thunder. As an Asgardian his lifespan is much greater than any normal human spanning over hundreds of thousands of years. He is super strong, invulnerable to most damage, and equipped with MJOLNIR. His hammer MJOLNIR gives him the ability to control lightning, allows him to fly, and is made from an indestructible metal known as Uru which can only be found in dying stars. It is worth noting that while Thor Odinson is of Asgard, anyone who is deemed “worthy” by MJOLNIR is able to lift it and is imbued with Thor’s powers and abilities.

The Speedster – Spider-Man

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I know, I know, Spider-Man is not a speedster but he does have increased reflexes and his Spider-sense works so fast that he is able to dodge bullets, this makes him as a contender for the Flash. Originally ranked as one of the strongest characters in Marvel comics, Spider-Man has super-strength, increased speed, reflexes, spider-sense, wall crawling, and web shooters. He is also one of the smartest people in the Marvel universe and currently owns and operates his own massive tech conglomerate known as Parker Industries. Spider-Man is so strong that constantly has to hold back from hitting to hard for fear of killing his enemies by accident.

The Pilot – Captain Marvel/ Ms. Marvel

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With extensive training as a fighter pilot as well as other military training Ms. Marvel is the perfect synchronization between human and Kree physiology.  With enhanced strength, speed, endurance, flight, precognitive sense and immunity to most poisons and toxins, Ms. Marvel is one of the heavy hitters of the Avengers. She is also able to fly into space and can project photon blasts from her hands as well as absorb energy. She was also able to connect to a white hole (a hypothetical region of space time) which allowed her control over stellar energies (gravity, light, electromagnetic spectrum); this connection has since been severed but her other powers remain.

 

THE OUTCOME

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Alright now that I’ve outlined the teams and the various abilities of each member it’s time to tell you who I think would win. As I said before I am a huge Batman fan and i do love the JL (even if Superman is there) but I would have to give this to the Avengers. While I truly do believe that a battle between Cap and Batman would be awesome, I do believe that the Avengers would come out on top for most of the match ups. Thor would easily wipe the ground with Aquaman and then assist Hulk with Superman, Captain Marvel would beat Green Lantern, and I do believe that Wolverine would give Wonder Woman a good run for her money. But the factor that clinches it is the fact that the Hulk is willing to kill to win, whereas Superman is not. Iron Man I’m sure would find a way to beat Cyborg eventually but with his white noise cannon and Grid, Cyborg might prevail as the winner there; however, in the end Tony is also a tech genius and can just use a suit that Cyborg can’t track, like his stealth suit, or simply fly them into space.

I do believe that this match would come down to the final few punches but like I said before if we went with the starting rosters for each team the Avengers would win by sheer number, especially when those numbers include Captain Universe and Hyperion.

If you disagree let me know if not, see you next week!

Most Underrated Heroes: Vol.2 – Red Hood

Time for volume 2 of the most underrated heroes! This months addition is none other than the anti-hero Red Hood.

For those unfamiliar with the Bat-family and the succession of Robins, Red Hood is the persona adopted by the second Robin, Jason Todd, after he was murdered by the Joker and subsequently resurrected. Red Hood is one of the title characters in Red Hood and the Outlaws and has held various titles throughout his comic publication.

HISTORY

The Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths origin for Jason Todd is that he was son of Acrobats Joseph and Trina Todd who were killed during their show by Killer Croc. Jason had strawberry blond hair and was a basic carbon copy of Dick Grayson; even going so far as to wear different pieces of Dick’s old disguises before being presented with a Robin costume by Dick himself. Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths event DC Comics took this opportunity to re-write and re-brand large portions of their continuity to coincide with their new direction for publication. This new direction is where we get the origin for Jason that has been dubbed the “official” origin.

After Dick had become a fully fledged member of the Teen Titans and left Bruce to pursue leadership of that team full time, Batman was on his own. One night while on patrol in Park Row (Crime Alley), Batman was returning to the Batmobile and he discovered the wheels had been removed by a young boy who was attempting to steal them. Bruce sees that he is enrolled in a school for troubled boys which falls through, Bruce eventually adopts the boy and trains him as Robin after Jason helps him stop a gang of thieves. After six months of training and tutelage Jason is given his own Robin costume and begins his nightly patrols with Batman.

During the revamp period Todd was painted the outcast/rebel Robin. He defied authority, smoked, swore, and used excessive violence. There have been several instances where he defied Batman specifically: going after Scarecrow alone and bringing him in, jumping the gun on a botched drug ring raid, and the death of serial rapist Felipe Garzonas. Leading up to the death of Garzonas, Todd had been using increasing levels of force to one point where he breaks the arm of a pimp about to slash one of his working girls.

The death of Felipe Garzonas marks the point where Batman began to realize the mistake he had made with  Jason. Garzonas was a serial rapist who was protected legally by his father’s diplomatic immunity. When a young girl named Gloria hangs herself to avoid being raped a third time by Garzonas, Todd finds her body before Batman and makes a beeline for Garzonas. Todd chases Garzonas up onto the 22nd story of a building and Batman arrives in time to see Garzonas fall the 22 stories to his death, with Robin standing at the ledge. When confronted about it Todd says that he “…didn’t push him and that he must’ve spooked him and Garzonas slipped”, before Todd could catch him, he fell to his death.

 

DEATH

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The death of Jason Todd is one of the biggest events in all of Batman comics. Titled A Death in the Family the story follows Todd’s quest for the truth and his subsequent end at the hands of the Joker.  When Todd his side lined for excessive force and disobeying orders he leaves the Batcave to walk around his old neighbourhood. While on his walk he is flagged down by a woman who used to live beside him and his parents, she hands him a box of things and among them is his birth certificate. The certificate is badly damaged by the name of his mother begins with an “S” proving the woman he grew up calling mother was not his biological mother. Todd utilizes the Batcomputer along with an old address book of his father’s that was also in the box to narrow down the number of potential women to three. Jason then runs away to try and find his birth mother. After striking out with the first 2 women Batman finds Jason in Israel where they encounter the Joker who has been named a member of the Israeli government and now has diplomatic immunity. Jason then tracks the final woman, Shelia, to Ethiopia where she runs a clinic. Todd is overjoyed to have finally found his mother but his mother is being blackmailed by the Joker to provide him with medical supplies. It is later revealed that Todd’s mother was responsible for an illegal clinic and experimentation on young women in Gotham and fled to Ethiopia to avoid charges. She hands her son over to the Joker, in hopes of getting out from under his thumb. Joker ties up Shelia and forces her to watch as he beats Todd with a crowbar and leaves him within an inch of his life. Joker then ties up Todd and leaves him and his mother locked in a warehouse with a time bomb. They try to get out of the warehouse but remain trapped as the timer ticks down, in a final effort to save his mother, Jason leaps on the bomb to try and shield some of the blast with his body. Batman arrives too late to save them and Shelia dies in Batman’s arms after confessing what she had done. Batman buries Jason and keeps his uniform in a glass display case in the Batcave with an epitaph that reads “A Good Soldier”.

 

RESURRECTION

Jason remained dead for quite a few years, long enough for Tim Drake to assume the mantle of Robin. In main comic continuity his resurrection is a little odd. Basically, Superboy Prime was trapped in the paradise dimension (a dimension that borders our own). In an attempt to break through to our own dimension he repeatedly punched on the barrier blocking his way, this in turn created temporal ripples. One of these such ripples was responsible for the resurrection of Jason Todd. Todd breaks out of his coffin and wanders away from the site, he is taken to a hospital when he is discovered wandering the streets, but no connection was made that he was Jason Todd. He spent the better part of a year as a wandering amnesiac vagrant on the streets of Gotham, he was recognized for his fighting style by a street crook and the information made it’s way to Talia Al’Ghul and she swept him up and took him away. She further trained him while the League of Assassins swiftly eliminated anyone in Gotham who knew of his resurrection. Talia put him in the Lazarus pit to attempt to restore his memories, but he emerged broken and mentally unstable. He fled the League and used what funds he had secured from Talia to hook up with a Mercenary group on their way to Gotham.

In the Under the Red Hood movie the resurrection story is slightly different with Ra’as Al Ghul hiring Joker to help him in a plot. Joker goes off book and kidnaps Robin and murders him by beating him with a crowbar and them blowing him up. Ra’as then swaps out Jason’s real body at the Sarajevo morgue for a mannequin and revives Todd using the Lazarus pit. Todd kills 2 members of the League before fleeing into the night not to be seen again until he emerged in Gotham as the Red Hood.

RETURN TO GOTHAM

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After having trained for several years in various deathly arts, Red Hood plans his return to Gotham. During Hush Todd collaborates with Riddler and Hush to battle Batman. He confirms for Riddler that Bruce Wayne is indeed Batman and initially confronts Batman at his grave site during the climatic final battle of the run. He swaps out with Clayface and observes Batman from afar, when Bruce shows no regret with him sparing Joker’s life after he killed Jason, Todd is severely angered and resolves to kill Bruce. Talia then gifts him with a flame knife and his iconic red helmet.

In the Under the Red Hood story line, Jason returns under the persona of Red Hood and begins taking control over the gangs of Gotham and going to War with Black Mask. In an effort to even the odds, Mask unleashes the Joker from Arkham. Todd kidnaps the Joker and proceeds to beat him with a crowbar mirroring the way Joker had tortured him before he was murdered. In the climatic showdown with Batman and the Joker, Jason confesses to Bruce that he forgives him for not saving him, but doesn’t understand why Bruce let the Joker live. Jason tries to force Bruce to either kill him or the Joker, but Bruce saves them all and Jason disappears after that, again.

Since  his return to Gotham Jason has gone on the hold every title of the Bat-family, including Nightwing, Red Robin and Batman.

Battle for the Cowl pitted Jason Todd Batman against Tim Drake Batman and Dick Grayson Batman for the title of the one true Batman.

POWERS AND ABILITIES

Jason was trained at a young age to become Robin; as such he is an Olympic level athlete with stealth training and extensive combat training.

He was further trained by the League of Assassins as well as the All-Caste which is an organization older than the League of Assassins which trained Ra’as Al Ghul.

He is proficient with all firearms as well as most high tech weaponry and gadgets.

For all of his training Jason Todd is still just a man, a slightly unhinged and deranged man, but a man just the same.

REASONS HE IS UNDERRATED

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Red Hood is one of the few examples of characters who are too human to the point they’re no longer fictitious. If presented with the same situation most people would do the exact same thing, try and get revenge on the person who killed them and the person who they trusted to save them. I don’t mean that everyone is a vengeful, angry sociopath; but there is no denying that it is human nature to want revenge on someone that has wronged you.  As a character Jason tends to be lumped in as one of the failed sidekicks who never really amounted to anything like Garth or Speedy. I think he has a lot to offer and in the New 52 and Rebirth they have done some great arcs involving him and the rest of the Outlaws. I mean he was the Leader of the League of Assassins at one point, that takes some serious skill! Not only has he also battle Batman to a stalemate but he has done the same with Deathstroke and Ra’as Al Ghul!

Also Jason is the perfect example of a redemption story, they’ve already toyed with him and Bruce reconciling their differences for that only to have been a ruse so Bruce could bring back Damian… I like most of the Robins even the ones that are a little different, but Damian is just annoying. He needs to be taken down a peg… again. I think that Jason should be used more as someone trying to do the right thing but always having this voice in the back of their head saying it’s not enough, that he wants to be a good person but he keeps falling back into his old ways. The sad thing about Jason is that most of the rest of the Bat-Family forgive him and understand why he does what he does; but Bruce can’t seem to see it, or even if he does, he doesn’t want to deal with it.

Jason Todd is one of the characters that I think make for a very compelling story, no matter what he does, he always adds his own touch to it and that makes it awesome. I want to see him take a more active role in Rebirth and the Bat-Family as a whole!