Aquaman – King of the DCEU

Last night I was out with a couple friends enjoying a double feature for one of their birthdays. We took in the new addition to the Transformers Franchise Bumblebee and the newest addition to the floundering DCEU, Aquaman. While I immensely enjoyed Bumblebee, it’s by far the BEST Transformers movie, I had a few more reservations for Aquaman. After the disappointing Justice League and the terrible Batman V. Superman, Wonder Woman was the only thing keeping the DCEU afloat, until the king of the seven seas arrived.

Directed by James Wan (of Saw fame), this movie was the first salvo in the soft reboot currently underway from Warner Brothers and their DCEU. This review will be spoiler free but I will discuss several key aspects of the film and their relation to the source material.

STORY

The first thing I have to say and it can be taken a slight negative for the film, the story is all over the place. While they make it work for the film, they basically took the first five collected issues of Aquaman’s New 52 comic run and made it into the plot for the film. The main pull is the Throne of Atlantis story line which has already been made into an animated feature as part of the DCAU (DC Animated Universe). The story centers around King Orm (Aquaman’s half brother) a full blooded Atlantean and his bid for the throne of Atlantis. Wan’s film is a very ‘Shakespearean’ tale of family betrayal and political trickery with a healthy dose of comedic undertones. Arthur Curry (Aquaman) fresh off his defeat of Steppenwolf with the Justice League has decided to become the unofficial protector of the seas. This brings him into conflict with a particular group of pirates. These pirates have been operating with maximum casualties for quite some time and Aquaman has had enough. Those familiar with the storyline for the Throne of Atlantis arc will be able to see what will happen before it does; however, Wan and co. have worked enough subplots into the mix to provide some surprising turns wherever they can.

Left: Nereus and Xebel Forces; Right: Orm and Atlantean Forces

CAST

Jason Momoa returns as Arthur Curry (Aquaman) for his second foray into the DC comics world. He builds on his persona established in the Justice League and we are shown his origins with a great exposition at the opening of the film. As the film progresses we are also shown why he holds Atlantis in such low regard and refuses to help them in any capacity. It allows for a great heroic origin as Arthur goes from occasional vigilante to the full blown hero we’ve been waiting for.

Amber Heard straight up knocks it out of the park as Mera. There is a particular scene in the middle section of the movie where you really get to see why Mera is such a respected warrior and queen in the comics. She brings a very authoritative quality to the role which helps to balance out Momoa’s ‘bro take’ on the classic clean cut Atlantean king. Her arc through the film is one we’ve seen before in plenty of other works; however, Heard makes it her own and shows that Mera is worthy of her own movie.

The standout star for me is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as David Kane/Black Manta. At the beginning of the film we are shown a ruthless Kane as he and his pirate crew work to hijack a submarine. Through a turn of events he is left alone and blames Aquaman for it. This sets him on a path of revenge that has him crafting his Black Manta persona through the entirety of the film. When he finally confronts Arthur and Mera in Italy, he has emerged fully as the supervillain that has plagued Aquaman since his first appearance in Aquaman #35 from 1967. Abdul-Mateen II delivers a dark and gritty performance in an otherwise fairly light-hearted film which helps to cement Manta as someone who will continue to appear in future DC films.

Black Manta

Patrick Wilson gives us our main villain by his portrayal of King Orm/Ocean Master. A conflicted ruler who just wants to do right by his people, Wilson brings a certain gravitas to the role that helps to establish Orm as a force to be reckoned with. Wanting to preserve his people and their way of life he has grown tired of the mistreatment of the oceans by the surface world and he is through playing nice. Wilson’s protrayal of Orm helps to provide some sympathy for the young ruler but ultimately helps to give a villain you can’t help to love.

Other notable members of the cast are Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna, Willem Dafoe as Vulko, Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus and Temuera Morrison as Tom Curry.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Despite 90% of the film taking place under water and in front of a green screen, Wan manages to deliver some stellar shots. One scene which appears to be a continuous shot (in the vein of the various Marvel Netflix series’), really showcases Wan’s keen eye. He created a living and breathing world at the bottom of the ocean that makes you believe in the might and magic of the fictional kingdom of Atlantis. As I said before in my review of Black Panther, I’m not a cinematographer and don’t pretend to be, but I can tell what shots look amazing and help to convey the emotion and feel of the scenes, and in that regard, Wan knocks it out of the park.

Amber Hear (Mera), James Wan (Director), Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman) and Willem Dafoe (Vulko)

COSTUMES

The costumes in this film were perfectly done. Each character has a costume that directly references back to their comic roots and helps to provide a great feel for the overall tone of the film. I was extremely giddy when Arthur finally dons his orange and green comic accurate costume at the climax of the film. Mera’s costume is a direct recreation of her comic source material and Orm/Ocean Master’s full purple and silver battle garb is a perfect counterbalance to Arthur’s orange and green. Black Manta and the Atlantean soldiers take the cake for costume design. Giving us a great armoured and vibrant colour scheme for the costumes of the Atlanteans, Kym Barrett, worked closely with Wan to bring his vision to life. Manta’s costume was heavily influenced by the source material while adding a very apparent Atlantean touch to it to provide a truly menacing character.

“The Trench” which are an ancient race of Atlanteans since mutated into a cross of humans and Angler Fish, were truly horrifying and provided some very terrifying scenes.

Trench Drone
Trench Swarm

MUSIC

The score for the film worked extremely well to create and translate the mood and feel from the shots to the viewers. There were a couple of misfires with some of the music, in particular a horrible cover of ‘Africa’. In a movie of fantastical underwater civilizations and wondrous technology, it felt out of place and a cheap way to bring a small laugh from the audience. With the exception of that small misstep the music fit the film really well and even the inclusion of a Greta Van Fleet chart topper worked to immerse the audience in the world of Aquaman.

ACTION

It’s hard for me to accurately describe the action in the film. It’s not that it wasn’t apparent or well done, it’s just that the majority of it was done using CGI. For obvious reasons they needed to use CGI to convey the 360 degree combat that the Atlanteans and the other kingdoms of the sea are fluent in, not to mention their amazing powers, it just left me a little wanting. The up close and personal action scenes with Arthur,Mera, Manta, the Atlanteans and Orm were very well done and choreographed, but they were few and far between. There is a big CGI slugfest of a fight at the climax of the film that delivers on the building tensions throughout the run time and showcases the various kingdoms of the sea beautifully. I’m not sure if Patrick Wilson and Jason Momoa went to trident combat training, or if there even is such a thing, but their work with those tridents is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Arthur and Orm before ‘Ring of Fire’

OVERALL

As someone who has seen every comic book movie to come out since the release of the Dark Knight in 2008, I can say that this is (in my opinion) the best DC movie since Nolan’s trilogy. While I did thoroughly enjoy Wonder Woman, the villain just didn’t capture me like Orm and Manta do. I love Gal Gadot and think she’s perfect for the role of Diana, but Momoa knocks this one out of the park. I would rate it as the top DCEU movie and overall I would give it a solid 9.0/10. Shazam and Wonder Woman 84 are going to have to really step their game up to even come close to this gem that Wan delivered. I highly recommend that if you’re a fan of the character or any of the cast listed that you go and see the film. If this is the first salvo in a new and improved DCEU, then the MCU could be getting a run for their money.

Aquaman movie poster

See you next time!

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My Top 10 Favourite Heroes/Anti-Heroes

This week for my blog post, I decided to do a list of my top 10 favourite heroes from DC and Marvel combined. It’s not going to be a secret that you’re going to see a lot of anti-heroes on this list, given how much I love them, but there will be some clean cut heroes on here too. I should preface this by saying that this list is my own opinion and can fluctuate from time to time.

So let’s dive in starting at the bottom and work our way to the top.

#10. Captain America

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Steven Grant Rogers was born in Manhattan, New York on July 4, 1920, to his parents Sarah and Joseph Rogers. He grew up a frail young man during the depression with his father dying during his childhood and his mother dying of pneumonia during his teen years. He attempted to enlist during the WWII draft but was denied due to his size and medical ailments. He was eventually chosen for the “Operation: Rebirth” the Super Soldier project headed by Dr. Erskine where he became Captain America. Captain America was responsible for helping to turn the tide of the war in the favour of the allies before he was tragically lost somewhere over the arctic. He lay frozen in ice for over 70 years before being discovered and thawed by the Avengers. Captain America has gone on to head the Avengers for decades and remains as their most constant member.

Why Captain America?

Chris Evans said it best when asked during an interview for the original Avengers as to why he chose to play him, he said” He’s the epitome of who you wish you could be. He’s good for the sake of being good”. We’re just going to ignore Hydra Cap and that Secret Empire garbage for a moment (like seriously? why?) and focus on what Evans said. He is the epitome of who you wish you could be. Captain America is one of he few heroes who has remained largely incorruptible during his comic run, and that is something we as people aspire to. Everyone is good, the choices you make dictate how the world sees you, and Captain America always makes the right choice. He might not always end up on the side of the law (Civil War anyone?), but he is always on the right side. This quality is something that everyone strives towards and gives them an objective to maintain which is something that is needed by a lot of people. But not only is he good for the sake of being good, he also has an ability to inspire. Captain America always believes in the best in everybody and he uses this belief in the people to inspire them to be the best version of themselves. During the Original Infinity War comic, he stood up to Thanos, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier he convinced hundreds if not thousands of SHIELD agents to stand up for what was right and to fight against the Hydra agents that had infiltrated their organization and in Disney’s Avengers Assemble his stand against Thanos and the Black Order convinced the entire population of New York to rally behind him and the Avengers to buy the time needed to win. No matter who you are, there is no denying that Captain America deserves a spot on everybody’s top 10 list.

#9 – The Flash

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Bartholomew Henry Allen “Barry Allen” was born in Fallville Iowa to his parents Henry and Nora Allen. Barry was actually one of twins born to the Allens but his brother was whisked away and given to another family, the Thawnes, who’s child had died during childbirth. The Allens were told that the second baby had been born still and that Barry himself was lucky to be alive. When Barry was a young boy his mother was murdered in their home and his father was framed for the murder. Henry Allen was convicted of life in Iron Heights Prison and Barry struggled without any parental figures in his life. He eventually developed an aptitude for the sciences and went to school for Forensic Science. He graduated and earned himself a job at the Central City Police Department in the Forensics lab. He was working late one night when a lightning bolt struck him after he had tripped and been covered in a cocktail of chemicals. This provided Barry with super speed and allowed him to become the superhero known as the Flash. The Flash has been a mainstay in the Justice League lineup for decades and is one of the voices of reason during the League’s debates.

Why The Flash?

Like Captain America, Barry has one underlying quality, the ability to make you believe in hope. No matter how bad things seem to get, Barry will always be able to get you to believe in not only yourself, but the others around you and trust that together you will find a way to succeed. It’s this ability that earned him a spot as a deputized member of the Blue Lantern Corps during the Blackest Night story arc. When the Black Lantern Corps took over the Earth and resurrected all the dead heroes, the live remaining heroes were vastly outnumbered and fighting a losing battle. It took the combined might of all the Lantern corps and having each of their rings deputize a new hero to even hope of turning the tide.Barry was inducted into the Blue Lantern Corps for his embodiment of hope and he used that power to help the other heroes believe in themselves. Barry has also been responsible for one of the greatest story arcs in the past 30 years… Flashpoint. This was literally the tale of how not to mess with the timeline. He changed one little thing, he saved his mom, and it brought the world to the brink of annihilation. It also is worth noting that he is the most underplayed hero in all of DC comics. He can time travel with ease, run faster than people can process a thought, and even outran death and existence. He’s seriously OP.

#8 – Green Arrow

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Oliver Jonas Queen was born to his parents, Moira and Robert Queen. He was a natural archer from a young age practicing frequently with his bow and arrow. When he killed his first animal, Ollie was briefly traumatized by what he had done forgoing his archery for quite some time. When he was on vacation with his parents on a safari adventure, he witnessed his parents get mauled to death by lions. He was raised by his uncle and eventually inherited his family’s company, Queen Industries. Unable to accept his responsibility not only to his family’s legacy but his City as a whole, he became a thrill seeking party boy. One day while on his yacht, he fell over the side of the boat and washed up on the shore of a deserted island. While on the island Oliver honed his hunting and marksmanship skills using a bow he had been holding when he fell over the side of his yacht. China White, a ruthless drug smuggler was using the island to grow and distribute her heroin around the globe. Oliver witnessed the slave labour being used by White to produce her drugs and resolved to shut the operation down. After dismantling her entire operation on the island, Oliver used their radio to signal the authorities and arrange rescue for himself and all the workers. He returned to Seattle as a renewed man and began his crusade to fight for the little guy and the disenfranchised.

Why Green Arrow?

There’s no way to sugar coat it, Oliver Queen was a dick. He was. But through his own personal tragedy and his crucible on the island, he emerged as the hero that Seattle and himself needed. He had the life most people dream of, a literal unlimited bank account, supermodels hanging off his arm, and the ability to do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. It takes a lot to take someone like that and forge them into the hero he is today and that’s why I like him so much. He was a fallible rich playboy who almost paid the ultimate price but he got a second lease on life and decided to do more than drink himself to death. Not only is he a great hero, but he also is one of the most left leaning heroes and that adds a great mix to the line-up. He not only fights to protect his City as Green Arrow but he actually got himself elected mayor to help everyone in his hometown lead a better life. He  also lost all his money and was forced to live in a downtrodden tenement building for quite some time, which also helped to provide him with a new perspective on his life and the way he lived. Plus.. I mean come on… epic goatee.

#7 – Daredevil

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Matthew Michael Murdock was born in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City to his father Jack “Battlin'” Murdock. Matt was raised by his father for his entire life never knowing who is mother was. His father was a struggling boxer and was paid by a gangster known as “The Fixer” to throw some fights for bigger pay days. One day, Matt was walking down the street and saw an old blind man step out into the road in front of a speeding truck. Matt grabbed the old man pulling him to safety and the truck swerved, losing a canister of the radioactive liquid it was carrying. The canister broke on the ground and sprayed Matt in the eyes effectively blinding him. While he was blinded, it also provided Matt with heightened other senses and a form of echolocation enabling him to see without his eyes. When his father is murdered by the Fixer and his goons, Matt dons a costume made out of his father’s old boxing gear and nearly beats the Fixer to death. Realizing it’s not what his father or his faith would allow, Matt let the Fixer live and called the authorities. He went to law school where he met his best friend Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, with whom he opened a law firm. By day he defends the people of Hell’s Kitchen as Matt Murdock Attorney at Law and by night, he defends the people of Hell’s Kitchen as Daredevil the Man Without Fear.

Why Daredevil?

Matt Murdock is one of the few superheroes that has a disability and that makes him top tier in my books. Not only does he have a disability, but he is also a deeply conflicted individual. Matt is one of the most devout Catholics in all of comics, Marvel and DC included. For someone as devout as he is, dressing up in a red devil costume and beating on criminals seems like something way out in left field. To balance his lives, Matt regularly attends confession and seeks guidance from his local priest whenever he can. Not only is Matt one of the most conflicted characters, but he is one of the most human, in that he makes mistakes… plenty of mistakes. You could argue that every character is human and makes mistakes, but for the likes of Superman, Captain America, Wonder Woman or even Iron Man; their mistakes are few and far between. Matt follows his heart more often than his head and that has gotten him into some deep water over the course of his comic run. One of the best runs in all of Marvel came from Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil with the Born Again story line. Matt has his identity sold to the Kingpin by his junkie ex girlfriend Karen Page, and has his life turned upside down. He loses everything: his firm, his money, his friends, his home and sinks into a deep depression. The run truly shows how hard some people who suffer from depression need to fight everyday to get out of bed. I highly recommend reading it!

#6 – Punisher

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Born Francis Castiglione to his Sicilian Immigrant parents in Queens New York, Frank had a very uneventful childhood. In his teen years he studied briefly at the seminary before leaving to marry his girlfriend Maria who was pregnant with their first child. He eventually enlisted in the Marine Corps where he rose to the rank of Captain. Through his tours of service, he was assigned a Native American scout named Phan Bighawk, who taught Frank about guerilla warfare and how to effectively survive in the wilderness. During his third tour, Frank legally changed his name from Castiglione to Castle. While on leave after his third tour, he took his family on a picnic in the park which would prove to be a fatal mistake. When the Castles accidentally stumbled onto a mob hit, the mobsters murdered Frank’s wife and children in front of him and thought they had killed Frank as well. Frank recovered from his wounds and vowed to spend the rest of his life waging a one man war against crime and the organized families around the world. He has been waging his war ever since and has come into conflict with the Avengers and multiple heroes on different occasions. For the most part, the Avengers let him be as he never causes collateral damage and only kills criminals.

Why The Punisher?

The Punisher is one of my favourites for one simple reason, he represents the farthest someone can go before they cross the line between Anti-Hero and Villain. Not only that, but he represents how the justice system isn’t always perfect. Granted that while he is a vicious operative, he also has a strict code. A prime example of this code was shown during the Civil War comic arc when Spider-Man is nearly murdered by Jack O’ Lantern and The Jester. Despite being ordered to bring him in alive, the two villains decided to beat him bloody before murdering him, Punisher stopped that. He shot both villains in the back of the head and then brought Spider-Man to Captain America’s bunker demanding medical attention for the young hero. When he sees two villains attempting to side with Captain America and the Anti-Registration forces, he shoots them in front of Cap and his entire team. Cap goes ballistic and begins savagely beating Frank; but the thing is, Frank never fights back. He never once raised his hand or tried to defend himself, even when Cap shouted for him to. Frank simply took the beating and said “No, not against you”. His reverence for Captain America is linked to his fierce loyalty to his military training. During the Punisher: War Zone story arc, after defeating all of the Avengers with non lethal tactics, Cap arrives and demands that Frank stand down; Frank immediately discards his weapon, drops to his knees with his hands on his head and says “Yes, sir”. The thing that probably makes The Punisher such an attractive character is that he has no powers, he is just a man that used the tools and training at his disposal to make a difference in the world. Sometimes he might need a definite course correction, but he sees the world in a different way than most and sometimes his brand of frontier justice, is exactly what is needed.

#5 – Ghost Rider

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Johnathon “Johnny” Blaze was born to his parents Barton Blaze and Naomi Kale who were performer’s at Quentin Carnival. His mother left his father when he was young, taking his two younger siblings with her. Johnny and his father remained as a stunt act alongside Craig “Crash” Simpson. Johnny’s father died shortly after his wife left with their children, leaving Johnny an orphan. Craig and his wife took pity on Johnny and adopted him into their family. Johnny and Roxanne, Craig’s daughter, grew very close and became inseparable. Eventually Crash developed cancer and began to deteriorate rapidly. Johnny, seeking not to lose another father figure, turned to the occult. Johnny found a spell that would allow him to summon Satan himself, but in reality it summoned the arch-demon Mephistocles “Mephisto”. Mephisto cured Crash’s cancer, though Crash died immediately after performing a stunt. When Mephisto came to collect Johnny’s soul, he was driven away by Roxanne and her love for Johnny. Johnny eventually would turn into the Ghost Rider after being bonded with the demon Zarathos. Johnny changes every night into the Ghost Rider and would hunt evil wherever he saw it, damning the evil doers to the depths of Hell.

Why Ghost Rider?

Ghost Rider is in the top 5 for one reason, just because your powers come from a dark place, doesn’t mean that’s what you have to use them for. Johnny got his powers from being bonded with a demon after selling his soul to an arch-demon. Granted, he did some dark things, but he did them for the right reasons. He had watched his biological father die, he repressed the memory of his mother leaving with his siblings, and his adoptive father was dying of cancer; he was done losing people and would do whatever he could to stop that from happening. Despite his efforts, Crash died and Johnny nearly lost his soul.  It was Roxanne’s love for him that ended up saving his life and helping to forge the Ghost Rider into the hero he was. Traditionally, the Ghost Rider is a mindless bounty hunter in the employ of the Devil to track down problematic individuals and send their souls to Hell. Due to Johnny retaining his soul, he was able to battle the demon he was bonded with and this allowed him to retain control over himself. Not only is Johnny one of the best Anti-heroes in all of Marvel comics, but he’s also one of the most powerful having battled World War Hulk to a standstill, plus… he just looks badass!

#4 – Spider-Man

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Peter Benjamin Parker was born in Queens to CIA operatives Richard and Mary Parker. Peter was orphaned at a young age when the Red Skull had an operative named “The Finisher” murder Richard and Mary in a plane crash while also framing them for treason. Peter went to live with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben who raised him for most of his life. Peter became an honours student in science at his high school, but was bullied by the high school start football player Eugene “Flash” Thompson. One day while on a school field trip, Peter was bitten by a spider that had been irradiated by a particle accelerator canon. This spider bite, changed Peter’s DNA giving him spider-like powers. He used these powers to fight anonymously in an underground wrestling ring to earn some extra money. One night after he got stiffed on his money, Peter let a thief who had stolen money from the wrestling boss go free stating that it wasn’t his problem. For several days Peter continued to wrestle under the alias of Spider-Man, until he arrived home to find his Uncle Ben had been murdered and the police had cornered the assailant in a warehouse. Peter rushed there using his new powers to discover the man who had murdered his uncle was the thief he had let go. Peter vowed from that day on, to use his abilities to help people and become the hero he knew he could be.

Why Spider-Man?

Peter Parker represents the inner child that we all have still inside of us. He is the youngest Avenger and he believes in the good of people. Like the Flash, Peter has a way of inspiring others to be the best version of themselves. When Peter’s world came crashing down after his uncle’s murder, he took the pain and sadness he felt and used it to turn himself into a hero. He wasn’t perfect, by far. He stumbled, he fell, but once he got the hang of things he became one of the greatest heroes of all time. In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Peter Parker Spider-Man is regarded as the greatest hero the world ever had, and that’s taking into account Captain America and Iron Man and Thor. Mostly Peter is on this list because of the fact that he never quits and despite being a kid with amazing spider powers, he still suffers all the problems regular teens and 20 something do: being broke, having a crush, failing a class, etc.. His costume is also one of the most iconic suits in all of comics.One of the main reasons peter wears a mask, as quoted by Stan Lee, was so his opponents couldn’t see when he was afraid. Peter embodies the statement of “With great power, comes great responsibility”, he constantly tries to be the man his uncle knew he would be and he tries to help everyone as best he can. Peter is the ultimate good guy, and his comic history has shown that when everything is going to crap, you can always count on Spider-Man to lighten to mood and provide you hope.

#3 – Deadpool

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Wade Winston Wilson was born to his parents in Canada, but not much is known of his childhood. Wade himself has stated three different stories for how he grew up, all that is clear is that he left his home at a young age and enlisted in the armed forces. He enlisted in the American army where he was sent to Special Operations training camp, which he failed out of due to his inability to follow orders he believed conflicted with his moral code. He also spent some time working for the CIA on a blacklist team carrying out missions all over the world. Wade was then diagnosed with over 30 inoperable cancerous tumors. He declined chemo not wanting to prolong his suffering and moved back to Canada. When he returned to Canada he was contacted by Department K, a secret branch of the Canadian government, and asked to join the Weapon X project. It was in this project that Wade received his healing factor courtesy of fellow Department K agent, Wolverine. Dr. Killbrew and his assistant Ajax, tortured Wade and several other “rejects” from various superhero programs placing them in a “Deadpool” the bet on when they would die. Wade eventually broke out of the center with his powers fully manifested and began his life as a mercenary for hire taking the code name of Deadpool.

Why Deadpool?

Deadpool is one of my favourite heroes for two reasons… one, his humour is hilarious, and two, he’s Canadian! Not only is he Canadian, but he is also played PERFECTLY by Ryan Reynolds. Those two points aside, Wade is so high on this list because of a couple of things. The first is his unwavering moral code, as shown in X-Force. When the team was tasked with killing Apocalypse, nobody batted an eye; when Apocalypse was reincarnated into the body of an 8 year old boy named Evan, Wade said no. Wade admits that he isn’t a hero, knows that he can never measure up to people like Captain America or Spider-Man but he absolutely refuses to kill a kid, no matter the cost. Wade did not have a very good childhood, and he is a firm believer that your destiny is not decided for you, that your actions dictate who you are. He brought this out in this comic run when because of his belief in Evan, Evan stayed on the good path and even ended up going to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. He also showed this quality in Deadpool 2 with Russel (Firefist). Cable was convinced Russel would go bad and nothing could change it, but Wade believed that if he could help  Russell to learn to forgive and let Karma take it’s course he could change the future, and Wade was right. Another and perhaps the actual top reason he’s so high on this list is because despite everything he’s done, deep down he’s a good person. He’s not a hero, far from it; but, he is a good person who wants to do the right thing. Captain America has been Wade’s idol ever since he was a young boy, no matter what he did he wanted to be like his hero and still strives to earn Captain America’s trust to this day. Not only is Deadpool a good person deep down, but his antics are just awesome!

#2 – Moon Knight

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Marc Spector was  born in Chicago Illinois to his Rabbi father and deeply Jewish mother. Marc did not have the best childhood. He would constantly get into fights to which his father was not happy with and took it upon himself to discipline Marc as he saw fit. The tension between Marc and his father got so bad that at the young age of 16 Marc left home, lied about his age and enlisted in the Marines. He fought through several campaigns with the Marines before being recruited into a CIA Blacklist team. After spending several years working for the CIA, Spector left and began a life as a mercenary. It was during his mercenary career he met lifelong friend Jean Paul “Frenchie” Duchamp. While working as a mercenary his boss heard of riches in an Egyptian tomb and attacked the dig site taking everyone hostage. Marc didn’t agree with his actions and challenged him to one on one combat. Marc lost the fight. Bushman (his boss) made off with all the riches and left Marc and the excavation team to die in the desert. The diggers took Marc’s body to the base of the statue of Khonshu where Marc died. As he was crossing to the other side, the Egyptian God Khonshu offered Marc a second chance at life if he became the moon God’s Avatar on the earth. Marc accepted the God’s offer and woke up as the Moon’s Knight. He returned to the USA where he invested his earnings he had amassed during his mercenary career garnering himself quite the substantial fortune. Marc adopted several identities to help keep his true identity a secret, Steven Grant billionaire entrepreneur, and Jake Lockley NY cab driver. This strain on his already fragile mind as well as the influence from Khonshu caused Marc to have a mental break and develop Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder. Marc condition is so advanced that his mind will seamlessly switch to whichever persona/identity is best suited for the task at hand.

Why Moon Knight?

Again, like Daredevil, Moon Knight is a hero with a disability. While Daredevil’s disability is obvious as he can’t see with his eyes, Moon Knight’s is inside of his mind and that’s something you don’t see a lot in comics; a hero who battles with their own psyche as much as with villains. The thing that interests me about Moon Knight so much is that he himself knows there’s something wrong but he isn’t sure what it is. He has all of these identities in his mind for different purposes but he doesn’t see anything wrong when he just flips between one or the other. He knows that he has D.I.D/M.P.D. but he has refused to seek treatment as it doesn’t impair his daily life. One thing that really makes Moon Knight pop as a favourite is that he doesn’t try to hide. Most heroes that operate at night time wear colours that can blend into the darkness of their surroundings, not Moon Knight, he wears white. When he was asked about it he said that he “wants them (bad guys) to see him coming because when they see white, their hands shake so bad they couldn’t hit the moon.” Mostly, the thing that makes Moon Knight top in my books is his brutality. Being a heavyweight boxer in the Marines and proficient with most firearms and martial arts weapons, he has no shortage of butt kicking gear. Not only does he have no shortage of gear, but during the Civil War event he also went a little… overboard. While most the heroes were concentrated on stopping each other, Marc let his inner animal out on the crooks and villains of his city. He would viciously beat them to “mark his territory” and anyone he took down, he would brand with a crescent moon on their forehead. Not a nice brand like Batman from B vs. S, no, he would carve the crescent into their forehead… marking them as someone that is on his “list” and ruining their criminal reputations. Moon Knight also understands, like some of the other on this list, that while you should try and save everyone, some people need to be stopped permanently for the greater good.

#1 – Batman

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Everybody knows Batman’s story, but for those who might need a refresher….

Bruce Wayne was born into the Wayne family and was set to inherit his family’s company from his father when the time came. When he was 8 years old, Bruce Wayne, and his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, left the monarch theatre after a showing the the Mark of Zorro late at night. To save time, they decided to cut down an alley (Park Row), Joe Chill was waiting in that alley and held the Waynes up for Thomas’ wallet and Martha’s pearl necklace. Chill ended up shooting Thomas and Martha dead in the alley and fleeing into the night leaving Bruce to watch over his dead parents until help arrived. Bruce refused to believe it was a random act of violence and spent the next several years looking for some conspiracy that would explain his parents hadn’t died for nothing. When no conspiracy could be found, Bruce resolved that his own fear was a contributing factor in his parents death and resolved to never be afraid again. He traveled the world educating himself in every science and martial art known to man as well as becoming extremely proficient in detective skills. He was gone for over 8 years on his quest for knowledge. When he returned to Gotham he crafted the identity of the Batman, a symbol who could use fear to strike at the criminals in his City to make sure that crime did not go unpunished. Bruce utilized the Batman to combat threats both big and small in his City to ensure that no other child’s parents were taken by a random act of violence.

Why Batman?

It’s no secret that I love Batman and for a myriad of reasons, but the most prevalent one is that he’s just a man. In a world of literal Gods, superpowered aliens, demons from other dimensions and Lords of magic, Batman hold his own.  Not only does he hold his own, he commands the respect of all these beings. Bruce Wayne represents the peak of human conditioning, not just physicality but emotionally and mentally. He is the representation of what a person could achieve with 100% determination to their goal and this something we can all admire. His unwavering dedication to his goal is inspirational and has made him a symbol the world over. Not only is he just a man, but he makes mistakes and those mistakes have consequences. His most obvious mistake is his allowing the Joker to stay alive. Granted, he can’t kill the Joker without becoming like the Joker and the Joker can’t kill him because then he will lose the only person who matters/can keep up with him, but this tit for tat that they have going on has real consequences for hundreds if not thousands of people. Red Hood/Jason Todd brought this fact up during the Under the Red Hood arc. He raises the point that if Batman had just killed the Joker for the things he did all those years ago, he wouldn’t have been beaten and murdered, Barbara wouldn’t be paralyzed, and graveyards of victims would still be alive. Bruce for all of his hate towards the Joker, says probably one of the most human things he could, he tells him that while he wants to kill Joker for what he’s done, if he does go there, he will never come back. This statement shows how fragile Batman’s moral code and sanity are. He has drawn a line for himself and sticks to that line, because knows that if he ever crossed it, even for someone who deserved it like the Joker, he would never be able to go back. He nearly crossed the line once during the Hush story line. In this arc, Joker had apparently murdered Bruce’s longtime friend Tommy Elliot. When Batman found the Joker over Tommy’s body holding a gun, he flew into a rage and began beating the Joker citing all the horrible things he did as his reason for finally ending him. The only thing that stopped him was Jim Gordon telling him that if he killed the Joker he was no better than him and that Jim would be forced to bring the Batman in for the murder. While Batman might “work alone” his allies are the ones who help to keep him straight, like Jim Gordon did in Hush; and ironically, they’re also the ones best equipped to reign him in or take him down if he ever goes rogue. With everything that Batman is, the most important piece is that he’s a symbol, a symbol for justice, a symbol for fear, and most importantly a symbol that anybody can be a hero.

 

There you have it, my Top 10 favourite Superheroes/Anti-Heroes! Agree or not, drop a comment! See you next time!

Mandalore – The Setting of the Next Big Star Wars Game

Recently a leaked schedule for E3 2018 has hinted at several new properties getting reveal trailers and teaser trailers at the fabled E3 conference in June. One such property is a new open world Star Wars game! The game that will be developed by EA in conjunction with Respawn (of Titanfall fame) is titled, Star Wars Bounty Hunters: Mandalorian Nights. It is rumored to be an open world, sandbox style game much like the Elder Scrolls and Witcher series. I know I for one am very excited for this type of game. Fans have been waiting for an announced title like this ever since Star Wars 1313 was cancelled when Disney purchased Lucasfilms.

Now, anybody who knows Star Wars knows that fan favourites Jango and Boba Fett are Mandalorian Bounty Hunters. Mandalore has had a rich history throughout the expanded Star Wars canon and recently got some more press within the animated show Star Wars Rebels. Though, the Mandalorians we’re shown in Rebels seem to convey a more Game of Thronesy feel than the famous warrior culture that nearly killed the Jedi; it was still great to get more stories involving them.  Star Wars Clone Wars also gave us some great stories involving the Mandalorians and the struggle of the warrior culture against the pacifist government. Now, for anyone who isn’t quite as familiar with the Mandalorian race… I’ll give a rundown of their history and culture.

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HISTORY

The Mandalorian Empire is quite extensive and has been a main player in the Star Wars universe for quite some time. Throughout Star Wars canon, Mandalorians have been known as Elite warriors, Mercenaries, Bounty Hunters, and Crusaders. Many of these people being in service to the home planet of Mandalore or its moon Concordia.

In ancient times before the Republic was formed, the planet of Mandalore was a vibrant and lush ecosystem. The various houses of the Mandalorian people went to war with each other to claim control over the planet and the opposing houses. The war and weapons used in the civil conflict as well as the war with the Jedi, devastated Mandalore’s surface making the home planet all but uninhabitable. This forced the people of Mandalore to create hermetically sealed Bio-domes or habitation cubes, to survive on the surface of the planet. Prior to the devastation of their lush home world, Crusader Mandalorians ventured forth from Mandalore and began to take over the planets that would eventually become known as “Mandalorian Space”. Due to their aggressive and militaristic nature this brought the crusaders into conflict with the Jedi and started the aforementioned Mandalorian/Jedi war.

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The Mandalorian/Jedi war went on for several years with Mandalorian tech advancing to specifically combat Jedi technology and force powers. In most of the engagements, the Mandalorians were victorious against the Jedi. Murals of these victories are on display on the home planet of Mandalore and its moon Concordia, in the capitals cities. Eventually despite the conflict between them, a single Mandalorian child was permitted into the Jedi order, his name was Tarre Vizsla. While he was in the academy, Tarre Vizsla created the fabled Darksaber. The Darksaber was a lightsaber that adopted a pure black colour and the shape of an actual blade, unlike other lightsabers which just sppeared as a cylinder of energy. Tarre would eventually leave the Jedi order and become ruler of Mandalore until his death prior to 1032 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin).Upon the death of Tarre Vizsla, the Jedi order retained ownership of the Dark Saber until the Fall of the Old Republic.

The Mandalorian Empire waged a war against the Old Republic for many years until, through many contributing factors, the Republic fell. During the fall of the Old Republic, the Mandalorian house Vizsla, broke into the Jedi temple and stole back the Darksaber, keeping it secret for many years.

Pre Vizsla with darksaber

Shortly before the invasion of Naboo, the second Mandalorian Civil War broke out. This conflict was between the pacifist New Mandalorians (supported by the Jedi order) and the militaristic insurgents working to restore Mandalore to its former warrior status. The Civil war was bloody causing many houses to lose their heirs or become extinct all together. Eventually Dutchess Satine Kryze and the New Mandalorians won the war, bringing an unsteady peace to the planet at last. Following the cease fire from both sides, Duchess Satine was nearly assassinated in several failed coup attempts. To protect her and the peace on the planet, Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan Obi Wan Kenobi were dispatched as personal protectors of the Duchess at the request of the Jedi Council. It was during this mission that Obi Wan and the Duchess fell in love, but neither of them could act on their feelings.

Duchess Satine reigned as the ruler of Mandalore throughout the beginnings of the Clone Wars before the insurgent faction, Death Watch, made its presence known. Death Watch was headed by Pre Vizsla, the last heir to House Vizsla, and the wielder of the Darksaber.  Death Watch allied with Count Dooku and the Confederacy of Independent Star Systems (Separatists) against the New Mandalorian government. When Count Dooku and Death Watch had a falling out, Death Watch allied with the still alive Darth Maul and his Shadow Collective. Darth Maul set plans in motion that ultimately ended with him taking control of Mandalore (for a brief period). He assassinated Duchess Satine, captured the remaining government officials, and beat Pre Vizsla in one on one combat to obtain the Darksaber and forcing another Civil War.

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When the Republic heard of what had happened on Mandalore, they dispatched their closest battle group to bring Maul in… their campaign was ultimately unsuccessful. Maul fled the planet leaving the young Bo-Katan Kryze, the new first lady of House Kryze, the Regent of Mandalore. She retained control of the planet for several years through the execution of Order 66 and the rise of the Galactic Empire. When she refuse to capitulate to the demands of the new Galactic Empire she was forcibly removed from her position as Regent of Mandalore and former Death Watch member, Gar Saxon,  was instilled as Viceroy and Emperor’s Hand on Mandalore. Saxon would reign unopposed for over 17 years until a third Civil War broke out between the Imperial backed house Saxon and Clan Wren who were fighting to remove Imperial influence from Mandalore.

The pacifist New Mandalorians were either exiled from the planet or executed as traitors to the Empire. Several clans would ally with the Rebels during the original trilogy with the soldiers loyal to House Saxon fighting for the Empire as Imperial Super Commandos. Sabine Wren of the Spectres rebel cell of Mandalore, would inherit the Darksaber when she found it on Dathomir following a confrontation with Darth Maul. Ultimately after an ill fated deal between Sabine’s mother, Countess Ursa Wren, and Viceroy Saxon, Clan Wren was branded as enemies of the Empire. Sabine was forced to battle Saxon in one on one combat and emerged victorious.

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House Wren returned to the planet Mandalore to do battle with house Saxon and the imperial force for control of the Mandalorian Empire. Backed by Clan Kryze, Clan Vizsla, Clan Rook, Clan Eldar and Journeyman Protector Rau, Clan Wren fought long and hard for the planet. Eventually it took the combined might of all the clans and the rebel alliance to finally defeat House Saxon and the imperials. Bo-Katan Kryze then assumed control of the Darksaber and the government of Mandalor. The remaining clans and Journeyman Protector Rau all pledged allegiance to the House Kryze and the new Mand’alor (Emperor/Empress of all Mandalorian people).

CULTURE

The overall Mandalorian clan structure is basically a pyramid with the Mand’alor at the top and their Protectors (government officials) enforcing their will. Just below the Mand’alor and the Protectors are the houses which can be made up of several clans. Prior to the execution of Order 66, House Vizsla was actually composed of Clan Vizsla and Clan Wren. The police force and secret service on Mandalore wielded electro-staffs and shields which were capable of stopping a lightsaber.

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Being some of the most feared warriors in the entire galaxy, Mandalorians were fiercely prideful and had a strict code of honour. One of the most recognized codes of honour that the Mandalorian people adopted was the honour of one on one combat to settle disputes. Whether it was to settle a disagreement or to prove they were better than someone else; Sometimes this tradition was used to settle leadership disputes as well. Mandalorians would often invoke the right of one on one combat the test their prowess in combat. Some Mandalorians even went as far as to challenge Jedi Knights to one on one combat to prove they were better fighters than the Jedi. Darth Maul invoked the right of one on one combat against Pre Vizsla for the leadership of Mandalore following the assassination of Duchess Satine. While Pre Vizsla wasn’t required to accept, the battle, his honour dictated he should, and he was killed by Darth Maul who then assumed control of the Darksaber.

As I previously stated Mandalorian weapons and technology were created specifically to combat Jedi powers and abilities. Mandalorians wore jetpacks that could launch rockets, wielded blasters and flamethrowers, used magnetic boots, and sonic canons. The favoured blaster of the Mandalorian people was the WESTAR-35 blaster pistol for it’s simple yet effective design, while the favoured jetpack was the Z-6 jetpack for its ability to launch missiles. One interesting piece of tech that was developed after the end of the Clone Wars by Boba Fett himself, was a neck wrap that was able to stop a lightsaber from taking off his head. Fans of the movies will remember that Boba’s father, Jango Fett, was decapitated by Mace Windu at the Battle of Geonosis.  The main fighting style of the Mandalorian people was a mix of ranged, close range and hand to hand combat techniques that utilized the technology and weapons in their vambracers and packs to surprise and overwhelm the enemy. This particular style of fighting was perfected after the first Mandalorian crusaders ran into the Jedi and began the Mandalorian/Jedi war.

Mandalorian Crusader

Cubism was the favored art style among the Mandalorian people during the Clone Wars. It was reflected in their murals, architecture, vehicles, clothing and even in their personal hair cuts. While some artists moved into more graffiti style following the rise of the Empire, Cubism was still the predominant art style. The main language of Mandalore is Mando’a with its written form being called “Mandalorian”, the people of Mandalore are also fluent in galactic basic.

 

There you have a brief rundown of the history and culture of Mandalore in time for E3 and the announcement of the new Star Wars game. I know I personally will be wary of the new title, given the abysmal game we got in Battlefront II. I have faith that this game may prove to be a great addition to the Star Wars catalog and with Respawn working on the project, it should prove to be something truly awesome.

E3 runs from June 12 2018 – June 14, 2018. Tune in to see some great reveals!

THIS JUST IN!!! As I was writing this post it was just announced that James Mangold (of Wolverine and Logan fame) will be writing and directing a movie centered on Boba Fett!!!!

Boba Fett

Deadpool 2 – The Merc With the Mouth on a Bigger Budget *SPOILER FREE*

Just yesterday I went and saw the highly anticipated Deadpool 2 in theaters, it was awesome! While not as good as the first one (sequels rarely are) it definitely captured the magic of the original and put its own twist on things to make it it’s own. The marketing team for this movie should be given awards themselves. For months the marketing has been amped up to 11 and taken no prisoners. A genius TV spot with David Beckham, a brilliant original single by the Canadian great Celine Dion, and a hilarious ad featuring Manchester United in a soccer match are just some of the brilliant ideas to come out of their marketing department. Originally I was going to do a post about Infinity War, but I felt that it would get lost among the many many theories circulating the internet as to what will happen in Avengers IV (Disassembled), so I opted for one of my favourite comic characters’ second film instead.

THE STORY SO FAR

Wade and Vanessa have reconciled their differences and Wade has been taking some freelance assassination work around the world. Colossus is still trying to get Wade to consider joining the X-Men full time to learn to be the hero he thinks he is.  Dopinder is still driving his cab but he feels he wants to do more with his life than just drive DP around to his assassinations.

Wade and Vanessa

PLOT

So it’s no secret that this movie revolves around the formation of the X-Force, though it may not be the team you think it is. Wade takes it upon himself to protect a young mutant named Russell from the time travelling supersoldier/mutant Cable who thinks that Russell turns evil. Wade forms the X-Force from LinkedIn auditions to save the kid and stop Cable in the process.  Blind Al, Dopinder, and Weasel make some great returns with notable new faces of Domino and Cable. Josh Brolin (of current Thanos fame) nails the gruff, angry, and vengeful Cable but also brings in a certain humanity as to why he is doing what he does.

The standout star for me in this film is a tough call. Between Ryan Reynolds BEING Deadpool/ Wade Wilson and Josh Brolin nailing his interpretation of Cable… Zazie Beets still takes the cake with her interpretation of Domino. While she doesn’t look 100% comic accurate, due to Zazie’s ethnicity, she definitely delivers a stellar performance as the luck based mercenary. Zazie delivers some of the best lines in the film and really steals the show every scene she’s in.

I don’t want to say anymore about the plot for fear of revealing something so let’s move onto the costumes.

COSTUMES

The costumes in this movie are perfect for each character. While Wade sports his typical red suit and Colossus and Negasonic sport their regular X-Men outfits, Cable and Domino’s costumes look like they were taken right out of the comic book.

Being part human/mutant and part cybernetic virus infected supersoldier, Cable’s costume looks pretty awesome. I was pleased that they streamlined Cable’s complicated origin story to just making him  a sort of dangerous mutant hunter from the future and getting rid of the whole techno virus angle. In comic continuity he is the son of Cyclops (Scott Summers) and Madelyn Prior ( Jean Grey clone) who gets infected with a technovirus made by Apocalypse and is taken to the future where the technology could save him. As I said, it gets unnecessary complicated and I was happy that they got rid of this angle. That being said Cable’s costume definitely reflects this origin without directly stating it. His metal arm and cybernetic eye both dictate that he is from the future and has had some sort of body modifications done, whether voluntary or not. My favourite part of Cable’s entire ensemble though has to be his gun. He takes some state of the art tech and incorporates some awesome future tech into it to make a rifle that can fire bullets, lasers, concussive blasts, and grenades. When you see the gun you’ll know what I mean and probably want one yourself.

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I will admit that I’m not that well versed in Domino’s comic history. Most of what I know I gleaned from her appearing in other works or from Variant Comics’ Youtube channel. That being said, while I might not know who she is I do know what she looks like and I can honestly say the costume department for this movie nailed it. While Domino’s trade mark outfit is skin tight leather with tactical gear attached, they definitely leaned more into the tactical aspect than the skin tight leather. Zazie Beets sports a very modern tactical looking ensemble while still maintaining one of Domino’s trademark properties, her silenced SMGs. Domino is known for using dual silenced SMGs with bayonets attached to them, which the prop and costume department perfectly replicated. Another trademark of Domino is of course the white patch around her left eye. Like I said I’m not 100% sure what this is from (historically speaking) but it is definitely an important aspect for her character.

Domino

CHARACTERS

The character list for this movie can be quite extensive, so I will highlight the most important characters and who plays them.

  • Wade Wilson/ Deadpool – Ryan Reynolds
  • Vanessa – Morena Baccarin
  • Cable – Josh Brolin
  • Domino – Zazie Beetz
  • Russell Collins/ Firefist – Julian Dennison
  • Weasel – T.J. Miller

Terry Crews, Bill Skarsgard, Lewis Tan, and Rob Delaney are all part of Deadpool’s X-Force team with a surprise cameo by Brad Pitt.

X-Force

As I previously said Josh Brolin and Zazie Beetz were the standout stars in this movie for me. They perfectly captured the essence of their characters while still putting their own spin on them.

ACTION

This movie’s budget was doubled from the last movie and it’s very apparent in the opening scenes of the film. The choreography for the fight sequences were top notch and properly incorporated Deadpool’s improvisational fighting style into the choreography. While most movies will just focus on one type of choreography, this film very much made use of the environment and the tools therein to make some truly memorable fight sequences.

Again, there is a huge fight at the end that is truly spectacular, but I won’t say anything for fear of navigating too close to spoiler territory. Just know it involves Colossus in all his glory.

VILLAIN

So the marketing of the film has made Cable out to be the villain for the film and while that’s partially correct, it’s not entirely correct. While he is definitely the antagonist, I would hesitate to call him an actual villain. His motivations are pretty pure and most people would do the same thing he does if they were placed in his shoes. He slides back in time to stop a mutant from becoming evil and killing a lot of people. While he slides back far enough that the particular mutant is just a kid, his mission is not changed. This creates a very interesting dynamic between him and Wade. While Wade has no problems killing men and women he firmly draws a line at killing kids. Which is a huge point in an X-Force run that I’ve mentioned in previous posts. Just because someone is evil in the future doesn’t mean you can’t help them now as a kid to keep them from going evil. It really helps to establish Wade’s humanity as a person underneath all the sarcasm and dark humour. He does have a code, which is rare for someone in his line of work, but it is a code he sticks to.

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All in all I think the movie was a really fun adventure into Deadpool’s story. I will be the first to admit that I think the first one is a better film, just for its sake of originality, but this was a solid follow up. It made it’s own path while still paying homage to the original one before it. I will say that I felt they added too many modern box office references for my liking. A few are hilarious, but about mid way through the movie they just feel forced. I would’ve like some more organic chemistry between the cast members because of how well they worked with each other.

Overall, I would rate this movie to be a solid 7.8/10. Like I said, it’s a solid film and a lot of fun to watch even with all their modern references and 4th wall breaking. If you were a fan of the first one I would highly recommend that you go see this one!

Wade

This spoiler free review was made with Barb Cottle in mind. May I never spoil anything for her ever again after the X-Men III: The Last Stand fiasco…

Ready Player One – A Commentary On The Path of Modern Gaming

This past weekend along with the purchase of my Infinity War tickets, I bought tickets for a Friday night showing of Ready Player One. I had seen trailers of the movie for several months and just the premise of the film (the adventure of finding the coveted Easter Eggs) put it on my ‘to see list’. Prior to heading to the theater I checked the ratings on Rotten Tomatoes (just like everyone) and was pleased to see the 74% critic rating and the 80% audience rating. I briefly perused some of the negative critic reviews listed and noted they all said the same thing, “It’s a CGI slugfest with no plot”. What? You don’t go to a movie like Ready Player One expecting the intricacy of Inception or the character development of the Godfather series, you go to see CG characters duking it out in a video game style death match! I didn’t let these few negative reviews, that likened it to the recent Pacific Rim: Uprising for it gratuitous CGI usage and minimal plot, discolour my anticipation for the movie. I can honestly say, that while there are obvious plot holes and plot armour for some parts, it is a fun and exciting movie to kick back and watch with some popcorn.

One thing I did notice as I was watching it was that, as a gamer myself, the world of the Oasis is becoming an ever increasing possibility. Let me explain…

SOCIAL SPACES

It’s no secret that the majority of Ready Player One takes place in a virtual game called The Oasis. This game is the main setting for all of the events that really move the plot forward. It’s explained as a massive social space with various worlds that each tailor to different experiences. As they explain in the movie, the PvP area (Player vs. Player arena) is called Planet Doom, while there is a casino world, a racing world, a virtual vacation world and even a world where you can climb Mount Everest with Batman. This concept of social paces is nothing new to gaming. If you look at any online multiplayer game they all have a social space where you can interact with other players before venturing into the game world. Destiny has the Tower, Call of Duty WWII has the camp, and The Division has the HQ. Each of these spaces allow you to interact with other players by inviting them to join a party or challenging them to 1v1 matches.  In addition to social spaces, each game with an online multiplayer component also has a lobby that allows you to speak to other players either on your team for that match, or against you for that match.

Destiny Tower

In Ready Player One, the entire Oasis is in itself a social space. While there are certain areas where you can kill other players freely, like Planet Doom, the nightclubs and cities tend to be safer. Social gaming is the next step in the online gaming path, gone are the days of having 4 friends crowding around one screen while playing Halo or Goldeneye. While you can still play socially with your friends in almost every game, each individual person now needs their own console and copy of the game (unless you game share). This step was taken to ensure maximum revenue by gaming companies for their product. While most people are not happy with this, it’s becoming more commonplace in today’s gaming market.

As games move more and more into social multiplayer territory, the size of these spaces is going to become much larger to accommodate the number of players in the game at any one time. For example, In Destiny when you venture to the Tower ( the social space), you are put into one of millions of tower models that each support 36 players. Depending on the number of people playing the game at any one time, there can be anywhere from several thousand to millions of identical towers each with a maximum of 36 players per tower. The game can only support so many different players at once and thus the developers needed to create multiple copies of each space to accommodate the load of the players and the rendering of the world.

As I said before, as social spaces become more and more common in games, they will grow larger and larger until it turns into a massive Oasis style world with everyone logged in and able to see each other at once.

ZEROING OUT/PERMA-DEATH

In Ready Player One, there is one major consequence to dying in the Oasis, that consequence is referred to as “zeroing out”. When a player zeroes out in the game, they lose all their credits and progression, forcing them to start from the beginning. This aspect of the Oasis is what makes the PvP battles on Planet Doom so nerve-wracking. I know I for one die extensively while playing an online multiplayer game. Normally, my kills outweigh my deaths giving me a positive K/D (kill death ratio) at the end of the game, but the deaths number is also quite large. If I had to zero out and lose all my progress every time I died… I doubt I would play games like that anymore. That being said, there are games that incorporate this consequence into modern gaming, they refer to it as perma-death.

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Perma-death is exactly how it sounds, permanent death; some of the more recent games to incorporate this aspect are: Day Z, FTL, X-COM, and Fire Emblem. In each of these games dying/losing all your lives means an instant game restart, which in turn loses all progress and gear accumulated throughout your session.  This brings an extra level of intensity to these games as you know that you can’t just revert to the last save a la Call of Duty, Halo or Assassin’s Creed.  The only difference with these games that feature perma-death, is that most of them, are not multiplayer. While you can have friends join and assist you in the game, the consequences are the same for them, death = instant restart. While there are some great gamers who can make it through the standard fps game levels on hardest difficulty without dying, they are few and far between. There is a game that basically melds the two aspects of respawn and perma-death together and that game is The Division.

In The Division, you play as an agent of the Division tasked with establishing an HQ in New York City following an bio-terror attack. As you progress through the game you accumulate gear which can be found throughout the world or purchased from in-game vendors. Once you have completed the main story and attained a high enough level you can take on “The Dark Zone”. The Dark Zone is a walled off area in the middle of the city with high level enemies and a free for all mentality. Players can roam around pillaging the high level gear in the Dark Zone and assist each other in taking down high level bosses, or engage in PvP firefights to steal each other’s gear. If you die in the Dark Zone, you lose all the gear you accumulated while there and you respawn back at the staging area. Each person can only carry so much gear while rampaging through the Dark Zone and eventually must call in a helicopter to extract it. Calling in the helicopter lets EVERYONE in the Dark Zone know where you are and what you’re doing, whether it’s other players or NPC enemies. There’s a time frame that you must hold the extraction zone before the helicopter arrives to extract the gear, which give malicious players and NPCs the time they need to kill you and steal your gear. I personally have lost many high level gear pieces to other players while trying to defend the extraction zone. It did not bode well with me.

While this isn’t an exact copy of the “zeroing out” mechanic from Ready Player One, permadeath and the Dark Zone are as close as we have right now.

EASTER EGG HUNTING

The entire premise of the film is to find three “Easter Eggs” left in the Oasis by the creator. When one person finds all 3, they will inherit controlling stock in the company and a fortune numbering in the hundreds of trillions of dollars. The concept of Easter Eggs has been around in the gaming world for decades. An “Easter Egg” for those unfamiliar with the term, is a special construct or nod the creators put in as a reference to either themselves or other projects.

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A notable example is in the 2016 release of Doom, when the creators put a portion of the original Doom game from 1993 in during the main story allowing exploratory players to enjoy a small portion of the original classic. Another example is in the game Halo: Reach, wherein if you complete the final mission on Heroic or Legendary; at the right moment in one of the cut-scenes, if you push both sticks to the right the camera will pan and show a shot of the Master Chief in his cryo tube. As I said before, these little nods to other games are what the meaning of an Easter Egg is.

Even though Easter Egg hunting has been around for a long time in gaming, and has now jumped into the film medium with the explosion of the MCU. While yes, there were Easter Eggs in film before the MCU, Marvel studios used them to the point of such success that a lot of other studios have started adding them to link their works together.

DECEIVING AVATARS

This in’t anything new, but they do make a point during the film to explain that while someone’s avatar may look like a young attractive female, doesn’t mean they aren’t really a 300lb dude that lives in his mom’s basement. This is something that is prevalent in not only gaming but society as a whole. With the anonymity of the internet you can appear as anybody you want, regardless of being in a game or not. It’s something that people need to watch out for while perusing the web or the gaming lobbies. Aech, pronounced “H” (one of the characters in the film), makes a joke out of it, but it’s an issue that can have serious real world consequences. The “Nigerian Prince” that emails you promising to share their fortune with you if you send them $500 right now is 100% a scam, but some people fall for it and end up getting burned for thousands of dollars because the “prince” stole their identity.

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In the film, the players in the Oasis are able to model their avatars after anything they wish. Some choose other gaming characters such as Halo Spartans and Overwatch characters, some choose movie characters like Freddy Kreuger or Robocop, and some go for a mix of everything. The concept of making your avatar as far from what you really look like is nothing new, but some of the players in the movie do take it to the extreme. Not only does your avatar mask what you really look like, but it also masks your actual age. With most multiplayer games, you can ball park someone’s age when they speak in the game chat, but that’s not always the case. Ready Player One uses this as an interesting concept for a few characters and it helps to hammer home to anonymity of the gaming world.

CHARACTER PROGRESSION/POWERFUL WEAPONS/IN GAME PURCHASES (PAY TO WIN)

Character progression is the cornerstone of many RPG and Shared World shooter games, and this is something the Oasis takes into account during the film. While if you die you zero out and lose all your gear, if you’re good enough as with some of the characters in the movie, you can get over 10+ years of experience and gear which helps you out immensely.  The opening of the movie focuses on one particular battle on Planet Doom. The prize for winning this battle is a gauntlet that allows the wearer to assume the identity of any mechanical being they wish. This prize plays a big part later on in the film and when the character uses it, I will admit… I did get a little giddy in my seat and throw my hands in the air in excitement. This character progression and power weapon concept is very aptly exemplified by the Elder Scrolls series.

The Elder Scrolls is probably one of the most successful RPG franchises the world over. The game is made by Bethesda studios, and in it, the player controls a character of their own design in the fantastical world of Tamriel. As you progress through the main story your character levels up until you can unlock certain quests. Some of these quests, gift you with weapons based on the powers of the literal Gods from the lore in the game. I won’t get to into the explanation because if you’re not a fan it won’t make any sense and can get quite boring; however, the weapons you can get on these quests can vastly improve your combat effectiveness in the game to the point of walking through boss battles.

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Ready Player One utilizes this concept with the gauntlet as I previously explained; but, they also allow for players to utilize the currency they obtain in the game to purchase weapons and various other nick knacks that can be used in game and in the real world. One such device a player can purchase, is the Holy Hand Grenade on Antioch from Monty Python fame, which is a very powerful weapon in game, or they can purchase a VR suit for use in the real world to augment their Oasis experience. Pay to Win is something that is plaguing current gaming. It allows for people who don’t want to spend the hours developing skills and unlocking weapons and perks the traditional way, to purchase the upgrades they want for real world money. This makes for very unbalanced first few months of a game’s release and is the cause of some very vocal outcry by fans, Star Wars Battlefront II from 2017 is a prime example.

Ready Player One is based off the book by Ernest Cline from 2011, which was released fairly recently for a movie to be adapted from it. At the time the book was written, some of the trends he explores in the novel and that get explored in the movie, were already becoming very prevalent in the gaming world. Loot boxes, pay to win, level progression and perma death were all making their introduction into the gaming market when the book was written. The film does a great job of showing how these concepts are being taken and ran with and how in the future, this could become the norm for gaming. While each individual company, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, would never agree to produce a game together, eventually one of them may win out the dreaded “console war” and then the concept of Ready Player One could really take shape.

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The Road to Infinity War

With the biggest comic movie event in History just two weeks away. I thought it would be good to give a rundown of the road to Infinity and where we find each of our heroes as this event begins to take shape. Black Panther was the final piece of the puzzle prior to release of Infinity War and helped to bring the major battleground of Infinity War into the spotlight. From most of the trailers we can see that a large battle takes place on Wakandan soil. Several of the Secret Avengers and the regular Avengers fight together backed by the Wakandan army against Thanos and his Outrider army. I have already provided a run down of the Infinity Stone locations which can be found here:

https://comicfan9812.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/infinity-stone-rundown-locations-and-powers/

With the stone locations and powers out of the way, let’s dive into the actual characters…

*WARNING! This post will contain spoilers for Black Panther and all other MCU movies*

CAPTAIN AMERICA/NOMAD

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The biggest change for a character from the OG lineup is that Cap, has dropped the Star Spangled hero name. At the conclusion of Civil War he chose to side with Bucky and the truth over Tony and his quest for revenge. As he limped off after incapacitating Tony, he dropped his shield. This was a huge moment for Cap, as through his entire arc with his own trilogy and the Avengers films, he has become more and more disenfranchised with the way the governments of the world are handling things. He finally sheds that last bit of identity that has anchored him to his legacy for the last 80 years and is now embracing his own path. At least at the beginning of the film he has taken the identity of Nomad, which is a nod to several comics where Cap lost faith in the government he swore to defend. I’m betting that by the end of the film he will once again be the Captain America the world looks up to. Also at the conclusion of Civil War we also saw Cap/Nomad/Steve Rogers, breaking his team out of the Raft prison to then become the Secret Avengers. I am really hoping they incorporate Cap’s final stand from the Infinity War comic against Thanos, I just think it will have such a huge impact on the rest of the Avengers fighting and spur them on.

IRON MAN

Tony is in a difficult place. At the end of Civil War, we saw him trying to help a now paralyzed Rhodey to walk again while heading a broken team of Avengers. After his rampage in the Siberian bunker, he was defeated by Captain America, who up until that moment had been one of his closest friends. The betrayal he felt when Cap sided with the man who had murdered his parents overwhelmed his reasoning, and in turn, he lost his greatest ally. While Captain America still has faith that he and Tony can work together in the future (as evidenced by the burner phone he sent Tony), he knows that until something happens that requires them all together, their relationship will never be the same. In Spider-Man: Homecoming we find out that he and Pepper are actually back together after being on a break during Civil War, not only are they together, they’re engaged! In the trailers we see that Tony has perfected his bleeding Edge armour and has lost an arm? or a hand at least. I think that while Tony tries to bring the team back together he knows that the only one who can do that is Cap, and he is okay with that (deep down). I’m also guessing that if it doesn’t happen in this film it will definitely happen in the next, Rhodey is going to get killed by Thanos, a la Civil War II.

SPIDER-MAN

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Spider-Man is one of the newest additions to the team dynamic, much like Doctor Strange. Peter partook in the events of Civil War as the “secret weapon” of the pro-registration forces. While he did fight for the registration forces he did not officially sign the Accords. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, he nearly joined the Avengers as a full time member before declining at the last minute. This was also when we saw the Iron Spider suit for the first time. In the trailer Peter appears to be on a field trip or some sort of excursion with his school when Thanos’ scout ship appears in New York. We don’t know how exactly but we do know that he will be given the Iron Spider Suit at some point in the film and that he will have some memorable dialogue with Dr. Strange.  At his core, Peter just wants to impress. Knowing that he is the youngest human member of the Avengers by at least a decade, he desperately wants to prove that he can roll with the big league and will do whatever he can to make that happen.

BLACK PANTHER

T’Challa was the most recent hero to be given his own film on the road to the Infinity War. At the end of the movie we see T’Challa finally bringing the nation of Wakanda with all their technology into the international spotlight. At the end of Civil War, he realized that his quest for vengeance had led him down the dark path that was now consuming Tony, and he refused to be a party to it any longer. Following the final battle, he took Cap and Bucky into Wakanda; with the latter agreeing to be put on ice, until Wakandan science could figure out a way to scrub all the Hydra influence from Bucky’s brain. He fought his cousin, a usurper during his solo movie, and after a brief time of near death he reclaimed his throne.  T’Challa has been a conflicted character from his first introduction and continues to be so. While he is resolute in his decisions, he is unsure of the type of king he should be. In the post credit scene for Black Panther, we see a newly awakened Bucky being called “White Wolf” by Shuri before being led off screen. With his nation being one of the battlegrounds in the upcoming Infinity War, T’Challa is going to have to make some hard choice between doing what is best for his people and what is best for the world as a whole.

BLACK WIDOW

Natasha has constantly been a side player in the MCU, which is a crime. As one of the best fighters in the MCU having trained with the likes of Wolverine and the Winter Soldier, she is criminally underused. That being said, she brings her A game every time she is on screen and Infinity War will be no different. At the end of Civil War she went into hiding with Tony offering her a chance to run because of what she did at the airport (stopped Black Panther from stopping Bucky and Cap). It’s not very clear what she has been doing during her seclusion but we do know that she dyed her hair blonde. She is seen in the battle for Wakanda making it seem that she and Cap have kept in contact with each other since they both went underground. Having fought for both the Soviets and SHIELD Widow is conflicted between her duty to the government she questions and what she knows is right. Originally having sided with Iron Man and the pro-registration faction in Civil War, she was very much the voice of reason concerning some of their tactics. Whether she will continue to be this voice of reason or resort to the brutality she was trained for, is something only Infinity War can show.

SCARLET WITCH

Scarlet Witch

Wanda Maximoff quickly went from being the villain in Age of Ultron to reluctant hero, to full on badass in the span of a few scenes. When Hawkeye delivers his speech of choosing who she is, she takes it to heart and emerges as the hero the people of Sokovia needed. During Civil War she originally sided with the registration forces until it was revealed they were keeping her locked at the compound as a safety precaution. Hawkeye breaks her out and gets her to tap into her real power and take Vision down a peg. She fought with Captain America at the airport battle but was captured in order to allow Cap and Bucky time to escape. The last time we saw her she was being broken out of the Raft by Steve Rogers at the end of Civil War. Wanda is unsure of herself and the powers she possesses. She knows that she could become a destructive force if she wanted to, but has taken steps to stay on the side of good to honour her brother and the hero she knows she can be. It’s revealed through the trailers that she is having a relationship with Vision, though with the mind stone firmly ensconced in his forehead; one has to ask, how she will handle his eventual death.

DR. STRANGE

Dr. Stephen Strange is the only person on earth who knows what the infinity stones are, and is in possession of one. When he finished his solo adventure he had used the Eye of Agamotto to trap Dormammu in and endless time loop until he agreed to end his assault on earth. Since then, Dr. Strange has been named the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth and has even helped Thor on his quest to find Odin at the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok. In the trailer it shows what can be assumed as the first battle in New York outside of the Sanctum Sanctorum, and Banner crash landing in the Sanctum. Strange is going to team up with a bunch of heroes he’s never seen before, to battle and enemy he doesn’t know, to save a world that doesn’t know magic exists… while using magic. While he is familiar with extra dimensional beings that could pose a threat to earth (as he stated in Thor: Ragnarok) Even he isn’t ready for this. Strange is an arrogant perfectionist, nobody can dispute that. While he was a surgeon he didn’t trust anyone else to do anything right, but now that he must rely on other forces to do his work, he has become more accepting of other people. This is movie going to test his resolve, he is used to using magic to fight magical beings, but even all his training and mystic arts are not going to prepare him for an unending alien horde led by a fanatical madman.

THOR

Thor is now King of Asgard. His father is dead, his mother is dead… his hammer destroyed. His home is dead, and he is missing his eye; but, he has his people and a few strong allies with him to help bring Asgard back from extinction. He battled Hela in Ragnarok and  would’ve lost everything if it wasn’t for the quick action by himself and Loki. He is now leading the entire population of Asgard through the cosmos on a ship stolen from Sakaar, with no destination in mind. In the first post-credit scene from Ragnarok, their little ship is seen being confronted by Thanos’ warship, the Sanctuary. In the trailers were are shown bits and pieces of Loki stepping over dozens of dead bodies and handing the Tesseract (which he stole from the Asgardian vault before the end of Ragnarok) to presumably Thanos. We are also then shown a clip of him with the other “children” of Thanos (his generals) as he watches on while Thanos presumably tortures Thor. Thor is then picked up by the Guardians of the Galaxy before he leaves on a quest to forge his new hammer, Stormbreaker. With his people either dead or captured, the new king of Asgard is going to do everything in his power to bring down the tyrant who attacked them.

HULK

Hulk is with Thor and will presumably be beaten and cast out of the ship to crash to the earth in the Sanctum Sanctorm. He has been battling on Sakaar for several months and then helped Thor to bring down his evil sister Hela and her giant wolf Fenris. During Ragnarok, Banner was concerned that if he changed back into Hulk that he could never change back to Banner. The trailer shows a bewildered Banner at the bottom of a Hulk sized hole in the Sanctum Sanctorum, so that would appear to be a false assumption on Banner’s part. We aren’t shown much of the Hulk in either trailer except for the epic charge of the heroes in Wakanda being led by Nomad with Hulk close behind. While Banner may be the analytical mind in reconstructing the Hulk buster armour and reconciling with Widow, Hulk is out for revenge. He got beat by someone stronger than him and that makes him angry.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

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The Guardians of the Galaxy are fresh off their second foray into galaxy wide heroics. They’ve done the schtick twice and are looking for something else. At the culmination of GotG vol. 2, Star Lord killed his father, Yondu died, Groot is growing into adolescence, and Rocket has realized that he can’t push his friends away. Gamora and Nebula have somewhat reconciled, while Drax is still burning for a confrontation with Thanos to avenge his wife and daughter. The Guardians stumble onto the wreckage of the Asgardian transport ship in the trailer and literally crash into a floating Thor. They have Mantis revive him and presumably assist him in defending the Earth and forging Stormbreaker. The trailer shows us that Rocket and Groot assist Thor to forge the new hammer while the rest of them head to earth to help the Avengers. The stakes have never been higher in this film. The Guardians are going to learn very soon that Thanos is not one to be underestimated, but they’ve gone up against literal Gods and come out okay, so they should be fine, right?

WAR MACHINE

Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, is the one person who has remained a friend of Tony since he was first introduced way back in 2008 during the first Iron Man film. He has gone from consultant/PR manager, to hero, to symbol of Freedom, to member of the pro-registration forces to a paraplegic. At the end of Civil War, he was hit by a blast of friendly fire from Vision. This knocked out his armour and cause him to plummet several thousand feet to the ground below. Vision had become distracted by Scarlet Witch and while Tony and Sam tried to save him, they were unable to stop Rhodey’s fall. Col. James Rhodes lost the use of his legs. At the end of the film we are shown Tony having constructed some miniaturized exo-skeletal legs to assist Rhodey in walking. Tony asks Rhodey if he regrets it, to which Rhodey replies he doesn’t. Despite the fact that he may never walk unassisted ever again, Rhodes believes that what they were doing was right and he is okay with the consequences.  In the trailer we see him walking behind a group of heroes as they arrive in Wakanda so clearly, Tony has MacGyvered something together to allow him to walk normally and fight in his armour. Rhodey belives that the things the Avengers do, needs to be done. He doesn’t always agree with how they do it, but that’s why he signed the Accords to be kept in check.

VISION

Vision is one of the most complex and frankly OP members of the Avengers. Not only that, but he is the youngest by about a decade. That being said, at the conclusion of Civil War we saw his romance with Scarlet Witch beginning to blossom to the point that they will both act on it in the upcoming film. In the trailer we are shown a non Scarlet and green Paul Bettany leaning us to believe that Wanda has begun to master her powers. We are also shown a shot of Vision screaming on the ground while Corvus Glaive stabs into his forehead in an attempt to remove the Mind stone ensconced there. Curiously, we are also not shown any footage of Vision in the final battle or the charge scene with the other heroes. This leads me to believe that Vision may be the first casualty the Avengers suffer in Infinity War. Vision was one of the driving forces behind the accords with his famous line “…our very existence incites challenge”. Now with the other heroes on the run and his feelings for Wanda finally being reciprocated, he may not want to risk everything he has in a fight they might not be able to win.

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WINTER SOLDIER/BUCKY BARNES

Bucky is a curious case for the Avengers. He was never a member but his status as one of the original Howling Commandos can’t be ignored. Steve will vouch for his lifelong friend until the day he dies and this can cause issues for other members of the team… Exhibit A… Civil War! Bucky wants to forget the things he’s done and focus on his new life and build a new reputation for himself. The only issue is, his old life doesn’t seem to want to stay buried. At the end of Civil War, he voluntarily enters into cryo sleep again, in order to give the Wakandan scientists time to try and scrub all traces of Hydra indoctrination from his brain. As previously stated, the last time we saw him was in the post-credit scene from Black Panther where Shuri has awoken him. It’s not clear if this happens prior to the commencement of Infinity War or during the opening moments of the film. He is shown to be minus an arm which he will obviously get back and he has a new code name ” White Wolf”.

FALCON

Sam Wilson has been a stalwart compatriot to Captain America ever since his introduction in the MCU during Captain America: Winter Soldier. He was absent from Age of Ultron due to him running down leads on the location of Bucky for Steve, which finally pays off at the start of Civil War. He sides with Cap during the conflict and is one of the heroes that allows himself to be captured to give Bucky and Cap time to escape. Last we see of him he along with the other “fugitive heroes” are being liberated from the Raft by Steve Rogers. Sam is a soldier. He is more comfortable on the battlefield than he is in his own home, he says as much in Winter Soldier. While he has acclimated to civilian life he still longs for the thrill of the fight. He will follow Cap to the ends of the earth because he likes having someone to look to in times of trouble, and who better than Captain America? Sam can be seen in the trailers during the fight in Wakanda so we know that he will make several appearances in the film. With Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan only halfway through their Marvel contracts, the main question is who will don the red, white and blue when Steve Rogers bites the dust?

ANT-MAN

Scott Lang is probably the most outrageous member of the anti-registration forces. At the end of his solo film he was given everything he wanted, access to his daughter, but he threw that all away because Hawkeye told him to? The argument could be made that Cap asked him and as put by Lang himself ” When Captain America calls, you answer”. Ant-Man’s probably biggest contribution (see what I did there?) was when he surprised everyone by going big and becoming Giant-Man. This only lasted briefly but it served as a big enough distraction (I did it again!) to give Cap and Bucky the time to escape. He was last seen being broken out of the Raft to begin his life as a fugitive once again. We know that Ant-Man and the Wasp is due out this summer after Infinity War makes its run through the theatres, but we aren’t exactly sure how big (heh) of a role he will play in the conflict. Ant-Man is concerned with being able to see his daughter, after spending so much time away from her. He wants nothing more than to resume his old life, but with receiving the Ant-Man suit and being called to help Cap, one has to wonder if he will ever get to it.

 

There you have it, those are all the major players in Infinity War and what drives them. I am super excited for the film and have already pre-ordered my VIP tickets for opening day. If you have any input on the upcoming film please feel free to drop a comment. See you next week!

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An Impossible Expectation – Living Up To The Legacy

This week, I decided to focus on something that I have noticed with the newest press regarding upcoming seasons and movies based on comic media; the impossible task of living up to the legacy. With the explosion of the MCU beginning in 2008, comic book movies have become the best thing a studio can do to make money; however, it is not without its risks. While Marvel studios seem to have found the formula to make successful movies, other studios like DC Entertainment and Fox studios are more hit or miss. Don’t get me wrong they have some great hits, Deadpool and Wonder Woman are awesome and huge steps for the superhero genre if not movies as a whole. We got the first widely successful female led movie with Wonder Woman, Logan and Deadpool showed us R rated movies can still make buck, and now Black Panther has rallied the entire world behind the fictional nation of Wakanda. But for all the bluster that these movies and shows can provide… the one thing they can never do, is live up to the legacy of the characters.

Batman

Let’s take Batman for instance, how many Batman movies have there been? Including the movie from the 60’s TV show starring the late Adam West, there have been 9 live action Batman films; and all 9 of these films have done different takes on the character without nailing the source material 100%. I commend each actor for taking the role and making it their own, but nobody has been able to fully capture the essence of the character, and nobody ever will.

Batman was first introduced in Detective Comics #27  from March 1939, that’s almost 80 years of stories and character development. Now I’m not saying that anyone trying to take the role should quit, I’m saying the opposite, I think the more people that take the role on we can get a clearer glimpse into the character of Batman. With West, we got the silly, gadget driven Batman, Keaton gave us the dark and Gothic protector, Kilmer gave us the investigative defender, Clooney gave us the campy playboy, Bale gave us the tortured and driven knight, and Affleck gave us the brutal and vicious brawler. Each actor has made the role their own by taking a piece of the vast history of the character and putting their own spin on it.  While it can get tiresome as a fan to constantly have a new person taking on the role instead of sticking with one person, it is necessary. In the animated universe, no matter what, Kevin Conroy is the voice of Batman. Jason O’Mara delivers a great spin with the new DCAU films, but nobody can compare to Conroy’s iconic voice. The same thing can be said about the Joker. Anybody who tries to do that in an animated setting will always be compared to Mark Hamill while any live action interpretation will always be compared to the late Heath Ledger.

Batfamily

Just in Batman’s history alone, we have over 5 Robins, only 1 of which has made it to the live action screen, multiple failures on the part of the Bat, his own death and resurrection, and his rehabilitation following his greatest defeat. None of the stories we have received so far in film format have focused on any of these aspects. We may FINALLY be getting the story of Jason Todd’s murder, which is arguably Batman’s greatest failure, but that happened in A Death in the Family from December of 1988. It took 29 years for his death to finally be mentioned in a DC live action film and even then, it was only done in passing. I am of course referring to the Robin suit on display in the Batcave spray painted with the words “Hahaha Joke’s on you Batman”; as well as, the mention of Harley Quinn being an accomplice in the murder of Robin in Suicide Squad. The suit is something that not many people would notice or even get the reference if you were not familiar with the source material. While the mention in Suicide Squad is so quick, if you blink you’ll miss it. While the live action films have been lacking in expanding the Batman mythos and history, the animated films have stepped up.

The modern DCAU (DC Animated Universe) took heavy influence from the New 52 run of DC Comics, while some of the classic stories and films took inspiration from the modern age of DC. We have seen Damian (Batman’s biological son) as Robin, Jason Todd as Robin and Red Hood, Dick as Nightwing, and the introduction of Batwoman and Batwing. For obvious reasons the animated movies can do more than a big budget movie can, and they can do it for much cheaper too. But Batman isn’t the only hero that this has been done with.

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Spider-Man is the most popular Marvel hero worldwide and one of my personal favourites. He has been a Marvel mainstay since his first introduction in Amazing Fantasy #15 in August of 1962. Since his introduction into Marvel, he has had 3 live action film adaptations as well as a whole slew of animated television shows and by slew I mean 9 animated shows. All of his shows have done a solid attempt at bringing his history to the forefront. The best one, in my opinion, is the Spider-Man animated series that ran in the early 90’s. It introduced a lot of kids to the great universe Spider-Man had created while doing crossovers with other heroes as well, most notably the X-Men. This is another example where the animated features have done far more to honour the legacy of Spider-Man than the movies ever did.

The first slew of movies were directed by Sam Raimi and starred Tobey McGuire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The first of Raimi’s Spider-Man films were released in 2002 to a warm reception. Introducing Norman Osborn/Green Goblin with a stellar performance by Willem Dafoe (we’ll just forget the power ranger costume…), then Alfred Molina as Otto Octavius/Doc Ock is Spider-Man 2, and finally the abysmal Spider-Man 3 with New Goblin, scrawny Venom and a great performance by Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko/Sandman. The first two movies were well received but by the third the studio (Sony) decided to meddle and forced Raimi to include Venom into the plot. With the failure of the third film, Spider-Man was put on ice until 2012 when Sony rebooted the franchise with the Amazing Spider-Man.

Spider-MAn

Spying the success of the MCU, Sony tried to build an entire universe based off of Spider-Man. The first movie was okay, it was a fresh take and brought Peter back into high school. The second one was terrible, it was too long and destroyed the Green Goblin as a character. The one thing that the second movie did get right was the death of Gwen Stacy. Paying direct homage to Amazing Spider-Man #121, it was a near scene for scene remake of the iconic moment in Spider-Man’s history; right down to the costume choice being a direct recreation of the clothing worn by Gwen in the comic.

Now we have a new Spider-Man with Tom Holland that is included in the MCU. Sony finally admitted they screwed up and struck a deal with Marvel to allow them to use Spider-Man in the MCU.  Tom Holland has been extremely well received and looks to be the new breakout star of the entire MCU.

All these shows and movies have barely even scratched the surface on things that have happened in Spider-Man’s comic run. I will admit that I haven’t watched all the shows, but to my knowledge, the only one to properly introduce Venom and Carnage was the 90’s animated series; which included a large portion of the rogues gallery in various episodes. Again, while each show and film took a piece of the mythos and made it their own, it never quite captured the legacy of the character. Spider-Man is one of the most popular heroes in the world, and the inability to capture the essence of the character is a glaring issue. We’ve gotten the closest thing to a comic accurate Peter Parker with Tom Holland in the MCU, but even then, something feels off… oh right, his 40 something attractive aunt flirting with Tony Stark.

As I said before, all these attempts at bringing the characters to the screen are necessary if we are to eventually be able to pay homage to the legacy they have created. Batman and Spider-Man are just two examples of dozens of characters with histories and legacies that span decades. Fantastic Four, Captain America, Wonder Woman, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Iron Man, and Flash all have rich legacies to pay homage to, and it’s just not feasible to do so with 1 or 2 movies or even a season or two of television.

I am a big stickler for accuracy in comic movies and shows, it doesn’t sit well with me when they change things or mesh story lines together, it irks me quite substantially. That being said, I understand that there is no way these interpretations are ever going to be able to measure up to the expectations in my head from reading the stories, and that’s okay. Fresh spins on characters are part of what has helped to ensure the longevity of comics. Each  new author and artist takes what was laid down before them as a foundation and builds on the character. Sometimes you get great runs, like Frank Miller with the Dark Knight Returns, and sometimes you get terrible interpretations like Rick Remender with his Axis event. Each of these events and runs have worked to establish an ongoing legacy for each character that film studios want to tap into to appeal to the fans, even if they butcher it in their attempt.

Many fans have sour tastes in their mouths from the likes of Ghost Rider 1 & 2, Man of Steel, Affleck’s Daredevil, Steel (ft. Shaq?! come on!!!), and the Schumacher Batmans; but they keep coming back, in hopes the studios get their shit sorted out and deliver something worthy of the legacy of the character. The main point I’m trying to make is, as a fan, don’t sweat it. When it comes to studios making movies or shows off of comics, there is no way in hell they will be able to jam 50+ years of history into 1-3 movies or a couple seasons of an animated show. Give the studios a break and just be happy they’re making an effort at all. It wasn’t so long ago when if someone suggested a movie or even live action TV show based off a superhero you would be met with mocking laughter.

I am not one to quote Superman (ugh..) but this quote perfectly explains what I’m trying to get at.

“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”

in the sun

Give it time. If we give it time, I have faith that eventually we will be given wonders.