Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Bad but not Unwatchable

THIS ARTICLE WILL CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE LAST JEDI. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE LAST JEDI DO NOT READ THIS ARTICLE.

 

I, like many others, went and saw the newest addition to the Star Wars universe this past weekend with the release of the Last Jedi. I went with a group of friends that hit almost every demographic; we had the old guard who grew up with Star Wars, the young crew who started with episode VII, and my crew, who grew up with the prequel trilogy. I went into the movie with hopes in my head and can honestly say I was disappointed with the way the movie played out. I’m not saying that it was a terrible movie, but there are some major inconsistencies between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

Last week I made some predictions for how the movie would go and what would happen, I was wrong. I’m not bitter that I was wrong, I don’t mind. The fact that the movie wasn’t predictable is a good thing, but I still have issues with it.

Let’s dive right in and discuss the glaring issues with this movie…

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#1 – The dreadnought and bomber fiasco

The movie starts off well enough with some banter and Poe being a badass pilot. But let’s look at what happens next. Poe takes out the defense canons on the dreadnought in like 30 seconds. Not mad about that, what I am mad about is the bombers. Throughout the entire saga of Star Wars the resistance has Y-wing bombers. That was literally why they were made, to bomb ships and imperial bases. They weren’t as fast as X-wings or A-wings, but they could clip along at a fair speed. So why the hell does the resistance all of a sudden have these bombers that move slower than a 90 year old grandma in a motorized scooter? The bombing bays of these ships open directly to the vacuum of space, which is why all the pilots are wearing breathing masks. When the one bomber is left and is making the final approach, the bay doors are open but the pilot doesn’t have a mask on and is able to breathe? For that matter how can one bomber destroy a dreadnought? Like how does that make sense?

#2 – Hux’s stupid plan to slowly pursue the Resistance

Who the hell gave this idiot command of the First Order? Little tip for you folks… when you have overwhelming force and can snuff out your enemy in one move, you do it. You don’t slowly pursue them giving them time to come up with a plan to get away from you… or destroy your ship.

#3 – The destruction of the bridge and Leia’s powers

I get it, Leia is force sensitive. You will not get an argument from me on that; however, when someone is blasted out of the bridge and into the vacuum of space, they die. They do not float there for a minute and then snap their hand up and witch their way back into the blown out bridge. That was probably what started me getting disappointed in the movie and that was within the first 15 minutes. That scene would’ve been a perfect way to write Carrie Fisher out of the series and it would’ve been a good death for her character. If I’m being honest too it would serve as a great rallying cry and driving force for the Resistance.

#4 – Canto Bight

This planet was the most colossal waste of time. Like seriously. The fact that Benicio Del Toro was working for the First Order all along just to betray Finn and Rose? Come up with something better. Not only that but Rose fixes pipes in the Resistance Cruiser, how the hell does she know how to fly a ship? The stampede of the horse/rabbit things was not needed and neither was the gremlin treating BB-8 like a vending machine, or BB-8 then using the coins as bullets to knock out the guards.

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#5- Luke and Rey

Honestly, I don’t have anything to complain about with this. I think his reluctance to train her after the tragedy of his first temple is understandable. Her progression through the training was logical and followed the same path as Luke’s in Empire.

#6 – Kylo and Rey

The whole middle of the movie centers around a connection between Kylo Ren and Rey. They have telepathic conversations across the galaxy about their places in the world. There is one scene where they are actually seen sitting in the same hut and touching hands before Luke arrives and blows the hut apart with the force shouting “NO!”. It’s revealed that Snoke was the one who caused this mind link in order to turn Rey to the dark side. I get the whole thing about them being connected, they are the main characters after all, but the scene with Adam Driver shirtless and covered in baby oil was unnecessary. It was just awkward for a Star Wars movie.

#7 – Force holograms

This was a HUGE issue amongst myself and the people I saw the movie with. Since when the hell can a force user create a functioning corporeal hologram of themselves and other devices clean across the galaxy? Kylo does it with Rey in the hut, and Luke does it later on with not only himself but the golden dice that he took from the Millennium Falcon. How do I know it’s corporeal? Well his hologram is able to stop a lightsaber strike and the golden dice are able to be picked up and touched by both Leia and Kylo before dissolving into nothingness. I’m all for expanding on powers already there, but giving them random ass powers as a plot device is just ridiculous.

#8 – Snoke’s death

This had to have been the biggest waste in all of Star Wars after killing Darth Maul right away. Snoke was made out to be some big important leader and founder of the First Order. Not only did he found the First Order but he is also very skilled in the Dark Side of the Force. His Sith lightening ability, his ability to manipulate people as well as his ability to link people’s minds through the force are proof of this.  We never got to find out who Snoke is… and that is a glaring plot hole. Let me explain… we know there can only be two Sith at any one time, the Rule of Two was introduced by Darth Bane thousands of years ago. The last two remaining Sith were Palpatine and Vader. Both of which are dead. So… WHO IS SNOKE?! For someone to be as skilled in the Dark side of the force like he is he had to have training. With the last Sith having been destroyed in Return of the Jedi, who is he?

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#9 – Captain Phasma’s death

This one is a particularly sore spot for me because I really liked the character of Phasma. She was the first female stormtrooper and she was their leader. Not only was she their leader but with her tall stature and chrome armour she was a very imposing figure on the battlefield. Gwendoline Christie is a very great actress and I think she was robbed of her time by Disney. So let’s break this down… badass storm trooper with hundreds if not thousands of loyal soldiers at her back against a defected janitor and a ship mechanic… and who wins? THE GODDAMN JANITOR!!!! Like are you kidding me?! She easily could have mopped the floor with both of them and she should have but because a bad guy can never win in a Disney movie, the janitor smashes her across the face before she is dropped into a fiery chasm of death. The argument could be made that “Well you don’t see a body so she could be alive”… no. Disney has a habit of dropping their villains to their death. Look at all of the classic Disney movies, almost all of them have the villain die from falling to their death. I am hoping that she might find a way back in episode IX but I’m not going to hold my breath.

#10 – Admiral Holdo’s death/sacrifice

I’ll admit I was not the biggest fan of Admiral Holdo for most of the film, but that was the intended purpose, right? I get she had an ulterior motive and didn’t want Poe to muck things up, but she could’ve explained to him what she was doing and maybe he wouldn’t have performed a mutiny. All that aside though, what was with her death? Like honestly, you’re telling me that they don’t have auto-pilot in the Star Wars universe? They have tanks that can heal your wounds and ships that can travel faster than light but they don’t have an auto pilot? That being said her sacrifice by ramming their cruiser straight through Snoke’s ship will probably go down as the most badass death in Star Wars history.

#11 – Rey and Kylo fight side by side, the offer

This was one of only two saving graces in the movie for me. It really showed how awesome and unstoppable they are when they work together and it made me happy to see them fight side by side.

I predicted that they would break the mold and go with a grey jedi approach and I’m not going to lie, I’m sad they didn’t. But myself, and the group I saw the movie with, all agree that it would’ve been a better twist to have Rey accept Kylo as her teacher and then slowly work to bring him back to the light. It would’ve brought an interesting dynamic of Rey tapping into the dark side but not letting it consume her.

#12 – Snoke Couldn’t see the betrayal coming?

Snoke Claims to be master of Kylo and able to see the future of things and see into Kylo’s soul and know he is 100% committed to the dark side. How could he not see Kylo’s betrayal coming? How could he not feel Kylo turning the lightsaber? Why did he not stop it? This movie raised more questions than it answered…

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#13 – The unnecessary laser battering ram

So with the final assault on Crait, the First Order deployed their Gorilla walkers (AT-M6 for the hardcore fans), basically they’re just modified AT-ATs. But they dropped at least 7 of them. Now the walkers served no purpose but to stop the Resistance from destroying their laser battering ram, but here’s the thing… why did they need the laser battering ram? In Empire Strikes Back, two walkers were enough to destroy the rebel Base on Hoth even with their blast doors shut. This base on Crait is from the era of the Rebellion so it would stand to assume the blast doors are the same type that were on Hoth. So why not just use the mobile walkers to destroy the base instead of bringing down a giant laser battering ram and having the walkers do nothing but stand there?

#14 – Rose and Finn

For the most of the movie I didn’t mind the pair up of Finn and Rose, until they got to Canto Bight and until the battle of Crait. When Finn is preparing to make the suicide run on the battering ram so they can escape, Rose crashes her ship into his to stop him and then kisses him before passing out in the wreckage. this was another great moment for an unconventional plot twist by allowing Finn to sacrifice himself. Then Rose, who was enamored with Finn could use that as her driving force to become a major player in the resistance. But no. Disney had to interfere and make him survive even though all his character growth happened by the end of the first film. Not only did his botched sacrifice irk me, but then he dragged Rose on a makeshift stretcher for the entire length of the battlefield when they crashed right in front of the First Order. You’re telling me he dragged her several kilometers without getting apprehended or shot by the First Order? Come on…

#15 – Force ghost Yoda can control the weather/missing ghosts

Don’t get me wrong I love me some Yoda, and the fact that they went with the classic puppet version is okay in my books. What I’m not okay with is that somehow this Yoda force ghost can control the damn weather? He is dead. He doesn’t have any powers. He is able to manifest as a projection because of his training and dedication. If Force Ghosts are able to control things then why doesn’t everyone come back as one and they would essentially have an undead unbeatable army. While I did like Yoda I felt personally that it would’ve been more in line with the classic trilogy for the force ghost to have been Obi Wan in stead of Yoda. Yes, Yoda trained him but Obi wan was his guiding force for the entire trilogy. Not only that, but where are the others? At the end of Return of the Jedi, Yoda is accompanied by Obi Wan, and Anakin. So where are they? Surely Anakin could’ve appeared to Kylo and told him “Don’t go down this road Ben, it won’t end well… I would know”.

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#16 – Kylo and Luke’s showdown

I’ve already talked about the force holograms and how absurd they are, but this showdown was actually the second of the saving graces of the movie. It was a call back to the showdown in A New Hope, when Obi Wan took on Vader to buy Luke and the others time to escape. The dialogue between Kylo and Luke is good, could’ve been better, but it was good. The biggest clue though that it was a sham,was the blue lightsaber and almost everyone in the theatre picked up on it. Anyone who watched the movie knew something was up when he pulled out the blue lightsaber. In the flashback sequences earlier in the movie and in Return of the Jedi, Luke has a green lightsaber, so why give him  a blue one showing everybody in the audience that this wasn’t the real Luke? It would’ve been a much better end to the character to have him legitimately sacrifice himself to fight Kylo and give the others time to escape.

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So, with all those things in mind I will say this, I didn’t hate the movie. I was not as harsh as my viewing compatriots were. They were spouting hate for it up until about 4am after seeing it. I will admit I grew up with the prequel trilogy. I had watched the originals before seeing the Phantom Menace, but I still do enjoy the prequel trilogy. Do I recognize what is wrong with them and why they are considered bad movies? Absolutely. At the same time though, I still like them. I like them for the story they tell (albeit a little wonky), and for the characters contained within. It’s the same reason I can look past the issue with Justice League, or Ghost Rider, or Batman; I have a love of the characters and that is what keeps me liking those movies even with all their flaws.

One of the main issues with this Star Wars for me was that they killed off all the old characters that should’ve stayed and kept the ones that shouldn’t. Leia should not have made it through this movie, and neither should Chewbacca. Leia for obvious reasons due to Carrie Fisher having died; however, Chewbacca for the purpose that, he watched his best friend of over 30 years get murdered by a boy he probably helped raise. Yet, Chewie remains loyal to Rey, a girl he has known for a total of about 2 days?

The timeline for this movie also doesn’t make sense. When the movie starts we are told the Resistance has enough fuel for 18 hours. Great, nothing wrong with that. But then we are shown Rey handing Luke his lightsaber and beginning her training which takes place over several days on Ach To. Obviously the planet could have a different length of day than what is going on for the rest of the Resistance. But this movie picks up almost immediately after the events in Force Awakens. Assuming everything was happening in real time that would mean that Starkiller base had literally just been destroyed and Han had just died, but nobody seems to notice or care? We get one mention of Han’s passing and that’s where Luke asks Chewie and Rey where Han is.

JJ Abrams brought a new fresh take on the Star Wars universe with the Force Awakens and he set up a lot of building blocks for the future of the trilogy. I found that while Rian Johnson made a very visually appealing movie it lacked all the substance that made the original trilogy great. It went for more stunning visuals than character development which works for younger audiences, but most older viewers want some character development. It seemed as though Johnson had looked at all the buildings blocks set up from the Force Awakens, picked the three he liked and discarded the rest. That is the biggest issue with this for me. I wouldn’t have cared if they had killed Snoke just as long as we got some bit of his backstory. Continuity is something that needs to be heavily taken into account when making a trilogy. I just felt this movie lacked in continuity and when for visual flair.

This can obviously be attributed to having two different directors making the trilogy. If you look at most of the successful trilogies they all have one director: Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings, Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight trilogy, the Wakowskis with The Matrix, and Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather. All of those trilogies are regarded as some of the best trilogies ever made and they were all directed by a singular person/team. When you have one director take what another did and try to expand on it, the flow doesn’t work and you end up with a big mess.

I would rate the movie a solid 3.5/10 for all the issues listed and the continuity errors. I don’t think it should be removed from canon like some hardcore fans seem to think, but it should definitely not be called “The best Star Wars since Empire” or “The best Star Wars film period”. I have respect for Rian Johnson and his other work and think he is a great director he was just caught in a Catch-22; no matter what he did someone was going to be unhappy. I am excited to see what Rian can do when he gets to create an entire original trilogy from scratch, I think that will be something to see, but this movie just didn’t capture the essence of Star wars.

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Thor Ragnarok – Complete Review *SPOILERS*

It has been 2 weeks since the release of Thor:Ragnarok and I think that’s enough time for most people to have seen the film and be okay with a review filled with spoilers.

If you have not seen the movie this post will be full of spoilers, so if you don’t want anything spoiled, I suggest you stop reading now!

Alright let’s dive into the review…

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STORY

So we open the movie with Thor retelling the events that lead him to this point, being trapped in a hanging cage in Surtur’s lair. Thor recounts all of his past exploits with the Avengers and his solo adventures on Midgard before the bottom of the cage drops out and he tumbles unraveling the chain to come to rest hanging in front of Surtur himself. Surtur postulates about how he will bring Ragnarok down upon Asgard by uniting his crown with the Eternal Flame of Odin’s vault. Thor, in true Thor fashion, uses MJOLNIR to break from the chains and knock Surtur’s crown off his head. He flees from a large hell hound/dragon/jet creature and returns to Asgard with the crown of Surtur in tow.

When he arrives back on Asgard he finds that Odin has commissioned a play of Loki’s “Great Sacrifice” with Matt Damon making a surprise cameo as one of the actors in the play. In addition to the play, Odin has erected a large golden statue of Loki to commemorate his death for all of Asgard to see. Thor forces Loki to reveal his trickery and show that it was actually him and not Odin who has been ruling Asgard since the end of Thor 2: The Dark World which took place 2 years prior. The two brothers then travel to Midgard to New York where Loki has said he has hidden Odin. When they arrive at the retirement home where Loki has said he left him, they discover it being torn down. Dr. Strange steals Loki away and leaves a note for Thor to join him at his Sanctorum. When Strange realizes that Loki will leave once they find Odin, he tells Thor where his father is and frees Loki from the trap he had set for him.

When the brothers find Odin he is close to death and he warns them that his first born, Hela, will be released upon his death and that they will not be able to stop her. As Odin dies, the prison holding Hela dissolves and she appears on Midgard. Thor and Loki prepare to battle her and Thor hurls MJOLNIR at her. Much to his and Loki’s surprise, Hela catches MJOLNIR in her hand and crushes it. Loki activates the bifrost to get them out of danger but they are pursued by Hela into the bifrost and thrown out into the vastness of space.  Hela arrives on Asgard and kills two of the warriors three before being confronted by the army of Asgard and the final warrior. She destroys the entire army and walks into the throne room. As she looks up she sees the lies Odin has spun about how they came to be on the mural above the throne. She destroys the mural to reveal an older one underneath wherein it tells of War and conquest and slaughter done by Odin with Hela at his side.  She walks into the vault and takes some of the enternal flame and breaks through the floor into the tomb of the old Asgard warriors underneath the vault. She descends into the tomb and brings them all back to life including the massive wolf Fenris.

Thor crash lands on a strange planet in a junk pile. He is accosted by locals who call him food before being “rescued” by Valkyrie who sells him to the Grandmaster as a contender in the gladiator arena. He meets Korg and the rest of the gladiators that fight for the pleasure of the Grandmaster. When Thor finally enters the ring to battle the champion he discovers the champion is none other than the Incredible Hulk. Initially pleased with this he lets his guard down until the Hulk bashes him one too many times. The ensuing fight is quite spectacular with Thor learning about his true power.

When he wakes up he hatches a plan involving the Hulk and Valkyrie to bust off of Sakaar (the planet ruled by the Grandmaster) and get back to Asgard to confront Hela. We learn that Valkyrie was present during the last charge of the Valkyries and was defeated by Hela, so she holds some resentment towards the Asgardian Goddess of Death. Eventually enlisting the help of Loki they steal the grandmaster’s personal orgy ship (yes… a ship he uses to conduct orgies) and make their escape from Sakaar up the Devil’s anus ( a collapsing neutron star inside an Einstein-Rosen Bridge). When they arrive, Heimdall is attempting to lead the people of Asgard through the bifrost but they are stopped by Fenris. Thor battles Hela with the help of Valkyrie, Hulk battles Fenris, and Heimdall along with Loki battle the horde of the undead. Thor has a vision wherein he asks his father for guidance and help because he has no power without his hammer. His father explains to him that his power never came from the hammer and that the hammer had just helped him to focus it. Thor unlocks his true power as the God of Thunder and begins laying a beatdown on the undead and Hela. While Hela still proves too much of a match for them, Thor and Loki come up with the plan to start Ragnarok. Loki steals away into the weapons vault and grabs Surtur’s crown and throws it into the eternal Flame.  Surtur is returned to his full power and Hela goes to battle to defend Asgard because her power is directly linked to Asgard, and the longer she is there the stronger she becomes. Thor, Loki, Heimdall, Valkyrie, Korg, and the people of Asgard flee on a ship destined for Midgard.

During the after credit scene The Midgard bound ship is confronted by Sanctuary II (Thanos’ Warship).

THEMES

The main theme of the movie is unification. The entire movie is spent trying to bring everyone back to Asgard because that is where they all belong. Heimdall and Odin deliver the most important line of the whole movie “Asgard isn’t a place… Asgard is a people”. This puts everything into perspective for Thor as he was fighting so hard to save his home and his family’s legacy, but he finally realizes that where he lives doesn’t matter as long as he has his people with him.  He relinquishes his home to save his people from certain death, and in the process finally learns what it means to be a good king.

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One of the minor themes in the movie is revenge, which I mean is pretty obvious when Thor titles his team the Revengers. Every member of the team has history with Hela with the exception of Hulk who is there for muscle. Valkyrie lost her entire garrison in the attack on Hela and has been running ever since; Loki and Thor blame Hela for the death and destruction of their home and being cast out.  But for all of their collective anger towards Hela their thirst for revenge is the one thing that unites them (for the most part).

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

The character that has the biggest growth throughout the film is Thor, I mean it is his movie after all. That being said if you look at his appearances since the first Thor movie he has steadily become more and more humble in his abilities and his lust for conflict.

Losing the eye also helped him to gain a little perspective as Odin put it in the dream sequence that he has never seen the universe more clearly now that he only has one eye.

Loki also goes through some strong character development in this movie. he goes from being the trickster God to reluctant hero of the people of Asgard. Not only does he help to save the people of Asgard but he also comes back into possession of the Tesseract which was hidden in Odin’s vault beside the Eternal Flame. But throughout the film Loki went from thinking only about himself and his place to thinking about others and the betterment of his people. Thor even expected Loki to pull some sort of trick in the end and make it out which he did, but Thor wasn’t prepared for Loki to come to join him.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS OF THE FILM

This film is by far one of the better Marvel movies ever made. It reminds me a lot fo the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie with the amazing colour choices and the soundtrack. The Immigrant song by Led Zepplin was the perfect song to use for the movie.  When it came on during the final battle when Thor realized his true potential it made me giddy in my seat. There are obviously some things that I would change for the movie, particularly the villain problem. I would’ve had Thor and Loki find some way to actually trap Hela again so that she could potentially come back for another round. I know that we don’t actually see her die, but we see her fall to the wrath of Surtur, and then Asgard is turned into star dust, so I think it’s safe to say she is pretty dead.

I was okay with Thor becoming the king of Asgard but he was not given the Odinforce which would be extremely useful in the upcoming Infinity War. He lost the same eye as Odin and now has a patch to match the one his father had and he has Valkyrie and Korg at his side as well as Loki and Heimdall to bring the people of Asgard to Midgard.

I am not a big fan of mixing comic story lines, but that is just my personal preference. I would’ve preferred to have Asgard remain whole but a barren wasteland controlled by Surtur than have it explode into Space dust. The fall of Asgard is direct reference to the Siege arc in Marvel comics where Asgard fell into rural Iowa. That just seemed to me like they were trying to find a reason for the Asgardians to go to Midgard, and used it as a tool and nothing more. The Siege story arc is one of the best Marvel story lines and leads into Fear Itself and the fall of the God of Thunder.

God of Thunder

We know that Phase 4 is going to have a complete new Avengers team and is not going to keep any of the core members, so if this is the case I really hope they don’t hack and paste Fear Itself into Infinity War just so Thor has a “good” death.

All that aside I really did enjoy the film and I would give it a 8.0/10. There are obviously things that can be changed as with every film, but it was a fun ride and the humour was a great addition if at some points a little too much.

Justice League + Star Wars – Trailers Galore

Coming off Thanksgiving weekend and the multitude of trailers that were released, I am going to focus on two in particular and those would be the Justice League and Star Wars trailers.  In preparation for writing this post, I spent a solid half an hour of my morning routine watching and re-watching both trailers to have them both fresh in my memory. So let’s dive right in.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

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This Justice League trailer  showcased each of the Heroes in their own little spotlights. It also included some more spot on humour courtesy of Ezra Miller as Barry Allen. But the meat of the trailer comes from the showcasing of the invasion.

The trailer starts off with Lois looking out of the Kent farm and seeing Clark standing in the field looking towards the sun. He remarks about how the fact she has the ring on her finger means yes, but then Lois wakes up alone from her dream, in a world without Superman.  News is played in the background citing that terrorism and war are at an all time high and that the world is without hope now that Superman is gone.

As the voice over from Bruce begins talking about his nightmare (the Knightmare sequence from Batman V. Superman), we are shown close ups of the Parademons as well as an ancient battle in which a man is being turned into a Parademon. We also get to see some of the power the big bad Steppenwolf can toss down when he decimates what appears to be a scouting party of Amazons, with one strike of his weapon (hammer/axe) on the ground. We also get another shot of what I assume to be the opening battle between the forces of Apocalypse and the united armies of man, Atlantis, and the Amazons.  We are then shown snippets of each of the respective heroes, most notably Wonder Woman standing on a Statue of Lady Justice. Snippets of the final battle begin with intermingling dialogue from Bruce Wayne and inter-cut humour and jokes from Aquaman and Flash.  This movie does appear to bring the colour out of the darkness and is shown to be very rich in reds and oranges as colour tones. We get to see the Justice League doing battle with some Parademons and the Batmobile in action as it smashes through a blockade set up. The trailer also shows us shots of each member of the league failing to fight the enemies by themselves while the narration states ” Alone we are weak… Together we are strong”. The final scene is great bit of humour from Flash when the Bat signal is thrown in the air and helps to make this movie a lot lighter in tone than the previous entries in the DCEU.

WHAT THIS TRAILER TELLS US

As an avid comic fan, the story is pretty clear when you look at all the trailers and teasers that have been released.

An ancient battle took place on Earth in which the Amazons, Atlanteans, and Man had to unite against the dark forces of Apocalypse. The alliance was victorious and as such each race claimed a motherbox. The motherboxes were hidden without the other races knowing their locations. Steppenwolf is sent to Earth to find the motherboxes and activate them which will allow the Apocalyptan army to invade Earth.

Batman and Wonder Woman are trying to recruit other meta humans to fight for humanity should the need arise and to honour the sacrifice of Superman. Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg are thrust into this team up in order to save the world from destruction.

Regardless of what all the promotional work might say Superman will be showing up in this film. I don’t think he will appear until the final act, but I could be wrong. The fake cop-out of Superman’s death in Batman V. Superman was the biggest waste of time for any movie goer because there can’t be a Justice League without Superman, there just can’t.

 

Here is the trailer that was released on Saturday for those that haven’t seen it themselves yet.

Let’s move on to Star Wars!

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

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This trailer was a little more cryptic than that of the Justice League movie. While it still does showcase a lot of what the potential plot could be, it still leads quite a bit up to the imagination.

The trailer starts with an individual staring out some windows while water is running down them and we can see some sort of machinery in the background. We are shown different cuts of new footage like the Gorilla walkers for the first order and what looks to be Kylo Ren leading a large contingent of storm troopers into a cavern where the floor in made of volcanic looking rock with red highlights.  While all of these shots are appearing one right after the other we are told by Snoke that ” When I found you, I saw raw untamed power and beyond that something truly special”. It’s unclear who he is referring to but it is led to believe he is talking to Kylo Ren. We are then quickly transferred to Rey’s training at the hands of Luke, where he is amazed at her raw power (she is able to crack the rock upon which she is meditating by using the force). Luke quickly tells her that he has only seen power like that once before and it didn’t scare him then, but it does now. As he delivers this line we are shown what can only be Luke’s temple he was training the new generation of Jedi in up in flames as he collapses beside R2D2.

The trailer pans up to space battle and we are shown Kylo Ren’s personal fighter ship as he destroys the defenses on a Resistance Frigate and prepares to target the power core to blow the ship. He hesitates as his mother is on the ship. We see the Millenium Falcon in action evading some Tie fighters as Chewie performs his trademark Wookie call and one of the new creatures (pooko?) screams in surprise. Poe delivers a line of hope saying “they have the spark that will light the fire that can burn down the First Order”, and we see Finn in a First Order uniform battling Captain Phasma with one of the shock batons. We are shown more training by Luke while he says “This isn’t going to go the way you want it to”. The First Order and the Resistance do battle, and Snoke is shown to be torturing Rey while she is suspended in the air by the force. The trailer ends with Rey saying she needs someone to help her find her place in all of this and then we switch to a cut of Kylo Ren in what appears to be the same scene holding out his hand.

WHAT THIS TRAILER TELLS US

This trailer is a lot harder to read than the Justice League one, only for the fact that this story is 100% original whereas the Justice League Story was based of the New 52 Justice League Origin by Geoff Johns. It appears that Rey is deep in her training with Luke and Kylo Ren has recovered from his wounds he received during the Force Awakens. My guess is that story is going to take a left field turn. It would be a refreshing change of pace for the Star Wars universe and would bring a more realistic approach by making it less black and white and adding a few shades of grey into it.

My guess is that Kylo Ren is going to be unable to kill his mother and she will survive until the end of the movie when she will be killed by her ship being blown up in a space battle. It’s not a very fitting ending for Carrie Fischer but with her passing I don’t think they would disrespect her memory by having her face added digitally to a different actor’s body.  Luke and Rey are going to grow frustrated with each other because of Luke’s unwillingness to train her for fear of making another Kylo Ren.

Snoke is going to try and take Rey as his apprentice and induct her into the Knights of Ren. This is going to sever the tie between Snoke and Kylo and I think Kylo and Rey are going to forge their own path as Grey Jedi instead of the typical Sith and Jedi.

Poe and Finn are working heavily for the resistance and it looks like Finn is going to go undercover in an attempt to steal secrets/sabotage a base. He will obviously get found out by Phasma which will lead to the showdown with the stun baton and Poe having to rescue him, furthering the bromance.

Here is the new trailer for those that haven’t seen it.

 

All of this is obviously just speculation but I can’t help to hope that Star Wars might do something other than the typical good vs. bad for once.

 

Any comments leave them below! Otherwise see you next week!

Defenders – The Marvel Team Up We All Needed

*This will be a spoiler free review of the Netflix series, The Defenders*

The first season of Marvel’s Netflix team up, The Defenders, released on Friday. Unlike with most of the other series I was unable to watch it all right away as I was catching up on my Game of Thrones and visiting a good friend. I started by watching the first 5 episodes on Sunday night and I can honestly say that I was blown away by how good the series is. I had a discussion with a good friend of mine, Malcolm, once we had both finished watching the season and we both agreed that Superhero media works best as a season of TV as opposed to big blockbuster films. When you strip away the massive green screen and the exorbitant CGI you are left with a story and characters that don’t really do anything. Let me explain…

 

Let’s take Avengers (2012) the first instance of massive team up for either major comic company in a live action big screen film, it was a great film but was it? I will be the first to tell you that Avengers is amazing and I love it to death but there are definitely some major problems with it. It focuses solely on 2 characters and their growth throughout the film and the rest are there to add diversity and change of pace. It’s not question about it that Loki, Iron Man, and Captain America are the focal points of that movie, even Coulson who’s murder unifies the Avengers is relegated to secondary or tertiary character and plot device. None of the characters grow as people or even as heroes, they do what they always have and that’s it. Age of Ultron is a different story altogether, but that’s for another time. The reason that this happens is not on the fault of the writers solely, it’s the fact that they only have so much time to work with. You can’t have massive character growth and everything else to keep the plot moving in a 2 hour movie. stretch that out over 10 or even 13 hour long episodes and you sure can. Marvel’s Netflix universe has used this idea and ran with it delivering amazing shows since Daredevil first aired in 2015.  Critics didn’t really like Iron Fist, but I have already talked about that in a previous post so I won’t repeat myself.  With that being said, back to the topic of this post, The Defenders.

 

Plot

The story from the season of Defenders is amazing, it works with all the characters and brings their specific traits and quirks into a perfectly melded series. The main story is a little Daredevil and Iron Fist heavy, but that’s understandable when you find out who the main villains are and what they want. Sigourney Weaver is particularly well cast as the main villain Alexandra, with Scott Glenn making an appearance as Stick. The supporting cast are amazing as well, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Claire Temple, Foggy, Karen Paige all make appearances and help to push the story forward.  One thing that I will say as a fan of comics is that I HATE when they mix and match story arcs just to fit. They did this a little bit at the end of the season but for everything else it was a small nit picky thing that really only irked me. The main story revolves around Sigourney Weaver’s character Alexandra and her crusade to bring the city of New York to it’s knees. With only the team of Defenders standing between her and the destruction of the city, the heroes must learn to trust each other before everything they know and love is destroyed.

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Camera Work/ Editing

One of the coolest things that I found when watching the series is that when all the heroes are together they use a standard shot and standard lighting, etc. When each hero ventures off onto their own side quest you get the shooting style of each individual show.  In the first episode when we are introduced to each character as they go about their lives, we are shown 4 distinct filming, editing, and musical styles. The Jessica Jones shots use a much more stark and blue hue to the shots she’s the focal point of along with the patented scene changes involving camera shutters, Luke Cage uses a much warmer and yellow filter to the shots and the trademark psychedelic/funk music played in the background grounds him with his staunch sense of right and wrong. Daredevil/ Matt Murdoch uses a very standard filter but makes sure to pop out the colour of red and black whenever possible, and Iron Fist uses a stark filter which focuses on yellow and green for their colour pops. I really liked the way they blended each individual show’s styles together and moved flawlessly between them. That aspect alone put it far above anything the MCU or even the DCEU has put out thus far.

 

Character Development

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The series starts off where all of the others have left off plus several months. Jessica is trying to blend into the background and not be made a celebrity or what happened with Killgrave. Luke is just being released from Seagate for time served and is coming back to New York. Danny and Colleen have been roaming the world trying to find the central HQ of the Hand and end them, and Matt has given up being Daredevil and focusing on doing pro-bono work. Each member of the team is fighting in their own right against their failings and sins of their past as they forge ahead together on a crusade to save the city. IN my opinion the one who does the most growth is Jessica. She goes from wanting to be a nobody in behind the scenes to accepting that she can be a hero and help people. Danny does a lot of growth himself not just as the Iron Fist but as a person in general. After his debacle of a return in his solo series he is starting to learn the corporate world and the power he wields as one of the most profitable CEOs in the world. There is one scene in particular where Danny flexes his corporate muscle and shows the viewers that he isn’t some naive kid anymore that he is learning to navigate the corporate world and play the Game of Companies (doesn’t have the same ring to it as Game of Thrones…). Most of the development that is shown in this series comes from the relatively lone heroes learning to trust each other and work together as a unit. Let me tell you, in the finale when they start working together and functioning as a singular unit they are unstoppable.

 

Costumes

There isn’t much to say about costumes for this series. The only person who gets a costume that’s different from the one in their solo series is Danny, and even then it’s more just clothing for the appropriate climate where we first find him at the start of the show. The Black Sky does get a pretty awesome suit that is a lot more comic accurate than anything else, but even then it’s not 100% accurate. Matt Murdoch, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones all wear their normal outfits and the Daredevil suit is the same one as in the finale of Season 2.

 

Choreography

The fight choreography impressed me very much. It blended all the styles from previous shows and there are several instances where puns and jokes are made by the team members based on what is going on. One particular instance is when Jessica remarks (after stopping a drone in the employ of the villain) “Am I the only one who doesn’t know karate?!”. The choreography that is displayed is very martial arts centric and focuses mostly on the fighting abilities of Daredevil and Iron Fist. It does seem to be a lot more brutal in the fact that there is less finesse to it than there was in Iron Fist, but the visceral and brutal fighting adds to the credence that these aren’t your typical superheroes that these are people of the streets. Danny also has greatly improved his fighting style and character since the end of Iron Fist. It was not done as a response to fan backlash but as general growth as a fighter and a person. Iron Fist aired roughly around the same time they were filming the final episode of Defenders so there really wasn’t time to address most of the critiques raised about the show. Danny has been fighting with Colleen against the hand for several months so it makes sense that his fighting style and character would progress naturally to the point he was at during the opening of the Defenders.

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Conclusion

The Defenders show is the culmination of the four character seasons that Netflix have released thus far and boy… does it show. They took the best parts of each show and blended them together into the perfect piece. The only gripe that I have against the show as a fan was that they combined comic arcs and made them mash together. I can’t tell you which comic arcs they mashed together without spoiling the finale so I won’t but just know it’s nothing major. The only other kind of issue I have is that it’s only 8 episodes. Every other season that marvel and Netflix have produced is 13 episodes and this one was cut to 8. I understand that the production value is higher with a show like this but come on, at least give us 10 episodes!

My feelings on the number of episodes aside I would highly recommend this show to anyone who is a fan of gritty grounded drama. The Marvel Netflix Universe has crafted itself a dark and visceral identity separate from the MCU and that is what give it the distinction it has. I would rate this series 91/100 and recommend that anyone who is a fan of the Netflix universe binge this immediately!

Top 10 DC Animated Movies

With the animated movies on Netflix growing every single day, I thought I should drop what I believe to be the top 10 DC animated movies of all time. I will confess that I haven’t seen all of them (a travesty in and itself I know), but I have seen the vast majority of them. You’re not going to find any Superman titles on this list frankly because I think he is a horrible hero, but his character is essential for the League if that makes any sense.

So let’s start this list off at #10!

#10 – Justice League Gods and Monsters

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Coming in at #10 is none other than Justice League: Gods and Monsters. Taking place in  an alternate universe this movie is a great change of pace from the classic heroes we’ve grown to love. The League is only composed of the three core members: Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Batman is no longer Bruce Wayne but Kirk Langstrom (Man-bat in normal continuity), a college student who took an experimental serum and became a vampire. Superman is now not opposed to lethal force and is no longer the son of Jor-El but that of general Zod. Wonder Woman is not the princess of Themyscira and Greek Olympian but wife of Orion son of Darkseid. The three of them operate as a kill squad and have a reputation for maximum casualties. When scientists around the US start dying and the Justice League is framed, it’s up to the trinity to clear their names and find the culprits. The movie was created by Bruce Timm who is famous for Batman the Animated Series which is probably why I enjoyed this movie as much as I did.

 

#9 – Batman: Bad Blood

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Taking the #9 spot is none other than the most recent addition to the Batman arc of the DCAU Batman: Bad Blood. The reason that this story didn’t come in higher on the list is because it falls into the same problem many big blockbuster superhero films have, too many plot lines and villains. The main villains of the film is a squad of fairly (in my opinion) B and C list Rogues along with Talia Al’Ghul and the Heretic. The movie also introduces us to Batwoman, Batwing and a VERY brief time of Dick as Batman. When Batman is missing and presumed dead after an explosion at a warehouse where he saved Batwoman, Dick must take up the mantle of the Bat and find out what is going on in Gotham city. With Batwoman, and Batwing getting 10 minute introductions, and the Heretic being the main villain of the film none of their origins are fully explored and if you miss a couple lines of dialogue then the story falls apart.  That being said the final act of the film is great and the choreography is astounding as with all the entries on this list; the only issue is the convoluted and excessive number of plot lines.

 

#8 – The Dark Knight Returns Part I & II

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There is no secret why these movies are on the list, Batman V. Superman. The reason they are lower on the list than some might put them is the one off nature that they have. Yes, they were made of a comic book from the late 80’s and it was a direct to film adaptation, but they came out around the same time the first Avengers movie came out and DC Comics had launched headlong into the New 52. The story is great, an aging Bruce Wayne retired after the death of Jason Todd. A ruthless gang called the Mutants has taken over Gotham City, and begins to terrorize the people. Batman comes out of retirement which causes problems for some villains Two-Face and Joker. The drawing style is very iconic of Frank Miller and the animation team kept as close to the source material as possible. The first part concentrates on Batman’s battle to take out the Mutant gang and the introduction of Carrie Kelly to the title of Robin. The second part is centered around the use of Superman by the US government to end conflicts and to remove stubborn superheroes who refuse to retire. The final confrontation between Batman and Superman is iconic and was a major influence for the Batman V. Superman film by Zack Snyder.

 

#7 – The Batman Vs. Dracula

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This movie is not that well known, at least among comic fans that I know. I was a huge fan of The Batman series that aired on teletoon for 5 seasons. The villains were excellently drawn and it brought a newer younger inexperienced Batman to the front. Rino Romano did excellent as the voice of Bruce Wayne and Kevin Michael Richardson added a new darker voice to an already more animalistic Joker, the series also featured Adam West as Mayor Grange. The movie takes place after the fifth season of the show but without any of Batman’s supporting cast i.e. Batgirl or Robin. The movie focuses on a young woman being pursued by Penguin through a Cemetary who accidentally awakens Dracula. Dracula then hypnotizes Penguin and turns Joker before making an army of vampires to try and take over Gotham. One of the scenes that stands out is when Batman and Joker fight in a blood bank after Joker has been turned. In order to get away with the EXCESSIVE amounts of blood, they had the lights knocked out in the film. This allowed for a pale blue light to illuminate the fight having the blood appear as a black liquid; although it was very obvious what the substance was. The movie used the exact same animation style and choreography from the show and kept all the subtle nods that made the show great.

#6 – Justice League Vs. Teen Titans

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One of the newer additions to the DCAU is Justice League Vs. Teen Titans. The movie itself is pretty generic but what sets it apart from the rest is that chemistry that is shown between the Titans. This movie introduces us to a new version of the team consisting of: Starfire, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, Raven, and Robin (Damian). Initially Damian is placed on the team to learn to work as part of team and during his first sparring match with Blue Beetle he is horribly burned. Raven uses her magic to heal him and the team begin to bond and trust each other. The Demon Lord Trigon uses his power to take over the League and forces the Titans to combat those that they idolize while trying to find a way to stop Trigon and save the League. As with all the newer additions to the DCAU the choreography  and animation is top notch and even the limited GCI is used well. The true heart of the film comes from the carnival scene where the Titans learn to bond and become friends. The Sequel Teen Titans: The Judas Contract was good, but it wasn’t as good as this one or the rest on the list.

#5 – Justice League Crisis on Two Earth

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Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is the second DC animated movie that I ever watched, the first being Batman Beyond the Return of the Joker. This movie solidified the DC multiverse and brought some of the greatest voice actors in to voice characters. Gina Torres delivers a stellar performance as Superwoman (evil Wonder Woman), but the standout role for me was James Woods as Owlman (evil Batman). The story is that on Earth-3 the roles are reversed, the heroes are the villains and the villains are the heroes. Earth-3 Lex Luthor steals a Quantum Trigger from the Crime Syndicate (Earth-3 evil Justice League) and  teleports to Earth-1 and requests to meet the Justice League. When the League discovers he is telling the truth they agree to help him and are teleported to Earth-3. the final confrontation comes between Batman and Owlman who have both travelled to Earth Prime (the center of all reality). In the ensuing fight Batman delivers one of the most chilling lines from any DC animated movie “You’re right, we both stared into the abyss… but when it stared back at us… you blinked”. Like I said before the voice acting on this film is spectacular and the story does a great job of introducing new viewers to the extended DC multiverse.

#4 – Justice League Doom

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Justice League Doom is based on the Tower of Babel story. In this story Ras Al’Ghul breaks into the Batcave and steals plans that Batman has prepared for taking down individual members of the Justice League should they become rogue. The plans are referred to as Agamemno contingencies (in case you are curious). In the film version it is Vandal Savage and a group of villains that become the Legion of Doom who steal the plans. Savage plans to direct a massive Solar Flare to the earth cooking “2/3 at most” of the planet and becoming tyrannical leader of the remaining 1/3. In order to do this he needs the Justice League incapacitated and recruits villains from a multitude of Rogues galleries to aid him in his fight. Some of the dialogue in this film is quite exemplary and several voice actors were perfectly cast (looking at Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan). The overall story and each individual members’ personal growth and acceptance of the plans makes for a very compelling movie that ends in what can only be termed as obvious. This movie definitely has replay value just like every movie on the list and the recording of some of the Agamemno Contingencies that are on Youtube is just amazing.

#3 – Batman V Robin

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I will be the first to admit that I really don’t like Damian as Robin. He is a pompous arrogant child who thinks that he is entitled the world because of who his parents are, and he needs to be taken down a peg (like they did in Batman Inc. #3). This story brings in one of the greatest Batman arcs since Knightfall and that would be the Court of Owls. This is the starting point of Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder’s run on Batman that also included Death of the Family and Endgame.  In this film Batman is pitted against the mysterious and legendary Court of Owls while he struggles to bond with his son. Damian believes that Bruce will never trust him and lashes out by frequently running off into the night on his own where he encounters Talon, the hitman for the Court of Owls. Batman must not only save his son from Talon, and his city from the clutches of the court; but he must also save his own mind from the assault of the Owls. This movie continues into the modern DCAU which is heavily influenced by the New 52 and features Jason O’Mara again in the titular role as Batman.

#2 – Flashpoint Paradox

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The Flashpoint Paradox is probably the best Justice League movie ever to have been made. The movie follows the comic of the same name which helped to restart the DC comic universe into the New 52. In this film Barry is taunted by Reverse Flash that no matter how fast he is, he can never save the one person who mattered. Barry then uses his powers to travel back in time and save his mom from being murdered, and in doing so creates an alternate timeline. One where everything is almost the same but slightly different, for example… Bruce Wayne was shot in the alley that night, and his father became Batman while his mother went insane and became the Joker. Barry must find a way to get his powers back, unite what heroes he can and stop the global extinction. While I am not a huge fan of the animation style of this film (the males look like HUGE V’s with all their muscles and thick necks) it does have an original quality to it. The dialogue amongst characters is top notch and it’s interesting to see just how if things had played out slightly different how much everything changes.  I have personally watched this movie over 10 times and I’m still entertained by it to this day.

#1 – Batman Under the Red Hood

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This movie right here, this is the best DCAU movie to ever have been made. I could spend an entire post talking just about this movie alone (and I might in the future). It’s no secret how much I like this movie just based on the number of times I have referenced it in the past on other posts. The movie follows the Death in the Family story line and continues with it. It opens with the murder of Jason Todd and ends with a confrontation that went down in history. A mysterious figure known as the Red Hood shows up in Gotham and starts taking over the drug trade, no matter what Batman does his adversary always seems to be one step ahead of him and knows his every move.  This movie features Jensen Ackles as the voice of Red Hood and Bruce Greenwood as the voice of Batman. Greenwood would later go on to continue voicing the Bat in the animated series Young Justice of which I am also a huge fan (and super excited for season 3). The choreography in this movie is astounding and it highlights one of the darkest times in Batman’s past making him appear even more human.

 

There you have it my top 10 animated DCAU movies of all time, agree or not it’s all relative ,but if you have any good comments post them below!

Most Underrated Heroes: Vol. 1 – Ghost Rider

I’ve decided to add a segment to my blog wherein once a month I will outline a hero that I believe to be woefully underrated by most people. These are my own personal opinions and don’t reflect on any of the companies in one way or another. I had to restrain myself from talking about Moon Knight first because it would more than likely become an angry rant at the Marvel Netflix universe for not including him (yet… I have hopes!).

The first hero that I have chosen to talk about is none other than the spirit of Vengeance himself, Ghost Rider.

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The first Ghost Rider in publication, not in Marvel history, is stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze. Blaze is arguably the best known Ghost Rider right behind Danny Ketch and now Robbie Reyes.  Blaze was portrayed by Nicholas Cage in the 2007 film titled Ghost Rider and in the 2012 sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. I will be the first one to say those movies are terrible, absolutely horrible. But because of my love for ‘ol Flamehead, I watch them over and over again. Recently in Agents of SHIELD Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider appeared as an antagonist and then ally of the team. Let’s start off with a little bit of background on the character.

BACKGROUND

Blaze was a stunt motorcyclist with his father in the Quentin Carnival alongside Craig “Crash” Simpson. His mother walked out on his father when Johnny was young taking his two other siblings Danny and Barbara with her. Johnny’s father was killed in a stunt and he was adopted by Crash Simpson and his wife Mona. The Simpson’s fabricated a story as to help shield him the pain of coming from a broken family. Johnny and the Simpson’s daughter Roxanne grew close as kids and as they grew older their friendship turned to romance. The Simpson’s began their own stunt show of which Johnny was a part, when Johnny found out Crash had life threatening cancer he was devastated. Johnny turned to the occult in an effort to save Crash. One night Johnny recited a spell and summoned who he thought was the devil, really it was the arch demon Mephistocles (Mephisto). Johnny sold his soul to Mephisto in an effort to stop Crash dying of cancer. Crash awoke the next day cured of cancer, but he died performing in the stunt show a few days later. Johnny confronted Mephisto and declared that he had cheated him. Mephisto said he had stopped him dying of cancer, not dying any other way and thus the deal stood. Roxanne arrived in time to save Johnny’s soul by declaring her love for him which drove Mephisto away. Mephisto, out of rage of not being able to collect Blaze’s soul because of Roxanne’s love, bonded Johnny’s soul with the demon Zarathos making him the Ghost Rider. A leather clad being that controlled Hellfire to punish at Mephisto’s bidding, but due to the fact that he still retained his soul, Blaze would also help the innocent whenever he could.

POWERS & ABILITIES

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In addition to controlling Hellfire and being impervious to damage as Ghost Rider, Blaze also has the ability to control hell chains with his mind. He utilizes a shotgun imbued with Hell energy to fire mystic blasts at his foes that can incinerate instantly. He is strong enough to be able to fight toe to toe with Green Scar Hulk (World War Hulk), and uses the penance stare. The penance Stare is a Ghost Rider’s most powerful weapon. When using the penance stare the Ghost Rider can force you to feel the pain of all the hurt you caused to other and burn your soul inside your body. If you have dealt enough pain to others than the penance stare will fry your whole body from the inside out. There are very few people in the Marvel Universe that the penance stare doesn’t work on, those being Punisher, Deadpool, Venom and Mr. Hyde. Punisher doesn’t regret any of his kills, Deadpool’s biggest victim is himself, Venom is immune from the symbiote and Mr. Hyde is immune because of his transformation.  In addition to controlling hell chains with his mind Ghost Rider also keeps a length of chain which he can use as a whip or he ignites it on fire and can spin it fast enough to create a flame vortex.

FEATS

Ghost Rider has performed many great feats over his long career in publication. Due to the nature of the character they haven’t always been Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider, but for the most part they have been. One of the best feats he accomplished was during the World War hulk story arc.

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During World War Hulk the Green Goliath returned to Earth rather pissed after having been banished to a distant planet by the Illuminati. The Illuminati are a secret group of the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe (Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange, Charles Xavier, etc). The save the Earth from having to deal with another Hulk catastrophe the Illuminati tricked Bruce Banner onto a satellite and then launched him into deep space.  Hulk crash landed on the planet Sakaar and fought in the gladiatorial ring until he eventually was crowned king. He ventured back to Earth pissed off and ready to make the Illuminati pay for what they had done to him. Hulk had claimed a battleground in downtown New York where he waited for the group to show. Ghost Rider was hunting down pieces of Lucifer that he had inadvertently let loose from hell. He encountered the Hulk and they began to fight, a very destructive fight through the NY battleground. Hulk punched Ghost Rider through several buildings and dropped another one on top of him. Ghost Rider then grappled on hulks back and nearly choked him out with his hell chain. The fight ended in a stalemate when Ghost Rider attempted to use his penance stare and was shown that the Hulk was the victim and the Illuminati were the guilty ones.

In the early 90’s Fantastic Four cartoon there was an episode where Galactus attacked the earth. The Fantastic Four had tried everything they could to stop him but nothing was working. The Fantastic Four had run out of options and were trying to think of a plan to get rid of Galactus. In rides Ghost Rider, and tells the Fantastic Four that he will help. He rides up Galactus’ body and delivers the penance stare right to him. Galactus being a world eater, had consumed a lot of people and had a lot of guilt and pain stored up. This act was enough to banish Galactus at least for the time being while he healed from his wounds.

Circling back to why Ghost Rider ran into the Hulk in World War Hulk, he was in the process of hunting down and killing Lucifer.  Long story short is that Satan had trapped Ghost Rider in Hell (go figure!). Lucifer disguised himself as a worm helping Johnny to break the barrier between Hell and the normal world. When Johnny broke through Lucifer split into 666 pieces and fell to the Earth. Each piece took on a persona/possessed someone and began wreaking havoc.  Angels were dispatched to help Johnny but slowly one by one, Johnny killed all the pieces of Lucifer until only 1 remained. The trick was that with each piece Johnny killed the remaining pieces would get stronger. The two Angels that were sent to help Johnny ended up sacrificing themselves to provide Ghost Rider with the power he needed to destroy Lucifer and banish him back to hell.

REASONS HE IS UNDERRATED

There really is no definitive answer here besides the fact that he is a dark character. When people think of Marvel comics they think of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, X-Men, etc; all very colourful and for the most part family friendly characters. Ghost Rider isn’t a hero, he’s an anti-hero; one of those guys like Deadpool, and Punisher and Wolverine who are willing to kill to make sure their mission is accomplished. Not only that but once a Rider uses the penance stare there is no going back. it will inflict the maximum amount of damage to you that you deserve. There is no settings knob on the penance stare just like there is no setting knob on Ghost Rider’s morality. Ghost Rider like Punisher is very black and white, they both punish evil doers. Will they kill you for stealing a candy bar from a convenience store? absolutely not. Will they put the fear of God in you? absolutely.  The rider knows when it’s true evil like a serial killer or just minor evil like a vandal spray painting a building, and can adjust accordingly.

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Ghost Rider has a high kill count, not as high as say Deadpool or Wolverine, but he definitely is not a nice guy. Ghost Rider is very much a character aimed at an older audience. The humour and content of the Ghost rider comics tends to lean towards a mature audience and some of the content can be rather gruesome. In the family friendly MCU there really isn’t a place for someone like Ghost Rider. The Netflix universe however… that’s a whole different story, but in all fairness he wouldn’t be my first choice for that… my first choice would wear more white.

 

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming – Best Spider-Man film to date

*This article will contain some Easter Egg spoilers. You have been warned!!! *

If you’re like me, an avid Spider-Man fan, then you’ve probably been to see the latest installment to the MCU which is Spider-Man: Homecoming. I will flat out say that while the original 2000’s Sam Raimi films hold a very special place in my heart, this film is the best Spider-Man movie ever made.  They took Spider-Man back to his roots without forcing another origin story down our throats. Gone are the days of Peter Parker being a struggling photographer for the Daily Bugle. Back are the days of awkward teenage flirtation and social awkwardness we all experienced in high school. Tom Holland was amazing in his role as Peter Parker, he brought all the charisma and hilarity of his Civil War role into his full length role.

In addition to Tom Holland killing it at Peter Parker we were also given Michael Keaton in the role of Adrian Toomes aka. The Vulture. The story does a great job of maintaining the seriousness of a superhero flick without getting too over dramatic. In addition to the vulture there are several great nods and cameos of some other members of Spidey’s rogues gallery: The Tinkerer, Shocker and Prowler. One of my personal favourites was the inclusion of Mac Gargan into the MCU. Mac Gargan is the real name of the villain Scorpion who is one of Spider-Man’s most prominent foes. He hasn’t gotten his exo-suit yet and right now he just has a small role, but it’s obvious that this movie is meant to set up a larger Spider-Man universe.

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One of the best Easter Eggs from the movie comes from Donald Glover’s character, Aaron Davis. Fans of the Ultimate universe of Marvel comics will note who this character is and his significance to the story. Aaron Davis is the Prowler, a thief who likes to steal tech from major companies. In the ultimate universe he has a nephew, Miles Morales. Miles is bitten by the same spider that bit Peter all those years ago (Oscorp kept the spider for unclear reasons). While Miles gets roughly the same Power set as Peter he is also given the ability to camouflage himself and his clothing into his environment, his spider sense is weaker and only warns him of immediate danger as well as a “Venom Sting” in which he can paralyze anyone with just a touch. In the film Aaron actually goes as far as to say that he has a nephew in this neighbourhood which is why he will help.  This one scene gave so many people what they wanted which was the inclusion of Miles in the MCU, though now we will not be able to see fan favourite Donald Glover portray the character as he is far too old and he was cast as his uncle.

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One of my favourite Easter Eggs in the film comes when Peter is trying to track down some bad guys and disables the “training wheels protocol” Tony installed in his suit. When preparing to apprehend some bad guys the suit asks Peter if he would like to ” Instant lethal”. When the suit asks this the eyes turn red and narrow, and the placement of the shadows make the blue of his suit look red. This Easter Egg will be familiar for fans of the 90’s Clone Saga comic run. Kaine Parker, one of the clones made by the Jackal took on the moniker of Scarlet Spider, after the original Ben Reilly Scarlet Spider died. Kaine suffered from murderous tendencies and due to him being an imperfect clone he was supposed to die, but he didn’t. He healed and left New York moving down to Texas where he became the vigilante of Scarlet Spider with a precondition to lethal force.  Of all the Parker Clones that came out of that convoluted mess of a story arc, Kaine undergoes the biggest character development and is in my opinion the best one.

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Without giving any of the plot away I will say this, Michael Keaton played Adrian Toomes so well! there is a scene where he and Peter are i n a car and Toomes is laying down how things are going to play out and it is one of the best scenes of the entire MCU to date. Keaton has such a demanding presence in the film without being over dramatic. This might just be my personal opinion, but his time as Batman (however brief) provided him with a stoic ability to express his point without using many words. The Vulture suit is also just awesome. The studio moved away from a pair of bird winds on a green leotard and made him a rig which is basically a personal jet engine that straps to his back. They also gave him gripping claws for picking up large amounts of weight which is important to the plot of the movie.

The supporting cast of the film was stellar as well. Peter’s best friend Ned played by Jacob Batalon is one of the funniest characters in the MCU. This is coming from a guy who thinks both Deadpool and Rocket Raccoon are comedic gold and memorized most of their lines the first time I saw their respective movies. Batalon and Holland have a great chemistry that most actors try to emulate but few ever can. He is situationally funny as well as delivering some killer one liners throughout the film. I am very excited to see some more of him in the future installments of the Spider-Man stories as well as possibly a cameo or two in some upcoming Avengers movies. A shown in the trailer for the film Ned learns pretty early on that Peter is Spider-Man which leads to some great shenanigans on his part and some of the most hilarious grilling Peter could ever receive about his night time endeavours.

All in all the film ranks (for me) as one of the top 5 films in the MCU so far. It’s a great family film with some very serious undertone. I would rate this movie as a 9 out of 10 and recommend everyone goes to see it. It’s not just your typical good guy wins and everyone is happy story. It’s about Peter becoming the hero he wants to be and the hero others believe he can be. He has to find the balance to his life as Peter and his responsibility as Spider-Man. After all, we all know… with great power, comes great responsibility.