The New 52 – A Bad Footnote in DC Comics History

Many of those that are familiar with DC Comics know that their New 52 printing didn’t bode so well with fans for a myriad of reasons. While I had always been a fan of comics, I personally got into collecting them with the New 52 launch and amassed quite the collection before the Rebirth initiative. The New 52 began on August 31, 2011 and lasted until May 25, 2016 when DC Comics revamped their comic universe with the release of the Rebirth printing. Before we dive into specifics as to why the New 52 didn’t work for a lot of people, let’s look at how it came to be and what it did right.

HOW THE NEW 52 CAME TO PASS

So the New 52 was created in the wake of the Flashpoint Paradox and Infinite Crisis which served as the resets for the DC Comics Universe.

In Infinite Crisis (without getting bogged down in unnecessary details), Earth -3 Lex Luthor and Superboy Prime tried to recreate their respective universes, that had been destroyed, by smashing other universes together (just go with it). Every time that it didn’t work, the newly created universe was destroyed. It took the combined might of all the heroes of the Earth and the Green Lantern Corps to finally win; but by that time, the entire DC multiverse had been reduced to just 52 universes.

In The Flashpoint Paradox, Barry stopped an attack by the Rogues on the Flash Museum, only to be taunted by Reverse Flash that no matter how fast he was, he could never save the one person who mattered. Despite the counsel and warnings of the other heroes about what could happen, Barry ran back in time and saved his mother from getting murdered, which off set the timeline. Things get crazy: the Atlanteans and Amazons go to war, Bruce gets killed in Crime Alley causing his father to become Batman and his mother to become the Joker, Superman lands in Metropolis and is taken to a secret underground bunker, and Barry never gets his speedforce powers. Eventually the heroes figure out what went wrong and during the battle for the planet between Atlantis and the Amazons, they try to set things right. Barry eventually makes it back and rights the timeline which sets us to the beginning of the New 52.

WHAT IT DID RIGHT

When the New 52 was originally announced it was supposed to be the big push DC Comics needed to revitalize their stagnant sales. While the first few issues of each book were very well done, some of them were quite exemplary, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on Batman is the best example. While the rest of the New 52 printing saw some measured success, Batman sales sky rocketed. The Justice League titles began with a great re-introduction to the classic team with Cyborg being a founding member. Geoff Johns, the Creative Director of DC Comics, personally had a hand in crafting the excellent Justice League run as well as notable input on several other works being produced under the New 52 banner.

The thing that really struck me as something that was done well was the age of the heroes. The New 52 started with their numbering back at issue 1, which gave DC the opportunity to rejuvenate the heroes and make them younger. When the stories all begin, we are shown much younger and uncertain versions of our heroes as they navigate their universe. Probably one of the best things, is that when Justice League begins, none of them know who each other are. There is quite a few memorable panels from the first few issues of Justice League where the heroes are learning who each other are and coming together to work as the team the world needs.

Batman meets GL

It also helped to establish these heroes as inexperienced and without the prejudices they have been given after their decades long runs in previous printings. It brought a naivety to the heroes that hasn’t been seen in some time. It also helped to show some important interactions from a different light. It allowed for a romance to blossom between Superman and Wonder Woman which provided an interesting dynamic to later issues of Justice League when the shit hit the fan. One of the best things that it did right (in my opinion) was Forever Evil.

Forever Evil is the title given to an event that took place after Justice League issue #23 following the conclusion of the Trinity War. Pandora’s box, which was being fought over in the Trinity War, was revealed to actually be a boom tube device that opened a portal to the Earth-3 (evil Justice League Universe) which allowed the Crime Syndicate through. When the Crime Syndicate defeats the Justice League, the fate of the world falls on Lex Luthor and some other villains to stop the Crime Syndicate and save the Justice League.  This event was for me one of the best parts of the entire New 52 as it showed that some of the villains are not quite as evil as once thought. The standout characters are obviously Lex Luthor, Captain Cold, and Black Adam; with Sinestro providing some great input as well.

Forever Evil

Endgame, Death of the Family Court of Owls. Nothing else needs to be said except that those are some of THE BEST Batman stories to come out in the past 20 years. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo took, arguably DC Comics most popular character, and gave him  a run worthy of his reputation. It has everything superheroic you’re looking for as well as some great moments that firmly anchor the Dark Knight as a flawed human.

WHAT IT DID WRONG

It’s no secret that the New 52 was a miss for a lot of fans. Due to some terrible re-designs and some massive changes to characters traits some of the properties didn’t fare so well under the new publishing. Lobo was a big sore spot for a lot of people. Gone was the massive muscular bounty hunter we had known for years and in was a scrawny emo looking character that looked like he could be blown over by a medium sized wind. Here’s what I mean…

Lobo

The second thing that it did wrong was the creation of 2 different Justice Leagues, the original Justice League and the Justice League of America. The main League consisted of the core members (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman & Cyborg); however the Justice League of America was created by Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor to counteract the Justice League should they ever “go rogue”. Each member of the JLA was chosen specifically to counteract a member of the main league’s power set.  This unnecessary addition of a second league was meant only to create conflict with the main League and set up the Trinity War event. While I did enjoy the Trinity War, the entire thing could’ve been streamlined by adding the JLA members to the League itself, and having the split come that way. The explanation that is given in the run as to why the League has closed off membership is because apparently as Batman put it ” We tried that once.. it ended very badly”.

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As I said, this unnecessary division of the League and the formation of the JLA was an interesting take but ultimately it fell in on itself and was nowhere near as successful with readers as originally thought.

3 Jokers. Yes, 3. This revelation came from the Darkseid War Part II when Batman sat on the Mobius Chair and became the God of Knowledge (yes, the literal embodiment of knowledge in the DC universe). He wanted to test the chair to see how effective it was and asked it who killed his parents, when he got the right answer he then asked it what is the Joker’s real name. We later find out that the chair told him there are three different Jokers. This revelation comes shortly after Endgame where we are led to believe that the Joker is one of the immortal beings on the planet. While some fans (like myself) thought it was a cool spin and added some answers to the Joker’s varying abilities over the years; there were plenty, who thought this took away from the essence of the character. The Joker isn’t supposed to have a backstory or a name, he’s just supposed to be the eventual ying to Batman’s Yang. As the heroes rise to prominence there will always be someone to challenge them at every fiber of their being, this is what the Joker represents. Making him into three different people takes away from his overall characterization and his accomplishments in the comics.

God of KNowledge

3 Jokers

While some collector’s didn’t mind, one of the big issues with the New 52 was the restarting of the numbering for each individual issue. While I didn’t find this an issue (as someone who just got into comics at that time) long time collectors did find it to be irksome.

THE FUTURE OF DC COMICS

It’s not secret that DC Comics is crushing Marvel in sales; however, NOBODY can compete with the gargantuan franchise that is the MCU. DC Entertainment has gone through a major revamp since the critical failure of Justice League and is doubling down on creative efforts to maintain the DCEU continuity as a whole. That being said, the future of DC Comics is easy to see as it’s been in publication for quite some time now, RebirthRebirth was the complete re-vamp of all DC Comic runs to coincide with the original numbering. reverting back to their pre-Flashpoint characterizations and numberings allowed Action Comics to finally reach it’s 1000th issue just a few months ago. It also served to put the original classic characters back in the driver’s seat for some heroes while keeping some of the fan favourites of recent years, Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle, and Wally West as Flash are prime examples.

While Rebirth was a soft reboot of the comic continuity there were several aspects of the New 52 that remained, such as Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle and the Court of Owls in Gotham City.

Most of the Rebirth stories thus far have proven to be quite good, some (like with the New 52) have really knocked it out of the park, Tom King’s run with Batman, James Tynion IV’s run with Detective Comics, and Ben Percy’s run with Green Arrow are some of my favourites. Rebirth has firmly locked DC Comics in as the top seller from the major companies, even prompting Marvel to release their Legacy imprint, which functioned much the same was as Rebirth did for DC.

Legacy

As for right now, DC doesn’t seem to have much to worry about with their comic sales and have begun to actually incorporate the New 52 into their Rebirth arc. The event titled Doomsday Clock brings the Watchmen into the main DC continuity and postulates that the entirety of the New 52 was created and overseen by Dr. Manhattan himself. I’m waiting for the run to finish so that I can read it myself, but with Geoff Johns headlining the event, I have faith that it will be as amazing as his Justice League run in what has been coined by some as “DC’s Bad Footnote”.

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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.

The Problem With Transitioning Comics To The Big/Small Screens

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

WHEN IT WORKS BETTER AS A TV SHOW

Arrow and Flash

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

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

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

Runaways

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

WHEN IT WORKS BETTER AS A MOVIE

CGI and team ups. Enough said.

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

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

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

WHAT DOESN’T WORK FROM COMICS IN MOVIES & TV

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

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

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

Age of Ultron

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

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

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

Multiverse

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

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

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

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

 

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…

Gorilla Walker

#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”.

KyloRen

#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.

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

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

NEW 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE

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

The Power House – Superman

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

The Fighter – Wonder Woman

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

The Tactician – Batman

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

The Tech Genius – Cyborg

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

The King – Aquaman

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

The Speedster – The Flash

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

The Pilot – Green Lantern

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

 

MARVELNOW! AVENGERS

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

The Powerhouse – The Incredible Hulk

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

The Fighter – Wolverine

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

The Tactician – Captain America

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

The Tech Genius – Iron Man

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

The King – Thor

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

The Speedster – Spider-Man

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

The Pilot – Captain Marvel/ Ms. Marvel

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

 

THE OUTCOME

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

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

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

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!