Most Underrated Heroes Vol. 8 – Martian Manhunter

This month, for the inclusion of underrated hero I decided to include the Manhunter himself, J’onn J’onzz of Mars. Martian Manhunter was originally created as a DC analogue to Superman that could be substituted if the Man of Steel was being used too much. That being said, over the years he has grown into hero status in his own right and became known as “the heart and soul of the Justice League”. Manhunter has grown to be one of my more favourite classic superheroes. I say classic because most of my favourites are anti-heroes or heroes so close to anti-hero status, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. Martian Manhunter had a brief stint in the DC drama Smallville where he was portrayed by Phil Morris as well as his current stint on Supergirl where he is portrayed by David Harewood.

Martian Manhunter was first introduced in Detective Comics #225 from November 1955, he was created by Joseph Samachson and Joe Certa.

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HISTORY

Martian Manhunter was born to two green skinned Martians on Mars (go figure!). He was one of twins that were born to his parents, he was named J’onn J’onzz which in the Martian language means “Light of Light”; his brother, who was born without Martian telepathic ability was named Ma’alefa’ak which literally translates to “Darkness of Heart”.  It’s honestly a wonder as to why the brother turned out to be an evil twin given a name like that by the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally… So J’onn grew up to become a Manhunter ( Martian Police Officer) while his brother grew to hate and resent Martian culture.

Ma’alefa’ak eventually developed a virus, the virus was called H’ronmeers Curse. This virus was transferred by Martian psychic link; which would cause each Martian affected to suffer such a psychosomatic trauma that their minds and bodies would burst into flames. J’onn attempted to stop his wife and daughter from using their psychic abilities but he was unsuccessful and he was forced to watched as his family burned in front of his eyes. The virus was responsible for the mass genocide of the green Martian population and left J’onn to be the “sole survivor” of Mars.

This all happened centuries before his arrival on Earth.

On Earth, centuries after the Martian genocide, a scientist named Saul Erdel had discovered some ancient Martian technology buried on Earth, and was attempting to reverse engineer it to communicate with alien life. He activated his contraption and aimed it at the surface of Mars. The beam traveled through both space and time grabbing J’onn shortly after the genocide and bringing him to the surface of the Earth centuries later. Erdel discovered J’onn outside of his laboratory and brought him inside. J’onn was near insanity after having just witnessed his entire species burn themselves to death and because of the trauma forged a psychic link between himself and Dr. Erdel, the only living being within several miles. When they linked their minds, Dr. Erdel saw what had happened to J’onn and attempted to help him my mentally fabricating a different history of the tragedy of Mars. Erdel took inspiration from various science fiction writers and was eventually able to put J’onn at ease. Erdel also instilled in J’onn the belief that he should be a champion of the people and thus, J’onn took on the persona of Martian Manhunter.

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Martians have several powers along with their psychic abilities which I will get into later, but one of their most prominent abilities is shape shifting. Before venturing out of the lab, J’onn adopted a more humanoid appearance while still maintaining his green skin. Dr. Erdel was so surprised by this ability that he suffered a fatal heart attack. As he was dying, Dr. Erdel asked J’onn for forgiveness, due to him inadvertently trapping J’onn on Earth. J’onn provided the closure the doctor needed before passing away. J’onn used his shape shifting powers to take on an African American appearance and joined the local police department (Middletown U.S.A) under the identity of John Jones.

J’onn fought crime under many aliases before he helped to form the Justice League of America. He fought as Marcus Xavier to take down the international criminal syndicate VULTURE, he fought with Justice Experience as the Bronze Wraith, as well as with the League under his Martian Manhunter title and his alternate identity of Bloodwynd.

He briefly becomes the evil Fernus when he attempted to conquer his own fear of fire. It took the combined might of the entire League as well as several new recruits and a couple of Lanterns to stop him.

J’onn was thought to have perished during the explosion of the Watchtower prior to Infinite Crisis, but that was false. During Infinite Crisis, he was discovered to be attached Alexander Luthor’s tower along with several other heroes and villains. It took the combined effort of the Titans to separate him and the others from the tower. Upon being released from the tower, he telepathically coordinated the defense of Metropolis against the evil, Superboy Prime.

Following Infinite Crisis, he took on the identity of William Dyer to infiltrate Checkmate. Checkmate apparently had been holding several green Martians who had crash landed on the Earth. He rescued them with only one of the new Martians, Roh’kar dying in the process.

DEATH

During an undercover assignment wherein he pretended to be Blockbuster to spy on a Supervillain prison. Catwoman outed J’onn after deducing who he really was ; J’onn was left in his cell after being tortured when the rest of the villains broke out. Libra, a new member of the Society of Supervillains, “rescues” J’onn and brings him back to Earth via a Boom Tube. Using the staff of the Human Flame, Libra stabs J’onn through the chest and lights him on fire. As he is burning he telepathically sends a message to several League members in their sleep requesting they record a portion of his life’s story. Upon discovery of his body, the heroes all said his name and recorded their portion of his history.

J’onn was interred on Mars at the base of a pyramid that had been moved to red planet to serve as his headstone. Many heroes both Leaguers and not attended his funeral where Superman delivered a eulogy in his honour.

BLACKEST NIGHT & RESURRECTION

Black Lantern Martian Manhunter

During the crossover even Blackest Night, J’onn, along with several other deceased heroes and villains, was resurrected into the Black Lantern Corps. While Flash (Barry Allen) and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) were standing over Batman’s grave site which appeared to have been pillaged, J’onn attacked them saying “You should be dead”. J’onn is soon joined by the Black Lantern resurrected versions of Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Elongated Man, Sue Dibny, and Firestorm. The Atom arrives to help but the heroes are unable to defeat the advancing zombified versions of their friends. With their backs literally against a wall, the heroes are eventually saved by two Indigo Lanterns that drive the black lanterns off. Following the final battle and the defeat of Nekron, the Entity resurrected several heroes and villains, J’onn being one of them.

BRIGHTEST DAY

Following his resurrection, J’onn noticed that something was off. Whenever he was around plant life, it would mysteriously die. He went to visit his niece M’gann M’orzz (Miss Martian) who was doing a meditation quest in the outback of Australia. When he arrived to her hut he discovered her badly beaten and tied up. When he asked her who did this to her she replied saying an unknown Green Martian had attacked her. As he is helping M’gann, J’onn receives a telepathic communication from the Entity (the being that defeated Nekron and resurrected him) telling him to burn down the newly formed forest. Knowing the devastation that had befallen Star City and the new forest that had mysteriously grown in its place, J’onn believed the forest he needed to burn was in Star City. after coming into conflict with Green Arrow and attempting to start the blaze, J’onn is again contacted by the Entity, and told the forest he needed to burn was on Mars. J’onn takes off for his home planet leaving the new Star City alone.

On Mars, J’onn confronts the rogue green Martian that had attacked M’gann. She reveals her name to be D’kay D’razz and wishes to take J’onn as her mate. When J’onn refuses she telepathically attacks him and forces him to see visions of the Mars that could be with the power of the Entity to resurrect everything. J’onn sees through the ruse and wrings her neck, and throws her into the sun, killing her. Upon completion of his task the Entity asks J’onn to choose between Earth and Mars, when J’onn chooses Earth he is absorbed by the Entity.  When the “Dark Avatar” (Black Lantern Swamp Thing) attacks, J’onn who has been deemed to be an Elemental along with several other heroes (Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman,Firestorm); combine with the body of Alex Holland (Swamp Thing) to fight the Dark Avatar. Upon defeat of the Dark Avatar, the Entity with the help of Swamp Thing restores the Elementals to normal.

NEW 52

During the DC Comics re-launch under the New 52 banner, Martian Manhunter was removed as a member of the League and placed in the covert team called Stormwatch. It is teased that he tried to join the League but came to blows with the other members and was cast out, it’s unclear what caused the rift between the heroes. J’onn is recruited by Amanda Waller into the Justice League of America as the counter agent to Superman. The Justice League of America was recruited to specifically counteract individual members of the Justice League should they ever go rogue.

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During the Trinity War crossover J’onn was investigating the Secret Society of Supervillains and their new leader, the Outsider. When they discovered the Outsider was Alfred Pennyworth of Earth-3, it was too late and the Crime Syndicate arrived on Earth-1. The heroes were soundly defeated and imprisoned inside the Firestorm matrix until Forever Evil, when Batman freed them with the help of Luthor and several villains. Following the release from the Matrix, J’onn along with fellow JLA members Green Arrow and Stargirl went on to form the Justice League United Team based out of Canada.

REBIRTH

J’onn arrived in the Dark Metal event stating he had been on Thanagar looking for answers.

POWERS & ABILITIES

All Martians share the same powers as Martian Manhunter to a degree. While they all have the genetic ability to utilize these powers, they may not have mastered the techniques and thus don’t use it. The powers of the Martian people are as follows:

  • Shapeshifting
  • Corporeal Form Manipulation – Malleability, Elasticity, Plasticity and Elongation of his form and extremities.
  • Invisibility
  • Phasing
  • Superhuman Durability
  • Superhuman Strength
  • Superhuman Stamina
  • Regeneration
  • Flight
  • Superhuman Speed
  • Extrasensory Input
  • Longevity
  • Super-Hearing
  • Super-Breath
  • Enhanced Senses
  • Martian Vision – Able to see Electro-magnetic Spectrum, Infrared Spectrum, Telescopic Vision, Microscopic Vision and Heat Vision similar to Superman.
  • Telepathy – Able to conjure Illusions, Astral Prjection, Possession, Mind Control, Telepathic Relay (connect multiple minds together to “speak”), Telepathic Assault, Thought Sensing, Mayavana (ability to create a mental reality as real as any other reality, can only be used once in a lifetime. J’onn used his during Despero’s attack on the JL Headquarters to stop the assault and save his friends/teammates)
  •  Telekinesis
  • Meditate instead of sleep

In addition to all his powers listed J’onn J’onzz also has: Genius Level Intellect, adept firearms skills, incredible detective skills and the ability to understand any language.

A Martian’s only documented weakness is to fire. Which stems from the H’ronmeers Curse and the psychosomatic trauma it caused.

J’onn is known to be very fond of the Earth snack Chocos, so much to the point of borderline addiction.

WHY THEY’RE UNDERRATED

Martian Manhunter is widely underrated because of how much he is underused. This is a being that was able to solo the Justice League on more than one occasion. He has shown time and time again that he is the willing to take the hit in order to save another teammate from getting hurt, and he believes that while Mars was his origin planet, that Earth is his home. As I stated before he has been called the “Heart and Soul of the Justice League” and he wears this title proudly. When all the other heroes falter and become lost they can always look to J’onn to help put them back on the right track.

During the Injustice comic run, J’onn came into conflict with Superman and his regime. He openly stood against the tyranny and was murdered as a result. He does help to deliver one of the best lines of the whole series. The panel is directly below.

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J’onn has gone to star in several films and live action series, more so than the Dark Knight himself, which begs to question as to why he isn’t a more popular hero? Superman himself has said that J’onn is the one of the very few beings that he is afraid to engage in open combat because he is the most dangerous man on the planet.

Supes Scared

J’onn J’onzz has so much potential and he is always wasted by being relegated to a back up character. I’m not saying his inclusion in the Justice League film would’ve saved it, but it couldn’t have been any worse than what we got right? DC needs to give some of their other great properties a chance instead of sticking with the same heroes. Yes, they’ve branched out with some out there inclusions like Justice League Dark and Cyborg, but looking at how many batman and Superman imprints there are… they could easily drop a couple of those and bring in someone like Manhunter for his own series. I just hope for J’onn J’onzz to one day become a household name like the characters he helps to keep on the right path.

 

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DCEU – Restructuring and Revamping

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

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

Batman

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

Gyllenhall Batman

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

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

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

Flashpoint

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

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

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

 

 

Justice League + Punisher- Review (NO SPOILERS)

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

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

JUSTICE LEAGUE

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

CINEMATOGRAPHY

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

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

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

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

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

HUMOUR

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

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

COSTUMES

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

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

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OVERALL THOUGHTS

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

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

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

 

Onto Marvel!

 

PUNISHER

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

CINEMATOGRAPHY

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

HUMOUR

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

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COSTUMES

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

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

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

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OVERALL THOUGHTS

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

 

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

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!

Wonder Woman: The Real Reason She Got Her Own Movie

Following my review of the DCEU installment of Wonder Woman, I have seen many memes and forum discussions around the impact of the Wonder Woman movie and it’s true purpose. I will state this outright, it was not meant to be a figurehead for feminism or a statement about female led superhero movies; I’m not saying it didn’t become those things, but that was not its true purpose. You may agree with me and you may not, but hear me out first.

Alright, now let’s start off by saying that I loved Wonder Woman. I think it was a great addition to the DCEU and it should have been the movie that they used to kick off their universe. Obviously as a comic fan there were some nit picky things that I wasn’t a fan of, and Dr. Poison was a sore spot for me personally. Putting those things aside, Wonder Woman showed everyone how great a superhero movie could be done, not just a female led superhero movie, but all superhero movies. Also, I do need to clarify something, in my review of Wonder Woman I said it was the first female led superhero movie and I have come to learn that was a false statement to make. While Elektra and Catwoman are technically anti-heroes/villains their ventures onto the big screen came well before Wonder Woman, and the Supergirl movie from the 80’s trumped all of them by a couple decades. Most will look past these movies because of how poorly they were received by both critics and fans alike, but their contributions to female led comic book movies cannot go unnoticed. Now that I have cleared that up, time to move on to the reason behind the modern adaptation of Merciful Minerva.

Money. It all comes down to money. Looking at the top 20 titles from August 2016, you will see what I mean.

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There is no doubt that DC’s Rebirth has won them the market in comic sales, but looking at the listed DC titles you can see of their announced 20 movies, you will see 9 of them on the top sales chart (some can be argued for tie ins making the number jump to 14). Now of those top 9 sellers by DC you will notice 3 exclusive female titles: Wonder Woman, Bat Girl and the Birds of Prey and a Batgirl solo series. Coincidentally DC comics just announced (within the last 6 months) a Birds of Prey movie (ft. Harley Quinn) and a Batgirl movie (to be helmed by Joss Whedon). The reason these movies got the green light was (partly) due to the success of Wonder Woman, but it was mostly to capitalize on their comic sales. DC realized that they could capitalize on popularity of sales by adapting movies of their top sellers. Marvel did the same thing with a few notable exceptions (GotG being the prime example), but Marvel’s problem is that apart from being core members of the Avengers (or assorted other teams) they don’t have many singular female heroes. Their most notable female hero is Captain Marvel who is getting her own solo movie starring Brie Larson. Fans have been lobbying for a Black Widow solo film since her first introduction in Iron Man 2, which recently had been confirmed to be in the works. The sad thing is that most studios don’t care about equality, they care about what will make them a butt load of money and right now… that would be comic book movies. Even if you put the revenue aspect of her film aside the main reason Wonder Woman got her own solo outing was due to her impact, not her impact as the first successful female led superhero movie, but her impact on their overall narrative.

DC comics has been building their expanded universe ever since the release of Man of Steel back in 2013. Since then, there have been 3 additions to their universe: Batman V. Superman, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. Of the 4 movies released in their extended universe, 3 of them contained the Trinity. Superman got his solo movie, (I call Batman V. Superman a Batman film with a glorified Superman cameo), and finally a Wonder Woman film. These three represent the founding pillars of DC comics. They are the core of the Justice League and main DC continuity as a whole. For all their idiotic ideas (again… Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor?!) the execs at DC knew they could not release a Justice League movie without giving the Trinity their own solo films first. That right there, is the main reason Wonder Woman was finally given her own movie, because of the impact she has on the Justice League and the overall narrative that DC is trying to tell with their expanded universe.

Now again I will say, I loved the movie, but most people need to understand why it was made instead of parroting back what they see on the internet. Is she a strong female character? The strongest. Is she a symbol for the empowerment of women? She is brighter than the damn sun in that regard. Did she show that female led comic book movies should be given a chance? You’re damn right she did. But before jumping on the social justice bandwagon and defending a movie that you might not have seen yet solely because it is the first successful female led comic book movie is fairly off-putting.

Finally I will end on this, I think that more female led comic book movies should be made; however, using the success of one movie (with arguably THE most popular female comic book character in the world) to justify making more female led movies just because you want female led movies is irritating. Instead of grilling studios and their choices for movies speak the language that they do, money. Buy more solo female led comic books, buy more female comic paraphernalia,  buy more clothing featuring female superheroes. When you buy merchandise you show the studios that people care for the characters and they will be more likely to give a big budget movie a chance. If we all contribute to increasing female comic book profits, then maybe, just maybe we’ll start to see more equality in comic book movies.

DCEU – Too Big Too Fast?

As many eager fans finally got their Justice League fix (myself included) when the new trailer dropped a couple weeks ago, one question came to my mind, is DC trying to do too much right away to catch up to Marvel?

Most die hard DC fans will argue vehemently that DC is going to do everything better than Marvel ever could despite their recent critical setbacks. Those setbacks being Man of Steel, Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman, which garnered very poor reviews from critics and fans alike. While Man of Steel fared better with critics than the other 2 entries into the DCEU ( DC Extended Universe), it still did not garner the reception that was hoped for one of DC comics’ flagship characters. Many criticize Snyder’s portrayal as far too dark and gritty for a character that is supposed to rather cheerful and lighthearted. The main controversy surrounding Man of Steel was the finale when Clark, despite his best efforts to stop him, ended up having to kill Zod to save a family. This stray from the core of the character is what really set back the modern retelling of Superman from the classic view as depicted by Christopher Reeves. While there is no doubt that Henry Cavill looks like Clark Kent, he so far, has failed to capture the essence of the character.

Batman V Superman performed much better with fans than it did with critics. Using the classic Frank Miller story of The Dark Knight Returns as its main inspiration;  it brought what many believe to be one of, if not the, best clash between the two titans of DC comics to the silver screen. Using a suit of armour specially designed to fight beings more powerful than himself, Batman took the fight to Superman on the rooftop of an abandoned warehouse in Gotham. With Wonder Woman joining the fray after Lex Luthor releases Doomsday, the two fighters put their differences aside in a very poorly executed reconciliation scene involving a Kryptonite spear and the word “Martha” .  With the Trinity formed, it finally took the fight to evil and delivered a beat down in the name of justice. With Wonder Woman leading the charge it was a great spectacle to finally see the three pillars of DC comics working together on the big screen at last. That feeling was short lived as Superman sacrificed himself in a pointless scene to stop Doomsday. At the end of the film Bruce and Diana make a vow to find the “others like him” and unite them for a war that Brice believes is coming.  Queue up every fan’s desire for a Justice League film.

The next installment of the DCEU was the critical bomb Suicide Squad. The movie, while fun to watch, was poorly put together and barely gave any back story on great characters such as Katana or Killer Croc, instead opting for the origin story of Harley Quinn and providing a lot of exposition into the reason why Deadshot does what he does. This script went through several re-writes before finally getting a good draft the director (David Ayer) was comfortable with. After finishing shooting, the final cut of the movie went through 7 re-cuts before the studio finally agreed to it. The re-cuts added more humour and made the movie less dark and gritty.  The big problem besides the incoherent story and the incomprehensible villain, was the Joker. Jared Leto was cast as the Joker in the DCEU and his first appearance was to be in Suicide Squad. The make-up and characterization were different from anything previously done but it was pretty well executed for what it was. The main issue was that Leto was billed as one of the top cast members and all advertising had him as a central part of the film. The reality was that he clocked less than 20 minutes of screen time in the final cut and most of his scenes were little more than filler for the main story. The highlight of the movie was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Jay Hernandez as El Diablo. They both stole every scene they were in with most of the movie focusing on Harley and her relationship with the Joker.  The after credit scene for the movie shows Bruce Wayne meeting the leader of Task Force X ( The Suicide Squad) and receiving a folder on other known meta-humans. The folder opens to show profiles of some of the members of the Suicide Squad as well as Flash and Aquaman.

The teaser for the Justice League that we got shortly before Christmas was definitely a great tease, and got enough people interested that the wait for the actual first trailer was excruciating. The trailer finally dropped and the internet exploded with overwhelming positive feedback. It’s worth noting that after the critical failures of their first 2 outings, DC comics recruited chief creative mind Geoff Johns to help re-write the Justice League script and to co-write all future DCEU scripts. The trailer offered enough exposition to get fans interested in the story with enough tiny Easter eggs to get die hard comics fans like myself, keys to future movies as well as potential plot points. The main criticism that most fans are worried about is that putting all these awesome characters together without establishing each of them could lead to a very convoluted plot.

Everyone is familiar with the MCU ( Marvel Cinematic Universe), whether they are a fan of Marvel comics or not. The massive success that the MCU has received is in no small part to their meticulous planning. Beginning with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in 2008, Marvel teased nods to various heroes that would eventually make up their Avengers roster. Marvel also established each of their characters in their own solo film before bringing them together for the first Avengers movie in 2012. This method of teasing a little bit of information every time a new movie comes out helps to ensure that fans will keep coming back for more. The main criticism Marvel has received in relation to their movies is that they are all cookie cutter copies of one another. Which can be understandable when dealing with origin stories, but that is a topic for another time… back to the Justice League.

The Justice League will bring together Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Superman, and another mystery hero (presumably Green Lantern). The problem is that with all these heroes their supporting characters there is going to be way too many moving parts to keep the plot going forward. Already eagle eyed fans have spotted what could be a teaser to Hawkman and Hawkgirl as well as references to a greater Bat family and the introduction of the Green Lantern; and all this was done with one teaser trailer and one four minute official trailer. Call me skeptical but I think this movie is going to make or break the entire franchise. If this movies bombs, DC is likely to pull it’s future movies and try to salvage what they can with the rest of the films already in production. I want this movie to succeed but given the track record of what DC comics has released so far… I’m not holding my breath.