How Marvel can improve the X-Men

On March 20, 2019, Disney acquired 21st Century Fox. Now there was a lot involved in this buyout and a lot of assets that came along with the package. But, you see, Disney also acquired Marvel and the rights to almost all of its characters some years ago. 21st Century Fox has had the rights to the X-men through an acquisition years prior.

So, what most fanboys and girls got out of this whole thing is Disney now owns the X-men movie rights and Marvel can now take over the X-men. That’s the dream. Forget the technical and legal aspects of the whole acquisition, we want to see Marvel execs tell the mutant story we deserve. Here are some things that would be cool to see with the X-Men under Marvel control.

Timeline

First things first: reboot everything with one timeline. Fox had two sets of timelines and they just could not get their act together on which one was canon. The first 3 X-Men movies were a trilogy done with the same actors with a connecting storyline. Then they used different actors to tell a prequel story. Then they mixed actors from both storylines to tell a past and present story and a poor version of the days from future past story from the book. The one constant in both timelines is that Hugh Jackman is Wolverine in both timelines. It’s like Fox wanted to reboot with new actors and didn’t want to let their favorite character go. Stupid.

Make Mystique a villain again

One of the changes that was made in Days of Future Past was that Mystique went from being a villain to being a good guy leading a team of X-Men. Although in the books, Mystique did at one point join an X-Men group and occasionally did good deeds she is ultimately a bad guy who cannot be trusted. Whenever she is on a good team it is to suit her own means. This was done because Fox had big box office star Jennifer Lawrence to play Mystique and switched her from being a shape-changing assassin to a shape changer with a heart. Give us back the assassin.

Rouge’s story done right

Rouge was first introduced as a villain and the foster daughter of Mystic as part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Rogue has the power to absorb the powers of others. Her first appearance was in Avengers Annual #10 where she absorbed too much of the powers of Ms. Marvel and seemingly obtained them permanently leaving Ms. Marvel powerless.

With this newfound power along with her own, Rogue and the Brotherhood were very close to defeating the Avenger. This epic storyline is something that follows Rogue and Ms. Marvel through the years. Ms. Marvel becomes Captain Marvel and Rogue becomes a good guy and that’s where we stand today. But now that Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, is part of the MCU with a smash success of a movie it is now possible to play out this storyline.

Aliens

Once Marvel establishes the X-Men firmly in their own universe they have to introduce the related characters. the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already established other races in space and now they can include some great X-Men Storylines with The Starjammers, The Shi’ar, and the Imperial Guard and the Brood.

Jean Grey No More

At this point, the Jean Grey/Phoenix storyline has been overdone. It’s like watching Ben Parker or the Wayne’s get killed again and again and again. We’ve already seen this play out poorly in X-Men 2 and 3. Not sure what that was but it wasn’t the Phoenix story we deserve. The jury is still out because this year’s Dark Phoenix has yet to be released but I’m really not expecting a lot. I’m not saying do not use the character but we can really do without the 3rd telling of that story.

Leave Deadpool Alone

Ryan Reynold’s vehicle was about the only thing that Fox did right with the mutant franchise. The first Deadpool was awesome and the second one even better. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Don’t change the way the scripts are written. Don’t change any of the actors. Don’t change the R rating. LEAVE DEADPOOL ALONE.

What would you like to see out of the S-Men franchise moving forward? Leave a comment and let us know what you think Marvel should do with the X-Men franchise.

Kenny Walker Jr

SHAZAM: The Surprise Hit

I like surprises and I like proving people wrong. With SHAZAM! I got both a surprise and I proved people were wrong. Whenever I talked about movies I wanted to see in 2019, I always got the side eye when I mentioned I wanted to see Shazam. I would get comments like “You’re on your own”, “I’m not seeing that”, and “that looks stupid”. It seemed that no one I knew wanted to see this movie except for me. Everyone was trashing it. I even started to doubt whether I should go see it. Lucky for me I don’t mind riding alone and I saw Shazam. There were a few reasons that no one wanted to see Shazam. First, the trailers had turned a lot of people off to the movie.

The trailer showed the jokes and the light-hearted side of Shazam. A lot of the trailers showed kids joking around or Zachary Levi dressed as the hero in funny scenes. Nothing looked serious about this movie in a time where people are serious about their comic book movies. Then there is the fact that this is a DC Universe movie. Wonder Woman was moderately good and Aquaman was awesome but Warner Bros. is not known for producing good superhero movies based on comics. They tend to have a take on the characters that does not include using too much source material and making things their own. They have often missed the mark in their depictions of these characters.

This time they got it right.

The reason the trailers showed a light-hearted superhero movie, has a lot to do with the fact that Shazam is a light-hearted hero. Shazam is not gritty and dark. Shazam is light and fun. One of his nicknames that Dr Sivan calls him in the comics is The Big Red Cheese because he’s cheesy. Shazam is the story of a 15-year-old orphan, Billy Batson, who has bestowed the power of Shazam from the old wizard Shazam. When Billy speaks the wizards name, he becomes the hero Shazam and the form of Shazam is no longer a 15-year-old kid but of a grown man. However, even with the body of a grown man Shaam still has the mind of a 15-year-old boy.

So, you see where there is levity and humor in the story of Shazam. This premise of the story asks the question of what a kid would do if he had the ability to become an adult. The answers in this movie were quite hilarious. Zachary Levi totally pulls off the what if the movie Big was about a superhero. There is even a scene in the movie that pays homage to Big. When the transitions are made from Asher Angels Billy Batson to Zachary Levi’s Shazam they are done with believable ease. There is no awkward time in the movie where you would think that you had two separate actors. They truly came together to form one character and it was brilliant.

Shazam also told a story of family. It was about a boy who was orphaned and was in constant search for his real mother. He went from foster home to foster home always running away to find his real mother. The perception in his mind is that they would find each other and live happily ever after. Shazam is a coming of age story. This is a story on how the boy becomes a hero. Given great power and instant adulthood can be intoxicating to a young man and this is a story that shows a kid dealing with this to learn an important lesson. As he starts to understand more of the gift given to him with his new best friend at his side, he slowly starts to open his heart and let people in.

No good superhero movie is worth its ticket prices without a good villain. Dr Sivana is Shazam’s oldest backstory and an understanding of why he is the way he is. Mark Strong does an excellent job of playing this obsessed villain who wants to rule the world with magic. His reasoning is justified and you might even cheer for him at some point then you remember: this is the bad guy. One of the surprises in Shazam was the heartlessness of the villain. This is where the trailers were a little misleading. Dr Sivana was cruel and ruthless and this was not something that was portrayed in the trailer because you didn’t see too much of Mark Strong’s character in the trailers.

The villainy of Dr Sivana evened out the light parts of the movie and gave a legitimate fear for the hero. Just like any superhero, Shazam also had a sidekick through most of the movie. Billy Batson had been assigned a new foster home and met Freddie Freeman played by Jack Dylan Grazer. The Freddie character was a crippled foster kid who befriends Billy and helps him figure out this hero thing. Freddie serves as both comic relief and moral compass. Because of Freddie’s tenacity, Billy eventually lets his walls down to Freddie and the rest of his new foster family to accept them into his heart’

The only problem with this movie is that it is predictable. I’m not sure if that’s because I have been reading the source material on Shazam since I was 10 years old or because the script was transparent. However, in this case, predictable wasn’t a bad thing. You saw where this movie was going but the ride to get there was worth it. After I checked this movie out, I went back to all the naysayers and told them how good Shazam was. They all said that they had heard nothing but good things about it and will go see it. I couldn’t help but say I told you so.

So here is my review of a good movie which pleasantly surprised me and proved that I was right.

I’m good until the next one.

Kenny Walker Jr

“Us”…the atypical family movie

As a moviegoer, there are times when I truly desire the arrival of an upcoming film. Recently, despite being a die-hard Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, I bypassed Captain Marvel and patiently awaited the arrival of Us. Us is the sophomore film from writer, director, and producer Jordan Peele. The film, starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Evan Alex, and Elizabeth Moss, concerns a family who must fight against their doppelgangers in order to survive the latter’s nefarious intentions.

In many ways, the film asks, through its title and story, “who, and what, are we really.” Though there was a mild complaint (discussed later), I enjoyed the movie and its overall premise and execution. The characters are not “over the top” as in they are relatable. The two primary parents, Nyong’o and Duke, try to understand each other while balancing trying to understand their children, Joseph and Alex, with an additional backstory concerning a key incident in Nyong’o’s character’s childhood.

The aforementioned incident is a central factor throughout the movie and is an important factor in the film’s climax. This in concert with the flow of the story and how Peele presents each growing aspect of the situation allows the story to transition from a personal fight to an implied global scale as the film progresses. In the end, the audience is left with a “holy sh*t” effect that carries to the story’s conclusion.

Additionally, there is the “family forced survival” trope present seen previously in films such as Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes where in the members of the family must revert to their more primal methods in order to survive the ordeal. However, Peele, perhaps through his comical background, takes a lighter tone in how the family deals with their more violent actions.

As stated before, my ONLY personal complaint (mild spoiler) is explaining the origins of the doppelgangers. Not much, if any, room is given into explaining how they came to be or the circumstances in which they come to exist. From my personal view, there are two schools of thought. The first involves a goof in writing. There have been several films, especially in horror, where the ABSOLUTE answer is never given. Often in retrospect, one can attribute this to a misstep in executing the story.

In terms, if Us and Peele’s storytelling ability, one can argue that he either wants to leave the audience in limbo or wishes for the audience to come up with their own conclusion, which leads to the second school of thought, the unknown terror. The unknown terror is simply, if it cannot be explained, then its much scarier than to understand it. The best previous film example is Halloween in that you know Michael Myers is killing and you know he can’t be stopped; however, you do not know the why’s and how’s of how he came to this point. I personally went with the second school as it intensified the fear of the scenario. However, still, a hole that could sink the proverbial ship.

In all, Us was a thoroughly enjoyable film. Some complaints about the movie, apart from mine, have revolved around the anticipation of the audience wishing to see another Get Out type of film. The fact that Us is not like its sister film shows, in my opinion, the progression of Jordan Peele as a writer and director. No writer or director, worth their salt, will make a carbon copy of a prior film. If they do it can show the director distaste for possibly being forced or restricted when trying to create a new story (a la John Carpenter with Escape from LA). Us is Peele’s progression as a storyteller, and honestly, I expect newer and similarly good films from him in the future…and let’s face it, they’re letting him do The Twilight Zone so he’s going somewhere. Thus, get out, no pun intended, and go see Us because it’s definitely worth it.

James Hales

Diverse Superheroes That We Need to See In Live Action

With the success of Wonder Woman in 2017, Black Panther in 2018 and the recent success of Captain Marvel in 2019, it is clear to see that the world is ready for more diverse superheroes in the very near future. In the past, the genre has been focused on the most popular predominately white male superheroes from comic books. We were excited to see Captain America, Batman, Superman, Iron Man and the rest because to comic book fans it was a dream come true.

With the early exceptions of Steel with Shaquille O’Neal, Wesley Snipes’ Blade and Michael Jai White’s Spawn, we have not had any lead character portrayals of comic book characters of color on the silver screen. Early attempts at lead comic book women consisted of Red Sonja and Tank Girl but not much else. The recent controversy of Brie Larson and having more diverse characters in comic book movies caused quite a stir. Her call for a more diverse showing in not only the movies but in the news media outlets that cover them caused a lot of “fans” to start trolling it with bad reviews.

Not a pretty site. But with the success of Captain Marvel along with Black Panther, last year has paved the way for more diverse heroes to take the lead on the big screen. The following is a list of comic book characters of color, characters that are women and characters that represent the LGBT community that we feel deserve a shot at keeping the diversity on the big screen.

Ms. Marvel

Kamala Khan – First Appearance Captain Marvel #14 (August 2013)

The latest version of Ms. Marvel has become a very popular character of late and has already made appearances in cartoons. Having a Pakistani American who so happens to also be Muslim would be a very diverse change in the makeup of the MCU. If done correctly she would definitely have the same appeal that Spiderman has on younger fans.

Miles Morales Spiderman

First Appearance Ultimate Fallout #4 (August 2011)

The Afro-Latino teenage hero that assumed the role of Spiderman when that universes Spiderman was killed, quickly became a fan favorite. So much so that actor Donald Glover petitioned hard to portray him as the next Spiderman. The studio went with the classic Peter Parker but the thought was out there to fans. In December we were treated to an awesome Miles Morales animated movie on the big screen that even won an Oscar. Imagine what a live action movie could do.

Static Shock

Virgil Ovid Hawkins – Frist Appearance Static #1 (June 1993)

Static burst on the scene as part of the DC Comics Milestone line of books. he became the immediate star of that line. Milestone was created to appeal to a more diverse audience because even in the early ’90s there were not a lot of lead characters of color in comics. Static eventually had his own cartoon series which was very popular and appeared in other DC animated shows with other DC superheroes. There has always been a call to put him on the big screen in live action. Now is the time.

Northstar

Jean-Paul Beaubier – First Appearance Uncanny X-Men #120 (April 1979)

Why this virtually unknown character. Well because a character that made such an impact and leads the way for other characters should have his day. The character was one of the first openly gay characters in a major comic line. The issue in which his character came out (Alpha Flight #106 1992) made news headlines and sold out in a week. As a celebrity with mutant powers that worked for the Canadian government, I think we can come up with an interesting storyline.

Shang-Chi – Master of Kung-Fu

First Appearance – Special Marvel Edition #15 (December 1973)

Shang-Chi coming to any screen is another much-anticipated event. This character came about because Marvel wanted a character that was a little like the television show Kung Fu. There are talks of a movie coming with a screenwriter and director attached but with these things you have to wait to make sure it happens. I don’t see how a movie about the greatest martial artist in the Marvel Universe could not be interesting.

John Stewart Green Lantern

First Appearance – Green Lantern #87 (December 1971/January 1972)

Since John Stewarts run to replace Hal Jordan in the comics, he has always been a fan favorite. When the Justice League came to TV in 2001, John Stewart was the version of Green Lantern that was used. Fans have been anticipating the arrival of a live-action John Stewart Green Lantern when the ill-fated Green Lantern movie came out and when the Justice League movie came out. There is supposed to be a Green Lantern Corps movie and let’s hope he’s in it.

SheHulk

Jennifer Walters – First Appearance Savage She-Hulk #1 (February 1980)

The cousin to the Incredible Hulk would be a perfect character to bring to the screen. With the rumors of contracts being up of some of our lead Avengers, she would be the perfect character to fill the gap. Her background is a lawyer who, unlike her famous cousin, maintains her intelligence when she Hulks out would make for a great storyline.

Apollo & Midnighter

Andrew Pulaski & Lucas Trent – First Appearance Stormwatch (vol. 2) #4 (February 1998)

Same-sex relationship of a couple that is often compared to Superman and Batman. If done correctly this sounds like a formula that could make right what Batman vs Superman wasn’t.

Blue Marvel

Adam Bernard Brash – First Appearance Adam: Legend of The Blue Marvel #1 (November 2008)

Blue Marvel is an Afro-American character that was created in modern times but comic storyline dates back to the ’50s and ’60s. His costume in those times covered his whole body because it was believed society would not accept a Black man as a hero. When it was revealed that he was a Black man after his costume was torn in a public battle he went into seclusion and helped the world with his science. Now he has rejoined the world as a hero. This backstory would make a perfect movie.

Spider Woman

Jessica Drew – First Appearance Marvel Spotlight #32 (February 1977)

There were a few Spider Women along the way but let’s stick with the first one. Jessica Drew has been a hero with and without her costume even helping along with other women who have taken the role of Spider Woman. With her backstory, you can actually pull off a movie with Spider Woman and Spider Man not even be mentioned. In 1979 she had her own animated TV show so I think now is the time for live action.

Leave a comment and let us know what diverse characters that have never been on the big screen that you think belong there.

Kenny Walker Jr

Captain Marvel: The First Marvel Studios Female Lead

Spoiler Alerts for Captain Marvel

We finally have a female lead superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Awesome. I realize that we normally do spoiler-free reviews but, in this case, it was hard to do without giving this movie a fair review and letting you know what I thought. There is too much going on and its relation to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m going to start with the elephant in the room. You want to know whether I liked it or not. Yes, I liked it. Truth be told it wasn’t’ the best Marvel movie but it was good. It did what it was supposed to do. But let’s break this down a little bit

Watching Captain Marvel reminded me of watching the movie Solo from the Star Wars franchise. It’s a prequel to the franchise that must tell a story yet fit into what was already done. Like Solo, this was a good movie however it was weighed down by obligations it had to make to the whole franchise story that has already been told and still needs to be told. We’ll do a Star Wars story in the future but now we are talking about Captain Marvel. So, this story takes place after Captain America: First Avenger but before Iron Man and after Peter Quill got kidnapped to space. The year is 1995.

Captain Marvel told a story of how Air Force pilot Carol Danvers received her powers and became Captain Marvel. It was a coming of age story of a woman who was deceived and commanded control of her life from her oppressors who had lied to her about who she was for over 6 years. It’s a classic and somewhat predictable story of deceit and lies. You know where this movie is going while watching but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. It was good for what it needed to do. This movie’s sole purpose was to introduce Captain Marvel and give her a place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and to fill in some gaps for the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. For that purpose, this movie did exactly that.

In the MCU, Carol Danvers had a best friend in the Air Force named Maria Rambeau who, because they were women in the ’90s was not allowed to do anything but test airplanes for the service. During this time, Carol befriended an Air Force scientist named Wendy Lawson who was developing a new plane for the Air Force. So, Carol thought. Lawson was a Kree scientist named Mar-Vel who came to Earth to help Skrull refugees. The Kree and the Skrulls were alien races at war. After a test flight went bad in an experimental plane made by Lawson the two crashed because the Kree attacked looking for Mar-Vel.

When the plane explodes, Danvers gets powers from the energies that made the plane special and the Kree took her unconscious body and implanted false memories. This was to get her to fight for them. Then 6 years later a Kree mission goes wrong and Carol is kidnapped by the Skrulls and interrogated and eventually escapes and ends up back on Earth. She meets Nick Fury, gets her memory back and fights against the Kree who are really the bad guys in this story. She gains her freedom from the Kree, helps the Skrulls and becomes Captain Marvel. Simple story but theres more. So much more.

This story needs to tie in with the rest of the MCU to serve as a prequel to the next Avengers movie, Endgame. To do this the writers go to the one thing that has been a constant on Earth since Captain America: First Avenger: the tesseract. The tesseract is the glue that holds all the MCU stories together. The tesseract is what was harnessed to power the ship that Lawson and Danvers flew during their fateful crash. The energy from the engine of that device is what gave Carol Danvers powers. This is the same tesseract that was in Captain America: First Avenger and Marvel’s Avengers. This movie shows what happened to the tesseract between those two movies and how because of the tesseract and Captain Marvel, Nick Fury came up with the Avengers Initiative.

The Good

One of the good parts of Captain Marvel is the buddy cop movie that you didn’t really see coming, Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury and Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel had chemistry that carried this movie much further than it should have. In Captain Marvel, we get a much younger Nick Fury with two eyes. He’s not top cop but on his way. This younger Nick Fury is not so jaded and secretive as the one we are used to seeing. This Nick Fury has more levity. This levity does not take away from the effectiveness of the character. He is still formidable in combat and is every bit the hero at times where Captain Marvel is busy elsewhere.

Another good is the display of the powers of Captain Marvel. One of my concerns was being able to show such a powerful being and relate her to the big screen. At first, her powers were hampered by a Kree device but once she was able to fight back against that she was able to realize her full potential. In comics Captain Marvel is one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy and this was clearly shown. The special effects were well worth the wait. Another good was the relationship with Carol Danvers best friend, Marie Rambeau played by Lashana Lynch.

Once again, the chemistry between the actresses sold the story. You believed that these were the best of friends. Added with Akira Akbar who played Marie’s daughter who called Carol her Aunt, this became a solid back story. But Monica Rambeau was not just a character thrown in for cuteness. In a possible future of the MCU, this little girl will grow to be the next wave of superheroes. In comics, this character is the first woman to take the mantle of Captain Marvel debuting in Amazing Spiderman Annual #16 in 1982. Hopefully, we see a grown-up Monica become the hero she was destined to be

The Not So Good

As an old school comic fan, I was looking for the wink. You see, in comics before Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel, she had other identities. In comics, she did get her powers from an explosion however she first called herself Ms. Marvel. She had a specific custom that I thought deserved a wink. I could understand where the Ms. Marvel thing might confuse some because there is a new younger hero calling herself Ms. Marvel in comics. However, her costume isn’t the same and nod would not have killed the movie. I was disappointed in the Stan Lee cameo. Marvel did an awesome job of dedicating the Marvel opening montage a tribute to Stan Lee that was extremely cool and I can’t see a fan not liking that opening. But then came the much-awaited cameo.

Since Lee passed away in 2018, it had been public knowledge that he had filmed some of his fan-favorite cameos for at least Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame but this cameo, compared to others of the past was weak. There was barely a speaking part for Stan the Man, just a smile at our heroine. This was cleared up for me by watching a YouTube video by Kevin Smith. The director and actor who had close ties to Lee was told ahead of the movie release by producer Kevin Feige about the cameo. Feige had told Smith that this cameo was centered around Mallrats, a film made by Smith in 1995 in which Lee appeared.

The scene is Lee rehearsing his lines when our hero comes across him and suspects that he might be a Skrull. Now if you listen really close you hear Lee repeating lines, he must learn for the movie Mallrats and when he is approached, he just smiles. Apparently, this cameo was filmed a few months before his death and his health was not good enough for his voice to sound strong enough. Feige had called Smith to not only tell him about the cameo in relation to him but to ask if there was any audio of Lee saying the line. Lee doesn’t speak in Captain Marvel, what you are hearing is audio from 1995. In any event, Smith was honored and emotional about this cameo for obvious reasons. Hearing this story also made me rethink that this was a weak cameo.

The cat. I had a problem with the cat. For a plot point to hold a bit of significance you introduce this character out of nowhere and the only thing I could think is “where is the cat now?”. It was established that this was an alien cat so we can’t expect it to have the same life span as an Earth cat. This was a loose plot device kind of like Han Solo’s love interest in Solo. Where has she been all this time? This is one of the things that correlated these movies for me and is the problem when you insert a prequel that takes place between movies. It’s hard to insert plot points that were never seen before that has relevance on the whole storyline.

Overall

Overall, I think this is a good movie which adds further to the MCU. The sometimes weak and transparent plot was saved by the actors and the chemistry they were able to convey. With Captain Marvel you can tell a lot of other stories, one specifically where has she been all this time. This was a great story to lead into the much-anticipated Avengers: Endgame. Necessary because it all points to Captain Marvel being a huge factor in saving the day and defeating Thanos. So, here’s to hoping there is a bigger pay off to this movie in Avengers: Endgame.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think of Captain Marvel.

Kenny Walker Jr

Doom Patrol: Weird is Cool

Think Twilight Zone meets The Watchmen and you have the new DC Universe streaming show Doom Patrol.

I once read an article about what some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe writers and producers would do with the DC Universe and one answer was start with B list heroes. Start with the heroes no one, outside of comic book fanboys, are too familiar with. Somebody at DC must have read the same article because that’s exactly what Dc did with Doom Patrol.

With the Doom Patrol, DC was able to do what they couldn’t do with Superman or Batman: they could re-invent history. You can’t make Superman come from anywhere but Krypton and be the ultimate hero. Batman has to lose his parents to violence to become the Dark Knight. The Doom Patrol, however, is another matter altogether. As long as you stick to some basics, the Doom Patrol can be molded into interesting TV.

The Doom Patrol was first seen in My Greatest Adventure #80 in 1963 created by writers Arnold Drake and Bob Haney and artist Bruno Premaini. The team was made up of a bunch of misfits: Niles Caulder, The Chief; Cliff Steel, Robotman; Larry Trainer, Negative Man; and Rita Farr, Elasti-Girl. Each one had a power that was more of a curse to them. They were hidden from society. They focused on the weird. That weird is the catalyst of the show.

Because to the general public, the Doom Patrol is virtually unknown, the showrunners are able to take liberties with the characters that you probably couldn’t do in 1963. Niles Caulder is the brains behind the team initially because he has saved all of their lives. His control issues over his patients in order to protect them means that he sometimes treats them like children and keeps them hidden within his mansion.

Cliff Steel is not only an adventurer and a race car driver but, in this adaption, he is not the nicest guy before his accident. He has multiple affairs on his wife and is relatively a big jerk. Larry Trainer is a pilot with a dark secret. His outward appearance as an all-American hero family man hides his secret homosexual romance with his fellow airman. Rita Farr was a world-famous beloved actress who was let her vanity control her.

Her vanity of being beautiful also extended to not wanting to be around anything or anybody who didn’t meet her standard of beauty. This is what makes Doom Patrol more unique than anything DC has put on a live action film. The flaws in these heroes are what makes this show cool. Not the powers or the special effects. The best part of Doom Patrol is the back story.

Later, in comic books, there have been other lineups of the Doom Patrol with Robotman being apart of all of them. In the Grant Morrison run of Doom Patrol, a character named Crazy Jane was introduced. Crazy Jane, Jane Morris, has 64 personalities with all different powers. As her character develops in comics, she also has a close relationship with Robotman. Crazy Jane is the unpredictable bad girl of the group.

Cyborg is another member of this team; however, real fanboys and fangirls know him as a member of the Teen Titans introduced in DC Comics Presents in 1980. DC has decided to make him a member of the Doom Patrol even though they do have a Titans series. The showrunners have kept his origin story pretty close to the original and have made him a known hero by the time he meets the Doom Patrol in the second episode.

The villain is Mr. Nobody. Mr. Nobody narrates the episodes and breaks the 4th wall in speech. Whoever thought of this idea is brilliant. This is another aspect of the show that makes it so weird and different in a good way. Mr. Nobody, Eric Morden, first appeared in Doom Patrol #86 in 1964. Depending on the writers this character has had various powers throughout the years and the TV series has given him powers that give the Doom Patrol a run for their money.

These characters are not just superbeings out to save the world because honestly being three episodes in they don’t want to save the world. They are reluctant heroes. A true band of misfits. Their mission is to find the Chief that Mr. Nobody has taken hostage. As they all struggle with their own personal demons and past, they join together to help their friend. This is not The Avenger or the Justice League; they are not coming in flashy and posing on a supped-up ride.

They are coming in gritty and dirty on an old short school bus. That’s what makes this different in a good way. Mr. Nobody telling all the origins of the team in the first episode then sucking everything, including the town, in a cosmic wormhole. By the second episode, we are introduced to Cyborg and find out that a donkey has swallowed the whole town. Like I said, weird but in a good way.

Doom Patrol is just what DC needed. This is not the A list superheroes and one of the benefits of that is that you can make changes to these characters that help this show. Changes that you couldn’t make to heroes like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Yet they were able to take the weird that is in the comics books and relay it to the screen.

A new episode of Doom Patrol streams Friday at 9 am. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Kenny Walker Jr

News Round-up

 

Punisher and Jessica Jones Canceled

The inevitable has happened. Netflix has canceled Punisher and Jessica Jones. This news is not really a surprise as the other Marvel Netflix shows were canceled in 2018. Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Defenders were all canceled by Netflix previously. Punisher season 2 debuted on January 18, 2019, and Jessica Jones season 3 is slated to be released later this year. With the recent streaming war, this move was to be expected. Disney, which now owns Marvel, announced that they would be starting their own streaming channel eventually.

This news comes after the other Marvel Netflix shows had been canceled. Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders were all canceled last year. The disheartening thing for fans is that some of those series ended with you wanting more. Luke Cage ended with Luke on the outside of the law running the Harlem gangs and being on outs with some of his closest neighborhood allies. Iron Fist ended with Colleen Wing possessing the Iron Fist but a post scene with Danny having a similar Iron Fist power that involved guns. That’s something that had me waiting for a third season.

Also, the chemistry between Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing and Simone Missick’s Misty Knight screamed for a Daughters of the Dragon series to come out. That was the dream for many fans as they were the best part of Iron Fist season 2. It has been said that the final season of Jessica Jones will wrap up the story and of the cast so far the only reveal has been the regulars of Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Rachael Taylor as Patricia “Trish” Walker, Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse and Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth. I am hoping we get to see Luke Cage, Danny Rand, Matt Murdock, Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing one more time before we say farewell to these actors in these roles.

The Captain Marvel Controversy & Zach Levy Squashing Beef

Before you misunderstand the title, there is no beef between anyone at DC/Warner Bros. Studios with anyone at the Marvel Universe Studios. Far from it. Zach Levy went on Twitter to come to the defense of the Brie Larson and Marvel’s Captain Marvel against internet trolls who have been bashing the soon to be released movie. Here’s the story. Brie Larson made this comment “I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive. It sounded like across the board (women of color) weren’t getting the same opportunities as others.”

This was just a statement suggesting that she wanted to give other outlets and publications a fair share of the story. Nothing more nothing less. With that said, some “fans” and I use this term loosely, started going online and giving this movie bad reviews before it even came out. Specifically, the pre-review section of Rotten Tomatoes where the trolls took to in order to discredit the film before it hit theatres. Rotten Tomatoes took that feature from the site as well as the “Want To See” feature during any pre-release period of a movie.

Because some of these trolls on other websites brought up DC/Warner Bros upcoming Shazam! in comparison because that character was also named Captain Marvel in the past, Zach Levy decided to put a stop to the nonsense. Telling fans that no one is doing anyone any favors by trashing another movie. He tells fans that this is not a competition between the two studios and they hate should stop. Zach was pretty disgusted.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Similar incidents have happened with female lead movies such as Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman and The Last Jedi. As well as Marvel’s Black Panther. I never thought I would see this kind of behavior from my fellow nerds and geeks and I am sorely disappointed. As in today’s society, the comic book world and the fantasy world have become diverse places. It’s time we accept it, welcome it and continue to enjoy those worlds. I eagerly await Captain Marvel.

Marvel Represents at the Oscars

Marvel Studios walked away with major victories at the Oscars held on Sunday night, February 25. Black Panther won for Best Costume Design in a Motion Picture. The award was accepted by designer Ruth Carter who made Hollywood history by being the first Black woman to ever win in this category. Nice way to end Black History Month. Black Panther also won for Best Production Design in a Motion Picture and Best Score in a Motion Picture.

Sony Represents at the Oscars

Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse nabs the Oscar for Best Animated Film. This makes this the first time since 2912 that Disney Studios did not walk away with this award. The highly acclaimed movie was a bit of a shoo-in for the win. Personally, it was probably the best animated movie I have ever seen.

Kenny Walker Jr

Brightburn – If I Go Evil, Will You Still Call Me Superman?

If you have ever heard the 3 Doors Down song Kryptonite, and been a hardened comic book fan, you may have thought of the possibility of what might happen if Superman, literally, went crazy. Certainly, we have been exposed to the idea of an alternate, possibly evil, Superman. From DC Elseworlds where Kal-El has ranged from being raised by Darkseid or being a Soviet Super-Communist, or even becoming Batman to the DC standard example of Bizarro, the idea of the favorite Kryptonian deviating from his boy scout-esque persona has always been intriguing.

Recent incarnations in Smallville and Man of Steel, though keeping with the general idea, have given Clark Kent more doubts and loneliness as to what he is and who he should become. However, there has never, really, been a true form of an Evil Superman, until Brightburn. Brightburn is an upcoming film starring Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, and Jackson A. Dunn as the titular character which explores the idea of what IF Superman was inherently evil. The movie is produced by James Gunn of Guardians of the Galaxy fame and though his previous films had strong light-hearted elements, to include the sci-fi horror Slither, this one is aimed at pure horror.

Brightburn explores the standard superhero trope of the last survivor of a dying race coming to Earth, recognizing his or her power and using it. However, for the character of Brandon Breyer, played by Dunn, the use of his power involves terrorizing his version of Smallville. If the latter element was removed one could easily argue that the idea is a clear copy, but with the character’s sinister aspect, the film is sure to be a kick in the gut of those hoping for a super-savior. Though we only have the initial trailer to go on, it is clear that the character is a true to home abandonment of a hero or a villain, more so a pre-teen psychopath with god-like powers.

Another important element more than likely will be how his parents, seemingly very Jonathan and Martha Kent-like, who yearned for a child, will have to weigh their love against the possible fate of humanity. I must admit, I am anxiously awaiting seeing this movie (in fact I will probably set aside a day to go see it). Honestly, as far as DC characters are concerned, I have never been a “Superman-Fan.” Growing up as a child primarily given the pre-Crisis Superman mold between the Christopher Reeves films and the Superboy series of the late 1980s, I never had an appreciation of “Boy Scout” Superman.

My growing appreciation came from Smallville, roughly the first few seasons, and the big change came with Man of Steel. While these representations kept the absolute good guy persona, they explored the personal “what if’s” of Clark Kent; however, still no bad guy at heart. Brightburn is sure to give that and possibly more. Within this, we as fans must also ask, in this modern Hollywood age, will there be room for a universe with the Evil Dark Knight or the Evil Amazon. Conversely, will we be rooting for them or the good Lex Luthor or good Joker who will be thorns in their sides? The hope and possibilities are there and I’m hoping not to be disappointed on Memorial Day when the film is released.

James Hales

The Supermen did not Reign: An example of reading the book is way better

Not everything translates well from comic books to animation. In a comic book, the writer can write a story and give explanations and backstories. They have monthly issues to plan and detail their story. When you move that same story that developed over an extended period from a book into animation, you would lose a good portion of the integrity of the new adaption. This was the case with Reign of the Supermen.

Following the 2018 animated movie Death of Superman, Reign of the Supermen was the second act in the famed 1993 DC Comics story about the death and return of Superman. In the original story, Superman is confronted with the alien Doomsday and during a massive battle both Superman and Doomsday are killed. During Superman’s, “death” for figures appeared to replace him: The Eradicator, the Cyborg Superman, Steel, and Superboy.

Superboy was a clone that was formed from the DNA of Superman and Lex Luthor and created in the labs of Cadmus. Steel was a brilliant ballistics expert who was once saved by Superman and created his armor to serve as a replacement to the Man of Steel in Metropolis. Eradicator was a weapon created centuries ago on Krypton by an ancestor of Superman that took a human form to replace Superman upon his death.

Cyborg Superman was a scientist-astronaut named Hank Henshaw who along with his crew was poisoned with radiation and ultimately blamed Superman for the accident. Though his body died, Hank Henshaw’s mind molded with alien Kryptonian technology and he became Cyborg Superman and used his identity to get revenge on Superman by taking his name and being the bad guy.

The actual story of the Reign of the Supermen in the comics took months to flush out a lot more backstory than I have provided here. DC had the brilliant idea to try to condense this in a 2-hour animation. Not the best idea. A lot of plot points in the original story were condensed in order to make the ultimate bad guy behind Doomsday killing Superman and Cyborg Superman being the bad guy impersonator be none other than Darkseid.

Watch this movie for the fun of watching a movie if you have nothing else better to watch but please do yourself a favor and get the trades or go digital to read the full complete real story of the Reign of the Supermen. It’s not so much that DC decided to change the story to condense it, it’s the fact that they did not condense it well. In truth, this should have been a trilogy: Death of Superman, Reign of the Supermen and Return of Superman.

One of the main plot points that ruins this movie is the last 15 minutes. The lackluster explanation to bring Superman back so that he can save the day. Then have him reunite with Lois and give the world the worse explanation why Clark Kent was missing while Superman was presumed dead was the worse rushed feeling to the end of a movie I ever experienced. Even with the plot change to tie it all together in a new way, giving this whole movie to the replacement Supermen and having Superman come back in another installment would have told a better story.

Another misstep was the voice casting. Tony Todd, who is an exceptional actor and has done great voice work in the past was dreadfully miscast as Darkseid. At no point did Darkseid sound like the God he is but rather just a very angry human crime lord. Similarly, Rainn Wilson did not have the power in his voice to properly portray Lex Luthor. Lex Luthor should sound like the egotistical mega maniac he is not whatever this was. It was too nasal.

It was not all forgettable, there were some highlights. Steel and Superboy were both portrayed very well and made you wish you had more time with their backstory or at least a chance to see them in action without a Justice League to save them. Although it was rushed to fit in the movie, the love between Lois and Clark was shown in the best way. Throughout this movie even presumed dead, Lois’ love for Superman was undeniable.

If there is nothing on your regular cable stations and you’ve watched everything you want on Hulu and you’ve got no one to Netflix and chill with, then, yeah, give this little movie a chance and kill some time. Otherwise, do yourself a better favor and read the source material for this story.

Kenny Walker Jr

Event Horizon, In Space You Can Still Visit Hell

The human desire for space travel is a concept in science fiction as commonplace as dunes of sand in a desert. Writers and filmmakers have taken the idea into multiple areas ranging from semi-fantasy as in Star Wars and Dune franchises to the semi-realistic in the Star Trek universe or Babylon 5. Within these stories are usually the wonderment of discovery and the evolution of social, technological, and even physical humanity. However, while most of us, myself included, embrace the awe and possibilities of this landscape, others have introduced the idea of, “what if this went wrong”, or “what if this was horrifying.”

The latter is explored in Paul W.S. Anderson’s 1997 film Event Horizon starring Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill, among others. The film, set in the year 2047, centers around a rescue crew sent to investigate the return of a lost starship, the Event Horizon, designed for interplanetary space exploration. Upon finding the ship, the crew begins to learn about what happened to the Event Horizon’s crew, have terrifying visions, and discover, much to their dismay, where the ship has been for the time it was lost. All culminating in a situation of absolute fear and horror which guides the flow of the film.

Event Horizon, as a story, is quite possibly one of the truest science fiction horror films ever produced. In the sense of science fiction, the viewer is introduced to the idea that while humanity has advanced significantly in space technology, the “big” elephant in the room comes to how does humankind travel beyond its solar system. Though not constantly harbored on, this element is a central aspect of the story. As science fiction fans we are given star travel plot devices within the majority of popular space operas. Star Trek famously has warp technology which set the pace for humanity to both explore space and served as a unifying measure as it was able to see that, to quote Deanna Troi, “We were not alone in the universe.”

Star Wars simply uses hyperdrives as a method of travel which is as commonplace, and easy to obtain, as a bicycle. In both franchises, the ability to travel through space, at times to different sections of the universe, is often without problem or consequence. Event Horizon takes a different stance in that while humanity is seemingly in a state of peace, it still desires, and desperately needs, to travel to other star systems. In this regard, the Event Horizon’s gravity drive is developed to cut a hole in space-time, via an artificially produced black hole, to instantly travel from one point in space to another. As a part of this want and need, there is a “mild” disregard for the possible ends to these actions which leads to dire consequences.

To loosely quote the character of Smith, played by Sean Pertwee, confronting Neill’s Dr. Weir, “you violate the laws of physics and expect nothing to happen.” This idea is central to the heart of the story, which leads to the horror. The most standout aspect of Event Horizon’s horror lies not with an individual antagonist, such as the xenomorph from Alien, but in another dimension. Throughout the film, the story leads you through hellish, pun intended, obstacles which in the end make you question, “what is this place where the ship came from.” Is it simply another dimensional plane of pure chaos, as stated by Weir, or is it, in actuality, hell. It is even stated during the climax that “hell is but a word, the reality is far worse.”

One is left to judge based on the events, this time no pun intended, that the ship is punishing the crew for their past sins and ultimately torturing and killing them for said transgressions. However, it is both known and unknown what the place is and what the ship has truly become. In one way this echoes John Carpenter’s premise of Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise. While you know Michael is a killer and is virtually unstoppable, you never truly learn the why for both aspects. The same principal element exists in Event Horizon. Additionally, the horror is just as much psychological as it is physical with each being as direct. As previously stated, the ship is a being that knows how and when to torture its prey, then at the right moment physically strike.

Stephen King fans could view this in the same way as Pennywise the Clown creates absolute fear in his victims before killing them. All being said, both the ship and hell are mutual antagonists. In all, Event Horizon is, in my opinion, an intensely good film with an excellent and creative story and a cast that can carry it. In its original release, the movie was nearly panned by critics and even some viewers alike. In being both pure horror and pure science fiction, the film could alienate a viewer wishing to see one or the other. Additionally, the film carries a very hard gothic atmosphere to it. The ships, sets, and visual aspects are very dark and medieval cathedral-like versus the streamlined sci-fi pieces one is generally used to.

Thus, in some ways, this can stray the baseline science fiction buff away. The horror element also gleefully utilizes both gore and shock gore to a degree where one might think they are watching a Hellraiser movie albeit set in space, though there was such a film. In later years, the film would develop a profound cult following which has allowed its popularity to resurface in the past few years. As a die-hard horror and sci-fi lover, the movie is one of the truest bridges between both genres. However, every diamond is not without its coal.

The movie is a little over 90 minutes long, with an original cut being two hours and 10 minutes long. Though Anderson even stated that the original cut was “overly” long, he further acknowledged there were key points to the story within that 40 extra minutes which benefited the film. Paramount, following the film’s success on home release, wanted a director’s cut released. Unfortunately, the cuts were forever lost in a salt mine in Scotland, as the story goes, though a few cut scenes are available for viewing on YouTube. For anyone looking for a true space horror film, apart from Alien, Event Horizon is worth your time.

James Hales