Captain America: Civil War (2016)

In Captain America: Civil War the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I have seen we are treated with something that should have been called Avenger 2.5. It deals with the consequences of the events in Age of Ultron.  Spoilers to follow.

The film begins in 1991 with Bucky killing Iron Man’s parents and stealing some Super solider serum for Hydra. Then we return a year after the events in the last Avengers movie the Avengers are confronted by the World saying that there needs to be some sort of agency behind the organization, as when the Avengers show up there is going to be a big mess to clean up. As after their latest mission they accidentally blow up a building and kill several civilians.  This is the Sokovia Accords, where  a UN panel will over see and control the team. This idea causes friction between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark as Tony is all for the oversight and Steve wants the independence. At the signing of the Accords Bucky or so we are lead to believe sets off a bomb and all hell break loose. Captain America and Falcon go off and with the help of Agent 13 (Sharon Carter) locate Bucky Barnes, the Winter Solider, since they want to help Bucky. Cap and Falcon get some help from Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Ant-man. Stark on the other side want Bucky in custody, so he get the UN approval to set up his own group with War Machine, Vision, T’Challa (The Black Panther), Spiderman and Black Widow although she doesn’t really care who wins and help Cap and Bucky get away at the airport. So they go after the bad guys what’s his name, Baron Zemo, who wore a Bucky mask when he planted the bomb. He also found a video tape of Bucky killing Tony’s parents which Tony watches. Tony, Steve and Bucky get into a big fight. This film really does nothing as several people have pointed out it is basically Batman V Superman all over again it’s a weak story with an even weaker reason behind the fight.

It’s been 13 film so if you’ve been watching you are stuck currently as there doesn’t seem to be any end until at least the Untitled Avengers movie in 2019 or 20. If this story was told over several films it would have had a better impact overall there was just not enough time for Tony and Steve disagreement to really matter. So it seems like the Secret Avengers are a thing with Cap and his crew perhaps now living on the Raft,  while Tony and the Avengers with UN oversight will be the Avengers. Since it seems like everyone who has ever been in one of these MCU films will be back fro the Avengers 3 and 4. If you haven’t watched any of the Marvel movies good for you,  but don’t start now as you have a lot to catch up on before really understanding what’s going on. I mean I’ve seen them all and am still a bit confused as to why things happened.

Luke Cage

The latest of the Marvel/Netflix Comic Book television programs is a change of pace for the whole superhero genre. First of all it is about African Americans and for once it’s not about white people. Sure Iron Man and Captain America have black friends (War Machine and Falcon) but that’s about all we know about these two characters. Yes, we do have a Black Panther movie coming in 2018 but that just seems too long to wait for someone who isn’t a white person to be the Superhero in a movie as Wonder Woman comes out in 2017. Then we have the whole notion that seems to be in all first seasons of the Netflix MCU shows the “Should I be a hero? and if so how can I be a hero?”

Now, I didn’t know much about Luke Cage when I began watching but like the other shows I feel like I know him a bit better. Luke Cage is a story of Harlem and Black Lives Matter which is something that needs to be told.  The show is a wonderful blend of the Blacksploitation films which originally inspired Luke Cage, Hero for Hire as well as the Hood films of today. It leans on the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance but it seems that’s where most of us think African American culture comes from and remains to this day but a lot has changed since then. It’s a fun show and I am sure that if you have watched any of the Marvel movies you are bound to have some passing interest in this new show.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

DC comics latest attempt to cash in on what Marvel has done with their cinematic universe, hasn’t gone all that well it’s been a series of missteps. On the heals of perhaps the best interpretation of Batman on the big screen by Christopher Nolan, DC decided that dark was they way to go with all their heroes and we got Man of Steel a mediocre Superman movie where Supes kills and basically destroys Metropolis, however this is all just a set up for the sequel.  So we finally get a Batman v Superman movie that’s been rumored for a long time, however it seems everyone wanted something better. Spoilers to follow

The film begins with an origin story of Batman since no one knows why he became The Batman, his parents were shot and Thomas Wayne’s dying words were Martha (Bruce’s mom) who also died. This is the key thing we have to remember it will be important later. In real life time it’s been 18 months since the events of Man of Steel and people are torn wondering if Superman is a hero or a threat to society. Lex Luthor has found a giant piece of Krytonite and wants to bring it into the US. Batman’s been Batman in Gotham for 20 years or so and Clark Kent want to investigate his brand of justice for the Daily Planet. Luthor has a party and Bruce is invited and Clark is covering it for the paper. Bruce uses this invite to do some detective work and hacks into Luthor’s computer, Diana Prince was also invited to the party and steals the device before Bruce can collect it.

As it turns out Bruce gets the device back and decrypts it he learns about the krytonite as well as the meta humans, The Flash (Barry Allen), Aquaman (Arthur Curry), Cyborg (Victor Stone) and Wonder Woman (Diana Prince). Batman decides that he need to kill Superman, meanwhile Lex Luthor has been doing his own things. Lex got the body of Zod, and access to the ship that crashed in Man of Steel and adds a bit of his own blood and creates Doomsday. Lex also has Martha Kent kidnapped by the Russian from the beginning of the movie, he’s not that important. Superman gets a ultimatum from Luthor kill Batman and bring back his head or your mother dies. Batman and Superman fight until Superman say “Save Martha’ and the fight ends Batman and Superman make up, Batman goes to rescue Martha Kent and Supes goes back to find Doomsday being born. With Martha safe Batman joins the fight and they are soon joined by Wonder Woman. The only way to kill it is with kryptonite so Superman goes and get the spear that Batman fashioned for their fight. Although Superman does kill Doomsday he himself is killed as well. There is a huge funeral and Bruce and Diana are there, Lex goes to jail and at the end we see the dirt that was tossed on Clark’s grave start to float.

The film would have been so much better if it decided if it wanted to be a Batman movie or a Superman movie, but it was both and it felt rushed. This is something that could have unfolded over a couple of movies, with Superman dying at the end of the second one saving everyone and not telegraphing that he’s coming back in next part, they could do like the Supermen series where Superman was replaced by four different heroes posing as Superman. That would be a cool movie and perhaps they will go this way but it seems like Superman will appear/come to the rescue at the end of Justice League. If you haven’t seen it yet and are a huge fan of Batman or Superman sure you should watch it but otherwise don’t waste your time. However perhaps this will change over time and we will like the DC films as much as we all like Marvel or we will start hating the Marvel films as much as the DC ones.

Deadpool (2016)

I finally got around to seeing the R-rated Superhero movie Deadpool. Spoilers to follow.

I like most people who saw the film weren’t as versed with Deadpool before seeing the movie. The film takes what I like about superhero movies and being Deadpool it breaks the fourth wall. It is meant for the 18-perhaps 40s and fans of the comic book, as I’m not sure there is a market for those any older. The movie itself is very unconventional as it starts in the middle and goes to the beginning and comes back a couple time. Deadpool is Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), a former special forces operative who has become a mercenary for hire. He finds out he has terminal cancer and is approached by Agent Smith who offers Wilson that they can cure his cancer. Francis, known as Ajax is in charge of this and after it Wilson changes Francis says that he can fix Wilson’s appearance as he has been disfigured by the mutation and explosion. As his friend Weasel (TJ Miller) comments “You look like an avocado had sex with an older, more disgusting avocado.” Deadpool is approached by Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, two X-men, to join up with them. Deadpool refuses as Francis escapes. Francis goes to the bar owned by Weasel and finds out that Deadpool/Wilson had a girlfriend so Francis kidnaps her. Deadpool goes to the X-Mansion and asks for some help in getting Vanessa back. Will they be able to find Francis and rescue Vanessa.

It was a fun movie and all especially with how most of the other comic book movies are so serious these days. There were great jokes about like the X-universe who Professor X is, and the ending of Ferris Bueller. If you are looking for a fun Superhero movie this is for you, it’s not as predictable as some of the MCU films have gotten.

The Boondocks

This comic strip/television series has a special place the strip began when I started high school and the show started while I was in college. Now a decade after the strip ended and two years since the end of the show. It focused on The Freeman Family; Robert (a Tuskegee Airman and Civil Rights activist), and his grandchildren Huey(a 10 year old revolutionary) and Riley(an 8 year old enthralled with gangsta culture); as they adjust to living in the suburbs after moving from Chicago.  I wonder how they would be facing the environment that we currently live in with so many innocent young blacks getting killed by police officers and the whole Black Lives Matter movement as well as the descent of the political system to a point we haven’t seen in years. If you never watched the show or read the strip give it a look and perhaps change your preconceived notions about who Black people are and what they can do. This goes both ways the White American as well as Black American need to realize that they need to be more than a stereotype of their culture.

Ant-Man (2015)

The forgotten Marvel movie from last year and the final film in the second Phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant-Man tells the story of Scott Lang a reformed convict who is tasked to steal the Ant-Man suit by Hank Pym. It also sets up a Superhero from the west coast. Spoilers to follow.

This is the Marvel heist film and it’s got some funny elements in it but those just might be what Edgar Wright would have done if Marvel actually let his direct the film he wanted to make. The film itself begin back in the wild year of 1989 with Pym resigning from SHIELD after he discovers they are trying to find the Pym Particle. There is some great CG work here as it looks like they just picked up Michael Douglas from Wall Street and had him act the scene. The story then begins back in the present as Darren Cross, the guy who tossed Pym out of Pym Technologies is working on his own suit that can do the same thing that the Ant-Man suit can do. When Hank Pym gets Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to actually wear the suit he lets them into the big plan to destroy the suit that Cross is making. Lang says why not just call the Avengers. Pym has a huge problem with Stark and doesn’t want his suit to get into the hands of SHIELD, but they have to go to get some piece of tech from the Avengers new compound as we saw in Age of Ultron. Scott fights Falcon since it needs to have some cameos to make it a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. After this incident Hank finally tells his daughter Hope what happened to Janet, as if we really all cared.  Then the whole plan happens but there is a hitch in it as Scott is trapped and Cross get’s his Yellowjacket armor to work, there is a huge fight and more stuff happens.

The one problem I had with the film was although it was a interesting film we get the same basic fight as we did in Iron Man and Hulk where the villain is basically the evil version of the hero. Another big problem is soon there’s going to be three Marvel films coming out in the same year as well as a pair or so from DC comic and now the annual Star Wars film around Christmas. Sure I’ll see them all eventually at least up to the end of Phase Three in the MCU, but eventually these films are going to be over bloated just fitting in all the characters, I read that the Russo’s say that in the next Avengers film there are going to be like 67 main characters. Oh and there is a Captain America sequel coming out soon which it seems Ant-Man will make an appearance


News Roundup

New version of Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song has been released. Sure it’s a bit early but I’ve always like these. The last edition was released with the film Eight Crazy Nights way back in 2002.

The first trailer for the new Marvel film Captain America: Civil War has been released and it looks cool. This marks the beginning of Phase 3 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is the film equivalent of the Civil War arc in the comics where Superheroes needed to register and be under government control. We will have to wait to see if Cap or Iron Man comes out on top, perhaps the conflict won’t be resolved in just one film.

Black Friday: If you are going shopping, I hope that you keep safe and try not to kill anyone over some crazy deal.

Jessica Jones

Netflix released their new Marvel show Jessica Jones last Friday and I like many other people have already watch through the series. Jessica Jones is not your average hero in fact she was first introduced in the Marvel MAX imprint, which is a place where Marvel could tell more adult stories as the Marvel Rating System generally put it this is like a film that is R-rated. So the stories are more mature then most other comic books.  Spoilers to follow.

The television show begins with Jessica as a Private Eye running Alias Investigation, this is after her time with Killgrave. This first season like Daredevil’s is about embracing the heroic side, which Jessica decides if enough people think she’s a hero perhaps if she does it long enough she will feel the same. People across the internet have been raving about the series with the talk about rape and PTSD, as well as tackling the big problem the lack of females in the MCU. I like the article from Vox about how Jessica Jones even subverts the Bechdel test.

One of the stand out elements of this show for me is that there is a focus on some of the non super heroes that are alongside these superheroes. In particular the role of Trish and Malcolm I think that these people are among the most important in the series as Jessica need these people in her life to relate to the real world. As these were some of the more interesting relationships in the show.  Let’s hope that this shows depiction of female relationships (Trish and Jessica, Jessica and Hogarth, Hogarth and her ex\lover) can inspire other shows and movies to treat women as actual characters and not just objects that the men get to act around. If you enjoyed Daredevil you are bound to like Jessica Jones, and if you are sick and tired of only men being superheroes this is a must watch. Especially if you need to escape from Thanksgiving.

News Roundup

First off is a listicle from Thrillist about how to be a better Beer Geek. At the core it’s basically the same bit of advice repeated nine time, “Don’t be a dick” This is done by not forcing your knowledge about beer on people, or telling them that what they are drinking sucks.  If they ask you about beer sure you can inform them about it but use simple language no one really cares how you know about beer or what beers they should or shouldn’t be drinking.

This is an interesting article about Comic Books, apparently in California at Crafton Hills College, a Community College, has a course on comic books and a student was shocked about the required reading in the class.  Tara Schultz had expected the course to be like Batman, Superman, The X-Men and Spider-man but included in the list of required reading was Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin, 2006); Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1, by Brian Vaughan (Vertigo, 2003); The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House, by Neil Gaiman (1990, DC Comics); and Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, 2004). These four she found were “pornography” and she along with her parents wanted them removed from the course. The request was refused. The Comic Book has come a long was since the 1930s when Batman and Superman first appeared. Fun Home is the critically acclaimed graphic novel which later became a hit Broadway Musical about Alison Bechdel’s life, Persepolis is another autobiographical graphic novel about growing up during the Iranian Revolution.  Y: The Last Man is a sci-fi comic about the future where every man on earth dies but one, and Sandman: The Doll House is a collection of the 8(9)-16 issues of The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman.

Lastly is a Stephen Colbert interview/profile in the latest GQ. Take a gander at it and catch up with Stephen before the Late Show begin September 8th.

Bloom County is Back!

One of my favorite comics to read growing up was Bloom County/Outland I discovered them in the library after reading through all of the Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes books. So Bloom County is about life in small town America, the strip features kids that acted like adults and the adults were basically kids. The stand out of  the strip has to be Opus the Penguin an “existential penguin” and the outrageous Bill The Cat. Opus and several other characters would reappear in the strip Opus which ran from 2003-08.

If you haven’t read any of Bloom County or other related strips take a look at them. So over on Facebook Berkeley Breathed has revived the strip. Go check it out not sure how often we will be getting new strips but whatever. Hope to see more character appearing in the future.