For Part 1, click here.
In the past few weeks, we’ve been treated to trailers for Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, meaning that I get to drag out this series again. As far as new characters go through, there’s really only one from each trailer (Except X-Men, but I’ll get to that trailer later), and the character from Dawn of Justice is kind of a huge spoiler, so for now, I’ll stick with talking about Marvel’s first black superhero, the Black Panther.
It’s been fairly hard to muster up the energy or desire to write in the past week or so, what with the world still reeling from the Paris attacks (*Cough* While ignoring bombing in Beirut *Cough*) and Western racism rearing its ugly head once again. It seems like every visit to the internet ends in depression and the need for a stiff drink. And that’s just before witnessing the nightmare that is every comment section right now.
On November 20, Netflix and Marvel will release their second television show together after the first season of Daredevil, which everybody loved, and if you think you didn’t love it, stop lying to yourself. This new show will focus on America’s sweetheart, the international icon known as Jessica Jones.
Cheerful, isn’t it? You know… If abject human misery cheers you up.
Since Jessica Jones definitely qualifies as one of the more obscure characters in the Marvel Comics library, and her amazing-looking show comes out in exactly one week, I figured this was as good a time as any to put off doing part two of that DeathMatch that I started whenever the fuck ago and continue my “WTF!?!?” series. Both first parts of the entries I did for Deadpool and the Suicide Squad can be found here and here, respectively.
I’m not one to delay (*Cough*), so let’s get started.
First appearances: Miss America Magazine #2 (Nov. 1944, as Patsy Walker) The Avengers #144 (Feb. 1976, as Hellcat)
Created by: Ruth Atkinson (Patsy Walker) David Michelinie & Mike Harris (Hellcat)
Portrayed by: Rachael Taylor (headLand, Transformers, Red Dog)
Other portrayals: N/A
One of the few remaining original Marvel characters from the 40’s that Marvel (Then known as “Timely Comics”) hasn’t put out of their misery, Patsy Walker started out as some Betty/Veronica-esque character in one of those comics aimed at teenage girls that is almost certainly horribly sexist in retrospect.
Later, Patsy appeared in Fantastic Four cementing her as a canonical character in the Marvel Universe. It was later revealed that Patsy was a child model and actress whose mother drew those Betty & Veronica-esque comics, whose characters were based on Patsy and her friends. Not necessarily the biggest fan of having her childhood exploited for the sake of a few catty giggles from teenyboppers, Patsy preferred to devote her time to admiring superheroes, even having a crush on Reed Richards for a while.
After graduating from high school, Patsy married her fictional/non-fictional boyfriend, Robert Baxter, and embarked on a glamorous career as a homemaker. This may be the least progressive “WTF?!?!” entry ever. On cue, here are more pictures of Reed Richards being a misogynist!
Eventually drifting away from her husband, Patsy left his sorry ass and miraculously linked up with the Avengers. Tagging along with the team while they investigated criminal links at the corporation that her ex-husband worked security for, Patsy, a natural athlete, apparently, adopted a costume formerly worn by Tigra before she let her new uniform be designed by a hormonal 16-year old. After the mission proceeded successfully, Patsy joined the Avengers as Hellcat. One wild career on and off the Avengers later (Which included her getting manipulated by Damion Hellstrom, the son of Satan, into committing suicide, and subsequently coming back to life), she is currently working as a private investigator for Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) and has a new solo series coming out in December. As far as I know, she’s not going to become Hellcat in the Jessica Jones TV show, being a former child actress and childhood friend of Jessica’s, and if recent trailers are any indication, she won’t become Hellcat until at least the second season.
Honestly, I’m just wondering how they’re justifying using the name “Patsy” in a modern context.
First appearance: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (June 1972)
Created by: Archie Goodwin & John Romita Sr.
Portrayed by: Mike Colter (Million Dollar Baby, Halo)
Other portrayals: Lil’ JJ (The Super Hero Squad) Ogie Banks (Ultimate Spider-Man, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes), Christopher B. Duncan (The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes), Ryokan Koyanagi (Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers), Greg Eagles (Marvel: Ultimate Alliance), Robert Wisdom (Spider-Man: Web of Shadows) Khary Payton (Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2), James C. Mathis III (Marvel Heroes), John Eric Bentley (Lego Marvel Super Heroes)
A young gangbanger from Harlem, Carl Lucas realized that his lifestyle was affecting his family in a negative way, and decided to get his life back on track, seeking legitimate employment and going straight, though he still maintained contact with his buddy, Willis Stryker , who was rising rapidly through the ranks of their gang, the Rivals.
When Stryker’s girlfriend. Reva Connors, broke up with him because of his career choices, she sought consolation from Lucas. Convinced that Lucas had conspired to steal her away from him, Stryker decided to frame him, planting heroin on him and calling the cops. Understandably pissed about this development, Lucas contacted the Maggia (Because”Mafia” was trademarked, apparently) and put a hit out on Stryker, but the hit was botched, and Reva was killed while Stryker survived.
In prison, Cage was drafted into a Super Soldier cell-regeneration experiment, because apparently that’s standard procedure in the prisons of the Marvel Universe (Come to think of it, that explains a lot of things,). The experiment was sabotaged by a racist guard who held a grudge against him, and Lucas ended up with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin. Breaking out of prison, Lucas changed his name to “Luke Cage”, adopted the horrendous (Yet not exactly incorrect, per se) moniker of “Power Man” and became, as the title of his debut comic would suggest, a “Hero for Hire”, which is exactly what it sounds like.
While Cage started off as a profiteer, he eventually became a legitimate ally of superheroes like Daredevil and Spider-Man, and even had short stints on the Defenders and the Fantastic Four. Along with his good friend Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, cage formed the wildly successful “Heroes for Hire” organisation, but when that eventually fell through, Cage joined the the Anti-Registration Avengers (More on that when Civil War comes out), fighting Norman Osborn during Dark Reign and leading a team of Avengers (As well as the Thunderbolts) for a period called the “Heroic Age”. Cage has risen from a character that was little more than a cynical cash grab directed at the blaxploitation audience has ascended to… at least C-list status in the Marvel Universe. Although he’s getting the bump from the Cinematic Universe, so that’ll help him out.
To be concluded in Part 2
Wow, when I say “I’m not promising anything.” I really mean that I’m not promising anything, huh?
Anyway, in between studying, contemplating suicide and occasionally sleeping, I was somehow able to workshop the next installment of my DeathMatch series, which has been on hiatus since December of last year, when I had the villains from the TarantinoVerse clash that left only one man/woman standing. Character profiles can be found here while the actual fight can be found here.
So, who are the characters who will bloody and slaughter themselves on the whim of a bored teenage nerd? Well, considering that it’s Halloween, and we’re fast approaching 2016, the year in which Marvel and DC will finally duke it out for box office supremacy (Which is great. Don’t give me the “superhero movies are dying” bullshit. If that was gonna happen, it would’ve happened by now), I thought I would have a fight between some of the best villains that both comic companies have to offer. However, to pump up the character count, I’ve decided to make the fight between two seven-person teams of super villains: the Injustice League from DC Comics, and the Dark Avengers from Marvel.
This week and the next will be devoted to profiling the two teams of fighters, who will each have their equivalent on the other team as their adversary. After each fighter has dispatched their opponent (In the most brutal way possible for the written word), I’ll take a look at the results and decide which team would win in a brawl. However, in the two (Weekly???) posts before the actual fight (Including this post) I’ll take some time to profile both teams, so you don’t need to look up information from some of the lesser-known characters…
…Yeah, that’s about it! Let’s get into reviewing the first team of evildoers: the Injustice League from the Forever Evil storyline!
First appearance: Forever Evil #3
Origin: During a particularly confusing time for Earth’s Heroes (Known as the Trinity War) Earth is invaded by a supervillain team from an alternate universe known as the Crime Syndicate, who are essentially evil, sociopathic versions of the Justice League. They immediately get to work, taking out the three weakened Justice League teams by imprisoning them inside Firestorm (Yeah, I dunno) and teaming up with an enormous cabal of villains known only as the Secret Society.
These maniacs take over the world with little-to-no resistance and with no heroes to turn to, humanity must turn to its greatest hope: a group of murderous assholes with saviour complexes led by Lex Luthor!
Lex Luthor (Leader)
First appearance: Action Comics #23 (April 1940)
Villain for: Superman
DeathMatch Opponent: Iron Patriot
Origin: An arrogant, sadistic, small town boy with enormous ambitions, Alexander Luthor moved away from Kansas as an adult to the metropolis of, uh, Metropolis and, thanks to his ruthlessness and powerful intellect, he became one of the most powerful people in the city through his corporation, LexCorp. Lex relentlessly pursued more and more wealth and domination no matter who got in the way through whatever means necessary, whether that be through intimidation, robbery or straight-up murder.
When a certain superpowered Boy Scout arrived in Metropolis, Luthor immediately distrusted him, claiming that if humanity started relying on Superman, we would become weaker overall as a species. Of course, the fact that he’s a cruel jerkass with a Saviour Complex didn’t exactly help. Regardless, one of Comicdom’s most enduring rivalries was formed.
Equipment: Luthor generally doesn’t like to do any of his dirty work, preferring to stay behind the scenes, pulling the strings. However, when he feels like he needs to get personally involved, his weapon of choice is a goddamned War Suit designed by goddamned Darkseid.
Designed for the purpose of taking down You-Know-Who by freaking Darkseid, the War Suit provides Lex with superhuman strength (Enough to hold its own against Superman), flight, and a friggin’ force field, which lets him leave his self-absorbed face unprotected. As if that shit wasn’t enough, the suit can also fire Kryptonite energy beams, produce an ax made of Kryptonite energy, and comes equipped with flamethrowers, because why the hell not?
But wait! There’s even fucking more!
Lex has satellites positioned all around the globe for the purpose of, when necessary, WIPING PEOPLE OFF OF THE FACE OF THE EARTH WITH SPACE LASERS.
Strengths: While he’s not exactly a limber character, Luthor’s Warsuit provides him with enough strength and defense to both take multiple hits and bludgeon any opponents into submission. The fact that he is easily one of the smartest human beings in the DC Universe doesn’t exactly hurt, either. Also Space Lasers.
Weaknesses: As mentioned, while his Warsuit apparently lets him fly, it also impedes his speed. His arrogance and pigheadedness can sometimes get into the way of his success (Such as when he insisted that, even with evidence to the contrary, that Clark Kent wa not Superman, because he scoffed at the notion that Superman would ever want to appear normal). Perhaps most glaringly, his Warsuit is more specifically designed to take down Superman than anything, what with all the kryptonite weapons and such, and could leave him prone to powerful, non-Kryptonian foes.
“We stopped trying to solve our own problems and instead looked up into the sky… staring at those bright colors. That’s why the world is doomed.”
-Lex Luthor, Forever Evil #1
Leonard Snart/Captain Cold
First appearance: Showcase #8 (June 1957)
Villain for: Flash
Deathmatch Opponent: “Spider-Man”
Origin: The unfortunately named Leonard Snart grew up in an abusive household, where his only respite from his father’s drunken beatings was the ice cream truck his grandpa took him to, the only place he felt safe. Eventually running away from home and turning to a life of crime, Snart eventually got put away by the Flash. Looking for a way to counteract Flash’s speed, Snart, a gifted mechanical mind, apparently (Despite being a high school dropout. I dunno) created his iconic (???) cold gun, which does exactly what it sounds like it does.
The newly-christened “Captain Cold” went on to become one of the more prolific, and uncommonly non-murderous, Flash villains, forming an alliance of thieves and Flash villains called the Rogues and becoming, without a doubt, DC’s second or third best-known ice-based villains.
Equipment: Snart’s signature piece of gear is his cold gun. Despite outward appearances, this contraption doesn’t merely shoot ice. That would be silly. Instead, the gun actually slows the atoms of its target to a halt, immobilizing them and causing said target to become incredibly cold. His strange-looking goggles help protect his eyes from the flashes of energy that the gun produces when used.
Strengths: For essentially being a glorified street tough, Snart sure has a pretty good brain on him, having created an extremely advanced piece of weaponry in the Cold Gun, and having full knowledge of how to use it. It’s not just mechanical prowess either, as he has a good tactical mind, and has been a an effective leader of a supervillain group, the Rogues.
Weaknesses: While he is in good physical shape, there really isn’t much to Captain Cold once you get past his powers.
“[You’re] a kid who wasn’t out to hurt anyone. Sure, you’ve done your fair share of armed robbery, grand theft, destruction of property, kidnapping… But you never wanted to start a new ice age or turn people into popsicles.”
-Jake Shell (Snart’s probation officer), Justice League #30
- Slade Wilson/Deathstroke
First appearance: New Teen Titans #2 (December 1980)
Villain for: Teen Titans, Green Arrow, Batman
DeathMatch Opponent: “Hawkeye”
Origins: When Slade Wilson was sixteen years old, he lied about his age and joined the U.S. Army, because as we all know, there is no demographic on this planet more willing to die for their country than teenaged American boys.
Wilson excelled in the army, quickly moving up to the position of Major, and in probably one of the most unlikely meet-cutes known to mankind, met his future wife, Captain Adeline Kane. If you think this love story ends in anything other than tragedy than congratulations! You’ve clearly never read a comic book before!
Within a year, Slade became a master of multiple forms of combat and guerilla warfare, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Six months after his promotion, he married Adeline, and they later had two kids, Grant and Joey.
Some time later, Wilson volunteered for a medical experiment designed to stimulate his adrenal gland in the hopes of increasing his ability to resist truth serums. Because shit like this never works out as planned, Slade fell into a coma upon completion of the treatment. He wasn’t out for long, though and when he woke up, he found that he could now think nine times faster than the average schmuck, and had developed levels of strength, speed and durability that would put any Olympic athlete to shame, as well as a healing factor and enhanced senses. When the army denied his request for reinstatement (Because apparently, the army is composed of just the most fucking idiotic people), Slade became a world famous safari hunter by day, but also moonlighted as a world-renowned assassin, Deathstroke the Terminator.
When a group of fellow mercenaries decided to get even with Slade, they broke into his mansion and kidnapped Joey. Forced to reveal his double-life as Deathstroke to Adeline, Slade went after the mercenaries and was able to rescue his son. Unfortunately, Joey’s vocal cords were slit in the process, rendering him mute. The combination of having a secret assassin for a husband and having her son’s throat get cut as a result of Slade’s career caused Adeline to lash out at Slade, and she shot him in the head, destroying his right eye. Deciding that maybe this was the best possible time to flee his rageful wife, Slade Wilson devoted himself to assassinating people full-time and has enjoyed increased popularity in DC Comics ever since, debuting as a major villain (And part-time ally) of the Teen Titans, Batman and more recently, Green Arrow (Thanks in big part to the Arrow TV show).
Equipment: As would be beneficial for any mercenary, Deathstroke always has a boatload of weapons on him. More often than not, he carries an assault rifle of some sort on his person, an energy lance that fires concussive energy blasts, and a “super bomb”, which is essentially a flash grenade with bits of kryptonite inside. As you’re assuming right now, yes, this is a weapon meant to take down Superman.
His favourite weapon, though, is his Promethium broadsword. All you really need to know is that it’s essentially a katana made out of one of those bullshit metals that are stronger than titanium (It does bear mentioning that promethium is an element that exists, it’s just used for a completely different reason).
Speaking of which, his armour is made of Nth, a metal from the planet Thanagar, the home of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Surprisingly lightweight, Nth metal provides Deathstroke with excellent defense as well as augmenting his already astounding physical abilities.
Strengths: Deathstroke is nothing short of a tactical genius, easily on the level of, if not superior to Batman. Even without his superhuman enhancements, Deathstroke would easily rank among the best hand-to-hand in the DC Universe along with (Again) Batman, Nightwing and Lady Shiva.
With his enhancements though, he’s easily the strongest of them all in terms of sheer combat ability. Shit, he’s even agile enough to elude fucking Superman and can see at a goddamned subatomic level. And his healing factor is near-Wolverine level, as his aging is slowed (He’s about eighty, but looks to be in his fifties) and he has had his brains shot out, only to come back to life hours later. That;’s just silly.
Weakness: When in extreme pain, Deathstroke can go into a bloodthirsty rage that makes him stronger, at the expense of his own humanity. Yes, this is what passes for a weakness with this beast of a man.
“I am the thing that keeps you up at night. The evil that haunts every dark corner of your mind. I will never rest. And neither will you.”
-Slade, Teen Titans
First appearance: Green Lantern #7 (August 1961)
Villain for: Green Lantern
DeathMatch Opponent: “Ms. Marvel”
Origins: Anthropologist Thaal Sinestro of the planet Korugar was chosen to be a Green Lantern (Think Space Cop) by the Guardians of the Universe for his honourable conduct and fearlessness in combat. Under his protection, Sector 1417 became one of the safest in the universe, and the Guardians trusted him to train many rookie Lanterns, including Hal Jordan, the successor to his late best friend and brother-in-law, Abin Sur. While the two became fast friends, Jordan was horrified when he learned that Sinestro had imposed a draconian personality cult on his home planet of Korugar. The two had a falling-out that resulted in Sinestro being imprisoned and swearing revenge on Jordan and the Guardians.
To counter the Green Lantern’s Green Power Rings of Willpower, Sinestro had a Yellow Power Ring forged, which drew upon not Willpower, but Fear. Setting out to make life miserable for Jordan, Sinestro eventually formed his own Lantern Corps, the Sinestro Corps.
Equipment: The only piece of equipment that Sinestro really needs is his Yellow Power Ring, which can create whatever Sinestro can imagine, from concussive energy blasts to force fields. It can also help him manipulate and manifest other people’s deepest fears, allow him to phase through solid objects, heal himself, fly, and turn goddamn invisible, because of course it can.
However, the Power Ring’s energy has a limit, and when drained, it requires a recharge, which is done by holding the ring up to a Wellow Power Battery and reciting the Sinestro Corps oath.
Strengths: Dude, did you read what the Power Ring can do?
Even without the Power Ring, Sinestro is a master of manipulating people’s fears, and possesses a genius-level intellect, and an ego to go with it.
Weaknesses: When you get beyond the Power Ring, there isn’t much to Sinestro besides being a super-smart, manipulative egomaniac. That is, is you were to pit him against a well-trained human being, he might give you a hard time (As he does know some basic combat techniques), but he wouldn’t be that much trouble.
“In Blackest day, In Brightest night, beware your fears made into light. Let those who try to stop what’s right burn like his power – Sinestro’s might!”
-Sinestro Corps Oath
First appearance: Superboy #68
Villain for: Superman
DeathMatch Opponent: Ares
Origin: When Lex Luthor decided to create his Pet Clone of Superman, he did so through flexing his Mad Scientist. Abducting a teenager named Bobby, Lex spliced human DNA and DNA from the Man of Steel himself and injected the result into Bobby. The result was a failure (Subbed “Subject B-Zero.” Get it?), and Luthor destroyed the clone, but took samples and tried the experiment again.
When the Crime Syndicate invaded Earth and incapacitated the Justice Leagues, they instigated a global power outage in order to easily take over the planet. Lex Luthor, realizing that he needed somebody comparable to Superman to take back the planet, decided to revive the new Subject B-Zero. Unfortunately, the power cut had caused the machinery taking care of B-Zero to fail, resulting in a very imperfect clone of Superman, aesthetically, mentally and practically. Showing extreme loyalty to Luthor from the start of its life, B-Zero named himself “Bizarro” (He took that name upon not realising that Luthor was insulting him) and dedicated itself to presenting its jerkass daddy.
Strengths: Since Bizarro is a clone of Superman, one would assume that his skillsets are similar to those of the Man of Tomorrow, and one would be right. While he’s not as strong as Superman, he possesses comparable speed, both on land and in flight. Bizarro is invulnerable to every known form of physical force, and he has no need for rest or sustenance.
True to his classic power set, Bizarro also possesses flame breath (As opposed to Superman’s freeze breath) and freeze vision (As opposed to Superman’s heat vision). Seeing as he’s Superman Lite, what could possibly-
Weaknesses: Bizarro is stupid. Like, REALLY stupid. He had barely developed the ability to speak at the end of the Forever Evil arc, and is single-minded in his love and devotion to Lex Luthor. Also, while he can’t perceive pain and can’t be injured, his body can be worn down by consistent pressure, which isn’t good when he is incapable of realizing when he’s getting his ass kicked.
First appearance: The Marvel Family #1 (December 1945)
Villain for: Shazam
DeathMatch Opponent: Sentry
Origin: Teth Adam was born a slave in Kahndaq, an African country located in between Jordan and Egypt. His family nearly exterminated by the tyrannical rulers of Kahndaq, his only relation left was his nephew, Aman. After the two of them escaped from slavery, they found themselves at the Rock of Eternity, where the Wizard Shazam declared Aman to be pure of heart, and therefore worthy of the role of being the Wizard’s Champion. Bestowed with superhuman powers, magical in their origin, Aman shared his power with his uncle, who encouraged him to use his power to destroy the dictators who had caused them unimaginable pain. Aman, on the other hand, just wanted to stop the bloodshed through nonviolent means. Anticipating the failure of this plan, Adam killed his nephew for what he believed to be the Greater Good-
-and went about murdering the dictators and taking control of Kahndaq. After being sealed away by the Wizard, Black Adam remained incapacitated until he was awakened in the present-day.
Strengths: Through the Wizard’s empowerment, Black Adam gained a metric shit-tonne of powers that I’d rather just list in bullet-point form, all things being equal.
- A healing factor
- Photographic memory
- Magic resistance
- Superhuman intellect
- Strategical genius
- Superhuman speed, agility, stamina, reflexes and strength
Weaknesses: Arrogance. Hubris is the downfall of man, yadda yadda yadda.
-Black Adam. Constantly.
First appearance: Aquaman #35 (September 1967)
Villain for: Aquaman
DeathMatch Opponent: “Wolverine”
Origin: Very little is known about the man known as Black Manta except that his father was accidentally killed by Aquaman when Aquaman was trying to avenge HIS father, who had been killed by Black Manta. Small world!
Dedicating himself to avenging his father, Black Manta became an emotionless killing machine, murdering Aquaman’s allies to get to Aquaman. In fact, the only reason he joins the Injustice League is because he wants to kill Ultraman when it looked like Aquaman had died, as he had wanted to kill Aquaman himself (And also, because Ultraman had destroyed his father’s grave in a flood).
Equipment: His suit is engineered so that he retains his abilities underwater. It also helps him acclimate to the atmosphere around him. He also wields twin knives to assist in close-range combat.
Strengths; While he doesn’t have any superhuman abilities, at least in the current canon, Black Manta’s hand-to-hand combat skills are such that he is able to go toe-to-toe with Aquaman. He is also highly intelligent, albeit not a genius.
Weaknesses: Black Manta isn’t anything special when it comes to actual abilities, and while he is intelligent, he can be single-minded and obtuse, focusing only on murdering his nemesis, Aquaman.
“The only thing I want is the death of Aquaman.”
Continued in Part 2…
I come to bury the Fantastic Four, not to praise them.
Directed by: Josh Trank (Chronicle)
Produced by: Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Robert Kulzar, Hutch Parker, Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, Josh Trank
Based on: Fantastic Four by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson
Music by: Marco Beltrami & Philip Glass
Plot: In search of the key to unlocking the ever-elusive secrets of teleportation and interdimensional travel , Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) of the Baxter Foundation employs four young geniuses to seal the deal: Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Victor Von Doom (Yes they’re still calling him that…. Er, I mean, Toby Kebbell) and his own kids, Susan (Kate Mara) and Johnny (Michael B. Jordan). When the kids’ (Plus Reed’s childhood friend, Ben Grimm) experiment in the so-called “Planet Zero” (Because apparently, “Negative Zone” ,as it’s known in the comics, is too silly of a name for a movie where the main villain is called “Victor von Fucking Doom”) goes horribly wrong, the kids gain superhuman abilities. Reed gains the ability to stretch his body parts to abnormal lengths (Get your mind out of the gutter) Ben gets turned into a giant, supernaturally strong rock monster, Johnny gains the ability to set himself on fire and fly at will with no repercussions, Sue can turn invisible and use force fields and Victor von Bad Guy fucks off to the other dimension, goes insane, develops a power set vaguer than the Scarlet Witch, and decides to destroy the world, because whoever was rewriting this movie for the tenth time forgot to add a climax, and just picked the stock villain goal, regardless of whether it’s in the character’s nature or not.
And then, the good guys are spirited off to a secret government facility known as Area 57 (Because they couldn’t get the film rights to Area 51, apparently) where the government tries to weaponize them, because the Evil Government is Evil.
I can already feel the hatred flowing through me. God that feels good.
To say that Fantastic Four (Or if you’re lobotomized, Fant4stic) had a troubled production would be stating the obvious, at this point. At this point, those of us who tried to remain optimistic were hoping that it would be another case of persevering through adversity, Star Wars and Jaws style.
Well…. That shows what I fucking get for looking on the bright side. It’s all Nietzsche and self-hatred from here on out.
One controversial decision was the casting of Michael B. Jordan, a black man, as Johnny Storm, who is traditionally depicted as being a white man. I want to make myself abundantly clear about this: If you give the slightest shit about the Human Torch being black, you are likely racist, and I want you to leave. And if your retort to that is to point out the fact that I wouldn’t want Black Panther being played by a white man, then I strongly suggest euthanasia to avoid contaminating the gene pool further with your stupidity.
Michael B. Jordan isn’t the problem. None of the actors are. Every part is perfectly cast by greatly talented people, and they bring all they possibly can to this movie. In a parallel universe, we would have a FF movie that isn’t apparently being made by brain-damaged chimps with stump hands locked in a room with semi-functional typewriters. In that world, this cast is now being showered with praise instead of, well, I shudder to think of what horrible things are being said about the actors by overly emotional fanboys.
All these supremely talented performers can’t save this movie from the aforementioned chimps with stump hands, though. Here’s an example of the stellar (Paraphrased) dialogue you can find in Fant4stic (Fuck, now I’m doing it):
Victor von Bad enough dude to save the president: “Do you think that maybe the Earth really deserved to be saved? People are kind of the worst. That’s a conclusion I came to in my nonexistent character development!”
Susan: “Check out Dr. Doom over here!”
I don’t know about you, but I smell an Oscar!
In addition to the piss-poor dialogue and the lack of any character development whatsoever, the characters are bland and nondescript, with the screenwriters reducing their personalities to the faintest possible resemblance of their counterparts from the comics. Reed’s personality? “Smart guy”. Ben’s? “Sad, strong guy.” Johnny? “Angry guy.” Sue? “Girl.”Victor Von Holy shit some names should stay in the Sixties? Well… Let’s go ahead and talk about this bleached asshole of a villain.
If somebody could please tell me how this snivelling emo loser who suddenly decides to destroy the world (For… Reasons) is supposed to be the pondering, dictatorial badass from the comics, that would be much appreciated.
While you’re at it, can somebody please tell me how this look is supposed to be equal to the comics in terms of awesomeness?
Dr. Doom isn’t the only thing that looks like shit. The visual effects are worse than any blockbuster movie of this day and age have any right to be. There’s one scene where Reed and Ben teleport a toy plane, and the ensuing flash looks like something made via Windows XP effect.
There were some complaints about the look of Ben Grimm after his new look was revealed as well, but I actually rather liked it. No one depiction of the thing is going to please everybody, but at least this time, he’s not just a guy in a rubber suit. There are definitely worse character designs out there.
Even if those issues weren’t monumental, which they are, the movie would still be tanked by the fact that it’s a poorly edited, uneven backloaded mess. They should make this movie required viewing at film schools as an example of what to avoid at all costs when editing film. 20th Century Fox’s last-ditch efforts to salvage the mess Trank made and/or micromanage Trank to the point where he allegedly just gave up doesn’t pay off because the movie ambles along at a painfully slow pace, devoting it’s time to clunky character development and the occasional shitty joke. Then, in the last ten minutes or so, the filmmakers realize that “Oh shit! We totally forgot about the climax!” so they bring in Dr. Doom with next to no explanation, and we’re treated to a fight so overblown and lethargic that the audience just does not care anymore. And neither do the actors, for that matter. Reshoots probably don’t do much for your enthusiasm for working on a project.
Also, why do they not need they not need a special suit to survive in the Negative Zone (I’m not calling it fucking Planet Zero) during the climax, but earlier in the movie, they clearly need those suits to survive? And why do I expect logical thinking from the same people who think that Miles Teller and Jamie Bell look like high schoolers.
Overall: Even if it is the worst superhero movie since Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, at least Fant4stic has inspired me to write my own FF screenplay, if only because I’m one hundred percent certain that it wouldn’t end up as badly as this one.
Before Age of Ultron, I had to do four major exams and a French oral presentation. That made May 1st one of those days that was simultaneously the best and worst day ever.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: Joss Whedon
Based on: The Avengers by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany
Music by: Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman
Plot: The Avengers; Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, have been at their superheroing ways for a while now, fighting evil wherever it may rear its ugly head. However, after a somewhat traumatic mission in the fictional Eastern European nation of Sokovia or whatever (Where the official language is apparently heavily accented English),Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) decides that what the world needs is not the Avengers, but a super-powerful artificial intelligence whose goal is to achieve world peace by any means necessary. This is a wholly original concept that has never been attempted before in fiction, right?
Stark and Dr. Banner (Mark Ruffalo) accidentally create an A.I. named Ultron (James Spader) who, as anybody with half a brain could predict, is overwhelmed with a god complex, concluding that, since humans are the ones screwing up the world, the only way to ensure world peace is to destroy all humans, particularly the Avengers. Not exactly taking his kindly, the Avengers set out to defeat Ultron, but find themselves contending with divisions within the team, two mysterious twins working with Ultron, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) and the mysterious android named the Vision (Paul Bettany).
If that sounds like a lot of stuff going on, it’s because it kind of is. It’s become a growing trend among superhero movies lately to really up the amount of complicated subplots. I guess it makes sense that an extended universe would have more complicated storylines. You can’t merely have Superman saving Lois Lane anymore, you must have Captain America destroying HYDRA, have that tie in with a damn TV show, and have THAT tie into a movie that stars Vin Diesel as a fucking talking tree.
While I wouldn’t go so far as saying that you needed to have watched the other Marvel movies in order to understand this one, there are still some issues to be found in Age of Ultron. Joss Whedon has said that there is one hour of footage that had to be cut in order to get the movie down to a manageable length, and I commend him for that, because who wants to see a three and a half hour long superhero movie?
That said, during the second act, the movie starts feeling a bit rushed, trying to squeeze in development and plot points that kind of come out of nowhere. There’s an entire sequence involving Thor that tries to serve as both an advancement of the plot and a setup for Thor: Ragnarok (Get hyped for that November 3, 2017 release date!!!) and… It doesn’t work. There’s just not enough explained. I understand part of the conclusion that Thor comes to during the subplot, but I’ll be damned if I know what happened up until that point. Something about Asgard, Stellan Skarsgard, Chris Hemsworth shirtless in a pool of water, whatever. Until the extended edition comes our on Blu-Ray (Please???), I can’t really give this movie points for flawlessly cohesive storytelling.
Also, while I’ll get into Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch a little later, their accents didn’t do it for me at all. Who knows though, maybe the official language of Sokovia is English spoken with a cartoonish Russian accent? Fuck if I know.
I’m done dicking around, though. What did I think of Age of Ultron as a whole?
I fucking love it.
I know, I know, I’m predictable, but this movie…. It’s just so cool, you guys.
Yes, in terms of story, it’s not the most narratively well done, and the “Evil A.I” has been done to death, but if you’re really bothered by that when watching… You were probably too far gone to enjoy the movie in the first place.
While the action is great, as one would expect from most summer blockbusters nowadays, and the CGI is on point (… Save for some moments in the opening action sequence), this movie, even more than the first Avengers, lives and dies on its larger than-life characters and personalities.
Some people assumed from the trailers that Age of Ultron was going to be yet another goddamn “dark and gritty” superhero movie, and while it does have some heavy moments, its not a dark movie. Like, at all. It has more or less the same tone and atmosphere as the first one, just with, you know, a threatening villain.
Again, thanks to the trailer, many people assumed that Ultron would be the most threatening villain in the MCU to date, based on his menacing appearance and penchant for monologuing. Once again, that’s kind of misleading. While Ultron is really cool, and James Spader is downright fantastic, he was also, completely unexpectedly, really damn funny in an appropriately twisted, dark way, which makes sense, when you consider that he was created by Tony Stark. In addition to that, he’s not entirely a creature of logic, he could be seen as a child with a very black-and-white view of morality. That’s a pretty good way to distinguish him from the humorless “Evil A.I.” archetype that fiction has beaten to death at this point.
What I’m most impressed with, though, is what they did with the main characters. Actually, scratch that, Captain America, Thor and Iron Man are just as awesome and well-written as they were before, but the secondary Avengers, for lack of a better term, get a whole hell of a lot more interesting. Hulk and Black Widow have a relationship that some people are calling forced, but I think it helps develop their character arcs a little more. especially since we haven’t had a solo Hulk movie for a while, and fans are still holding out for the Black Widow solo movie that is growing more and more unlikely by the minute.
There was definitely a more PC way to phrase that caption, but my point still stands.
The surprising one for me (And a whole lot of other people) was Hawkeye, who was pretty much nondescript in the first movie, was my favourite character in this movie. Without getting spoiler-y… He’s a scene stealer. Hawkeye is a scene stealer. God, this movie is bizarre.
Lastly, the new characters are, big surprise, pretty damn great. The Vision, without spoiling any details, is fucking awesome, and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are also good. While I wouldn’t say that this Quicksilver is as entertaining as the one in Days of Future Past, but this one has a pretty enjoyable personality that Aaron Taylor-Johnson has a lot of fun with. (Fun fact: Taylor-Johnson was the star of Kick-Ass, while Evan Peters, who played Quicksilver in Days of Future Past, played Taylor-Johnson’s friend in Kick-Ass. Full circle, or whatever.
Also, I have a crush on Elizabeth Olsen. I didn’t know that before today.
Overall: Age of Ultron delivers as a summer blockbuster on every sustainable level, being almost as good as the first movie. Shame the mid-credits scene sucks balls.
“My life isn’t any less real than yours, but knowing that I exist solely for your amusement will be an endless source of depression.”
-Wade Wilson/Deadpool, Deadpool #45
Okay, so I’m in the middle of watching all these goddamn comic book movies, and I’m still going to review them all, but there are just a ton of these films, and I only have so much time. So, in the interest of actually getting my opinion on these movies out before May 1, I’ve decided to review any movies from the same series in one post. Reboots will usually constitute their own entry (For example, the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies will have a separate entry from the Marc Webb movies).
Is this a cop-out? Absolutely.
However, even though all the Punisher movies are technically reboots, I’m still going to do an all-in one review. If you’ve seen these movies, you would know why I would want to dedicate as little time to these movies as possible.
That may actually be a little bit harsh. While these films aren’t exactly high art, they’re not as awful as some people say they are. None of them are good, don’t get me wrong, but none of them are atrocious, either. It’s just that I don’t think that the character of the Punisher lends himself particularly well to movies.
But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Who is this “Punisher” schmuck, anyways? Well, in the early 70’s, the famously campy, albeit influential Silver Age of Comics was coming to an abrupt end, with Gwen Stacy’s death in Amazing Spider-Man #121 (31-year old Spoiler alert.). Marvel Comics was starting to veer towards darker, more adult storylines and one of the results of this slight change in direction was a character named the Punisher making his debut in Amazing Spider-Man #129 (February 1974).
The Punisher’s real name is Frank Castle (Born Castiglione, but changed, because god forbid a superhero be Italian, or anything). Comic backstories are prone to frequent alterations, but Castle has more or less remained constant throughout the lore. Long story short, he was a war veteran who was in Central Park, enjoying a beautiful summer day with his wife and children when a turf war between two crime syndicates broke out and, in the crossfire, his family is gunned down.
Frank finds that hobbies are a good way to keep his mind preoccupied. However, instead of, say, stamp collecting, he decides to engage in the slightly less popular hobby of engaging in a one-man war against crime. Unafraid to torture, maim and frequently kill his victims without hesitation, his uncompromisingly black and white worldview was somewhat unusual for his time, and the character grew in popularity, appearing alongside, and frequently in conflict with, Spider-Man, Daredevil and Captain America. Eventually, he got his own ongoing solo comic, and he’s considered a mainstay of the Marvel Universe.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the Punisher, per se, but he’s a pretty cool character, if not a particularly interesting one. Why this guy warranted three movies (Two of them reboots) is beyond me, but I’m not here to speculate, I’m here to annihilate (I’m both disgusted and feeling extremely self-congratulatory about that rhyme). So, what are the movies like?
Well, they’re all very much products of their respective times. For example, the first Punisher movie (The second film based on a Marvel comic) was released in 1989 and starred Dolph Lundgren, and it was very much like any other 80’s action movie starring Dolph Lundgren. It’s cheesy, it’s over the top (Albeit in a very gritty, brooding way) and the story takes a backseat to the action, and to Dolph Lundgren looking cool riding a motorcycle whilst dressed all in black.
This isn’t a bad thing at all, if you’re into that sort of deal. I was born in ’96 so, uh, I’m not so much. That doesn’t mean I hate this movie, though, I just don’t see a lot of value to it.
Dolph Lundgren doesn’t contribute anything to the character aside from, again, looking cool dressed in black and shooting mobsters. As an action star, sure, he’s fine, but other than that, he’s pretty nondescript.
In fact, this whole movie is pretty nondescript, aside from a couple things. Specifically, Louis Gossett Jr’s solid performance as Punisher’s ex-partner, and Barry Otto as Punisher’s homeless sidekick, which is the most annoying thing I’ve seen since Tim Robbins in Howard the Duck.
Also, the main villain in this movie is a Yakuza boss played by Kim Miyori and she’s alright in the role, I guess, but the movie really leans on the whole “Japanese” aspect of her character. Seriously, during the climax of the movie, there’s an entire scene where she dresses up like a geisha and does a dance. Uh…Okay… What was the point of that?
Dolph Lundgren also has a couple of almost-nude scenes, so, uh, take that how you will.
Also, no skull logo? Fucking bullshit.
Punisher’s second attempt at movie fame and fortune had to wait for fifteen years, when The Punisher was released in 2004, was directed by Jonathan Hensleigh, starred Thomas Jane as the titular character, and John Travolta as the main villain. It’s the only origin story of the three movies, and is also the least violent.
It’s also, weirdly enough, my favourite of the three movies, but. again, that doesn’t necessarily make it a good movie. As adverse as I am to the term “guilty pleasure”, this movie is pretty much the exact definition of that.
To this movie’s credit, the portrayal of the Punisher is much improved over Lundgren’s. Tom Jane may not be as well known, but he’s generally seen as one of the few positives of this movie. He was even well received by the fanboys, reprising the role in the great 2012 Adi Shankar-produced fan film known as The Punisher: Dirty Laundry. Out of all the Punishers, he’s probably the best, and is the most interesting part of this movie. But, therein lies the main problem of The Punisher. Too much of the film is focused on boring, unfocused characters like John Travolta and his family.
My god, are these villains fucking boring. If Travolta had gone super over-the-top, it might have salvaged the mob-centric moments, but no, he phones it in, and the rest of his underlings are bland, generic mob villains.
While that does take away from the movie to an unacceptable extent, it can only do so much to diminish the awesomeness of lines like these:
Candelaria: Vaya con Dios, Castle. Go with God.
Punisher: God’s going to sit this one out.
Punisher: Those who do evil o others- the killers, therapists, psychos, sadists- you will come to know me well.
Punisher: I have work to do. Read your newspaper every day and you’ll understand.
Rebeccar Romijn: Which section?
Punisher: The obituaries.
Goddammit, I could predict all of these lines halfway through, and they’re still fucking awesome!!!
Going back to my point of these movies being products of their times, if you’ve ever seen early 2000’s superhero movies, there was a trend to make them more serious, in order to show that comic book movies could be taken seriously. Sometimes it worked (X-Men, Blade) and sometimes, it was pretty fucking bad (Daredevil, Hulk). Punisher definitely leans towards the latter, but it’s not leaning that way horribly enough to ruin the movie.
Punisher: War Zone, on the other hand.
If the brutal violence of Sin City had a drunken hookup with the colour palette from The Matrix, their love child would still be about ten times more pleasant to watch than this movie. I mean, obviously, I don’t give a shit about brutal violence (A picture from Kill Bill is my Twitter profile, fer chrissakes) and dark, dreary environments can add a lot to a movie (See: Every non-Schumacher Batman movie). War Zone takes it waaaaayyyy past the point of enjoyment. People get bumped off left and right, not a smile is cracked throughout the whole movie, and the villains aren’t just violently over the top or appealingly psychotic- they’re fucking unpleasant and depressing.
And yeah, I get it, a Punisher movie isn’t going to be all sunshine and blowjobs, but this definitely wasn’t the way to go. I’m sorry to say so, but if, in order to make a movie faithful to the source material, you have to make the movie a fucking drag of an experience, then guess what? You don’t make the fucking movie!!!! I really shouldn’t have to say this, but just because a movie is dark, does not make the movie any better.
War Zone isn’t all bad, though. I really like Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle, and the action scenes are very, very well done. Other than that… Shit, I dunno, one of the guys from Arrow is here, he’s pretty good.
Overall: They’re all guilty pleasure movies, at best, but aside from the last one, they’re not awful, and you could do a lot worse. However, as we’ll learn next time, you could also do a hell of a lot better.
The Punisher (1989): 5/10
The Punisher (2004): 6/10
Punisher: War Zone: 4/10
To kick off Mighty Marvel Movie Month, I watched the very first movie based off a Marvel Comics character. However, unlike DC, who released the rights to their A-list characters to respected filmmakers right off the bat, Marvel handed over character rights to a respected filmmaker (George Lucas), but the character itself was a bizarre choice: An anthropomorphic, cigar-smoking, ill-tempered duck named, well, Howard the Duck.
For those of you who don’t know, Howard the Duck made his comic book debut in Adventure Into Fear #19 (December 1973) and became something of a cult character thanks to his strange, existentialist sense of humour, appearing semi-regularly until finally getting his own series, and (Thanks in part to the movie) eventually fading back into obscurity until his cameo appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Having admittedly been born after the character’s heyday, I’ve never personally been a huge fan of this fucking weird character. If I wanted to read about a combination of Daffy Duck and Sartre, I would… Probably be too far gone at that point. Whatever, give me Spider-Man or Deadpool any day. Absurdism can bite me.
Around the height of Howard’s popularity, George Lucas, in between writing jobs in The Temple of Doom and Willow , decided to try to adapt him to the big screen, as this was a point in time when George still cared about storytelling. So, he got his American Graffiti co-writer to direct, and casted some good, young talent to star, including Tim Robbins and Lea Thompson. The movie opened on August 1, 1986 and, long story short, bombed at the box office and is considered one of the worst films ever made. And yeah, it’s pretty fucking bad, you guys.
So, what’s the plot? Well, unbeknownst to humanity, there exists a parallel universe known as Duckworld, in which anthropomorphic ducks are the dominant species. In this world, there lives a washed-up wiseass named Howard (Voiced by Chip Zien). If you thought that Jar-Jar Binks was the most annoying thing George Lucas has ever put to screen well, you’d still be right, but Howard the Duck is up there.
Anyways, out of goddamn nowhere, a portal opens up and Howard is flung out of Duckworld and into our world. Cleveland, specifically. More specifically, the 80’s.
In Cleveland, he meets an aspiring rock star (Lea Thompson), the oh-so appealing and not at all bone-crushingly stupid love interest, who is the third most annoying character, after Howard and a pre-Shawshank Redemption Tim Robbins, who is the “Jar-Jar Binks” of this movie. A movie that has a fucking talking duck has someone even more annoying than said talking duck. Let that thought sink in, why don’t you?
George Lucas didn’t write this script (Shocking, I know), but honestly? I think the movie would’ve been much better off if he had hijacked it like he did the Star Wars prequels.
You heard me. I would’ve preferred the writer who wrote Anakin and Padme’s god awful romance. I feel unclean just typing that.
This entire movie’s dialogue is just about completely comprised of in-jokes, eye-rollingly bad innuendo, and all the duck-related puns you could ever want, and then some. I almost would’ve rather the writers had just written an existentialist movie, like the comic book, if only because I love me some absurdist philosophy, but I guess that wouldn’t have made that much money, and it’s not like this movie bombed at the box office or anything.
On top of being irritating as all get out, Howard doesn’t look very good. I’ll give this movie some credit, though. At least it didn’t go the Smurfs route of having a CGI character in a live-action world. That said, even if they had gone that lazy, lazy route, it probably could’ve turned out better than this monstrosity.
There isn’t a good performance to be found among the human actors, although I think they could be forgiven for not caring. Lea Thompson sucks, although I think anybody would suck if they were asked to read lines like “This is Earth, I think.” Tim Robbins was… Just, so fucking weird, man. Thank god things worked out for him.
Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller’s principal) is the antagonist, and he’s terrible as well. Although, it could just be that I don’t think that Jeffrey Jones could ever play a character creepier than Jeffrey Jones already is.
The only way that this movie could’ve ended up enjoyable is if it had just decided to revel in its own unapologetic campy strangeness, and to an extent, it tries to do just that, but, damn, in terms of visuals, this movie is pretty dreary! For such an idiotic movie, it’s very dark (Visually, not in terms of content) and very unpleasant (In terms of imagery). You’re more likely to be disturbed than amused, honestly, and for a movie in which a talking duck has an electric guitar solo, the more disturbing scenes really don’t fit.
Apparently, this movie has picked up a tiny cult following, and that completely baffles me. It’s not, say, Batman & Robin bad, and I wouldn’t even place it in the twenty worst movies I’ve ever seen. Shit, I’ll even admit to chuckling at a couple of the less atrocious lines (And some of the more atrocious ones, if only out of sheer exasperation). On the whole, though, it’s just god awful, and I came out of this experience a worse person because of it.
Overall: What could I possibly say about Howard the Duck that hasn’t already been said a million times? Don’t subject yourselves to it, you guys.