Showing posts with label Marvel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marvel. Show all posts

Friday, April 15, 2016

Marvel Watch: Daredevil Season 2



If you think my movie watching has slowed to a trickle, you'd be right.  We're still neck deep in TV and baseball right now.  I haven't even watched my BluRay of The Force Awakens quite yet, but I did lose all of last night watching the disk of bonus material (totally great, btw).

We also blitzed our way through Daredevil Season 2, or as close to a blitz as you're going to get out of us.  We basically finished the series in about 2.5 weeks, which is really fast for us, even for a 13-episode series.

Last night's post should give you an idea of the regard in which I hold the source material of Daredevil comics produced by Frank Miller in the early 1980's.  But, to be truthful, I haven't read them in over a decade.  That's all right.  The show only references them loosely, doing what Marvel has done so well so often over the past decade: keeping the origins largely intact, remembering who the characters are at their core (and not in the squishy "well, which canon?  who are you to say this isn't Superman?" way DC has done), and boiling down stories to work better in the medium in which they're appearing.

Daredevil Season 1 carried the burden of the origin and establishing their corner of New York not just for Daredevil, but - as it turned out - for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.  In all honesty, I thought both Daredevil Season 1 and Jessica Jones Season 1 could have been tighter.  They seemed to be 8 or 9 episode shows spread out over 13, and that meant a lot of filler.

I think those of us who watched Daredevil S2 can agree, if this season had an issue, it wasn't that not that we were hoping it'd pick up the pace a bit.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Deadpool Watch: Deadpool (2016)


This movie came out some time ago and everyone else has already seen it.  So, what to say?

I guess I really, really can't believe this movie got made at all.  It's kind of a shock to know Fox was willing to go this bananas not just with a superhero movie, but a feature film in general.  The past few years, really since Guardians of the Galaxy was a hit, I've been feeling pretty good about the uptick in exploring diversity of content under the Marvel and DC banners.  Part of why I've not bought the idea of "superhero fatigue" is, well, absolutely gigantic box office when most of these movies arrive, but because all of us longtime comics readers know that the comics themselves are no two alike, on a good day.  There's a reason DC and Marvel each own stables of thousands of characters and it's not just because the artists like drawing different suits.

We're now well past the point of me going to see "superhero" movies about characters I've never really read, and seeing pics of Bumbershoot Scratchnsniff dressed up as Dr. Strange online this weekend will get me right back to the theater to check out that dude.

To be honest, I've always thought of Deadpool from the comics as one of those things that people tell me is funny, but when I look at it, it felt like a collection of tired jokes Gen-X'ers told each other (Ha!  Bea Arthur!  HA!), and some lightweight racism (the word is "chimichanga"!  Ha ha ha!  Sigh.) increasingly mixed in with internet memes and pop culture references.  It was like a less surreal Ambush Bug.*  I got that some folks liked it, and that's great!  It's terrific to see a mix of comedy and action working that consistently.  And, I suspect, this sort of thing would have been hilarious to me as a 20-year-old dude.

So, I hadn't planned to see the movie, but about a week after it came out, The Admiral and I were pouring some wine (he's had a lot of practice at it at this point), and he says to me, "Have you seen this movie Deadpool?"
And I said, oh so cautiously, "Ah.  You know.  Not yet."
He looked around and then said "I took myself to see it on Wednesday.  That movie is hilarious."

So, if The Admiral liked it, how bad could it be?  I mean, the man won't let you drop the f-bomb in his actual presence, but up on the screen, everything's fair game, and he does have a ridiculously good sense of humor, so, we checked it out.

I dunno.  I found it really fun.  It was kind of what I needed this weekend.  It's a big, splatterfest R-Rated murder revenge picture, and it's not like I don't have a place in my heart for those sorts of movies from time to time.  And it is genuinely funny.  Someone finally wrote a movie that fits Ryan Reynolds' snappy delivery and jittery-kid antics, threw a CGI mask over his face, gave him Colossus as a straight man, and I basically had no complaints.

Well done, makers of Deadpool.  And god bless ya for hiring Gina Carano.  I don't know who she was supposed to be, but that was fun.



*Keith Giffen's 1980's wise-cracking, 4th-wall breaking character who was a thorn in the side of the DCU, but who never had, really, an ounce of popularity

Friday, March 11, 2016

Captain America III Trailer, Just Because



Of course I'm excited about Captain America: Civil War.  It's a new Marvel movie, so I'll go see it.  Plus, it's a Captain America movie, which means I'll see it opening weekend.  Plus, it has The Falcon, Black Panther, Black Widow, Iron Man, War Machine and more.  So, I'm seeing it opening day at 7:30.  Tickets are secured.

I was not, of course, a fan of the actual Marvel Civil War comics, and I am concerned I'd have the same issues with this movie.  If Marvel wants to pretend it has any attachment to the real world, yes:  superheroes kinda sorta seem like they need to be regulated folks under the supervision of some sort of legal authority.  Otherwise, it's "person with an agenda and a mask on the street with lethal force at their disposal".  What made the Marvel Civil War comics all the more ridiculous was that Cap, who was a working government agent with no secret ID at the time of the series' release came down on the side of anarchic superheroes avoiding legal repercussion.

We live in a country of laws, sir.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Marvel Watch: Agent Carter - Season 2



Tuesday evening saw the conclusion of Season 2 of Marvel's Agent Carter, a short-run ABC television program.  ABC is, of course, a Disney company, and Marvel is also owned by Disney.

The show is a spin-off from the Captain America movies and a lodestone pointing to the mid-20th Century origins of the Marvel comic characters and the fictional origins of the doings of the Marvel Universe films.  If you're not keeping up (and both ratings and anecdotal evidence suggests you're not), Agent Carter follows the post-WWII, post-Captain America: The First Avenger doings of Special Agent Peggy Carter of the Strategic Science Reserve - the forebear of SHIELD.

You may remember Peggy as the uniformed sidekick to Tommy Lee Jones as Steve Rogers transformed into Captain America, who stayed on the radio with him as he piloted the Red Skull's plane into the Arctic.  Yes, yes, I was quite smitten with Agent Carter back during the first go-round, and I was a bit disappointed that - as we then jumped to the 21st Century, that was the last we were going to see of Peggy.  The film had written Peggy as pointing a new way forward for female characters in Marvel movies, and, Peggy was based on a character from the comics, who - in turn - reflected the sort of bad-assery women were displaying in all sorts of very, very real covert and resistance-fighting roles during WWII.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Marvel Television: Jessica Jones and the New Era for Marvel



I'm about two months behind everyone else finishing the Marvel Netflix series Jessica Jones, a spiritual sibling of the much celebrated Daredevil, and as far from the TV-logic and twee shenanigans of Agents of SHIELD as you're likely to get.

I'm going to throw this out there, and I'll ask you to stick with me:  Jessica Jones may be, to live-action superhero media, what Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were to comics in 1986.

Way back in the late-90's/ early-00's, I was reading a lot of this new kid, Brian Michael Bendis, who had some indie success with Goldfish, Torso and other gritty crime books (and Torso is still an amazing read, the based-on-real-events story of famed lawman Elliot Ness trying to find a serial killer in Cleveland after putting Capone behind bars).  He followed this by teaming with Oeming on Powers, a "cops in a world with capes"  comic with a decidedly Rated-R bent, and I followed that series for years.  Around 2001/2002, Bendis and Gaydos brought Alias to Marvel and minted their new MAX imprint - a line of comics with a hard "R" rating, but absolutely within the Marvel Universe.  Something even DC blanched at, separating Vertigo from DCU proper circa 1994.

This was about fifteen years after the atom-bomb of Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns exploded in the comics world and, in the aftermath, the idea that comics could reach an adult audience was left behind in the radiation and sand burnt to glass.  Bendis was part of the generation who came into the field when a few things were happening.  (A) Reaching an audience older than 17 was now possible - which meant the very real-world problems facing actual humans could be discussed in comics, even with a superheroic bent, which (B) meant that the comics companies were setting up imprints to deal with this idea, keeping their mainline branding safe for the parents associations who would show up and breathe fire and throw comics retailers in jail from time-to-time for not carefully shelving their wares.  And, of course, (C) Marvel was dealing with bankruptcy.  I have very little positive to say about 2001-era Marvel honcho Bill Jemas, but he was certainly willing to try new things, and all of that risk-taking has indirectly led to the Marvel we think of today.

Alias showed up in this market as a sort of indie-within-the-Big-2 title.  It was something to see a character who smoked and drank and had sex with Luke Cage (which she does in the first few pages of the series - so I feel spoiler free), and met Carol Danvers for coffee.  It was a detective series.  There was something in her background we'd get to sooner or later, some dark reason she'd quit heroing, but at the outset, it seemed to just be a series about a failed superhero making ends meet and seeing real human foibles and crime in the underbelly of the Marvel U.

So... the TV show.

Friday, December 11, 2015

25 Days of Super Christmas - Day 11


And, lo, there was yet another X-Men film. Hopefully not one too disappointing.



I believe I'm now legally obligated to see this movie.  I'm not even sure I'm happy it exists, but I suppose I'll be catching a matinee at some point.

I kind of feel the way about X-Men movies the way I do about X-Men comics.  It's how I got into comics, but I kind of lost interest at some point, but I'd be sad if they went away.  Also, too much Wolverine.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Marvel Floats in the Thanksgiving Day Parade from Back in the 1980's

From 1987



From 1989



The kids will never understand that this felt like gigantic exposure for these characters at the time.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

First two episodes of "Marvel's Jessica Jones"



Here is where I don my comic hipster cap and harken back to the days when I was picking up Brian Michael Bendis' Alias during its initial run.  Yeah, yeah.  I was reading Alias before reading Alias was cool.*

You have to keep in mind, and the kids will never believe this, but Bendis did not arrive on this Earth fully formed as a successful writer of Avengers and X-Men.  He started in indie comics (if you're never read Torso and Goldfish, correct that situation), with a particularly noirish/ crime-ridden bent to his work, which was how I picked it up.  It's good stuff.

Marvel was in a really weird spot when he showed up.  The Spider-Clone debacle,  merging with an action figure company and, basically, the 90's had nearly done the entire company in.  At the time, they were a publicly traded company, and their stock totally, totally tanked.  It was ridiculous.  For all the warm fuzzies the kids have about that 1992-style X-Men of Many Pockets, that shit almost killed Marvel the first time around under the stewardship of Bob Harras, currently steward of DC Comics (hey, DC, how are sales over there, pals?).

So, by the turn of the Millennium, new leadership was installed and Marvel was trying all sorts of stuff, including not-quite-Vertigo type titles under the Knights (basically PG-13) and Max (basically R-rated) banners.

Friday, August 28, 2015

More Happy Birthday to Jack Kirby - Marvelous Marvel

A friendly reminder that in honor of Jack Kirby's birthday, you can donate today to the Heroes Initiative, an organization that helps freelance comics folk with financial support in times of need.

Click here to donate and see what else is going on today thanks to the Kirby4Heroes Campaign.

So, Jack Kirby more or less made up about 90% of the Marvel Universe that anyone cares about.  He didn't do Spider-Man and had limited contributions to Iron Man, but he drew up a whole lot else.

Way back before World War 2 and his own enlistment, Kirby went ahead and made-up a superhero to throw a punch at Hitler as a proxy for the slug Jack would have gladly thrown himself.




Sunday, July 19, 2015

Marvel Watch: Ant-Man (2015)


I was never skeptical of an Ant-Man movie.  For folks who have long followed my ramblings, you know I have a very simple rule for why I'll give anything a go when it comes to sci-fi and superheroes:  there is no such thing as a bad idea, only bad execution.  Frankly, when people were predicting doom for Guardians of the Galaxy because (oh my goodness!) it wasn't a known quantity!  and it had a raccoon and tree-man! I was left scratching my head and saying: well, those aren't actually problems for a movie.   Those are just new or odd things.

Re: Ant-Man comics:  I have a pretty huge gap in my comics' knowledge regarding Hank Pym as Ant-Man from the classic Marvel U, and I was just left confused by Mark Millar's take on Pym in The Ultimates, that I sort of believe has taken Pym off the playing board for Marvel forever.  I'm totally unfamiliar with anything about Scott Lang other than that - he exists in the comics, I guess?  It seems like I saw him in a Marvel role-playing game supplement.  At some point I read one issue of something called Irredeemable Ant-Man, which didn't really work for me.

So, there you go.  I basically can't tell you anything about Ant-Man as a comics figure beyond the period in the 1980's when Hank Pym was adventuring with no mask and just growing and shrinking things and using the heroic name "Hank Pym" as part of West Coast Avengers.  But check in with me if you have questions about Super Turtle.  I have wisdom.

As per the movie?

Monday, July 6, 2015

TL;DR: Finally Reading Marvel's "Infinity", event comics and the DC-ification of the Marvel Universe

It took me a really long time to make it through Marvel's Infinity collection of Avengers stories.  There was no "Trade 2" of New Avengers, so in order to keep up, I had to buy a huge, expensive trade with a mix of Avengers comics that I wasn't reading.

Back in Arizona, I remember seeing the recipe for a "Kool-Aid Pie" and, more or less based on the name, I went ahead and decided I must try it out.

I hadn't ever done much baking, or made a pie, but I bought the ingredients, all of which looked like ingredients I should probably have for a pie.  A crust. Sugar.  Dehydrated milk, I think.  Then I got out the mixer and whatnot, and maybe 1/3rd of the way through the process of making the pie, I re-read the recipe and realized - "oh, I'm just whipping up sugar and Kool-Aid and putting it in a pie-crust".  It was literally an inedible pie.  It would have looked neat and cool sitting there all purple, but there was nothing really there.  No pie in my pie, just- purpleish whipped sugar.  Not even the basics of an actual pie, just something you would throw in a movie, I guess.

That's kind of Marvel's Infinity.  It seems like it should be a story.  It seems like it's going somewhere, but it was sort of a hand-waving illusion to get you to next, more expensive event, and all of this was some laborious and unnecessary Kool-Aid pie.

oh, yeeeeaahhhhhhh....!!!!


To be blunt -

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Cap Watch: Captain America (1990)

Some time in 1989, with the success of Tim Burton's Batman now making the idea of superhero movies an attractive financial reality, I remember walking out of a movie and into the lobby of a local theater here in sunny Austin, Texas (Great Hills 8 then, The Arbor 8 now), and seeing the poster below:


While I was aware this was Marvel running to catch up with their own non-flying, non-laser slinging superhero, I was also pretty jazzed.  Captain America seemed pretty attainable as far as superheroes went.  I had vague memories of the 1979 movies, I'd been reading a little Cap here and there, and I really wanted to see someone smack bad guys with that shield.

Then, Spring and summer 1990 came and went, and no Cap movie materialized.  I was a bit of a showbiz follower, and I knew what it meant when a movie was delayed or shelved (it rarely meant they were holding onto the movie because they just forgot to release it).

Flash-forward to on evening after June 2002.  I had moved to Phoenix and was already up a little late,when the TV told me they were going to air the 1990 Captain America movie.  Rather than just set the DVR and go to bed, I sat up with the movie until the bitter end.

The film was grainy and desaturated, and I remember that slow sinking feeling of despair setting in that was once so common when it came to portrayals of superheroes on TV or in movies.

Honestly, if you didn't try to watch everything with a superhero in it prior to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man and Singer's X-Men, you will never really understand what it was like to be grateful for anything with a superhero in it somewhere outside of comics.  And if you came into superheroes with the Avengers movies, you are living in a very magical time, indeed.

Because for a long time, it seemed like a point of pride for movie makers to take the source material of a comic book superhero and obliterate it in favor of whatever the director felt like doing.  Sometimes this worked - and both the Burton and Nolan Batman movies work as movies even if they're not exactly Dark Knight Detective movies.  Prior to that, I'll admit that Superman had completely ignored much of the comics in favor of doing their own thing, but they did keep core elements in place enough that they managed to make the movie clearly a Superman flick.  Even Wonder Woman, which you guys know I think is the bees knees, rarely featured super-bad-guys and never any of her established villains.  It just hung tight to being a good show with a solid lead character.  And, it's safe to say, Lynda Carter and Christopher Reeve's takes on the characters wound up deeply impacting the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DCU.