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

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.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cap Watch: Captain America II - Death Too Soon!

This evening we took in the second, not lesser, but - indeed - final installment of the TV movie exploration of Marvel's Sentinel of Liberty, Captain America in Captain America II: Death Too Soon (1979).

The movie is perhaps even more of a curiosity than the prior attempt, but it's worth noting that Wonder Woman - which we sort of think of as fully formed, first aired as a TV movie with tennis-pro Cathy Lee Crosby as a jump-suited, blonde Wonder Woman prior to the decision to try another TV movie pilot with Lynda Carter, which led into the series (which had to switch networks and decades before the 1977 season, just to make life more complicated).

Things were a little different back when you had to actually be home to watch TV when it aired, and once it was gone, it was gone.

Cap DOES NOT let thugs take money from sweet old ladies.  No, really.

I genuinely feel this movie is better acted and directed than the origin story, and the plot plods along at a mosey instead of a painful death march.  I'm not saying this even good TV, but I am saying it didn't physically hurt to watch (even if I did end the movie with a migraine halo).

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cap Watch: Captain America (1979)

It's been a long time since I've seen this version of Captain America, but I am pretty sure that this was also my first real exposure to Ol' Wing Head.  What's weird is that I remember knowing who Cap was when I watched the movie, but I don't know why.  I didn't own any Captain America comics until 4th or fifth grade, so I guess I was watching those "throws his mighty shield" cartoons.



If I had to guess, this movie was intended as a bit of a pilot for a Captain America TV show, and the movie didn't get the eyeballs that they were hoping for.  This would have been after Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk were on TV, so there was recent precedent for making super-heroes work on TV in a dramatic context, as well as sci-fi concepts like The Bionic Woman/ Six Million Dollar Man franchises.  But, if I am going to pick nits, the primary difference between those shows and Captain America (1979) is that the Captain America movie is very, very not good.

The sins are many.  It nonsensically overcomplicates Cap's origin, strips it of any WWII-era ties, and goes all in on post-Watergate cynicism regarding patriotism while paradoxically insisting we "cram Captain America down their throats".

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Disney Watch: Big Hero 6

Well, wasn't this a very nice superhero story?



We missed this for whatever reason when it hit theaters.  Kind of wish I hadn't because it looks like they were really thinking in terms of 3D projection that my very 2D television did not replicate.

Well, c'est la vie.

Big Hero 6 is maybe the flipped opposite of what DC has been doing with their heroes, and while I am aware the movie did okay ($222 million domestic is impressive, and a total of $652 million internationally is great) I don't think it slipped into the zeitgeist in quite the way it might have.  But I also don't hang around little kids all that much.  So, parents, correct me.

But this is superheroing for the all-ages set in a very good way.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Marvel Watch: Avengers - Age of Ultron

So... I had the benefit and/or handicap of seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron in its third weekend of release.  As always, a little context:

I was never a big Avengers reader growing up.  I was far more into Uncanny X-Men for my Marvel team book of choice, but I was also not a reader of Thor, Iron Man and most of the rest of the Avengers line up of characters, and only dipped in and out of Captain America, a book I had certain opinions about when it came to tone and what I was interested in reading.  Most of what I know about the Avengers comes from reading Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game supplements and character guides, and via comic dork osmosis.

Thus, I don't have as many conceptual ideas regarding Avengers as I might about lots of other characters, especially from DC Comics.  But Marvel was always better about balancing character and plot, and so the Marvel characters have tended to be fixed points over the years in ways that DC characters so often seemed to struggle.  But if you ask me "what's Wanda Maximoff like?", I can give you a basic idea, and feel fairly confident, even if I only ever owned a dozen or so comics in which Wanda appeared.



The movie has taken it a bit on the chin from clickbait articles and folks looking to weigh in, and I was under the impression this installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was likely to be something endured to make sense of coming MCU movies.

But, you know, I actually liked it better than the first Avengers movie.

Marvel Watch: Captain America - The Winter Soldier (2014)



I'm way past the ability to discuss this movie from a critical standpoint.  Y'all know I'm a fan of the character and concept of Captain America, and with this movie, I felt like Marvel really finally got to the Steve Rogers I dig.  And, you know, people, all I want to see is the shockingly earnest Steve Rogers bounce his mighty shield off the cranium of a HYDRA agent.  And, here, I get that.

We're off to finally see Avengers: Age of Ultron, so Jamie threw this in the BluRay player this evening so we could review, I guess.  Whatever the reason, I am always up for this flick.  Goofy techno-thriller with 70's government paranoia that intentionally or otherwise has some curious parallels to the real world that, holy god, nobody ever seems to notice or talk about, Robert Redford out to remind everyone he gave up on handsomeness some time ago, Jenny Agutter showing up because, hey... who doesn't like Jenny Agutter?*

Let's Finally Talk Marvel's "Daredevil"

I'm not a rabid fan of The Man Without Fear, but on and off over the years, I've enjoyed reading comics about Marvel's foremost punching bag, Daredevil.  Of all of Marvel's staple characters, since the 1980's at least, Daredevil has been like a weird superhero/ noir/ gangland epic soap opera that mostly lost it's way when it veered too far into the rest of Marvel's superheroing and was at it's best when it kept even the costumed heroes and villains a bit more grounded and spent a lot of time with Murdock out of costume.*



If I were to recommend runs, I'd really recommend the Frank Miller era (the man's work just keeps bearing fruit) and the unbelievable Brian Michael Bendis era that had tremendous impact not just on Daredevil - forever changing the character while making him, somehow, even more Dardevil - but on the concept of dual identities in comics.  

So when I saw the initial previews of the Netflix-direct Daredevil show, I was a little shocked to see how much it looked exactly like a mix of Miller, Romita Jr., Mazzucchelli and Klaus Janson's work on the book and the Bendis-era Maleev tones and compositions.  And while Miller's story took place with Daredevil well established in the Marvel U, it certainly harkens back to his work.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Marvel Watch: Avengers (2012)


What are you going to say about Avengers three years later and with 90% of the world's population now well aware of the exploits of Earth's Mightiest Heroes?  We watched it to get caught up for Age of Ultron, but I am realizing it's been a while since I've seen Thor II, and I don't own a copy of either Thor for some reason.  No, really, I like the Thor movie a lot.  They're super fun.

Of all the Marvel movies, I'm still not sure this one is even in my top 4.  It counts on the fact you really don't care that Loki's plan makes no sense whatsoever in order to keep up with the movie, and Loki makes his escape in the opening sequence from the back of a pick-up truck, like there should be banjo music playing.  There are some choices made that maybe weren't the best in retrospect, and there's a lot of standing around on the heli-carrier.  I mean, a lot of it.

The thing is, despite what I think are some scripting problems, editing decisions that could have been made differently, and the fact it features my least favorite of Caps' costumes (I really dig what I've seen in the trailer for Age of Ultron), it's still got so many good parts, you can overlook the deficiencies and still like it quite a lot.  If nothing else, the actors are all very specific and on-point in their performances.  That sort of team-effort in a movie can be what makes the difference making your Star Wars franchise hum versus the endless sea of forgotten franchises that had teams but focused entirely too much on any one character (I still remember being surprised when I read as a kid that Star Wars was Luke's story.  Of course it is, but, you know, I thought of him as one of a bunch of people) or where the actors lacked chemistry.

Anyway, it's big-screen fun, and it really does tie in with the movies before and after so seamlessly - if you ignore the useless army of forgettable villains and their ridiculous scheme.  But it doesn't matter, it does give our heroes something to overcome and come together, and that's what the movie is all about.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Whole Lotta TV: Kimmy Schmidt, Daredevil, Batman, Americans, Mad Men, Flash and more - keeping me from movies

I realized I hadn't been posting a whole lot, at least not about movies.  But I've also been watching a metric @#$%-ton of TV lately.

Like a lot of you, I heard the Tina Fey produced Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was pretty good, and at 22 minutes per episode, only 13 episodes and that each one was like eating a box of Hot Tamales or Mike & Ike's, it was the first series I've binge-watched since I was home with the flu and watched 2 seasons of Archer.


A concept that, no doubt, HBO would have insisted been a brooding melodrama with plenty of sexual dysfunction and nihilism, this take on "what happens when a girl is kidnapped at 14 and doesn't leave her bunker cult layer until she's 29ish?" is, instead, super upbeat, life-affirming and a hell of a lot of fun to watch.  The brand of humor feels akin to the dizzy chaos of early 30 Rock, and even if we only ever get these 13 episodes, they were pretty damn enjoyable.  But, yeah, I guess there's a second season guaranteed by Netflix (where the show is living), so I'm down with that.

Anyway, it's not often I watch 13 episodes of something so fast I don't even mention it between start and finish, but there you are.

And before we move on:

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rocket Raccoon Trade: A Chasing Tale (hardcover collection of "Rocket Racoon" issues 1-6)

With the release of this summer's feature film, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel has done a better job than usual of capitalizing on the potential product tie-in for the movie.  Sure, at the time of the movie's release a few things hit the shelf that were the typical "well, this is perfunctory" new material by C or Z-list talent, but they also got name talent on a few ongoing, sustainable projects.



Of these, the one I had the most natural interest in was the Skottie Young helmed Rocket Raccoon ongoing.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Agent Carter Draws to a Close (and I'm a little sad)

I'm not sure how many episodes there wound up being of Agent Carter, or how many weeks.  I think the answer is "eight", but I didn't major in math, okay?

But it was a great ride, a lot of fun, and I really, really hope people who didn't watch the show during its televised run find it online.  I'd certainly be onboard for another 80 episodes, but I suspect nobody is asking me.



Most certainly tying into the Marvel Universe of both Captain America: The First Avenger and things to come in Captain America: The Winter Soldier - the show was not dependent on either for it's success, and stood alone as a rock solid entry in the Marvel U, working for me in a way that Agents of SHIELD, unfortunately, did not.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

We take on a tough, sensible question from a longtime reader

Horus writes in with a sensible question/ point of order:

Here's what I don't understand about you, League. I completely agree with the basic attitude of the post: any character can be good, just write them well! But then, why stick to Big 2 characters?

As you yourself say:

"And, here's the problem in a shared universe driven by editorial management: is that thing you liked replicable, or does it require the handling of specific creators with a specific vision?"

Why stick with the shared universe, which perhaps necessarily is going to end up being driven by editorial management? Or if you demand shared universe, why not go with something looser and third party (hey, Cerebus and Spawn once had a comic together, you know!).

Just saying, if you want weird, creative characters with great stories and writing, they're out there, just not provided by the folk who view characters entirely in terms of branding and name recognition . . .


Wow. Well, don't pull any punches, man.  Sheesh

But that's fair. If we can't ponder this sort of question, we aren't doing anyone any good.

here's a random picture so we have a picture

There are a lot of factors, and I'd start with the first - that I'm a human who contradicts himself and we get most angry with the faults we see in ourselves.  So, check that off your list.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Marvel's "Daredevil" show looks a whole lot like Daredevil without the red outfit



I've been pretty jazzed about the idea of a Netflix-direct Daredevil show since they announced the idea.  For those of you who follow Daredevil as a comic, this looks more or less as depressing and grim as the comics that we like, for some reason.  And it's clear they aren't about to make the same mistakes as the ill-fated film version which made me a sad panda.

I really do think it takes a while for Matt Murdock to seep in as a character, so multiple episodes of expanding on the backstory, on what makes Marvel's longest running case of Catholic guilt tick is a welcome bit of TV in my book.

Daredevil owes his continuing relevance to the Frank Miller era of the 1980's (as do comics, in general), and it can't hurt to refer to the take Miller put on the character that transformed him from a chipper blind attorney to a... chronically depressed blind attorney.  I assure you, them's is good comics.

This is supposed to be followed by a take on the Brian Michael Bendis series, Alias - which I think they're calling Jessica Jones or something in order not to refer to the Jennifer Garner TV series, as Garner would go on to play Elektra in Daredevil for some reason, and if we called it Alias, I'm pretty sure the universe would collapse in on itself.  Then, a Luke Cage TV series, which... man, this one was obvious.  Had to be done.

Now, enjoy the time The Hulk met Daredevil.



And, of course Stan Lee makes a cameo around the 1:13 mark.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Fant4stic 4 Trailer is in no way exciting



I confess I hoped Fox would embrace the Kirby-ness of the FF, but, instead, they clearly translated this from Ultimate FF, a comic nobody ever cared about and I wouldn't recommend.

Maybe the next trailer will knock my socks off, but this looks as lackluster as the last two FF movies.  Which, wow, that's actually kind of hard to do.

Discuss.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Up is Down, Black is White: Rocket Raccoon 3rd Best-Selling Comic in 2014

Wow, I've got to check out this crazy new character in a #1 comic... this..  Spider-Man


People, according to ICv2, Rocket Raccoon #1 was the 3rd best selling comic of 2014.

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Back around  January of 1987, a somehow-even-more awkward version of myself was lumbering around Austin Books & Comics and used Christmas money to purchase all four issues of the Rocket Raccoon limited series by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola off a spinner rack.  By that evening, we were bona-fide Rocket fans.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Here's something we haven't talked about yet - Avengers: Age of Ultron

Here's that new Avengers 2 Trailer



Looks pretty snazzy, and like Superman/ Batman better not bring a knife to this gunfight when the JLA forms here shortly.

Of the various Marvel movies, Avengers still isn't my favorite.  Doesn't have to be, because that's a lot of movies and I've liked all of them to some extent or other.  Even both versions of The Hulk (don't judge me).  So I'm not going to act like a goon and pretend for two seconds like I'm not pretty jazzed about this trailer and the ones that preceded it.

You may recall that I wasn't (and am not) much of an Avengers reader when it comes to the comics, so I don't have too many preconceived notions regarding Earth's Mightiest Heroes.  In fact, I'm still confused about what happened to Monica Rambeau - Captain Marvel as she was in the first Avengers comic I ever read (she had a rad power set).*

Anyway, this looks like a pretty crazy summer blockbuster.  It's interesting to watch the Marvel U gel and become something long known by comic fans but unknown in almost any other media.  And these Avengers movies that pull the whole thing together are a pretty great idea.

So, what have y'all been thinking when it comes to Avengers 2 and the Marvel Cinematic U?

*I may have a comic with her in it that's sitting on my coffee table that I just haven't read yet.  Is she in Mighty Avengers?


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Anybody Else Watch "Marvel's Agent Carter"?

Sure, if I was willing to bore you with my movie and TV habits of the past 18 months, I guess I'll do a post at some point regarding what television I've been watching.  This isn't that post.

I have tried Marvel's Agents of SHIELD on three... no.  Four separate occasions and have been unable to finish an episode, including the pilot.  Nothing about that show does anything for me, so it's been with - at best - a cautiously optimistic eye that I've been watching the development of Agent Carter.  Every once in a while in making a movie you capture lightning in a bottle, and certainly Haley Atwell's performance as Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger seemed to be one of those occasions.   The part was well written, and Atwell did enough that not only is she one of the most memorable supporting characters in Marvel's expanded cinematic universe full of intergalactic gods and futuristic technology, Marvel Studios decided they could build a whole show around just Agent Carter.  So, Haley Atwell should feel pretty good about herself at the moment.



Monday, January 5, 2015

So, What Have I Been Up To? Me and Comics Since June 2013

I really don't know how to write this post, because, if you've been following me for any length of time - and, in particular, if you've been here because of comics, this is where I disappoint you.

I am no longer a "read 20 comics per week" kind of guy.  I'm more of a "I'll knock through a trade once a week or so" kind of guy.  My comics reading and collecting was changing before this site was frozen in carbonite, and it's continued to mutate.

y'all buckle in, because it's about to get pedantic and ornery up in here

I kind of quit trying to keep up with Marvel as a universe around Secret Invasion, which was several years ago now.  I've tried to keep up here and there with Captain America and a few other titles, but Marvel's insistence on the cross-over stunt has made that exceptionally difficult.  Pair that with the fact I read Marvel in trade collections rather than floppies or digital comics, and their "all new #1's all the time" marketing strategy, and I literally gave up trying to understand what was happening at Marvel as a Universe.  But I will be picking up some of the Star Wars books for a few months and see how I like a Marvelized Star Wars U.

DC and the New 52 kind of sent me screaming.   The quality of DC hasn't really improved much over the past two years, and it was in the basement with the launch of the New 52.  I recently read that by Spring, DC will have canceled 60 titles since the launch of the New 52, which is an indication that I'm not crazy to think they have some problems and maybe they aren't serving their audience very well.

In the past year, it's safe to say my habit of reading comics has greatly reduced.  At least the reading of new comics.  When I do buy floppies, I collect them for a couple months and read a few at a time, unless it's something that's self-contained.  And I'll talk about what I'm buying as floppies, which isn't much.

The other day I mentioned that I've recently also sold off a huge portion of my collection.  Well over half my stuff has been dispensed with since August, something like 15-20 boxes (short and long), something like 4-5000 comics.  I've also sold a huge number of my action figures, graphic novels and other items.

And - you know - I don't miss them.  I have more than a room full of great stuff that I like and feel like showing off from time to time, and it's a lot more focused than it once was.

So What Happened?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wolverine, X-Men and a long history with comics

Just to be clear, in the trailer for the new Wolverine movie, he gives up his mutant power of healing.  So, yeah, it's yet again a 2nd movie in a superhero installment where the hero gives up his powers or loses them or whatever, and must prove how they're a hero without their superpowers.

How long until people who don't obsess about this sort of thing pick up on this trend?  As lousy as the both Fantastic Four movies were, correct me if I'm wrong, but nobody lost their powers, right?  Because aside from that movie and maybe Ghost Rider 2, which I've yet to see, it seems like this is the go-to for all Hollywood superhero films.  Oh, right.  Iron Man waited til the 3rd installment for that to happen, and Hulk just rebooted between movies.

I probably won't go see Wolverine because... honestly, I don't care.  At least the last one was so bad I had a good laugh (this did not amuse my fellow movie goers, but, honestly...).

Like everyone else who reads comics, I was once a big Wolverine fan until the circa 1988 solo series, during which middle-school me decided he was more compelling as a team-player than running around Madripoor with an eyepatch.  I used to read and re-read that original, four issue mini-series by Claremont and a young Frank Miller.  That thing read like poetry, but, man, it also sort of had the final word on the transformation of Wolverine from "Canadian White Trash Stabby Guy" to "Samurai Warrior".  After that, I didn't really care about the various stories trying to take Wolverine apart and put him back together or whatever.


last time I found Wolverine an interesting character