Tag Archives: Avengers
It’s a weird sensation knowing that the billion dollar earning Avengers 2 isn’t just the biggest movie of the summer. It’s also just the first of many superhero movies coming in the next few months. I still remember the days when a single Batman movie was worth getting excited about. Hell, I remember when a Blade movie was something to get excited about. Now, if anything, some people are getting kind of ho-hum about these huge blockbusters. I’m not in that group, and I don’t think I will be if Marvel manages to maintain this level of quality.
As I’m sure you guessed, this is going to be a mini-review of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It should go without saying, but there are going to be a ton of spoilers in this. If you haven’t seen it yet, remedy that situation immediately. I’ll still be grumbling when you get back.
My complaints are few and far between, so I’ll get those out of the way first. One of my big concerns going into this was that there would be way too many characters. The team was already pretty deep after the first movie, and this one adds Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, The Vision, Hawkeye’s wife, and Klaw. Considering Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 became a flat out debacle by simply having two villains instead of one, I think my fears were justified. Luckily, everyone got their fair share of screen time. The only place I think it suffered was in Quicksilver’s death. He just didn’t leave enough of an impression for his death to be terribly meaningful to the audience. The other thing about Quicksilver is that this is the second interpretation of that character in as many years, and the X-Men Days of Future Past version is a tough act to follow.
Another concern that I had going in was that it would aim for an Empire Strikes Back level of darkness. The trailers made it look pretty grim, and I just don’t think the Marvel’s movies need that. Leave that to the DC movies. Grim and humourless are their forte. The MCU works so well because they are fun, with just enough pathos so that they don’t become a parody. Thankfully, this movie continued the Marvel house style. I think that’s in no small part thanks to the efforts of writer/director/geek god Joss Whedon. He knows how to bring the funny, and he definitely knows how to bring the tears.
Finally, I’d like to direct your attention to some of the smaller things that stood out to me as a comic book obsessive. First off, the mention of Wakanda. That’s the homeland of The Black Panther whose solo movie was recently announced. Also, Ulysses Klaw, the character played by Andy Samberg in Avengers 2, is likely to be the Vibranium powered villain of that film. Something else that I noticed is that they seem to have combined The Vision with another character named Adam Warlock. Vision is a long time Avenger, but I don’t think the gem in his forehead is anything but decorative. (After a brief research break, I have learned that it absorbs solar energy and can shoot energy beams, but I don’t think that power is used often.) Adam Warlock is not a member of the Avengers, but he does have an Infinity Gem on his forehead that he uses to fight Thanos. By combining the characters, it saves them from having to introduce the overly complex Adam Warlock, and allows Vision to be an important tool in the fight at the heart of the next two Avengers movies.
Finally, my favorite little gag is the name they gave Iron Man’s Hulk fighting armor. In the comics, it’s simply called his Hulkbuster armor. In this they called it Veronica, which seems to have caused some confusion. My guess as to that choice of name has to do with Hulk’s usual girlfriend. She’s sweet and helpful and named Betty. So, they name the thing meant to beat him down and is worth a ton of money Veronica. Get it?
Graham Becksted was watching hockey hockey while writing this and for that he apologizes. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 103rd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted
The simplistic employment dividers in the world are based on the worker’s collar. Blue collar workers generally do manual labour – construction, plumbing, garbage collector, etc. White collar workers push paper and wear suits – accountants, lawyers, bankers, etc. Today, I’m not sure why, but I started thinking about the way that superheroes earn their money. Most of the ones that I could think of are definitely more white collar. (more…)
Something occurred to me this weekend that I’d like to discuss here. It’s not important, or culturally relevant, just something that struck me. I also have not any research into this, so it’s purely anecdotal based on stuff that is rattling around in my head. So, with those disclaimers out of the way, here’s my thought: Until recently, the most important characters within the Marvel universe were the least important outside of it. (more…)
This is news from a week ago, but I felt that if I didn’t address it I would be doing YOU, my loyal reader, a disservice. It was officially confirmed that Spider-Man would now be able to appear in the Marvel movies after a deal was made with Sony Pictures. This means that Spidey will now be able to appear in upcoming movies featuring Captain America, Iron Man, and the rest of the Avengers. This is good news for everyone! (more…)
As promised, it’s about time that I continue with some sort of analysis of Marvel Studio’s announced Phase 3. Last time, we got through Cap 3, Doctor Strange, Thor 3, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Next up: (more…)
I just got home from seeing Captain America 2! It definitely holds up to the standard of the best Marvel sequels – Iron Man 3 and Thor 2. I was a little skeptical going in, so I’m happy to be proven wrong. I’m going to give my thoughts point by point. (more…)
When the Guardians of the Galaxy movie was announced, most people there seemed to be an equal mix of excitement and indifference. Those who had heard of the somewhat characters before were stoked that this eclectic group would get the big-screen Avengers treatment. Those who hadn’t heard of them uttered a dismissive “who?” But, somewhere between those two extremes, was another group that could muster only disdain. They were disappointed, not unjustly, that a movie starring a space faring, gun-toting, easily agitated racoon would be made before one starring Wonder Woman.
Like I said, I don’t disagree. But, it’s not like DC hasn’t tried. Joel Silver (producer of the Matrix trilogy, Die Hard, and Lethal Weapon) spent years trying to get a movie off the ground. He hired Joss Whedon to work on a script, and even purchased a World War 2 set story from another writer. None of it took off.
Conspiracy theories on this topic abound. One of the most commonly cited “facts” is that Hollywood producers don’t believe female action heroes lead to blockbusters. And while I’m sure there are some people out there who might think that, I don’t think it’s prevalent enough that it would stop them from making the movie. While Silver had the rights (the fact that tried to get this movie made alone should dispel this theory) there were two Tomb Raider movies, a slew of Resident Evil and Underworld flicks, Kill Bill(s), Catwoman, Aeon Flux, Ultraviolet, Elektra, etc., etc. Clearly, Hollywood has an appetite for making action movies with female leads.
The real problem, I think, is that DC hasn’t been in control of its filmmaking destiny until recently. They’ve been owned by Time-Warner for many years, but that company tended to keep it’s comic division and movie division pretty separate. Marvel, on the other hand, has been able to be intimately involved in their most successful franchise. DC has consistently brought in outsiders to write and direct their movies, Marvel has kept their creative people in the loop on all of their productions. I mean, who better than the people who have guided the characters in their native format for years to help bring them to the big screen? If DC asked Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Brian Azzarello and Phil Jimenez to brainstorm Wonder Woman movie ideas I don’t think you’d get just one great movie idea – you’d get an entire franchise.
Last week, Warner Bros. made a surprise announcement. Not only did they reveal that Wonder Woman will be in the Superman Vs. Batman movie, they also revealed who would be playing her – Gal Gadot from the Fast and the Furious movies. While there was the typical Internet backlash as there always seems to be when someone is cast as a famous character (see Daniel Craig as James Bond, Heath Ledger as The Joker, and most recently Ben Affleck as Batfleck) there was another group that was ticked off for a much stupider reason. The very first tweet that I read about this casting announcement was from someone who was complaining that Wonder Woman’s first big screen appearance won’t be in her own movie. There’s just no pleasing some people!
First, they’re unhappy that Wonder Woman hasn’t appeared in a movie, now they’re unhappy that she isn’t the star of the movie, next I’m sure they’ll be complaining that she doesn’t immediately kill Batman and Superman and take over the world. Wonder Woman, as I’ve discussed before, is a really hard character to nail down. Everyone knows what makes a great Batman movie – he’s a dark knight. Superman is a big, blue boyscout. Wonder Woman is… well… Wonder Woman. She’s gone through more character changes than any other superhero that I can think of. Within a few years, she went from an ambassador, to the Goddess of Truth, to a secret agent. With that in mind, I think it makes a lot of sense that DC film people want to test the waters with their version of the character before they throw a ton of money at a feature-length Wonder Woman story.
Graham Becksted is eagerly waiting for Gadot. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 94th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
I have one final post for Fan Expo 2013 and it’s my traditional “what I ended up buying” piece. This year, I didn’t go quite as hog wild as I have in the past. Perhaps it was ‘cause I was wrapped up in the Stan Lee of it all, or maybe I’m just running out of stuff to buy. Or, maybe the deals just aren’t as good. My understanding from speaking with some dealers is that it is prohibitively expensive to get a table there. Because of that, it doesn’t make much sense to sell stuff at huge discounts.
Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. On to the fun stuff:
Best Deal Of The Con:
Star Wars Return Of The Jedi Infinities
Years ago (specifically 2002-2004), Dark Horse released some Star Wars mini-series that were essentially What Ifs? They called them Infinities and they were stories like, ‘What if the first Death Star hadn’t been destroyed?’ I always thought it was a cool concept, but I’ve never really hunted for the series. Sunday afternoon, I happened past a table that was selling a bunch of Star Wars trades in so-so condition for two bucks each. Amongst them were the A New Hope and Return of the Jedi Infinities. For four bucks, how could I say no? Now I just need to find the Empire Strikes Back one – without paying an arm and a leg for it.
Catch Up Time:
I love comic books. But, for a while, I was pretty much just an X-Men fan. I’d read just about anything that I could get my hands on, but I cherished anything with an X on the cover. Wolverine helped, but was not strictly necessary. After years of that, I branched out to Vertigo, Avengers, some Justice League – basically anything good. Sometime after Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run, the X-Books stopped counting as good for me. In the last year or so, though, Brian Michael Bendis took hold of the franchise and has elevated it again. However, now I feel like I’m missing some pieces.
Something else that I missed in that time was Kieron Gillen. I discovered him thanks to Young Avengers, which, I may have mentioned before, is fantastic. Just before Bendis’ run started, Gillen took the Uncanny title for a spin and I figured I’d give it a shot. He also did a series about the first new mutants in about ten years (refresher – “House of M”, Scarlet Witch wipes out most mutants by saying, “No More Mutants,” mutants stop being born, except for a girl named Hope who Cable raises in the future, *deep breath*) called Generation Hope.
I’ve been reading Unwritten for a few years now, but I’ve fallen behind. The upside of that is that I now have two trades worth of stories to read! The downside is, I don’t really remember all the pertinent details I probably should. This will either solidify my love for this series, or kill it.
I also picked up the first of Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run. It’s received nothing but praise, so I’m keen to check it out. I also got a few more Archie Comics Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for my collection. I now have a straight run from 1-36, and about 14 other random issues from the rest of the run. I think I need around 20 more to complete the set. The Mrs. and I also got a new addition to our Wonder Woman sketch collection. This time, it was from Yanick Paquette who will be doing a Wonder Woman graphic novel with Grant Morrison soon.
So, all in all, not a bad haul. That being said, I was looking for quite a bit more and it either wasn’t there or it was too expensive. Oh well – there’s always Boxing Day.
Graham Becksted has an addiction. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 88th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
I had some time off this weekend so I managed to catch up on some of my seriously neglected comic book reading. I figured I might as well spend some time getting back to grumbling about comics which is what this blog was initially focused on. First, let me apologize for the tardiness of some of these “reviews.” A lot of these comics came out awhile ago and I waited for trades, and then sales, and then I had to work through the pile. So, let’s get into it.
Avengers: Children’s Crusade
This mini-series started in 2010 and took awhile to finish – the final issue came out in March 2012. This series is steeped in Marvel mythology, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to newbies. Here’s the premise – Two members of the Young Avengers (Wiccan and Speed) think they are the reincarnations of The Scarlet Witch’s magic babies. Ever since the House of M storyline their “mom” has been off the grid, so the team decides to try and find her. They find her in Doctor Doom’s home country preparing to become his bride. The Avengers and The X-Men get involved and fisticuffs ensue. There are some deaths, and some resurrections.
If that sounds like your cup of tea, have at it. I found it a little relentless, and kind of boring. I think it got away from the humanity that makes these characters interesting and ended up too wrapped up in time travel and magic. When a story can be resolved by the snap of a finger it starts to lose me. Unless it’s fun, like Doctor Who or Star Wars. This story, unfortunately, wears Marvel continuity like cement shoes and can’t quite survive it. On the plus side, Jim Cheung’s art is gorgeous. It’s a nice blend of amazing superhero style with a slight sprinkling of manga influence.
Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger
Cloak and Dagger have never interested me much as characters. They’re generally a little too melodramatic for me, and they tend to be pretty separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe. They started out as runaway teenagers who get their powers when evil drug dealers test their new drug on them. It’s a little too “after school special”.
I downloaded the first issue of this three issue mini-series because it was free on the Marvel app. Written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Emma Rios, I was totally charmed by this story. I’ve still only read the first one, but I plan on buying the rest of it. It’s part of a crossover during which everyone in New York gets Spider-Man powers, and the young duo are thrust into the chaos. The thing that really charmed me in it is the dueling voice over captions. They have such distinct, real personalities. I would probably read an ongoing series of this.
Ever since Frank Miller’s particularly dark take on the Man Without Fear, it seems there has been a competition between writers to see who can pile the most crap on the character. He’s been imprisoned, beaten, had his secret identity outed at least twice, and seen at least three girlfriends killed by his enemies. So, it was a bit of a surprise when I heard that this latest storyline by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin brings some of the fun swashbuckling back to the title.
I’m not going to mince words, I was blown away by this trade. The writing is really good, but the art completely steals the show. Daredevil is blind, and this story was the first that I’ve read that really gave you a sense of how he sees the world. Sound effects take on so much meaning, and certain things in panels get magnified or highlighted to show what he perceives of them. It’s really well done and I recommend it to absolutely everyone – especially if you’re into Daredevil or want to see some truly thought provoking comic book art.
Graham Becksted’s allergies are already acting up, so he apologizes for all the sneezing. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 78th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Marvel NOW! is the latest flashpoint for Marvel fans. Everything’s changing and it’s the perfect time to jump on (or off) of various books. Almost all of the main titles are getting new creative teams. And, as has been the time honoured tradition of new creative blood, the super hero teams are getting new rosters. This is always a very exciting time for fan boys and girls alike. Who will the new members be? Will my favorite be one of them? How many teams can Wolverine BE on?
The Avengers books have always been particularly good at exploiting these moments. The covers usually announce that THIS is the issue where the new team is picked. There’s usually a smattering of cards, or faces, and a big question like, “WHO WILL BE THE AVENGERS?”
The team usually stays fairly consistent for a few years. Sure, some people may come and go, but there’s usually a fairly stable core. For example, I only really started reading Avengers during Brian Michael Bendis’ run so, for me, the core team is Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and eventually Thor. But, for more old school readers, it’s not the Avengers if it doesn’t have The Vision, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Hawkeye and Beast.
At this point, it seems like the number of characters who have been Avengers is growing so large that every Marvel hero from Captain America to Squirrel Girl will have been an Avenger. I mean, I think the announced roster for Hickman’s run is a little big – 24 members! That’s more characters than pages in an average single issue. But, I trust in Mr. Hickman’s abilities. And, frankly, the Avengers should be a huge book where huge things happen.
Prior to my Avengers interest, the X-Men were my team of choice. When I was a kid, we would spend recesses arguing over which characters were cooler, and building our dream rosters. That’s the thing with the X-Men – I think if you took a group of 10 people and sat them down with a list of the all the mutants in the Marvel Universe to choose from and forced them to pick an X-Team with ten characters on it, you’d get ten completely different teams.
To give you an example, here are three teams put together in the last decade or so. Bendis will be taking over the main X-Men book shortly, and he’s taking the team back to the original five (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and Beast). When Joss Whedon did his run the team was made up of Wolverine, Beast, Cyclops, The White Queen, Armor, Colossus, and Shadowcat. Joe Casey’s Uncanny X-Men run consisted of Angel, Iceman, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Chamber.
(I think next week I’ll try to cobble together my ideal X-Men team.)
Anyway, Marvel doesn’t have a monopoly on this by any stretch of the imagination. The first time I had read any JLA stuff had been during the Death Of Superman when the team consisted of Ice, Fire, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Guy Gardiner, Bloodwynd, and Maxima. (Just to show how many times I’ve read that collection, I actually pulled that list straight from memory.) When Grant Morrison took over, the team reverted to the classic roster of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. And while that is an infinitely cooler team, I still look back kind of fondly on the days when the team was made up of second stringers.
As much as we’d like to think that the creative teams are the reason most people buy or stick with a book, I think the characters on the team play as big, if not a bigger, role. So, if any of you get the singular honor of writing one of these team books some day in the future, make sure you take great care in picking the roster. You could end up defining a generation’s idea of who that team is.
Graham Becksted is the only member of The Secret Graham Coast Avengers. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 69th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.