Top 5 on The Strip: Villainesses

Selene - Marvel

1. Selene (Black Queen – Hellfire Club) – Marvel

Selene – better known as the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club – is at least 17,000 years old and continuously wreaks havoc on the Marvel Universe, mostly by terrorizing the X-Men. She’s featured as the boss of one of Gambit’s stages in Spider-Man & the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge, so you know she’s obnoxious.

Mutant power: Life-draining psychic vampire, flame manipulation

 Star Sapphire-Carol Ferris

2. Star Sapphire – DC

The original Star Sapphire had several remarkable powers that included the use of a violet Power Ring (like the Green Lantern Corps). The main thing to know about Star Sapphire is that she is a group, a corps just like the Green Lantern. The group is possessed by the Star Sapphire gem, which is attracted to worthy females who are in love with Hal Jordan. Remember folks, stalking and harrassment are crimes, no matter if you are a gem or not.

Super power: Violet Power Ring possession, force blasts, protective shield, flight

 Lady Deathstrike

3. Lady Deathstrike – Marvel

Yeah, so Yuriko Oyama has an adamantium-bonded skeleton similar to Wolverine’s. The reason for this? Because she wanted to have it. It wasn’t that she had it forced on her; no, she asked Spiral to do the process because she wanted to be able to kill Wolverine, who she thought stole the theories and ideas on the adamantium process. Receiving cybernetic implants as well, Yuriko has hunted Wolverine for decades.

Mutant power: Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability and agility; unbreakable skeleton laced with adamantium and 10 claws made of adamantium; and a cybernetic healing factor.

 Talia al Ghul

4. Talia ah Gul – DC

The daughter of Ra’s ah Gul, Talia has carried on her father’s life of crime and destruction. She’s covertly worked to take over Gotham City, injured or killed numerous people and lead the notorious League of Assassins. Her saving grace is the fact that she married Bruce Wayne and produced an heir, Damien Wayne. Eventually, she disowns Damien after realizing that he would always oppose her after taking up his father’s cause. Motherly love this is not.

Super power: Enhanced longevity, genius-level intelligence, superior marksmanship and swordsmanship

 Mystique

5. Mystique – Marvel

There isn’t much that Mystique hasn’t done. In several realities, she has been the cause of assassinations of key figures that leads to the downfall of that reality (see: Days of Future Past) and has betrayed quite a few people in her path. Given that she’s able to shapeshift at will into whomever she wants, Mystique has used that power to further her own agenda and goals. Usually, those goals are in line with the Brotherhood of Evil.

Mutant power: Shapeshifting

Property review: X-Men: The Last Stand

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com
Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

X-Men: The Last Stand
20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment, 2006

 

X-cruciatingly bad x-ecution

 

We get that the X-Men film properties reside in a different universe than the comic book version. And we have no problems suspending disbelief when asked. But we will never sit idly by and watch a film take so many liberties with source material that entire comic book arcs are destroyed in one fell swoop.

So it begins with X-Men: The Last Stand, the third in the trilogy of films centered on our favorite mutants of Marvel fame. Last Stand was riding high on the fumes of X2: X-Men United, and rightfully so since X2 did a pretty decent job telling the tale of (the previously reviewed) God Loves, Man Kills and starting the Phoenix Saga. And that’s when things take an ominous turn. We should have known something was up when Bryan Singer didn’t return to the director’s chair. We really should have known something was up when Last Stand’s synopsis came calling. While X2 did a passable job with sort of mixing arcs together, Last Stand attempted to mesh Dark Phoenix Saga and the Gifted arc with little-to-no success. The film, while technically sound and well-paced, is riddled with errors and unnecessary changes that detract from the overall viewing experience.

To explain just what we find fault with in Last Stand, let’s start from the beginning. And bear with the spoilers here; they’re integral to explaining everything wrong with the film and are a great example of why Last Stand should have never been made. If you don’t want it spoiled — though you should have seen it by now — stop reading here.

First, Cyclops was never killed by Jean Grey, either as the Phoenix or Dark Phoenix, at any point in their history together. The Phoenix entity made sure that Jean was kept alive and healed so that she could reunite with Cyclops at some point. The Phoenix understood and knew that Cyclops was important to Jean. So, killing him made no sense.

Second, Phoenix would have never and never, ever killed Professor X. Charles Xavier was a mentor to Jean and was one of the few people on Earth that the woman trusted. She wouldn’t have killed him. Also, Wolverine was angry with Xavier about erecting the psychic blocks in Jean’s mind, but Cyclops was actually the person who had that particular scripted conversation with Xavier.

Third, Beast was a member of the team for many years and didn’t just return during the Phoenix Saga. He was there the entire time.

Fourth, while we’re on the subject of team members’ appearances in the film, we should point out a long-standing issue we’ve had with the X-Men films: Rogue and Iceman were NEVER a couple. Likewise, Kitty Pride and Iceman didn’t flirt with each other. Kitty was actually interested in Colossus — which was outright ignored in the film — and Iceman was a frequent makeup/break up paramour of Lorna Dane (Polaris). The made-up romance triangle with de-aged characters is an insult.

Fifth, Juggernaut is not a mutant. If the writers had bothered to do some research, they would have come across Cain Marko’s origin story that stated in detail that Juggernaut is a mystical avatar given his powers by the Gem of Cyttorak. He was an ordinary man mystically transformed by the Gem. Thus, when Leech’s powers activated near him at the end, he should have been completely unaffected. And, Juggernaut should have immediately recognized Magneto by this point and Magneto should have known who Juggernaut is — stepbrother of Charles Xavier. No aspect of that important relationship was ever mentioned.

Sixth, Dark Phoenix never joined the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. She didn’t need to. She was, however, manipulated into joining the Hellfire Club, which was also conveniently glossed over by X-Men: First Class (see the real origin for Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost).

Seventh, Rogue never took the cure. She was interested in it, but never took it. That’s something that’s touched upon in the Animated Series episode of The Cure (first airing, Feb. 20, 1993). Also, her given name is Anna Marie, not just Marie. See this quarter’s Marvel Character Highlight.

Eighth, Psylocke was present in the movie, but if you blinked, you missed her. She is killed at the end along with several other characters. She also is not a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Callisto (the leader of the Morlocks in the comics) isn’t either, and neither is Jamie Madrox aka Multiple Man.

Ninth, Jean does not have split personality as the Phoenix. She IS the Phoenix. The entity that is the Phoenix is part of her, not some different side to her. Basically, the Phoenix possesses her and bonds with her. It doesn’t just show up randomly. In the comics, the real Jean was sealed under Jamaica Bay while the Phoenix manifested her in reality.

Finally, Wolverine doesn’t kill Jean during the Dark Phoenix Saga. He was completely in love with her. Given that several of his love interests over the years have died, there was no way that he would have killed her then. He does kill her in New X-Men, but Dark Phoenix Saga that is not. Also, Sabertooth is not present, which doesn’t make any sense, either.

That’s just barely touching on what’s wrong with the film. It gets so many little things wrong with the “loose” adaptations that you have to wonder what exactly did it get right. One of the few things that does go right for the film is the casting. The lead characters are still perfectly casted, and the choice of Kelsey Grammar as Beast/Hank McCoy is one of the best castings we’ve ever seen. He was the perfect and only choice for that role. However, there’s still no fan-favorite Gambit — which would have solved the Rogue/Iceman problem — and there’s still way too much emphasis put on Wolverine. Hugh Jackman is comfortable as well he should be since he’s the perfect Wolverine. But a little less emphasis on him and little more on the story might have helped. Alas, James Marsden was wasted in the film and the character of Cyclops paid the price. That’s a shame, really, because Cyclops is supposed to be a centerpiece in the Dark Phoenix portion, not Wolverine.

Last Stand isn’t a good movie, in the sense of being an X-Men film and in the sense of being an adaptation telling a story of the X-Men. It seems Marvel has trouble whenever it gets to three (see last quarter’s review of Spider-Man 3), and that’s a problem when you’re telling two of the biggest arcs of your most famous group of not-so-ordinary folks.

 

Like the comics: 1

Casting: 7

Plot: 2

Overall score: 10 out of 30 or 3

 

How we grade

We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in the case of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory, and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

Top 5 list: Worst comic book movies

Chances are, if you’re comic book fanatics like we are at Gaming Insurrection, you’ve seen one of the movies on this list. If you soak up overacting, tired drama and nonsensical plots with hamfisted writing, you’ve seen everything on this list and probably have them memorized. These are five of the worst comic book movies ever made. This list is also not definitive because there are more where these came from.

 

Vincent Perez and Mia Kirschner star in The Crow: City of Angels.

The Crow: City of Angels (1996)

You know how the first Crow movie was awesome because Brandon Lee was in it and seemed to embody Eric? Unfortunately, someone thought making a second movie and continuing the franchise after the death of the star was a good idea. It wasn’t. Not only did the filmmakers manage to besmirch the memory of Lee with a terrible, unattached story, but they also made a mockery of the original screenplay and concept, which came from the pain of a tragic event in author James O’Barr’s life. And don’t get us started on the ridiculous acting from Vincent Perez, who has managed to ruin another favorite series of ours, too: Queen of the Damned.

 

Alicia Silverstone, George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell star in Batman & Robin.

Batman & Robin (1997)

The fourth Batman movie is among the list of the worst movies overall ever made. Nothing makes sense about the movie. Between Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger overacting and George Clooney underacting, nothing works. Even though we’re fans of Alicia Silverstone, an “it girl” of the day, she really didn’t do much for the film, either. Most tellingly, Clooney is NOT Batman. He’s not Batman material, and he never will be. As a matter of fact, we’d venture to say that this is the reason for the Batman reboot with Christian Bale. Clooney, an OK actor otherwise, will forever be known as the man who ran Batman into the ground.

 

Jennifer Garner stars in Elektra.

Elektra (2005)

If you can watch a trailer and nothing in those 30 seconds makes you want to watch a movie, you know it’s doomed to fail before it even gets started. That’s the case with Elektra. Jennifer Garner can’t act. That’s a fact, plain and simple, and she looks nothing like the Marvel character whatsoever. So, Elektra was a waste. And you know Hollywood knows it because there hasn’t been a sequel. At least she and her husband, Ben Affleck, have something in common: Both starred in bad comic movies.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 was released in 1992.

TMNT 3 (1992)

We’ve covered extensively why this movie was a failure on all fronts, but it bears repeating: The movie sucks. It has nothing to do with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in any way, shape or form. Lyndsey really did sit through the movie in theaters in 1992 when it was released and at no point in the first 20 minutes did she think she was in the correct movie. While we’re delighted with the return of Casey Jones in the film — after he was strangely missing in the second movie — there should have been something better for him to return to.

 

Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellan star in X-Men: The Last Stand.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Gaming Insurrection as a whole doesn’t get mad at movies often, but X3 managed that feat about half the way through. Nonsensical plot points, altered established canon, blink-and-you-missed-it character cameos and a disjointed focus make for one of the worst comic book films ever. We’re not asking for much, but DO NOT change character backstory for the sake of a lead actor. That is a cardinal rule for movies based on established properties, and the X-Men have a well-discussed history that should not be changed in a penultimate film. We love Hugh Jackman, but no. Double no for making a relationship that never happened in the comics a prominent focus of your film. And triple no for screwing over Professor X. Director Brett Ratner should be left atop an ant mound covered in sugar for the travesty that is X3.

Marvel character highlight #07: Magneto

Name: Unrevealed; uses the name Erik Magnus Lehnsherr

Affiliations: Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Charles Xavier, the X-Men, the New Mutants

Special abilities: Ability to manipulate magnetism and all forms of electromagnetic energy

Background: Little is known about the origins of the master of magnetism. What is known is as a boy, he was imprisoned in the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz, Poland. Sickness and malnourishment prevented his mutant powers from emerging at that time. Though his family perished there, Magneto managed to survive. After World War II, Magneto wed Magda, and they had a daughter named Anya. When Anya was trapped in a burning building, a crowd prevented Magneto from rescuing her. Enraged, Magneto attacked the crowd with his powers. Afraid of her husband’s display of force and super abilities, Magda fled from him without telling him that she was pregnant. Magda gave birth to twins, Wanda and Pietro, and she was presumed dead. Feeling mistreated his entire life, Magneto subscribes to the theory that mutants can only be free if they enslave the rest of the human race.

Relationships: Magda (wife), Scarlet Witch (Wanda, daughter), Quicksilver (Pietro, son), Vision (son-in-law), Rogue (Anna Marie, wife in alternate reality), Charles (son in alternate reality)

First versus game appearance: X-Men: Children of the Atom

Appearance in other media: Marvel’s X-Men (NES), X-Men (arcade), X-Men (Sega Genesis), X-Men: Children of the Atom (arcade), X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Sega Genesis), Marvel Super Heroes (arcade), X-Men vs. Street Fighter (arcade), Marvel vs. Capcom (arcade), Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (arcade), X2: Wolverine’s Revenge (multiplatform), X-Men Legends (multiplatform), Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (multiplatform), X-Men: The Official Game (Nintendo DS), Marvel Ultimate Alliance (multiplatform), Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (multiplatform), Marvel Super Hero Squad (multiplatform), Marvel Super Hero Squad: Infinity Gauntlet (multiplatform), Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (multiplatform), Spider-Man (TV series), Fantastic Four (TV series), Spider-Man (TV series), Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (TV series), Pryde of the X-Men (TV), X-Men (TV series), X-Men: Evolution (TV series), Wolverine and the X-Men (TV series), The Super Hero Squad Show (TV series), X-Men (film), X2: X-Men United (film), X-Men: The Last Stand (film).

 

Animated property review: X-Men The Animated Series

X-Men the Animated Series Vol. 1  |  Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2009

X-Men origins told correctly

If there ever was a quintessential property in the 1990s of comic book origin, it’s X-Men the Animated Series. The Fox staple in the early part of the decade was a great excuse to get up on a Saturday morning to watch cartoons. It also was a great learning tool for those who didn’t know much about the X-Men and wanted an introductory course to the famous mutants.

What we love about the series is the fact that it takes itself seriously. It told stories just as the comic book version told them 10 years before, and it’s pretty close to the origin stories with only minor changes. Our only gripe with some of the episodes in the first volume is the brevity of the story arcs. Sagas such as Days of Future Past and The Cure are told in one or two episodes, something that isn’t normally be done in the comics. However, some are revisited in later seasons of the show, so that can be forgiven.

The production values of the Animated Series, for its time, were top-notch. The writing was superb, and the coloring and drawing were extraordinary for a cartoon production. Few series, with the exception of fellow Fox production Spider-Man, could match what the Animated Series brought to the table in terms of visuals and storytelling. The first volume sets the pace with Night of the Sentinels, and it’s obvious that care is taken with characters and their backgrounds. Most characters are true to their history and those who have been re-established for the Animated Series are well done and not out of place (i.e. Morph).

The voice acting is another standout established within the first volume. The characters all sound like they should, and it is this first set of episodes that established the standard for future X-Men voice acting projects for the next 17 years. The best example: All X-Men characters used in Capcom’s versus series through Marvel vs. Capcom 2 were voiced by their Animated Series actors.

The first volume of the Animated Series hit DVD in 2009, a welcome addition to any X-Men fan’s collection. The first 16 episodes encompass the two-disc set and were only $20 at the time of purchase. That’s a bargain for well-crafted X-Men stories in a series known for its technical prowess that seemed to take forever to come to DVD.

How we grade

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Voice acting: 10/10

Plots: 8/10

Like the comics?: 8/10

Overall rating: 26/30 or 8.6