Property Review: Captain Marvel

A marvelous beginning

Captain Marvel
Marvel Studios, 2019

We all knew she was coming; we just didn’t know when. And when Carol Danvers got here, we were waiting, and we were not disappointed with what she brought with her.

Captain Marvel’s origin story is a tale as old as time: Heroine has amnesia, discovers her previous life and the reason for her amnesia, finds new allies and turns on her old “allies”/captors. However, this is different. Set some ways back in the MCU, Captain Marvel manages reasonably well to stick to the comic book origins of the character. With the hard work established in the story, thankfully, Jude Law and Brie Larson have chemistry and are a good match from the outset.

As we learn more about the good “Vers,” we also learn that not everything is as it seems. Danvers gets down to business and explores her origin in a funny yet serious way that highlights the central question that most all the Avengers and heroes of the MCU have had to ask themselves: Who are you?

And that’s the most important question asked by this film. Who is Carol Danvers to the outside world after being gone for six years? Who is she to her colleagues? Who is she to her friends and family? And, most importantly, who is Carol Danvers to herself? Going on this journey is the key to understanding the film and the character in later appearances.

Speaking of later appearances, Ronan the Accuser makes an appearance in what is chronologically his first appearance in the MCU. Technically, he steals the show in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, but in the MCU timeline of events, he first appears here to torment Danvers and he almost steals the movie right from under her. Lee Pace deserves mention for his nuanced portrayal of the villain. Ronan could easily have been a one-dimensional act, but Pace has shown layers to the villain and truly carried his weight when it came to showing the might of the Kree fanatic.

With the scene being set for the captain to do her thing and return to her roots, it’s no wonder that the film moves along at a nice clip. It done well and doesn’t stray too far from the comics or do too much extra work beyond what you’ve come to expect from a Marvel origin story. In fact, it does everything you need it to do to set up Captain Marvel for Avengers: Endgame and it does that extremely well. The look at the good captain is fun and packed full of action to set up for one of the most powerful beings in the comics to finally make her way to the cinematic universe in a dramatic and fun way.

Like the comics: 8

Story: 6

Acting: 6

Total: 20/30 or 6.7

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.

Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book TV edition

1. Spawn — HBO, 1994
If you didn’t read the comics, chances are this was your first exposure to the hell-spawned entity Spawn. We’re ignoring the ridiculous movie in favor of the animated masterpiece featuring vocal legend Keith David. Spawn was gory and brooding and just the right mix for teenagers to learn about the comics legend.

2. Luke Cage — Netflix, 2016
Perfect casting made this show what it is, and we’re sad to see it gone. Luke Cage was great in the execution as well and has a phenomenal soundtrack. GI hometown boy Mike Colter sizzles in the title role and Alfre Woodard, Theo Rossi and Mahershala Ali absolutely steal the show every time they’re onscreen.

3. Daredevil — Netflix, 2015
Tight writing, brutal fight scenes and good casting made this a hit on Netflix. The first two seasons were superb with emphasis on the casting of Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin. Daredevil, like all Marvel Netflix shows, has been canceled, but it’s worth getting a subscription just to see the magic of a competent Matt Murdock.

4. Arrow — CW, 2012
We must give it to Stephen Amell: He certainly turned Oliver Queen into a credible superhero. Arrow has seen its ups and downs (everything post season 4, anyone?), but it’s still a decent story and the early twists and turns are enough to entice you to stick around and invest in the Queen family and their exploits. Arrow was one of the first successful comic book TV shows and it’s paved the way for others like it. It has earned its props.

5. Smallville — CW, 2001
One of the first comicbook shows before the recent craze and takeover of Marvel television, Smallville had folks talking about Superman like they were comic book experts. Tom Wellington did an excellent job portraying the Man of Steel in his younger years, but the true shout out goes to Michael Rosenbaum as the scene-stealing Lex Luthor.

Property Review: Avengers Endgame

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Assembled greatness completed

Avengers: Endgame
Marvel Studios, 2019

“We’re in the endgame now.” Dr. Strange was and always has been prescient about the situation at hand. Whether it’s his own battles with the likes of Dormammu or Shuma Gorath or facing off against Thanos, the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth is always planning and stark about the reality of whatever happens to be going on. In this instance, in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Strange was the most grounded and gave the most sobering assessment of all: The Avengers were going to lose before they won.

Based on Strange’s assessment in Infinity War, you’d think Endgame would be some bleak tale of revenge and that’s it. Technically, Endgame does begin as that, but it morphs into something more. It’s a tale of loss, hard choices, joy and survival. And, yes, revenge. It’s a do-over on some levels also. See, here, the Avengers who survived “the snappening” in Infinity War have to go on. They’re living day to day without their comrades, friends, loved ones and mentors/mentees. Life is bleak, with monuments to those lost when Thanos took out half of the universe’s population with a flick of his wrist and a twitch in his gauntlet. Time has, at once, stood still and moved on for those still around. They’re finding ways to cope and that’s the meat of the first third. It’s a brilliantly deconstructed look at the world in which the Avengers did not win. The visceral raw emotion of Avengers coping, and the world at large is beautiful and simultaneously heartbreaking. Of all the Avengers, Thor and Hawkeye are depicted as having the most pain with Black Widow a close second. It’s the train wreck that you can’t look away from and feel in your soul.

From that wreck, however, in the second act rises the phoenix of the Avengers and their allies. The most genius among them — Scott Lang, Hulk and Tony Stark — figure out a way to effect time travel. They engineer a way to travel to different points on their established timeline to retrieve the Infinity stones and bring everyone back. This makes for great comedy and revisits of some of the cinematic universe’s most memorable moments. Pop culture bits (such as America’s Ass for Captain America/America’s sweetheart Chris Evans and “Hail Hydra,” also for Cap) even make their way in, lightening the mood a bit. But alas, as you make one stride forward, there will always be another that takes you back. Hard choices must be made in order to see some gain, or so Marvel would have you believe. So, yes, you’re going to say goodbye to some fan favorites and yes, this is signifying that their time with the franchise is coming to an end. However, it’s handled well, and it invokes emotion so much so that young children will cry at the thought of losing their favorite superhero.

And, for a minute, let the editor just step back and reminisce about the experience of seeing the current crop of Avengers gathered together for likely the last time. When there was a pivotal death, at the most pivotal moment — yes, THAT death — there was not a dry eye in the house. A young child, no older than 6 probably, cried her eyes out. Adults around us, including the editor, sniffled and cried as though we had lost a beloved family member. THAT is how you do a proper sendoff to a beloved character and that is how you wrap up a story, one of redemption and selflessness for the character and the actor in real life.

Every beat hit and every note cleanly marked is the hallmark of these Avengers movies and Endgame was no exception. Threads from the early days were neatly wrapped and character investment paid off for nearly everyone. It was enough that when the lights came back up, the movie received a standing ovation and nearly everyone waited for a mid-credits scene that would never come. THAT is how you wrap 11 years and 22 movies into a neat package and remind everyone that you’re the master of the genre. That is how you thank your fans for taking the time to care and get to know your ensemble cast through individual movies and properties.

That’s Marvel, baby.

Like the comics?: 6
Casting: 10
Writing: 10

Overall score: 26 out of 30 or 8.6

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.

Strip Talk #27: My predictions for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Avengers: Endgame is out of theaters. Marvel actors have gone on to new projects and “the snappening” is now but a distant memory. There’s no more anticipation of the next dreadful thing from Thanos and whether our favorite superheroes are coming back to life. Now that the hubbub has died down, let’s take a realistic look at the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We know that certain properties have been given solid release dates or at least have been announced. Various TV shows — WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier — have been announced as in development and coming to Disney+. Several movies including the highly anticipated Black Panther sequel and the Black Widow standalone film have been detailed with release dates as part of the upcoming phases. But, while we know projected dates, we don’t know much about the characters coming and the new villains. This is where the speculation begins.

My takes on the new phases, you ask?

1. I know who the Eternals are. They are the next big ensemble group coming up. My biggest worry is that no one will get them, and they will be compared to the previous Avengers even though they aren’t Avengers at all;

2. There will be a new set of Avengers. You saw this concept when Civil War hit with the training of new members such as Falcon and Scarlet Witch. Though Endgame went with Falcon as the new Captain America — bypassing the Winter Soldier’s time with the shield — Bucky will get his chance to wield the vibranium. Also, Captain Marvel will join and there will be another Iron Man or Iron Person, if they’re following the comics;

3. Steve Rogers will find a way to come back. Given that the character has been killed at least once in the comics and returned — after considerable backlash — there must be some form of Steve Rogers somehow. I give it a few years before they throw a boatload of cash at fan favorite Chris Evans to come back and reprise our favorite souped-up star-spangled patriot.

4. Black Panther 2 will make just as much money as the first movie, if not more. As a black comic book fan, I know I contributed about $200 of its initial run. I went to see it no less than five times and bought it on DVD. I don’t do that with most movies. Black Panther is the exception to that rule. I intend to contribute further to one of the best superhero origin stories I have ever seen. Buy black y’all;

5. The next big villain of the MCU will be Galactus. He is the only other overarching villain that I can think of that would threaten the Marvel universe on the cosmic scale. This, of course, would mean Silver Surfer would have to be introduced as well as the Fantastic Four. Given that the Fantastic Four’s reboot didn’t do so hot recently, it’s a longshot for them. But they’re needed to pull off Silver Surfer, kind of;

6. The X-Men will get pulled back to prominence. Now that Disney owns 20th Century Fox, guess who can come back to the Marvel universe and be done correctly? Our favorite mutants will enjoy the benefits of tight writing and smart casting. There will be abundant Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen to go around and origin stories will be wonderful and plentiful, filled with accuracy and correct mutant powers; and,

7. With the X-Men does come a powerful villainous duo, who have been featured in some of the versus games: Apocalypse and Onslaught. These two are powerful enough on a cosmic scale (beyond an Omega-level mutant) to wreak appropriate havoc and cause mass widespread destruction, much like Thanos did. It remains to be seen who will emerge from that core, but if the X-Men come so does Magneto, who you need to create Onslaught. Both characters are a menace, not just to the X-Men but to all the Marvel universe.

So, with my predictions cast, I’m watching any Marvel casting news to see if any of these come true immediately. For the long-term, we’ll just have to see how this goes and if Marvel follows the same pattern that it did with introducing Thanos in the first ensemble movie and then using subsequent character sequels to build up to his main plan.
If you can’t tell easily, I’m excited as a true believer.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh [at] gaminginsurrection.com

Marvel character highlight #25: Thanos

Name: Thanos

Alias: The Mad Titan

Affiliation: Infinity Watch, Black Order

Special abilities: Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility and longevity. Thanos is a genius-level tactician capable of telekinesis and telepathy, can survive indefinitely without food or water and is immune to all terrestrial diseases and death from old age. The Eternal can also project plasma energy.

Background: Thanos was born on the Jupiter moon Titan to Eternals A’lars and Sui-San. He quickly developed a taste for death, intensely falling in love with Mistress Death, the physical embodiment of death. To impress Mistress Death, he killed his many children and augmented his strength and powers. He also kills millions of fellow Eternals on Titan and travels to find the Cosmic Cube. He succeeds, wills himself to become omnipotent and allies with Adam Warlock. After betraying Warlock, he manages to acquire the Infinity Gems to create a weapon to destroy a star. He loses the gems, but regains them, using them to erase half the population of the universe to prove his undying love to Mistress Death. These actions are undone by Nebula and Warlock eventually, and Thanos later joins Infinity Watch as a path to redemption.

Relationships: A’lars (father), Sui-San (mother), Eros (brother), Mistress Death (eternal companion), many children including Gamora (adopted daughter), Nebula (adopted daughter)

First Versus appearance: Marvel Super Heroes

Appearances in other media:
Television: Silver Surfer (animated), The Super Hero Squad Show (animated), Avengers Assemble (animated), Guardians of the Galaxy (animated), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Threat (animated), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Black Panther: Trouble in Wakanda (animated)

Film: The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame

Video games: Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Marvel Future Fight, Marvel: Contest of Champions, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Fortnite Battle Royale, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, Spider-Man Unlimited, Marvel Powers United VR, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

Top 5 on the Strip: Avengers Edition part 1

Steve Rogers/Captain America: If you ever needed a leader and wanted to make sure your every directive was followed, you employ Steve Rogers to get the job done. Rogers was the first Avenger and the last Avenger and the team’s heart and soul (and mom), no matter the roster.

Bruce Banner/The Hulk: Bruce Banner brings not only his vast genius intellect to the fight, but also his green angry alter ego Hulk, who is equal parts mad as he is cunning and destructive. The madder Hulk gets, the better the outcome for the Avengers.

Tony Stark/Iron Man: Much like Banner, Tony Stark brings his intellect to the fight and usually other toys to ensure that the Avengers will win. Beyond that, Stark provides a place for the Avengers to stay and upgrades for every team member. Think of him as the dad of the team as well as the brains of the organization.

Luke Cage: Now that Netflix has brought some of the more background Marvel characters to the forefront with excellent (but canceled) TV shows, Luke Cage has a spotlight on him that showcases his invaluable contributions. Cage is virtually indestructible with super strength to match. The Hero for Hire hasn’t joined the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just yet, but know that when he does, it will be worth the wait.

John Walker/U.S. Agent: An alternate version of Captain America, U.S. Agent is a bad dude. Receiving his super strength from the Power Broker, John Walker has gone against Captain America and won as well as joined the Avengers and its derivatives such as Norman Osborne’s Dark Avengers. Walker once worked for the Commission on Super Human Activities and has taken up the Captain America mantle in the past.

Marvel character highlight #24: Iron Man

Name: Anthony Edward “Tony” Stark

Alias: Iron Man, Golden Gladiator, Bullet-Head, Golden Avenger, Armored Avenger, Spare Parts Man, Crimson Dynamo, Tetsujin, Hogan Potts, Anthony of York, Randall Pierce, Cobalt Man, Man of Iron, Tin Man, “Irene,” Electro, T, Master of Machines, Space-Knight, Richard Franco, Martini, “Iron Pig” (Source: Marvel Database)

Affiliation: The Avengers, Stark Industries, S.H.I.E.L.D., Stark Unlimited, Red Team, Avengers (Heroes Reborn), Illuminati, Axis, Stark Resilient, Guardians of the Galaxy, Initiative (leader), Pro-Registration Superhero Unit (leader), New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Hellfire Club, Stark Solutions, Force Works, Avengers West Coast, United States Department of Defense, the Mighty, Knights of the Atomic Round Table, Alcoholics Anonymous, Damage Control, Imperio Techworks (Source: Marvel Database)

Special abilities: Super genius-level intellect, which has allowed Stark to amass multiple PhDs in physics and engineering. Stark is a master engineer, an expert at tactical analysis and business decision-making, and is skilled in hand-to-hand combat.

Background: Adopted by industrialist Howard Stark and wife Maria, Tony Stark started life as the child of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who gave him up as an infant. Tony lived life as a loner, going to boarding school and then on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he easily topped his class and graduated valedictorian at 17. With the death of his parents at 21, Stark took over family business and pushed the company to new heights.

While demonstrating armaments on a trip abroad to Afghanistan, Stark was captured and critically injured by a terrorist. Taking advantage of his captivity, Stark and another scientist held at the same time designed an armored suit and pacemaker for Stark to use to escape. Stark was successful, meeting Air Force pilot James Rhodes during this time. Stark made it back to the United States and showed off the technology for the suit to the public without also revealing his identity in the suit. Stark later joined the Avengers initiative after making the decision to use the suit for the forces of good and was part of the effort to locate Steve Rogers, who was still frozen in ice after World War II.

Relationships: Howard Anthony Stark (adoptive father), Maria Stark (adoptive mother), Pepper Potts (love interest, secretary), “Happy” Hogan (friend), James Rhodes (War Machine, friend), Amanda Armstrong (biological mother), Jude (biological father)

First Versus appearance: Marvel Super Heroes

Appearances in other media:

Television: The Marvel Super Heroes, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man (1990s animated), The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers: United They Stand, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Marvel Anime: X-Men, Marvel Anime: Iron Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, Avengers Assemble, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Avengers Reassembled, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s Spider-Man

Live-action film: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, The Incredible Hulk, The Consultant

Animation: Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Avengers 2, The Invincible Iron Man, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, Planet Hulk, Iron Man: Rise of Technovore, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, Iron Man & Captain America: Heroes United, Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher, Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight, Lego Marvel Super Heroes – Black Panther: Trouble in Wakanda, Ralph Breaks the Internet

Video games: Captain America and the Avengers, Marvel Super Heroes in War of the Gems, Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Avengers in Galactic Storm, Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal, The Invincible Iron Man, Tony Hawk’s Underground, Punisher, X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Marvel Super Hero Squad 2, Iron Man 2, Iron Man pinball, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, LittleBigPlanet, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth, Marvel Heroes, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Lego Marvel’s Avengers, Marvel Avengers Alliance Tactics, Marvel: Contest of Champions, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel: Future Fight, Marvel Avengers Academy, Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Property review: Black Panther

Marvel Studios, 2018

Black, powerful,beautiful

Seeing your people represented on the silver screen when you are a person of color means quite a bit. Seeing them do important things and be decent human beings means quite a bit more. Seeing them as royalty and enjoying prosperity means everything.

Written well and superbly acted, Black Panther has the difficult job of being a lot of things to a lot of people and it succeeds. Even with the heavy topics of race and what it means to be black in the world, there are light moments. Black Panther isn’t without humor and it’s deftly mixed in with the right balance. How it achieved this balance is important because it has quite a few stories to tell in a short amount of time.

When Black Panther was announced, the most we knew about T’Challa was from the comics: He was the ruler of Wakanda — a prosperous black nation in Africa that was hidden from the rest of the world — and that he was married to Storm of the X-Men. Also, he was on a quest of revenge for the death of his father T’Chaka, which occurred in Captain America: Civil War. That’s about it. But then something wonderous happened: Marvel started talking about T’Challa’s origin story and why it was important to get it out there. And that push began one of the greatest runs ever for a comic book property.

Black Panther is so layered with different concepts that it’s hard to not go down the rabbit hole too deep. Black Panther starts out with the re-introduction of T’Challa some months after the death of T’Chaka and T’Challa’s ascent to the throne of Wakanda. In swift order we are introduced to Okoye, Shuri and the advanced nature of Wakanda, thanks to the infinite supply of vibranium. T’Challa’s day-to-day struggle to rule Wakanda alongside its other clans, keep the nation safe from the outside world and get involved in the world’s affairs is just one of the layers and that’s swiftly peeled back to show that everything on the surface is just that: Surface material for the more pressing concept of just what it means to be black and free.

The introduction of Erik Killmonger is one of the next layers down. Killmonger represents the rest of the black experience: hurt, angry, bitter and wanting something more in life than to be stereotyped and abandoned by the world at large. Killmonger’s story is the result of what happens when we as black people are not uplifted and left at the mercy of an unforgiving system of oppression and what happens when we don’t help our own who are downtrodden and hurting. And though that struggle is simplified here for the general masses, it still speaks to the heart of America’s past and present in terms of race.

On a deeper level, there is the concept of what it means to be a leader and a man. T’Challa’s development from Civil War to Black Panther is so detailed that it feels like we knew nothing about him before Black Panther. And this is the same with the rest of the characters: No one is left out of the development process and every character’s motivations are addressed in painstaking detail. And with that development comes a wealth of standout characters. Shuri, Okoye, W’Kabi and Nakia are wonderful characters that add depth to T’Challa’s life and story. And the true scene-stealing addition is M’Baku, leader of the Jabari tribe. Making a memorable entrance early in the film, M’Baku manages to strike a defiant yet relatable chord in his quest to have his part of the Wakandian pie recognized for its might and resiliency.

And what a pie Wakanda is. From the opening sequence of T’Challa returning home from an important mission to the ending sequence showing the Wakandian sunset, the nation of free and prosperous black folk is a beauty. Everything that we imagine the motherland to be in its natural beauty and wonderment was and is a sight to behold in the fictional nation’s depiction. Wakanda is beautiful, lush and vibrant with an Afropunk futuristic vibe that we have only seen glimpses of in the real world through the pages of magazines.

Black Panther meant a lot of things to a lot of people when it hit the screen. Its sequel is poised to bring the same type of magic as well. With the show put on by director Ryan Coogler in Black Panther, we can only wish that our return to Wakanda is just as fun and important as our first go around. Wakanda forever.

How we grade

Acting: 10

Story: 10

Like the comics?: 9.5

Overall grade: 9.8

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.

Strip Talk #26: The DC universe could learn some lessons from Marvel

The DC Universe is at a crossroads I guess you could say. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has enjoyed unparalleled success, the DCU has all but died an ignominious death. Suicide Squad: flop. Batman vs. Superman: flop. Superman: flop. Justice League: flop. Aside from Wonder Woman, the Dark Knight trilogy and Aquaman, the DCU hasn’t been able to touch the prosperity of the MCU. There are reasons for this, but to keep this short, I’ll name just a few.

  1. The director carousel is too much. There are too many names involved in projects and there are too many of the same names popping up that shouldn’t. Brett Ratner. Seriously? Zak Penn? Joss Whedon? With the exception of Penn, all of these directors are problematic in their own right, and Ratner is an absolute joke who managed to somehow screw up X-Men: The Last Stand so terribly a whole new movie was done to counteract it.
  2. Despite having recognizable characters, DC doesn’t know what to do with them. Superman is the most obvious out of them all, mostly because they don’t seem to know how to write Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Batman is second given the number of different actors to play him. The Green Lantern should have been easy to write, but that flopped a decade ago and they haven’t returned to him since.
  3. Consistency isn’t in DC’s wheelhouse. All of their movies suffer from some type of inconsistency, whether it’s writing the overall plot or character motivation. DCU cannot seem to get it together when it comes to establishing and staying with a character over the course of more than one movie.

With the myriad issues surrounding the DC Universe, it’s a wonder there are films in the pipeline, but there are. Shazam is shaping up, there will be a sequel to Wonder Woman and Aquaman performed reasonably well to probably warrant a sequel as well. However, there have been other downturns: Henry Cavill is out as Superman as is Ben Affleck as Batman. Jared Leto’s Joker was panned but Joaquin Phoenix may be able to rescue the character.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but I’m imploring the DC Universe loreholders to take notes on Marvel’s Phase Three and pay attention to how a comic book film should be done. It’s made Marvel buckets of money over the past 10 years. Obviously, someone over there has created the Super Soldier Serum of Movie Success and succeeded in perfecting it.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh@gaminginsurrection.com

Strip Talk #25: Black Panther film is needed, necessary now

Needed. Necessary. Now. Black Panther’s release was all of this and more in a time when melanated super heroes on the big screen are far and few in between.

Why was the ensemble tale so necessary? While little children can throw a stone in any direction and hit any number of white superheroes, the number of black superheroes is small. In mainstream comic book movies, at most there are: War Machine, Storm, Cyborg and Falcon. That’s it. That is, until T’Challa and his nation of advanced progress hit the scene.

The presence of the almost entirely black cast was sorely needed. The presence of a capable black director was needed. Seeing positive images of black folks was needed. Why? Because it’s about time that black folks were shown as human, beautiful, smart and good people. It’s long overdue, but the thrill of seeing a black man run his nation and do the right thing when given a choice never gets old.

And why now? Because for the positive side of black superheroes to do well in this climate, it was nothing short of genius and a miracle. Now is the time for the conversations surrounding representation and diversity, and Black Panther is the perfect vehicle. Now is the time for black folks to rise above negative stereotypes and look at how we are perceived, point to Black Panther — a fictional character aside — and say, “We are more than capable of bringing in box office dollars and, most importantly, we are human and here to stay. We have a seat at the table.”

Wakanda forever.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh@gaminginsurrection.com