Avengers: Spidey

 

Yes, it is awesome.

And I love the way Spidey just casually blocks Bucky’s punch and holds him back, just to remind you how strong the Peter Parker actually is.

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Aaaaaw Yeah. Doctor Strange Trailer

 

 

First of all, the mind bending effects are great. They get the weirdness of Strange’s “world” first captured by Jack Kirby (who is one of *the* creative names in comic book history), which has a very 1960 sensibilities….

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…without stepping *that* far outside the norm that the non-comic book reading audience will lose the suspension of disbelief. (And yes, that one shot of the multiple NYCs is very reminiscent of Inception, but after the previous effects shots of reality parting I’ll forgive it.)

Again, Cumberbatch is a perfect choice for Stephen Strange. Strange’s story is that of a man falling from human hubris into wisdom and mystical power. Yes, it’s a comic book movie, but the main character’s emotional arc is a very dramatic one. It’s a part any actor would eat up a ladle, and Cumberbatch I think will be able to pull it off very well.

Interesting choice of Tilda Swinton for The Ancient One. It’s an intriguing take on a character that is a martial arts/mystic stereotype of the old Asian man. (Mess not with the old Asian man carrying a flute, he will beat the crap out of you with it.) And she does that detached androgyny, as if she is a being has passed beyond human concepts, very well. I approve. I’m sure some Marvel/Strange fans are going ape-shit, but I think it’s a very cool choice.

The final shot in the trailer is a direct nod to the fans. It’s the famous window of Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum (which is located, in this plane of existence, in Greenwich Village, NY).

DrStrangeSanctum

Prepare Yourselves…

…for mas violence, foul language and breaking the 4th wall. Repeatedly.

And chimichangas.

Yes, it’s Marvel’s first R-Rated movie (which really was the only way they could do justice to the character). Since Blade anyway.

First there was the viral trailer to get the fan momentum going for this film that came out last year (which had the best use of “Just Call Me Angel” in an film or TV program, ever). Then the release date announcement.

Then the leaked trailer from ComicCon (which has some additional footage than the official trailer below, but it’s small with really crappy resolution) a few weeks go.

Then the teaser for the official trailer.

And now, for to make Geek-Happy! This, people, is Deadpool.

NSFW, small children, sensitive AI’s and fainting goats.

It’s is so good to be a geek these days.

I Sense a Great Disturbance in the Geekdom

As if millions of geeks suddenly “Squee!”d in nerdgasm, and then were endlessly debating what should or should not be in the movie, making dramatic “I refuse to see if if they do/don’t do Blank!” statements.

Fox Sets Deadpool Release Date.

Awesome. 😀

I don’t know if I have ever seen viral marketing make a feature film happen, other than Serenity. The power of the fandom displayed in this event is pretty impressive.

Made of Awesome – Updated

Test footage for a new Deadpool movie

(Warning: No blood..well, very little blood, but very violent, very funny.)

This will be a vast improvement on his appearance in the Wolverine film. This is Deadpool.

UPDATE: It looks like this was test footage from 2011, when it was still in the works. Maybe fan response will push them to make the movie now?

For the uninitiated, Deadpool is Marvel’s official character of satire and lampshading. He’s a complete looney who believes he is in a comic book and regularly notes/mocks common comic book tropes and breaks the fourth wall. Even the character itself, Wade Wilson, is a blatant satire of DC’s Deathstroke/Slade Wilson, mocking the trope of the “tough loner, mercenary with tragic past, shades of heroism, etc.” And yes, they have met.

deadpool_vs_deathstroke,

In-comic, Deadpool is another product of the same government program that produced Wolverine. Deadpool has the same healing factor…times a 100. He can reattach limbs and even his head. (His “natural” appearance is due to a cancer that was a by-product of the government program. I guess like all cancers are out of control cell growth, his cancer went really out of control when the healing factor came in.) The healing factor is so accelerated, his brain is replacing dying neurons so fast that his mind is being constantly re-written, hence the crazy. He does team ups sometimes, but is not a member of any team because few in the Marvel Universe can stand him.

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So most of his off hours are spent in his filthy apartment eating chimichangas and watching porn and the Golden Girls.

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But he does have a soft side…

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Everything You Need to Know About Guardians of the Galaxy

And no, I did not go all pedantic fangirl on you. I kept it light/brief.

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Comic-Book

When Marvel announced that they were making Guardians of the Galaxy as part of their cinematic universe, even comic book readers were scratching their heads. Guardians of the Galaxy is a pretty esoteric title even by Marvel fans’ standards. It was an unusual choice, but now we can see how a team in space will reveal more of the Thanos story hinted at in the end-credits scenes of The Avengers and Thor: Dark World, the story that is probably what is going to tie the entire multi-franchise films series together. And it looks like a hell of a lot of fun while getting rave reviews from people who have attended advance screenings.

GoG opens this August 1st in the U.S.. I’m not sure what the international dates are.

Obviously Marvel will set this up so that non-comic book fans can walk into the theatre cold and enjoy the story, but for those wanting a little more background here’s the comic book skinny. I am not a regular reader of GoG by any stretch, but here is what I know and have gleaned:

The original Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in 1969 in Marvel Superheroes. Like Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Presents, Strange Tales, etc., Marvel Superheroes was one of those series both major comic book houses have to play with one shot stories and introduce new characters and teams to test them out on the audience before devoting an entire comic book series to them. The original Guardians of the Galaxy was a departure from the established Marvel Universe; a group of aliens set in a possible future (31st century) who help Captain America liberate earth and the rest of the galaxy from a tyrannical empire (the Badoon, which makes me wonder if they were the inspiration for Doctor Who’s Jadoon much like Capt. Jack Harkness was named after Marvel’s Agatha Harkness). None of the characters in the current team were in the original one.

At the time, the Guardians did not quite make the grade, especially where/when Marvel heroes tended to be more Earth-based than their DC counterparts.  (Indeed, where the DC is set in a fictional universe with Metropolis, Star City, Gotham, etc., the Marvel Universe is set in the “real world” of Manhattan, Los Angeles, London, etc. Marvel comics has also been braver about tackling real world issues.)  But they never quite went away as writers would find excuses to use them again time to time in the Avengers comic book or other collection series. Eventually, they were given their own comic book in 1990 which ran to 1995.

Then in 2008 Guardians got an entire reboot as a new team was brought together to fight off an invasion from the Negative Zone (another dimension). While characters come and go through their membership, the core characters are  the ones you are going to become familiar with in the film. All of them had long past in the M.U. on their own before joining the GoG, all first appearing in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Now, these are the comic book versions of the characters, the film is probably going to rework their characters and backstories.

StarLord comicStarLord Film

StarLord/Peter Quill: Peter Quill is the result of an encounter between a human and an alien prince. He was raised on earth and eventually found his way to space. After finding his father, he turned down being heir to the throne to run off and have adventures. He often finds himself at the center of major events affecting the galaxy and the universe, sometimes attempting to broker peace. But Quill is not a pure hero. While he is usually on the side of the angels, he is an abrasive (and funny), ends-justify-the-means person, occasionally tripping over the line into amoral.  (For example, he asked a telepath to influence individual members into joining the GoG.) But he is not without a conscience and once gave up the StarLord identity in guilt over taking thousands of lives to stop the Herald of the planet-eating Galactus. He is also a cyborg, requiring cybernetic implants, etc. after serious injuries.

(I doubt they are keeping the “alien royalty dad” thing, but it looks like the film-Quill is going to be one of those “suddenly transported from everything he has ever known” tropes who, instead of whinging about wanting to go home, embraced his inner nine-year-old. “WHOOHOO! I’M A SPACEMAN!”)

Gamora comicGamora film

Gamora, Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy: The last surviving member of her race/species, Gamora was personally raised and trained by the inter-galactic tyrant Thanos to be the perfect warrior/assassin in order to take out one of his enemies. Unfortunately, before she came into her full skills, she was ambushed and gang raped. Thanos saved her and their father-daughter bond tightened. He enhanced her physical abilities, strength, speed, sense and a healing/regeneration factor. Eventually when she discovered that Thanos was going to attempt galactic genocide,  Gamora rebelled and helped stop her adoptive father. She then went on to have adventures of her own before joining the Guardians. So, bad-ass chick with conflicting feelings about her enemy and a big chip on her shoulder.

drax comicDrax film

Drax the Destroyer: Originally designed as protagonist to Thanos’ antagonist, Drax has gone through many re-imaginings as writers tried to find a way to make the character work. His story has remained the same: Thanos killed his family and he is out for revenge, but his personality has drastically altered though time. For a while the character simply became a joke, a stupid, angry strongman, but in 2005 one writer took on the character in Drax’s own miniseries and dragged the character back from the depths of ridiculous cliche. He is a not merely a raving madman, but a ruthless and cunning opponent.

RocketcomicRocket film

Rocket Racoon: Rocket is a former police/military officer from a planet that was an asylum of insane aliens that were abandoned by their caretakers generations ago. Left to their own deceives, some of them began running genetic experiments on their pets, creating intelligent creatures to care for them. Some of the creatures were made to be the police force/military, bred with enhanced tactical minds and trained for advanced equipment and weaponry. Eventually, the insane humanoids of the planet were cured and Rocket was able to leave with others to go off and have his own adventures, showing up in various Marvel titles (even sharing an adventure with StarLord) before eventually joining the GoG. Rocket’s unusual back-story and trope lampshading personality (and the bad-ass raccoon thing) made him an fan cult-favorite for years before he joined the GoG. Think of a smaller version of Wolverine, only not as nearly as angst-ridden and much smarter.

Rocket kicks so much ass.

groot comicgrootfilm

Groot: Don’t let the very limited vocabulary fool you, that is his Majesty King Groot the 23rd, last of his species and genius in physics. Even by comic book standards, Groot was an esoteric character when he joined the GoG, having only made two appearances in stories since 1960 in a traditional monster role. Groot and his peculiarities are so cool, I don’t want to spoil it for movie goers, but he is the most purely good character of the group.

Four other characters who look like they will feature heavily are:

Thanos comicThanos film

Thanos: I question whether we will see much of him in this film, but his presence will be felt heavily. Thanos is the most powerful villain in the Marvel Universe (Galactus really is not a villain, but a force of nature), a tyrant who’s empire spans galaxies (it’s so big, he just assumes he rules the entire universe) with a romantic obsession with the anthropomorphization of Death. He is Doctor Doom times a billion; knowledge and intelligence far surpassing humanity, powerful, an ego that stratospherically surpasses “arrogance” in his utter belief in his superiority over everything in the universe, and controlling in the same way Doom is controlling. He doesn’t micromanage and is not concerned with what the “lesser beings” do amongst themselves until they can help or hinder his plans. Marvel fan’s have a pretty good idea what the Thanos arc is, but we won’t spoil it for the rest of you.

(Any resemblance to DC’s Darkseid is completely coincidental. 😉 )

Ronan comicRonan film

Ronan the Accuser: Ronan is a Kree, one of the most prominent alien species in the Marvel Universe.  Earth has often been caught in the middle in the hundreds-years old ongoing conflict between the Kree and the Skrulls, neither side really giving a damn about stomping on the human race in the process. Ronan is the “Supreme Accuser” for the Kree: The pinnacle of their judicial system, the judge, jury and executioner responsible for the carriage of justice in the empire. In D&D alignment terms, Ronan is true Lawful Nuetral caring only about justice, order and protecting the Kree empire. This means he can be a hero or villain depending on the circumstances, and he is generally dickish the whole time.

Nebula comicNebula film

Nebula: Space mercenary/pirate, and not the fun kind. Nebula has grand ambitions of conquest far above her station and abilities because she believes herself to be the granddaughter of Thanos. (Thanos has denied it.) Power hungry, she has destroyed planets in her attempts to establish her own empire. Attempts which always fail either because of various superheroes or because of Thanos himself had just about enough of her shenanigans.

collector comiccollector film

The Collector: The Collector is an Elder of the Universe, one of the most ancient beings in existence (older than Thanos). The Collector does what it says on the tin: He collects and preserves artifacts, inanimate or living, whether they want to be preserved or not. (Often, it is not.) He does not do so out of greed, but out of obsession and fear of the apocalyptic destruction of the universe.

Also figuring heavily in the story is the Nova Corp, which is essentially a intergalactic police force. (Any resemblance to DC’s Green Lantern Corp is completely coincidental. 😀 )

One of the reasons I think Marvel films are enjoying such success is that they contain an essential ingredient Marvel comics have forgotten: They are fun. Marvel comics have long tackled real world issues with intense drama and often dark character development, but for most of their history they were able to balance that with fun and uplifting stories. In the 2000’s the comic books lost sight of that with constantly dark, morally ambiguous and depressing storylines. The film have brought back what superhero comic are supposed to be: Flawed, human heroes fighting impossible odds to do the right thing, and emerging victorious.

(Oddly, with DC comics the situation is flipped, their comics are fun, but the films have gone overboard into angsty and gritty.)