I opened up my blog for the first time in several months without a specific intent of what I was going to be writing about. I mean I have spent the last 7 or so blogs putting my fan-fic Jason Todd stories out there and hadn't really addressed anything else. So when I decided today was the day to put a new blog out there, I realized I didn't have the slightest idea WHAT I wanted to talk about....
There's Iron Man 3...which I enjoyed, thought it tried to hard for laughs at times, still not sure how I feel about The Mandarin twist, was surprised the 9pm premiere audience I was a part of didn't pop for the spots one would expect (like Pepper's big moment), and I thought the post-credits scene was cute...they don't always have to tease you for the next big movie and I don't see how a Thor 2 one would have worked here anyway.
We've got Man of Steel on tap in June and with each new trailer I find my excitement growing. The movie looks amazing and the "Can't I just keep pretending I'm your son? You ARE my son." exchange cinched it for me. This is my movie of the year and June 14th can't come fast enough but since I now work on Thursday nights there is no midnight (or 7pm Walmart screening) in my future for any upcoming movies. One thing I wanted to touch on about this movie though, and it's something inspired in my brain by a conversation with a friend yesterday as well as reading this from Brett White on CBR earlier today, is the idea of DARK AND GRITTY!!!
I was asked if I thought Man of Steel would be just that and it led me on a tangent about how there is no reason for that to exist in the world of Clark Kent. Yes the movie is being put out there by Zach Snyder who helped define those words in movies like 300 & Watchmen (just as much as Nolan did in his Bat-Trilogy) but it doesn't play in the world of Supes. As White said in his piece, Superman represents hope and unity and all the good things in a world too often filled with negativity and with the bad. Yes his birth planet was blown up but he was raised by two loving parents in a safe environment, brought up with strong values, grew up believing in the best of humanity, and strives to be that everyday. This quote IS the perfect summary: "You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They'll race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun."
That's what Supes is about and while I, like White, have generally shied away from Superman, there are those tales that capture it perfectly. I have read both Birthright and All-Star and they are amazing books...just takes the right author to make me care. Obviously Clark is going to have some issues, "surprise you're an alien" would be hard news to take no matter how well you were raised, but I don't want to see a brooding Bruce Wayne clone hiding inside Clark when he's all bearded and looks to be in full-on drifter mode. I want that to be a man learning about a world beyond Smallville and doing what he can to help where he can. It's hopefully the journey of a man finding out he's a hero, not of a man running away from who he is...
Also, I think I would put the same notion on Captain America as well...a "dark and gritty" Cap is not for me, it worked for Winter Soldier because of the life Bucky had endured but not for Steve Rogers. Maybe it's no coincidence that one of the Superman stories & the Steve Rogers Captain America stories I dig the most are written by Mark Waid...
So what shocks me, especially coming as a sequel (of sorts) to two of the most despised comic books movies, is that I am totally intrigued by The Wolverine! At first it was thrown out there as a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, then it evolved into a sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand, but the movie still maintains it is based on the amazing Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine mini-series from 1982 (on the must-read list for any X-Fan out there, it's where the whole "best at what I do" catchphrase started after all).
Based on the experience of Origins (a movie I wanted to like but just can't) and The Last Stand (a movie I enjoy but see why others don't), I wasn't very sure about this movie ever happening in any form and once it was announced that it was, suffice to say my guard was up. When Darren Aronofsky was briefly attached I was certainly intrigued by how he would present a super hero movie but my interest was about as fleeting as his I suppose. Having no clue who James Mangold was my desire for this movie to exist was...well...not nonexistent...but damn close. As a matter of fact it is only just now as I am writing this that I bothered to look at his IMDB to see that he directed two movies I enjoy in Walk The Line & Identity...nice!
Anywho, it wasn't until I started seeing the trailers that my interest was piqued and, just as with Man of Steel, it took multiple variations before it completely captured my attention. Now, after seeing the ninja fighting, the giant (robot?) Silver Samurai, Yukio, Viper, and the Famke Janssen spot...I am there. The Jean Grey moment in the trailer was similar to the acknowledgment from Tony in Iron Man 3 that what happened in NYC had affected him. For better or worse, the fact that X3 is being recognized and that the events of that movie will have repercussions on The Wolverine makes me a happy continuity nerd! Plus I have a very strong desire to see how, or if, this movie will play into the next piece of film business that has my attention...
X-Men: Days of Future Past! I am scared, excited, nervous, happy, anxious, etcetera etcetera for this one. It sounds so ambitious and loaded with every damn X-Character under the sun, bringing back Shawn Ashmore and Anna Paquin and Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as well as First Class cast members and, of course, Hugh Jackman. Promises of making sense out of the continuity chaos that is the cinematic X-Verse have me salivating at the prospects of how this could be accomplished. Will it be like JJ Abrams Star Trek where it plays as a prequel, sequel, and reboot all at the same time? How will the past & future interact? Time travel? Alternate realities? How will those tropes of comic book fantasy work in cinema? I cannot wait to see how it all plays out! First Class Xavier meet Trilogy Xavier!
My wandering mind just steered back to Iron Man 3, more specifically Robert Downey Jr's future in the Marvel movie-verse. I think it is impossible to argue that he is the foundation upon which the current Avengers movie franchise was built...if it wasn't for the success of the original Iron Man and how amazing the guy was in the role of Tony Stark, it is extremely safe to say we wouldn't have gotten to the point where Marvel is willing to make the ballsy play of releasing a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Hell, we would never have gotten to ONE Avengers movie for that matter...
So while I am dumbfounded by the dollar figures attached to both RDJ and Joss Whedon ($50 million for Downey in Avengers, $100 million contract for Whedon), based on how much money their movies have made for the company, it is hard to argue they aren't worth the price tag. It's just telling of our society that while we pay entertainers that much, for the majority of us who keep the gears turning on a daily basis those numbers are imaginary and unreachable. GET OFF THE SOAPBOX!!!
I don't bring this up to talk about that disparity though, I bring it up because of the disparity within the Avengers franchise when it comes to pay scale. I can understand paying the top draw the top money (to use a wrestling comparison Ricky Steamboat would never have made Hulk Hogan money) but, if the numbers are legit, to pay some of the cast $200,000 while Downey & Whedon made that much...it's insulting. So when I read that Downey is actually standing up for his fellow castmates and this drastic discrepancy, I want to applaud the man. Take Scarlet Johansson for one...they obviously feel she is very important, after all she has appeared in two of the Phase One movies (Iron Man 2, Avengers) and is filming Captain America: Winter Soldier. Aside from Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury and Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson (HIS NAME WAS PHIL!), she has been the most high-profile character to not have her own movie. I know Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye was also in two of the Phase One movies, but he was barely a factor in Thor...nowhere near as important as Black Widow was to Iron Man 2 or, now that I think about it, Coulson to the whole franchise.
If she is one of the $200K crew, I wouldn't blame her for wanting to balance the scales and get more black in her ledger (that was awful). Same goes for Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth who are THE LEAD ACTORS in their own franchise...their movies may not bank as much as Iron Man but still, they are the face of the character.
It will be interesting to see if Marvel recasts these parts for Avengers 2 or if they balance the pay scales out to try and keep the band together. Also can't help but wonder where Mark Ruffalo falls in all of this...he's awesome as Bruce Banner but he will, much like Hawkeye and Black Widow, probably never see his own movie.
Comic books....or at least one of them, the much anticipated and much delayed Age of Ultron event! This damn thing was first teased over two years ago in Avengers (Vol. 4) #12.1, then again during the 2012 Free Comic Comic Book day Age of Ultron #0.1 issue that reprinted the Avengers story, and here we are in 2013 and it is FINALLY starting, and almost over due to a bi-weekly print schedule, presumably to make way for Infinity this summer.
Honestly I should know better by now to expect much out of Bendis written event books after Secret Invasion and Siege.
The former had that snail's pacing with everything of interest to me (i.e. back story) happening in the Avengers tie-in books Bendis was writing. Sure SI had some cool moments but, in the end & in the long run, none of the Skrull reveals mattered and it ended up feeling like 8 issues of set-up for Dark Reign.
The latter, well, I just didn't care...I loved Norman Osborn's role during Dark Reign and spent the entire time waiting for that Goblin reveal but when it happened, it just fell flat. The story being cut down to four issues I took as Marvel realizing SI was TOO LONG but even at that shorter length Siege felt long to me.
So now we have AoU, obviously a play on the Age of Apocalypse name, and it feels like this just a story being ran through as quickly as possible because it was promised to us two years ago. It reads dated too because of that...particularly in the way Bendis writes Spider-Man. Now it has been insisted by Marvel that the AoU Spidey IS the Superior Spidey version but anyone who reads that book can see that either (A) Bendis has NO idea how to write Octo-Spidey or (B) He wrote this two years ago before Superior Spidey was a thought and just left it as Peter. Superior Spidey has a very distinctive way of talking that screams "THIS ISN'T PETER", his body language screams "I'M NOT PETER", and yet everything about AoU Spidey reads like Peter. It drives me nuts....
That aside, the pacing is glacial...the heroes stood around talking for four issues like it was an on-going series...and I just find it hard to get behind an alternate reality story of this nature. When AoA happened you knew the books would eventually get back to reality BUT the entire X-Men line changed to reflect the death of Xavier. I know that's not something possible to do in this more integrated Marvel U (back then the X-Men played all by themselves 99.9% of the time) but, maybe in part due to the fact that the next event was being solicited before this one even got started, AoU comes across like an afterthought in every way. It would have been ballsy but imagine if Marvel had changed the ENTIRE landscape for the duration of this book? That tells the readers something serious is going on here...and if you plan it in advance, much like the transition into AoA world, a writer can segue their story into it as much as possible then pick up the pieces when reality returns to normal.
Yet, like the glutton for punishment I am, I am continuing to read the series...it's got nice art and some cool moments but, like a review I read said...maybe on CBR...this is a story that could have played out over a couple issues of Exiles or the recently canned Extreme X-Men book.
Everything before this was written Thursday, everything from this point on was written Friday. It will make sense why I am pointing that out shortly...
So I just finished reading Green Lantern #20, the final issue of Geoff Johns' nearly ten year running manning the Hal Jordan ship and redefining the landscape of the GL-Verse. I have written about this before...
- Green Lantern & The New 52...10/15/12
- Rebirth 7/1/11
- Sinestro Corps Part 2 6/12/11
- Sinestro Corps Part 1 6/6/11
- Blackest Night 5/16/11
...but not in any detail since the New 52 began. To be honest about it, I have not been greatly engrossed in anything going on in the GL books since Blackest Night ended. I was not a fan of the Brightest Day/War of the Green Lanterns saga that wrapped up the old DCU and, aside from enjoying the interaction between Hal & Sinestro, I haven't been very engrossed by the New 52 stories. I don't care about Baz at all yet, the Wrath of the First Lantern story was boring as hell to me with essentially every chapter just repeating the same "false reality inflicted on a lead character" angle. The only exception, and the brightest spot of the arc, has been the Hal & Sinestro in the Dead Zone pages of which they were not a great deal. Suffice to say that I couldn't wait for this arc to end even though it meant Johns leaving the book.
All that being said, I have to say that GL #20 was an amazing send-off for Geoff, Doug Mahnke, and everyone else who helped build the GL-Verse into the behemoth it has become since Rebirth. Yes we have seen the "rewrite reality" schtick done a million times over in comic books but in this issue, for the first time in this arc, it really feels like Volthoom's purpose is secondary to the real story: the story of Hal & Sinestro. Volthoom is a prop, his mission is background noise, the endless supply of Lanterns from every color are meaningless in this larger story...this is ultimately about Hal, Sinestro, and their enduring friendship despite everything that has happened over the years. Hal still wants to believe Sinestro is a good man, he will not give up on him, and Sinestro actually does demonstrate he still has that heart. Hell I think it's safe to say that Sinestro is the MOST emotional of all these beings floating around space.
Add in all the quotes from various creators, friends, and family reflecting on Johns' run as well as Geoff's own farewell to the GL-Verse, and you have quite a complete package for a final issue. It even answers some of the "what's still continuity?" questions that linger from the old DCU into the New 52!
So despite my general lack of interest in the last year and a half of Green Lantern, I am quite sad to see such an epic run come to an end. Let me say though that it is not a matter of the book being bad, well except for maybe the majority of Wrath of the First Lantern, it just that it is hard to match the levels of awesomeness achieved with Blackest Night, Sinestro Corps War, Rebirth, and all the other stories that have built to this finale.
It changed the face of DC Comics, it brought Hal Jordan, a character I was only tangentially familiar with from Reign of the Supermen, into my wheel house and made me love him, and it used the building blocks of what came before to create a new and very deep mythos around the GLC.
This is the reason I felt it necessary to point out that I'm writing this part on Friday, hence the reason I didn't just lump it in with the Days of Future Past block.
So Quicksilver, who Joss Whedon had recently announced would be be part of Avengers 2 alongside Scarlet Witch, is now also going to be part of the X-Men: Days of Future Past cast! WTF?!?!
The internet kind of had a meltdown for a minute, thinking we might suddenly start seeing the two distinct movie franchises from two separate studios share a universe or something, but the reality of that ever happening is...none. Not even slim to none...just the none.
It makes me curious why this is happening...is it a move out of spite? A challenge? Doing it because they can? It also makes me wonder just what other characters could fall into this same murky water of being available to both movie franchises. Does it depend on which comic book they first appeared in or which comic they appeared in most frequently? Not even getting into the current A+X world Marvel Comics lives in, you've got characters like Beast and Carol Danvers who have been involved with both teams for decades, or even Wolverine & Spider-Man who have been part of the Avengers for nearly a decade. What is it that determines movie rights exactly? Could the Fantastic Four, three of whom have been Avengers in the past, be used? I am more intrigued by HOW this works than anything else...
Trinity War is almost here and do I care? I think the answer is a lifeless grunt. Not quite as drawn out as the delay between AoU's tease and the actual publication, this mega-event for the New 52 was first teased in the 2012 FCBD book from DC. This isn't something unusual for Geoff Johns by the way as he did exactly that for Sinestro Corps War (teased in the final issue of Rebirth I think) and Blackest Night (teased in the last part of Sinestro Corps War) BUT I felt like those stories were built towards in the gaps.
I'm not sure if Trinity has actually been built towards...maybe that's the kind of thing where the pieces will fall into place when I get to read it. Right now it it just feels like I am being TOLD this is important instead of being SHOWN it's important. I read JL, JLA, and JLD and I in no way feel like these books are headed for some big collision in just two months time...and building it around a big murder mystery premise is doing nothing for me. Maybe I'm just being cynical comic book guy here but let's see, Johns just introduced three new JL members in The Atom, Element Woman, and Firestorm (the only one who had his own book). Well is it a safe bet to say either Atom or Element Woman are dying? Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Flash all have their own book, Cyborg's involvement (despite not adding up to much of anything for most of the series) was pushed as a big deal, and Green Lantern Jordan technically quit. So again...safe bet on one of the newbies getting killed.
Pandora is uninteresting to me thus far aside from wanting to know WHY she said reality had to be rewritten at the end of Flashpoint. Don't care about Phantom Stranger, this Question isn't Renee Montoya so I don't care, I have not been impressed one bit with Justice League of America thus far, so sadly I am heading to Trinity War with very low expectations. Maybe...as was the case with the Atlantis arc in JL...this will work in my favor and I will be overjoyed by its quality!
And finally let me just say that I am super excited for this one though and a lot of the reason comes from this excerpt from an IGN interview Batman writer Scott Snyder did here
Snyder: What happened was, I started thinking about all the things we never saw in Batman: Year One; the adventures and the early years of Bruce that had been unexplored -- a lot of the first things that happened to him. I was kind of planning on telling a story about that at some point. Then what happened – and this is me just being totally honest with you, Joey, and I guess everybody out there reading [laughs] – is that I realized over the last five or six months that a lot of the things I was trying to work around from Year One, in my story, didn’t track anymore with the present day continuity of the [New] 52.
Meaning, Jim Gordon’s son, James, would be five or six years old. And believe me, nobody loves Year One more than me. Using that book as a foundation of what you build on is hugely important to me. But, Selina Kyle’s origin is different, Barbara Gordon’s origin is different, the Falcone family is different. All of that stuff is different, and so what happened was it became, “Do I do this more tepid early years story that tries very hard to work around the elements of Year One that we could actually show again to show that they exist still and just retread?” Or does it become about saying, “I’m going to be respectful of Year One and the things that I love, but try and do something with Greg that’s our own and shows you how Batman became Batman in the 52?
As I have said before, with the history of the Bat & GL franchises theoretically left intact with the reboot a whole slew of problems were presented but left unaddressed. As Snyder stated, when the New 52 history began to unfold, characters new origins didn't vibe with that idea so well. It's refreshing to hear that addressed by the guy spearheading the Bat-Verse and I like that he is making an attempt to do something along these line. As much of a continuity whore as I can be though, I don't want to see a story that is just a point-by-point history book and I am not so stuck on what carried over from the Old DCU, I just would expect everything within the New 52 to make sense. Create your rules and then follow them...that's a simple guideline for creating any fantasy realm and the New 52 has shown more than a few hiccups (I'm looking at you Scott Lobdell and your faux-Tim Drake). Maybe that's why I find it funny that Snyder specifically said this in the interview though, "This is not, 'Why is Damian as old as he is?'"
I keep trying to remind myself that the New 52 is only two years old and that it took an eternity for Marvel and DC to really cement their universes in the first place. I just wonder, and probably always will, if anyone from DC sat down and thought out the finer points the way Bendis did with Hank Pym's AoU death here?
Anyway, I kind of hope that the idea of Zero Year catches on for some of the other New 52 books and that in five-ten years, when we have all hopefully finally stopped calling it the New 52, we will have some sort of idea of DCU history in the sense we all head it prior to Flashpoint. Instead of Crisis, we will have Trinity...instead of Knightfall we will have Death of the Family...instead of Death of Superman we will have...I don't know, probably not He'l On Earth though.