Posts Tagged ‘Marvel’

Comics: X-Men ’92: Warzones

Posted: August 4, 2017 in Comics
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Warzones

It was the 90’s when I first fell in love with the X-Men. Thanks in some part to the excellent animated series, which X-Men ’92 is a total love letter to. Written by Chad Bowers and Chris Smith the series features an all star cast – Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee and Storm (Note there are some very cool surprises that I don’t want to ruin but there are more X-Men beyond those listed here) and a art style by Scott Koblish that pays homage to the 90’s mutants. Yet it is the writing that adds more to the story of Warzones than it simply being a tie-in to whatever universe ending event Marvel has cooked up (I believe this was linked to Secret Wars) or a simple homage to a beygone era. Make no mistake X-Men ’92: Warzones is a full on X-tale in it’s own right and it is one hell of a ride. So much so was the success of the title that Marvel allowed it to continue beyond the Warzones event and it would prove a hit with both critics and fans.

Scott Koblish’s art is boss. From the big splash action set pieces, to the smaller exchanges between characters – Wolverine throwing Cyclops some shade, how Gambit constantly pines for Rogue while trying to remain cool – Koblish nails it all and the book is the stronger for having him on board.

The 90’s love is front and centre in X-Men ’92, from the bright bombastic colours and costumes, to the BIG guns and unashamed action that our favourite mutants find themselves caught up in. Any of you out there who happen to be a fan of early 90’s X-Men, or X-Force or any and all X-Men of that era will just devour this book. One of the coolest parts is the team just hanging out a shopping mall, just like in the original cartoon series, that comes under attack but not before the group goes all in on a game of lazer tag! It’s so funny. Cyclops, of course, taking the game FAR too seriously while Jubilee is in her total element. As the plot develops we get into more weighty material with an instituion, seemingly simillar to that of Xaviers, that is set on dangerous mutant rehabilitation and it falls to the X-Men to investigate. It goes without saying that not everything is as it seems.

Villain wise we get a extremely cool and unexpected main baddie. Yet there are plenty of nods to other much loved villains X-Men fans from any era will know and love and not to mention one that serves as a great set up for the future ongoing series that would kick off after this Warzones event. Sadly I ain’t gotten around to buying the next parts of X-Men ’92 but you can be sure they’re on my ‘Wish List’.

Seriously as a X-Men fan I can say this is the most fun I’ve had with the mutants since well…the 90’s. Check out X-Men ’92: Warzones. It’s not too expensive and it’s well worth adding to any Marvel comic collection.

 

 

 

 

Domino dominates Deadpool 2!

Posted: August 2, 2017 in Comics, Movies
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Last week (again I’m great with the breaking news aren’t I? Haha) Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds revealed the FIRST look at actress Zazie Beetz (Atlanta) as the mutant Domino. Of course X-Men fans will know her as time traveller Cable’s partner in crime and often time member of X-Force. Domino uses her abilities to manipulate events around her to her favour, which must come in handy in those life and death situations as she kicks a tremendous amount of arse! I haven’t seen Atlanta (yet) but I hear it’s great and I think Beetz looks great as Domino.

My fear for the sequel is it goes bigger than the first flick and ends up a bloated mess and honestly I can’t wait to be proven wrong on that assumption. What I would love is to see another action packed and lean adventure clocking in at just 95 minutes or so but the film is not being made just for me so here’s hoping whatever the end result is it’s a winner.

Deadpool 2 is directed by David Leitch (John Wick) and sees the return of Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Leslie Uggams and pretty much everyone else who survived the first movie. Josh Brolin and Beetz join the series as newcomers Cable and Domino.

You can catch Deadpool 2 next summer.

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Mavel and Sony have delivered a good movie with Spider-Man: Homecoming. It is crazy to think that Spider-Man is now on his third reboot in just a little over ten years. If this tells fans anything it is that Sony is unwilling to give up on delivering a quality product. Perhaps that is why once Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2 showed signs of not hitting with audiences Sony felt it was time to re-think it’s approach to the licence and who better to help out than Spidey’s home Marvel? Captain America: Civil War introduced audiences to the MCU version of Spider-Man and Homecoming is his full on solo MCU feature debut and when all is said and done it’s a home run.

Spider-Man: Homecoming feels like a John Hughes teen movie with sprinkles of Super Hero adventure scattered throughout the films running time. Think Marvel Presents The Breakfast Club. It’s a great approach to the character, but just as important is the decision to cast young. Tom Holland, barely out of his teens, makes for a believeable teenage Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He is relatable as your everyday highschool kid yet able to sell his smarts and inherent heroics as Spidey. Nailing the casting for Spider-Man was always going to be what made or broke Homecoming, with Tom Holland Sony and Marvel have got a charismatic actor to anchor the series moving forward.

The plot of Spider-Man: Homecoming is the films other strong point. It’s very simple, despite the trailers – which don’t give everything away I promise – featuring Iron Man, multiple villains and other Easter Eggs. Homecoming at it’s core it very much a movie about a kid having to come to terms with the realities of being a super hero. At this stage in his hero career Peter wants to leap before he can crawl so to speak and so the lesson of Homecoming is for him to make mistakes and get some perspective. The way that is handled – through Michael Keaton’s excellent portrayal of The Vulture and how his arc interacts with Peter’s – is a credit to films writers John Francise Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Homecoming is a smart movie, The Vulture isn’t an outright despicable guy and you can understand his reasoning for the choices he makes meanwhile Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and especially Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) can come across as assholes at times so you can forgive and understand Peter’s rash decisions as the kid is pretty much left to figure all of this Super Hero stuff out for himself. I mean look when you think about it Tony recruited Peter to take part in Civil War and then he’s basically giving him a taste of the major leagues and then dropped him off “We’ll call you, don’t call us” sort of thing? Any kid would be going out of their mind wanting to get back into the game!

Director Jon Watts handles the drama, the pace and the action with ease. The action in the film is never over the top or world threatening in nature and as such it’s a breath of fresh air having a more grounded threat and action that spirals out from that. The film takes a few twists and turns in it’s plot that I liked a lot and I felt the film was only stronger for them as they served the plot naturally and totally stayed true to the whole 80’s teen movie vibe. The comedy hits and the cast is rounded out with a likeable ensemble of young up and coming talent and seasoned vets. Another strength of Homecoming is the way it’s able to move away from the Spider-Man check list we’ve seen again and again. So there’s no Uncle Ben here or Gwen Stacy and such. Instead we get a focus on the characters who have comic counterparts but have yet to have a chance to really breath on the screen.

As a massive Spider-Man fan I can say I walked out of Homecoming thinking it was a fun time at the movies and a credit to the source material. It’s not the best comic book movie I’ve ever seen and it never had to be. It showed up confident in what it is and did it’s thing and that I can appreciate and hope this new iteration of Spider-Man continues to do!

Doctor Strange

Posted: July 3, 2017 in Movies
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Doctor Strange is a character I was never that interested in, indeed my only exposure to him was through the excellent 90’s Spider-Man animated series. I’ve never read a Doctor Strange comic in my life. I was surprised that Marvel announced he would be getting his own movie and I will say the trailers most certainly stood out from what I was used to seeing from Marvel and the MCU. Up until Doctor Strange we had hardly any idea of how the world of magic and sorcery fit into the MCU. On that basis alone I wanted to at least check the film out.

The plot of the movie is “hero origin” as per usual. I don’t mean to sound dismissive (hey if the format ain’t broke don’t fit it right?) but Strange’s origin is a very familiar one. He starts off the movie ignorant and thinking he has his whole life figured out and then has everything turned upside down via a horrific accident. Unable to accept his fate he travels to the far east in order to seek out an ancient form of rehabilitation which ends up being far more magical than he could have ever believed. Throw in some villains, a potential world ending scheme and an arc of self discovery and you got the plot. What pushes Doctor Strange in more unique (and quite good ways) are the mystical elements and Inception like world manipulation on display that is used to great effect.

Even as I write my thoughts up on Doctor Strange I can sense they’re coming off more and more dismissive and that is not my intention. Doctor Strange is a decent film with great original touches yet its backbone just felt all too familiar and safe. Cast wise Benedict Cumberbatch is decent as Strange but the movie belongs to Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One. Her scenes are great and honestly I felt like she was the far more interesting character. The great Rachel McAdams is wasted in a throw away role as a nurse and sometimes lover of Strange. Honestly I wish Marvel would move away from these ‘nothing’ roles for great actresses. Chances are we’ll never see McAdam’s character again and I wouldn’t blame her should she choose not to return. Mads Mikkelsen plays the films big bad and he’s always good and he gets some help from underrated action star Scott Adkins. Adkins has one of the cooler moments in the movie that allow him to use his arse kicking talents. Chiwetel Ejiofor provides strong support as Mordo, a fellow mystic who teams up with Strange and has one of the better arcs throughout the film.

Doctor Strange is a film that I felt had more than enough hints of bold new ideas. You can’t accuse director Scott Derrickson of pulling back on the trippy and magic and for that alone the film should be applauded for going all in on the source. I just wish there was more to Doctor Strange himself (at least what we see here); maybe (I found myself thinking this last night) Marvel could have introduced Strange already established and not done a origin because it just seemed too safe. I’m under no illusions that it must be tough to maintain the MCU and it’s clear a lot of effort goes into it. Just this movie (and I stress movie here) was more like a pilot and with Ant-Man (which I’ve yet to see) and the inbound Captain Marvel and Black Panther I fear the MCU could start to become as safe as a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Ain’t nothing wrong with that but you gotta be in the mood for more of the same.

Like many of you I thought Black Panther was one of the best parts of Civil War. From the moment he appears on screen you can not help but be blown away. I liked Civil War but I prefer the more self contained solo Marvel movies better than the team ups (aside from the first Avengers).

The glimpses we get of Wakanda are incredible and have a cool science fiction vibe that ties into our own world mythology and the idea of fabled ‘lost’ cities that I think is very cool. Other standout footage includes looks at Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, who may be the films villain and T’Challa’s personal guard Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Okoye (Danai Gurira). The rest of cast is full of great talent with Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis rounding it out.

Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther and is directed by Creed’s Ryan Coogler and will hit screens February 2018.

X2: X-Men United

Posted: May 31, 2017 in Comics, Movies
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I saw X2 while I was away at college. Walking out of the cinema me and my buddy turned to one another with the biggest grins. We’d just seen one of the best comic book movies to date in 2003. X2 does everything bigger and better than the first film. The plot is more ambitious, the action much more accomplished and the world is expanded with several new character introductions and expansion for those we already know. Bryan Singer, no doubt about it, knocked his X-Men sequel out of the park and it’s still to this day a fantastic X-Men movie.

The plot of X2 sees the government grow more fearful of mutants after the events of the first film. Col. Stryker (Brian Cox) , a black op’s like agent with ties to Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) uses that fear as an excuse to enforce his own deadly plan to get back at Professor X and mutantkind for his own personal reasons. Stryker sees mutants at best as tools to be used and at worse as deadly threats that must be wiped out. Meanwhile Magneto (Ian McKellen)remains in custody for his extremist actions from the first film but it isn’t long before he once more sets out to fight for the rights of mutants whatever the cost. The writers on X2 do a great job of carving out a strong narrative that not only has to serve many, many characters but expand the scope of the X-Men on screen and it’s a credit to them that they achieve it with X2.

Bryan Singer shows off way more confidence this time around. The opening of the movie features one of the genre’s most celebrated sequences that is still praised today as the teleporter Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) carries out an assassination attempt on the U.S. president. Stryker’s assault on the Xavier Institute is a total blast, you get to see Wolverine let loose, several fan fave mutant cameos  and a variety of cool displays of mutant abilities as the students and staff attempt to hold off the soldiers. One of the best parts of the whole film is a knock out brawl between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), a character those familiar with the comics will know and their showdown is flat out brutal.  Composer John Ottman delivers a thumping score throughout the whole movie which is simply terrific.

As I said the roster of characters old and new is massive so forgive me for not mentioning everyone save to say all of the actors are great in their roles. Personally I loved that Mystique (Rebecca Romijin) got way more to do. Her character is used really well. Jackman, Stewart, Cox and Mckellen are fantastic as usual. Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey gets her own subplot throughout with major payoff at the end that comic fans will eat up. Nightcrawler and Deathstrike are good but it’s Aaron Stanford as fire manipulator Pyro who makes the biggest impression and his arc is very interesting. Sadly the always good James Marsden gets sent to the bench for most of the film and it’s a shame as he’s a good Cyclops but with a roster this large someone had to suffer.  Halle Berry’s Storm is also given a lot more to do this time out.

X2 has been cited as one of the best comic book movies of all time and I think it can still lay claim to that. It’s easy to forget in this MCU/DCEU age how hard it is to juggle ambition, scope and stakes while attempting to stay true to the source and while the X-Men movies may not always knock it out of the park they manage to do just that when the right care and attention is put into their making and that’s certainly the case with X2. The closing of the movie promised a thrilling third outing for Marvel’s mutants but sadly that would not exactly go as planned. That’s a tale best saved for another time though.

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James Gunn does that so rare thing with Guardians of the Galaxy VOL.2 which is create a comic book movie that manages to entertain on the surface but packs one hell of an emotional gut punch. At the forefront of VOL.2. is not action and spectacle (which you will get, so don’t panic) but family. See each member of the Guardians was a loner, adrift from their fractured families only to come together to form one of their own and this theme runs through the core of the second installment of Guardians.

This time out we find Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana)running foul of high priestess Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) and her race of genetically engineered people. A bounty is placed on the heads of the Guardians of the Galaxy and a whole host of folks are zeroing in on them. Help comes in the form of Ego (Kurt Russell)who we learn has strong ties to Star-Lord. Along the way the heroes meet new characters such as Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and get reacquainted with old foes Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Yondu (Michael Rooker). If the cast of characters seems stacked that’s because it is but fear not, thanks to a great script and an excellent pace each character gets to shine. That does it for me plot-wise. The less you know the more you’ll enjoy! I’ll say Marvel have taken some hits on their villains in the past but the baddie in Guardians VOL.2. is brilliant.

Apart from the surprisingly emotional story, Guardians of the Galaxy VOL.2 really excels with it’s visuals. Much like it’s predecessor Guardians VOL.2 takes the audience on a truly cosmic adventure and it certainly showed me sights I’d never dreamt imaginable. This is one beautiful looking movie and my hat goes off to all of the people who worked in the art direction and design teams. See I’ve never been a big reader of the cosmic side to the Marvel universe but I can imagine that those who are would feel like they are seeing scenes ripped right out of the comic book pages and brought to life.

Action wise what you get is good but ya know what there’s not THAT much in it! Certainly this movie is not as action packed as the first film but I think that this has been a very deliberate move on Gunn’s part. Instead Guardians VOL.2 is it’s own entity, at times very trippy (Ego’s ship is like some crazy art deco piece come to life!), a movie that pays attention to what it set up previously and delivers pay off. Case in point the attention given to Nebula and Yondu, two characters who easily could have been left out of this adventure and their potential wasted, only to not only return but to be the basis of a lot of the films plot points and pay offs.

This cast is amazing. Gunn delivers a cracking movie with true stakes and honestly I’m way more excited for anything Guardians related than I am Avengers. The soundtrack delivers once again and as you would expect from a Marvel movie there’s a ton of surprises and Easter eggs for your enjoyment. Guardians of the Galaxy VOL.2 is a rare gift and I hope fans appreciate it for the movie it is and not the one they were expecting because this fan would take this over a safer rehash of the first film any day of the week.

Tom Hardy IS Venom!!

Posted: May 20, 2017 in Comics, Movies
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That’s how you get the world hype for a Venom solo movie folks. You hire Tom Hardy. What a casting! Sony Pictures announced yesterday that Hardy will star in their Venom movie which is set to shoot this fall.

Venom, an alien symbiote that takes over it’s host, was created by artist Todd McFarlane and is one of Spider-Man’s most famous villains. Throughout his many incarnations the Venom Symbiote has been both villain and hero and linked to several different hosts.  In Sony Pictures Venom Hardy will take on the role of Venom’s most famous host Eddie Brock.

The solo movie, to be directed by Zombieland and Gangster Squad’s Ruben Fleischer is said to be a R rated horror/sci-fi movie. I can’t wait. This could be amaze.

Mark your calendars for September 19th because that is the day you will be able to play the brand new Capcom/Marvel fighter. The gameplay trailer above shows a host of new characters (well one brand new one if you want to discount returning characters), super moves and what pre-order editions are available.

Already there is a season pass incentive available as is the norm these days which will get you 6 DLC fighters and 6 alternate costumes. No word yet on who the DLC characters will be. Unlike Street Fighter V, MvC: Infinite will launch with a host of modes including Online, Arcade and Story amongst others. That’s good news. Lesson learned as far as Capcom is concerned.

What do you think of the new looks at Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, Chris, Chun-Li and Ultron in action? I’m excited for this game but let’s be real here; most of us already own the BEST entry in this series which is of course the classic Marvel vs. Capcom 2. I doubt (yet would welcome a surprise) any entry in this series will ever beat the greats of the classic sequel.

Review: Death of Wolverine

Posted: January 11, 2017 in Comics
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I have made no secret of my love of the X-Men. For over twenty years I have followed the uncanny mutants through comics, animated shows, video games and movies. X-Men to this day remains my favourite comic title. Sure the mutants are going through a rough patch at the moment but Marvel looks set to do right by who were once their shining stars with a brand re-launch later this year.

Truth be told I’ve read little of the recent X-Men titles from the past few years since the whole original X-Men team traveling to the future mess. The whole situation just felt as if it needed a cap but it’s still on-going and just has me wondering why? One arc that did catch my attention was Death of Wolverine. Surely this was (and may yet prove to be) a publicity stunt? No way would Marvel kill off one of it’s most popular characters?

Death of Wolverine does not pull it’s punches. The four part series is plotted with surgeon like skill by writer Charles Soule. Wolverine is the target of a manhunt and someone has put a price on his head. It isn’t long before all sorts of trouble and danger zeroes in on him and this is what propels him and us to his fate. Soule weaves a lean tale that touches in on what made Wolverine the character he is today and factors in those smaller more emotional beats that gave him such depth and likability beyond just being some beserker killing machine.

Steve McNiven’s work on the art is solid. The action is clear, the feeling on the characters faces when confronted with an array of emotions from fear, surprise, anger and joy registers. You can see just how beaten up Wolverine is in Death of Wolverine. This is a guy who has given his all time and time again over countless decades and at this stage in his life the guy is just tired. It’s a refreshing look at a hero I see as immortal, almost more than human, to see this is just a guy, sure he has super abilities but at his core this is a man coming to the end of his road.

Going into Death of Wolverine I knew little. I did not know if the title of the comic would follow through or if it would be a big mislead. I’d rather not say what happens and that is why I’ve stayed vague throughout so you can go in and get surprised. If you’ve ever been into the X-Men comics and dropped off in recent years I got to say Death of Wolverine is an essential read. Remaining vague, I can’t wait to see how this finale page gets resolved whether it’s soon or years from now.