Countdown to Age of Ultron: The Incredible Hulk Revisited

One movie down, nine more to go. Time to wade through some mediocrity before we get to the good stuff! Let’s check out The Incredible Hulk, which is definitely not the strongest Marvel movie there is.

RG: I have only seen The Incredible Hulk once, and it was opening night in theatres.

I've actually seen the Ang Lee one more, but those were desperate times. This movie came out mere weeks after Iron Man, and before The Dark Knight. For those reasons, I think it was largely forgotten even at the time. Normally this movie would have been a pretty huge release. I remember liking it at the time, but then The Dark Knight hit theatres and I never really thought about poor Hulk again. I also got married in there somewhere.

DH: Yeah, being sandwiched in between Iron Man and The Dark Knight must have really sucked. But if the movie had turned out better than it did, I think it would be remembered better.

RG: I think it's weird that they made this a sequel to the Ang Lee movie, but I'm thankful we didn't have to sit through another origin story.

DH: Is it a sequel to the Ang Lee movie, though? I think the opening credits make it plain that it’s some kind of weird hybrid between the comics and the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno TV show. They certainly hit you over the head with enough references to that series in the first hour--Bixby in The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father on TV, the sad piano music from the end of every episode, Ferrigno’s cameo as a security guard, and the whole “You wouldn’t like me when I’m...hungry” bit. It’s a strange way to go, for sure, and I think the way Hulk was used in The Avengers (where he also seemed to be an updated version of the TV incarnation) definitely showed that this movie was not really necessary. And yet, here it is.

RG: My favourite thing about this movie is the intensity of feeling your own anger levels rise with Banner's. I love the anger management training sessions, where the teacher is slapping Bruce in the face. I love the tension throughout the movie of not knowing what's going to make him angry enough to Hulk out. He just keeps getting put in situations that are stressful and rage-inducing. I really love the heart rate monitor he wears. It's a great idea.

“I actually said 'no' to Hulk a couple of times and it was only over a few conversations with Louis and with the Marvel guys when I really started to trust they were at the stage of not just looking for an actor but really looking for an author, in a way. I thought it was a rare opportunity.”

- Ed Norton, The Daily Record, 2008

I think this movie does a great job of getting to the root of what makes Banner/Hulk an interesting character. Unlike the other Avengers, he is pure tragedy. All he wants is to be cured. Contrast that against Thor, who really, really loves being Thor. Banner lives in constant fear of himself and that is really heavy.

I think Ed Norton is a great Bruce Banner. I was really disappointed at the time when I learned that he wouldn't be in the Avengers movie, but we all love Mark Ruffalo. It seems like playing Bruce Banner/Hulk in the Avengers movies is a pretty sweet deal. No action scenes, just crack a few jokes, look all disheveled, and then a motion capture actor and voice actor does all the work for you. But I guess Ed Norton hates money. One man's trash is Mark Ruffalo's treasure.

DH: I guess we’ll never know, but I feel like Ruffalo is a better ensemble player than Norton would have been. They definitely have different approaches, and Norton’s is closer to the Banner from the comics, but Ruffalo’s take is much more charming and idiosyncratic. Norton’s Banner is much more in the fugitive loner vein, and I don’t know how well that would have worked in The Avengers.

“When people are asking me, because Mark Ruffalo is in this one, who's the better of the Bruce Banners -- both are great; both are fantastic -- but I actually wanted to cast Mark Ruffalo as Hulk and Marvel was like ‘No, you should get Edward Norton because he's more famous.’ So you see what I am saying? They are the ones who wanted Edward -- and I was thrilled to meet him and work with him. I wanted Mark Ruffalo. And they were like, ‘No, no, he just does smart, intellectual movies.’”

- Louis Leterrier, The Huffington Post, 2013

RG: Ruffalo was a great get for the franchise. Besides generally being the best person on Earth, he is a huge promoter of the movies, seems to really embrace the fans and loves being the Hulk. I doubt Ed Norton would have been as enthusiastic. Well, I guess we know he wouldn't because he didn't do anything to promote this movie because he was all angry at the studio for cutting parts of his script. Yeah, he basically re-wrote the whole script uncredited.

But in this film, Norton does a great job being funny and sad and noble. I actually think Mark Ruffalo would have been a weird casting choice for this particular movie. 

Norton’s small frame works well as a contrast between Banner and Hulk. He really looks like Bruce Banner from the comics quite a bit.

“When I arrived in Hollywood, ["Incredible Hulk"] was my first Hollywood movie and I really wanted to work with Marvel and I really wanted to do that movie with American actors. And then they were like, "Oh, welcome, welcome. Great news, Louis. We just got a release date. It's a year from now." I'm like, "Fantastic, we have to go. Where's the script?" They said, ‘Actually, that's the problem, we don't have a script.’”

- Louis Leterrier, The Huffington Post, 2013

Tim Roth was well cast. Liv Tyler is also good as LITERALLY THE ONLY WOMAN WITH A SPEAKING PART IN THIS MOVIE.

DH: Tim Roth was fine, but...why doesn’t he speak with a Russian accent? His name is Emil Blonsky, for crying out loud!

RG: "Born in Russia, raised in England." Ok, movie. Whatever.

DH: And as for the female presence in this movie, I think you’re forgetting all about the key roles of “sexy Brazillian factory worker” and “subordinate who hands General Ross a file or whatever”.

RG: "Anonymous fat lady whose ass is used to measure pants for Hulk levels of stretchiness." Ugh. That joke.

Hey, Martin Starr cameo in this movie!!! Did not remember that.

DH: Me neither! Plus there’s that weird Michael Kenneth Williams cameo during the final battle. I think maybe they were both just big Hulk fans?

RG: It's kind of weird that Betty Ross is written right out of the Hulk's story after this movie. They really love each other. I actually think this is the strongest romantic pair in any of the Marvel movies.

DH: Moreso than Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter? I’m honestly surprised to hear you say that!

RG: No, you’re right. And actually, Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes probably takes the top spot. BUT...Betty is willing to overlook a LOT with Bruce. I mean, falling in love with Captain frigging America is no chore. Betty’s love is FIERCE.

The cave scene with Hulk and Betty is very funny and sweet and has a nice King Kong vibe. And I love everything about the hotel room scenes, especially the aborted sex scene. That heart rate monitor, again, is a great idea. Their relationship is so strong whether he’s Banner or Hulk.

I like how Bruce Banner is completely drained and sick and out of it for quite a while after he stops being the Hulk. It makes for some nice hurt/comfort relationship storytelling.

RG: There is some pretty lazy filmmaking in this movie, though. The chase scene in Brazil seems to go back and forth from day to night, and there is at least one scene where it’s pouring rain but clearly very sunny.

I don't care for the Hulk design in this movie. They really nail it in The Avengers. In this movie he is too veiny, a weird colour, and not big enough. The small head is weird too.

DH: He’s way over-rendered in this movie. He looks like a Rob Liefeld drawing. In the Ang Lee movie, he looks way too smooth and not detailed enough, and in this movie it’s like even his veins have veins. The FX guys behind The Avengers really did nail it, I think in part due to their use of motion capture technology.

RG: You would think General Ross would see some value in the fact that his daughter seems to be able to control the Hulk. Like, wouldn't that be of use?

I like that General Ross basically turned Tim Roth into Captain America with a few injections. Is General Ross a scientist/doctor?

DH: It’s a nice bit of foreshadowing for what we would see with Cap, for sure, in terms of how he would fight.

“I've always been very envious of the guys who got to do these kinds of movies -- ya know, I've always wanted to do one of these Marvel characters; I take my kids to see them all the time. And, finally, they came to me and I was thrilled to do it. So I decided to have fun from beginning to end, and they gave me the room to really invent and play with this character, and to make him a really juicy bad guy. Every day at the office was a good one for me.”

- Tim Roth, Moviefone, 2008

RG: Tim Blake Nelson, I'm sorry to say, is playing a very unwelcome character in this movie. His character is something that you would normally find in the worst super hero/sci-fi movies. Just annoying and delivering clunky lines as comic relief that really isn't funny. Lines like: "The mixture could be...an abomination."  Clunk.

DH: Definitely a weird bit of casting, but I am disappointed that we’ll probably never get to see him become The Leader, after they went through all the awkward motions of setting it up.

RG: The final fight between Hulk and Abomination is actually a lot like the final fight in Iron Man. I never understand in any of these movies why the army keep shooting at Hulk when it clearly doesn't do a damn thing, and it only causes more destruction.

DH: I really hate the design of the Abomination in this movie. Why did they jettison a perfectly cool monster design for the weird, generic thing they came up with here? Why even bother making him the Abomination then? And his motivations are basically non-existent beyond “He took a bunch of drugs because he wants to be more of a badass soldier, and he went crazy”. A good, charismatic villain really elevates one of these movies--look at Loki in The Avengers, or the Red Skull in Captain America, for example--and this movie is sorely lacking in that department.

There are things I like about the final battle, but for the most part it feels like watching someone else play a video game--you’re just looking at a bunch of pixels moving across the screen. It’s all in how it’s directed, I guess, which is why you never hear anyone talking about what a great contribution Louis Letterier made to this series of films.

RG: The daylight fight scene in the field near the university was really dull and generic. too. The wide open setting made it pretty low stakes.

I do love the moment in the final fight when a Abomination returns for another round and Hulk looks so sad about it. That was probably an Ed Norton addition to the script.

I think I get why they aren't making a new Hulk movie with Ruffalo. The storytelling is just very limited. It's mostly "Will this turn him into the Hulk?" "Will this cure work?" I know people want a Planet Hulk movie but I don't know if I agree with that. For now I like the Hulk as part of a team. Plus, who wants to see Tony Stark shoot Hulk into space? They're science bros!

DH: I think the only way a Planet Hulk movie would work at this point is if they had him meet up with the Guardians of the Galaxy. That could be interesting.

RG: That would be pretty great. And The Inhumans on his way back to Earth. And maybe we can see that awesome fight between Hulk and Black Bolt on film. I guess anything is possible these days. I hope they make that movie and then make a Hercules movie that comes out the same week.

The Incredible Hulk really doesn't factor into the large Marvel Movieverse. You could definitely skip this one and not miss any of the story. The information they give you about Hulk at the beginning of The Avengers is really all you need to know. Nothing that happens in this movie ever comes up again. Even the tag at the end of the movie with Tony Stark doesn't really make any sense in the context of the movies that come later. We never see General Ross again. Why would Tony be telling General Ross about the Avengers? He tells him, re: Abomination, "That super soldier program was put on ice for a reason." Obviously it's supposed to get the film-going audience all riled up about Captain America (mission accomplished, as I recall), but the whole encounter is weird.

DH: All the teases for what would eventually become known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe are pretty vague and nonsensical, up until Thor’s hammer appears at the end of Iron Man 2. By that point they knew where they were going with the upcoming slate of movies since they were all being written or filmed, but before that it was all “here’s a guy you’ve seen, talking about a thing you’ve heard about”, and that’s about as specific as they could get. Now the teases are way more specific and substantial. Like everything else at this early stage of the MCU, it’s all very hastily sketched in. But really, these guys were pioneering a new type of long-form storytelling--a shared universe of smaller movie franchises that all feed into one mega-franchise--and they pretty much had to make it up as they went. On the other hand, though, it was pretty cool to see RDJ as Tony Stark on the big screen again, so soon after his first appearance as the character.

There are always elements of this movie that I kind of enjoy when I revisit it, but it is a weird anomaly in this whole series. It feels less like a movie and more like a placeholder or something. The pacing is very strange. It’s like watching a few episodes of a TV series, plucked from halfway through a season. It doesn’t really connect to the previous movie, and the connections it does try to make to what comes after it don’t really pan out.

RG: Also, as I mentioned, Betty Ross never even gets mentioned after this movie, and most of this movie was about their relationship. Maybe when they found out Ed Norton wasn't going to continue on as Banner they just dropped all references to this movie. I really did forget what a great love story this movie is.

DH: Another bit of fanboy comic whining to get out of the way--it kinda bums me out that none of the Hulk movies have Rick Jones in them. He’s so central to the Hulk’s origin in the comics, and so important to the Avengers, and Captain America, and Captain Marvel, that it seems weird to me that he has no counterpart in the MCU. But, the whole audience surrogate character that he represents is usually the most tedious element of a lot of these kind of movies (like the ordinary guy they introduced for the first Hellboy movie, and immediately abandoned by the time they did another one). But, y’know, it would have been nice. Maybe he can get his own Netflix show?

RG: A Rick Jones Netflix series would be a great idea.

Alright, that’s it for Hulk. I will add that I checked out some of the 70 MINUTES of deleted scenes from this movie, including the alternate opening scene of Banner trying to kill himself in the Arctic. Not sad it was cut. And the Captain America Easter egg is bullshit.

Up next, Dave and I suffer through Iron Man 2!

Countdown to Age of Ultron – Iron Man Revisited

Are you guys excited about The Avengers: Age of Ultron? WE ARE!!!!

And because we look for basically any excuse to watch any or all of these movies, Dave and I are re-watching all of the Marvel Studios flicks, in order, leading up to the new one.

With the exception of the Thor movies, I think Dave and I saw all of the Avengers-verse films together on opening night, or advance screening night. Now we are watching them separately and sharing our thoughts. I thought it would be fun to compare our thoughts now that we know how huge this Marvel movie thing was going to get to how we felt when the movies were first coming out. We are also going to pull quotes from old interviews with the cast members and directors, just to add a little historical interest.

Some questions we hope to answer: Is Iron Man 2 as bad as we remember? Why am I so lukewarm on the Thor movies? Does The Incredible Hulk with Ed Norton fit in at all? Which is the best movie of the bunch so far? Why is Hawkeye so shitty?

So, starting where it all began, Dave and I watched Iron Man this week.

Iron_Man_1522
Iron_Man_1522

"I'm between two phases right now, pre-Iron Man and post-Iron Man, and the transition can be tricky…It's not an algorithm anymore. It's a fixed number. Things have been zeroed out; it's the beginning of something.”

- Robert Downey Jr., Rolling Stone, 2008

RG: I don’t think I’ve watched this movie since like 2009. But I watched it a LOT of times before then. I’m trying to mentally go back to a time before any of these legit Marvel movies had come out.

DH: I’m a few years older than you, so I have even more years of crushed hopes and bitter disappointment with superhero movies (both planned and executed) under my belt. Deals were always being struck with studios and directors for comic movies that never came to pass, and until X-Men, Marvel was basically selling their movie rights for pennies to anyone who asked. Adding insult to injury was the fact that, when a good superhero movie like The Rocketeer came along, nobody went to see it. So Iron Man kind of had a lot riding on it.

“Is it too soon to say that Iron Man is going to be the greatest movie of all time? I don’t care. I’m saying it anyway.”

- Rachelle Goguen, Living Between Wednesday, 2007

RG: Ok, it’s early 2008. In the past eight or so years we’ve had three Spider-Man movies (and I like all three of them, haters!), two terrible Fantastic Four movies, a weird Hulk movie, three kind of ok X-Men movies, a Superman movie that I really liked but most people didn’t, and one very promising beginning to a new Batman trilogy.

DH: I like Superman Returns too, and I also like all three Spider-Man movies. I even like the first Fantastic Four movie! Johnny and Ben at least were perfect. And I liked that it didn’t take itself too seriously, a “problem” that the upcoming reboot looks to have “fixed”.

RG: I secretly don’t hate that first Fantastic Four movie either. Any movie where Chris Evans burns all of his clothes off has some redeeming qualities. And it is fun.

I remember hopes being sky high for this Iron Man movie. The trailers looked great, seemed to be perfect casting, and Marvel Studios was actually making it. Most importantly, it looked fun. I also remember a general feeling that it seemed risky to be making an Iron Man movie. If Superman Returns didn’t draw big, how could a movie about a hero who isn’t Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man?

DH: It’s kind of hard to remember that RDJ was NOT one of the biggest stars on the planet before this movie, isn’t it? And that Tony Stark & Iron Man weren’t household names?

RG: Yeah! He was like stunt casting. Recovered alcoholic to play alcoholic super hero.

When I went to see it opening night I was both excited and worried. But the cold open of this movie is genius. It sets the tone and I think I was immediately sold on the whole thing within 60 seconds.

DH: Yep, it packs a lot of character information into a very short amount of time and is super fast paced. By the 45-minute mark, he’s already built the Mark 1 and blasted his way out of Afghanistan. Not bad!

Iron_Man_0041
Iron_Man_0041

RG: Watching it now I am still blown away by that opening scene. It not only sets the tone for this movie, it sets it for the entire Avengers franchise that is to follow. Robert Downey Jr, obviously, nails the character, and there’s a great blend of humour and real world drama.

Everything just looks perfect in this movie, too. From Tony Stark himself to his Malibu cliffside mansion to Pepper Potts to the suit(s) to Tony’s workshop. And the Robert Altman style dialogue-on-top-of-dialogue is a great idea.

DH: Robert Downey Jr. pretty much steps into this role fully formed, right from his first dialogue. He and Tony are interchangeable--I don’t think Marvel can ever recast this part. This one piece of perfect casting was basically the foundation stone of their entire empire.

“There's no harm in being locked into a potentially lucrative franchise, and that's why I did it.”

- Terrence Howard, The Guardian, 2008

RG: Remember how Terrence Howard was in this movie? They fixed that. Good move.

It's kind of sad when Terrence Howard looks at the new Iron Man suit and says "Next time, baby," because, y'know. Nope. I feel like that (awesome) scene on the plane where Tony and Rhodes are supposed to be drunk and Tony looks really annoyed with him...I don’t think that was acting.

Iron_Man_0314
Iron_Man_0314

DH: I’m not sure he was right for the part--he was the first person they cast in this movie, hot off his Oscar nomination for Hustle & Flow, and I’ve heard that because of that, he was actually the highest-paid actor in this movie.

RG: WHAAAAAAATTT??!!

DH: That, combined with rumours of those good old “creative differences”, was reportedly why he was replaced with Don Cheadle. I don’t know that Cheadle is the best fit for the part of Rhodey either, but I’ve always really liked him so I’m fine with it.

RG: Agreed, but I love Don Cheadle and he seems like a very nice person. It’s important to me that they only cast nice people in these movies (even though they totally cast known assholes like Josh Brolin sometimes).

Iron Man could have been a real flag-waving, anti-Muslim, racist garbage movie. I remember being concerned that both this and a Captain America movie could be total propaganda, especially given the political climate at the time they came out. Instead they made Stark a victim of his own arrogance and greed right off the bat. I liked that.

DH: It’s a fine line but they walk it really well. Just that shot of the grenade landing, and sitting there long enough for Stark to see his own company logo on it...pretty sharp.

RG: Watching this movie now, knowing where the franchise ends up and how important a role Tony Stark plays in it, I am kind of extra impressed by how well RDJ nails the character in this first movie. You are very emotionally invested in the character pretty much right away.

Not to get ahead of myself, but I remember being annoyed by Iron Man 2 because Tony Stark gets reduced to an annoying cartoon character and lacks the emotional levels that we see in this first movie and then later in The Avengers and in Iron Man 3. I’ve only seen Iron Man 2 once so I’ll see if I still feel that way when I re-watch it.

DH: Yeah, you’re not far off there--and the Altmanesque style of dialogue that seems so effortless & breezy in the first movie gets tired really quickly in the sequel.

RG: Again, not to get ahead of myself, but the emotional layers that Marvel Studios gave all of the characters (except Hawkeye) in these movies is, I think, a huge part of their success. But the humour keeps them from being overly angsty (Man of Steel).

DH: I feel like they truly are some of the first comic book movies where the filmmakers actually saw the value in the source material and honoured it (even while updating it for a moviegoing audience). As much as I enjoy pretty much every Batman movie ever made (well, maybe not the Shumacher ones), you can tell that the filmmakers in each case really just made the movies they wanted to make and didn’t really look to or care about the comics that spawned them. Even Donner’s Superman--as much as I love Hackman’s Luthor, he’s basically a Bond villain in comic book drag. But Iron Man set the template for how these movies could work if you actually acknowledged that the original comics were on to something. And that they could be fun without being TOO goofy, yet serious without taking themselves TOO seriously.

And maybe one day they’ll get Hawkeye right. He’s one of my all-time favourites in the comics, but I feel like they really missed the opportunity to give us a younger, cockier Hawkeye who had no interest in taking orders from a relic of the second World War. But maybe they’ll actually give him a personality in Age Of Ultron!

“My whole thing is that that I saw ‘The Dark Knight’. I feel like I’m dumb because I feel like I don’t get how many things that are so smart. It’s like a Ferrari engine of storytelling and script writing and I’m like, ‘That’s not my idea of what I want to see in a movie.’ I loved ‘The Prestige’ but didn’t understand ‘The Dark Knight’. Didn’t get it, still can’t tell you what happened in the movie, what happened to the character and in the end they need him to be a bad guy. I’m like, ‘I get it. This is so high brow and so f–king smart, I clearly need a college education to understand this movie.’ You know what? F-ck DC comics. That’s all I have to say and that’s where I’m really coming from.”

- Robert Downey Jr., Moviehole, 2008

RG: They spend a lot of the first act in the caves, which I think is ballsy but important. I think they could have done an Iron Man movie without a Mach 1 suit, but I’m so glad they took the time to include that. I love how the Mach 1 suit looks. And I love that he immediately gets his arm caught in the wall when he’s wearing it.

Iron_Man_0610
Iron_Man_0610

DH: That Mach 1 suit really is great. Even watching it again this time, I was struck by how cool it looks--how they obviously modified it and updated it, but how it’s still instantly recognizable as the original armour from the comics. And the fact that it’s largely done with practical effects is the icing on the cake.

“They had no script, man…They had an outline. We would show up for big scenes every day and we wouldn’t know what we were going to say. We would have to go into our trailer and work on this scene and call up writers on the phone, ‘You got any ideas?’ Meanwhile the crew is tapping their foot on the stage waiting for us to come on.”

- Jeff Bridges, In Contention, 2009

RG: Jeff Bridges is so goddamn good in this movie. The scene where he rips the arc reactor out of a paralyzed Tony's chest and holds it in front of his face while he monologues is so badass. He’s a fun choice for a villainous war monger. I don't think I've ever seen a villain quite like him before in a movie. I mean, the seemingly nice but actually evil father figure is nothing new, but he's just so loose and funny. The scene where he brings pizza back from the NYC board meeting is great.

DH: I love that he rides a Segway! That detail is both instantly dated and a dead giveaway that he’s the villain. Who the hell else beside Gob Bluth would be seen on one of those other than an evil bastard? Also, if I can get really nerdy here (and believe me, I can), the whole thing is kind of a reversal of the power dynamic he was a part of way back in the original Tron. This time though, instead of being the hotshot techy whiz kid, he’s the evil corporate dickbag!

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Iron_Man_0752

RG: I’m kind of amazed that the tech in this movie doesn’t really look dated. Except the phones. It's weird to see Tony Stark with a regular old cell phone. I'm writing this on my iPad and it kind of makes me feel like Tony Stark. I probably couldn't even fathom an iPad in 2008.

DH: The phones and, again, the Segway.

Iron_Man_0279
Iron_Man_0279

RG: Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr are so great in every scene together. I remember getting really annoyed with them in Iron Man 2, but I love them in this and in Iron Man 3 and The Avengers.

I read one interview with Gwyneth Paltrow where she talks about how she had to lose 12 lbs of “baby fat” to play the role. Like…who told her that? “Listen, Gwyneth, we’d love to have you in the movie, but, y’know, you’d have to deal with this whole situation. I mean, who would ever believe that you could be Robert Downey Jr’s love interest when you are such a fat mess?”

DH: I feel like this movie was a turning point of sorts for non-powered female characters in superhero movies. Previously, the female lead--Vicki Vale, Lois Lane, MJ--was usually just a screamy hostage. But the filmmakers really make Pepper into more of a sidekick. And, for the most part they haven’t really gone back, which is nice.

RG: Yeah, that’s a good point. Enough with the female characters just getting tied up and gagged!

They do a great job introducing the suit. Without dragging it out too much, because we already watched Stark build the Mach 1 suit in the cave, the scenes where he’s working in his lab with the cool 3D blueprints are very fun. That scene where Stark tests the boots for the first time in his workshop and immediately goes flying backward and hits the wall is so damn funny.

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iron man gif

DH: The robot stuff in this movie was particularly interesting this time, given where everything is headed with Age Of Ultron.

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Iron_Man_1499

RG: I love how complicated the Iron Man suit is. It “makes sense” the way they present it, with all the intricate pieces being attached to his body by robotic arms. The "inside the helmet" tech view looks really great, too, and allows us to see more of RDJ while he’s in the suit. Jarvis is very well done too.

DH: For sure. But as a longtime Avengers nerd, I really would have loved to have seen human Jarvis in these films (portrayed by the guy who plays Molesley on Downton Abbey, ideally). I mean, I know there’s a human Jarvis on Agent Carter, but one of these days, I just really want to see Jarvis bringing Captain America a cup of tea or something.

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Iron_Man_1263

RG: I completely forgot that Agent Coulson was in this. Already! Man, what if this movie had somehow failed? Would we have gotten any more?

DH: It’s fascinating to think that somewhere out there in the multiverse there’s a world where this movie flopped, and there are petitions and Kickstarter campaigns to have the rest of the Avengers movies made, while Green Lantern made a billion dollars worldwide and spawned a DC movies dynasty.

RG: Terrifying.

I like that Tony Stark likes his drink, but they don't go full drunk in these movies. I expected, mostly due to RDJ, that they were going to get into Demon in a Bottle territory, but they never do. I much prefer this version of the character to drunken downward spiral Tony. And they kind of are able to use his PTSD in the third movie to tell a similar story.

DH: I don’t know that they could pull off an entire movie about his alcoholism. Would anyone want to watch that? I don’t think I would. It’s an interesting character detail for him to have that he likes his cocktails a bit too much, though--just a nice bit of shading, and a hint at a darker side of his personality.

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Iron_Man_1548

RG: The first action scene with the suit is so awesome and fun and funny and also brutal. Stark goes on a crazy killing spree right off the bat. He's also so full of stubborn idealism in the aftermath scene back at his workshop with Pepper, it got me thinking about how his character kind of always was on the path that we now know leads to a 'Civil War' with Captain America.

My husband Matt's comment during the final fight: "I don't understand why the Transformers movie couldn't have looked like this." Exactly. These are some great looking robots.

DH: Whenever a new Transformers movie comes out, I always think of the Hugh Jackman movie Real Steel and think, “Why couldn’t the Transformers looked like the robots in this movie?” Those are some fun and cool robot designs, and the movie’s a lot of fun besides.

Iron_Man_2022
Iron_Man_2022

RG: Here is what I am struggling to remember: was the Nick Fury appearance at the end of the credits a total surprise, or did we know to expect it? In my memory it was a total surprise and we all lost our minds. It was early days of social media, so it wasn't as hard to avoid spoilers. But was it a closely guarded secret? Dave?

DH: I remember it being one of those “worst kept secret in Hollywood” kind of things, like Sean Connery’s cameo at the end of Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. Why else would we all have stuck around through the credits, unless we knew the key grip or the craft services people or something? I had a pretty good idea what we’d see, but the notion of connecting this movie to a planned series of Avengers solo movies, leading up to an Avengers movie...this was pretty impossible to comprehend at the time. I wasn’t really going to believe it until I saw it for myself.

I love Jackson as Fury and I like that scene overall, but I always thought the dialogue in it was a little too on the nose. “You’ve just taken your first step into a larger universe…” Way too nudge-nudge-wink-wink for me. Reportedly that scene was an uncredited Brian Michael Bendis job, and I can believe it. Subtlety is not his strong suit.

RG: Iron Man has a strong suit!

I feel like Iron Man 2 is what it would sound like to live in a Bendis comic. But we’ll get into that later!

Invincible_Iron_Man_Vol_1_33
Invincible_Iron_Man_Vol_1_33

RG: Marvel made a rare and very smart move when this movie came out: they re-launched the Invincible Iron Man comic series to align more with what people saw in the movie. This sort of thing is rarely done, for whatever reason. When The Dark Knight came out later this same year, DC killed off Bruce Wayne in the comics for awhile. And now that everyone is interested in Winter Soldier, he's living on the moon. But with this movie Marvel really nailed it with the comic book series. It was just really nice, working at a comic shop at the time, to have a good comic to recommend to people who had been introduced to the character via the movie.

DH: Yeah, the Marvel comics right now are kind of going out of their way right now to have their comics universe be basically unrecognizable to movie fans. Captain America is Sam Wilson, Thor is a woman, Iron Man is evil, and yeah, Winter Soldier lives on the moon. Ballsy, and some good comics (particularly Thor) have come from it, but is it wise? Probably not.

RG: Now that I think of it, the best bet comic for people interested in the film characters is the Black Widow series, which is awesome.

DH: I really feel like Jon Favreau’s part in helping to kick off the Marvel Cinematic Universe has kind of been swept under the rug after the first sequel was poorly received. Iron Man 2  is a mess, no doubt, but I don’t know that it can all be blamed on him; the expectations were impossibly high, not just for the movie but for its part in setting up all the other Marvel movies that were still in the planning stages. I also get the sense that Mickey Rourke just kind of did whatever the hell he felt like (another recent Oscar nominee throwing their weight around!).. However, I think he deserves a lot of credit for pulling the first Iron Man off so successfully--I’m not sure anyone else could have.

RG: It’s true! Jon Favreau: Man of the Century!

14_ironman-b_560x375
14_ironman-b_560x375

So next we’ll be watching Ed Norton’s short-lived contribution to the Marvel Movieverse, The Incredible Hulk. Stay tuned!

Everything is for Everybody.

meI’m mad.

Between Gamergate, the horrifying stories about Jian Ghomeshi coming to light here in Canada, and the countless male celebrities who are just get to keep on keeping on after being accused, or even convicted, of rape and sexual assault, I am becoming a ball of rage.

It feels like a war is coming. People are choosing sides, and there have been good people speaking up and identifying themselves as feminists and reminding people who the bad guys are. But the bad guys are banding together. The internet is allowing them to easily find each other, and to form a community. They can convince themselves that they are a persecuted group.

I was born in 1980. Video games were new and exciting when I was growing up, and everyone played them. I don’t recall video games ever being identified as a male pursuit. I would play video games at arcades alongside my female and male friends. I would go to friends’ houses, mostly female, who were lucky enough to have a home computer or an Atari system and play video games endlessly. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on an NES, an SNES, and an N64. If I went to someone’s house and they had a Sega Genesis, I would play the hell out of that. When I was babysitting I would play any games they had after the kids were asleep. My parents played our NES as much as we did. I can say with confidence that my mother was addicted to Dr. Mario.

Video games in the 80s and early 90s were like television or movies: a form of entertainment that could be enjoyed by all. And there was such a variety of games out there, it would be ridiculous to say ‘I don’t like video games,’ and even more ridiculous to say ‘video games are for boys.’

Much like today.

But somewhere along the line video games, like comic books and sports, became something that girls aren’t supposed to like. Sure, you can play them, but they are not for you. So if you want to play video games, or read comic books, you just have to accept that they are crazy sexist. Because you’re the weird one for wanting to participate in this fun, fun past time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about when video games crossed over to boy territory and my earliest memory is when Goldeneye came out on N64 (still one of the best games ever). That was 1997. I remember girls in high school calling that game “the boyfriend stealer.” I also remember going to hang out with girls and boys and the girls would watch the boys play Goldeneye. And if they did pick up a controller it was in a really “Ohmygod! What do I do?! You’re just going to kill me! How do I use this thing?” kind of way. It bummed me out then, and now.

I would not call myself a ‘gamer’ but I am a grown-ass woman who can’t stop playing Marvel Puzzle Quest on my phone. Video games have always been in my life as a major source of entertainment. I would say I have spent more time playing video games than watching movies in my life. It’s not a community I belong to, it’s just something I do because video games are fun and EVERYONE PLAYS THEM.

When it comes to gender inequality I would say I was born angry. I have always been drawn to “boy” things: comic books, hockey, action movies, steak, beer, whatever. I have also rejected “girl” things almost my entire life. As a kid I was one of the boys, most of the time. I have a distinct memory of a schoolyard game when I was maybe seven or eight years old. The boys were rounding up girls and putting them in a “prison” (fun!). One of the boys grabbed me and another said “Rachelle doesn’t count. She’s a boy.”

What I am saying is I am the chosen one who will lead us to gender equality.

No, what I am saying is that it is absolutely time to stop compartmentalizing gender and the interests that men and women, boys are girls, are supposed to have.

I have said to others that I am, in some ways, relieved that both of my children are male because it means I don’t have to deal with being buried in pink frilly girl baby clothing and pink frilly girl baby expectations. The truth is, I would have loved to have a daughter. I would love the opportunity to raise a strong, smart woman. But part of me is thankful that I don’t need to watch my daughter face this world. I take the job of raising two respectful, thoughtful, sensitive men very seriously, though. Boys will not “be boys” in my house.

It seems ludicrous for people to be fired up about something as silly as video games. But, of course, that’s not really what people are fired up about. It’s about a privileged group losing a piece of its privilege. It’s about the top of the food chain being asked to share.

I haven’t really written in this blog for years. When I was actively writing it I was one of not too many female comic book bloggers (relatively speaking). Every time I dared to insert a little feminist critique into my posts, I would get emails and comments from horrible monster creeps. I didn’t delete the creepy comments. They are still there. The emails were worse, and I did delete those. It was a heady brew of insults and sexual advances. Nothing like what the poor women involved in Gamergate are going through, though.

I’m just angry and sad to live in a world where people like Anita Sarkeesian are getting death threats, but Chris Brown has a new hit album. Bill Cosby is a beloved icon. Woody Allen still makes a movie every year. Mike Tyson is a cartoon detective or whatever.

I feel that the comic book industry has made great strides in the years since I was writing this blog. It’s not perfect by a long shot, I am blown away by the respect that writers and artists are showing female characters, and by the way that fans are responding (positively). I hope the video game industry will do the same over the next several.

There will always be monsters, but I have to believe that there are more good people than bad in the world, and that we can be louder and stronger and we will come out of top.

At least that’s what comic books and video games have taught me.

Batman Begins Begins

gotham-tv-logo

I have been trying to gather my thoughts about the new Fox series Gotham since it debuted last week. I was really hoping for an Arrow-like experience that would restore my love of DC characters. So far I’m not getting that kind of high at all.

The series is set in 2009, which eliminates the challenge of writing suspenseful situations in a world full of smart phones. Also the characters aren’t burdened by the crushing disappointment of the Lost finale.

Here’s a breakdown of the characters we have seen so far:

Bruce Wayne is a little boy, but I would say older than ten years old. Twelve, maybe? His parents are killed in the series premier’s cold open (spoiler). Now he’s dealing with the emotional aftermath of that by burning and cutting himself, listening to loud metal music, and drawing scary things. Oh, television.

James “Jim” “Chino” Gordon is our hero. He has so far maintained one facial expression for the entire series. He’s basically Rex Banner. He is just a detective at this point, but he lives in what could be Bruce Wayne’s penthouse.

GCPD starting salary: $800,000

Barbara Kean is Gordon’s fiancée and she is WOODEN. She is also a closeted or former lesbian? Who used to date Renee Montoya? Because she is also a lesbian so of course?

Harvey Bullock is a terrible man who is partnered with Gordon. I don’t know if we are supposed to sympathise with this character at all. I don’t.

Alfred Pennyworth is a cool, younger, tougher version of the iconic Wayne butler character. I’m into him.

Selina “Cat” Kyle is a young street hoodlum, stealing to survive. She’s tough and cool and is maybe 13 years old? The actress who plays her is very beautiful and looks a lot like comic book Selina Kyle. I like her.

Training to be Batman's Wife

Oswald Cobblepot is a weird, young psychopath who is largely underestimated by the Gotham underground. They will regret this.

Edward Nygma works for the forensics department of GCPD. He is super annoying and constantly dropping riddles. I’ll bet he becomes The Riddler.

Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen are on this show! I was excited about that. So far they haven’t had a ton to do but I expect they will become allies of Gordon and will provide a lot of the procedural drama part of the show.

Fish Mooney is an original character as far as I know. She’s played by Jada Pinkett Smith so she gets a LOT of screen time. Jada is CHOMPING scenery but it’s enjoyable.

There are some other characters too, like Carmine Falcone and Mayor Richard Kind. They are fine.

The show is 90% dick measuring in the form of men, usually Gordon and Bullock, standing half and inch away from each other and yelling in each other’s faces.

"Go back to Chino, kid."

There’s also a lot of wink, nudge moments that are a little clunky, like the aforementioned riddling of the future Riddler. Or a young red-headed girl named Ivy gently nurturing a bunch of house plants.

The writers cram every cliché they can think of into this show, and overall I just want to fast forward ten seasons so it can be about Batman. There are two intriguing elements of the show for me so far:

  1. Jim Gordon developing a friendship/partnership with young Bruce Wayne;
  2. Selina Kyle witnessing the Wayne murders and secretly watching Gordon and Bruce Wayne. I hope to see a Selina/Bruce friendship develop.

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is plenty of super hero entertainment to go around these days, so if this show never gets better I’ll be fine with not watching it. These aren’t the desperate times of Smallville and Ghost Rider movies. With The Flash, Constantine, and a new season of Arrow on deck, there’s lots to watch.

What's distracting me from comics this time increment?

So: I wrote something on this blog for the first time in forever the other day (read: several weeks ago). I liked doing it - I enjoy writing in general and writing about comics in particular - so why don't I do that all the time? There really is no good reason, but in thinking about it I realized that there are a whole lot of terrible reasons. Thus, this post.

First, some backstory. I started writing on Paul and John Review, the blog that would eventually be folded into Living Between Wednesdays, in 2006. I had just moved back to Nova Scotia after impulsively moving to BC for a few years. I was broke, single and had a terrible call centre job. I also had an Internet connection and time on my hands. This combination led very naturally to me reading/writing about a lot of silly Silver Age comic books, those being my most frequent Muse.

Eight years have passed. I am chunkier, baldier and beardier. I got hitched, I got a dog (not necessarily in that order). Most critically, I am no longer broke all the time, and I still have that Internet connection, which means that I have an absurd array of interesting things to occupy my time with. No reading silly Silver Age comics precludes writing about silly Silver Age comics.

But! Most of these things are incredibly nerdy, and thus a perfect fit for LBW. Plus, I am woefully out of writing trim, and getting back in practice while simultaneously expanding my horizons is just plain a good idea.

Here's the first thing, and the one that I probably have the least to say about: new comics. There are so dang many good comics coming out right now. And! I'm (temporarily) living far away from Strange Adventures, which means I'm using Comixology - I am basically inundated with the dang things! Oh, the woes that I have to face.

In any case, tune in next time increment for more discussion of the incredible hardship that I face every day. 

10 Things I Love About the Chris Evans Ice Bucket Challenge

We need more fundraisers that involve soaking attractive men with buckets of water.

1. The Halloween buckets;

2. His explanation of how ice water works (he is completely right about this: fresh ice cubes are just gonna fall on the floor. Not impressive);

3. The family house he’s hanging out in that looks like everyone’s family house;

4. The kid who nails him with an extra bucket of water at the end. That’s totally a move my son would use;

5. The people he challenges (Sebastian Stan! Anthony Mackie! Tilda Swinton!);

6. The suit!;

7. The beard;

8. He prepares his own ice water while we watch, and laughs at his inability to flawlessly dump ice out of a bag into buckets;

9. His family looks adorable. Is that other hot dude his brother? If so, well done, Evans parents;

10. A soaking wet Chris Evans.

I’m gonna donate to ALS for this one. Still waiting for Mark Ruffalo’s. Make with the bucket, Mark!

The Trial of Lois Lane!

I first read Lois Lane Nos 99 and 100 a month and a half ago two months ago (I am still a procrastinator, you guys), and I was amazed. Here was Silver Age comic plotting at its finest and most befuddling, to the extent that it was my go-to topic whenever conversation flagged at dinner or parties.

blahblah

Now, quite aside from the fact that I’m severely out of writing practice and (as mentioned) a master procrastinator, I’ve been putting off writing about this story for one reason: it is a mystery. Further, it is a mystery that kind of, maybe tries to play fair with its audience? More on this later. Point being, I was very concerned that I present it in the right way, and now I think that I have hit upon it: I summarize all but the very end of the story, and then we will review the evidence. Once you have all had a chance to solve the mystery, we will conclude.

tv surprise

We open on Lois Lane, renowned reporter, being invited to speak on a television show on the subject of “National Superman Day”, which is natural since she is a professional and an expert on the guy. Only: surprise! She and Lana Lang have actually been tricked onto a sleazy gossip show wherein the host and the audience debate which of them is a better match for Superman. 

catfight

Now, this story was published in 1970, which is a tricky period for our herioines, who were both successful careerwomen, but retained their near-psychopathic romantic devotion to Superman. Case in point: Lois and Lana were lured onto the TV show under the pretense of being experts on Superman, but the mere suggestion that one or the other of them might be a better match for him causes a catfight to break out over dinner. Happily, the seed of the Lois-who-will-be is present, and Lois eventually takes Lana for a drive in order to apologize. But then:

off the bridge!

… a rainy bridge! A car plunges into Gotham river!

lois surfaces

Lois Lane is the only one to emerge from the water! In a state of shock, Lois hitches a ride to Gotham and checks into a hotel. From which, one hour later, she is whisked back to Gotham Bridge by Superman, there to witness her car and the corpse of Lana Lang being pulled from the depths.

lana out of the water

Lois is arrested and sent to prison, but soon receives a visitor: Bruce Wayne! He informs her that he believes in her innocence, and that he has ensured that she will receive the very best legal counsel. Namely…

batman for the defense

Batman for the defense! But why hasn't Superman (who is also a lawyer, natch) come to see Lois yet? Welp, that could be a bit awkward, seeing as how this happened:

supes for the prosecution

That’s right, it’s a Superman v. Batman legal battle! If only they had gone all the way and made Green Lantern the judge, this would be the most perfect artifact of the late Silver Age that I could imagine.

Superman immediately goes a bit overboard in his lawyerly duties:

supes off the bridge

His goal? To prove conclusively whether or not a well-conditioned, well-trained swimmer like Lois Lane could effect an escape from a crashed car while still rescuing their passenger. He concludes that they could, while ignoring that Lois might not have been as mentally well-off in the same situation, having not seen the crash coming and also needing to breathe and not being invulnerable (Batman also misses this crucial detail, perhaps because he has forgotten what it is to be a mortal man). 

The trial is mostly unremarkable, other than the identities of the lawyers involved, and the fact that Batman essentially accuses Superman of being a fancy city lawyer in his closing statements.

Just before the jury returns and Batman bursts in with a surprise piece of evidence, let’s review the evidence:

EVIDENCE:

evidence

FACT: Lois and Lana had a fight.

FACT: They were in the car together when it drove off of a bridge on a rainy night.

FACT: Superman can hold his breathe forever and is unafraid of car crashes.

FACT: Lois failed a lie detector test (inadmissible).

So, aside from noting that all of the evidence is circumstantial or bullshit or both, what amazing and unorthodox tactic did Batman come up with to get the evidence he needed to keep Lois Lane from the death house?

batman with body

In a shock twist, he examined the corpse, and thereby discovered that it was missing its left thumb, had an internal temperature of 104 degrees, and was, in fact, an android.

I was going to make a big deal out of the fact that a cursory medical examination to determine cause of death (let alone an autopsy) should have turned up these facts, but then I realized that Lana was probably taken to the Gotham Medical Examiner, and it’s reasonable to assume that everyone there is murdered, mind controlled or replaced by three penguins in a lab coat on at least a biweekly basis, so I’m prepared to cut them some slack.

(DC Comics: Dr Birdbrain is just one of the many fascinating characters that would star in my proposed CSI-style Gotham Central reboot. Call me!)

We'll pause for a second so that all of you can assess the evidence and solve the mystery, just as Batman has. Do you have it? Of course not! I lied! This mystery absolutely does not play fair!

And so, on Page 31 of 33 total, Superman flies to Tunisia(!?), there to find a group of alien androids, playing an inscrutable game of human chess. These androids punished one of their number for cheating by killing her and substituting her corpse for Lana, then framing Lois for the murder! And maybe that was part of the game?

alien chess

So: Lana is saved from the aliens (oh yeah, long-running character Lana Lang was not in fact killed off in 1970, kids), Lois is set free, the alien androids are kicked off of the planet, and everything goes back to normal. Like, weirdly so. Still, I guess we're at least a decade away from Everything is Different Forever-style comics, so.

In conclusion, I kind of think that either the original ending to this was scrapped at some point or that most of it was finished before someone realized that they need one of those newfangled 'ending' things to wrap it all up, because, well, that's what a crazy left turn into "aliens did it" at the end of any mystery will make me think. Still, better that than [joke about dumb plot twist in oft-referenced popular-yet-terrible series], right?

Don’t Worry. DC has a plan.

In an effort to get the internet to ignore the fact that they lost the opening date battle of Captain America vs Superman vs Batman: The Dawn of Justice, DC unveiled their movie schedule for the next bunch of years. And the internet exploded with apathy.

Untitled DC Film – 08/05/16

Untitled DC Film – 06/23/17

Untitled DC Film – 11/17/17

Untitled DC Film – 03/23/18

Untitled DC Film – 07/27/18

Untitled DC Film – 04/05/19

Untitled DC Film – 06/14/19

Untitled DC Film – 04/03/20

Untitled DC Film – 06/19/20

Oh man, I cannot wait to drag my 40-year-old ass to that 2020 Untitled DC Film. So here are my predictions:

08/05/16: The darkest, grittiest Shazam! you’ve never even dared to imagine!

06/23/17: A Justice League movie with a guest appearance by Wonder Woman!

11/17/17: Fuck it, Here’s That Aquaman You People Keep Jokingly Asking For

03/23/18: A Very Disappointing Sandman Movie

07/27/18: How Else Can We Anger Alan Moore? A Top Ten Movie? Watchmen 2? Sure.

07/04/05: Batman Begins Again!

04/05/19: Death of Superman, of course

06/14/19: Batman Vs The Death of Superman

04/03/20: Superman Returns Again!

06/19/20: Zack Snyder Presents: 300 vs The Justice League vs The Watchmen

It’s also worth noting that DC’s official movie site is out-of-date and does not even mention any upcoming movies. GUYS!

Guardians of the Galaxy: Anything is Possible

guardians

With the deserved success of Guardians of the Galaxy it seems that anything is possible when it comes to adapting comic books for the big screen.

I remember when they announced the first Iron Man movie there was some concern that the character was too obscure to be the subject of a blockbuster movie. Sure, Iron Man is an Avenger and a major Marvel property, but he isn’t Superman or Batman. Now, only a few years later we are in a time that long-time comic fans can only describe as ‘surreal.’

I’m not going to pretend that I am any kind of authority on the characters of Guardians of the Galaxy. I honestly pay very little attention to the entire cosmic side of Marvel comics, but when I was in the theater watching the movie last Friday night, I was still overcome with delight and disbelief at the characters and the world that I saw on the screen in front of me. Even seeing some random background players wearing Nova helmets was crazy. Seeing Guardians of the Galaxy trending on Twitter was crazy. Seeing Starlord action figures and Rocket Raccoon masks at Target was crazy.

All your favourites!

The promise of a second Guardians movie is crazy. Guys, this movie made $95 million on the weekend! Not a decade ago people felt that if the movie wasn’t called Superman, Batman or Spider-Man there was no hope of it finding a big audience. Now we have at least three major comic book films coming out each year (from Marvel alone, usually), along with movies based on small press comics, and an insane number of television shows. By my count we are getting four new comic book based television series on major networks this year, along with a Netflix Daredevil series. Those will be added to some already excellent and popular comic book-based shows (and also Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). And I am sure I am forgetting some.

From what I have been hearing the reaction to the Guardians post-credits scene was extremely loud and enthusiastic in theatres everywhere. I am not going to spoil it, but, again, it’s an fairly obscure thing that is making movie goers yell “WHAT?! HOLY SHIT!!!” out loud in a movie theatre. I can’t remember the last time I heard a reaction like that in a theatre. Maybe when the old lady threw the necklace into the ocean in Titanic?

And this might be a bit of a spoiler re: the end of credits surprised, but it seems like Disney is making a point of correcting all of George Lucas’s mistakes.

And here’s the thing: there are a lot of great comic books too right now. That’s the subject for another post, but I want to put that in there because everyone is talking about comic book based movies and television, and very little is being discussed about the awesome source material. How many big comic book announcements came out of San Diego? Two? (Those Star Wars comics look amazing).

I actually feel overwhelmed by the comic book and super hero entertainment right now. I have a constant feeling of anxiety that I am going to die before the next big Marvel movie drops.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was watching Smallville out of desperation, and trying to convince myself that those Fantastic Four movies were any good. The stuff that they are making now is the stuff that we used to discuss as fantasy dream projects while working in the comic shop. A Daredevil show? A Winter Soldier movie? A pre-Batman Commissioner Gordon show? Not to mention one of the most popular shows on television is The Walking Dead (get that money, Robert Kirkman!).

I’m just saying a lot has happened since I stopped writing this blog.

Guys, they made a Winter Soldier movie!

It just feels like we are now free to dream up any (Marvel-based) movie scenario and it wouldn’t be impossible. A Heroes for Hire movie, perhaps? Set in the 70s, please? A Namor movie? A Dazzler movie? (I am dead serious about this. They need to make a Dazzler movie. Let’s make this dream a reality. A pop star super hero?! NOW IS THE TIME!).

Truly Outrageous

Meanwhile DC is missing the mark across the board, except in television, where they are crushing Marvel. In the last decade or so they made three great Batman movies, one weird but likable Superman movie, one weird and upsetting Superman movie (that I didn’t completely hate, but definitely it wasn’t the Superman I was looking for), a criminally awful Jonah Hex movie, a pretty terrible and forgettable Green Lantern movie, a weird Constantine movie, an OK V for Vendetta movie, and Watchmen, which I would say wasn’t great or terrible. It just exists. I liked it in the theaters, I never saw it again, and I don’t really feel like seeing it again. There were some other forgettable things in there too, I’m sure. And on the horizon they have a Superman vs Batman vs Wonder Woman vs Cyborg vs Who the Hell Knows: The Dawn of Insanity movie. I have a few concerns about that movie, not the least of which is DC/WB’s baffling decision to just let Zack Snyder direct EVERYTHING.

Anyway, this is a terrible review of Guardians of the Galaxy. It was really good. I can’t adequately review it because I am too full of bewilderment and delight. You can read one of the other gazillion glowing reviews of it somewhere else.

Kitchen Nightmares

You know what? Every comic book blog is going to be talking about Guardians of the Galaxy today (sentences I never thought I would write, say, four years ago), so I am going to go in a different direction and talk about something important.

My two great loves in life are super heroes and food. I like my kids and stuff, but I LOVE super heroes and food. These two interests are combined in the The Official DC Super Hero Cookbook..

Batman knows that Green Lantern green pepper pizza is disgusting.

I have been desperately trying to get my older son, who is four, interested in super heroes. Since he shares my love of food, I thought this cookbook would be a good gateway.

Most of the recipes involve cutting food into super hero shapes (like watermelon W’s in a Wonder Woman themed fruit salad). A lot involve stencils and coloured sugar and other things I am not ever going to do. Some things are just insane. Here are some highlights and lowlights.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...5000% of your daily recommended food colouring intake!

My son REALLY wants me to make this for him. Basically whenever I ask what we should make for any meal, he requests the “tall Superman yogurt thing.”

I’ll be straight: I am not a mother who cares a great deal about my kids eating 100% natural stuff. But it seems like taking yogurt and adding a half pound of food dye is weird. And yogurt is kind of my go-to food for my kid when I don’t want to do anything more than slop some stuff from a container into a bowl (and that’s if I’m being fancy and not just letting him eat it straight from the container). So adding an hour of work to that process is unappealing. Also, I don’t have parfait glasses or long fancy spoons. Or fresh raspberries! What am I, Bruce Wayne?!

However, I would very much like to see Superman eating this dainty thing.

A much more plausible Superman-inspired food is this fun cheeseburger:

Turn it upside down for a Bizarro Burger!

See, now there’s a creative food endeavour that I can get behind! Cut a cheese slice into a Superman symbol, eat the parts I cut off, squiggle a cute little S on there. I love it! I don’t know what that spinach is doing there because that is like Kryptonite to my son, but this burger is definitely something I would consider doing someday.

Also adorable and not too much work, but possibly insane:

"Mom, can I have my hot dog now?" "Quiet! I'm trying to get this knot tied!"

That’s what happens when Krypto is a bad dog.

Some of the recipes aren’t even trying:

Why haven't I been sticking pictures of Superman in ALL of my food?!

Green Arrow has a terrible idea for your kid’s lunch:

Speedy! I get it!I hate you, Mom.

Oh boy. Sorry, Ollie. Nice try. You are grossly overestimating your popularity with the kids if you think they are going to eat a lettuce leaf full of celery and gooey chicken in your honour.

Aquaman, on the other hand, knows exactly what the kids want:

Who's the lamest super hero NOW?

Yeah! Just throw a handful of Goldfish Crackers in your cereal, kids! Booyah!

Martian Manhunter is desperately trying to get your kid’s love:

"I have an extra X here, if you want to...kids?"

“Kids. May I suggest placing a fondant X on your cupcakes? It will be super fun. Please, kids, come back. It will only take me an hour or so to make and roll out the fondant.”

Batman knows what’s up:

Serving Face.

I have been seriously considering making that my avatar for all social media. I could look at that picture all day. What is this food? Who cares? I think it’s a pita pizza with a custom cut tortilla or something. But that mouth. THAT MOUTH!

Speaking of amazing pictures, I am about to show you the most incredible thing I have ever seen. I warn you that you cannot unsee it. I give you: The Plastic Man cheese toast:

AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

Guys.

"Please kill me!"

GUYS.

Also, these instructions:

You know...without the eyeballs it's kinda just cheese toast.

Mmmmmm…I love some edible candy eyeballs on melted cheese. Especially with garlic butter.

I assume you can use your favourite brand of edible candy eyeballs. Try to shop local. I have a guy.

I promise if I ever attempt to make anything in this book I will post pictures. And the book is worth getting, if only to flip through and giggle.

The Return!

I've been neglecting this blog for about five years without actually committing to ending it. I've been debating whether or not to start it up again, and I figured if Homestar Runner can come back then so can I! Actually, let's just say that I've been refusing to blog as a form of silent protest until Homestar Runner returns. Or until they make a Winter Soldier movie. Or until Brandon Routh gets work again. Either way, it's time to return!

Here's what I've been up to:

- Raising two sons who I fully expect to be the next Hemsworths;
- Not learning how to use Tumblr because it makes my eyes hurt;
- Watching all those Marvel movies (guys, have you seen Avengers?! It's so GOOD!);
- Google image searching things like "Captain America + Chris Evans + Battle Ravaged";
- Playing a lot of Simpsons: Tapped Out. Like, too much of that;
- Reading no DC titles and enjoying lots of Marvel;
- Watching Arrow on Netflix (quality show, you guys);
- Wondering if I am too old to decorate my bedroom with Arrow ads from comic books;

Diggle shirtless poster

- Living in the suburbs, trying to figure out how to garden and stuff, failing;
- Reading Pride and Prejudice fan fiction as escapism from house full of males;
- Thinking about exercising, particularly when watching Arrow;
- Dreading the upcoming Superman vs Batman movie (which should be the most exciting thing that ever happened);
- Wishing I had more time to just read a lot of comic books.

I'm not interested in writing weekly comic reviews or anything like that again. I just have thoughts on things that are related to comic books and super hero-based entertainment and I wanna share them here. And rate some more super hunks, because someone needs to check those guys.

Man of Steel

I haven't written in forever, but I feel compelled to add my two cents to the Man of Steel debate that is tearing Superman fans apart this month.

I liked the movie. I don't think it was a perfect Superman movie, but it was an interesting first part of a trilogy. I am glad it is doing well in theatres because I really want to see more with this cast. And we shouldn't overlook how very, very good looking Superman was in this movie. He was very good looking.

Now for some specific, spoiler-filled notes on what worked and what could have been better in this movie.

1. Krypton

I loved the depiction of Krypton in this movie. I liked that they used the idea from comics that Kryptonians are pre-programed in the "womb" to serve a specific purpose. It allows us to better understand Zod's point of view. I generally liked the style of Krypton, except for those weird 3D-image floating computer things that followed everyone around.

I actually really liked Russell Crowe a lot in this movie too. I liked his Gladiator accent and his calm, in-control persona. The movie, overall, was more the story of Krypton than a Superman origin story. Kal-El is just the innocent third party caught in the middle of a feud between Jor-El and Zod. It's an interesting approach to a new Superman series, and I was thankful that it allowed them to tell the origin story in a refreshing, non-linear format that assumed that people knew the story well enough to fill in the blanks.

2. Superman

Much like Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, or Wolverine, Clark "Joe" Kent is a drifter for much of his young adult life, just trying to go unnoticed wherever he is. Unlike Bruce Wayne, he doesn't have a specific purpose to his journey, other than a hope to find out more about who he is and where he comes from. He obviously went to work up in the Arctic because he somehow found out that there might be a space craft there. It's not explicitly shown in the movie how he learns this, and it doesn't need to be. It's one of the things I liked about the movie: it assumed an intelligent audience who didn't need everything explained. I don't think it was lazy storytelling; I think they just wanted to get to the good stuff. I'm assuming the military guys in the bar he worked at in Nova Scotia (!!!) could have inadvertently led him to the spacecraft. He can hear everything, after all.

I loved Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent. Not only was he extraordinarily handsome, he also perfectly pulled off the Superman persona. Quiet, but able to shut someone up entirely with one look or one perfect sentence. He basically makes everyone around him look and feel like complete garbage by comparison. It's not intentional. He's just way more wonderful than any of us could ever hope to be.

I think the scene where he busts through the door of the oil rig, shirtless and covered in flames, could have been extended. Just ten straight minutes of him standing there while the other guys stare at him. I would have been ok with that.

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3. Lois Lane

Again, great casting. I liked her a lot. She was tough, she was smart, and they looked great together. I like that they set up his career at the Daily Planet at the end of the movie, but also established that Lois and Perry know exactly who Clark Kent is. It just makes sense.

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As an aside, I don't mind at all changing things like that if they make more sense. The Dark Knight trilogy worked really well by creating a "real" world for the characters and mythology, and dropping aspects of the comic books that didn't fit with that world. The story of Superman (or Batman) has been told a million times by a million different writers. I welcome different interpretations. Is Man of Steel the definitive Superman origin story? No. One movie doesn't erase countless great comic books, or previous movies, or cartoon series, or radio dramas or whatever. In the world of Man of Steel, it makes sense that smart people, and especially those who are close to Superman, know who Clark Kent really is. The rest can be fooled. I liked that kryptonite was replaced by a change in atmosphere. Could there be kryptonite in the future movies in this series? Sure. Does there need to be? No. Same with the Fortress of Solitude, or ice breath. The characters were all perfectly portrayed in this movie, and that's what's important. The rest is just frivolous.

4. Zod

Michael Shannon was fantastic. Just the opposite of Superman in every way. I loved him. The fights between Zod (and the other Kryptonians) and Superman were incredible. I thought the speed and power of those battles was perfectly captured.

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Should Superman have killed him? Probably not. If he could break his neck, he could also turn his head away from that family. Also: he can break his neck? That doesn't seem possible. I guess it is because it happened, but it surprised me. At any rate, Superman killing Zod didn't really bother me, because he was new at the hero thing, and put in a very difficult position, and was probably at the end of his rope anyway. It had been a pretty shitty couple of days. What bothered me a little is that he didn't really agonize over it. He did a bit right after doing it, but then in the next scenes he's just telling his mom he's going to be a reporter, and telling the military to leave him alone. A scene where someone is helping him work through what he did would be good. Or maybe him being upset that the whole world just about ended because of his presence on Earth? Maybe he thinks about leaving? Or living in isolation? It just seemed like a scene was missing. Also: did he help clean up any of that destruction he caused in Metropolis and Smallville? Those cities were both annihilated. It was like a thousand 9/11s up in Metropolis. He was deliberately throwing Zod into skyscrapers (the city is on the water! Use your head, Supes!). Again, a couple of aftermath scenes would have been good. If you are going to make as bold a choice as having Superman murder someone in cold blood, you really have to justify it a bit. I remember people were very upset after Batman Begins when Batman claimed that he wouldn't kill Ra's Al Ghul, but he didn't have to save him. And then Ra's died in a train crash. The cardinal rule for both Batman and Superman is No Killing, so it is alarming when it's tossed aside.

5. Pa and Ma Kent

I do think Pa Kent was more dickish about his son using his powers than he needed to be, but the man died unnecessarily in a tornado to protect his son's secret, and that's hardcore. This happened right after a car fight where Clark laid down the classic "you're not even my real father!" burn, natch.

I loved the casting of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. They were like the movie versions of John Schneider (right down to the country music career) and Annette O'Toole. I hope Ma Kent is featured in all future Superman movies in this series.

6. Lex Luthor

It's happening. Get ready people. Next movie, for sure. Superman will learn that Earthlings can be just as psychotic as Kryptonian generals.

7. Levity

There was none. Not one moment of humour in this movie, and that was a real let-down. There was one terrible joke after Lois and Superman kissed that fell completely flat, and also was kind of a burn on Lois? Something about relationships going downhill after the first kiss, but then Superman says "that's only if you're kissing a human" or something? Lois is a human, dude. Smooth.

I think having him work at the Planet will open up more opportunities for humour in the next movie. I hope.

In conclusion, I liked the movie a lot. I would probably like it less if I weren't certain that it sets up a trilogy (at least) because obviously there were a lot of aspects of Superman that we know and love that we didn't get to see yet. I could do with more jokes and less Christ imagery, and way more Superman. Shirtless Superman, specifically. In Nova Scotia.

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Cursed Linear Flow of Time...

So: I've recently been enjoying both the rip-roaring good times of TV's Breaking Bad and the fun-filled romps of early 90s Punisher comics. In general, these activities have increased my quality of life, but today, in one of those once-in-a-lifetime cosmic realizations that can really ruin an afternoon, I was made aware that the world had missed out on a magical crossover opportunity:

Now, the actual story involves the Punisher getting mixed up with a biker gang/eco-protest group named the Satan's Lords (And their cranked-up leader Hec, who drove the point home by snorting meth off of a Bowie knife and turng on his closest advisors, the cad), but imagine a world in which twenty-plus years wasn't an insurmountable obstacle to creative works interacting with one another.

Picture this world, and now picture an extra narration box on the page above, one that begins, "Word has it that there's a new player on the Arizona meth scene, a mystery man named Heisenburg..."

The Unfunnies:

If there is a recurring theme of Doctor Rocket comics, it is this: even the majestic, alien depths of space can be full of mind-numbing tedium.

Here we find the good Doctor and his nameless assistant on a planet so consumed with civic planning and associated traffic control issues that their first reaction upon discovering an alien spacecraft is to issue it a parking ticket. If only this were a multi-pager, we might have been able to witness the majesty of the alien courthouse. Or perhaps we could have seen the intricacies of a cosmic currency-exchange service and thrilled along with the intrepid duo as they haggled over exchange rates!

Ah, for an interdimensional portal.

The Battle Against Inertia

So: there's something about having a website knocked out of commission for a year that really breaks any sort of rhythm that you've got going, post-wise. Not, I hasten to add, that I was going all-out in the months leading up to Living Between Wednesdays' infiltration by just the worst malware ever (and by worst I both mean that it was very irritating to get rid of and also that it did little more than insert an invisible link to a defunct website on every page here, thus accomplishing nothing, I think), but if nothing else I was happily churning out a few items a month for your delectation. 

That year of inactivity drags at me, even now that the site is back in human control once more. But a man... a man must CREATE, and to that end I am resolving to update this dang site again, and frequently! Several times! I've re-learned how to upload images and everything! Look:

That there is a headshot of Joe Modem, the scrappy hero-style character I created for Armagideon Time Andrew's Ultimate Heroes Jam project, in which he rolls up a character using the old Marvel RPG character creation rules and then someone like me tries to make a coherent character out of the resultant mess. Fun!

Keep on tuning in for more... things and stuff... soon. Yes... soon.

I promise!

Fresh From the Theatre: Evil Dead

The good: Pretty clever set-up, lots of non-obnoxious callbacks and enough jump scares that I got my money's worth.

The bad: For an Evil Dead movie it takes itself a bit too seriously; the characters maybe have a few too many dumb moments.

On the whole: worth checking out if such a movie is to your taste.

BONUS: I totally guaged the type of smart-ass teen that was sitting behind me (ie, exactly the kind of dumbass smart-ass teen that I used to be) and correctly predicted that one of them would knowingly identify the cabin as "The one from Cabin in the Woods". Take my scorn, whippersnappers! I laugh at you from my thereputic bath!

Belated Review of The Hobbit

I don't have much to say about The Hobbit. If you liked Middle Earth as envisioned by Hollywood (via New Zealand) in the past, well, here's some more of it. It's good. There are orcs. But I definitely have one note for all involved.

If you're making a movie with a lot of characters, and you make one character the fat one, and then you give the fat one a comically large spoon to use as a weapon, the for God's sake have him bop someone on the head with his huge spoon. 

It was a three hour movie! One bop! Augh!

Halloween was a while back

And with Halloween comes the traditional posting of the costumes! This year, Comarade Paul and I realized that our respective shapes were juust right to pull off one of our favourite duos in entertainment. Plus, our girlfriends were cool enough to do most of the heavy lifting with regards to, say, sewing and such.

21 and 24! This is why I've been drinking so much beer, I swear!

We went to a pretty good time at the Strange Adventures Halloween party, but the highlight of the night was as we were walking home, when a Fionna from Adventure Time leapt out of the darkness and ran me through. And then, while I stood dumbfounded, Paul's Dr Who-dressed ladyfriend grabbed the light sabre off of my belt and fended off the attacker. Hooray for crossovers!

That Took a Long Time.

Holy poo! We came back!

I'd love to tell an epic tale of how we fixed the problems that were keeping us down, maybe one involving another dimension where blog posts are used as currency and an evil cabal employed super-advanced malware in order to control the flow of incredibly valuable nonsense from this site. And then I had to go fight them and got a sidekick that was a sentient owl or something and I finally won once I learned the secret of caring and I had the chance to be king but came back here for some reason.

The reality is much more boring: stupid real-world malware and the wrong passwords and thinking one thing was wrong when in fact it was another. And then we got discouraged for a while and I got distracted by my puppy. But we fixed it in the end! And then it took like a month for Google to believe that we weren't still evil viruses pretending to be people who like comic books. Hooray!

So... how about them Batmans?