Category Archives: comics

Diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

First things first: Marvel Comics is doing some great things in terms of diversity in their books. Sam Wilson will soon be the new Captain America, Thor’s hammer will be passed to a woman who will take up the role of Thunderer/Protector of Midgard, and there’s a growing number of titles that focus on women and people of color: Black WidowCaptain Marvel, The Mighty AvengersElektraShe-HulkMs. MarvelAll-New Ghost Rider, etc.

And that’s great. The only problem is that this push for diversity seems to stop right before it reaches the doors of Marvel Studios. Sure, Black Widow has been kick-ass in Iron Man 2Avengers, and Captain American: The Winter Soldier. The Winter Soldier also gave us the aforementioned Sam Wilson. There’s also Sif, who was not only amazing in both Thor movies, but even crossed over to the small screen to appear in an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, to date, all of Marvel’s movies have focused on a white dude or a collection of white dudes with maybe a woman (or raccoon or giant tree monster) thrown in for good measure.

So, what’s the problem? The folks at Marvel Studios has claimed that it’s a question of momentum. They have several plates spinning at once (another Thor movie, another Captain America movie, two more Avengers movies, not to mention the new Guardians of the Galaxy franchise), and they’re worried about breaking the pace of these franchises. I’m not gonna lie, I kind of see their point. But, I see a few golden opportunities on the horizon for, if nothing else, a movie for Black Panther and a movie for Captain Marvel.

Wakanda, Vibranium, and the Black Panther

At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the following prop was on display at the Marvel booth–

Now, it’s unclear if Cap’s iconic shield is actually shattered during the events of Age of Ultron, or if it’s some kind of dream/nightmare/illusion. Captain America’s shield has been broken several times in the comics. Sometimes it’s repaired by Doctor Strange’s mystical know-how, sometimes it’s repaired by a cadre of Asgardian dwarfs, and sometimes it’s repaired by the advanced science of Wakanda. So, my hope is that Cap’s shield is broken and the post-credit scene of Avengers 2 involves Steve and Tony traveling to Wakanda in order to ask King T’Challa, who happens to be an old friend of Tony’s, to help them repair the shield. That would open the door for a Black Panther movie. Maybe the plot would involve a battle over Wakanda’s vibranium supply, hopefully including the villainous Ulysses Klaw or some new faction of Hydra or AIM.

The Kree, Mar-Vell, and Captain Marvel

This week’s Guardians of the Galaxy–which is amazing fun, by the way–introduces movie audiences to one of Marvel’s classic alien species, the Kree.

The first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D also included the corpse of something that’s clearly a member of the Kree race–

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So, the Kree have clearly been to Earth. Perhaps they are a continuing presence, lurking in the background. That means that undercover Kree agent, Mar-Vell, could easily appear in the upcoming season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

And, if the first season finale can include Nick Fury and Maria Hill, the second season finale can include the incident that transfers a portion of Mar-Vell’s Kree powers to kick-ass U.S. Air Force officer Carol Danvers and, BOOM!, a Captain Marvel movie.

Mark Ruffalo, Blood Transfusions, and Sensational Cousins

Everyone agrees that Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner was the breakout character in Avengers. Since then, everyone has been itching for another solo Hulk movie. I say that’s a bad idea. Hulk is an expensive character to have as the lead in a movie, that’s why he usually doesn’t show up until the third act. Instead, I say use Ruffalo’s draw to open a She-Hulk movie. Banner visits his cousin Jennifer Walters, an up-and-coming lawyer in Washington, DC. When the opposition in Jennifer’s biggest case to date tries to kill her, only a blood transfusion from her cousin can save her life (and change it forever)–

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. A solo movie for Black Widow has been sort of promised. I’d pay to see a movie about Spider-Woman. Or a solo Sif movie. I’d also do horrible things to your loved ones if it got me a movie about Rikki Barnes and Eli Bradley. And, I know that Marvel may be doing this movie or may be casting that character, but it doesn’t count until I see footage.

Basically, all I’m saying is this: Get on this, Marvel Studios. It ain’t that hard.

After Ultron: What I Would Like to See from Future Avengers Movies

Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, recently said that the studio has Marvel movies planned as far as 2028. This may seem ambitious to some, downright insane to others. Personally, I think it could work. And, before everyone starts using words like rebootrecast, and whatever other r-words have become hopelessly spot-welded to conversations about movie franchises, I’ll give you two very good reasons why it could.

First, there is a lot of source material that Marvel can work with. A lot. And, if this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy rakes in an astronomical amount of cash, that’s pretty much a giant green light for Marvel to go ahead and mine some of its more esoteric characters (and, believe me, I have a list).

Second, if you consider the Avengers movies as “the point” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe–that every other movie Marvel makes is either a lead-in to, or a denouement of, an Avengers movie–then I have great news for you. The Avengers has–and has always had–a rotating roster. (This is something that Feige and Friends sorta implied way back around the time the first Avengers movie was coming out.) So, even if Robert Downey, Jr. doesn’t sign a new contract or Chris Evans takes an extended break from acting, that doesn’t mean there can’t be any more Avengers movies.

So, after Phase Three is complete and we have an Avengers trilogy, I present to you Phase Four: The Era of the New Avengers.

You have two characters who can serve as a linchpin for a new roster of Avengers (three, depending on how that whole Netflix thing shakes out): Falcon and Bucky. So, you bring back Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier/Captain America.

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From here, I’d add Terry Crews as Luke Cage,

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Meghan Ory as Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman,

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Beth Riesgraf as Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird,

 

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and Yvonne Strahovski as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel.

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That’s it. That would be my Avengers team for a second trilogy of movies.

Dressing An Amazon: What Should Wonder Woman’s Big-Screen Costume Look Like?

Earlier today, the good folks over at The Mary Sue posted an article in which the costume designer for Man of Steel 2 (Kryptonian Boogaloo?) briefly discusses Wonder Woman’s costume. The quote seems to imply that they’ll be looking at historical sources for inspiration.

This is good news.

Now, I have no problems with Diana’s classic comic costume. But, its functionality begins and ends with the comic page (or the animation cel). For a live-action Wonder Woman (just like for a live-action Spider-Man, Superman, or Captain America), you need to tweak the costume. But, tweaking doesn’t mean making radical alterations. You can create a realistic, functional costume that still uses the character’s classic iconography.

Let’s start with the main part of the costume. If I were making a Wonder Woman movie or television show, I’d start with a cuirass of banded red leather. The chest and shoulders would have an additional layer of harder leather. A golden eagle provides additional protection to the chest and torso. A golden girdle/belt forms the classic WW. Lastly, we have a studded war skirt of dark blue leather, the silver studs creating the star-spangled effect of Diana’s comic costume.

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The tiara would remain relatively unchanged (I mean, how much can you change a tiara?). I’d make sure it was large enough to not only keep Diana’s hair out of her eyes while she’s kicking ass, but also provide a bit of protection in case she needs to take someone out with an Amazonian headbutt.

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As for Diana’s trademark bracelets, I’d turn them into some serious bracers that take up most of her forearms, not to mention the backs of her hands. For a little touch of Ancient Greece, I’d add a stylized owl to the bits that cover Diana’s hands–Zeus’ eagle and Athena’s owl should give Wonder Woman enough Olympian backup when things get tough.

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Now…I have horrible feet. They’re flat. They’re too wide for most shoes. They’re attached to weak ankles. So, I don’t know how people wear some of the footwear that I see out in the world, much less how half of the superheroes get around in the shoes they wear. Anyway… For Wonder Woman’s boots, I’d continue the modernization of ancient kit. A red leather upper with a flat reinforced sole and a hardened leather shaft, with a reinforced shin, that continues up to the knee.

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Welp…that’s just my two cents. For what it’s worth.

Several Omnibuses and Collections That I Would Kill All of You For

I was a card-carrying trade-waiter for about two years. It’s still a viable way to enjoy comics, if you ask me, especially since most publishers are pretty good about getting collections out in a timely fashion. For me, getting a Kindle changed everything. Digital comics are insanely convenient.

Even though I’m back reading single issues, I’m still interested in collecting trades and collected editions, particularly classic or iconic runs. That’s why omnibuses are great. Want a creator’s full run of a book in a single volume? Boom! Done.

There are a lot of great omnibuses and collections coming down the pike, but there are a few more that I really want to see at some future date.

1. The New Mutants (Volume 1)

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The New Mutants were the first new students to enroll at the School for Gifted Youngsters after the original five X-Men. Since the first hundred-issue series ended, Cannonball and Sunspot have joined the Avengers, Wolfsbane has served on several different X-Factor teams, Magik is a member of Cyclops’ X-Men team, and Dani Moonstar has recently appeared in Fearless Defenders. I think it’s time to celebrate where these characters came from .

2. Excalibur

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Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, and Rachel Summers (Grey/Grey-Summers/Summers-Grey/whatever) all have–or, in Nightcrawler’s case, will have–very prominent roles in the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe. What better reason to collect Excalibur? Equal parts bizarre and brilliant, this series has a hardcore cult following that would love to see the early Claremont and Alan Davis issues collected. I wouldn’t say no to seeing Lobdell’s issues collected, as well. And, maybe give Warren Ellis’ run its own omnibus treatment.

3. Mark Waid’s Flash and Impulse

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Waid’s Flash run is the first I had ever read starring the Scarlet Speedster. I love how Waid found a way to expand the world of the Flash to include older speedsters, like Max Mercury and Jay Garrick, as well as younger ones, like Jesse Quick and Bart Allen. Collect all of Waid’s early* Flash and Impulse issues in as many volumes as it takes. I want them all! (*I liked Waid’s second run on the character, but I know the West twins are something of a sore subject among Flash fans, so let’s not include that here.)

4. Peter David’s first X-Factor run

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Marvel has announced an omnibus collection of David’s second, noir-inspired run on X-Factor, but his first time with the characters remains mostly out-of-print. I, for one, prefer the old government-sponsored team and would love to see it given the respect it deserves.

5. Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl

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Fan favorite Stephanie Brown was seemingly wiped from existence during DC’s New 52 reboot. Now with news that Stephanie will be making her New 52 debut, it seems like a perfect time to reprint Miller’s critically acclaimed run on Batgirl.

6. John Byrne’s Alpha Flight

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Byrne’s Fantastic Four run has been getting the omnibus treatment (Volume 1 has done well, from what I’ve seen, and Volume 2 is due later this year). Does his run on Alpha Flight deserve to be collected? Maybe not. But, I love this team and want to see it sitting on my bookshelf next to the FF, X-Men, and Avengers.

7. Young Justice

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I think DC kinda dropped the ball on releasing a Young Justice collection to coincide with the awesome (yet cancelled) Young Justice cartoon. (I feel like there were plans to release some kind of YJ collection, maybe just a simple trade paperback of a particular arc, at some point, but it was scrapped, like Impulse: Runs in the Family.)

8. Captain Britain and MI:13

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In January 2014, Marvel Comics will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Marvel UK imprint with an event called “Revolutionary War.” Captain Britain, Peter Wisdom, and MI:13 will all play a role in this event. It seems like the perfect time to reissue Paul Cornell’s amazing Captain Britain and MI:13 in a fancy, new hardcover edition.

It’s Okay, DC. I’m Here to Help.

Hey, DC. Look, I know you really want a shared cinematic universe like Marvel has. It’s obvious that you do. It’s just…well, you are really bad at it. Like, really, really bad at it. (You’re so bad at it that you had to take the word “Green” out of Green Arrow before you’d let it air on television!) But, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Just sit back, relax, and let me do the driving.

Oh, this will require some retconning…but, you’re DC, you do a retcon every other week.

We’ll start with a new Superman:

Superman: Man of Steel would kick off the DC cinematic universe. It wouldn’t be a full-on origin story. At most, recount the basic points of Superman’s origin over the opening credits (Doomed Planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Kindly Couple.). Man of Steel would focus on Superman’s first appearance in Metropolis. Who is he? What is he? The conflict would revolve around Intergang. The resolution would reveal that the villains were funded by Lex Luthor…who does not take kindly to this freak in long underwear messing up his plans.

Batman: Zero reason to bother theatergoers with ANOTHER origin. We know who Batman is. He’s out in Gotham, fighting crime, and actually doing science things on his own (Sorry, Lucius). The first movie ends with the introduction of young Dick Grayson.

Wonder Woman: Hippolyta is the Queen of the Amazons, but also the Themysciran ambassador to the UN. Princess Diana is the head of embassy security. Ares invades the embassy to use it as a portal back to Themyscira, where he will open the Gates of Tartarus and release the Titans to destroy the mortal world. Diana stops him, is rewarded with fancy new armor by the gods, and becomes Wonder Woman. (There’s a longer description here.)

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis: Arthur Curry hates the ocean. This is a bit of a problem when you live in a small Maine fishing community and you’re the adopted son of the owner of the town’s largest fishing company. When Arthur rescues a redheaded stranger calling herself Mera, he suddenly finds himself drawn to the sea. With Mera’s help, Arthur rediscovers his identity and reclaims his rightful place on the throne of Atlantis.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow: A group of LuthorCorp scientists are on an expedition to find a new power source. They come across shards of weird green crystals, while one of the team—Dr. Milton Fine—comes across something far more sinister. Back in Metropolis, Luthor discovers that this new source of power has an interesting effect on Superman and he initiates Project: Metallo. Man of Tomorrow is a standard villain team-up with Brainiac and Metallo.

Justice League: When aliens invade Earth, the planet’s mightiest superheroes come together to save the world. This isn’t going to be The Avengers. This isn’t Batman in his cave saying “Hmm, I need to form a team of heroes to stop this.” No. These folks are heroes. They know that when aliens invade Earth, you stop them. The team-up happens organically. With an audience that’s familiar with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, you’re free to add Green Lantern, Flash, and Martian Manhunter.

Batman and Robin: Jumps forward a bit. Bruce and Dick are the Caped Crusaders. Introduce Barbara Gordon as Batgirl.

Birds of Prey: An interlude, of sorts. Batman and Robin make brief cameos in what is essentially the story of Barbara becoming Oracle and forming the Birds of Prey.

The Sensational Wonder Woman: Diana is still getting used to her position as ambassador. Rumors are spreading that Bialya is amassing troops along its borders. With its neighbors understandably concerned, the UN tries to intercede, only to be stopped at every turn by an increasingly aggressive Bialya ambassador. When Wonder Woman and Donna Troy investigate, they learn that the ruler of Bialya has come under the influence of a sociopathic dwarf calling himself Doctor Psycho.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights: With increasing alien activity in Sector 2814,the Guardians decide that there needs to be a greater Green Lantern presence in the sector. They task Hal Jordan with training two new Lanterns from Earth: Guy Gardner and John Stewart. Jordan has his hands full with the rookie Lanterns, a situation that only gets worse when Sinestro, the greatest Lantern of all time, goes rogue and sets his sights on Earth.

Superman: Last Son of Krypton would be the movie that looks at Clark’s alien heritage. You’ve had two movies to showcase Superman’s ties to, and love of, Earth. This is the one where Zod shows up and tries to ruin it all. How does Zod show up if Krypton was destroyed? A flashback shows us how Zod and his followers were placed in suspended animation and set adrift in space. When Krypton explodes, the prison ship gets caught in the shockwave and eventually ends up in our solar system. (This is where you can establish Power Girl. Superman is able to convince one of Zod’s followers that the Earth needs protecting and she decides to fight with Superman instead of against him.)

Batman: Gotham Knights: Dick has quit and become Nightwing. Batman has a new Robin, Tim Drake. Introduce Stephanie Brown as the new Batgirl. From here, you can pretty much do anything you want in Gotham City: a Nightwing movie, a solo Robin or Batgirl movie, introduce Batwoman, a Birds of Prey sequel.

You can, hopefully, take it from there, DC. It’s not that hard. In fact, I’d say that the DC heroes are more suitable to an ever-expanding cinematic universe than the Marvel heroes are. You have legacy heroes, sidekick after sidekick, the possibilities are endless. Introduce Wonder Girl in the third Wonder Woman movie and Aqualad in an Aquaman sequel and, BOOM! Teen Titans. Make a movie where Green Arrow is more than just Shirtless Murder Batman. Introduce Supergirl and Superboy. Bring the JSA out of retirement.  Make an emotional Flash trilogy that gives us the death of Barry, Wally’s decision to become the new Flash, and the introduction of a new Kid Flash.

Oh, and on the television side of things: Batman: Gotham Central and Superman: The Daily Planet. You’ll thank me later. Trust me.

 

Are the New Warriors Returning to the Marvel Universe?

There are rumors swirling about that Marvel is going to bring back the New Warriors. I hope this turns out to be true. I liked the New Warriors. In an age before the Young Avengers or the Runaways, the New Warriors was the closest thing Marvel had to the Teen Titans (if you don’t count all of those X-books filled with teen mutants waiting to be killed in the next big X-Men crossover).

While most of the original members are still kicking around, I’d like to see a new roster of young heroes take the New Warriors name.

Nova is probably a given (especially since the rumors state the New Warriors’ return will happen in an issue of his series).

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I’d like to see Eli Bradley (the former Young Avenger known as Patriot) back in action. He has the experience to act as field commander for this collection of young heroes.

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Also no stranger to the world of superheroing, Anya Corazon, aka Spider-Girl, would add a certain amount of name recognition to the team.

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The new White Tiger (Ava Ayala) and the new Power Man (Victor Alvarez) will add additional muscle–not to mention a bit of cross-media synergy.

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And, to add a little bit of mystical might, former Runaway Nico Minoru.

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Of course, the very first arc should be “The Search for Nomad.”

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Don’t Touch Lola: One Fan’s Reaction to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Trailer.

There it is. The first look at ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

My first reaction: COULSON LIVES!!! While I was pretty sure that Clark Gregg’s Agent Phil Coulson would be back in one form or another, it’s nice to see the Bob Newhart of the Marvel Movie Universe headlining the series.

I think the premise seems pretty solid, too. S.H.I.E.L.D. has the Avengers to deal with alien invasions and Asgardian war machines and gamma-powered engines of destruction. But, you don’t call out Captain America to deal with Stilt-Man, if you know what I mean. (If you don’t know what I mean, you’re probably better off.) Sure, Fury is going to want these smaller “incidents” investigated and he’s going to want his top man to head the investigations. I like that the titular agents are all new characters created specifically for the show, like Coulson was back in the day.

Now, about that one bit of speculation that has been floating around the internet. What speculation, you ask? The speculation that this–

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–is Luke Cage. I’d be totally happy if this turns out to be Luke Cage for two reasons: (1) I really like Luke Cage and (2) I really like J. August Richards. I admit that the evidence in support of this theory is pretty flimsy: African-American dude, super strength, seemingly invulnerable. I’d also add that Cage has been known to sport a hoodie from time to time–most recently in the animated Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (I’m certain I’d seen him wearing a hoodie in one of his recent comic appearances, but I can’t find any images. Any assistance would be appreciated.)

The arguments against this theory are, in my opinion, equally flimsy. First, they say that Richards doesn’t have the right build to play Luke Cage. Yes, in the comics, Luke is freakin’ huge. But, you know what? So is Steve Rogers. So is Thor. Both Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth got in ridiculously amazing shape, but they’d still look puny compared to the unrealistic portrayal of human anatomy that is the “superhero physique.” My point? Mr. Richards can certainly play Luke Cage even without being built like a brick shithouse. I’d also note that the Luke Cage that appears in Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon is a significantly slimmer version of the character.

The other argument against this character being Luke Cage is that Luke Cage is “too important to be on a TV series.” That…kinda depends on your personal point of view. Yes, Cage is well-known to comic book fans, but a large portion of the potential viewers of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are probably coming in as fans of the movies, not the comics. And, Cage’s role as a prominent figure in the Marvel Universe is something of a new thing, coming after a decade and a half of relative obscurity. Furthermore, the synergy between Marvel’s cinematic universe and its television universe means that there’s no such thing as “too important to be on a TV series.” This isn’t like when DC prevented Bruce Wayne from appearing on Smallville because it would conflict with Batman Begins.

Anyways… I’m really excited for this show. The Marvel Movie Universe has made me happier than most other things, and I look forward to seeing it expand to television. In a perfect world, the success of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would lead to Heroes for Hire, Daredevil, and maybe even Ghost Rider.

Random Final Thought: I’m not sure exactly how copyrights and such work, but could Marvel’s expansion to television be a way to circumvent outside studios holding the rights to certain characters? They might not be able to mention Spider-Man or the X-Men in their movies, but they might be able to incorporate them into a television series in preparation for the day the rights return to Marvel. Just a thought.