Category Archives: geeky stuff

How Marvel Studios Should Approach Iron Fist

With Daredevil and Jessica Jones burning up the internet (and Luke Cage, not to mention a second helping of Ol’ Hornhead, on the way), everyone with a keyboard and some time to kill has been theorizing about Marvel’s plan for its Netflix series. The original plan was as follows: Four independent series–Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist–leading up to a team-up called The Defenders. It was a good plan. Of course, no plan survives contact with the enemy.

 

Daredevil was an experiment. It could have failed. Miserably. Instead it took off. It became the most-watched show on Netflix and spurred Marvel to start work on a second season. Now there’s talk of a Punisher series. Maybe even Moon Knight. There’s also a lot of talk surrounding Iron Fist, and not all of it is good. Depending on who you ask, Marvel is either cancelling the series outright, retooling it to be a  one-off feature-length story, or going ahead with it as originally planned. It does seem as though the series has stalled. There’s been no word of casting or story or even when production might start. The usual internet reaction is to run around shouting that the sky is falling. Personally, this doesn’t bother me. Iron Fist will be an expensive endeavor (which is what’s fueling the one-off film rumor), not to mention an interesting creative hurdle: I mean, how do you visually represent someone’s chi or the Iron Fist effect?

 

Yes. An Iron Fist series will be expensive. Probably more expensive than DaredevilJessica Jones, and Luke Cage combined. At least if you want to do it right. K’un-L’un will need to be a lot more impressive than whatever matte painting Arrow uses for Nanda Parbat. (The easiest solution to this that I can think of is to just use whatever location Agents of SHIELD used for the Inhuman city, Afterlife.)

Afterlife

 

What about the story? Is the entire thing set in K’un-L’un? I imagine the first season of Iron Fist to be a little bit like Batman Begins. Danny Rand, long-thought dead, returns to New York City after years of training in K’un-L’un. As the Iron Fist, he has been sent to New York to prepare it for an upcoming supernatural threat (this ties in to one of the subplots from the first season of Daredevil). As Danny Rand, however, he has come home to face the men responsible for the death of his parents: the Board of Directors of the Rand Corporation. To accomplish this second goal, Danny needs the services of Heroes for Hire* (Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Patsy Walker, and Misty Knight). Of course, things don’t go as planned and Danny discovers that his two objectives might be more connected than he originally thought. As with the other Netflix series, Iron Fist would rely on flashbacks to slowly spool out Danny Rand’s origin, from his parents’ death, to his training in K’un-L’un, to his rise as the Iron Fist.

There’s very little reinventing of the wheel here, and with good reason. Marvel’s Netflix series manage to be both straightforward and complex, and there’s no evidence to suggest that Iron Fist will be any different when we finally get to see it.

 

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*I would actually trade a second season of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist for an ongoing Heroes for Hire series featuring Jess, Luke, Danny, Misty, Patsy, and Colleen Wing.

 

Ant-Man: As Told by Me

I’m insanely excited about Ant-Man, even if I have a few misgivings about a lot of the choices this movie seems to have made. I was going to keep this to myself until after I saw the teaser trailer that’s being released in a few days, just in case any of the beats my version hits actually appear in the real movie, but I kinda went down the rabbit hole with this and got very excited with some of the things I came up with.

First and foremost, my version of Ant-Man would be a Hank Pym story. A story of redemption and accountability. A story whose lead suffers from legitimate mental health issues but, unlike almost every other comic, he becomes a hero and not a villain. I found a way to tie this into Age of Ultron, as well as the whole SHIELD/Hydra/AIM thing.

Okay, here goes…

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Twenty-five years ago, teenage wunderkind Hank Pym and his mentor, Dr. Vernon van Dyne, are contracted by SHIELD to create next-gen technologies for the global peacekeeping organization. When Pym realizes that SHIELD is going to weaponize his inventions, he quickly hacks into the SHIELD database and removes one crucial piece of information from each design, preventing SHIELD from ever using his designs.

The present: Dr. Hank Pym is a research scientist at a small college in upstate New York, specializing in robotics, cybernetics, and nanotechnology. Dr. van Dyne had retired from academia and entered the private sector, creating Van Dyne Industries, a world-renowned think tank now run by van Dyne’s daughter Janet. Although employed by the college, Pym and his lab partner Dr. Bill Foster receive the majority of their funding from VDI.

Hank is struggling with depression in the wake of the Ultron Incident. He knows that Ultron was based on one of his old designs (Ultron’s ability to control robot drones can be tied to the queen/drone relationship among social insects, thus explaining how Ant-Man can control ants).

Meanwhile, Hydra dispatches Grim Reaper to one of AIM’s hidden labs in New York City. Hydra is still angry that they lost the Tesseract and they want AIM to create a replacement. AIM chief scientist, George Tarleton, explains that, while they have the means to create another Tesseract, they still require the materials. Grim Reaper promises to obtain the materials AIM needs and departs. Tarleton walks through a doorway that leads to a restricted area, past a cryogenic chamber labelled “J. SCHMIDT”, and into the “M.O.D.O.C. Chamber.” We see that Aldrich Killian’s head has been preserved and joined to a massive mobile computing array.

Hydra sends Blizzard, Whirlwind, and Beetle to Van Dyne Industries to obtain the heavy elements that AIM needs to create a new Tesseract. Pym watches the attack on the news, horrified when he recognizes that some of the tech used in the attack was also part of the work he did for SHIELD as a teenager. He vows to make a stand. He vows that his inventions will never again be used to hurt others. He dons a suit he designed to use in his nanotech experiments and a special cybernetic helmet: Ant-Man is born.

Things kinda follow the usual superhero plot trajectory from here. Hydra gets what it needs and AIM creates a new Tesseract, only to double-cross Hydra. As punishment, Grim Reaper kills Tarleton, who manages to save himself by merging with M.O.D.O.C. and becoming M.O.D.O.K. Janet refuses to stand by while Hank fights those responsible for the attack on her company, giving birth to Wasp.

I’m all for teasing the appearance of Scott Lang in a possible sequel, maybe a line of dialogue about the new lab assistant starting next week.

As far as the casting goes, you’ll never be able to convince me that anyone other than Alan Tudyk can play Hank Pym. For Janet, I’ve always wanted Nicki Clyne; however, after seeing Evangeline Lilly’s bob cut, how can I not want her to play Jan? The only other casting I can think of is Steve Buscemi as Tarleton/M.O.D.O.K. Oh, and I’d cast the kid who played Blizzard on Agents of SHIELD to reprise his role in the movie.

Captain Whiz Bang: Five Actresses Who Could Play Captain Marvel

With Marvel’s recent announcement of a Captain Marvel movie coming our way in 2018, the hunt is on for an actress to fill the lead role of Carol Danvers, the USAF pilot-turned-superhero.

Here are five actresses who could do some serious damage as Captain Marvel.

1. Katee Sackhoff

Katee Sackhoff (Victoria "Vic" Moretti

If there’s a female version of Nathan Fillion, it’s Sackhoff. Her name is tossed around any project with even the slightest hint of “geek appeal.” Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, Sackhoff’s Battlestar Galactica character, is the spiritual cousin of Carol Danvers: a hotshot pilot ready to punch her way out of any problem that her mouth gets her in.

2. Yvonne Strahovski

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Strahovski, like Sackhoff, has already played a Danvers-esque character on television. Chuck‘s Sarah Walker punched, kicked, and shot her way through spies and assassins. If there’s one difference between Walker and Starbuck, it’s that Strahovski played her role with a little less insubordination.

3. Jennifer Morrison

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Perhaps best known for her work on House and How I Met Your Mother, Jennifer Morrison has spent the last several years fighting dragons and evil queens on Once Upon A Time. Morrison could bring a more world-weary, seen-it-all approach to Carol.

4. Katheryn Winnick

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Vikings‘ Winnick has expressed an interest in entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe, going so far as to post some fanart. Not only is Winnick experienced with action roles, but she’s also a skilled martial artist in what you people call “the real world.”

5. Jeri Ryan

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Jeri Ryan certainly has the genre cred. She’s also known for playing powerful, no-nonsense women capable of holding their own in a room full of men. How much would you be willing to pay to see Ryan’s Danvers go toe-to-toe with RDJ’s Tony Stark?

Honorary Mention: Natalie Dormer

The Heat - Gala Screening - Red Carpet Arrivals

There’s a fairly vocal group of Dormer fans pushing for her to land the role of Captain Marvel. Personally, I’d rather see her play the Enchantress. But, that’s just me.

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–

CAGE

–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.

Looking Back…Recasting JUSTICE LEAGUE

One of the first casting posts that I ever wrote–waaaaay back in 2008–was for a Justice League movie. Now, while DC and Warner Brothers continue to spin their wheels, Marvel makes all of the movie money. Why? Why is it so hard for DC to get its cinematic act together? Sure, some of you might say that DC should focus on making good comics (and maybe not hiring vile bigots, while they’re at it), but that isn’t the world we live in. The 21st century is all about multimedia synergy. Let’s face it, comic book movies are here to stay, so we might as well make the best of them.

Now, I have been a proponent of thinking a bit outside of the box with a Justice League movie, quietly hoping that a League movie would feature Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, and several other lesser-known DC heroes (even though Marvel recently poached my Guy Gardner). However, we all know that DC is going to want to highlight their top talent in a Justice League movie, which is why I’m here to reevaluate a movie starring the “Big Seven.”

The Plot: One word: Starro. Yes, everyone wants the villain in this movie to be Darkseid. But, let’s face it, Darkseid is a pretty big deal. Do you want to shoot your wad that early? No. Plus, Starro gives you a nice body-snatcher thing to work with.

The Cast:

Brandon Routh as Superman/Clark Kent

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I know, I know. Superman Returns. Look, I did not love everything about that movie (Superman as a deadbeat dad, I’m lookin’ at you!), but Routh was pretty good. I’d give him a second shot at playing the big blue boy scout in a heartbeat.

Ian Somerhalder as Batman/Bruce Wayne

Ian-ian-somerhalder-17987587-485-523 Batm

Time to wash the taste of those awful Nolan movies out of our mouths. Somerhalder appeared in an early season of Smallville as a bait-and-switch Bruce Wayne named Adam Knight. Now he’s in a show about vampires, which kinda works with the whole bat motiff.

Jaime Murray as Wonder Woman/Princess Diana

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Watch Murray on Warehouse 13, then come back to me and tell me you don’t want her to play the Amazon warrior.

Lance Reddick as Martian Manhunter/J’onn J’onzz

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This is what I wrote in 2008–

On The Wire, it almost seemed like Reddick was able to read everyone’s minds, so who better to play the telepathic Martian Manhunter? Can’t you just hear Reddick’s deep, authoritative voice rumbling through the theater’s speakers the first time J’onn’s voice is heard inside someone’s mind? Besides, he kind of looks like the revamped Manhunter.

–and I stand by that today.

Shawn Ashmore as The Flash/Wally West

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The Ashmore brothers have had their way with superhero properties for quite some time. Shawn has played Iceman in three (soon to be four) X-Men movies and Aaron played Jimmy Olsen on several seasons of Smallville. (Shawn also appeared in two episodes of Smallville as meteor freak Eric Summers.) Anyway, I think Ashmore has what it takes to bring Wally West to life.

Aldis Hodge as Green Lantern/John Stewart

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So many Lanterns to choose from . . . Using the Green Lantern who was one of the main characters of the popular Justice League cartoon seems like a safe bet. In addition to his military training, I’d love to see this portrayal also focus on Stewart’s architecture background. And, let’s face it, Aldis Hodge is just waiting for his shot at stardom.

Dan Stevens as Aquaman/Arthur Curry

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Aquaman is a reluctant king. He’d much rather be out and about, punching supervillains and saving the day, then sitting in a room full of government ministers. On Downton Abbey, Stevens’ Matthew Crawley wanted nothing more than to practice law until circumstances handed him an estate to run. Replace “practice law” with “punching supervillains” and “estate” with “underwater kingdom” . . . and Aquaman and Matthew Crawley are practically the same dude.