Category Archives: movies

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.

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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

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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.

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–

KREE

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.

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.

 

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

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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.