Netflix’s Punisher

With Iron Fist and The Defenders coming out later this year it can be easy to forget about the Netflix series that follows.

After seeing him in The Walking Dead and Fury (2014) I thought Bernthal’s casting as Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher was perfect. He went on to become the best thing about Daredevil’s second season, providing a deadly foil to Matt Murdock. After watching the season and reading The Punisher Max and War Journal, the Punisher quickly became one of my favourite comic book characters.

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe is (MCU) is sometimes hampered by the desire to remain family-friendly, the Netflix shows capture a more adult world that is also not afraid to embrace the more fantastical elements of the comics. Many people didn’t like the mystical aspects of Daredevil’s second season, probably due to the contrast with the gritty first season. However, I didn’t mind these additions. My biggest gripe was the love story between Matt and Karen, which wasn’t foreshadowed at all with the previous season. This season began and they were suddenly in love.

With that said, The Punisher is a series that might work better (at least for the first season) with more grounded villains. Most of the villains in the aforementioned comics were figures involved in crime syndicates such as the mafia or IRA. While The Punisher obviously lives in the same universe as Thor and The Hulk, and has fought some of these figures in the comics, I hope the solo series starts with his work on the streets. Daredevil ended with Castle donning his costume as he continued his personal war on crime. I want to see that story expanded, as Castle continues to target criminal enterprises.

While Daredevil emphasized Castle’s pursuit by law enforcement, the Max comics frequently imply that the police tolerate his presence. There is a story arc where corrupt policemen frame him for the murder of one of their own, but for the most part the police realize he makes their jobs easier and scares some people off the streets. It would be interesting to see this dynamic in the series as well. I have heard the series will be inspired by the Max run, and I am especially hoping that the “Slavers” arc is adapted.

Set pictures have revealed that Karen Page will appear in the series. She tried to act as Castle’s voice of reason in Daredevil, creating a character dynamic that had far more chemistry than her and Murdock’s. It is likely she will be trying to steer him away from vigilantism, or a less violent alternative. If the character’s written properly he won’t be changing his mind, but their conversations could lead to more interesting insights about how Castle views the world e.g. the rooftop conversation in Daredevil.

One of my main worries is the length of the seasons. Every Marvel Netflix show is thirteen episodes, which feels like too much at times. Luke Cage was a good show, but I feel like it was hampered by the length. Shortening the series by an episode or two could have led to some more concise storytelling. Since the series needed to be padded to 13 episodes I feel like all of the legal wrangling in the last few episodes was added to get the series to the necessary length. Since The Punisher kills his enemies there will be definitely be less police and courtroom proceedings to worry about. However, some other plot twists could be utilized to pad the series unnecessarily. Until the thirteen episode rule changes we’ll have to hope the writers adapt to give us 13 episodes that don’t feel bloated or stretched out.

Besides that concern, this series has a lot to offer. The few comics I’ve read present a swath of interesting supporting characters and villains that will help to support one of my favourite anti-heroes as he makes his solo tv debut. What is your most anticipated Marvel Netflix show of 2017?

 

My Top Five MCU Films

With the Captain America: Civil War review up I thought I would do a brief ranking of my top five Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films.

 

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

 

I know many people put Civil War at the top of their list, but The Winter Soldier was able to tell a smaller story with more developed players. It was great seeing Chris Evans further develop as Captain America and this was one of the first good performances I have seen from Samuel L Jackson recently (outside of a Tarantino flick).
Although the set pieces may not be as big as Civil War or some other mcu films the hand-to-hand fight scenes are the best in the mcu. The Winter Soldier made his name as one of the MCU’s few memorable villains, alongside Loki, although he is more of a hero or anti-hero now.

 

The humour was handled well, and there was a budding love interest that did not detract from the plot.

 

The Thor films are not on this list due to these main two criticisms. The humour we get from Kat Dennings and Natalie Portman is awful, and the love story between Thor and Jane lacks chemistry but also takes up a decent portion of screen time.

 

 

  • Captain America: Civil War

 

Overall, great performances, great action and it was awesome seeing one of my favourite story arcs on the big screen (albeit in a more condensed and heavily altered version). Chris Evans cements himself as one of my favourite actors in the mcu.

Obviously, Civil War’s format was going to make it difficult to develop every character well. Some additions were handled very well in my opinion, such as The Black Panther. Spider-Man’s felt more tacked on, and that is coming from a huge Spider-Man fanboy. I also felt that Scarlet Witch could have been developed more since her character plays an important role in the story. If it wasn’t for these complaints, Civil War would be #1 on the list.

 

  • Ant-Man

 

I always thought Paul Rudd was a great actor, even though he was best known for comedic roles. He did a great job as Scott Lang and had great support from Michael Douglas. Evangeline Lilly was a bit weak at times but overall she was great too. Let’s not forget Michael Pena as Luis. That is how you do comic relief. Can’t wait to see him in the MCU again.

 

The film did a great job of displaying Ant-Man’s power and making me care about a character I knew very little about. The special effects were amazing and so were the action sequences.

 

Yellow Jacket wasn’t amazing but was still more memorable than what we got in GOTG or the Iron Man films.

 

 

 

  • Guardians of The Galaxy

 

Chris Pratt nailed it as the lead, but Bradley Cooper steals the show as Rocket. These two leads power the film, with Vin Diesel’s Groot also being a memorable piece. Even Dave Bautista, who was horrible in previous roles, does a great job as Drax.

 

The special effects, the action and the soundtrack all create a ridiculously entertaining film.

 

The villain did come across as one-note and was pretty forgettable, but he isn’t poor enough to ruin the film completely. If he was better, this film would probably have the number 2 spot.

 

  • Iron Man

 

The sequels might make people forget the original, but this film birthed the MCU. Of course, it doesn’t have the fifth spot only because of its importance. Robert Downey Jr. was perfect casting and his chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow was amazing. To be fair, RDJ could probably have chemistry with anyone or anything.

 

Although I felt like the sequels might have relied on his ad-libbing too much, it was executed perfectly here and allowed him to transition from an arrogant playboy to a slightly less arrogant, but nobler, playboy.

 

The villain, yet again, wasn’t that memorable but Jeff Bridges did a pretty job as Obadiah Stane. The special effects were weak at times but overall they were dazzling. Although there wasn’t that much action, in terms of fight scenes, the film still did a great job of making Stark’s suit tests interesting. With a less charismatic actor and weaker writing, the film could have dragged at these parts, but these scenes actually stick out as the most memorable ones.

Full Circle -From Comic Book to Film and Film to Comic Book

I originally wrote this piece for comicommand

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With the plethora of comic book films currently gracing the big screen, it is obvious that comic books have greatly affected film and mainstream entertainment as a whole. However, a less obvious feature of this golden age of comic book films, is the impact that comic book adaptations have on their own source material. Comic book Superman didn’t fight for “The American Way” until after 1940s radio broadcasts said he did. Superman also didn’t fly until the radio series added that feature. Additionally, characters such as Harley Quinn and Terry McGinnis made their first appearances in animated television shows such as Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond before entering the comics. These events bring up the point that it is unavoidable for adaptations to influence their properties to some extent. I originally considered writing this piece as a pros and cons article, but I realized that the list of benefits would be counteracted by only one very obvious con.

When films begin affecting films more, then financial motives can quickly overpower the values of storytelling and creativity. Characters such as Star-Lord now have new solo titles (Legendary Star Lord). It seems unlikely that the series is not somehow related to the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Film can allow more obscure characters to shine, breaking through the monotony of superhero films. However, this can also help to usher in monotony. Each “phase” of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is pre-scheduled to focus on certain characters and certain stories.  Marvel currently has all its filmsmapped out until 2019. Marvel also has general plans for phase 4, which begins in 2020. Of the next ten films, five are introducing new characters into the MCU. One will be the first solo film for the MCU’s Spider-Man, the rest will introduce Captain Marvel, The Inhumans, Black Panther and Doctor Strange.

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With four new characters being introduced, the spread between new characters and old seems fairly even. Since Black Panther comics are currently struggling, according to Marvel’s editor-in-chief, a boost in sales from a movie could do the franchise wonders. However, what happens if Marvel comics start to focus on the comics that have had popular films, or are about to? I doubt this would be the first time this has happened, but with the MCU’s prevalence, the impact could be much more drastic. Marvel could devote more resources and better writers to comics that have a movie coming soon. Meanwhile, other properties could be left to either stagnate or remain doomed to relative obscurity, until Marvel Studios decides to adapt them to film. This could potentially create a system where comic book publishing is essentially dictated by film-making. This suggestion may seem drastic at the moment, but it is important to consider that the MCU is only eight years old. The MCU did not invent comic book adaptations and older ones such as Blade (1998) and X-Men (2000) are just as vital to the success of comic book films. However, as I’ve discussed before, the MCU is the most saturated and popular engine for comic book films.

Steven Spielberg predicted comic book movies will reach a saturation point and go the way of the western, dying out and making way for a new hierarchy for tent pole films. It’s possible that Spielberg is right since it seems obvious that people will become fatigued from superhero films and desire less of them at some point. However, it is important to realize that Westerns thrived in mainstream Hollywood for decades before they became the anomaly they are now. For all we know, the MCU could thrive for twenty years before unsatisfactory box-office totals start to necessitate a change in Hollywood. In eight years we have already seen some of the effects of films on Marvel comics, what could twelve, twenty or even thirty more years of box-office domination lead to?

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Miles Morales: Political Correctness

Here is a link to an article I wrote for comicommand.com

As a quick summary, this short article (about 900 words) explores some of the backlash that Miles Morales received when he was introduced as the new Spider-Man in the Ultimate Marvel comics.

My argument is that many of the people criticizing this reveal with terms such as “PC” fail to see the context that led to the creation of iconic white characters like Peter Parker, Batman or Superman.

Would love it if you could all check this article out.

http://comicommand.com/2016/03/30/miles-morales-political-correctness/

ComiCommand and updates about the blog

For those who do frequent the site you may have noticed I haven’t posted in a little while. I’ll be getting back to it but I do have two previous blog posts now uploaded on http://comicommand.com/ 

http://comicommand.com/2016/03/21/x-men-apocalypse-and-mystique-what-can-we-expect/

http://comicommand.com/2016/03/14/dc-versus-marvel-marvels-secret-agenda/

The creators of the site reached out to me through instagram and they were gracious enough to allow me to submit two previously published pieces to the site so far. I am trying to write a new one each week, so on top of writing for this site, I may have to simply link to the comicommand articles. It is a great feeling to be part of a small but growing website and community. I am very excited about what the site could become.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ComiCommand

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/comicommand3000/

On top of the blog itself I also have a new instagram account specifically for my writing –https://www.instagram.com/wmoviegrapevine/

This is in addition to https://www.instagram.com/moviegrapevine/ – which is dedicated to film, tv and comics.

I try to post to wmoviegrapevine at least once a day and moviegrapevine at least three times a day.

On top of that, I also recently made some progress with the search for an agent for my science fiction novel. One agent asked to see the first three chapters of the novel, and if she likes it then I will be sending the rest of the book to her for consideration. If she likes the book, then she will try to get it published.

There are still a lot of “ifs” at this point so I don’t want to get ahead of myself yet. However, the request for the three chapters is better than a rejection and is a step in the right direction. Editing the manuscript will be taking up more of my time  if the agent decides to take it on (no complaints about that), so that may also cut into the time I have to write for the site. That is not to say I will be forgetting about it completely.

I have been writing a second novel, The Visitor. I am about a fifth, maybe even a third of the way through. However, I have put that on hold for the moment to focus on “Elseworld”.

Overall, I feel hopeful about the future and want to thank anyone who’s checked out the site for your support.

 

 

DC vs. Marvel: Marvel Brainwashing and The Loss of Reason

I have heard many people say that there has never been a better time to be a comic book fan. While many people still view comic books as childish or ashamedly nerdy, comic books are now the inspiration for some of Hollywood’s most profitable and critically-revered films. Earlier works like Blade (1998), X-Men (200) and Spider-Man (2002) paved the way and later works like Iron Man (2009), Captain America (2011) and Avengers (2012) have cemented their status as marketable works. You may notice that all of the films I just listed are either Marvel comic book properties, or Marvel Studio properties. That is not because Marvel has made the only good comic book films. I think I ended up writing only Marvel films because I am a victim of some of the same brainwashing I am to criticize in this post.

This is another post that is a result of online ramblings I have come across, whether they are on YouTube, Instagram or IMDB. I do love some of Marvel’s films, such as the Captain America films, the first Iron Man and Avengers 1. However, I do have qualms with some of them, and I am able to acknowledge that they are not perfect and that they are not definitive examples of what a comic book film should be. The general public has a tendency to get attached to what comes first. Some people saw Jack Nicholson as their first Joker in a Hollywood film, so they refused to accept any other actor as Joker afterwards. For some people, Ledger was their first, and they already hate Leto simply because he is a different interpretation. Twenty years from now, there will probably be people saying that no Joker will ever top Leto’s.

In terms of Marvel, this tendency to like what comes first, manifests itself through a love of all films Marvel and a hate for anything else. Although DC had earlier successful comic book films such as V for Vendetta (Vertigo comics, which was then acquired by DC) the general public has now been saturated with marvel studio films that overshadow all other comic book properties. This saturation results in a high number of Marvel films that stamp themselves onto the public consciousness far quicker than any other comic book properties can. With Marvel films imprinted, people become less open to seeing something different. People may be open to different characters, but the Marvel v DC debate makes it clear that people are not open to other things, such as tone.

Marvel studios’ films are known for their light-heartedness, their humour, their “fun”. They have been cementing this style and reputation since 2008 with the first Iron Man. To this day, Marvel will even hire a comedy writer so that he can make a script about Asgardian doomsday more light-hearted. If any movie deserves a dark tone, it is Thor: Ragnarok, but I guess some studio executives disagreed.

I am not anti-fun or anti-humour. I simply do not like it when the device is overused. While some Marvel films have juggled it well, such as The Winter Soldier (2014), the Thor series has been severely brought down by terrible and consistent one-liners imho. While Loki’s humour is handled well, Jane’s (Natalie Portman) and Darcy’s (Kat Dennings) end up being the Jar Jars of the franchise. My problem is not only the overuse of humour, but how Marvel has successfully conditioned people to believe that this humour is the mark of a good comic book movie. Nowadays, any film that lacks the same level of levity is deemed too “dark”, “gritty”, “depressing, “brooding” or “pretentious”. A lot of the criticism levied towards Man of Steel (MOS) before it was even released came from this misconception. The trailers were serious in tone, nothing about them screamed “dark” or “brooding”, but people were so used to Marvel’s marketing by this point. The MOS trailers did not have enough one-liners, enough levity in comparison to Marvel’s trailers, so people were thrown off. Everything is relative, and since the MOS trailers were found to be lacking in humour, they were immediately deemed too dark.

This brings up another issue I have with Marvel’s brainwashing. I often hear people throw around the word “dark” like it is an insult in itself. As if saying a film is dark is as bad as saying the acting was terrible, the writing was terrible etc. A film can be “dark” and also be good, which seems like a fact that is lost on many members of the Marvel horde, and among Marvel studio executives. Dark does not equal depressing, gritty or pretentious.

While Marvel has darker material in some of its films, and has Netflix shows with much darker tones (Daredevil, Jessica Jones) it appears that Marvel’s status gives it more room to experiment than any other property has. Marvel’s trailers, films and tv shows can have darker tones without people complaining about them trying to “copy Christopher Nolan”, “not being fun” etc. While Marvel is allowed to experiment, change and adapt, DC is now forced to appeal to Marvel sensibilities in order to be less divisive among audiences.

The first Suicide Squad trailer was leaked, featuring a lovely cover of I started a joke. It was a serious, dramatic trailer but was subjected to the same talk of not being fun enough, in comparison to Marvel of course. Some of you might want me to cite specific websites and links, but honestly this chatter is all over the Internet: the same thing you are currently on. Google my arguments and you’ll come across them aplenty.

The second trailer came out, making great use of Bohemian Rhapsody, and also having more humour. What do you know, some of same people who love this one are happy to see that the film will still be “fun”. I have no problem with the second trailer’s lighter tone, or the film’s tone (from what we have seen so far). However, I hate the mentality that every film has to be “fun”. Is Saving Private Ryan a bad film because it isn’t “fun” enough? Maybe that example is a bit hyperbolic but hopefully it gets my point across. A film does not have to be “fun” to be good. Some characters are darker than others. Additionally, many comic book characters have histories spanning numerous decades. Some of their comics are darker than others. MOS used some of the more serious storylines for the film and then gets chastised for daring to be different and not following Marvel’s mould of being “fun” enough. I have even had someone on IMDB tell me that Superman was too serious since brow was too furrowed when he was learning how to fly. So they ignored the huge grin on his face when he was flying and instead criticize the scene because Superman wasn’t grinning ear to ear the entire time.

This brings me to another point about Marvel’s brainwashing. The desire to love everything Marvel often leads to nitpicking of anything that is not Marvel. While Man of Steel is deemed a terrible film and a terrible adaptation of Superman due to all the damage done during the final fight, The Avengers gets little or no hassle for the damage to New York City. This is the same damage that is mentioned in Daredevil and plays a part in Wilson Fisk’s efforts to rebuild the city. So while Man of Steel continues to get flack for showing that a city will get damaged when two super powered people fight in it, no one cares that New York got damaged since they love Marvel. This nitpicking not only affects films that already came out but also affects any new releases. I have heard someone criticize Jared Leto’s joker because his hair is dyed green, yes…really. I forget exactly where in the video the guy says it, but my comment on the video acknowledges him saying it. To me, it just seems like this person is either

  • Attached to Heath Ledger’s portrayal, which brings up my earlier issue of the general public getting attached to what comes first. This then leads to nitpicking of newer adaptations
  • Simply a Marvel fanboy (in the sense that he does not want to like non-marvel properties) and is looking for reasons to hate this new DC release.

Either way, his comment demonstrates the extent of stupidity that bias can lead to. I am not saying Suicide Squad, or any DC movie is guaranteed to be good. However, I think criticizing the film and saying they’re making “joker a punk” because his hair is dyed green is a little ridiculous.

The bias for Marvel sometimes does not only result in DC (or Warner Bros) vs Marvel, but also leads to people nitpicking any film that is not specifically a Marvel Studios production. People saw the design for Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse and some of them started crying for the rights to go back to Marvel. These people were willing to ignore everything the previous X-Men films did well (ignoring X3 and the Wolverine films). Despite how great Deadpool looks, I have read blogs, forum posts and other miscellaneous talk where people rant about how the rights should go back to Marvel. It’s obvious why they want that to happen. They just want Marvel studios to adapt the properties. Yes, I want the X-Men and Deadpool in the Avengers universe too, but I won’t hope a film fails just so that can happen. People are now so brainwashed they think Marvel is the only studio capable of handling a comic book film well.

You don’t like the shirt a character is wearing? Cry for the rights to go back to Marvel

You don’t like a character’s design? Cry for the rights to go back to Marvel

 

The Internet allows us access to so much information, but also allows us to customize our searches. We can choose what information to find and what information to cut out. This phenomenon has been explored mostly in regards to political polarization, but I think it is also relevant to entertainment preferences. Either way, it makes us dumber.