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Disney+ and a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Posted on November 12th, 2019

Dave!And so Disney+ is finally here.

Unlike Apple TV+, the content you get is staggering. Tons of shows and movies from the Disney archives (some of them having been buried for a long time) plus shows and movies from Disney affiliates (every episode of The Simpsons is right here). And of course the new shows and movies they have been promoting from the very start which will leverage their Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and National Geographic properties. I got in on a pre-purchase deal that dropped the cost to less than $4 a month, and at that price this is a bargain and a half for what you get.

Granted, the Marvel shows that I'm really looking forward to are a ways off yet, but I'd pay $4 a month for The Mandalorian alone, so it's all kinda a no-brainer.

And now, just as I did with Apple TV+ content, I am dropping my thoughts on what Disney+ originals bring to the table, from my favorite to least favorite...

The Mandalorian. The entire reason to get Disney+ from the get-go is right here. And, with the exception of Rogue One, it's better than most of the Star Wars stuff that's been released in the past 20 years. Mostly because Jon Favreau and Co. just didn't care about anything but taking all the cool stuff from Star Wars and doing something truly new with it. Between the mysterious nature of Pedro Pascal's namesake Mandalorian... and a freakin' fantastic appearance by a droid from the IG-88 series (IG-11). If you have even the smallest, most basic interest in Star Wars, here's your show. And reason enough to climb onboard the Disney+ train.

The Imagineering Story. The first of six episodes looking behind the scenes of creating the Disney parks. It's fantastic, featuring archive footage and modern interviews to explain how Disneyland (and everything that followed) came to be. Really cool stuff here... like a look at the incomparable Mary Blair at work. I'd pay the $7 price of admission just to watch this series.

Marvel: Expanding the Universe. A quick 12 minute sneak peak of all the stuff I am dying to watch on Disney+ (AKA the entire reason I subscribed). There's precious little new information here, but it definitely gets you excited for what's to come.

SparkShorts. These independent Pixar shorts are, well, everything you expect from Pixar. The first three (Purl, Smash and Grab, and Kitbull) were excellent, so there was no reason to expect anything less from Float. And it doesn't disappoint. Gorgeous animation about a dad trying to deal with a kid who can... float. It's sweet, heartfelt, and amazing. Interesting to note that Disney+ has added other amazing Pixar shorts like Bao and Piper to the service as well.

The World According to Jeff Goldblum I am not quite sure what this is supposed to be. It's essentially just Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum at his Jeff Goldblummiest while looking into a subject through the lens of Jeff Goldblum. The result is pretty great, but not exactly groundbreaking. Other shows have done this kind of thing better. But none of them had Jeff Goldblum, and that's the point isn't it? In the premiere, Jeff gets into the inexplicably cutthroat world of sneakers and the jaw-dropping price that people are willing to pay to get collectible pairs. Along the way we get mini-lessons about where vulcanized rubber came from, how companies like Adidas create sneakers, and other tangents. No mention of sweat shops in Indonesia paying children $1 a day to make the sneakers though. I guess you could call this superficially educational... superficial edutainment? Though Jeff slaps back against flat-earthers and dinosaur deniers, so there's that. Definitely watching this one.

Lady and The Tramp. The live-action remakes from Disney have been a mixed bag. Some of them are amazing (Jungle Book was fantastic), some of them are okay (Christopher Robin has great elements, but kinda flails) and some are just bad (Dumbo was sincerely lacking). The animated Lady and the Tramp was beautiful to look at, but not a favorite. I didn't expect the live-action remake to change my mind. But they pulled out all the stops to create a good film. No, it's not a cinematic masterpiece (and is not as good as the original), but the rescue dog stars they got were great. The casting was perfect (Sam Elliott as Trusty? Come on!). And the CGI talking effects were well-done. This is kinda a perfect example of what Disney+ should be. A place for movies not quite reaching the quality of a feature-film release, but deserving of more than some $9.99 direct-to-video dump.

Marvel Hero Project. If there's a promise for Disney+ outside of the obvious, shows like this are it. Inspiring, true-life stories that find heroes in humanity and showcase how they are changing our world... THEN, ZOMG, MADE INTO A MARVEL COMIC BOOK! The first issue has Jordan, a girl with limb differences, working to make the world more accessible for everyone. There's an awful lot to like about this show... even without the Marvel element... but made oh so much better because of the Marvel element. I mean, yeah, fashioning a "glitter arm" and shooting sparkly glitter at people may seem like a silly idea to build an episode around, but when you see the show you "get it." It will be interesting to see what future episodes will bring.

Noelle. Given my predilection for Hallmark Christmas movies, I thought this would be right up my alley. Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader? Oh my garland! Sign me up! And yet... it's not that at all. Instead it's more like a remake of Elf but not really nailing it. Sure it's cute, clever, brimming with Christmas charm, and has the eternal optimism you expect from Disney... but it's all kinda meh despite incredible production values and a great cast. Santa has retired and his son doesn't have the confidence, skills, or desire to take over, so it falls to his daughter Noelle. Given the date of the Disney+ debut, I suppose there had to be a Christmas movie. And this wasn't bad. Though I wonder if kids will be able to get into it? My guess is not.

Encore! Kristen Bell attempts to revive old productions of amateur high school musical theater... with the original cast! The first episode is Annie with the cast of a 1996 Santana High School production. I don't like musicals, at all, but was fascinated by the concept. And Kristen Bell. They start with a catchup of where all the cast is today... police officers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, and such. Then gather them together with a professional director, music director, and choreographer to stage a modern take on the original. And along the way you get to see them come together and rehash the past and discuss what's been happening in their lives. The result was okay... but ultimately not my thing. Not the personal drama nor the musical theater. And yet... I might keep tuning in on occasion? It's an interesting idea for reality television for sure.

Ask Forky a Question. Cute to see Forky and Ham again, but this first short (What is Money?) was pretty uneventful. Just Forky being Forky and nothing really happening.

Pixar in Real Life. A godawful attempt to bring Pixar into the real world. This first one brings in the control panel from Inside Out to the real world where passerby can control the emotions of two actors. Pointless and not the least bit entertaining. It's five minutes long. I made it to a minute-and-a-half before bailing.

Disney Family Sundays This is some kind of weird-ass crafting show for kids. But a horrifically bad one. In the first episode they make Dumbo's circus tent. The supplies include A PRE-MADE CANOPY TENT?!? WTF? Who has that laying around? Can you even buy that? Then you essentially hot-glue-gun a bunch of garish crap to the pre-made canopy. This is what passes for "crafting" now-a-days? Pathetic. And I just don't get it. First you have to watch the show, then you have to make a massive laundry-list of supplies to go buy (or try to find to buy), then you have to watch the show again as a step-by-step. Lame. I guess I should have expected some cheap "filler" shows to fill in the gaps, but this?!?

High School Musical: The Series No. Won't do it. This is where I draw the line.

   
And that's it.

Well, not really. Tons of Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars content await. Including some stuff from my childhood that I didn't expect to ever see again... like The Love Bug series (including Herbie Rides Again with Helen Hayes) and The Cat from Outer Space. And stuff I don't own that I'd definitely like to revisit (including Saving Mr. Banks and Hannah Montana).

I've read about people having connection problems with Disney+ but haven't had any major problems. Once or twice I've had an error pop up...

Something went wrong. Please try again.

...but after I dismiss and restart the program everything works just fine. And, much to my surprise, the program picks up right where the problem occurred. Nice!

The Apple TV interface is fairly good. The web interface is pretty bad. No navigation within the site... you have to use your browser's back button. But, in both cases, the content played just fine so I can't really complain.

Disney+ is off to a good start. But it's what's to come that has me excited to be a subscriber.

   

Avengers: Damage Control

Posted on November 6th, 2019

Dave!Well that was fun.

I flew to Minneapolis for one day because I am a Marvel Studios completist and just HAD to do Avengers: Damage Control at The Void (thanks to Kyle for being a good sport and doing it with me!). It's an immersive VR experience that's part game, part virtual world. You strap on a backpack filled with tech, don a VR helmet, then walk through a physical "studio" which has been remapped in your goggles with an entirely new reality. Along the way you fight Ultron robots and stuff...

So far as the technology goes... it’s pretty glitchy. You're in the "experience" with three other people and move from area to area with them. But the physical representations of the other "players" is not entirely stable or accurately mapped. Sometimes you'll look over at somebody and they will be walking in place oddly or randomly switch directions. The hybrid Black Panther /slash/ Iron Man suits you get mapped on you are pretty cool though...

People wearing their VR backpack and helmet transforming into VR people dressed in outfits which look to be a cross between Iron Man and Black Panther.

The mapping of your real hands to your virtual hands is... okay-ish. But many times my hands would disappear or jump to a wildly different spot. Kyle has tattoos on his arms and hands which made it so one of his virtual "hands" rarely functioned at all. And it’s a little tough to “get into the action” when your hands keep disappearing! So... helpful hint, I guess... if you have arm/hand tattoos, maybe you need to wear white lycra sleeves and gloves or something?

Your VR self holding up their hands to a virtual mirror and seeing your VR self.

That being said... the coolest part of the experience is not the "game" part. It's being able to look around at the world they created, which is absurdly cool. I almost wanted to go back through again so I could ignore the battle and just see all the stuff going on in your environment that's 360° around you. You go from Shuri's training center to Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum to a full-on battle with Ultra-Ultron on a New York City rooftop. And along the way you meet a goodly selection of Avengers...

Your VR self holding up their hands and blasting Ultron robots.

Your VR self holding up their hands and blasting even more Ultron robots.

Here comes Ultra-Ultron!

The major characters in Damage Control are Shuri, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and The Wasp. And they actually got Letitia Wright to act in it, plus Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Rudd, and Evangeline Lilly to voice their CGI characters (which is why it was worth my flying to Minneapolis to see it all, since it's the real deal and not some imitation video game. Though all the other characters who speak were imitation, but done pretty well. I guess they ran out of budget to get all the stars?

Ant-Man waves at you while The Wasp stands nearby.

Seattle doesn't have a The Void location. And not all locations have Avengers: Damage Control. I just picked the cheapest to get to, which was the Mall of America in Minneapolis (surprisingly, it would have taken more miles to get to Las Vegas or a South-California location, which is weird because they're closer). The price of admission is $40. I don't know that it's worth that to somebody who isn't a fan of Marvel movies... and felt a little overpriced even for somebody like me who is. Apparently the Avengers experience is a limited-time engagement through the 15th, so if this is something you absolutely must try, then you might want to get some tickets and get on that.

Right now, things are still a bit glitchy, and those glitches do take away from the experience. I'd imagine within another five years you'll just put on some VR specs and be able to do this kind of stuff in your living room perfectly. Until then, you can invest in an Oculus VR headset and have a non-walk-through experience at home, or go to a VR space like The Void and take what you can get.

And what I need to get is some sleep, because I have to be up at 4am to head home.

   

Movie News Musings

Posted on August 20th, 2019

Dave!Well this sucks.

In what can only be described as a shit-storm of awfulness, Hollywood has dropped two pieces of horrifically bad news on movie lovers today.

First of all, Sony and Marvel Studios can't come to an agreement over Spider-Man, so the character will no longer be appearing in Marvel Studios movies. This is unbelievably shitty, because he's become such a big part of them. Can you imagine Infinity War without Spider-Man? I sure can't. And then there's the beautiful and effortless integration of Tony Stark into the Spider-Man cinematic mythos. The new Spider-Man is heavily rooted in the MCU, and all that is going to have to be ripped away once he goes solo at Sony again. Poor, stupid Sony, who doesn't want to share future movie grosses after the BILLION DOLLARS that Marvel Studios is responsible for them making (their highest gross for a film ever). And if you thought that Sony wouldn't shit all over its fans like Marvel Studios did with their theatrical re-release of Avengers: Endgame, think again. They're bringing back Spider-Man: Far From Home with four whole minutes of extra footage!

Spider-Man fades away to dust while Tony Stark watches from Avengers: Endgame.

   
Next up? Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are coming back for yet another The Matrix sequel. Now, don't get me wrong, the original film was genius in every way and remains one of my favorite movies of all time... but the sequels were complete and total shit. They were lazy, effects-driven idiocy masking as high-concept art. "GAH! ORACLE, WHAT DO I DO?!?" — "You know what you must do." — "GAH! MORPHEUS, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE, WHAT'S NEO GOING TO DO TO SAVE US?" — "Neo will do that which he must do." — "GAH! MEROVINGIAN, GIVE US THE KEYMAKER TO SAVE US ALL!" — "You see there is only one constant. One universal. It is the only real truth... causality, action, reaction. Cause and effect." — "WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!?"

No idea how Neo and Trinity are coming back since they are dead and all... but I'm sure something will be rebooted or turned off and turned back on to make it all possible. Ugh.

Neo is reflected in Morpheus' glasses taking the red pill in a scene from The Matrix.

   
In good movie news?

The 25th James Bond film will be titled No Time To Die, still starring Daniel Craig as God intended. And while it won't be helmed by Danny Boyle as originally planned, it will be directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, which is an interesting choice. He is the guy responsible for the most excellent Sin Nombre and Beasts of No Nation... and also the writer of the highly successful It movie adaptation. Since he's both co-writing and directing the new Bond, I am hopeful we're going to get something interesting and entertaining... more along the lines of the excellent Skyfall as opposed to the mediocre Spectre.

   
And in still more good movie news?

It's already been confirmed that Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Paul Bates, John Amos, Shari Headly, and Louie Anderson will all be reprising their roles in Coming 2 America (sadly Madge Sinclair has passed so we won't have our Queen)... and we know that Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, and Jermaine Fowler will be added. But now we know that Tracy Morgan and Rotimi Boards are also onboard for the Coming to America sequel! Sounds like the cast is on-point, so now we just have to hold our breath for December 18, 2020 to see if the story pans out.

   
And lastly in good movie news?

A new holiday movie, Last Christmas by Emma Thompson and Paul Feig starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michele Yeoh, and Emma Thompson, is hitting theaters this November!

I had no idea this was even in development... let alone ready for release this year! Looks like yet another cheesy Christmas movies I can't live without.

   
Untill next time, true believers...

   

Bullet Sunday 621: Comic-Con Edition

Posted on July 20th, 2019

Dave!Hope you like comic book super-hero movies... because a Very Special Marvel Cinematic Universe at Comic-Con Edition of Bullet Sunday (filled with post Avengers: Endgame spoilers) starts... now...

   
• Black Widow — May 1, 2020

Black Widow Logo

The crowd at Hall H at Comic-Con were treated to actual footage of Black Widow's solo movie (AT LONG LAST!). Since she's, like, um... dead... the film takes place in the past, but that's better than nothing, I suppose. It's a spy-action thriller featuring Captain America villain Taskmaster and promises lots of the cool hand-to-hand combat that Natasha is famous for. As with every other Marvel film which delves into the MCU's past, there's bound to be a motherlode of clever back-story surprises for stuff that's happening in current movies. I love that. But I sure hope it doesn't detract from Black Widow, since this is likely her last major MCU appearance. I would definitely be okay if Hawkeye shows up so we can finally find out what happened in Budapest!

   
• The Falcon and Winter Soldier — Fall, 2020 (Disney+)

Falcon and Winter Soldier Logo

Look... the minute that John Wick’s Derek Kolstad signed on as a writer, I didn't need to hear anything else. I love Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in their roles, so everything else is gravy. And it looks like Marvel is serious about the flavor of that gravy because Kolstad knows how to write kick-ass action and they're bringing back Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo. I'd pay for six months of Disney+ just to see this show.

   
• The Eternals — Nov. 6, 2020

Eternals Logo

All the rumors proved to be true when Angelina Jolie walked out on the stage, confirming that she would be headlining the film about Marvel's god-like beings, The Eternals. The comic book has revised the characters so many times that I've lost count, but their astounding power is sure to make them interesting cinematic material. The cast announced was as follows... Angelina Jolie as Athena, Richard Madden as Icarus, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makari, Brian Tyree Henry as Fastos, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Lia McHugh as Sprite. I was never a huge fan of the comics, but I am interested to see how the characters will be fit into the MCU. This being Marvel, I'm guessing characters from the current movies will make an appearance, but I'm not quite sure how that's going to work. Could be that Marvel is just going to keep them entirely separate, but I doubt it.

   
• Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — Feb. 12, 2021

Shang-Chi Logo

What began as a comic book rip-off of the television show Kung-Fu (which was called Master of Kung-Fu), Shang-Chi was gradually worked into the Marvel Universe proper. Unfortunately, most times he was shoe-horned into stories in ways I didn't think worked very well. Like him showing up and training Spider-Man how to fight better or something silly like that. For the movie, it looks like Marvel is working hard to not have the character seem silly. First of all they are bringing in the real Mandarin as the villain (as opposed to the fake Mandarin from Iron Man 3). Second of all, they've added Awkwafina to the cast. That alone guarantees I'll be watching.

   
• Loki — Spring 2021 (Disney+)

Loki Logo

When it was announced that Loki would be getting a series for Disney+, there was a lot of speculation as to how that would happen... seeing as how he's dead and all. But then Avengers: Endgame comes along and shows how the Loki from the past (immediately following the first Avengers movie) escapes with the Space Infinity Stone. This means the Loki we'll be seeing in this series has never experienced the events in Thor: The Dark World, Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, or Avengers: Infinity War. He's just been defeated by Thor and likely still hates him. A lot. That should prove interesting. Especially if Chris Hemsworth is kind enough to make an appearance.

   
• WandaVision — Spring, 2021 (Disney+)

WandaVision Logo

Yet another show with a dead main character... this time The Vision... who perished in Infinity War. In the comics Wanda went insane when the children she conceived with Vision were erased and used her substantial powers to create an alternate reality. That could be what we end up with here. Wanda somehow creates a new reality where The Vision was never killed by Thanos. Whether Vision will be back for good at the end of the series is anybody's guess (I hope so!) but the big news to come from Comic-Con was that Teyonah Parris was cast to play an adult Monica Rambeau, and she'd be a big part of the show. Monica is the daughter of Maria Rambeau, Carol Danvers' best friend in Captain Marvel. Since that film took place in the past, she'd be all grown up in the present. Cool.

   
• Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — May 7, 2021

Doctor Strange 2 Logo

Now this is interesting. Apparently the events of WandaVision will lead directly into this movie, and Scarlet Witch will be a big part of it. Sooooo... perhaps Wanda pulls a new Vision from an alternate universe which causes a big multiverse problem that Doctor Strange has to deal with? Hopefully Wong will be back. And Mordo (I want my Chiwetel Ejiofor!). Apparently this time it's a full-on horror film, which could be very interesting. If nothing else, it will be different! What I love here is how Marvel Studios is so tightly integrating the Disney+ shows into the MCU... this won't be a Netflix situation where the shows are kinda-maybe-sorta-possibly in the MCU.

   
• Hawkeye — Fall, 2021 (Disney+)

Hawkeye Logo

The Matt Fraction and David Aja Hawkeye comic series is one of my favorite comic books of all time. When they announced that Disney + would be giving us a Hawkeye series, all I wanted... ALL I wanted... was to have them adapt the comic book... or at least draw inspiration from it. Well... wish granted. Not only are they using the logo from the comic book, it was announced that Kate Bishop (a character from the comics) would be in the show! They also said that we'll see more of Clint's time as Ronin between Infinity War and Endgame. Assumably a huge part of the series will be Clint dealing with the guilt of Black Widow's death, which is important. A lot of people hate that Hawkeye wasn't the one to die, so hopefully this series will change their mind as to why Hawkeye needed to live.

   
• Thor Love & Thunder — Nov. 5, 2021

Thor 4 Logo

Of all the bombshells dropped in Hall H at Comic-Con, here was the big one. We knew that Chris Hemsworth was coming back as Thor... we knew that Tessa Thompson was coming back as Valkyrie... and we knew that Taika Waititi would be back to helm the whole thing. But the big surprise? NATALIE PORTMAN appeared on stage when it was announced that not only would Jane Foster be returning... she would be the new Thor! This storyline was a very good one for the comics, so I'm excited to see it happen in the MCU. In many ways, it makes sense. Chris Hemsworth has said that he wants to take time off for a while to be with his family, so this allows there to be a new Thor movie where he can play an (assumably) smaller part. It also opens the door to Original Thor appearing in Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 3, something I'm dying to see. How great was that team-up in Endgame?

   
• What If? — Date Unknown (Disney+)

What If? Logo

All we know is that this will be an animated series on Disney+ which features the voice talents of the actors who originally portrayed the characters... but since this is an alternate reality "What if this happened...???" kind of show, they won't be the characters we know. They'll be altered versions of those from the movies. In addition to Jeffrey Wright narrating the show as Uatu The Watcher, the cast announced so far has been: Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Josh Brolin (Thanos), Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark), David Dastmalchian (one of Scott Lang's friends from the Ant-Man films), Michael Douglas (Hank Pym), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Jeff Goldblum (The Grandmaster), Sean Gunn (Kraglin), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Djimon Hounsou (Korath), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Toby Jones (Arnim Zola), Michael B. Jordan (Killmonger), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Michael Rooker (Yondu), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier), Chris Sullivan (Taserface), Stanley Tucci (Dr. Erskine), and Taika Waititi (Korg). No idea where they're going to go with this, but I'm interested in finding out!

   
• Blade — Date Unknown

Blade Logo

At the end of the event, MCU Mastermind Kevin Feige said he was sorry he didn't have time to get into Fantastic Four, mutants (X-Men), and all the rest... but he did have one final surprise... Mahershala Ali walked out and put a Blade hat on, so apparently they're rebooting that series! Ali is a phenomenal actor (he was Cottonmouth in Luke Cage!) and is memorable in everything he does (even in small parts like in Hidden Figures). He's a fantastic successor to Wesley Snipes for the role, and I will be interested to see if they go with an R rating or drop down to a PG-13. I am really hoping for the former.

   
And that's all she wrote from Marvel. I was disappointed that we didn't get any information on Black Panther 2, Ant-Man 3, Captain Marvel 2, Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four, and Guardians of the Galaxy 3... but I guess you can't have everything. I'm guessing all of these will be released in 2022 and beyond, which seems like a long, long time away.

The surprising thing here is that there are only two new Marvel movies for 2020, and they're far from heavy hitters (Black Widow and The Eternals). This feels like a misstep, but maybe everybody has to catch their breath after Infinity War/Endgame? Oh well. Looks like Disney+ will be taking up the slack. I was really hoping that once the FOX acquisition was finalized that Marvel Studios might move from three movies a year to four movies a year, which would still be less super-hero flicks than when both studios were actively producing them.

And that leaves Iron Man. Obviously they're going to have a new one at some point. My guess is that they will let the character rest for a while first. But seeds will have to be planted. Pepper Potts is pretty much out now that Gwyneth Paltrow wants out. Will they make it be Riri Williams as Ironheart?

As for what's still missing in the MCU that I want to see?

• Alpha Flight. Canada's super-hero team, which was done so very well in the Scott Lobdell and Clayton Henry run.

• Moon Knight. This is essentially Marvel's Batman. If they got the right actor, this could be a really interesting addition.

• Namor. This is essentially Marvel's Aquaman... with arguably a more interesting take on an undersea hero.

• Ms. Marvel. Might be a better fit for Disney+ but I still want to see Kamala Khan in the MCU.

• Power Pack. Super-power kids? The perfect animated series for Disney+ methinks.

• Captain Britain. And if he wanted to bring along Excalibur, Britain's super-team, that would be great!

• Longshot Another perfect property for Disney+, this is a really fun character and one few mainstream audiences seem to know about.

Eventually they need to reboot The Defenders back into the MCU as well, don't they? At the very least Daredevil and Luke Cage!

And that's a wrap. So many Marvel bullets to look forward to, but I'm always wanting more.

   

Bullet Sunday 608

Posted on April 14th, 2019

Dave!Time to bend the knee... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Thrones! The much-anticipated premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones has finally come. Since it was just an hour of set-up for the five episodes that follow, it was a bit boring... but did have some interesting moments...

Game of Thrones Ice Dragon

One would hope that they managed to find an ending that doesn't suck... but I've seen finales fail more often than win, so I'm not counting on it. So long as it's a fun ride, I suppose I'll be happy enough. But I really want them to knock it out of the park.

   
• The Hawk! And so Disney has announced that Jeremy Renner has been signed to a new series for their forthcoming streaming network. I have been begging for a Hawkeye series based on the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book series for years. It's hands-down one of the best series I've ever read...

Hawkeye by David Aja

No idea if the Disney+ series would go in that directions, but... hot damn. Looks like Disney+ is going to be absolutely killing it with amazing content.

   
• Only in America! A politician from Texas is so pro-life that he wants the death penalty for anybody involved with getting an abortion. You cannot make this shit up. This is after his tireless crusade to "protect the sanctity of marriage" by opposing marriage equality. He's been married five times. You cannot make this shit up. At some point you'd think that people would get tired of this kind of hypocritical bullshit... but here we are.

   
• Aurebesh Coke! Apparently Coca-Cola is creating special packaging for Disneyland and Walt Disney World's upcoming "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" lands...

Cool. Except... no Coke Zero? I cannot fathom why people continue to drink shitty Diet Coke when Coke Zero exists.

   
• Evil! There are few things I'm more passionate about than Net Neutrality. As expected, The Trump Administration killed it. As expected, the Democrats created a bill to restore it. I fully expect that it will be vetoed by the president. This is reprehensible and evil. The reasons given for killing Net Neutrality are all fucking bullshit. And the reasons for restoring it are legion. Which is why it's not surprising that President Trump hates it. Anything which levels the playing field for everybody works against dumbasses who have to rely on their daddy's money to get ahead in life.

   
• Kerning Fail! Few things freak me out like bad typography...

Kerning Failure

You'd think that the people in charge of using type would know how. Doesn't happen as often as you'd hope though.

   
And... that's enough bullets on your Sunday.

   

Captain Marvel: The Movie

Posted on March 8th, 2019

Dave!Happy International Women's Day! It seems only fitting that I saw Captain Marvel, the first movie by Marvel Studios to headline a woman, today.

When you are a huge fan of comic book movies... but also well-versed in the original comics which inspired them... you have a fine line to walk. On one hand, you have to understand that what works in comic books doesn't always translate to screen, so there will be changes made. On the other hand, movies that stray too far from the source material are throwing away what made them popular enough to be made into movies in the first place.

DC Comics' attempt at a "shared universe" of stories has been a complete disaster. They not only take a steaming shit on their source material*, they can't even be consistent between films. Batman vs. Superman, Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman don't match up, even though the entire point of rebooting everything was to make it so they do match up.

Marvel, on the other hand, has made painstaking strides to ensure that their entire "Marvel Cinematic Universe" is consistent and everything syncs together. There have been minor missteps but, for the most part, they have succeeded beyond all reason. On top of that, they have also been exceedingly respectful of their source material. Changes are made, of course, but they are changes that (mostly) make sense.

And then along comes Captain Marvel...

Captain Marvel Poster

The comic book character has a long... very long... history. "She" was originally a "he" and explaining how we got from point A to point B would take pages to explain. Suffice to say that the original (male) was a Kree warrior. An explosion of an alien device merged his DNA with that of Carol Danvers, turning her into a super-powered Human/Kree hybrid known as "Ms. Marvel." Over the years she became "Binary" followed by "Warbird." Eventually she came back around to "Ms. Marvel" before landing on "Captain Marvel" in her character-defining series of the same name by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Last year Marvel completely changed her origin. Instead of being a human that became a Kree hybrid in an explosion, it turns out her mother was a Kree all along, and the explosion just "awakened" her powers.

Personally, I thought that the change was a load of shit that was entirely unnecessary. But apparently Marvel wanted a strong, independent female character whose powers weren't derived from a man, so this is what we got.

The movie is something entirely different. Ordinarily this would be a major sticking point for me... but, in this case, I understand why they did what they did. Unlike the Marvel Comic Book Universe which is going on 60 years now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is just 10 years old. Adding a new character with such an extensive and complicated history like Captain Marvel and having them work within such a truncated timeline is nigh impossible unless liberties are taken. How do you have her get her powers from the original Captain Marvel without having to explain who he is? Well, within a 2-hour movie, you don't.

That being said, I think Marvel did the best they could to find a way to get Captain Marvel into their Cinematic Universe while still respecting the source material as best they could. Sure, there's a part of me that believes better choices could have been made, but only if the MCU was standing still. Which it's not. The current Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame storylines are massive undertakings which are the culmination of a decade's worth of films. Even by having Captain Marvel take place in the 1990's, there's only so much you can do.

And what Kevin Feige and Marvel did do is make a pretty darn good movie.

The story is mostly entertaining and cohesive within the bigger MCU picture. The characters are well-crafted, the dialogue is well-written (even if the humor doesn't always land), and Samuel L. Jackson turns in a computer-youthified performance that's as great as you would expect. Brie Larsen was terrific as Carol Danvers, though parts of her character felt oddly detached and lacking in subtlety. I'm hoping that this was an attempt to make her seem more "alien-like," but we won't know that until her future appearances (such as Avengers: Endgame, coming next month!).

If I have a criticism of the film, it would be that the action is not as engaging as it should have been. If you're going spend a good chunk of the movie playing detective so you can uncover Carol's past, you'd better darn well deliver when the fighting starts. Except the battles weren't quite "there"... sometimes bordering on tedious. I wish a little more thought had been put into providing more memorable action beats.

If you want to read my spoiler-filled comments on the film, you can do that in an extended entry.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

Open The Pod Bay Doors, HAL

Posted on November 12th, 2018

Dave!Stan Lee, co-creator of a huge chunk of the Marvel Comics Universe... and Douglas Rain, the iconic voice of HAL 9000 (the onboard computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey), have died.

This was already a tough day for me.

But now?

When it comes to being absolutely terrified by a movie, there is no film that compares to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not for me, anyway. And it all comes down to that one riveting exchange where HAL refuses to let Dave back on the ship. Until I saw this scene while watching the movie on VHS videotape back in the early 80's, I had always thought of computers and robots as fantastical, wonderful inventions here to make our lives better. Then here comes HAL 9000, whose psychopathic method of self-preservation dictates that he straight-up murder the crew.

This could have been a comical situation. Especially given the dialogue HAL is speaking. But the way Douglas Rain delivered HAL's lines in such a cold, detached manor was horrifying...

"Without your space helmet, Dave, you're going to find that rather difficult." — I mean, holy shit!

In the sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, we find out that it wasn't HAL's fault that he went crazy. Humans were ultimately responsible... but that movie came out three years later, so it wasn't much consolation to me watching in 1981!

For years I had HAL as the ringtone on my iPhone. One of the many benefits to being named "Dave." I doubt that would have ever happened if not for the vocal talents of Douglas Rain.

   
And then there's Stan Lee...

J. Scott Campbell draws Stan Lee
Amazing Art by J. Scott Campbell

When I first started reading comics, I was mostly a DC Comics guy. That's where Batman was, and he was hands-down my favorite comic book character. But eventually (as my allowance increased) I was expanding into Marvel Comics more and more. My "gateway drug," as it were, was Doctor Strange. His surreal adventures were unlike anything happening at DC, and it was a quick hop from there to my reading other Marvel titles like The Avengers, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and whatever other team books I could afford (team books, you see, had more heroes in them, so it felt like more bang for my buck than solo titles).

Stan Lee co-created all of them.

And many, many more.

But his prolific comic writing output was almost incidental compared to his being the "face" of Marvel Comics. His rampant enthusiasm for their books in letter columns and his Stan's Soapbox column were the stuff of legend. He made you want to read comics.

As if that wasn't enough? He was also a wonderful man. Here's one of his most famous Stan's Soapbox columns...

Stan's Soapbox

Even if you're not a comic book fan, odds are you've seen Stan in one of his many Marvel Studios Movie cameos...

Or on one of his many, many television appearances...


The guy was legendary, and will be missed by a great many people. Thank you, Stan Lee.

Excelsior, True Believer!

'Nuff said.

   

TAKE MY MONEY!

Posted on November 8th, 2018

Dave!HOLY CATS!

Marvel is finally confirming that Tom Hiddleston has agreed to do a "Loki" limited series for Disney/Marvel's new streaming service (debuting in 2019). This is on top of the two Star Wars Universe shows that were already confirmed... which includes Cassian, easily one of my favorite "new" characters outside the original series...

Cassian and K-2SO

With this fantastic news, it's time to revisit the possibilities that are wide open with a new streaming service which I will have no choice but to subscribe to...

Confirmed.

  • The Mandalorian with unknown cast. Won't be Boba or Jango Fett, and is apparently a "Western" type space opera (shades of Firefly!). Kinda "meh" on this one, but if they get the right people on it with showrunner Jon Favreau, who knows? — Star Wars Universe
  • Cassian with Diego Luna. A series based on my favorite character from the awesome Rogue One movie. Really hopeful that K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) is there too. — Star Wars Universe
  • Loki with Tom Hiddleston. Really hopeful that we get a guest appearance by Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and definitely Valkyrie. — Marvel Studios Universe

Rumored.

  • Scarlet Witch with Elizabeth Olsen. I really like the idea of this... however... I would LOVE the idea of it if we could have it be with Vision too. — Marvel Studios Universe
  • Falcon and Winter Soldier with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. Genius idea, really. Their chemistry in Captain America: Civil War was fantastic fun. — Marvel Studios Universe

My Wish List — Established Marvel Studios Characters.

  • Hawkeye with Jeremy Renner. A television show would be the PERFECT place to give us a live-action version of Matt Fraction & David Aja's amazing comic book series. — Marvel Studios Universe
  • Shuri with Letitia Wright. In the movies, Black Panther's little sister plays second fiddle to the movie's star. In a television series, she could really shine. — Marvel Studios Universe
  • Okoye & Nakia with Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong'o. Lord, wouldn't this be a freakin' amazing show. They were integral to Black Panther's success, and would absolutely slay on their own. — Marvel Studios Universe
  • Valkyrie. Even if she pops up in Loki, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that she couldn't carry her own show. None. Marvel Studios Universe
  • Rocket & Groot with Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Oh come on... you know you want this. — Marvel Studios Universe
  • Wong with Benedict Wong. I was thrilled that Wong got some serious time in Avengers: Infinity War, and that just proved that he has the chops to give us an interesting enough character for a series. — Marvel Studios Universe
  • Peggy Carter with Hayley Atwell. While her second season on ABC wasn't as good at the first, it was still a fantastic show. Perhaps we could get a third series with streaming? — Marvel Studios Universe
  • War Machine with Don Cheadle. They could so easily position this as a super-hero show with a military tech edge to it. — Marvel Studios Universe
  • The Incredible Hulk with Mark Ruffalo. The movie rights are tied up in some way which means a solo film is not likely in the cards. But how about a television series? — Marvel Studios Universe
  • Obi-Wan with Ewan McGregor. The concept may not have worked out as a movie, but it would sure as heck work as a television series! So many fascinating places this could go. — Star Wars Universe
  • Maz Kanata with Lupita Nyong'o. There's a fascinating back-story to this character that we'll never get fleshed out in the movies... so why not in a television show? — Star Wars Universe

My Wish List — Comic Characters.

  • Fantastic Four. After so many bad FF movies by not-Marvel-Studios, maybe the way to go would be to have a streaming show? — Marvel Studios Universe
  • Alpha Flight. The original books were not a big draw for me, but I enjoyed what John Byrne did with the characters during his run. And then came the 2004 book by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente that was magic. I would love to see a series based on this team. — Marvel Studios Universe
  • Moon Knight. Kinda a no-brainer, assuming that they went back to the original concept. The character has become so convoluted that the comics are a big ol' mess. — Marvel Studios Universe
  • Captain Britain & Excalibur. This is another opportunity for Marvel to do something different than yet another USA-based movie/series. If they went heavy on the mythology, it could be a cool merging of magic and super-heroics. — Marvel Studios Universe

And that's just off of the top of my head. Give me another hour and I could at least double this list... if not triple it. Marvel just has too many amazing characters and too many talented people working at Marvel Studios to not be excited... very excited... about what's coming down the pipe next year.

   

Bullet Sunday 580

Posted on September 23rd, 2018

Dave!Pull up on that pumpkin spice latte... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Boston! My beloved Red Sox are American League East champions for the third year in a row...

Dave Loves the Red Sox!

LET'S GO, BOSTON!

   
• The Last O.G.! I was watching... something... on TBS and saw a commercial for Tracy Morgan in The Last O.G.. As a huge, huge, mega-huge fan of Tracy, I was excited to see it. Only to find out that it had already aired this past Spring...

It is phenomenal. Funny as hell. But touching too. I loved every episode and am relieved to find out that it has already been renewed for a second season. Highest possible recommendation. If you haven't seen it, please do yourself a favor and take a look.

   
• Believer! The last thing I would ever want to do is convict an innocent person for a crime they did not commit. That being said, Brett Kavanaugh is up for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. There is no walking this back. And since it makes no sense whatsoever that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford would invite a felony by lying to the FBI (or invite death threats towards her and her family), I think it's critical that an investigation be done. Especially now that more women have come forward. Anybody who thinks otherwise is either an asshole or wanting to serve a personal agenda over the good of this country...

I believe women. I believe in due process. I believe in innocence until proven guilty. I believe in justice. And I seriously question those who would sidestep any of that. Like the fucking piece of shit publisher of our local newspaper who equates rape to cheating at golf and smoking (you only think I'm joking). I don't expect people appointed to the Supreme Court to be perfect. They're human, after all. But I do expect them to not be rapists. Because no, not all boys do it, and rewarding this heinous behavior only propagates the rape culture that keeps creating new generations of rapists. It's got to finally end sometime. That time is now. Because time's up.

   
• Family! To all the single parents... to all the double dads... to all the double moms... to everyone who is trying to raise the best kid they can while listening to people scream "EVERY CHILD NEEDS A MOM AND A DAD!" over and over and over... know that you are exactly enough. Love alone makes a family. It always has...

Mom is Dad for Dad Day

I saw this meme floating through my Facebook feed and was reminded for the hundredth time that the people who think it's their business to stick their nose into other people's business are the ones most likely guilty of whatever it is they are professing to hate. So you do you. Everybody else is just doing the best they can with the cards they were dealt and don't deserve your stupid-ass judgement.

   
• Cold! This has got to be the most insane political commercial I've seen yet...

What kind of piece of shit do you have to be to have all your siblings not only not vote for you... but take out a devastating opposition ad to boot? Cold!

   
• Chewie! It's the little things that add up to make a good thing great. Nobody is more aware of this than Marvel Studios. In their new movie poster for Captain Marvel, people have been noticing a cat walking off-frame in the shadows. I took a look in there with Photoshop and, sure enough, there's a cat there...

Chewie the Cat?!?

This is undoubtedly meant to be Carol Danvers' cat, Chewie! Who is not actually a cat, but an alien species called "Flerken" which resemble and earth cat. He's a rather large part of the Captain Marvel comic books, having made several appearances...

Chewie the Cat?!?

Chewie the Cat?!?

Holy crap does Marvel know how to handle their characters. And now it's been confirmed that Kevin Feige will be overseeing The X-Men and The Fantastic Four in addition to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As it should have been all along! So long, FOX, your shitty, shitty, unbelievably shitty super-hero movies will not be missed.

And that's not all in Marvel news... rumor has it that Loki and The Scarlet Witch may be getting their own TV series on Disney's new streaming service. That will be fantastic, if it happens. But if I'm being honest? The character I most want to get a TV show is Hawkeye. If they were to base it on the Matt Fraction and David Aja comic book run, it would be absolutely amazing.

   
And... I'm done with bullets for the day. I got things to do.

   

O Captain! My Captain!

Posted on September 18th, 2018

Dave!I woke up at 5:00am this morning... crossing my fingers that the emails I was waiting for had been answered so I could get to work. I really, really wanted to start in early so I could get off work early and continue cleaning my garage. But, alas, no work emails.

What I did get was a notification that Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel trailer and poster had been released. Something that I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for.

Worth the wait (as if there were any doubt)...

Captain Marvel Poster

Totally worth the wait...

And so I spent the next 20 minutes obsessing over the trailer and what we were going to get out of the finished movie. As one does. Let's unpack this, shall we?

We start with Carol Danvers crashing into a Blockbuster. Just in case you needed a big ol' slap in the face that this movie takes place in the past...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

LOL. Yep! That's aughtta do it...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

At this point, Carol is still in her Kree warrior costume. I'm not entirely sure how the movie will interpret her long, complicated comic book history, but it would seem that she originated on earth, ended up a part of the Kree Empire due to her hybrid genetic makeup, and eventually ends up back on earth. Assumably to thwart a Skrull invasion (the Skrulls being longtime enemies of the Kree)...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Interesting to note that people are totally ignoring her costume. I mean, yeah, this is New York... but super-heroes are not a "thing" at this point in time so you'd think it would be a strange sight?

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And... here's Samuel L. Jackson as Agent Nick Fury hanging around a Skrull autopsy. And that other guy in there... could it be?

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

I am guessing that this is where Carol Danvers life is changed forever. She's a fighter pilot for the US military heading into space to investigate a spaceship. I'm guessing it's at this point that her DNA is merged with that of Mar-Vell, a Kree warrior, paving the way for her to become Captain Marvel...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Annnnnd... here's the money shot. To me at least. Carol in full Captain Marvel gear blasting the shit out of something with her energy beams. I had a real concern that Marvel would downgrade her power set because she's Just. That. Powerful. and they didn't know what to do with her. Eliminating her energy manipulation powers was the obvious way to do that. But... here we are... praise be to Kree-Pama...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

We knew that Samuel L. Jackson would be appearing as his younger self in this movie. And while nobody does de-aging special effects better than Marvel, it does seem a little uncanny valley when you take a frame out of the context of motion...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

"Soooo... you're not from around here..." — "It's hard to explain." — Indeed it is...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Back into space. I don't think this is earth, so I'm guessing this is the spaceship carrying Carol Danvers to the Kree Homeworld (which is probably Hala, at this point?)...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And we're jumping around time and space again. Back to earth. Here's Carol Danvers with Maria Rambeau. Not Monica Rambeau from the modern-day Marvel Cinematic Universe... but Maria "Photon" Rambeau from the past. Which makes her Monica Rambeau's mom... I'm guessing? Monica Rambeau is best known as the super-hero Photon, but was also Captain Marvel at one time. She was also "Pulsar" and "Spectrum"...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Here's where things get interesting. Carol Danvers falls back to earth after her run-in with the Skrulls/Kree. I'm guessing this is after her DNA has been infused with Kree goodness, because otherwise she'd be dead... wouldn't she?

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And now we're jumping ahead again because Carol is in her blue, red, and gold uniform instead of her green Kree uniform. Apparently she's been captured. And they're experimenting on her? Or maybe just confining her...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Jumping back in time again... because here's Carol in her Kree warrior uniform again. In the comics there are Blue Kree (apparently the default) and Pink Kree and a long, complicated history between them. No idea how that will be streamlined for the movies...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And... Mr. Jude Law, everyone! My guess (along with every other fanboy on the internet) is that he is playing Mar-Vell. Which is the original Captain Marvel in the comic books...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

The Skrulls... arriving on earth, I'm guessing...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Oh look! Carol is punching a kindly old woman in the face! Except... we all know that she's not a kindly old woman. She's a shape-shifting Skrull pretending to be a kindly old woman! Mark my words... the Skrulls are going to be a major story in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe. If events follow the comics, there are Skrulls who have replaced several Marvel super-heroes and are just waiting for their Skrull brothers and sisters to return to earth for another shot at domination...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And... heeeeere's Ronan, everybody! This is long before Ronan the Accuser manages to get his hands on an Infinity Stone and make trouble for the Guardians of the Galaxy. At this point he's just a regular Kree. And possibly Carol Danvers' boss...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

There we go! It's young Phil Coulson! Whose first name I'm pretty sure is "Agent." Needless to say, I am positively thrilled to see him return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don't watch the Marvel's Agents of SHIELD television show (loathe it so hard), so it's nice to see such a great character again...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

It's Nick Fury with his pocket pager! A different model than the pocket pager he uses to summon Captain Marvel at the end of Avengers: Infinity War...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Underwater Kree! I am really hoping that this is Carol Danvers in this shot. At one point in the comics she had a mohawk, so this would be a fun nod to the source material...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Uh oh... somebody just got zapped...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Yep, looks like Carol to me!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Annnnnnd... could that head be MONICA RAMBEAU?!? I sure hope so! Boy oh boy am I excited to see her join the Marvel Cinematic Universe...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

And here's Captain Marvel's final costume in all its glory...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

"I'm not what you think I am." Nice! And we end with the movie logo, which is oh so pretty...

Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown!

Needless to say, I am 1000% stoked to see this movie. Having to wait until March 8th, 2019 is a bit harsh, but I just know it will be worth the wait. Marvel ain't about to start screwing up now. Not that they've been absolutely killing it movie after movie for ten years!

If only I could go into a coma until then so I wouldn't have to be here all anticipating it and stuff. I am not a patient man.

   

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