Posts Tagged ‘Iron Man’

 

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Intro and Outro music, “Left Hand Free” by alt-J

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As a blanket disclaimer, let’s just agree that SPOILERS may and probably will show up. This isn’t an extensive review, but in order to talk about what I’m about to talk about (English is Fun!) I need the rest of the movie available for referencing.

 

Consider that your warning!

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First of all a big, and I mean HUGE, thank you to the Russo Brothers, Kevin Feige, and Marvel Studios for the superhero palate cleanser that is Captain America: Civil War. The third installment in the Captain America branch of Marvel solo films, it also qualifies as an Avengers movie with only Thor and Hulk missing to complete the set. Make no mistake, though, the story heavily leans on Cap (Chris Evans) but he’s got the best of frenemies in Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) as the two fight a war of ideology that quickly snowballs into an Avenger-on-Avenger showdown, with one or two shocking revelations, that have very real repercussions for the characters in the aftermath.

Plot-wise, Civil War earns its title because of Tony and Steve’s disagreement over the Sokovia Accords – a law that would make the Avengers an arm of the United Nations as a means of putting the group of super-powered heroes in check after a mission goes south. Tony, still reeling from lingering feelings of guilt since his first foray as Iron Man in 2008 and a more recent condemnation post-Age of Ultron, thinks the Accords are necessary. Putting limitations on where the Avengers go would “theoretically” reduce collateral damage, thus saving lives and preventing disastrous events like New York and Sokovia. The reality of the situation is clear to Tony: Who are the Avengers accountable to in the wake of their cataclysmic battles? How many lives have they ruined after their supposed victories?

Steve, however. sees the Accords as a means of shifting the burden of responsibility. Instead of the Avengers holding themselves accountable, they’d be at the beck and call of a governing body with its own agenda. Additionally, the Avengers would be stripped of their own freedom to choose where to go and who to help. The reality of the situation is clear to Steve: How many lives will be lost if the Avengers have their hands tied? How can they put their trust in the United Nations to make the right call? Suffice it to say when the Winter Soldier, aka “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan), is brought back into the fray, under mysterious circumstances, it tests the limits of Steve and Tony’s convictions as well as their friendship.

pensThe pivotal moment of the movie, however, isn’t the thoroughly entertaining fight that occurs between the two “warring” sides of the Avengers. No, that belongs to a small, quiet scene right in the middle of the film. After an extensive chase through Bucharest in pursuit of the Winter Soldier, Bucky is finally brought in for bombing the UN and killing several foreign dignitaries including King T’Chaka of Wakanda. The damage, however, has been done to the city as well as Steve’s faith. Believing his brain-washed friend to be innocent of the accusations in Geneva, Steve can’t deny that his best friend is dangerous. In his efforts to get Cap on his side and see reason, Tony makes a play of nostalgia by bringing along an old WWII artifact – the pens Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt used to sign the Atlantic Charter in 1941. His father just happened to have them because Howard Stark.

Through Tony’s lens, the Atlantic Charter was an eventual step towards the formation of the United Nations – countries with differing opinions still working together for the sake of the global community. Through Steve’s lens, it pushed America closer to war – a show of good faith that played its part in the attack on Pearl Harbor only four months after the document was signed. The significance of the scene isn’t just in the different yet valid concerns of both Tony and Steve, but the fact that they’re discussing how adding one’s signature to a document can steer the course of history. The most meaningful display of power in Civil War isn’t in the fists of its heroes (though they get plenty of licks in), but in the mundane action of signing.

Tony’s play almost works. The pens, talking about his father, and revealing his relationship with Pepper is on the rocks all seem to push Steve towards signing. Tony even guarantees Bucky will get the help he needs, but in his enthusiasm for things finally going his way he goes a step too far and mentions that Wanda, aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), is being kept at the Avengers compound for her own “safety.” And suddenly WWII and the pen Steve holds takes on another meaning: internment. Roosevelt signed many significant documents during his presidency. One of which, Executive Order 9066, approved the internment of people of Japanese descent. Some suggest it was signed out of fear and paranoia, only two civilwarmonths after Pearl Harbor, while others suggest it was for the “protection” of Japanese citizens in danger of retaliation by white Americans, but it’s still a piece of history that we look back on with regret. Time and distance haven’t changed the harsh reality of what the American government did, all under the blanket of benevolence: We thought we were doing the right thing. We thought we were doing what’s best for everyone.

When Cap gives the pen back, it carries the weight of history and the consequences of a signature.

Sam and James Rowe (Roman on the Rocks) enjoy a nice long and geeky conversation about The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Spoilers!

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If you’re a fan of comic books, Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds, or even – gasp – a fan of all three at the same time, then you’re probably aware that the Deadpool movie, long in production limbo and only recently started filming, will receive an R rating. This is good news and as is befitting of the Merc with the Mouth, the team bringing him to the big screen (for realz this time!) announced the rating victory in the only way that made sense.deadpool footage

Some of you might be wondering why it’s so important that Deadpool has an R rating. Even Mario Lopez points out in the video why having a PG-13 rating would benefit the movie; franchise, sequels, toys, etc. But what it really boils down to is authenticity. Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool, isn’t a PG-13 character, he’s an R character. His world is full of graphic violence, ambiguous ethics, and some pretty choice language. Yes, he’s funny, irreverent, and breaks the fourth wall, but a lot of that is used as a stark contrast to the awful things he says and does. Emphasizing one aspect over the other kind of misses the point.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, a little background, yes? Yes.

Deadpool has been kicking around Hollywood since about 2004 when New Line Cinemas tried to produce a film with writer/director David S. Goyer, who you may remember from such films as The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel, and Blade, helming the project and Ryan Reynolds starring as the titular character. This was around the same time as Blade: Trinity (2004), which Goyer wrote, produced, and directed and Reynolds starred in alongside Wesley Snipes and Jessica Biel. Goyer apparently lost interest, but 20th Century Fox picked up the film rights and put a spinoff into production as a potential followup to X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) where Reynolds was cast as Wade Wilson/Deadpool.

Sort of.

that-deadpool-movie-we-were-all-excited-about-will-be-pg-13While X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a box office success, it was a critical failure and didn’t sit right with many fans of the X-Men universe, the comics or the film series. Regardless of its prequel status and the inflated cast of mutant cameos, one of the more egregious errors was the treatment of Deadpool to the point where most fans don’t even consider the character on screen to be the same as the one they found in the pages of Marvel comics. To be fair, none of the X-Men movies have stuck to the comic book canon completely, but Origins seemed to be checking off a list of names to use without any thought put into motivations, personality, or anything else that would make a character compelling. Reynolds does, however, have one of the best scenes in the film and his sarcastic, snarky attitude resonated with fans of Deadpool. The movie may not have gotten it right, but Reynolds did.

Since then it’s been an ongoing battle to get Deadpool his own movie with Reynolds being the character’s biggest champion and cheerleader. So it was to everyone’s delight when the film was given the official green light in 2014, not long after the test footage for the film was leaked, with a scheduled release date of February 12, 2016. The timing of the film’s production and release within the context of the current landscape of superhero and comic book franchises, however, is what makes Deadpool‘s rating so important.9df2a3cce7aae4167e8461ac7ab22c9d

Deadpool‘s status as a viable property emerged during the first wave of successful Marvel films of the late 90s and early 2000s. Basically, it was post Blade (1998), X-Men (2000), and Spider-Man (2002) but somewhat preceded the concept of a shared cinematic universe propelled by Iron Man (2006) on down to The Avengers (2012). Yes, the X-Men films had an internal continuity (sort of) but aside from being based on Marvel characters, the film rights under 20th Century Fox left any possibility of a crossover with Marvel Studios off the table. In the wake of Marvel’s billion-dollar franchise of films, pretty much every studio has tried or is attempting to copy their model. One of the more consistent elements of the Marvel films, and most superhero films in general, has been a PG-13 rating.

ryan reynoldsThe PG-13 rating is a studio’s dream for franchise films. It allows for the broadest range of audience demographics while still maintaining a level of action, violence, salty language, and sexual innuendo that we’ve collectively accepted as appropriate for children to see with their parents and teens to see on their own. Adults, obviously, are always welcome. From a marketing standpoint, kids and teens are the target audience because, as we all know, studios are looking to make bank on merchandise. One need only look at the plethora of Marvel Cinematic Universe toys and the children gravitating towards them to understand why Marvel Studios hasn’t let any of their films break the PG-13 barrier. Not that it’s handicapped the movies at all, but then again we’re not dealing with characters who occupy an R-rated world.

Comic books published by the big two of Marvel and DC currently maintain an unofficial PG-13 rating, though your mileage may vary on whether or not that’s true depending on the subject matter. Either way, both companies have imprints, MAX and Vertigo respectively, meant to handle mature content for readers and the MAX books regularly featured characters like Wolverine, the Punisher, and Deadpool in stories that went beyond acceptable levels of violence, language, and bloody satisfaction. But these are also the stories many fans of the characters latched on to before Hollywood got a hold of them. Wolverine and the Punisher were products of a lax Comics Code and the ultra-violence of the 80s and early 90s and Deadpool was an inspired copy of DC’s Deathstroke. These are not characters who regularly cuddle bunnies and sing show tunes. Well, Deadpool would, but he’d probably be murdering a guy to death while doing it. The point is when adapting characters like Wolverine and the Punisher to the big screen, there’s a reason why Fox continues to produce the exploits of deadool_vs_deathstroke_by_luizhd-d7546h6PG-13 Logan, in X-Men or solo films, while Frank Castle’s two rated R theatrical releases have become cult classics.

Given everything that’s occurred since the initial interest in Deadpool, one would think Reynolds, director Tim Miller, the writers, and producers would attempt to go the safest and seemingly most profitable route. But I think it goes back to what I mentioned earlier. This is about authenticity, bringing the real Deadpool to the big screen. There might be some thoughts of sequels or a franchise, but I guarantee that what’s really at the forefront of the filmmakers’ minds is making the best damn Deadpool movie they can, which means getting a hard R rating so they can at least say they made their Deadpool.

And really, a rated R movie for a Marvel character isn’t a huge stretch at this moment in time. Marvel Studios is about to release their Daredevil series on Netflix, which has no standardized ratings to speak of, and from all accounts it sounds like the series could be Marvel’s grittiest venture to date. Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist are slated to follow but no one’s talking “franchise” just yet. This is as much Marvel experimenting with how far they can go deadpool-ryan-reynolds-450x244with their “street level” heroes as it is building their live action universe. Yes, Deadpool is owned by Fox, but he’s also part of a growing trend of studios exploring comic book properties beyond broad spectrum demographics. Dark Horse’s Powers has already premiered on Play Station, Valiant has started the process of developing a shared cinematic universe with their properties, and Image Comics darlings Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction will be developing several of their works from the publisher for television. There may be blockbuster superhero films, but niche audiences are also proving to be just as lucrative.

And I’m sure Deadpool would appreciate that.

Oh yeah, baby, it’s a good time to be a comic book movie fan! Only two weeks after Warner Bros. announced their DC Cinematic Universe through 2020, Marvel decided to roll out the entire Phase 3 of their cinematic universe during the “Marvel Event”. Hyperbole aside, this was definitely a showcase that genuinely surprised fans of the Marvel movies. Though we’ve already had several casting and movie rumors made, debunked, and confirmed, it’s fantastic to see that we can still be blown away by the scope, scale, and ambition of a universe that continues to expand.

So here’s what the timeline looks like:

Marvel timeline

 

 

But let’s break it down a little more since there are a few corrections to be made.

 

Captain America: Serpent Society Civil War – May 6, 2016Civil War

Yeah, that was a weird fakeout on the board. According to a few people I follow on Twitter the Serpent Society is an old-school Cap enemy, but I’m not sure why they bothered to do that unless in Kevin Feige’s way of being cheeky. Either way, Cap’s third solo film will be Civil War, based on the comic book event that pitted Cap against Iron Man over the registration of superhero secret identities with the US Government. As has also been pointed out, with the lack of mutants or Spider-Mans in need of hiding who they are, everyone in the MCU is already known to the world. Well, maybe not Hawkeye. Poor Hawkeye. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see where they take this since Winter Soldier ended on Cap and Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, setting out to find Bucky.

 

Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016Doctor Strange

While Benedict Cumberbatch was recently announced as Marvel’s choice to play Stephen Strange, his absence from the event so soon after his confirmation either means it’s not entirely set in stone, or the actor wasn’t available to show up at the event. As far as I can tell from various articles, Cumberbatch is their choice and the “final negotiations” are being hammered out. Take that for what you will. As far as characters go, Doctor Strange is the Marvel Universe’s neurosurgeon turned Sorcerer Supreme – protector of Earth against all forms of magic and sorcery. In light of the fact that the Thor films skirted the issue of magic as being interchangeable with science, it’ll be interesting to see how Doctor Strange is handled given there isn’t a lot of leeway to just say “ALIENS!”

 

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017Guardians 2

This was a no-brainer after the first movie did so well at the box office. Moved up only slightly from its original summer release in July, it looks like Guardians 2, which will again have James Gunn directing and writing along with co-writer Nicole Perlman, is going to kick off the summer movie season for Marvel instead of closing it out. And if all goes well, the film may pick up a new audience in the wake of the animated series slated for release in 2015.

 

Thor: Ragnarok – July 28, 2017Ragnarok

After the less than stellar sequel, it’s not surprising that Thor’s third solo film was moved to the closeout of the summer, but if the title delivers on what it promises, then there’s all the possibility in the world for the Thor franchise to bounce back. Ragnarok, for those not caught up on their Norse mythology, is the Nordic version of the Apocalypse only instead of absolute destruction, the result is the renewal of the Earth. First it’s all gods fighting each other, natural disasters, dog and cats living together, and the Earth submerged in water, but then it turns into sunshine and rainbows as the only two surviving humans repopulate the Earth. Good times! Or, more likely, this movie will be based on the comic book character Ragnarok who first appeared in Civil War – a cyborg clone created by Tony Stark when the real Thor went missing for a while. Either way, good stuff!

 

Black Panther – November 3, 2017chadwick-boseman-black-panther

And this is where things really got interesting. There had been plenty of hints that a Black Panther movie was coming, even from Stan Lee himself, but for the most part we could only piece certain things together from the Easter Eggs in the movies. Wakanda, the country from which T’Challa/Black Panther, hails from was briefly seen on a map in Iron Man 2, and the very presence of vibranium, the material that makes up Cap’s shield, tells us that Black Panther showing up was likely since it’s primarily mined in Wakanda. That and in the recently released Age of Ultron trailer, Andy Serkis briefly appears and has a very striking similarity to Ulysses Klaw, one of Black Panther’s rogues. And not only did Marvel announce the movie, they also brought out Chadwick Boseman in order to confirm that he’d be taking on the role of T’Challa. This will be the first superhero movie from Marvel featuring a person of color as the lead, but let’s hope that they get a devoted creative team to bring the King of Wakanda to the big screen.

 

Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1 – May 4, 2018Infinity Gauntlet

Anyone paying attention, regardless of their level of fandom for Marvel comics, knows that the build up to the Infinity Gauntlet storyline started all the way back in Thor, although it took Guardians of the Galaxy to actually explain it in a way that made sense (sorry Thor 2). So, yeah, this is a big story with a big villain primed and ready in Thanos, so I’m not surprised it’ll be split into two movies.

 

Captain Marvel – July 6, 2018Captain_Marvel_Vol_8_1_Textless

Other than Black Panther, this is the film that made a whole heck of a lot of Marvel fans squeal in delight right before they screamed with passionate joy. Though the Marvel films have sported several prominent female supporting characters, Black Widow is the only featured player in the Avengers and Cap 2 and even she hasn’t gotten her own movie despite being the most recognizable female character in the MCU. But after Black Widow, Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, has been the female hero most desired to show up among the ranks of the Marvel films. Well, now we’ve got it! And thank God it’s Captain Marvel, not Ms. Marvel. This means we’re most likely getting the rebooted version of Carol as depicted by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, Dexter Soy, and David Lopez, depending on which volume you’re reading. It’s about time Marvel added another kickass woman to their universe of films.

 

Inhumans – November 2, 2018Inhumans

Of all the movies, this is the one I’m the least knowledgeable on since I’m not a diehard Marvel reader. But, from what I can piece together through a rapid Google search, the Inhumans are superpowered beings whose ancestors were genetically experimented on by the Kree, an alien race, back in the days of early Homo sapiens. Deemed the inhuman race, they developed a society of their own separate from normal humans. Technological advancements allowed them to create a mutagenic mist that gave them powers but also caused deformities, which pushed them to practice selective breeding.

So, for all intents and purposes, the Inhumans will probably function as a stand-in for mutants, since Fox isn’t giving that up for a while. Still, I’ll be there to watch it. I didn’t know anything about Guardians of the Galaxy and I was all the better for it!

 

Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2 – May 3, 2019thanos_avengers

The conclusion, which I assume will be epic!

 

So that’s Marvel’s Phase 3 and I’m all kinds of excited. For me this doesn’t boil down to Marvel vs DC, it’s all about getting the next six years worth of films coming out and seeing how Marvel continues to build their franchises and DC starts to build theirs. I can only win.

What are your thoughts on this lineup? Excited? Underwhelmed? Overwhelmed? Just whelmed? Let me know!

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Even by comic book standards Guardians of the Galaxy is an obscure property. Not that Iron Man, Thor, or Captain America were household names like Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, but at least people were somewhat aware of the characters whether through comics, cartoons, or embarrassing early 90s movies. Hulk was probably the most well-known amongst the Avengers and even he suffered through two middling movies. Given the success of The Avengers, Marvel could’ve easily picked any number of heroes to launch within their Phase 2, so why Guardians of the Galaxy? Why take the risk on a group no one, not even some die-hard Marvel readers, was aware of with a cast of characters that included a gun-toting raccoon and a sentient tree with a limited vocabulary? I could give you a long explanation about how Guardians fits into the overall mega-event Marvel’s leading towards with Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet storyline from the comics, but in simplistic terms? They could, so they did.

Okay, yes, there’s more to it than that but from the get-go there’s been an attitude surrounding Guardians of the Galaxy, one of “Yeah, Guardians of the Galaxy. Trust us. We got this.” And as moviegoers, we collectively consented to the idea. Marvel had earned enough goodwill that we believed in their vision. The result is yet another blockbuster to keep Marvel on its unprecedented streak of solidly entertaining superhero movies. No two Marvel movies have been entirely alike save for a through line of tone and world building. Thor took us into the realm of fantasy, Captain America gave us a World War 2 era film as well as an action-packed spy thriller, and The Avengers gave us the ultimate team-up. Guardians, however, is straight sci-fi adventure that expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe across the galaxy. Director James Gunn infuses Guardians with his snarky, rebellious attitude coming out of his experience with indie and Troma films, but also rises to the challenge of delivering his first big budget, special effects laden homage to the sci-fi genre.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-posterPeter Quill (Chris Pratt), aka Star-Lord, having spent most of his life in space after being abducted from Earth in 1988, unknowingly stumbles upon a highly valued orb that contains one of the infamous infinity stones. Seeking the orb is Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) who sends Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of Thanos (Josh Brolin), to retrieve the orb so that Ronan can get revenge on the planet Xandar despite a peace treaty between Xandar, home to the Nova Corps, and Ronan’s people, the Kree. Quill is also pursued by bounty hunters Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) after his boss Yondu (Michael Rooker) puts a price on his head for going rogue. When the four end up in prison, they gain another ally in Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), who seeks revenge on Ronan for the death of his family. Seeing that they share a common enemy, and a desire to continue living, the five band together to thwart Ronan and save the galaxy.

From the moment the first trailer dropped and the first poster circulated around the internet, the marketing campaign for Guardians was unabashedly cocky in its presentation of a team formed from a rag-tag group of outlaws, assassins, thieves, and thugs. It was a choice reflective not just of James Gunn’s style but also the journey towards heroism made by the team. The Guardians aren’t necessarily brought together through nobility of purpose. They’re outcasts, misfits, and loners. They’ve all suffered loss because of the hand dealt to them by the universe, but in finding each other they have a reason to care about something bigger than themselves. Gunn and his co-writer, Nicole Perlman, manage to get this across via cinematic tribute; starting the film with Star-Lord, alone on a planet, retrieving an artifact a la Raiders of the Lost Ark and progressing the narrative the through a visual spectacle invoking Star Wars until the team is truly formed in a shot straight-up lifted from The Right Stuff. Through it all the movie maintains a lighthearted tone, but isn’t afraid to go for the gut-wrenching darkness needed to delve into the backstories of the main characters. It’s the humor, however, that sustains the movie. That and a soundtrack that acts as a time capsule of 60s and 70s pop music sure to make even the surliest fanboy tap his feet. Hell, I’ve had just about every song stuck in my head for days after seeing the film.Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Rocket-Raccoon

For an ensemble piece like this you couldn’t ask for a better cast. Pratt truly solidifies his status as a leading man, channeling every roguish character imaginable into a ball of charm and overconfidence that would make Han Solo nod in approval. Saldana makes being a deadly assassin look easy; kicking ass and taking names without breaking a sweat, yet still managing to exude some of Gamora’s vulnerability despite the cold exterior. Bautista is surprisingly good as Drax. I don’t know anything about his career as a wrestler, but whatever limited acting skills he has never made it on-screen. Drax’s inability to understand metaphors actually worked to Bautista’s advantage, giving him some of the funnier lines in the film. And though they weren’t present for filming, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel turn in wonderfully nuanced performances as Rocket and Groot respectively. These were the two characters everyone worried about in terms of audience acceptance, but the special effects team knocked it out of the park with the two bounty hunters. They were textured and expressive, making us believe, from the moment we see them, that they belong in this world. Cooper’s Rocket is a damaged soul, the only one of his kind and his rage and sorrow are played straight during several unexpected moments. But he’s right up there going snark for snark with Quill. Rocket easily steals the movie with his one-liners and overall awesomeness. Oddly enough, Diesel delivers as Groot. He only has three words to work with, but Diesel manages to make each reading different, showing that inflection, spacing, and emotion can make three words seem like a paragraph.

Star-LordAs an ensemble, the Guardians are the epitome of a Marvel family. Their clashing personalities work off each other as they fight and bicker over just about everything. Scenes between just the five characters are the strongest in the film. The timing is perfect and Gunn seems to take great delight in throwing the typical clichés in our faces with a well placed one-liner. The main characters are bolstered by a strong supporting cast including Glenn Close, John C. Reilly , Peter Serafinowicz, Djimon Hounsou, Karen Gillan, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Rooker, and cameos from Nathan Fillion, Rob Zombie, Seth Green, and Troma director/producer Lloyd Kaufman. Gunn even includes a nice little role for his brother, Sean Gunn, who was the body actor for Rocket during filming. It’s an amazing cadre of actors assembled and shows the pull Gunn and Marvel has for getting quality talent. Even the smallest roles could potentially lead to bigger things in the future.

So with all the praise I’ve been doling out, there are a few problems that most Marvel movie aficionados will see unfold. For one, Ronan the Accuser’s motivation is about as surface level as any Marvel villain. He wants to destroy Xandar because EVIL! and that’s as far as it really goes for him. His myopic goal ultimately aids the Guardians in stopping him because he does little else to prove himself as a formidable villain other than throw Drax around and yell at Thanos. Maybe if we’d seen him destroy a planet that wasn’t Xandar to show exactly how powerful he’s become with the infinity stone and the failed attempt to stop him by the Guardians. Their failure than motivates them to make sure Xandar doesn’t meet the same fate. Something like that. It doesn’t help that the complex backstories of each character only get brief enough mentionsRonan-the-Accuser-in-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy for the needs of exposition. Quill has the biggest arc of the movie in order to ground the audience, but it means Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot’s stories need to be put on the back burner. To the movie’s credit, though, they give us just enough background to give certain scenes the proper emotional weight. Rocket’s drunken outburst about being a monster feels genuine given what we’ve seen and know about him and Gamora’s anger at Thanos for being turned into an assassin is palpable.

Overall, the movie is well paced but there are times where it feels like scenes were inexplicably cut that were needed to make the transitions within the story smoother. Characters just happen to have vital information or show up at the right time out of plot convenience rather than a more organic flow. Yondu and the Ravagers happen to end up on Knowhere at the same time as things go awry with The Collector and Ronan shows up upon Drax’s drunken request because…reasons? It serves the purpose of making the stakes higher and giving us a kickass chase sequence, but how we arrive from point A to point B is a bit hazy. The fight between Gamora and Nebula (Karen Gillan) also exemplifies the need for better characterization and editing. The whole sequence feels like it was supposed to be longer – the trailers at least indicated this was so – since Gamora and Nebula’s sibling rivalry drives the savagery of the fight. Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-GamoraUnfortunately the editing makes it much shorter, which could also be the result of underutilizing Nebula as a character. Though she appears badass and definitely carries plenty of attitude, Nebula becomes more of an obstacle for Gamora and their fight lacks the emotional impact it should between the “daughters” of Thanos. Hopefully there’s a director’s cut that will get released because I’d love to see what Gunn’s complete vision was for the movie.

The problems, however, shouldn’t dissuade you from seeing the film. Like I said, they’re typical of Marvel movies, but there’s definitely an opening for further characterization and storytelling now that the team/family has been formed. If anything, Guardians of the Galaxy shows how a team-up movie can be made without the building block process of individual films Marvel has relied upon in the past. Not only does this open up more possibilities for other Marvel movies, but shines a light of hope on certain other comic book team movies coming out in a couple of years.

Until then, go see Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m more than twelve percent certain you’ll enjoy it.

batman_superman_logo_by_balsavor-d3lkxihSince the announcement of Superman/Batman or Superman vs. Batman, or whatever you want to call it for now, at San Diego Comic-Con in July, the movie has been hounded by rumors and speculation from the moment two of the most iconic symbols in comic book history joined on screen. Following the buzz and excitement of SDCC, Warner Bros. announced, and director Zack Snyder confirmed, that Ben Affleck would be playing a world-weary and more experienced Dark Knight in contrast to Henry Cavill’s newly minted Superman. While the “World’s Finest” pairing seemed to be enough to get us excited at the prospects of an actual DC Cinematic Universe coming together, the rumor mill continues to be in full swing with the ongoing speculation that the Superman/Batman movie, slated to be released in 2015, will also feature the third member of the DC Comics Trinity, Wonder Woman.

WB has yet to confirm the rumors, but a casting call plus a variety of actresses reading for the filmmakers who fit the description of said casting call, continue to fuel the idea that Wonder Woman will appear in the movie. There’s also a separate casting call for “Bruce Wayne’s love interest” that overlaps description-wise, leading many to believe that they’re one and the same. We could very well see Batman and Wonder Woman dating. Yay? But, again, all of this is simply rumor and speculation. Nothing’s been confirmed. Selina Kyle could be the “love interest” for all we know or it could be a made up character like Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight Trilogy. The Wonder Woman rumors persist, however, because 1) fans have been clamoring for a Wonder Woman movie since the idea of a shared cinematic universe entered our collective lexicon and 2) because Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara stated very clearly that Wonder Woman needed to be “on the big screen or TV.” All of these rumors and news pieces have coalesced into a shared reality in which the announcement is all but inevitable that Wonder Woman will stand alongside Superman and Batman.

But in what capacity?

I am Wonder WomanThe rumors of how substantial Wonder Woman’s appearance in Superman/Batman could be range from cameo to quasi-supporting role, none of which is set in stone because we know absolutely nothing at this point. With nothing confirmed, we’re all at liberty to speculate on what an appearance by Wonder Woman in the movie means for the character and the DC Cinematic Universe. Personally, if it’s only a cameo, I’d rather they left her out.

Put the pitch forks down and quell your cries of, “But, Sam, you’re the one who’s been screaming the loudest about Wonder Woman! Isn’t this what you want?” Do I want Wonder Woman featured in a movie? Yes, but I want her featured in her own movie or, at the very least, as a major player in an ensemble cast. One of the biggest problems with the way in which Warner Bros. has been approaching their DC properties is they’ve been trying to play catch-up to Marvel Studios. Prior to the release of Man of Steel, Warner Bros. had all but sealed the deal on making Justice League immediately after so they’d have a contender for Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Wisely, they nixed the idea in favor of a gradual approach, taking half a page from Marvel’s book by confirming Superman/Batman with The Flash possibly coming to the big screen in 2016 followed by Justice League in 2017. We being the fan base that we are immediately noticed the absence of a Wonder Woman movie despite her being the third most recognizable character of the Justice League and, again, one-third of DC’s Trinity. So the rumors of her “appearing” in Superman/Batman are slightly problematic given the purpose of cameos in superhero movies.

Allow me to explain.Hawkeye2-avengers

Marvel has become famous, or infamous, for their end credit stingers either acting as the lead-in to the next Marvel Studio film or to give the audience a brief teaser of what’s to come. Nick Fury showing up at the end of Iron Man is an example of the former, Thanos appearing at the end of The Avengers is the latter. Then there are the in-film cameos used as a way to connect the films within the same universe or establish a character for the briefest of moments in order to justify their presence in an up-coming film. Nick Fury at the end of Captain America, Tony Stark in The Incredible Hulk, and Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Thor being the best examples. Notice that these cameos are short. Only a scene before the plot of the movie resumes or, in Nick Fury’s case in Captain America, ends. It’s a shout-out, but it isn’t substantial. Is this really what we want for Wonder Woman? What does a cameo in Superman/Batman serve except for us to go, “Hey, that’s Wonder Woman!” before the plot of the movie moves along without her?

Now I know what you’re going to say next, “But, Sam, they’re probably just trying to establish her in the universe. It’s a set-up for her movie.” If that was confirmed on any level, then I would be right there with you. I would be okay with a cameo from Wonder Woman in Superman/Batman if that meant the next movie was Wonder Woman. I want to be very clear on that. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. has been dragging their feet for so long about the very notion of Wonder Woman having a tv show or movie that I’m not holding out any hope for such a gift. Unless I see a statement issued from Warner Bros. along the lines of, “Oh, yeah, Wonder Woman is totes getting her own movie after Bats vs. Supes!” (and I want it worded just like that), I’m not giving them the benefit of the doubt. A Wonder Woman cameo has to mean something because, unlike Hawkeye at Marvel, Wonder Woman is a bigger deal in terms of DC’s pantheon.

Nightwing-1There’s also been a rumor circulating that Dick Grayson/Nightwing will have a cameo in Superman/Batman, complete with an actor already rumored to be up for the role, which, I’m not gonna lie, actually makes more sense. Considering we’ll now have a 40-something Batman in operation, it’s not out of the question that he’d have taken on a sidekick at some point who’s, as of the movie’s timeline, in his early twenties operating on his own. In this case, Dick Grayson is the equivalent of Hawkeye. By including him (if he’s even in the movie), it only serves to set him up for the inevitable Batman solo movie Affleck will helm in the future. It establishes a character that will require minimal explanation later on. Nightwing is an A-lister by comic book standards, but he isn’t integral to the initial foundation of the DC Cinematic Universe. Wonder Woman is essential to the DC Cinematic Universe. I very much see Nightwing going the way of Hawkeye, though probably with a more favorable outcome. Hawkeye appeared briefly in Thor, got a slightly bigger supporting role (though not by much) in The Avengers, but he’s all but disappeared from Marvel’s Phase II except for his role in Avengers 2. Nightwing will, at best, reach a featured supporting status as the movies progress, but he may be a long way off from a movie of his own.

I see you’re all pointing to Black Widow, Agent Coulson, and Nick Fury. Okay, let’s look at how Marvel has treated these characters who’ve gotten larger roles in the context of Marvel’s Phase I movies. Natasha Romanov/Black Widow was shoehorned into Iron Man 2 in a quasi-supporting role to justify her existence in The Avengers. She’s now playing second fiddle to Captain America in Captain America 2: The Winter Solider but there are no plans in place, as of yet, for a Black Widow movie. Agent Phil Coulson has always been a supporting player in the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his role has only grown by small jumps due to the need for a consistent presence representing S.H.I.E.L.D. and the character’s popularity. Now he’s the leader of an ensemble cast on a network television show. Make of that what you will. Nick Fury, like Coulson, has always been a supporting role. He’s a catalyst and antagonistic presence for many of the heroes, certainly, but the closest we’re getting to a Nick Fury movie is the one made for television starring David Hasselhoff from 1998. For now, at least.

To be fair, this is how Marvel has been going about treating their supporting characters. It is in no way a sign that Warner Bros. will go the same route, but it serves as a reminder that even supporting characters with larger roles don’t necessarily get their due. If Wonder Woman gets a cameo, then the next time she’ll most likely appear is in The Justice League, meaning she’ll have to fight for screen time with at least four other heroes and a villain. We can only hope that she’d get a movie after that, but does that do the character any favors? Why would you needlessly have to build up interest in a character people are already interested in? You know who didn’t have to get cameos or supporting roles in order to get their own movie? Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, and Captain America.Trinity of DC

Let’s say, though, for the sake of argument, that Wonder Woman is not only in Superman/Batman, but she also plays a supporting role in the movie. I would hope it’s not just as “Batman’s girlfriend”, but that’s a whole other issue for another day. Why not go ahead and slap the Wonder Woman symbol on top of Superman and Batman? We know who Superman is because of Man of Steel and there isn’t a goddamm person on the planet who doesn’t know who the goddamm Batman is by now. All Ben Affleck has to do is show up. This clears up a lot of room to bring Wonder Woman into the fold without shortchanging anyone. She’s sharing the spotlight with Superman and Batman, but she’s also a major player, making The Justice League movie less about introducing the leftover heroes and more about diving into the plot. It also gives Wonder Woman enough screen time with other heroes that audiences would be chomping at the bit to see her in a solo film.

This is all speculation and, if I’m honest, wishful thinking. I was of two minds about writing this article mostly because even to me it feels like I’m either contradicting myself or coming across as someone who’ll never be satisfied with anything Warner Bros. does with the character. I want the DC Cinematic Universe to flourish like Marvel. I want a Justice League movie and a Justice League Dark movie, hell I’ve been pushing for a Fourth World movie since they put Justice League and Darkseid back on the table. But there needs to be a solid foundation and Wonder Woman is a part of that. For me, a cameo just isn’t going to do her justice.